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Olallie Butte Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. Jefferson, Olallie and Monon Lakes from Olallie Butte (bobcat)
View to Mt. Hood from the Olallie Butte Trail (bobcat)
Forest inventory sign, Olallie Butte Trail (bobcat)
Remains of the lookout, Olallie Butte (bobcat)
Natural arch, Olallie Butte (bobcat)
Trail to the top of Olallie Butte (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Olallie Butte TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Olallie Butte
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 7.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2570 feet
  • High Point: 7,215 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

Officially at 7,215 feet, Olallie Butte is the highest summit between Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson along the Cascade crest. It is a shield volcano and looks relatively symmetrical from most western viewpoints. Hike to the summit, however, and get views of spectacular volcanic formations exposed by glacial erosion on the Butte’s northeast and southeast slopes. There are 360 degree views from the peak, which can catch warm but fierce easterlies in the summer. The Cascade Range from Mount Rainier to Broken Top is usually in view even on a relatively hazy day as are the sparkling jewels of the Olallie Lakes below to the west. Bear in mind that much of the trail, which is sporadically maintained, is on Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs land, so you hike here at your own risk.

Across FR 4220 from the parking area, head up Spur Road 019. Ten yards before a Forest Service sign admonishing you to “Hike at your own risk,” find a trail leading right on a rubbly tread. Hike up in young woods of lodgepole pine, mountain hemlock, and western white pine, and reach the unsigned Pacific Crest-Olallie Butte Trail Junction (There is a Pacific Crest Trail logo sign a few yards down the trail to your left).

Continue straight here. Pikas squeak on a talus slope behind a screen of trees to your left. The track is loose and stoney as it leads up through an understory of huckleberry, pinemat manzanita, boxwood, and grouseberry. Enter more mature forest and make two short switchbacks to wind up in montane woods with noble fir and silver fir making their appearance. Cross a narrow talus slope and ascend three switchbacks on a more solid tread. Pass the boundary sign for the Warm Springs Reservation, and negotiate another switchback at the foot of a talus slope. There’s a gentle traverse up through a huckleberry carpet, then another switchback and another traverse. Make three switchbacks, getting a glimpse of the double summits of Sisi Butte to the north. Pass through old growth stands of mountain hemlock and silver fir interspersed with glades of partridge-foot and paintbrush. Wind up and traverse along a slope, passing through an opening with a vista north to Mount Hood. Switchback and traverse, getting views west across to ridge summits, such as Battle Ax, in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness.

Hike across an open cinder slope dotted with small, windblown whitebark pine, mountain hemlock, and subalpine fir. Newberry’s fleeceflower and pussypaws bloom on this arid incline. Enter a sheltered forest carpeted with huckleberry and grouseberry to get views to Olallie Lake, Monon Lake, Pyramid Butte, and Mount Jefferson. Make six switchbacks in elfin woodland, now getting vistas farther to the Three Sisters and Broken Top. The trail becomes steeper as the Washington Cascades all the way to Mount Rainier hove into view. Rise to a shallow saddle on Olallie Butte’s summit ridge.

Go left to the old lookout site. The structure was blown off its foundation after it was abandoned in 1967, and pieces remain scattered about this area of the summit. From the lookout, circle around the eastern flank of the summit area. There are eroded glacial cirques on the northeast and southeast corners which expose colorful volcanic formations. The ice eroded a natural arch on the southeast side. Views extend in all directions: west past the Old Cascade ridges, north to Mount Rainier, east down the Mill Creek valley and the Warm Springs Reservation, and south past Long Lake and Dark Lake, Trout, Island, and Boulder Lakes, to the Three Sisters area. Hike around to the west side, and you will get a view down to Olallie Lake and Monon Lake as well as most of the Olallie Lake Scenic Area.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • No overnight camping
  • No off-trail hiking on Warm Springs land
  • Hike on the Warm Springs section at your own risk: the Forest Service will not come here to rescue you!

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Breitenbush, OR #525
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Olallie Scenic Area
  • 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 destination

  • 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region by Matt Reeder
  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker
  • 62 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Hiking Oregon’s Central Cascades by Bruce Grubbs
  • Hiking Oregon's Three Sisters Country by Bruce Grubbs
  • The Olallie Scenic Area Guidebook by Tony George

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.