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Please note:
Permits are required beginning on Friday of the Memorial Day Weekend, May 22, 2015. However, Highway 242 will not be open to motor vehicles until June 15, 2015, which means any trips prior to this date will require either hiking in or using a bicycle to access the trailhead. Bicycles are not allowed in the Obsidian Limited Entry Area.

Obsidian Limited Entry Area, OR

part ofWillamette National Forest, US Forest Service
Photo: Obsidian Limited Entry Area - Three Sisters Wilderness


The Obsidian Limited Entry Area, within the Three Sisters Wilderness, 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.

Natural Features:
This unique landscape 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 craft 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.

Obsidian is abundant throughout the area and makes up a large part of the area's rich cultural history.

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.

Access to the Obsidian Limited Entry Area begins at the Obsidian Trailhead, located just off historic Highway 242. The Obsidian Trail #3528 climbs more than 2,000 feet in elevation, branching to the left to connect to Trail #4336. Both trails connect to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, providing a popular 12-mile, day-long loop for hiking or riding. 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.

There are no facilities within the Limited Entry Area or the Wilderness Area. Facilities at the trailhead include parking, bathrooms, picnic tables, stock hitching posts and wilderness and interpretive information about the area. Visitors must practice "Leave No Trace" skills, including properly disposing human and pet waste and packing and carrying out all trash.

Recreation Pass required in addition to the Limited Entry Permit:
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.

Nearby Attractions:
The Obsidian Limited Entry Area is along the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass National Scenic Byway on Highway 242. Many hiking and camping opportunities are along the highway. Major attractions include the Proxy Falls waterfall hike and Dee Wright Observatory. The Dee Wright Observatory was built into the lava rock at the top of McKenzie Pass, and it provides spectacular views of volcanoes in the area.

Know Before You Go
  • You must carry your Obsidian Limited Entry Area permit with you on your trip.
  • Limited Entry Area Permits are required for both day use and overnight use of the Obsidian Area
  • Campfires are prohibited and campsites must be located at least 200 feet from lakes or streams
  • In addition to the Limited Entry Permit, use of the Obsidian Trailhead requires a recreation pass, such as the Northwest Forest Pass, which must be purchased before arriving at the trailhead
  • The Obsidian Limited Entry Area is accessed by Oregon State Highway 242, which is closed during the winter and spring.
  • The opening of Highway 242 varies depending on snow conditions; check for the latest road update
  • Highway 242 has restrictions for vehicle and trailer size
  • Click here to read special regulations unique to the Three Sisters Wilderness Area
  • Stock users must use weed-free feed; click here for more information
  • "Leave No Trace" techniques are encouraged in wilderness areas; click here for more information

Contact Information

McKenzie River Ranger Station
57600 McKenzie Highway
McKenzie Bridge OR 97413

Phone Park for More Information:

Information:  (541)822-3381
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