Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Perry Lake from Vista Ridge Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

TKO put tools to trail here.png
Tiny Perry Lake (Tom Kloster)
Unique view of The Pinnacle from Vista Ridge (Tom Kloster)
Mount Hood dominates the view from Owl Point (Tom Kloster)
Laurance Lake and the Clear Branch Valley from Owl Point (Tom Kloster)
The view north from Alki Point (Tom Kloster)
Red Hill and Blue Ridge Area Map
Red Hill and Blue Ridge Area Map



Past Owl Point, the Old Vista Ridge Trail #626A is marked as 'Not Maintained,' but in fact hikers can continue almost another mile down the ridge to tiny Perry Lake, passing Alki Point and the site of the Red HIll Guard Station. The trail becomes a rough, rocky road bed (gated lower down) just above the guard station site. In July 2018, rangers from the Hood River Ranger District and volunteers from Trailkeepers of Oregon (TKO) officially reopened the Old Vista Ridge Trail, the culmination of a ten-year effort to bring back this route of many views. The trail is much lower than the adjacent trails to Mount Hood, and thus open earlier in spring (early June) and much later in the fall (mid-November). This is an especially attractive hike in late afternoon, when the view from Owl Point is at its best. The short spurs to The Rockpile and Owl Point follow informal trails that are usually well-marked and easy to follow.

From the trailhead, continue one third of a mile to the Vista Ridge Junction, where there's a wilderness registration kiosk. Turn left here onto the signed Old Vista Ridge Trail #626A. After a short walk on the level, the trail begins to climb more noticeably. In this section, you'll see the many cleared logs that once blocked this portion of the trail. The route switchbacks once to the high point of the hike, and then begins a traverse along the east side of Vista Ridge, heading north. There are some interesting views into the Clear Branch valley at a couple of spots, plus a forested boulder field and some attractive stands of mountain hemlock and noble fir. If you watch closely, you'll notice occasional traces of old phone wire from the 1920s that once served area lookouts. There are also a couple of short spurs to overlooks just off the trail to the right.

Beyond the traverse section, the trail crosses a broad crest of open subalpine forest and huckleberry fields, passing a couple of scree slopes and then dropping to a small meadow. Here, the main route continues across the meadow, and in wet seasons the meadow can be quite marshy, but navigable with dry feet—just pick out the trail on the far side and work your way there (This meadow is the jumpoff point for the Red Hill Add-on Hike). From the meadow, the trail passes a rustic log bench as it re-enters forest, then climbs to a low saddle, drops over the ridge line, and climbs again to another saddle and the signed Rockpile Junction—watch for a notched log where the route to The Rockpile continues straight from this junction. The main trail turns sharply uphill to the left here, while the spur to The Rockpile viewpoint continues through the notched log and into a pretty heather and huckleberry meadow,

To make the scenic side-trip to The Rockpile, continue past the notched log for about 300 feet into the meadow; then watch for a sign pointing right to "The Rockpile" (or, if the sign is missing, take a sharp right into an opening in the trees at the point where the meadow trail begins to descend). From the signpost, head cross-country through open forest and huckleberry fields for another 300 feet to the stunning viewpoint at The Rockpile. This beautiful stop alone would be a worthy destination for the hike. The cross-country segment is reasonably easy to follow using the map, below—it's also the site of a geocache, so the route is becoming increasingly obvious.

To continue on to Owl Point from The Rockpile, retrace your steps back through the heather meadow and turn uphill at the Rockpile Junction. The trail passes more talus slopes framed by beautiful forests of mountain hemlock and subalpine fir before climbing to another gentle crest in deep forest. Here you'll encounter the signed Owl Point Junction. An obvious informal path to Owl Point heads to the right, climbing first through the forested edge of a large talus slope, and then emerging at the west edge of the rugged, rocky viewpoint. The path now circles along with wooded edge of the crest eastward for about 100 yards as the view unfolds, reaching Owl Point proper. The view of Mount Hood from this spot is stunning, but you are also treated to views of Laurance Lake and down the cliffs of the Clear Branch Rim to the Upper Hood River Valley. For both The Rockpile and Owl Point, the best times for photography are early morning and late afternoon.

After soaking in the views at Owl Point, follow the informal path back to the Owl Point Junction on the main trail, and turn right. Soon you'll be descending to yet another viewpoint along the trail, Alki Point, which looks north to Mount Defiance, with the Washington volcanoes floating on the horizon. The upper Hood River Valley is spread out below. From Alki Point, the trail leaves dense forest, becomes more rocky, and drops quickly as it descends along the Clear Branch Rim, a long cliff and scree slope that continues east of Owl Point. The trail visits several viewpoints of Mount Hood along this section. Watch your step, it's an abrupt cliff! At 0.6 miles from Owl Point, the trail ends at an old road; on the left, concrete foundations mark the site of the former Red Hill Guard Station and lookout. Perry Lake is a tiny, but charming, pond located another 0.2 miles down the road on the left.

For the adventurous, there are also bushwhack options along this hike for visiting Red Hill and Katsuk Point, two additional viewpoints in area. Red Hill can be found by following a faint path west from the meadow north of the trail's high point, and then working up the slope to the right until you see the obvious summit ridge. Katsuk Point can be reached by hiking past The Rockpile through alternating meadows and forest thickets to the rugged viewpoint. Katsuk is the Chinook jargon for "in the middle" and describes the location of this scenic spur in the heart of the Middle Fork country. Both trips are for advanced hikers equipped with maps and route-finding devices.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt Hood, OR #462
  • Geo-Graphics: Mount Hood Wilderness Map
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood Wilderness
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Trail forms a border with wilderness: wilderness rules apply

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A


  • 60 Hikes in 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Off the Beaten Trail by Matt Reeder
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan

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.