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Fish Creek Mountain Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

High Lake, Fish Creek Mountain (bobcat)
Vine maple display, Fish Creek Mountain (bobcat)
View to the Clackamas, Fish Creek Mountain (bobcat)
Snowy woods on the ridge, Fish Creek Mountain (bobcat)
The route to Fish Creek Mountain and High Lake (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Fish Creek Mountain TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Fish Creek Mountain
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 8.1 miles round-trip
  • Elevation gain: 2375 feet
  • High Point: 5,100 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No



The Fish Creek Mountain excursion used to be a popular five-mile hike that took in a lookout site and a mountain lake with a couple of campsites. Then the ravaging rains of February 1996 hit and the road in to the trailhead was washed out at its lower extremities. The USFS never repaired the road, so it was a few years until volunteers constructed an alternate route from an abandoned trailhead up to the decommissioned FR 5420-290, which then takes hikers to the Former Fish Creek Mountain Trailhead. From there it's a ridge hike to the two summits of Fish Creek Mountain with a diversion to secluded High Lake along the way.

From the pullout, the trail heads up to the right 20 yards in from the road junction. Pass a temporary sign for Trail #541. The trail leads along a track above old road 4620, and then veers up to the right among old growth Douglas-firs, western hemlocks, vine maples, rhododendrons, and red huckleberries. Switchback twice and wind up among cedars and other old growth. Switchback again and traverse upward in secondary growth noble fir, silver fir and Douglas-fir. Make five short switchbacks in a thimbleberry thicket and drop to the old road bed.

Here go right. There a small rock cairn to mark the spot for the return. The road bed was plowed up almost 20 years ago and the trail winds through weedy growth. Pass a quarry on the right and then keep straight to a fork in the road. The trail heads up between the two road beds. This is the Former Fish Creek Mountain Trailhead.

Ascend along the ridge and rise with views to the left over the Fish Creek drainage and right over the Clackamas River. Forested hills stretch to the horizons. Traverse up in old growth ridge forest of hemlock, Douglas-fir, noble fir and silver fir. The vine maples turn strikingly red in the fall. Make four switchbacks and head up along the ridgecrest, and then switchback on a grassy carpet. The trail heads up the crest and levels. Pass below a large rock and head up to a viewpoint on the right looking over the Clackamas drainage. The trail drops to a long saddle, where you come to the unmarked Fish Creek Mountain-High Lake Trail Junction.

The 3/4 mile trail to High Lake leads off to the right. Switchback twice among huckleberries and bear-grass, and then make two more switchbacks. The trail winds down a draw and then switchbacks to a campsite and High Lake glittering darkly in its semi-circle of conifers and a talus slope cascading to its west shore.

Back at the main trail, go right for the summit of Fish Creek Mountain. A sign indicates it’s only ½ mile. Head up and drop, getting a view of Mount Hood. From here, the trail rises past a rocky outcrop with views to the south and then switchbacks up to the top, the site of a former lookout. While the mountain hemlocks have grown up to obscure some of the former vista, views extend south to Mount Jefferson, wast to the Fish Creek valley and east to the impressive drainage of the Clackamas River.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Fish Creek Mountain Trail (Trail Advocates)
  • Green Trails Maps: Fish Creek Mtn, OR #492 (former trailhead)
  • 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

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker
  • Off the Beaten Trail by Matt Reeder
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don & Roberta Lowe (former trailhead)
  • 62 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe (former trailhead)

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.