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Cedar Butte Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The rugged slopes of Cedar Butte, Oregon Coast Range (bobcat)
Along the edge of the clearcut, Cedar Butte (bobcat)
Summit area, Cedar Butte (bobcat)
The trail to the top of Cedar Butte, Tillamook State Forest (bobcat)
  • Start point: Cedar Butte TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Cedar Butte
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 1.6 miles round-trip
  • Elevation gain: 780 feet
  • High Point: 2,907 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Spring through fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No



The short Cedar Butte Trail takes hikers to a former lookout site in the western Coast Range. Views are restricted as trees have grown up since the lookout was dismantled in the early 1950s. You’ll be following a segment of the historic trail that serviced the lookout since the end of the 19th century. The forested landscape has been logged in sections and also burned over many times. The first major recorded fire here was the 1918 Cedar Butte Fire, which scorched 40,000 acres. Then the three major conflagrations of the Tillamook Burn swept through the area in the 1930s and 1940s. The area shelters mobile herds of elk, and you will catch glimpses of the rugged ridges above the fork of the Kilchis River.

From the parking area, hike up the road about 40 yards to the Y-junction. Go left, and continue 80 yards until you come to a large information sign that signals the beginning of the Cedar Butte Trail. A pole fence here is designed to prevent ATV entry. Hike into a regenerating clearcut populated by young Douglas-fir, noble fir, and red-cedar. Partial views to the east include Wolf Point and Kings Mountain. The trail enters an older slope forest with a salal and sword fern understory. As you hike up the ridge, reenter the clearcut for a short spell, and then head back into the woods.

You’ll make eight short switchbacks up in an Oregon grape/sword fern carpet and then wind steeply up the ridge. Switchback, traverse up, and then make two more short switchbacks below a rocky knob. The trail dips a little and then switchbacks to the ridgecrest. A user trail leads left through the Oregon grape to a mossy viewpoint over the drainage of the South Fork Kilchis River extending to Mutt Peak, Sawtooth Ridge, and Tillamook Bay. You will also get an impression of the rugged western ridges of Cedar Butte. Back on the main trail, wind steeply up, and dip into a small saddle. The tread rises past an eastward-looking viewpoint and traverses the steep slope before switchbacking up past a campsite to reach the summit area of Cedar Butte. Here, at the former lookout site, there are two benches offering views west over the South Fork Kilchis valley all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Shards of glass from the demolished lookout cabin litter the site. A small meadow, often a bedding ground for elk, tumbles down the slope below the summit.

If you want to extend the day, you can bushwhack along the narrow ridgecrest for another mile or more, scrambling up and down various prominences. Do this on a clear, dry day so you can enjoy the views and avoid getting drenched by damp vegetation.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none


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Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 50 Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests by the Sierra Club, Oregon Chapter
  • 50 Hikes in the Tillamook State Forest by the Tillamook State Forest Committee, Columbia Group Sierra Club

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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.