Backpacking to Broken Top Mountain and No Name Lake in the Three Sisters Wilderness near Bend, Oregon is about 13 miles out and back trail. This trail gains roughly 2,657ft of elevation and is rated as a hard trail with lots of foot traffic.
There are also a few alternate routes: the Broken Top Trail is a 5.5 mile out-and-back route, and the Broken Top Loop Trail is a 25 mile loop from the same trailhead. Both require a high-clearance 4×4 vehicle to get to the trailhead.
Permits are required for all overnight trips in Central Cascades from June 15th to October 15th (dates may change for snow) and can be reserved via recreation.gov. For backpacking the13 mile out-and-back trail to Broken Top and No Name Lake, you will start at the Todd Lake Trailhead.
Permits reserved on rec.gov are available for reservations starting on the first Tuesday in April and include approximately 40% of available quota space each day, at each trailhead.
Additional permits will be released 7 days prior to the start of a trip (at 7am) include approximately 60% of the quota space available each day, at each trailhead.
Permits are limited to reserving 3 at one time. Additional permits can be reserved once the dates have been observed or a permit is cancelled
↟ There is a $5 parking fee for these trailheads (cannot be purchased on site from the Broken Top Trailhead, but can from Todd Lake). Applicable passes include: Northwest Forest Pass, Local Passes, and Interagency Passes (AKA: National Park). If you don’t have any of these passes, you can purchase one in town at REI or can find information online here. Parking can fill up very quickly during the summer season, so get to the trailhead early if you are planning on doing an overnight.
↟ Permit requirements for these trailheads may vary at the start of the summer due to snowpack. Check rec.gov or with the National Forest Service for updates.
↟ Campfires are not allowed above 5,700’ elevation and at additional lower elevation destinations.
↟ Choose a campsite at least 100 feet away from lakes, streams, or trails. It is very important to do this in order to protect fragile ecosystems. When backpacking to Broken Top and No Name Lake, there is NO CAMPING AT NO NAME LAKE. Signs are posted, and please adhere to them. There are plenty of spots around that sign that are only a short walk to the lake.
↟ July 15 to September 15 dogs need to be leashed while on trail in the Three Sisters Wilderness.
↟ Recreate Responsibly, and Leave No Trace. Stay on trail, don’t cut switchbacks, pack out your TP and trash, and be a good nature-loving individual.
Trip Dates: October 1st-2nd, 2021
Total Mileage: 13
Trail Type: Out and Back
Trailhead: Todd Lake
After ditching our Bend Airbnb in the morning for a quick stop at Thump Coffee before we head to the nearest REI. Our National Park pass was expired, so we opted for a Northwest Forest Pass for parking. Both of us already had these passes, but conveniently left them at home with family. After a last minute impulse buy of a few energy gummies, we were finally on our way to Todd Lake trailhead.
I had been anticipating backpacking to Broken Top and No Name Lake in my head for a few months, and was ecstatic to finally be able to do it. By the time we reached the trailhead, it was nearly full. Somehow we managed to fit my Honda in between the trailhead sign and another parallel parked car. Dozens of people were filing into the trail, and I hoped they wouldn’t go much farther then the first lake.
After the Three Sisters Wilderness sign welcomed us into the backcountry, the trail thinned out and the peace returned. It was mid October by this time, and the air was noticeably more crisp. The light sun shirt I normally hiked in was replaced by my merino wool long sleeve shirt. Throughout the trail I had a solemn feeling that this would be our last trail of the year. It had been about a month since our last trail, a 93 mile trek on the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier. My trail legs felt established, and the climbs we ascended came and went with ease. I was coming off a slight injury from the Wonderland, a sharp pain in my knee from the steep ups and downs on Rainier. Climbing something gradual felt amazing.
By the time we could really get a look at the eastern face of the mountain and our ultimate destination for the night, the views were astounding. Behind us was Mt Bachelor, proudly standing in the valley. There were a few patches of snow as we approached the summit, and I stopped every few minutes to snap a photo.
When we reached the top of the climb, a sign was posted notifying backpackers of the off-limit camping zone at No Name Lake. We found a patch of trees off to our left and a large enough spot to pitch our Z-Packs tent. We hung out at the tent for a short while, making dinner before deciding to head up the trail to try at catch sunset. The trail was still quiet and the only other backpackers we saw was a small group camped on the opposite side of the trail. We made our way up to No Name lake along with 3 day-hikers and there pup, clearly on a sunset mission, judging from their pace.
The landscape was rocky, and had the most incredible blue lake and picturesque peak I have ever seen. The sunset was starting falling quickly, so we climbed the rest of the trail to try and catch it. The wind at the summit was intense, but the views were spectacular. The Sisters and the valley below in the last colors of sunset was breathtaking.
After reaching the tent after dark, Reid climbed into his sleeping bag. I snapped a few photos of our tent against the night sky, setting my alarm for a bright and early sunrise wake-up call.
I gave myself a fair amount of time to climb up to No Name Lake in the dark, and it was incredibly worth it. After climbing a rocky hill to our left, the views were spectacular, and remain some of my favorite alpine lake photos I have ever taken. We were the only ones up there for nearly an hour and a half, and made our way back down the trail to enjoy some breakfast and instant coffee.
The backpackers sleeping across the trail gestured to us as we walked pass, just waking up from the sun coming over the horizon. After packing up camp, we descended down the trail, passing a couple groups of early bird day hikers bounding up the trail; hoping to of greet the morning mountain.
Have any questions or comments about this trail? Leave them below!
Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links, which means if you buy something through those links my blog will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me to create free resources like the one you just read, so thank you for the support!