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Nestor Peak Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Cascades mariposa lily (Calochortus subalpinus), Nestor Peak (bobcat)
Spurred lupine - pink form (Lupinus arbustus), Nestor Peak (bobcat)
View to Hood River from Nestor Peak (bobcat)
Harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida), Nestor Peak Trail (bobcat)
Pair of Douglas-firs, Nestor Peak Trail (bobcat)
The route of the Buck Creek Trail to Nestor Peak (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Buck Creek No. 1 TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Nestor Peak
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 8.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2980 feet
  • High Point: 3,140 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Mid-spring through Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The Buck Creek Trail loops for 21 miles around a large patch of Washington Department of Natural Resources forest in the Buck Creek watershed above the White Salmon River. Not all stretches of the trail make good hiking outings, but this segment, which starts in scrappy woodland, does lead up through some scenic wildflower meadows with views and eventually attains the summit of Nestor Peak, an old lookout site which continues to host a shed. There are views to Mount Hood and Mount Adams as well as various Gorge prominences. Mid-May to late June are the best times to do this hike: over 100 species will be blooming trailside. You'll be sharing the trail with mountain bikers and, yes, three Bigfoot were sighted here in the early 1980s!

Note: Not all of the trail/road junctions on this route are signposted clearly, so follow directions carefully. Logging in the area may result in detours or closures.

From the parking at the camping area, walk back along the road to N1000 (Nestor Peak Road) and cross it. The trail heads up in mixed woods of big-leaf maple, Douglas-fir, hazel, vine maple, and Pacific dogwood, which blooms in many places along the trail. The trail levels on a ridge crest and drops past young ponderosa pines to a small clearing. Then, traverse around the head of a small bowl in maple woods. Reenter Douglas-fir forest and drop to cross N1000. Switchback down twice in more secondary forest to semi-abandoned forest road N1300.

Go to the left and walk along the road for about 3/4 mile. After passing a short logging spur leading down to the right to a landing, find the Nestor Peak Trail leading up to the left in secondary Douglas-fir woods. The path rises steeply and switchbacks twice, then makes a traverse steeply up. Switchback again at a small creek, switchback twice more and traverse up. Pass a sign saying “3 switchbacks ahead.” Much of this area has been selectively logged, with brush piles everywhere. Reach an old logging road and go right about 50 yards to resume the trail heading up to the left, just before a logging landing.

Continue to ascend, and cross a logging road. The trail keeps rising and bypasses a large, fire-scarred Douglas-fir. Soon, Hike through an unexpected grove of cedars. After this, the trail levels on an old road bed. Eventually, the tread rises to the right to navigate a grassy open area with oaks, ocean spray, balsamroot, lupine, and cryptantha. Enter more Douglas-fir woods, where the trail levels. Then, ascend through another grassy opening and into coniferous forest along the ridge crest. Here, the trees are older, with some large Douglas-firs and also grand fir. Walk between two grand old Douglases. The trail drops to a saddle with a view to Mount Hood and the Hood River valley: the ridge in immediate view is Whistling Ridge, not long ago a proposed but very controversial site for a series of 425-foot windmills on SDS Lumber land just outside the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area boundary. After this viewpoint, you'll head up into Douglas-fir woods. Make a sharp switchback to the right at a meadow, and reach the rocky road that leads up to the summit. Bear right and head up the road, which in late spring is lined with blooming paintbrush, balsamroot, nine-leaf desert parsley, spurred lupine and cryptantha.

At this old lookout site, there’s a shed, which may have its door open. There is little inside. On a clear day, take in the view north across Penny Ridge to Monte Carlo and then Mount Adams. Also, get a view down the road to the Columbia River and the Hood River valley. To the south, Mount Hood rears its stark snowy pyramid against the skyline.


Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Discover Pass required
  • Share trail with mountain bikes
  • $2 toll at the Hood River Bridge

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Columbia Gorge Hikes: 42 Scenic Hikes by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 33 Hiking Trails: Southern Washington Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe

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.

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.