One of my favorite trails for backpacking or just a great day hike is Pamelia Lake Trail. Located in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area its only 63 miles from Salem, Oregon on hi-way 22 about 12 miles past the town of Detroit between mile post 62 and 63. Look for a small sign Pamelia Road 2246 on the left side of the road and travel 3.7 miles to a parking area. The 2.3-mile hike is an easy uphill walk next to a beautiful cascading Pamelia Creek and towering Fir trees along the trail. This hike should be done in July through September, as there is still snow sometimes on the trail in June.
Once you reach the lake you will experience a scenic lake with Mt. Jefferson towering in the background. Travel around the left side of the lake and you will find many designated campgrounds. You will find a fire pit at each site. There is a spring that comes out of the side of the mountain along the trail. It is located on the trail about three-quarters of the way around the lake just past the walking bridge. As it is a wilderness area you will have to get a free limited entry permit for day use or overnight camping. Permits can be obtained at the Willamette National Forest Station located on hi-way 22 about a mile before you get to Detroit, Oregon. Please call ahead as the permits are limited. The phone number is 503-854-4239. You will also need to get a $5 parking pass.
At Pamelia Lake there are options for other backpacking hikes. One trail will lead you to Grizzly Peak with a panoramic view of the area. This is a 2.8-mile hike, which takes off to the right just before you reach the lake. Above Pamelia there are three other lakes to hike to, Hunts Lake, Hanks Lake, and Mud Hole Lake. The trail gets steeper as the elevation goes from 3100 feet to 6000 feet but is worth the walk. Wildflowers, springs, and great views of the area make it worthwhile. The trail hooks on to the Pacific Crest Trail and circles back to Pamelia Lake. About a 20-mile hike depending on which trails you take. If you want to stay at Pamelia Lake there are brook trout about 6 to 10 inches that can be caught and make delicious dinners. One of the premier and popular places to use your backpacking gear I strongly recommend this destination.