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Steamboat Mountain Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. Adams from Steamboat Mountain (bobcat)
Rough-leaved aster (Eurybia radulina), Steamboat Mountain (bobcat)
Steamboat Lake from Steamboat Mountain (bobcat)
The trail to the top of Steamboat Mountain (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Steamboat Mountain Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Steamboat Mountain
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 1.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 575 feet
  • High Point: 5,424 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Late spring into fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No
Falling

Contents

Hike Description

Steamboat Mountain’s 500-foot high east wall rears above a rock quarry and exposes three layers of Grande Ronde basalts, laid down at sea level between 17.5 and 15 million years ago. Considerable uplift has resulted since, of course. The summit of Steamboat Mountain offers views in all directions, from Mount Rainier and Mount Saint Helens and south along the spine of Indian Heaven to Mount Hood. Close at hand are Mount Adams, Goat Rocks and, between the summit and Sawtooth Mountain in Indian Heaven, Mosquito Lake and Twin Buttes. Meadow wildflowers display best in July, while scrumptious huckleberries ripen after mid-August.

The trail heads up along the boundary with the Steamboat Mountain Research Natural Area, which protects subalpine conifer communities. You’ll get a view to the quarry, which mines the base of the mountain’s east face. Switchback among bear-grass and huckleberries in a noble fir/silver fir/mountain hemlock woodland. Switchback again on a ridge crest and make an ascending traverse through somewhat diseased forest that offers views south across Mosquito Lake to Sawtooth Mountain, Bird Mountain, and Lemei Rock in Indian Heaven. Mount Saint Helens and also Mount Hood hove into view. Huckleberries, the delicious Vaccineum membranaceum species, line the trail and ripen profusely here after mid-August.

Hike up another ridge and swing right on a rocky spine with little ridges of platy andesite. Stonecrop, penstemon, yarrow, and sulfur buckwheat bloom among the stone slabs. Get glimpses of the Washington stratovolcanoes and then reach the edge of a cliff to get a full-on view of Mount Adams as well as down to Steamboat Lake and south to Mount Hood. Switchback up to the old lookout site on Steamboat Mountain’s summit area: four corner blocks here are the remains of the timber tower that replaced the 1928 cabin in 1956. The tower stood only for ten years before being torn down. Mountain hemlock and subalpine fir ring the summit area. Walk around to soak in views in all directions and then return the way you came.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $1 toll on Hood River Bridge

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt Adams West, WA #366
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades by Joan Burton
  • Washington’s South Cascades Volcanic Landscapes by Marge & Ted Mueller
  • Day Hiking Mount Adams and Goat Rocks by Tami Asars
  • Best Short Hikes in Washington’s South Cascades & Olympics by E.M. Sterling & Ira Spring

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.