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Hawk Mountain Lookout Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The restored cabin at the lookout site is available for use by visitors (dasein)
Beargrass meadow and Mount Jefferson (Bigbucks)
Springbox and spout, Rho Ridge Trail (bobcat)
Round Meadow, Rho Ridge (bobcat)
The trail to Hawk Mountain (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo

Contents

Hike Description

This is a great viewpoint hike for the whole family. Wildflower meadows, a spectacular vista, and a historic lookout cabin will make it a memorable trip and a worthy reward for your long drive to get here. The Mount Lowe Hike is another short excursion to an old lookout site at the north end of Rho Ridge, so you could combine the two for a family outing.

You will not find crowds here, but the trail is multi-use and available to mountain bikes and motorized ORVs. Apparently the only motorized use is by occasional dirt bikes because the trail is single track and in very healthy condition. The dirt bike enthusiast groups have kept the trail clear in the past and stock and help maintain the lookout cabin (The trail was not navigable by bike as of spring 2016). Visitors are welcome to stay in the cabin on a first come, first serve basis. It is interesting to read the register inside the cabin and see some of the antagonism between the motorized and non-motorized users.

Look back down the road for a view of Mount Jefferson and then start into a bear-grass carpeted clearcut regenerating with mountain hemlock, noble fir, and lodgepole pine. As you rise up a grassy slope, you’ll get expansive views to Olallie Butte, Mount Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, and the Three Sisters. Pass below a vine maple thicket. The trail levels and then drops down a slope into unlogged montane forest with a huckleberry understory. Begin rising and cross a makeshift bridge over a marsh-marigold fringed brook. Pass a wire insulator on a tree and then notice a mossy creek running to your left. Near the trail a rusting spout issuing from a springbox issues a refreshing ice-cold drink. Pass by Round Meadow, blooming with buttercups and shooting stars, and cross a creek. The trail rises on a rocky tread and comes to the Rho Ridge-Hawk Mountain Trail Junction.

Go right here on Trail #564A. Hike up a slope in mountain hemlock, silver fir, and noble fir woodland. The trail curves to the right below the ridge crest and then proceeds up the crest through huckleberries. Reach the Hawk Mountain Lookout site with its iconic cabin, which is usually unlocked. A 60-foot lookout tower also once stood here. The summit rock garden, blooming from mid-May into July, is dominated by desert parsley, lupine, paintbrush, woolly sunflower and common juniper and offers an outstanding view to Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters. The meadow provides excellent grazing for elk, and you will see their signs.


Maps

Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • The trail is open to motorcycles, but has not been used by them recently (2016) because of some windfall.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon, 2nd edition, by William L. Sullivan
  • 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 & Sean Patrick Hill

More Links


Contributors

  • CFM (creator)
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.