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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
Stay SafeCopy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.
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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

Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 2
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.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 40
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.

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Garmin Inreach Mini 2

Garmin InReach Mini 2
I’m a firm believer in carrying a satellite communications device which works where cell phones don’t. I use a Garmin InReach which lets me send text messages back and forth to my family to let them know that I’m okay or if my plans change when I’m out in the backcountry. It also has an SOS subscription built-in so that you can reach first-responders in an emergency. The devices also offer weather reports, GPS, and navigation functionality (what’s the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator?). For a few hundred bucks they could save your life, so for me it’s a no brainer to have something like a Garmin InReach. If you use a smartphone to navigate and want a more affordable option that integrates with your phone easily, check out the ZOLEO.

Latest Prices: Amazon | REI

Lone Peak 6 Yellow

Altra Lone Peak 6
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Terraventure 3 or Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. I have a video on the details of the Altra Lone Peak 6 here.

Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon 
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon 

Black Diamond Ergo Poles 2

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.

Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon 
Z-Poles: REI | Amazon 

Gregory Zulu 30

Gregory Zulu 30 & Jade 28
After testing quite a few backpacks, the Gregory Zulu 30 (and Jade 28 for women) is, for most hikers, the best all-season day-pack. First off, it’s very comfortable, and the mesh “trampoline” back keeps your back dry. Its 30L capacity is enough for all the essentials and plenty of layers for winter hiking. External pockets make it easy to grab gear. It’s hard to find something wrong with the pack; if anything, it could be a bit lighter, but overall, it’s not heavy. And its price-point makes it not only affordable but generally a great value.

Women’s Latest Prices: REIAmazon 
Men’s Latest Prices: REIAmazon 

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated June 2022.

My June 2022 Top Gear Picks

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.

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.

Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.

Gaiagps

How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
Here’s what I use. If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

To access this guide when out of cell phone range on the trail, simply save the webpage on your phone ( iPhoneAndroid ).

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

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Video Directions

Turn by Turn Directions

Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 6
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.

Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 8
From here it’s roughly 9 miles to Paulina Lake, the source of the creek.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 9
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.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 11
There are several sections of the early trail that offer creek views and access.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 12
Keep your eyes open for volcanic rocks such as pumice and basalt.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 13
At about a mile in we cross to the left bank, which we’ll follow until the end of the trail.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 14
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.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 15
At the end of McKay Campground, cross the road.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 16
And continue the trail on the other side. If you are starting at McKay Crossing Campground, this is where you’ll start.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 17
Continue to follow Paulina Creek upstream.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 18
You enter a new-growth forest just past McKay.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 19
You’ll see lots of dead trees along the creek, likely the victim of the mountain pine beetle, which kills lodgepole pines.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 20
The new growth ends and you enter an older-growth lodgepole pine sub-habitat.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 21
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.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 22
The climbs are steeper than before but not too long.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 23
As the canyon walls get steeper, the waterfalls become more dramatic.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 24
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.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 25
At about 6 miles in you’ll reach a junction. Hike straight through.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 26
Here’s the sign from the junction.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 27
Keep following the creek. Look for ponderosa pines mixed amongst the lodgepole pines.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 28
At around 6.1 miles in you’ll reach a big cleared road, which can be confusing. Bear to the left.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 29
And then look for the singletrack trail to continue on the right.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 30
You’ll start to climb more, and Paulina Creek sits a hundred feet or so below in a gorge.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 31
Look up to the right to catch a glimpse of the highest point in the area, Paulina Peak, at 7,984 feet.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 32
At about 8 miles in you’ll see many dead trees littering the forest floor.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 33
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.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 34
There’s a stone viewpoint area. And there’s another viewpoint across the creek that you can reach by car.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 35
Enjoy the 80 foot double waterfall, Paulina Falls.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 36
Head back to the Peter Skene Ogden Trail and continue.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 37
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.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 39
You can also walk another minute on the road to check out the Visitor Center.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail Directions 41
From here, just turn around and head back down the way you came. That’s the hike!

This guide last updated on June 14, 2022. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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