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Bull of the Woods Lookout Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

This page is marked as a Closed Hike. Some or all of this hike has been closed by a governing body and hikers may be liable for fines or even arrest. At least part of this route may be dangerous and hard to follow, or it may cross areas with sensitive plant life or wildlife habitat. Trailkeepers of Oregon does not endorse or recommend hiking this route. When restrictions are lifted, this notice will be removed.
The Bull of the Woods Lookout (burned down in September 2021) (bobcat)
Prickly currant (Ribes lacustre), Bull of the Woods Trail (bobcat)
Pasola Mountain, Dickey Creek drainage, and Mt. Hood, Bull of the Woods Trail (bobcat)
Mt. Jefferson from the Bull of the Woods Lookout (bobcat)
Bull of the Woods Trail sketched in red (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Bull of the Woods TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Bull of the Woods Lookout
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 6.4 miles
  • High Point: 5,523 feet
  • Elevation gain: 1250 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer - mid-Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

NOTICE: Trails in this area have been affected by the 2021 Bull Complex Fire, and the Bull of the Woods Lookout was destroyed in September 2021. Please check current closures in the Clackamas River Ranger District before planning an outing.

The Bull of the Woods Lookout perches at the end of a ridge overlooking three basins: Pansy, Mother Lode, and Dickey Creek. The views from here are wide-ranging and the knoll where the lookout stands supports blooming rock gardens in the summer. The lookout can be accessed from many directions, but the Bull of the Woods Trail along the ridge between the Pansy and Dickey Creek drainages is the most direct and least strenuous. You will bypass North and South Dickey Peaks and the montane ridge forest opens up at talus slopes and lush meadows to offer views east and west.

The Bull of the Woods Trail #550 starts up from the parking area. Pass through a thicket of willow and Sitka alder. The trail switchbacks twice in an old clearcut, passing a permit sign-in box, and there are views across to Thunder Mountain and Baty Butte. Looking back, there’s also a great view of Mount Hood. Enter shady woods with a huckleberry/bear-grass understory. This is a ridge forest of silver fir, noble fir, mountain hemlock and some Douglas-fir. Pass the old wilderness box and then a lush meadow with a tarn to the left. The trail rises past some large noble firs. Enter the Bull of the Woods Wilderness and switchback up, then head along the ridge crest. The trail drops, then heads up, traverses and drops. Rhododendrons bloom here in July and Washington lilies brighten the trail. The trail levels rises and drops, then rises again above verdant Terrace Spring. There are more undulations before you reach the Bull of the Woods-Dickey Lake Trail Junction.

Keep straight and rise to get a view west to Big Slide Mountain from a talus slope blooming with fireweed and lupine. Cross a more open scree slope and reach the ridge crest. Then cross a talus slope below a rock outcrop and reach a small meadow on the crest blooming with little sunflowers, creamy stonecrop and Gorman’s aster. A short spur leads left to a viewpoint looking east. The trail rises from here and switchbacks twice to a view of Mount Hood and South Dickey Peak from a small meadow. Head up along the grassy crest and get a view east down to a small lake, Big Slide Mountain and Schreiner Peak’s fire-scarred slopes. Switchback up twice and get another open ridge view to Big Slide Mountain, Olallie Butte, Mount Jefferson and back to Mount Hood. The trail heads along the ridge crest and you gain more views. Big Slide Lake nestles below. Ascend more steeply and arrive at the Bull of the Woods Lookout. From here, take in expansive views from Mount Rainier to the Three Sisters.

The lookout cabin itself cannot be entered. Eat your lunch perched in one of the rock gardens and return the way you came. Alternatively, you can make a loop via Pansy Lake and Dickey Lake, a route described in reverse in the Bull of the Woods via Pansy Lake Loop Hike.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Bull of the Woods, OR #524SX
  • 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
  • Adventure Maps: Mount Jefferson, Bull of the Woods & Opal Creek Wilderness Trail Map
  • 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

  • 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region by Matt Reeder
  • Off the Beaten Trail by Matt Reeder
  • Portland Hikes by Art Bernstein and Andrew Jackman
  • Hiking Mount Hood National Forest by Marcia Sinclair
  • Hiking Oregon's Central Cascades by Bruce Grubbs
  • Hiking Oregon's Three Sisters Country by Bruce Grubbs
  • Oregon's Wilderness Areas by George Wuerthner
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland & Northwest Oregon by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Hiking Hot Springs in the Pacific Northwest by Evie Litton
  • 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.

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.