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. 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

  • All overnight and some day-use visitors to the Mt. Washington Wilderness must carry a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit if visiting between June 15 and October 15.
  • Learn about Wilderness Regulations, including special area regulations in the Mt. Washington Wilderness.
  • ''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.
  • Find out about the Weed Free Feed Requirement and other good Know Before You Go tips.


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

Fees: Trails in the Mt. Washington Wilderness area require a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit for ALL overnight use and SOME require one for day-use. Day and Overnight visitorsCentral Cascades Wilderness Permit required for ALL overnight and SOME day-use sites between June 15 and October 15. processing fees are $1/permit for day use, $6/permit for group/overnight use. Reserve a permit at or by calling 1-877-444-6777. 
Permit Info: There are two types of entry permits required between June 15 and October 15 for entering all designated wilderness areas.
  • Central Cascades Wilderness Permits are required between June 15 and October 15 for all overnight use in the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters Wilderness areas. Some day-use in these wilderness areas also require these permits. Check out for more information.
  • At all other wilderness areas free, unlimited self-issue permits at trailheads are required from June 15 and October 15.
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


Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities



  Area/Length : 
54,278 Acres

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
3000 feet - 7794 feet