Marion Falls Is A Hidden Treasure
Marion Lake, on the west side of Santiam Pass, is a lovely lake that we had never seen during all the years we have lived in Central Oregon. The drive to the trailhead is longer than what we normally travel for our day hikes (roughly 1.5 hours), but the 10 mile gravel road off Hwy 22 to the trailhead is well maintained and easy to access. We hiked to Marion Lake on a late September Saturday in which the air quality in Bend was poor. Reports showed that the quality of the air west of Santiam would be better than in Bend, so we felt a hike in this area would be warranted and were able to obtain two passes.
Once we arrived, the trail began with a fairly short hike through the woods to Ann Lake, a smaller body of water in which the lake's rocky outlet flowed under our trail, creating interesting sounds. Past this point, the wooded trail continued until we reached larger Marion Lake. The trail steepened here, passing through some burned forests until we eventually reached Marion Mountain. There should have been great views of Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack from the peak of this mountain, but they were shadowed through smoke. After a short break, we returned down the trail, sampling wild blueberries which were still hanging from their fall foliaged bushes. We knew there was a trail somewhere to Marion Falls in the area, but it wasn't until we consulted with a couple of hikers we met that we were directed to the non-maintained social trail which is not on current maps. We quickly discovered why the forest service does not want people to hike this direction; the path has places which are extremely steep, slippery, and can be dangerous. Careful hikers will find plenty of rocks, trees and roots to hold onto to travel up and down this path, however, to obtain great views of both Upper and Lower Marion Falls.
The entire hike was 12.24 miles with 2381 feet of elevation gain. We will return to this section of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness soon. There are many trails which we need to explore!
Original blog can be read at Bend Premier Real Estate's website.