Mt. Washington Wilderness: Willamette


Image of the Mt. Washington Wilderness

Mt. Washington rises above 75 square miles of lava-strewn plains. This is a geological wonderland which includes Belknap Crater, a 6,873 foot cinder and ash volcanic cone. This is a rugged retreat, primarily used by hunters, hikers, and mountain climbers. There are 28 lakes in the Wilderness.

Mt. Washington Wilderness area covers 54,278 total acres. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail extends for 16.6 miles through the Mt. Washington Wilderness. It is the primary trail and extends from the north boundary near Big Lake to where it leaves the wilderness at its southern boundary near the Dee Wright Observatory.Vegetation consists of lodgepole pine and associated species as well as mountain hemlock.

Know Before You Go

  • If visiting between the first Friday after Memorial Day and last Friday in September, you must carry a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit.
  • ''Leave No Trace'' techniques are encouraged in Wilderness areas, including properly disposing of human and pet waste and carrying out all trash.
  • There are no facilities within the Mt. Washington Wilderness.


Image of Three Sisters from the Mt Washington Wilderness Image Mt. Washington Wilderness Benson Lake Image of Mt. Washington from McKenzie Pass Image Mt. Washington from McKenzie Pass Image of the Mt. Washington Wilderness

At a Glance

Current Conditions:

New for 2021, trails in Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters Wilderness Areas will require a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit for overnight use and some will require one for day-use. Learn more.

Fees Central Cascades Wilderness Permit – Overnight visitors: $5 per person, per night (proposed); children 12 years old and younger are free (permit still required)
Permit Info: Self issue entry permits are required between Memorial Day and October 31. Details about Wilderness Permits.
Usage: Light
Water: Always carry water or a way to purify water.
Passes: Some trailheads require a recreation pass. Check our Recreation Passes & Permits page for details
Information Center: McKenzie River Ranger District

General Information


Access: From the north take State Hwy. 20 to Forest Road 2690 (Big Lake). Follow to Big Lake West Campground and Patjens Lake Trail #3395. From south take State Hwy. 242 (McKenzie Pass Scenic Byway). Pacific Trail #2000 is to the west of Dee Wright Observatory. Benson Lake Trail #3502 and Hand Lake Trail #3513 are off Scott Lake Road 260.

General Notes:

For trail information see:

Close to:

Topo Maps

Clear Lake, Linnton Lake, Mount Washington, North Sister. Download free U.S. Forest Service Topo maps here.

Buy maps online

Go to the National Forest Store. 

Go to for online maps and other important Wilderness information.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Areas & Activities



  Area/Length : 
54,278 Acres

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
3000 feet - 7794 feet