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Devils Ridge Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View from Devils Lookout towards Battle Ax (bobcat)
Footbridge over Devils Creek, Spotted Owl Trail (bobcat)
Timber Butte, Outerson Mountain, Triangulation Peak from the viewpoint on the Cliff Trail (bobcat)
Elegant rein orchid (Piperia elegans), Devils Ridge Trail (bobcat)
The hike described traced in red (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Spotted Owl TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Devils Peak
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out (with mini-loop option)
  • Distance: 6.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,500 feet
  • High Point: 4,528 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Early summer into late fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

The hike to Devils Peak begins flat but gains 2,500 of elevation in just over two miles: note that the tread is often gravelly and loose in some of the steepest sections. The trail offers a loop choice in the middle section and a viewpoint across both the Devils Creek and South Fork Breitenbush River drainages. From Devils Peak itself, there is an excellent view of Mount Jefferson and intervening summits such as Triangulation Peak, Outerson Mountain, and Timber Butte. Be aware that the Spotted Owl Trailhead is close to the Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center property, but the trailhead itself can be used by hikers who are not guests; the center also maintains this particular trail system and offers maps of it to those using the facilities. The area has a fractured political history: all of Devils Ridge was nominated in the 1984 Oregon Wilderness Act, but the area was removed before passage of the bill as the Detroit Ranger District engaged in the most aggressive logging campaign of any national forest region in the country.

Note: For a shorter, but also steep and rewarding hike, turn around at the Devils Lookout. Also, you can connect with these trails via the Emerald Forest Trail. Park at the South Breitenbush Gorge Trailhead.

From the green gate, hike 50 yards on the road and find the unsigned Spotted Owl Trail leading off to the right. Hike through a young forest with an understory of Oregon grape, rhododendron, salal, and grouseberry. The trail enters an old growth grove of western red-cedar, Douglas-fir, and western hemlock. You will pass briefly through another clearcut and reenter old growth woods (In the mid-1980s, this area was the scene of much protest and controversy over the continued logging of old growth forests). Soon the path drops into a lush bottomland of alder, red-cedar, hemlock, and willow. Cross two footbridges over braided Devils Creek, pass by a skunk-cabbage swamp and head up, making two short switchbacks. You will reach the Spotted Owl–Cliff Trail Junction.

Make a right here onto the Cliff Trail. The rooty path rises above a lush draw shaded by hemlock, Douglas-fir, and yew. The trail drops into a small valley and then heads up again, making several switchbacks to a spur that leads right to a clifftop viewpoint vegetated with chinquapin and manzanita bushes. Farther on, there is a second and better viewpoint on another rocky promontory. Views extend across the Devils Creek valley to Timber Butte and also north to Battle Ax and French Creek Ridge. From the viewpoints, the Cliff Trail rises steeply to the Devils Ridge-Cliff Trail Junction.

Go right on the Devils Ridge Trail and wind up steeply and then walk along the ridge crest. The trail heads steeply up again around the base of a volcanic outcrop where a small lightning fire scarred some trees. The trail reaches the lower Devils Ridge Viewpoint, also known as Devils Lookout, which affords views north across the South Fork Breitenbush valley to the peaks of the Opal Creek and Bull of the Woods Wildernesses. From here, the trail heads along the ridge crest and then rises very steeply in a series of nine switchbacks to another viewpoint on a ridge forested with stunted Douglas-fir and Alaska yellow-cedar. The trail drops to a saddle and then heads up under another outcrop to rise along the ridge crest. In this section, the path undulates along the crest among silver fir, Douglas-fir, and Alaska cedar. The trail rises and makes a traverse before rounding the nose of the ridge to swing up to the right and the summit area of Devils Peak. Views from the brushy crest (manzanita, snow brush, serviceberry) extend all the way to Mount Jefferson.

After admiring the vista, return the way you came to the Devils Ridge-Cliff Trail Junction. To make the mini-loop, go right and drop down into shady woods with a carpet of twin flower and Oregon grape. Above a lush draw, reach the Devils Ridge–Emerald Forest–Spotted Owl Trail Junction. The Emerald Forest Trail descends from here to cross the South Fork Breitenbush River. Go straight at the junction. Where the trail branches, keep left on the Spotted Owl Trail. This tread hops over a ridge, drops, crosses a forested draw and continues descending in a traverse to the Spotted Owl–Cliff Trail Junction. Go right here, and return along the Spotted Owl Trail to your car.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Respect all private property and No Trespassing signs

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region by Matt Reeder
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald (different approach described)
  • A Walking Guide to Oregon's Ancient Forests by Wendell Wood
  • 50 Old-Growth Hikes in the Willamette National Forest by John & Diane Cissel (map)

More Links


Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.