Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Larch Mountain Crater Rim Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. Hood from Sherrard Point (bobcat)
False lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum dilatatum), Larch Mountain Trail (bobcat)
East Fork Multnomah Creek, Multnomah Spur Trail (bobcat)
Old growth noble fir and hemlock forest at the upper end of the Oneonta Trail on Larch Mountain (bobcat)
View to Mt. St. Helens from the Oneonta Trail (bobcat)
The loop around Larch Mountain's crater rim (bobcat) Courtesy: Gaia Topo


Hike Description

This is an expanded version of the Larch Mountain Crater Loop Hike, taking you down the west rim of the crater and up the east rim. You’ll miss the boggy meadow inside the crater unless you make a short detour, but there will still be big old-growth conifers and far fewer people. The route skirts both the boundary of the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness and the Bull Run Watershed. This loop was unaffected by the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire.

If you arrive at a relatively empty parking lot and it’s a clear day, begin your hike by visiting Sherrard Point before the hordes arrive. From the upper corner of the parking area, near the payment kiosk, a paved trail heads through shady noble fir, silver fir, and Douglas-fir forest. At a junction, make a right to head up the first flight of a total of about 120 steps. You'll pass above a steep, dry meadow blooming with paintbrush and penstemon. The trail switchbacks and then takes you up concrete steps to the fenced viewpoint area at the very top of Sherrard Point. Blooming on the steep rock faces are Howell’s daisies, alumroot, rock penstemon, matted saxifrage, and Cardwell’s penstemon. There’s a view of a tarn below and the crater meadow. You can see west to Washougal and east along the Columbia River Gorge. The Cascade peaks are in view. Concrete slabs name them, and give their heights and distance (for Mount Saint Helens, it’s the pre-eruption height!).

Return to the junction below the steps, and keep right this time on the Larch Mountain Trail. You’ll rise to the old auto turnaround, lined by a stone wall. Once upon a time, there were splendid views from here. Cross the turnaround to continue down to a picnic area of old mossy grates and tables, keeping right at another junction. You’ll be descending the east rim of Larch Mountain’s crater in a dense young forest of silver fir. The trail drops more steeply to cross gated Road 315. (Beginning their hike at where Road 315 meets Larch Mountain Road is how some avoid paying a parking fee.)

The road is buttressed by a rock wall where pikas may be chirping your presence. By and by, you’ll encounter some impressive Douglas-firs and hemlocks and pass a couple of picnic/camp sites. Rhododendron, salal, huckleberry, and bear-grass dominate in the understory. When you reach the junction with Multnomah Creek Way, turn right (you don’t need to sign in at the wilderness permit box).

The way trail is rocky and rooty, but the gradient becomes easier as cedars enter the forest mix. Cross the single log bridge over the West Fork Multnomah Creek, and keep left on the Multnomah Spur Trail #446. This trail rises a little and then drops into an old-growth bottomland to reach the East Fork Multnomah Creek. The crossing here is usually a rock hop, but heavy rain could necessitate a ford. The trail rises; when it’s wet water may be running down the tread. You’ll pass some big old Douglas-firs before arriving at the Oneonta-Multnomah Spur Trail Junction.

Turn right on the Oneonta Trail #424, and hike up a trail lined with deer fern, salal, and Oregon grape and shaded by large conifers. You’ll gradually descend a slope and cross Oneonta Creek at a couple of downed trees. A long turnpike takes you through a swampy area before you rise to the junction with the Bell Creek Trail.

Stay on the Oneonta Trail, and begin ascending the east rim of the Larch Mountain Crater. You’ll traverse above the headwaters of Oneonta Creek. A small spring issues over the tread, and soon you’ll begin seeing big old stumps with springboard notches, reminding you that the area was logged over 100 years ago. In some sections, the trail is turnpike, but then it switchbacks at the boundary of the Bull Run Watershed (entry expressly prohibited). Cross an old logging road marked with No Trespassing signs, and keep rising in an open understory scattered with clumps of bear-grass. Noble and silver fir begin to appear in the conifer mix. After reaching the bed of an old logging railroad, you’ll pass the junction with the Multnomah Creek Way Trail where it comes out of an old cutting.

The trail soon departs from the railroad grade and levels on the crest of the rim. A massive, 10-foot wide cedar stump sprouts a number of nursing young ‘uns. Then a spur to the right leads you to a rock with a view to Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams over the trees. The trail joins an old road bed and rises gradually to pass a kiosk and reach Larch Mountain Road. Turn right to walk 0.3 miles up the verge of the road to the Larch Mountain Trailhead.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Bridal Veil, OR #428
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - West #428S
  • Geo-Graphics: Trails of the Columbia Gorge
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management: Columbia River Gorge
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Zigzag Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required
  • Restrooms, picnic area
  • Share trails with mountain bikes
  • Road is gated usually sometime in November and reopens in late spring, depending on snow conditions

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • none

More Links


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.