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Rocky Butte-Grasshopper Point Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

This page is marked as a Lost Hike. The "trail" may be dangerous and hard to follow and is not recommended for beginning hikers without an experienced leader. Beginning hikers should check out our Basic Hiking Information page.
Mt. Hood from Rocky Butte (bobcat)
Trail sign, Abandoned Rocky Butte Trail (bobcat)
Marsh-marigold meadow, Abandoned Rocky Butte Trail (bobcat)
View to Mt. Hood, Grasshopper Point (bobcat)
Lookout tree, Rocky Butte (bobcat)
Abandoned 475 trail to Grasshopper Point; optional loop via roads and Threemile Trail also shown (not a GPS track) (bobcat) (Courtesy: Caltopo)
  • Start point: Rocky Butte TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Grasshopper Point
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out or a longer loop via roads and trails
  • Distance: 4.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1010 feet
  • High Point: 5,385 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

This fairly short hike is for lookout aficionados and abandoned trail specialists. In fact, there is a short maintained trail up to the remains of the 1929 crow’s nest lookout at Rocky Butte and the views from here are quite expansive. However, to continue west up the slope to Grasshopper Point, you’ll have to use your trail tracking skills to find the abandoned tread of the Rocky Butte Trail #475 as it alternates between old growth forest and clearcut patches. Grasshopper Point had a tower lookout that was destroyed in 1967 and there are no longer great views from the summit as the trees have grown up. A more extensive hike using the Three Mile Trail and forest roads is also described.

WARNING: The route past the Rocky Butte Lookout Site is for experienced hikers only. Only shreds of the #475 trail remain: the rest has been obliterated by clearcuts. Follow the directions carefully.

Walk up the forested slope from the roadside sign under old growth noble fir, Douglas-fir, grand fir, Engelmann spruce, and ponderosa pine. Veer left on a detour around a large amount of blowdown and then continue up to a penstemon meadow and the weathered outcroppings at Rocky Butte, about half a mile from the trailhead. The lookout here was a crow’s nest atop a 60-foot ponderosa pine. A couple of guy cables are still attached to the tree, and the upper part of the access ladder can be seen as well as a few planks from the crow’s nest itself. Walking out to the viewpoint through a carpet of pinemat manzanita, you can see north to Mount Hood and get a commanding view over the Pine Creek and Badger Creek valleys to the entire Divide Ridge, from Lookout Mountain to Flag Point and Gordon Butte. The dry expanses of central Oregon agricultural lands recede into the distance beyond the valley of the Deschutes River. Look for a 1924 Forest Service benchmark on the rocks.

The next part of the journey is on an abandoned trail, so if you are uncomfortable or inexperienced with cross-country travel, enjoy the lookout site and then head back to your car. Find an obvious trail leading down a shallow slope on the back of the butte. The trail is just a scratch through the huckleberries, but has seen some recent logging efforts, and this section may be delineated by flagging. Hike on the level under silver firs, noble firs, and mountain hemlocks. Ascend gradually in a carpet of vanilla leaf and then reach an open clearcut. Head left into the cut and then back towards the forest line. Generally, the trail alignment follows the edge of the clearcut here, with the unlogged forest on your right. You will encounter at times the twisted, rusting remains of the phone line that ran between the two lookouts. Also look for the wire insulators on trees and small reflectors at eye level – lookout personnel used these to help them travel between the two sites in darkness. Enter shady woods again and hike up through the bear-grass. You’ll soon reach another clearcut, where you again keep to the right side of the cut. Reach an abandoned logging road with a #475 trail sign on a tree. Walk 20 yards to your left and resume the trail.

Cross a running brook and reach a meadow that blooms with marsh-marigolds and skunk-cabbage in late spring. The trail rises under old growth mountain hemlock, silver fir, and noble fir. Cross another abandoned road with trail signs on both sides. Keep to the left side of a clearcut here and reach a third road with a trail sign. Cross the road and drop down to your right. Years of debris have accumulated on the trail here. Then hike up the right side of a clearcut and go left at the end of the clearcut to cross a downed noble fir and reenter old growth forest. At the next clearcut, head over to the cut’s left side and make your way up along it. Young western white pines are growing up and there is a lot of debris to step over. Keep up the left side of the cut and come out eventually at FR 4860, the Rocky Butte Trail-Grasshopper Road Junction.

There’s a weathered post here. Cross the road and find a debris-strewn trail leading up to the broad, now forested summit of Grasshopper Point. Find a road bed and follow it to where it bends left. Where the road splits as it drops slightly downhill, go right, noticing several old campfire circles, and come to the old lookout site. Only a couple of concrete pedestals remain. Between the 1933 and 1967, there was an 84-foot lookout tower here with several outbuildings. There are no views from here, so head north along the ridge on an old road track and reach an andesite knoll from which trees have been cleared to get a view of Mount Hood.

Longer loop option:

You can head back the way you came or effect a longer loop (about 12 miles total) in this high country using trails and forest roads. Drop off Grasshopper Point to the east, picking the easiest line to bushwhack down the short distance to Grasshopper Road. Hike along the road, heading north for about 1 ½ miles. There may be large snowdrifts on the road into early summer, but this will not stop early jeep traffic! Find the Three Mile Trail leading off to the right: the signs are about 20 yards down the trail but visible from the road (If you miss this, you’ll reach the junction with the 140 spur to Badger Lake in another half mile). Take the Three Mile Trail down a very gentle slope in mountain hemlock, silver fir and noble fir forest. The trail runs along the wilderness boundary, and you will see the signs on your left. The trail rises in a huckleberry understory and eventually reaches the Three Mile-Mud Spring Trail Junction at the rim of the Pine Creek valley. Go right here down the Three Mile Trail to the Post Camp Trailhead.

Follow the road out to FR 4811. You will take this gravel road about five miles back to the turnoff for the Rocky Butte Trail, crossing both Threemile Creek and Rock Creek.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Rocky Butte Trail #475 (USFS)
  • Green Trails: Mt. Hood, OR #462
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Barlow Ranger District
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • Adventure Maps: Hood River, Oregon, Trail Map

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • none

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.