This is a wonderful trail. It’s short and yes steep, but well worth the effort. It should be called the “Three Pyramids Wildflower Hike” because of the diversity and abundance of wildflowers and plants as you traverse the switchbacks. Take your time and enjoy every turn.
The trail begins at the west end of the parking area and crosses over a small creek on a log footbridge. Immediately, there is a junction where you turn right and start the gradual, steady climb through an old growth forest. It’s shady and cool as the trail parallels the creek and there are a few small waterfalls for background music. The trailside groundcover is thick on both sides with bunchberry, vanilla leaf, devil’s club, skunk cabbage and coolwort and there are a few more creek crossings on log bridges, one that is somewhat collapsed but still very functioning.
What I like most about this hike besides the incredible view from the top is the wildflower display. As you climb in elevation the ecosystem changes along with the flower display. Bear grass appears, as does white-veined pyrola, spent Queen’s cup and native rhododendrons. As we climb even higher and leave the creek behind, wildflowers that prefer a drier climate appear, pearly everlastings, Indian paintbrush, brackenfern and lupine. (I apologize if I ramble on about the plants on all my hikes, but their beauty and abundance is really a big part of what draws me.)
After about ¾ mile the trees start to thin and we come upon an incredible U-shaped valley that was formed during the Ice Age. There is a beautiful meadow at the bottom, and it is inviting but we could not find a trail through the thick brush. We continue on up the switchbacks, taking lots of breaks to admire the views of the Three Sisters and the Cascade Range to the east.
After about 1.5 miles the trail winds around the northern side of the ridge where it becomes shady and cool, with spent trilliums and columbine and views of MT Jefferson. As we near the top, there is a junction with signage. We take a left turn heading to the Middle Pyramid. We continue on as the trail winds around on the western side of the ridge and to the top, where we are rewarded with views of the Three Sisters, MT Bachelor, Jefferson and MT Hood to the north.
If you are so inclined to scramble up rocks, you can climb still higher and have your lunch break upon the rocky peak where there was once a fire lookout.
How to get there:
From Salem, drive east on HWY 22 for approximately 76 miles, passing Detroit Lake and Marion Forks. Pay attention to the roadside mile markers and when you see milepost 76, slow down. Turn right onto Lava Lake Meadow Rd #2067. If you reach milepost 77 you’ve gone too far. (which I have done before and had to turn around and go back). Road 2067 is a well-maintained gravel road. Pass Road 560 on your right, cross over a bridge and turn right at the junction, following signs for Pyramids Trail. Pass road 562 on your left and continue following the signs. There are a few side roads with no signage, but stay on the main road. You’ll come to a dead end and a large parking area with no bathrooms.
Distance and Elevation Gain:
This trail is only 4 miles however, it is all-uphill. The elevation gain is 1,800 feet so there are lots of switchbacks. Just take it slow, take as many breaks as you need. It is really not kid or dog friendly because of the steepness. Bring lots of water.
Fees and Permits:
There are no fees or permits required to park here. It’s free, isn’t that great! And it is a well-maintained trail. I would love for all my tax dollars to go towards maintaining the parks and trails in our country, instead of supporting war. Camping is allowed here and there is evidence (fire rings) that others have done so in the parking area.