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Steins Pillar Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View of Steins Pillar (Cheryl Hill)
Looking up at Steins Pillar from its base (Cheryl Hill)
Route map

  • Start point: Steins Pillar TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Steins Pillar
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out-and-back
  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 680 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: April-November
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Steins Pillar is 350 feet tall and is named after Major Enoch Steen, who explored this area in the 1860s. His name was so often misspelled that the misspelling stuck, which is why it is now called Steins Pillar instead of Steens Pillar.

The trail starts out flat, then starts gradually climbing. You reach a viewpoint at a switchback where you can see the top of the Three Sisters. The trail levels off, then starts climbing again. You'll pass through a landscape of red-barked ponderosa pines and the occasional jumble of car-size boulders. In spring and early summer you'll see balsamroot, lupine, paintbrush, and other wildflowers blooming.

The trail levels off in a meadow at about the halfway point, then starts descending. You will reach a junction with a very short side trail to a viewpoint. Meander down the side trail to get partial view of your goal, Steins Pillar towering above the forest.

Just before you reach the two mile mark, you will pass first one and then another rocky formation on your left. If you want to continue to the base of Steins Pillar, stay on the trail, which switchbacks down the hill on newly-constructed wooden stairs. It ends at the base of the pillar, where views are limited, but you can appreciate the sheer size of this stone formation. If you climb into the cave-like opening on the right side of the pillar, you can see north into the Mill Creek Wilderness. You can even make up another towering rock spire in the distance - the Twin Pillars in the middle of that small wilderness.

For better views of the pillar, backtrack to the middle of the three rock formations (Steins Pillar being the third). With some careful scrambling, you can climb up and get great views of Steins Pillar and the Mill Creek Valley below.

After your hike, be sure to drive a little further north on Mill Creek Road where there is a roadside viewpoint of Steins Pillar and its two rocky companions.

Trip Reports

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Related Discussions / Q&A

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Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 100 Hikes in Eastern Oregon, by William L. Sullivan
  • Bend Overall, by Scott Cook


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.