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Lookout Mountain Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Summit cliffs of Lookout Mountain (romann)
Distant Cascade snowpeaks from Lookout summit (romann)
Dry meadows on the upper part of the trail (romann)
Snow shelter (romann)
  • Start point: Mother Lode Mine TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Mother Lode Mine Trailhead
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out-and-back
  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1045 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: June-October; accessible from sno-park in winter @ Round Mountain trailhead
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for kids over 8
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: Yes

Contents

Hike Description

Ochoco Mountains' highest peak, Lookout Mountain features wide, rolling summit plateau with high desert meadows and islands of forest. In June and July, the meadows have rich assortment of flowers. This area is pretty high (you start at 5,875 feet and go to almost 7,000') and is good for getting used to elevation, and it also melts out much earlier than alpine areas of the Cascades. It's more sunny and drier than in the Cascades - just watch for thunderstorm forecast. There is a lot of wildlife. But the main draw of Lookout Mountain is outstanding views - not only from summit viewpoint, but for miles and miles along its trails. This page describes the short, steeper access to Lookout Mtn Summit, but if you have time and energy, it's highly recommended to do a popular Lookout loop or even a long loop, to see more of this outstanding area.

Begin at Mother Lode Mine trailhead (old topo maps show it as Independence Mine TH). There are 3 signed trails starting from this trailhead, look for Mother Lode Mine trail #808A. It follows steep, long-abandoned road bed through young forest with occasional meadows, and before long you start seeing good views on your right. In about 1.3 miles the trail comes out of the trees on the summit plateau meadows, and you come to 3-way junction with Lookout Mtn trail #804 - fork left and continue up hill, much less steep from this point. In about 200 yards from the junction, you'll reach another trail on your left, signed for snow shelter. This historical, 3-wall structure with a stove and wooden roof is just a short way from main trail, and worth a visit. There are good places to camp under the trees around the shelter (and of course, the shelter itself, but expect some company) but if you camp, you'll need to bring water - there's no reliable springs for at least 2-3 miles around.

Back on the main trail, you will come to another junction in less than 1/3 of a mile, in the middle of a huge sagebrush meadow (look for yellow balsamroot, blue larkspur and lupine, and red scarlet gilia - hummingbirds' favorite - among sagebrush). For the summit, keep straight on unsigned trail and in less than 100 yards the trail will abruptly end at the top of a cliff, with incredible views to the west, north, and south. There are old foundations of (presumably) former lookout building and the corral on the windswept lava bed. On a good day, you'll see most of Central Cascade's snow-capped volcanoes, including Mount Bachelor, Three Sisters, Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood, and Mount Adams, and all the smaller summits in between. Looking back, you'll see a glimpse of Big Summit Prairie through the trees to the east.

Unless you want to extend your trip and make a loop (counter-clockwise loop via trails #807A and #808 is a great one), return the same way you came here.

Maps

Lookout Mtn hike final and trls.jpg


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Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • No pass requirements are posted at the trailhead

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.