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Aspen Butte Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Lake Harriette (B. Hope)
Use trail to summit(B. Hope)
View of Mt. McLoughlin from the summit (B. Hope)
Map of Aspen Butte hike (B. Hope)
  • Start point: Clover Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Clover Creek Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Out-and-back
  • Distance: 12 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,500 feet
  • High Point: 8,208 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer, Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The Mountain Lakes Wilderness is located in the Fremont–Winema National Forest in the southern Cascade Range of Oregon. It is unique among US wilderness areas in that it is the only one whose borders form a square, occupying the 36-square-mile area of a single survey township. It surrounds a cluster of four overlapping shield volcanoes, the highest of which is 8,208-foot Aspen Butte. Over 20 small lakes lie along the bottoms of several large cirques carved by Ice Age glaciers near the summits of the volcanoes. Mountain Lakes was one of the three original "primitive areas" designated in Oregon and Washington National Forests in 1930, and it has been managed as a primitive recreation area since that time. When the 1964 Wilderness Act passed, the 23,071 acre Mountain Lakes became one of the nation's original Wilderness Areas.

On a clear day, the views from Aspen Butte are expansive - with Mt. McLoughlin to the north and Mt. Shasta to the south. The shortest approach is via the Clover Creek Trailhead. The Clover Creek trail is mostly through a forest canopy without any extensive views. Follow the trail up Clover Creek about 3.3 miles until you reach a signed trail junction just NW of Clover Lake. Turn right (E) here and contour over and up for 2 miles to a saddle where the main trail starts descending into the Lake Harriette basin. Do not go down into the basin. Aspen Butte is up the use trail to your right (SE). This trail is less defined but generally evident (there are a few cairns) and follows the ridgeline up to the summit of the butte. It's about 1 mile on this use trail to the summit. There are good views from the summit to the north and east.

Note that just before you reach Clover Lake, an abandoned - but still quite evident - trail heads directly N toward the rim of the caldera where it intersects the main trail. It is shown in both the Sullivan and Bond guides and was officially in use until at least 1985. Its tread is still visible in most places and there is also the occassional cairn. Using this old trail cuts a total of two miles off of the hike.


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Hiking Southern Oregon by Art Bernstein and Zach Urness (2014 Edition, Hike #52)
  • 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon by William L. Sullivan (Third Edition, Hikes #53 and #141)
  • 75 Scrambles in Oregon by Barbara I. Bond (First Edition, Scramble #27)

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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.