French Pete Creek
- Easy (to bridgeless crossing)
- 3.6 miles round trip
- 400 feet elevation gain
- Open late March to mid-December
- Moderate (to 5-mile marker)
- 10 miles round trip
- 1000 feet elevation gain
French Pete Creek was the first low-elevation forest valley to be preserved because of the outcry over Oregon’s vanishing old-growth forests. The original Three Sisters Wilderness included only feebly forested, high-elevation land. After 14 years of ardent protest by hikers, students, and environmentalists, French Pete was added to that Wilderness in 1978. This valley aroused such passion because of the sheer grandeur of the mossy jungle along its cascading mountain creek. Gargantuan Douglas firs and 1000-year-old cedars tower above a green carpet of sword ferns, twinflower, and Oregon grape.
Today an easy trail ambles through the giant woods 1.7 miles to the first of two bridgeless creek crossings. Most hikers turn back here, especially if they’ve brought children along. But adventurers who are willing to cross the creek on fallen logs can continue up the increasingly brushy French Pete Trail into the much quieter old-growth groves of the valley’s upper end. Long pants are advisable here.
To find the trailhead, drive …
With a car shuttle, you can …
This chapter is an excerpt from 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Central Oregon Cascades.