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Mowich Butte from Trout Creek Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View to Bunker Hill, Trout Creek Viewpoint, Pacific Crest Trail bobcat)
The ford of Green Knob Creek, Pacific Crest Trail bobcat)
Trout Creek Hill from the Trout Creek Viewpoint, Pacific Crest Trail bobcat)
Large Douglas-firs, Sedum Ridge, Pacific Crest Trail bobcat)
Route of the Pacific Crest Trail and Sunset-Hemlock Road to Mowich Butte (not a GPS track) bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Trout Creek Trailhead (PCT)Road.JPG
  • End point: Mowich Butte
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 11.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2625 feet
  • High Point: 3,513 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable:No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

This is a Pacific Crest Trail section hike that takes you from surprisingly wide Trout Creek up to Sedum Ridge. From there, you can head right along an abandoned forest road to the top of Mowich Butte with its expansive views. After 1.3 miles on the trail, you’ll also stop at the dizzying Trout Creek Viewpoint, from which you can look straight down on the rushing creek as well as to the forested peaks around. There are also a few big trees along the way, but almost the entire area was scorched by the massive 1902 Yacolt Burn, and the recovering forest is dotted with the rotting snags of fire-killed trees.

Cross the substantial footbridge over Trout Creek, and pass a campsite by its shore. Enter a lovely mossy bottomland with a salal carpet under tall Douglas-firs and hemlocks. Head up along Green Knob Creek, where the bridge is out. At low water, you can easily hop across or ford; otherwise, use the mossy log about 30 yards downstream from the crossing. You’ll see parts of the old bridge tossed in the woods on the other side. You’ve now entered the area of the 1902 Yacolt Burn, so the trees here are younger. Cross a smaller creek and, at a switchback, get a view of Trout Creek rushing below. Pass across a series of springs, and cross two creeks in a carpet of Oregon grape, sword fern, and salal. After another switchback, the trail swings up a gully to cross Green Knob Creek again. Keep going up another gully and cross the smaller creek. Hike above a couple of mossy outcroppings and traverse up, crossing a stream.

A spur leads right to the Trout Creek Viewpoint atop a 350-foot cliff. A few manzanita bushes cling to the rocks here and the view is stupendous. Far below, Trout Creek winds through a pristine forest. In front of you, the twin peaks of Trout Creek Hill’s cinder cone dominate the horizon. Up the Trout Creek valley, you can see to Mowich Butte, West Crater, Green Lookout Mountain, and Calamity Peak. Bunker Hill is the hulking prominence to the east.

Continue up a ridge crest under smaller conifers interspersed with rotting snags from the Burn. The trail then makes a traverse, dropping slightly to cross a small creek. Pass across a slope of springs and rise gently: there are a few seasonal pools in the forest here. The path switchbacks from a depression and ascends a slope. Hike above a bench and drop briefly into a gully. Switchback twice up a steep slope, make a traverse, and round a rocky point. Continue along the steep slope among huckleberries, and note the addition of silver firs to the forest cover. Pass through a pocket of several towering old growth Douglas-firs that seem to have been unblemished by the Yacolt Burn. The trail heads around a rock fin and continues to traverse below the ridge crest before reaching the Pacific Crest Trail-Sunset Hemlock Road Junction (the abandoned FR 41).

You have a choice here: (1) stick to the road; (2) cross the road and follow the Pacific Crest Trail as it drops around the south side of a forested knoll to reach the Pacific Crest-Sedum Ridge Trail Junction. From the latter, go right a few yards to Sunset Hemlock Road (FR 41) and go left. Rise gradually, passing along the north side of a knoll. The road drops below a rock face and then rises gently for half a mile to the Sunset Hemlock-Mowich Butte Road Junction.

Head up through some “partial cuts” as the road switchbacks. There are more views through the trees of Three Corner Rock, Birkenfeld Mountain, Table Mountain, and Mount Hood. Switchback again and head through uncut forest towards the summit. The path bypasses a thicket of Sitka alder and reaches the site of the old lookout. There are great views down to the Trout Creek valley and to Mount Saint Helens (hiding behind Soda Peaks), Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Wind River, WA #397
  • Washington Department of Natural Resources: Yacolt Burn State Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: Pacific Crest Trail, Cascade Series – Southern Washington (Map #9)
  • Halfmile Pacific Crest Trail Map: Washington Section H — Cascade Locks to Highway 12 (near White Pass)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • Adventure Maps: Hood River, Oregon, Trail Map
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot and Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Hiking Washington’s Mount Adams Country by Fred Barstad
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon and Washington by Jeffrey P. Schaffer & Andy Selters

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.