Trail Running the Marion Lake Loop, Oregon
6.5 miles round trip (out-and-back + loop)
900 feet elevation gain
Dogs: yes on leash
Features: Marion Lake with Three Fingered Jack, Marion Falls, wildflowers, rivers, campground, bathrooms, dog friendly, kid friendly.
Marion Lake Loop is one of those beautiful PNW loops that you have to do at some point. With the waterfalls, the beautiful lake, and big pine trees covered with moss, you really get a taste of everything. Marion Lake also has a primitive campground you can backpack into that would be a great first backpacking trip for anybody, kids included (in fact, we saw quite a few boy scout troops hiking out). We opted to run this loop on a Sunday morning and I’m really glad we did, most everyone who was on the trail was hiking back out from the campground, so we had a lot of the trail to ourselves for a majority of the day.
Directions: starting at the trailhead, hike on in towards the lake. In 1.7 miles the trail will split, this is where the loop portion of the trail begins. If you want to go to the waterfall first, head to your right and work the loop in a counterclockwise direction (this is what we did). After hanging a right, hike up the trail until you see indications of a side trail headed into the woods. There will be a downed tree across the path as well (the coordinates for this location are: 44.566401, -121.872183. I plugged them into my google maps on my phone and saved the point so we knew exactly where to turn off the trail.) At this point, follow the trail down towards the river and when you get close to the edge of the cliff, it will turn sharply downhill. My advice is to not go any lower than the second viewing point. After viewing the falls, head back to the main trail and take a right to continue on towards the lake. Once you reach the lake, there are multiple places where you can go down to the water and enjoy the view, however, the view of Three Fingered Jack won’t unveil itself until you’re about halfway around the river. Keep following the trail all the way back to the parking lot, ending at about 6.5 miles total, depending on how much additional wandering you do.