From Sisters, drive 1.5 miles west on Highway 242. Turn left (south) on to Pole Creek Road and follow this to the trailhead at its end, approximately 10.5 miles from the highway.
Camp Lake lies nestled between the South and Middle Sisters in a very harsh land. At 7,000 feet, much of the area is above tree line, offering little protection to the high winds that often flow through the opening in the mountains. Nevertheless, the view at Camp Lake is spectacular, and in most cases, is worth the hassles.
From the trailhead at the end of Pole Creek Road, follow the footpath as it gradually rises to meet up with Trail #70 at 1.5 miles. No major views are given along this portion of trail, although there are several places where the mountains can be seen behind the trees. After arriving at the fork, follow the trail south for about a half-mile until crossing Soap Creek, and another junction immediately after the creek crossing. Take the fork to the right.
The first half of this route stays primarily in the forest, offering no major views of the surrounding mountains. After three miles of hiking, the first good views of the mountains begin to appear. Cross Squaw Creek (this crossing can be difficult during some times of the year. Scout around for the best place to cross), and make sure to look up the creek bed to get a glimpse of Hayden Glacier.
Views continue to improve as the trail climbs onto a small ridge. Great views of the Middle Sister and Diller Glacier are given to the hiker along this portion, with the South Sister rising higher in the sky. The trail levels out slightly as it turns in a more westerly direction to meet up with Camp Lake.
This is a fragile landscape and has been severely scarred from past campers, so treat it with the greatest respect. There are several campsites on the small rise at the north edge of the lake, some fairly protected from the winds with small trees. You may also want to explore the Chambers Lakes. The trail can be followed past the north edge of the lake and onto the main spine of the Cascades (from Camp Lake, the ridge is only about 500 feet high).
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Camp Lake is also the springboard for an easy ascent of Middle Sister via the Southeast Ridge. Most people get back down to the lake by 2:00 in the afternoon after camping out at the lake and starting up early. This is a spectacular location to overnight, but is quite heavily used.