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Mount Lowe from Graham Pass Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Wind shelters, Mt. Lowe lookout site, Rho Ridge (bobcat)
Northern section, Rho Ridge Trail (bobcat)
Crater Lake currant (Ribes erythrocarpum), Rho Ridge (bobcat)
Olallie Butte and Mt. Jefferson from the slopes of Mt. Lowe, Rho Ridge (bobcat)
The hike to Mt. Lowe from Graham Pass (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Graham Pass TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Mount Lowe
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 6.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1055 feet
  • High Point: 5,334 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Late spring into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

This route to an old lookout site between the Clackamas and Collawash River drainages follows the old Skyline Trail, a precursor to the Pacific Crest Trail. You'll be taking the northern section of the Rho Ridge Trail #565 on a little-traveled section of forest and you can count on a few tussles with windfall. However, you'll get views from the southern Washington Cascades to the Three Sisters and enjoy a variety of wildflowers in the little forest glades and meadows. It is unlikely you'll encounter another soul on this hike.

Walk across the parking area to a four-way junction. Keep straight up FR 4670 for about 50 yards. The signed trail departs into the woods on the right side of the road here. Cross a decommissioned logging road in a carpet of strawberries and keep rising in an old clearcut. Then enter dense young silver fir woods. The trail now parallels FR 4670 and soon reaches it. Walk up 4670 about 225 yards to reach the Rho Ridge-Rho Creek Trail Junction, where a spur road leading down to the old Rho Ridge Guard Station leads off to the right. The Rho Ridge Trail commences on the left side of the road here.

Hike up a slope and then a broad ridge crest in montane woodland using the wide path of the old Skyline Trail. Cross a windfall corridor and enter shady mountain hemlock forest. Come to another windfall corridor and drop through a bear-grass/grouseberry carpet. The trail makes a long level passage along the ridge, offering glimpses ahead to Mount Lowe and southeast to Sisi Butte, Olallie Butte, and the Pinhead Buttes. The trail comes close to FR 4670 again on a brushy slope, where you can get more views. Pass through a thicket of serviceberry and continue up the forested ridge. Negotiate a couple of brushy clearings and then reach the southern slope of Mount Lowe, which is clearcut. Hike up through the bear-grass and switchback to get views down the Cascades to Mount Jefferson and beyond. Switchback again at the ridge crest and enter mountain hemlock/silver fir forest. Pass below a rock outcropping and hike above a talus slope. Snatch a brief view of Mount Hood and then reach the short side trail leading up to the top of Mount Lowe.

The lookout site here has more memorabilia than most of these sites, including stone steps, rusting metal sheets, window glass carefully collected and put in cans, and part of the stay cable. The structure here had two incarnations: a 1916 log cabin built in 1916 and then an L-4 cabin, which was erected in 1932 and decommissioned in the 1960s. A couple of wind shelters face north towards the views over the Collawash to the Clackamas River valley. Despite a fringe of trees on the east side of the summit, the Cascades, from Mount Hood to the Three Sisters, are laid before you. After enjoying the vistas, head back the way you came to the Graham Pass Trailhead.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Breitenbush, OR #525
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Clackamas River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region by Matt Reeder
  • Hiking the Oregon Skyline by Charles M. Feris

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.