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Fanton Trail to Tumala Mountain Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt Hood from the summit of Tumala Mountain (Jamey Pyles)
Old number sign on the Fanton Trail (bobcat)
Fanton Creek, Fanton Trail (bobcat)
Marsh marigold (Caltha biflora) on the Fanton Trail (cfm)
Tall silver firs, Fanton Trail (bobcat)
Fanton Trail to Tumala Mountain (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Fanton TrailheadRoad.JPG or
  • Start point: Upper Fanton TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Tumala Mountain
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 10.6 miles or 4.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2115 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Late spring into fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes (shorter version)
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

At first glance, the Fanton Trail does not seem an appealing prospect, rising, as it does, along a forested ridgecrest parallel to a paved forest road and crossing several logging spurs. However, the trail actually keeps far enough away from FR 4614 for most of its length and spends most of its time in shady old growth forest. A stretch of road also offers views over the drainage of the North Fork Clackamas River and the ultimate destination, Tumala Mountain. Minor annoyances might be the echoes of a target shooter somewhere in the woods off 4614 and occasional incursions on this trail or the Old Baldy Trail by motorcycles. This is a great rainy day hike, although you might want to skip Tumala Mountain if there are no views. A beautiful time to visit is late June/early July, when the forest is ablaze with blooming rhododendrons. There are both long and short options for this hike; use the Upper Fanton Trailhead for the latter. You can also leave a bike at the Upper Fanton Trailhead or the Old Baldy West Trailhead to make this a hike and bike.

The Fanton Trail #505 begins 35 yards south of the parking area opposite a No Target Shooting sign. Walk into a deep forest of Douglas-fir, silver fir, cedar, and western hemlock. Here the trail is very wide and has experienced repeated ORV incursions in the past. Fallen trees are now cut so that four-wheelers cannot pass through although this would not stop the dirt bikes that like to use this area. Hike up a short steep section and then gradually rise in a forest that blooms with rhododendron in late June. Bear-grass, vine maple, and huckleberry are also understory plants here. Drop a little and then rise gain. Notice a gravel track on your left and then reach a road bed. Walk 15 yards to your left to resume the trail in a very dense understory of rhododendrons. Cross a paved road. The understory now opens up again as you hike through a vanilla leaf/oxalis carpet with a patch of Clackamas white irises. Drop down a slope and then ascend to a rhododendron opening with a view through lodgepole pines to the steep North Fork Clackamas drainage. The trail levels on a ridge crest, drops, and then rises gain. Traverse along a steep slope and then drop close to a road, which the trail parallels to join at a gravel landing.

The trail follows the road here at the North Fork Clackamas Viewpoint, actually a continuous set of views of that valley and Tumala Mountain. Lupine and Cardwell’s penstemon bloom here among the invasive Scots broom. The Fanton Trail departs from the road on the left and drops down before rejoining it. Where the road rises, the trail departs to the right and drops through a regenerating clearcut with more views. Enter a hemlock woodland and descend to cross a bermed road. The trail undulates, approaches FR 4614, and passes a short tie trail to that road. Rise through a jumble of mossy boulders capped with devil’s club and rhododendrons, and drop into a vine maple depression. The trail reaches a spur road a few yards from FR 4614. Walk up this road 120 yards to the Upper Fanton Trailhead. Below the road here, there is access to rushing, willow-cloaked Fanton Creek. This is where you would begin the shorter option for the hike.

The trail heads up the slope. Pass through a rocky talus field shaded by vine maple and then hike on the level with the creek to your right. A Sitka alder opening is ringed by small groves of very large silver firs. Noble fir also enters the forest mix here. Traverse up a slope on a rocky tread in a huckleberry understory to reach the Old Baldy-Fanton Trail Junction.

Go right here to head gradually up the ridgecrest in a bear-grass carpet for 0.6 miles. In a thicket of rhododendrons, reach the Old Baldy-Tumala Mountain Trail Junction, still marked for "Squaw Mountain" (In 2007, the peak was officially renamed Tumala Mountain by the Board on Geographic Names during a campaign to eradicate the offensive word "squaw" from maps. Tumala is Chinook Jargon for "the afterlife" or "tomorrow."). Turn right and soon get the first views of Mount Hood at an open ridge. The trail comes to a gravel road near the summit. Turn left on the road and walk the short distance to the actual summit of Tumala Mountain. There's a set of stairs here that once formed the entry to a fire lookout. Wildflowers adorn the peak in the early summer. You'll have great views of Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson, as well as an expansive view to the west into the Willamette Valley. Be sure to explore around the summit for more views. This is the turn around point.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Fanton Trail #505 (USFS)
  • Old Baldy Trail #502 (USFS)
  • Green Trails: Fish Creek Mtn, OR #492
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Clackamas River Ranger District
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Some illegal dirt bike use of the trails

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain

More Links


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.