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Mount Mitchell Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Swift Reservoir, Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier from the Mount Mitchell summit (Jeff Statt)
Early on the Mount Mitchell trail (Jeff Statt)
One of the few open areas along the ascent (Jeff Statt)
Mount Mitchell summit (Jeff Statt)
The Siouxon Creek Valley (Jeff Statt)
Trail map
  • Start point: Mount Mitchell TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Mount Mitchell
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 5.0 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 2050 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: May through October
  • Family Friendly: Older Children (8 and up)
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No



The road to trailhead is now closed and no trespassing signs posted. The DNR is trying to get the private land owner to restore historic access to the Mitchell Peak trailhead, but they only have an easment for timber management activities, not recreation access. They may be able to pursue legal action to force the private land owner to allow action, but it will take DNR staff time and money to do that, of which there is limited amount. A letter writing campaign may make it the "squeaky wheel that gets the grease". (observed 7-19-2011)

The hike to the summit of Mount Mitchell is a moderate climb through new forest to a rocky exposed butte with a majestic view. You gain about 2000 feet of elevation in around 2 1/2 miles ...most of this accomplished in the first mile through a series of switchbacks.

The first 1/4 mile of the hike is muddy and flat, but after that brief introduction, the trail begins gaining elevation quickly. You enter a young thin forest with a high canopy. There are a series of switchbacks, alternating between steep and gentle grades and a rocky pathway.

Just before you really start to feel it, the pathway eases up, flattens out and straightens as it heads south along the east side of the mountain. The trail here is soft on the feet and well traveled.

Before long, you cross a few small dried up creek crossings and some short exposed areas. You may see an unmarked side trail off to the left. Disregard this and continue straight. Soon you will hit your first real lookout: a small rocky crag overlooking the Siouxon Valley and an unnamed peak to the east with a large unapologetic clear cut and radio towers at its summit. This is a good place to power up with some water and energy bars.

You'll now start the last leg of the journey, which continues straight for a while. Keep an eye uphill to your right, as hints of the rocky summit will come into view (false summits of course!), but soon your path will back around the southern flank of the mountain and incline quickly through a series of switchbacks (sandwiched between two seasonal creeks). As you ascend, the thick forest begins to give way to meadows and the southern horizon comes into view. On a clear day, you will see Mount Hood to the southeast and a seemingly twin-peaked Silver Star Mountain due south.

Now the trail opens up to a large meadow, and the temperature cools. Seeing the rocky butte at the summit gives you a second life. Keep your eyes to the left (northward), as you'll see your first hints of the reward for your climb. When you finally get to the outcrop, you'll scramble up the rock a bit until you finally reach the exposed summit with a glorious 360 degree view!

You will be treated to a first-class view of Mount Saint Helens. If you are fortunate you may see steam rising from above its crater. Mount Rainier is visible just behind to the right and Swift Reservoir in the foreground. Beyond the eastern end of the reservoir you'll see a stately Mount Adams. Turn around 180 degrees and view the trail you just took up and nearby Sugarloaf Mountain. (There is a spur trail out to that lesser peak)

Look for the logbook under the rocks near the benchmark enclosed in a plastic container.

This hike takes about two hours to climb and about an hour to return back.


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • No fees or passes required at this trailhead

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Portland, by Paul Gerald

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.

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