Trailgrams: Trail blazin' around Sisters

Benson Lake Trail


Last updated 8/8/2023 at 10:13am

Photo by Bill Kelly

Benson Lake Trail offers the perfect combination of challenge and charm.

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Trail Oregon's beautiful outdoors awaits, and one gem among the state's natural wonders is the trail from Scott Lake to Tenas Lake via the Benson Lake Trail. Here's everything you need to know to enjoy this marvelous hike.

Why go? With a perfect balance of challenge and charm, this 4.9-mile, out-and-back trail offers something for every outdoor enthusiast. From the wildflower viewing to the breathtaking lake scenery, the route invites hikers to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Mt. Washington-Central Cascades Wilderness. For those who enjoy tranquility, the trail offers plenty of solitude during quieter times, allowing for personal reflection amid nature's splendors.

When to go: The best times to embark on this hike are from June through November. Those who choose to visit during this window will be rewarded with lush landscapes, vibrant wildflowers, and a chance to see fish leaping in Tenas Lake. On July 25, the weather was ideal, and the early morning hours are known for being particularly peaceful, with the trail all to yourself.

What to expect: This moderately challenging route takes an average of roughly two hours to complete, leading hikers through picturesque forests and meadows, and along the shores of stunning lakes. While the path may test your physical abilities, the enchanting surroundings make every step worth it. Dog lovers will be pleased to know that their four-legged friends are welcome and may even roam off-leash in some areas.

Getting there: The trailhead for Scott Lake to Tenas Lake is easily accessible. From Sisters, take Highway 242 west toward McKenzie Pass. Just past the Scott Lake Campground, you'll find a well-marked trailhead parking area. From here, follow the marked signs, and you will be on your way to an unforgettable hiking experience.

To hike this trail, you must have a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit-Day Use Deschutes National Forest. Permits can be purchased online at for just $1. Once you've secured your permit, you can drive to the trailhead, which is accessible by most vehicles.

What you'll need: Besides the mandatory Central Cascades Wilderness Permit, you'll want to pack the usual hiking essentials: comfortable footwear, water, insect repellent, snacks, sun protection, and perhaps a camera to capture the breathtaking beauty. Don't forget to bring your spirit of adventure and appreciation for nature's wonders, as this trail promises a memorable experience filled with beautiful lakes, vibrant flora, and maybe even the sight of a fish jumping in Tenas Lake.

Whether you're a seasoned hiker or just looking to explore Oregon's great outdoors, the Scott Lake to Tenas Lake via the Benson Lake Trail is waiting to share its treasures with you. Embark on this journey and let the wonders of nature rejuvenate your soul.


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