Sunday, July 30, 10 CONC hikers joined me for the Scott Mountain-Hand Lake loop. AQI out of Hoodoo showed levels well below 100, so there were no concerns about huffing and puffing up the trail. Temperatures of mid-70s were predicted, but at the top of Scott Mountain there was a surprisingly cool breeze so not everyone sought shade for lunch. Scott Mountain is only 6100 feet, but situated such that you feel right in the middle of the Cascades. Mt. Jefferson, 3Fingered Jack, and Mount Washington are right there to the north. And to the south, you look right into the glaciers on North Sister.
The hike itself has 1500 feet of elevation gain and 9 miles of hiking, and is listed as difficult by Sullivan. Hiking clockwise you pass Benson Lake and stay in the shade of the trees all the way to the top. On the way down, you descend through a small burn, then hike next to a lava flow until you reach Hand Lake, with more views of the Three Sisters. I’ve never hiked it counterclockwise, but this might be advisable to get past the lava and burn in the morning while it is cool, and take your time viewing Benson Lake on the way down.