Hike Canyon Creek Meadow and 3 Fingered Jack

Jack Lake Trailhead, Jefferson County, Oregon, United States

  • Activities:

    Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

Dog Friendly

Views of Mt. Jefferson, the Three Sisters, and Mt. Washington (among others). Camp at the base of Three Finger Jack. Thousands of wildflowers. Loop hike.

This hike is truly spectacular from the moment you step foot out of your car. Jack Lake lies at the beginning of the trail, and provides a beautiful sample of what's to come. Stop and take pictures if you feel so inclined, but don't stop here to camp, because it gets a LOT better!

Follow the trail around the lake and for two miles through both forest dense with life and a burned version of the same thing. As the forest begins to open up you'll see campsites on either side of you well off the path and then land in Lower Canyon Creek Meadow. After regaining your balance from being struck in the face by the beauty of 3 Finger Jack, continue up the path for another mile or so. After climbing another small ridge, you'll see Upper Canyon Creek Meadow below, filled with wild flowers in August, and possibly even some snow surrounding the valley and on the face of the mountain.

There are campsites all around the meadow but finding one with a view can be difficult if you don't get there too early. In reality you can set your tent up within 100 feet of water or trails, but you'll quickly realize that this is easier said than done, especially since you don't want to lay your tent out over any wild flowers. Worst case, hang out for a bit and head back to the lower meadow to find a spot to setup camp.

The trail continues up toward an alpine lake and saddle aside the mountain. It's a steep climb on loose rock, but worth every step. If there is still plenty of time in the day, feel free to head up to the shoulder and bask in the views. Mt. Jefferson lies to the north, with potentially Mt. Hood behind on a clear enough day. To the south you'll find Mt. Washington, the Three Sisters, and Black Butte. Right next to you 3 Finger Jack towers above. If you setup camp too late to bother heading up to the ridge (not recommended to come down in the dark), then go up in the morning. I went up just after sunrise and had the whole place to myself for at least an hour.

After spending a night, the day, or the whole weekend in this magical land, head back the way you came, through the lower meadows until you reach the fork. Right is where you came in, but left will lead back to the same parking lot, along a very different route. This one has a stream alongside, and jets off to some nice little side adventures if you have time.

Pack List

  • NW Forest Pass (to park in lot, or pay fee)
  • Water
  • Backpacking bag
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Headlamp
  • Jet Boil
  • Dehydrated food
  • Water purifier
  • Warm clothes
  • Hiking poles
  • Camera
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Beginning this adventure from the Jack Lake Trailhead makes it much more accessible for slower hikers and younger children, as compared to beginning on the PCT side of Three Fingered Jack. Try to go in the spring or early summer when wild flowers are in full bloom, and to avoid the fires that plague this area in the late summer months.

6 months ago
6 months ago

Seth Whelden

Director of Photography.


 Born on the small island of Nantucket 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, it was always easy for me to appreciate the beauty of this world. Moving to Portland 7 years ago has only enhanced my desire to capture the stunning scenery around me, and driven me to go further in search of the perfect shot.


 By day I'm a freelance director of photography working out of Portland as my home base. I also co-own a stock footage company (The Stacks) with my wife Kelly.


 My mission is to bring my passion for light, color, tone, depth and framing to the brands that define Portland, Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond.


 Visit my website: sethwhelden.com

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