The United States Congress designated the Mount Washington Wilderness (map
) in 1964 and it now has a total of 54,410 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Oregon
and is managed by the Forest Service.
The Mount Washington Wilderness is bordered by
the Three Sisters Wilderness
to the south.
This geological wonderland of rugged terrain topped by jagged peaks includes, near its center, the 6,872-foot cinder and ash cone of Belknap Crater, whose eruptions created one of the largest sheets of lava in the United States. The summit of the 7,794-foot dissected volcano named after our first president, scraped bare by ancient glaciation (the peak, not the president), overlooks some 75 miles of black lava-strewn plains. A dense forest of lodgepole pine and mountain hemlock covers much of the Wilderness. There are 28 lakes and wildlife enough to attract hunters. Only State Highway 242 separates Mount Washington Wilderness from Three Sisters Wilderness to the south. The primary trail through this area is 16.6 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, which enters at McKenzie Pass in the south, crosses a section of the lava, skirts the Belknap Crater, climbs the western slopes of Mount Washington, passes through a region of high lakes, and then leaves the Wilderness to hit U.S. 20 to the north. Tenas Lake and Benson Lake in the southwest corner receive substantial human use, as does Patjens Lake in the north. All three lakes are accessible via short trails.