Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect that the route from Woodpecker Trail to Jefferson Park is 13 miles round-trip, not 13 miles one-way.

The lush meadows and crisp alpine lakes of Jefferson Park create a sacred place for many lovers of Oregon backcountry, including Brian and Regina Walker, who had been eagerly awaiting the park reopening after the 2020 Labor Day fires tore through the area of Mount Jefferson.  

An announcement was made in late August that the area was once again accessible via the Pacific Crest Trail, and although access points proved a little confusing amid other closures, entering Jefferson Park safely and legally was once again possible.

“It’s always been a really special place for us. The last time we were here was just a few days before the Labor Day fires, that felt like a nightmare,” Brian Walker said. “We heard reports that the area was pretty intact still, but we needed to see it for ourselves to believe it.”

Hikers still do need to get permits for overnight and day visits for Jefferson Park in the same way they do for the rest of the Mount Jefferson Wilderness.

Brian Walker explores Jefferson Park.

Early in the morning on Sept. 3, the Walkers began mapping their journey, and decided to enter the park via Woodpecker Trail, which is technically open while the trailhead itself remains closed. Road conditions were good on the way up, give or take a few potholes, and they parked just outside of the trailhead in order to heed the closure and began the journey.

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