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Nasty Rock Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Below Nasty Rock, Nasty Rock Trail (bobcat)
Cliff tree, Nasty Rock Trail (bobcat)
Gorman's aster (Eucephalus gormanii), Nasty Rock (bobcat)
Molalla River headwaters below Nasty Rock (bobcat)
The trail to Nasty Rock (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Nasty Rock Trailhead (BLM)Road.JPG
  • End point: Nasty Rock
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 2.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 580 feet
  • High Point: 4,663 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No



Nasty Rock is prominence on the long ridge that divides the Molalla and Little North Santiam drainages. What distinguishes Nasty Rock from most of the outcroppings on this ridge are the views: a 360-degree panorama that includes the Coast Range, the Washington Cascades, the ridges of Bull of the Woods, and the Three Sisters on the southern horizon. This is a short, very obscure trail that is reached via a dense maze of logging roads on private forest and Bureau of Land Management land. Once on the trail, however, it is an easy traverse and ridge walk to Nasty Rock, with the option to continue farther on an obvious use trail.

On your way to or back from Nasty Rock, stop off and do the little loop around Joyce Lake to make your drive worthwhile.

Forty yards back from the end of the road, note some roughly placed stone steps proceeding up the bank. There are two white diamonds on a tree above the trail. The path then continues in a northerly direction above and paralleling the road in old growth mountain hemlock, noble fir and silver fir forest. Make three switchbacks to reach the ridgecrest (the north ridge of Burnt Mountain) and now proceed south. The trail slips over to the west side of the ridge and passes across an open slope of common juniper. You can scramble up here to an old logging road to get a view to Mount Hood. A little farther on, get your first glimpse of Nasty Rock to the west. Now the trail traverses a steep slope where the tread is level as it heads through an understory of rhododendron and huckleberry and passes a mossy seep, the headwaters of Roland Creek. There may be a little windfall to negotiate but generally the trail is easy to follow.

Reach the ridge between Burnt Mountain and Nasty Rock and hike along among rhododendrons, bear-grass, Douglas-fir, and Alaska yellow-cedar. Get some views to Nasty Rock and, farther along the ridge, Not Nasty Rock, from an open slope carpeted with pinemat manzanita and woolly sunflower. Pass above rocky cliffs that offer a view north to Table Rock and Rooster Rock. The trail dips below rocky outcroppings on the ridge and then ascends steeply in a dry woodland of silver fir, mountain hemlock, and Alaska yellow-cedar. Reach the base of Nasty Rock and follow the trail to a small meadow carpeted with the endemic Gorman’s aster. The easiest ascent is up the western side of the rock. From the summit, you’ll get expansive views in all directions: west to Not Nasty Rock and Marys Peak in the Coast Range; north to Table Rock and Mount Hood and even the Washington volcanoes on a clear day; east to Burnt Mountain and Whetstone Mountain; and south to Battle Ax, Mount Jefferson, and the Three Sisters.

The trail continues along the ridge all the way to Not Nasty Rock (about a mile and a quarter). Just before Not Nasty Rock (See the Not Nasty Rock Hike), you’ll be dropping off the ridge to the south to traverse the talus slope below Not Nasty and then switchbacking up to the ridge again.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, Bull of the Woods Wilderness, Opal Creek Wilderness, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Clackamas River Ranger District
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

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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.

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.