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McIntyre Ridge to Wildcat Mountain Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Summer wildflower meadows on McIntyre Ridge (Tom Kloster)
Beargrass meadows along the McIntyre Ridge trail (Tom Kloster)
300px</b>Mount Hood from McIntyre Ridge (Jane Garbisch)
  • Start point: New McIntyre TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Wildcat Mountain
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Up and back
  • Distance: 7.0 miles (4.4 to McIntyre Ridge viewpoint) round-trip
  • Elevation gain: 1100 feet (800 feet to McIntyre Ridge viewpoint)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons:Late Spring through Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes - connects to trails in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness
  • Crowded: Never



NOTE: This is one of two ways to hike the McIntyre Ridge Trail. The other way starts at the new Douglas Trailhead which opened in 2015. If you spot any illegal activity or trail issues here, please report them in the RX forum.

The original access road to the McIntyre Ridge Trail was closed in 2005, due to a maintenance backlog on the deteriorating dirt road, and ongoing OHV vandalism at the trailhead. Now the hike is accessible from the New McIntyre Trailhead, which not only provides a quick route to the beautiful ridgetop meadows, but also provides a paved access for all but the final one-third mile to the trailhead. At just over 40 miles from Portland, McIntyre Ridge provides one of the most convenient wilderness hikes in the region.

McIntyre Ridge was named for John T. and Winnefred McIntyre, early residents in the Mount Hood area. Winnefred was the first postmistress of the Brightwood Post Office and was known as the Huckleberry Queen, as she knew the best places to gather berries in the area. Their son Ora Glenn (O.G.) McIntyre had a number of logging operations on Mount Hood, and the family remained in the area until the 1940s. In 2012, the McIntyre family returned the ashes of O.G. McIntyre's son Leonard to McIntyre Ridge. Leonard McIntyre was a World War II veteran who spent his childhood in the Mount Hood area before serving in the war. He passed away at the age of 92 in 2011.

From the trailhead, head uphill past a row of boulders and follow the trail (more like a road) to the unsigned junction with the McIntyre Ridge Trail. Turn right onto the McIntyre Ridge Trail, which continues as a fairly wide skid road. When hiking on these old road sections, you can help speed the restoration by generally walking on the higher tread, and kicking loose trail debris into the lower tread.

The trail continues through lush forest on the skid road, then narrows to a trail as it begins climbing the ridge more steeply. At the 0.8 mile mark, you will enter an open bench with the first view of Mount Hood, framed by the rocky cliffs of West Zigzag Mountain, to the east. Beyond this viewpoint the trail begins to traverse around a steep rock face and talus slope, with occasional steep section, and then a short, very steep segment to the crest of McIntyre Ridge.

From here, the trail rambles at a moderate grade, again, soon reaching a sprawling beargrass meadow at the 1.8 mile mark. The main trail heads slightly to the right, and is flagged where it enters and exits the meadow. Several informal paths explore the meadow and viewpoints to the east.

After crossing the first meadow, the trail travels along the ridge top through open forest for a short distance before reaching a second meadow, this time a rocky crest, where the faint trail is marked by a pair of rock cairns. You can stop here to enjoy the stunning view of Mount Hood, and west into the Willamette Valley, or continue another 200 yards to a third meadow at 2.2 miles that comes complete with a wood bench for admiring the panorama. Both meadows include beargrass, but also a variety of other wildflowers in late June and early July. This is a fine destination for ending your hike, or you can continue onward to Wildcat Mountain, 1.3 miles and another 300 feet of elevation gain ahead.

To reach Wildcat Mountain, continue south from the third meadow, climbing gently along the flank of McIntyre Ridge for 0.7 miles to a junction with the Douglas Trail. Turn left, and follow the Douglas Trail through short switchbacks for 0.4 miles to the short 0.2 mile spur to the top of Wildcat Mountain. The spur is not marked, so watch for it at the crest of the Douglas Trail -- if you're going downhill, you have missed the summit trail.

The view from the top of Wildcat Mountain once extended in all directions, when a Forest Service lookout stood here. But trees are rapidly obscuring views to the north, providing only glimpses of Mount Hood. Still, the views to the south and west, into the Eagle Creek drainage and points beyond, is well worth the trip. Plus, you're likely to have the summit to yourself, if you're looking for solitude.

To complete your hike, retrace your steps to the New McIntyre Trailhead.


(click map to enlarge or print) (Tom Kloster)

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 62 Hiking Trails - Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe (describes hike from original trailhead)

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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.

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