For over a decade now, I’ve avoided visiting and writing about Marion Lake, perhaps the most popular alpine pool in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness.

The reason was simple — everybody and their mom knows about it. A generation of Oregonians grew up hiking to this 360-acre lake to fish and camp.

But with a permit system that limits crowding in place — and with the season coming to an end — I decided it was finally time to dive into a place that has so many things in one place, from waterfall hunting to mountain climbing to wildfire scar exploring.

Snow will cover this area in the next month, so think of this as a guide to sneak up there for one last trip or plan a more classic summer trip for next year. I explored the area with my dog Comet in late October, during the unusually warm and dry stretch. It’ll look pretty different now.



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