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Tumala Mountain Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Trailside view of the Squaw Meadows basin (Tom Kloster)
Old stairsteps are all that remain from the former Squaw Mountain lookout (Tom Kloster)
The view to Mount Hood from Squaw Mountain (Tom Kloster)
SquawMountainTrailMap.JPG
  • Start point: Twin Springs TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Tumala Mountain
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 4.4 miles round-trip
  • Elevation gain: 1000 feet
  • High Point: 4,770 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Early Summer through Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes - connects to network of Salmon-Huckleberry trails
  • Crowded: Never

Contents

Description

For anyone seeking a solitude in close proximity to Portland, the lightly traveled Old Baldy Trail to Tumala Mountain is the perfect trip. The hike features views of the scenic Tumala Lakes basin and the summit views from Tumala Mountain are expansive. This is also a good hike for children who are building their hiking skills, with just enough challenge to make the summit a rewarding goal.

Note that Tumala Mountain was known for decades as Squaw Mountain and appears in many guidebooks and on maps as such. In 2007, the peak was officially renamed Tumala Mountain by the Board on Geographic Names during a campaign to eradicate the offensive word "squaw" from maps. Tumala is Chinook Jargon for "the afterlife" or "tomorrow."

From the trailhead, head into the woods, and immediately reach a sign marking the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness boundary. Turn left here on the Old Baldy Trail #502 and begin short climb up a rocky section of trail that rounds a ridge, then traverses across the forested upper slopes of the vast Eagle Creek valley.

Soon, the trail passes through a saddle, and continues to drop to a pair of open scree slopes at 0.5 mile, with fine views of the glacial valley below that holds Tumala Lakes and meadows. Much of the valley was a private inholding acquired from a cattle company by the Nature Conservancy in the 1980s, and has since been restored from the heavy grazing that once occurred here. Even from these heights, its common to hear the chorus of thousands of frogs in the meadows and lakes below as you pass through this section of trail. Tumala Mountain is the prominent high point in the long ridge above the valley.

Next, the route re-enters open woods as it drops to a second saddle, and then begins climbing to a series of four switchbacks before reaching a junction with the Old Baldy Trail on the north shoulder of Tumala Mountain at the 1.5 mile mark. The route turns left here (a sign points to "Squaw Mountain") and begins a half mile ascent of the summit. Just short of the top, the trail reaches the old dirt access road that once served a fire lookout. Turn left and follow the road a few yards to a couple of short paths that reach the summit.

Though the lookout is gone, the concrete steps still remain, complete with a “welcome” message for visitors. From the rocky summit, the view includes Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson, as well as a glimpse of the little-known Roaring River backcountry, marked by the Signal Buttes, to the east. Be sure to explore the summit ridge, which has several viewpoints, and nice wildflower displays in early summer.

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Old Baldy Trail #502 (USFS)
  • Green Trails Maps: Fish Creek Mtn, OR #492
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, Bull of the Woods Wilderness, Opal Creek Wilderness, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Clackamas River Ranger District
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Trip Reports

Guidebooks with this hike

  • Afoot and Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker

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.