Broken Top Loop Trail is a 20+ mile, lightly trafficked loop trail located near Sisters, Oregon that features several lakes and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November for most people, though experienced nordic and backcountry skiers have access to the area via nearby sno-parks during the winter months. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
The "unmaintained" trail between the end of the Tam McArthur Rim Trail #4078
and Broken Hand is well used and obvious once snow free (late July—early August). However, the trail is not shown on some maps. Some maps show a trail on the north side of Broken Hand, contouring the Bend Glacier and No Name Lake. Note: the north facing slope between Broken Hand and the Bend Glacier may require a long, moderately steep, snow traverse. A faint, less-used trail bypasses the lake and Broken Hand on its south side. It connects the main trail about 0.3 miles below the lake and the saddle just east of Broken Hand. This trail can be hard to follow, but faces south, and it should be snow free earlier in the season. Keep an eye for cairns.
Starting at Three Creeks Lake, you can choose to get the difficult climb out of the way on day one by starting the loop clockwise via the Tam McArthur Rim Trail, or save it until the end of your run by instead starting counter-clockwise on the Little Three Creek Lake Trail
I prefer starting with the Tam McArthur Rim Trail. You'll start by climbing around and above Three Creeks Lake which will already offer you a stunning view of Broken Top and Mt. Jefferson. The first couple of miles will have ample tree cover, but as you make your way up the 1800 ft. incline, you'll soon leave those trees behind at the timberline. The Tam McArthur Rim Trail fades away as you leave the rim above Three Creeks Lakes. There are cairns which mark the path toward No Name Lake and skirt around the crags of Broken Hand.
A little after 5 miles, you'll reach the beautiful No Name Lake which will be your first reliable water source on the loop. On the ridge above the lake is a spectacular vista of the surrounding cascades. This is a great spot to catch a sunset with Broken Top and the Three Sisters.
From No Name Lake, the trails are visible and well marked, and you'll find an ample supply of glacier melt creeks. You'll drop downhill and curve around to the Broken Top Trail which will lead you to the highly trafficked Green Lakes
The Green Lakes
sit between Broken Top and the South Sister. Many people camp here and take day trips to the tops of either of these two peaks which are both hard climbs, but fairly accessible in the later summer months. This is a popular location for hikers and horseriders who venture in from the Green Lakes
Continuing the loop, you'll climb out of Green Lakes
and descend toward Park Meadow. Before the meadow there is a short side trail to the majestic Golden Lake which is another excellent camping location on this loop and is the best spot for a swim.
Onward from the meadow, you'll be entering a burnt forest with a number of downed trees, though the route is easy to navigate.
All-in-all, this is an amazing loop run which showcases the best of the Three Sisters Wilderness. You'll get to run around some big mountains with the option to scale them if you wish. Without the one big climb up to No Name Lake, I would say this run would be an intermediate journey with plenty of water and great camping. Beware that even during the hot summer months, it can still dip below freezing at night when you're camping at high altitude!
Elk, grouse, pika, coyote, cougar, bobcat, gray jay, Clark's nutcracker, bald eagle