With the re-opening of the PCT north of Pamelia Lake (Lionshead Fire) after 2 years being closed, and complimenting last week’s PCT Pamelia Lake sobo (post), on Sept 15 under cloudy skies the hike started at same Pamelia Lake TH, and went nobo on PCT to the northern ridge above Jefferson Park, and then back to the car. Standard operating procedure (SOP) for a long day hike is to arrive at TH and start hiking as if I camped trailside; left Pamelia Lake TH around 6:45 with 9 cars in the parking lot.

Reminder: clicking on pics opens in high resolution for better experience

Segment 1 goes from TH up Pamelia Creek and then around the north side of Pamelia Lake to PCT. Shortly after the PCT junction, Milk Creek flows thru an old slide with scrubby undergrowth and provides a view up Jefferson from the west – the water is cold and not as milky as the name would suggest. Looking up Milk Creek, it looks as if it flows thru a hole.

Once past Milk Creek, the PCT climbs up the side of ridge (it’s all up from here to the turn around). Along the way, a tree looked like it withstood a lava flow and lived! Such strength … amazing

Past this, 5 miles of burn – but within the first mile there is a magical lake with berries in full red. The lake is completely surrounded by burnt sticks.

To give an idea of what this 5 miles of burn looks and feels like …

The bottom pic showing that big slide came into view as one crests the ridge entering the burn area, but getting closer the creek below can be heard. This creek is the beginning of the end to this burn section and flows thru a solid rock gorge – it was beautiful but pics don’t do justice (apologies).

What really hits after crossing this creek is that there is a huge fire all around this area but past here … only the edges were singed and the rest untouched by fire – geology, luck, wind, water, magic, etc … Another creek is crossed that is almost milk white from the glacial runoff. Then the first lake inside the park had a circle plant formation too perfect to ignore.

Now, fully inside Jefferson Park the clouds and Jefferson put on a peek-a-boo show and the magic of how the park withstood and survived the fires just becomes undeniable.

On the meadow even this late in the season some flowers were blooming

When the summit was clear looking up it was if the clouds were being feed by the steam coming off the melting glaciers.

I turned around on the northern ridge above the Park and headed back to the car.

Summary: The hike from Pamelia Lake to Jefferson Park is amazing. The first 3 miles are up to the PCT thru old forests and along Pamelia Creek. 5 miles then through a burn, and WOW! … first an amazing creek running through a solid rock gorge and then Jefferson Park itself – magical oasis of life and water surrounded by dystopian fire landscape. Just pure hiker joy imho. The trail is busy – over 25 people and 2 horses (how they crossed the streams ?… ) but never felt too busy. While this is a long day hike for most, I highly recommend figuring out how to get yourself to Jefferson Park.

For those that want a public view, All Trails has something very close – Scout Lake and Bays Lake via Pamelia Lake and PCT (link)

GaiaGPS Stats (map link)

stats note: this hike pushed my YTD hiking and backpacking miles >1000, with months left in the year 🙂


  1. Awesome stuff. We’re so excited to go back with it reopened. Did you see any sufficient camp spots around Jeff Creek?

    1. Author

      Tyler … i did not remember seeing a campsite as this is the middle of the burn area – i looked at GutHook / Farout guide for PCT, and here is the latest comment on the campsite in question, quote: “Water flowing well. In the middle of the burn area though so I definitely wouldn’t camp here.” If you go 3 more miles nobo to Whitewater Creek there is a tremendous site just north of crossing to left of trail – ate lunch there and thought … what a great campsite. Best one i saw before Jefferson Park proper

  2. Still looking for your soul?

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