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Lost Lake Butte Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View of Mount Hood from Lost Lake Butte (Tom Kloster)
Beginning of Lost Lake Butte Trail, just south of the general store (bobcat)
The Lost Lake Butte trail climbs the gentle western slope that rises from Lost Lake (Tom Kloster)
Wide-angle view looking south from Lost Lake Butte (Tom Kloster)
Former lookout tower site (Tom Kloster)
  • Start point: Lost Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Lost Lake Butte
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 4.9 miles round-trip
  • Elevation gain: 1,270 feet
  • High Point: 4,468 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer through Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Rarely


Hike Description

If you're camping at Lost Lake and have already explored the loop trail around the lake, the hike to the top of Lost Lake Butte is the perfect follow-up. The climb is generally well-graded, and though trees block some of the view from the summit, the spectacular vista toward Mount Hood is still expansive. There are two approaches to the trail: the first approach does not require paid entry to the developed Lost Lake Resort area, and thus provides free parking for non-camping hikers. Both approaches converge at the Old Skyline-Lost Lake Butte Trail Junction. The map at the bottom of the page illustrates both approaches.

From the Old Skyline North Trailhead: (4.6 miles) If you’re not planning to visit the lake, you can save yourself the entrance fee and a confusing trail route through the campground by simply parking at the gated spur road immediately to the left of the campground entry sign. Simply look for a small sign marking the Skyline Trail (no. 655), where the gated spur road joins the main road. Before the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) was constructed in the 1960s, the Oregon Skyline Trail traversed the crest of the Cascades, with remnants like this one bypassed by the new PCT. Follow this old route along a recovering clearcut for a short distance, cross a gravel road, and resume where a second sign marks the trail as it enters dense forest. Here, the trail traverses above the Lost Lake Campground, with the sounds of children playing and the smell of burned marshmallows filling the air. At the 0.5 mile mark, reach a signed junction with the Lost Lake Butte Trail (no. 616). Here, you will turn left (uphill) and continue according to the "Lost Lake Butte Trail" description, below.

From the Lost Lake Trailhead: (4.9 miles) From the North Day Use Area parking, you can head down steps towards Lost Lake to get the iconic view of Mount Hood that has appeared in thousands of published photographs. Then walk to your left to cross the Lake Branch on a pedestrian bridge. Keep on the road from here, and pass the general store, a parking area, and a restroom to rise to a road junction. Straight ahead is the beginning of the Lost Lake Butte Trail #616. Hike up this rooty trail to an unsigned junction with the Old Growth Trail, and keep left to reach a campground road. Head right and pick up the trail again where it rises past the B and C loops of the campground, with the E Loop to your right. At the Old Skyline-Lost Lake Butte Trail Junction, keep straight.

On to Lost Lake Butte: From the Old Skyline Trail junction, begin the meandering climb up west slope of the butte through forests carpeted with thickets of rhododendron and beargrass. Though occasionally steep, the path soon reaches a switchback and more gentle grade at 1.2 miles. From here, the trail continues at a more even grade through open forest through eight more switchbacks.

At the somewhat brushy summit area, stay right at a fork and immediately pass the stairway and footings for the Lost Lake Butte lookout, destroyed in the 1960s. Continue south along the summit to an open viewpoint marked by a jumble of huge boulders that make a fine lunch stop. Stately Mount Hood commands the view to the south, across the broad valley of the West Fork Hood River. Hood River Mountain and Surveyors Ridge make up the eastern skyline. The maze of clearcuts below are a reminder of the days when logging peaked in the 1980s, and most are now recovering, creating a green, quilted look across the valley floor. If you’ve visited the scenic basins along the north side of Mount Hood, you’ll be able to pick them out from this vantage point, too, ranging from Elk Cove on the east to Cairn Basin and Eden Park on the west. Lost Lake and the high peaks of the Washington Cascades were once visible from the summit, but are now obscured by trees.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Government Camp, OR #461
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • Adventure Maps: Hood River, Oregon, Trail Map
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $9 entrance fee (Northwest Forest Pass not accepted) or park at the Old Skyline North Trailhead
  • Store, campground, picnic area, boat rentals
  • Share trail with horses

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Day Hiking Mount Hood: A Year-Round Guide by Eli Boschetto
  • Oregon Hiking by Matt Wastradowski
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Craig Hill & Matt Wastradowski
  • 100 Hikes: Northwest Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • I Heart Oregon (& Washington) by Lisa D. Holmes
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Oregon Campgrounds Hiking Guide by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • 70 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 62 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe

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.