Peter Skene Ogden Trail Guide

Peter Skene Ogden Trail Guide

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions
  • Peter Skene Ogden Trail Parking & Trailheads
  • Recommendations for the Hike
Total Distance (?)18 miles (29 km)
Other Options 9 miles one-way, or 12 miles round-trip from McKay Crossing
Hike Time7-8 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Hard
Total Ascent (?)2,100 feet (640m)
Highest Elevation6,350 feet (1936m)
Fees & PermitsParking Pass
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Deschutes National Forest
Park Phone541-383-5300
Weather & ForecastLatest Conditions

The Peter Skene Ogden Trail is a hidden gem. Although it is not widely known among the hiking community, it is designated a National Recreation Trail (NRT) because it “represents its region, supports a diverse community, and is among America’s best trails,” this hike is worth a visit. You’ll hike along Paulina Creek, passing numerous waterfalls, and arrive at Newberry Volcano’s caldera at the end. The volcano is the largest in the Cascades arc, still active, and a smidgen smaller than the size of Rhode Island. This hike has a lot going on!

Where is the Peter Skene Ogden Trail?

The official start of the trail is about an hour south of Bend, OR, and a short distance from La Pine, OR. Use this trailhead address:
Ogden Group Camp, Paulina-East Lake Rd, La Pine, OR 97739

You need a National Parks Pass or Northwest Forest Pass to park at any trailheads here.

Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 3
The parking area of the Ogden Group Camp is huge. You won’t have trouble parking here.
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There’s a vault toilet.
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You’ll see a trailhead sign on the east side of the lot—park around here.

Other Options

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If you have extra time, plan on doing some sightseeing around the caldera. You can easily hit the beaches, the Big Obsidian Flow, and a food joint after doing this hike.
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The Big Obsidian Flow is spectacular and worth the extra time if you’re driving up from the start of the hike at Ogden Group Campground.

Gear For the Hike

The trail is singletrack in excellent condition. However, it will become covered in snow in the winter but clear from May to November. If you are on a shoulder season, bring micro-spikes in case there’s snow at the higher elevations. Facilities along the caldera are generally open from June to September.

Otherwise, the hike is straightforward when it comes to gear. There’s plenty of water along the creek; bring a filter. Most of the hike is shaded by lodgepole and Ponderosa pines. Make sure you have enough snacks and an extra layer or two.

There is no overnight camping along the trail outside of designated campgrounds.

Gear 2022 8

I waste my time with lousy hiking gear so you don’t have to. Only the winners get onto my gear page. There’s no fluff, sponsorships, or promotions. It’s just gear I personally use, have tested, and recommend. Right now I’m liking my inReach Mini 2, Garmin Epix, and Lone Peak 6 shoes.
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My September 2022 Top Gear Picks

Peter Skene Ogden Trail Maps

While there are a few tricky points I’ll point out in the directions below, overall, it’s a straightforward trail that follows Paulina Creek from start to finish. You’ll see numerous side trails heading to the water, but the well-worn Peter Skene Ogden Trail is always easy to spot. The trail is shared with equestrians and mountain bikes, which are only allowed to ride uphill.

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Elevation Profile

Peter Skene Ogden Trail Guide Elevation
This one-way profile from Ogden Group Camp to Paulina Lake is deceiving. Although you will cover over 2000 feet of uphill, it’s gradual and never feels like a big climb.

3D Map

Peter Skene Ogden Trail Guide 3d Map
It’s a straight shot up Paulina Creek, starting at about 4300 feet to the edge of the caldera at 6300 feet.

Hike Brief

Peter Skene Ogden Trail Guide Old Photo
This bundle of joy is Peter Skene Ogden, who lived from 1790-1854.

Peter Skene Ogden Hike Directions

Video Directions

Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking? View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.

Turn by Turn Directions

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Go past the big trailhead sign in the parking lot.
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And then cross the bridge over Paulina Creek.

Paulina Creek and Paulina Lake are named after the Northern Paiute chief Pahninee. His story follows the same tragic script of other Native peoples trying to defend their homeland.

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From here it’s roughly 9 miles to Paulina Lake, the source of the creek.
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The trail follows the right bank of the creek upstream.
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The first few miles of the trail go through a relatively open mixed conifer sub-forest. As we climb along the trail, the habitats will change.
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There are several sections of the early trail that offer creek views and access.
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Keep your eyes open for volcanic rocks such as pumice and basalt.
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At about a mile in we cross to the left bank, which we’ll follow until the end of the trail.
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At about 3 miles in the trail skirts around McKay Crossing Campground. There’s a waterfall right before you get to the camp. There are also bathrooms here.
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At the end of McKay Campground, cross the road.
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And continue the trail on the other side. If you are starting at McKay Crossing Campground, this is where you’ll start.
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Continue to follow Paulina Creek upstream.
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You enter a new-growth forest just past McKay.
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You’ll see lots of dead trees along the creek, likely the victim of the mountain pine beetle, which kills lodgepole pines.
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The new growth ends and you enter an older-growth lodgepole pine sub-habitat.
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Follow the creek upstream, and if the trail is not evident in front of you, look for a switchback off to the left. There are several sections where the trail moves away from the creek to climb.
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The climbs are steeper than before but not too long.
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As the canyon walls get steeper, the waterfalls become more dramatic.
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There’s a great double falls that you can walk down to. If the water is flowing you can stand in front and feel the spray.
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At about 6 miles in you’ll reach a junction. Hike straight through.
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Here’s the sign from the junction.
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Keep following the creek. Look for ponderosa pines mixed amongst the lodgepole pines.
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At around 6.1 miles in you’ll reach a big cleared road, which can be confusing. Bear to the left.
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And then look for the singletrack trail to continue on the right.
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You’ll start to climb more, and Paulina Creek sits a hundred feet or so below in a gorge.
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Look up to the right to catch a glimpse of the highest point in the area, Paulina Peak, at 7,984 feet.
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At about 8 miles in you’ll see many dead trees littering the forest floor.
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And at about 8.3 miles you’ll see a split. Go right for the spectacular Paulina Falls viewpoint, and then continue on the Peter Skene Ogden Trail when you’re finished.
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There’s a stone viewpoint area. And there’s another viewpoint across the creek that you can reach by car.
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Enjoy the 80 foot double waterfall, Paulina Falls.
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Head back to the Peter Skene Ogden Trail and continue.
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And here you are, at the end of the trail!
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Continue to the road and bridge for a view over Paulina Lake, which is one-half of the caldera of Newberry Volcano.
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You can also walk another minute on the road to check out the Visitor Center.
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From here, just turn around and head back down the way you came. That’s the hike!

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I’m Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn’t so you don’t waste money. I don’t do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn’t do it without folks like you!).

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