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Mount Lowe Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. Hood view, Mt. Lowe, Rho Ridge (bobcat)
Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum), Mt. Lowe, Rho Ridge (bobcat)
Wind shelters, Mt. Lowe lookout site, Rho Ridge (bobcat)
The short hike to Mt. Lowe (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Rho Ridge Northern TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Mount Lowe
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 3.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 665 feet
  • High Point: 5,334 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No



The old Skyline Trail was a precursor to the Pacific Crest Trail, but was often routed through country that became accessible to loggers and was eventually abandoned. One of the lengthiest sections that remains is the 11-mile Rho Ridge Trail #564 (See the Rho Ridge Traverse Hike). The northern section of this trail rises to the summit of Mount Lowe, the site of an old lookout with expansive views. You are not likely to encounter others on this short hike, so the views from Mount Adams to the Three Sisters will be yours and yours only to take in!

For a longer hike to Mount Lowe, see the Mount Lowe from Graham Pass Hike.

Take the trail up from the trailhead and pass across a rocky knoll. Drop down through a carpet of pinemat manzanita and common juniper, getting clear views to Olallie Butte. Hike up the spine of the ridge and reach a viewpoint with great views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams. Keep rising from here and continue along a rocky crest before passing around the east side of another prominence on the ridge. You'll traverse the next knoll on its western flank and then drop through a field of bear-grass. Cross a road bed - the site of the former trailhead - as you pass through a regenerating clearcut. Make two switchbacks up and keep ascending in silver fir/mountain hemlock forest. Get a view of Mount Hood and come to the short side trail leading up to the summit of Mount Lowe.

The lookout site here has more memorabilia than most of these sites, including stone steps, rusting metal sheets, window glass carefully collected and put in cans, and part of the stay cable. The structure here had two incarnations: a 1916 log cabin built in 1916 and then an L-4 cabin, which was erected in 1932 and decommissioned in the 1960s. A couple of wind shelters face north towards the views over the Collawash to the Clackamas River valley. Despite a fringe of trees on the east side of the summit, the Cascades, from Mount Hood to the Three Sisters, are laid before you. After enjoying the vistas, head back the way you came to the Rho Ridge Northern Trailhead.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Breitenbush, OR #525
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Clackamas River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker

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.