Obsidian Trail #3528


This unique landscape in the Three Sisters Wilderness encompasses crystal clear streams, wildflower meadows, rugged mountain views, young lava flows and obsidian cliffs. The cliffs were an important source of naturally occurring volcanic glass used by Native Americans to construct tools.

The area contains a number of lakes, streams and springs, including Obsidian Falls, which can be viewed from the trail. The trail also passes through lava flows and over ridges that offer breathtaking mountain views. Cross-country travel skills are necessary to access the high lakes and mountain peaks.

Backpacking, day hiking, mountaineering and horseback riding are the most common forms of recreation in the area during the short summer season, after snow has receded. Opportunities for nature photography also abound.

The Obsidian Limited Entry Area requires additional protection in an effort to preserve the natural beauty and wilderness experience; therefore a limited entry quota is in effect. Under this quota, 30 day hikers and 40 overnight visitors are permitted into the area each day.

Access begins at the Obsidian Trailhead, located just off historic Highway 242 (closed during the winter and spring). The Obsidian Trail #3528 climbs more than 2,000 feet in elevation, through a forest of mixed Lodgepole Pine and Hemlock alpine forest then passing through a lava flow. Views of the Three Sisters and other surrounding mountains are available on this lava flow. After passing through the flow, the trail crosses White Branch Creek and then heads uphill through alpine forests and meadows, crossing many streams along the way. The trail reaches its terminus at the Pacific Crest Trail #2000. Connecting to Glacier Way Trail #4336 provides a popular 12-mile, day- loop for hiking or riding.

Facilities at the trailhead include parking, bathrooms, picnic tables, stock hitching posts and wilderness and interpretive information about the area.

Know Before You Go:

  • Limited Entry Permits are required for both day use and overnight use of the Obsidian Area.You must carry your permit with you on your trip.
  • Access is dependent on McKenzie Highway (Oregon 242), which is closed in the winter.
  • Highway 242 has restrictions for vehicle and trailer size
  • Campfires are prohibited and campsites must be located at least 200 feet from lakes or streams.
  • Hikers and equestrians should obtain a detailed map of the area before planning a trip, and inquire in advance about trail conditions, particularly early in the season.
  • Visitors must practice "Leave No Trace" skills, including properly disposing human and pet waste and packing and carrying out all trash.
  • Use of the Obsidian Trailhead requires a recreation pass, such as the Northwest Forest Pass, which must be purchased before arriving at the trailhead. Passes can be obtained at McKenzie River Ranger Station online (day passes only) or any of these vendors.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Limited Entry Permit required.
Operational Hours: Access is dependent on McKenzie Highway (OR Hwy 242), which is closed in the winter. Check tripcheck.com for conditions.
Fees $5/vehicle/day or valid recreation pass
Permit Info: Limited Entry Permits are required for both overnight and day visits to the Obsidian Limited Entry Area. Reserve at recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
Usage: Heavy
Closest Towns: McKenzie Bridge, OR
Sisters, OR
Water: Requires treatment
Passes: A valid recreation pass may be used as a form of payment
Information Center: McKenzie River Ranger Station

General Information


Access from

General Notes:

Map of Obsidian trail

Close to:

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



Show detail SHOW

Horse Riding & Camping

Hide detail HIDE

Horse Riding

Related Information

Areas & Activities


  Area/Length : 
5.2 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
4800 feet - 6000 feet