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Tanner Butte Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Looking north from the summit of Tanner Butte.
The famous "Beargrass Alley" section of the trail. Tanner Butte is straight ahead.
The view east from the summit. (Don Nelsen)
Trail map for the hike, starting at Eagle Creek.
  • Start point: Tooth Rock TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Tanner Butte
  • Hike Type: Out-and-back
  • Distance: 19.0 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 4800 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: April-November
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Trailhead options

The Tooth Rock Trailhead creates the easiest and shortest version of this hike, but overnight parking is not allowed. Also, Tooth Rock Trailhead has a higher incidence of car prowling than other nearby trailheads. You can access this hike from the Wahclella Falls Trailhead by hiking about 1.5 mile of Trail 400 from there to Mile 1.1 on Road 777. From the Eagle Creek Trailhead, you can hike west on Trail 400 for about 1.2 miles to Mile 0.7 on Road 777. From the first Eagle Creek parking lot, you can walk along the road going west along the highway to the Eagle Creek Staircase. At the top, to your left, is a hidden junction with the old Portage Road. Hike up the Portage Road to its crest, where you'll find a short use path heading up the hill. This leads about 100 yards to Road 777 at mile 0.7.

These alternatives are explored (with maps) in the Many Ways to the Tanner Butte Trailhead.

Hike Description

Tanner Butte is an old lookout site that offers one of the best 360° views in the Gorge. On clear days, you can see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams to the north, and Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson to the south.

From the Tooth Rock Trailhead, start by walking east on the paved Historic Columbia River Highway Trail. After 2/10 of a mile, you'll come to a junction with a trail going up to the right marked by a sign that says "Tanner Butte Trail." Start up the hill for another 4/10 of a mile until the trail splits. Follow the trail to the right. At this junction is a sign marked "Trail 400/Wauna Pt/Tanner Butte Tr."

Head up this steep trail for roughly 100 feet to Tanner Creek Road. This is a 4-way junction. Look for a sign that says "Gorge Trail 400" with arrows pointing left and right. Follow the trail (which is as wide as a road and goes uphill) to the right. When this road splits, bear left (the road on the right will have two signs marking it trail #400 and 034). After that, you will cross several service roads. Continue straight on the road you're on (Road 777) until you reach the old Tanner Butte Trail #401 trailhead.

Turn left onto the #401 trail and climb uphill, crossing two creeks and a powerline road. After 2.2 miles, you'll reach a level spot with a campsite and the unsigned junction with the Wauna Point cutoff trail #401D.

The trail continues gradually uphill through the forest. After 2 miles, you'll reach the junction with Tanner Cutoff Trail #448, which leads steeply west down to the Tanner Creek Trail. After another 0.1 mile you'll reach the junction with the Dublin Lake Trail #401B, which leads downhill to the east to Dublin Lake, a popular camping spot and a good water source if you're in need. Continuing onward, the #401 trail continues to climb gently through the forest and eventually turns into an old roadbed along the top of the ridge. For the next mile, the trail is thickly lined with beargrass, leading to the nickname "Beargrass Alley." After popping out into an open meadowy area, you will see Tanner Butte rising up ahead of you.

After the meadow, the trail reenters the forest and wraps around the side of the Butte. Around 7.8 miles since you left Road 777, you will see the faint, unsigned Tanner Spur trail leading up the hill to your left. The climb to the top is steep but short, and after crossing the flat, broad top of Tanner Butte, you will reach a flat rocky outcropping - the site of the old lookout. Panoramic views abound in all directions.

Once back down on the Tanner Butte Trail #401, you can continue south for .5 mile to the junction with the Tanner Springs trail. Turn right and follow the faint use trail down to a seasonal water source, as well as a campsite. If you continue south past the Tanner Springs junction, after another .1 mile you will reach the Eagle-Tanner trail junction on your left. This is the end of the Tanner Butte trail #401, as the area further south lies beyond the boundary of the Bull Run Watershed, and entry is prohibited.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass required at trailhead

Trip Reports

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Related Discussions / Q&A

  • Search Trail Q&A for Tanner Butte
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Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot and Afield Portland/Vancouver, by Douglas Lorain
  • 35 Hiking Trails, Columbia River Gorge, by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Columbia River Gorge, 42 Scenic Hikes, by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge - 1st and 2nd Editions, by Russ Schneider
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon - 3rd Edition, by William L Sullivan

More Links

Revised

February 2015

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.