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Not Nasty Rock Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Battle Ax and Mount Jefferson from the Nasty Rock Trail (bobcat)
Wilderness sign, Nasty Rock Trail (bobcat)
Vine maples, Not Nasty Rock (bobcat)
The meatball, Not Nasty Rock (bobcat)
The trail to Not Nasty Rock in the Opal Creek Wilderness (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Nasty Rock Trailhead (USFS)Road.JPG
  • End point: Not Nasty Rock
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • High point: 4,600 feet
  • Elevation gain: 3,200 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

From the get-go, let’s establish that the Willamette National Forest’s Nasty Rock Trail #3356 does not go to Nasty Rock. However, you can continue from the end of this short but very steep path (2,500 feet in 1.6 miles) along a well-defined user trail to the interesting pinnacles of an unnamed formation on the ridge, here monikered (after the Cascade Rambler) Not Nasty Rock (Although many hikers believe this is Nasty Rock, the latter is still over a mile east along the ridge: see the Nasty Rock Hike). Not Nasty Rock is tricky to ascend since there is some exposure, but the talus slope below it offers vistas down the central Cascades to the Three Sisters: this is a remote, little traveled route offering a great conditioning opportunity and ending with expansive views.

It should be noted that the Chemeketans, a Salem-based climbing club, know Not Nasty Rock as the 'Chemeketans Nasty Rock.'

Walk back to FR 2209 and go right 25 yards. The trail proceeds behind the wilderness permit box. Hike up an old road bed under Douglas-fir and hemlock with a rhododendron, Oregon grape, salal understory. Switchback and enter the Opal Creek Wilderness. Rise steeply to ascend past a mossy bench where the trail becomes a rubbly seasonal waterway. Switchback three times under much smaller, lichen-draped conifers, swishing through the salal and passing numerous chinquapin bushes. Switchback again, rounding mossy andesite boulders and head up the west side of the ridge. After another switchback, the trail levels briefly in a carpet of salal, bear-grass, and lady fern. Two more switchbacks take you to the crest, from where you proceed directly up the ridge. Make several short switchbacks, getting glimpses of the massive wall across Tincup Creek.

The trail switches over to the east side of the ridge, but soon you keep switchbacking back and forth across the crest. Pass along a scree slope looking west to the Tincup wall and down the Little North Santiam valley to Elkhorn Mountain. Keep up along the ridge crest, entering the silver fir and noble fir zone with a few mountain hemlocks. Past a rock pile, the gradient eases in thickets of rhododendrons. Drop down from a prominence on the ridge and pass above a talus slope which offers vistas to Battle Ax and Mount Jefferson. Continue through an opening carpeted with pinemat manzanita, Oregon sunshine and huckleberry, and then hike steeply up almost to the crest of a knoll.

This is the official Nasty Rock Trail End. However, a user trail continues seamlessly from here, dropping steeply down to a one-step saddle before rising just as steeply. The path levels in a rhododendron thicket. Step up a rock barrier and, above an expansive vine maple-rimmed talus slope, get views south to Mount Jefferson. Arrive at the base of Not Nasty Rock, a basaltic andesite intrusion of several broken pinnacles. You can scramble a short distance up this western pinnacle to get views south to the Three Sisters. Any other climbing is exposed as the rock cluster here is a jagged assortment of crags whose Old Cascades basaltic andesite can break off in your hands.

Just south of Not Nasty Rock, an old trail switchbacks down a wildflower meadow and reaches the big talus slope. You can follow the trail across the slope, below the skirt of vine maple, to get more views down the Cascades as well as east to Nasty Rock itself and Burnt Mountain. From where the trail enters the trees, you can head back up to the ridge and follow the user trail to Nasty Rock itself about a mile and a quarter away along the ridge.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Map of Opal Creek Wilderness and Scenic Trail Area (USFS)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, Bull of the Woods Wilderness, Opal Creek Wilderness, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area
  • Geo-Graphics: Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek Wilderness Map
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Willamette National Forest: Detroit Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Willamette National Forest
  • Pacific Northwest Recreation Map Series: Willamette Cascades
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Self-issued wilderness permit

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

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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.