Timpanogas Lake

Indigo Lake

  • Easy (around Indigo Lake)
  • 4.8 miles round trip
  • 600 feet elevation gain
  • Open late June through October
  • Use: hikers, horses, bicycles

  • Difficult (to Cowhorn Mountain)
  • 11.9-mile loop
  • 3100 feet elevation gain
  • Open late July through October

Sawtooth Mountain rises like a 1000-foot wall above Indigo Lake, arguably the prettiest pool in this portion of the Cascades. But it’s almost too easy a walk up to Indigo Lake from the campground at Timpanogas Lake. For a more challenging trek, continue on a grand loop around a High Cascade basin, where a 2-mile detour scrambles to a breathtaking view atop Cowhorn Mountain.

Timpanogas was actually an early name for Utah’s Great Salt Lake, which an imaginative 1830 map mistakenly identified as the Willamette River’s source. When the Forest Service later determined that the river’s main stem actually originates at a lake below Cowhorn Mountain, they applied the name here. Cowhorn Mountain itself suffers from a different kind of identity crisis. Ever since its original, horn-shaped summit spire fell off in a 1911 storm, this has been the least widely recognized of the High Cascades’ major peaks.

To find the trailhead, turn . . .

This chapter is an excerpt from 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Central Oregon Cascades.