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Big Slide Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Big Slide Lake (bobcat)
Campsite at Dickey Creek, Dickey Creek Trail (bobcat)
Dickey Creek crossing, Dickey Creek Trail (bobcat)
Little pipsissewa (Chimaphila menziesii), Dickey Creek Trail (bobcat)
View of North Dickey Peak from the Dickey Creek Trail (bobcat)
Dickey Creek Trail to Big Slide Lake (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Dickey Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Big Slide Lake
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 12.0 miles
  • High Point: 4,405 feet
  • Elevation gain: 1680 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Late spring through early fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The Dickey Creek Trail heads into the heart of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness and provides access to secluded Big Slide Lake, nestled in an almost totally encircled bowl. There are no high viewpoints on this hike, but the route takes you through leafy woods, including some spectacular glades of old growth, across pristine Dickey Creek and up slopes of trademark Bull of the Woods talus. Big Slide Lake itself is a convenient base camp for many other destinations in the wilderness and this northern section has as yet been unmarred by the forest fires that have devastated other parts of the wilderness recently. Note that the round-trip distance on the hike has increased by about one mile as a section of the approach road was decommissioned in 2011. The Dickey Creek Trail can be accessed earlier in the season (late spring) than most of the other Bull of the Woods trails as it does not travel on high ridges.

Hike up the old access road, which has been dug up and strawed over, to the old parking area. Alder, hemlock, Douglas-fir, cedar, silver fir, and rhododendrons line the road. The old trail information board is still there. Take trail #553 into the woods, pass the Bull of the Woods Wilderness sign, and sign in at the Wilderness Permit Station. The trail is on an old road bed which descends to an old bridge. This can be crossed at your own risk on the last remaining sound log. You can also take a detour to the right to the edge of a bog, cross a small creek, and head back to the trail, which now heads up in an area where there was logging at some time in the past. The trail leaves the road bed and drops steeply in a rocky area; steps have been created here to allow a more stable descent. Wind up in mossy woods and then down among old-growth Douglas-firs, the woods carpeted with moss and Oregon grape. A trail maintenance crew has sawn through a Douglas-fir marked as being 305 years old. Rise again in hemlock/Douglas-fir woods and undulate on a rooty trail in mossy glades. The trail skirts a lush salmonberry opening shaded by old alders. There’s a water lily-studded lake down to the left; the path traverses above it and then descends to an old-growth bottom of cedar and Douglas-fir near Dickey Creek. Gradually rise in Douglas-fir, hemlock, cedar, rhododendron woods, cross a trickling creek, and then undulate above the creek. Finally, the path drops through huckleberries to a campsite on Dickey Creek.

A distraction trail keeps up to the right, but the main trail heads right through the middle of the campsite to the Dickey Creek Crossing, where you can usually find a log. Go left, switchback, and wind up; then make four switchbacks leading to a long traverse up among rhododendrons and huckleberries. The path crosses a dry stream and gives a view of the Dickey Peaks. Keep ascending in Douglas-fir, western hemlock, cedar, and yew woods. Switchback at a fallen tree and pass through a chinquapin-lined opening. You can see Big Slide Mountain up ahead. The trail traverses a rocky slope and drops past a talus slope bustling with pikas. Now mountain hemlock dominates the woods, with Douglas-fir, silver fir, and noble fir in accompaniment. Pass across a big scree slope and enter shady conifer woods. There are four short switchbacks up before the trail makes a short switchback down. Make a level traverse across a vine mapled scree slope with the Bull of the Woods Lookout coming into view. Alaska yellow-cedar survives on the talus slope. Soon come to the unmarked Dickey Creek-Big Slide Lake Trail Junction.

Take the Big Slide Lake Trail #553A down to the right. Descend fairly steeply and then wind tightly down to Dickey Creek. Cross the creek and reach a campsite. Alaska yellow-cedar, Douglas-fir, silver fir, and mountain hemlock rim the lake. Trout and newts float lazily in the waters.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Battle Ax, OR #524
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, Bull of the Woods Wilderness, Opal Creek Wilderness, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area
  • Geo-Graphics: Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek Wilderness Map
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Clackamas River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Self-issued wilderness permit

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region by Matt Reeder
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • One Night Wilderness: Portland by Douglas Lorain
  • Best Old Growth Forest Hikes: Washington & Oregon Cascades by John & Diane Cissel
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland & Northwest Oregon by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Oregon's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Megan McMorris
  • A Hiker's Guide to Oregon's Hidden Wilderness (Central Cascades Conservation Council)

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.

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