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Table Rock-Image Creek Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Table Rock from the Saddle Trail (bobcat)
Large thatch ant nest, Saddle Trail (bobcat)
Vanilla leaf (Achlys triphylla) on the Saddle Trail (bobcat)
Torrey's pea (Lathyrus torreyi), High Ridge Trail (bobcat)
The old jeep road (Image Creek Trail) (bobcat)
Juvenile northwestern garter snake (Thamnophis ordinoides), Image Creek (bobcat)
Route of the Table Rock-Image Creek Loop (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Image Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG or
  • Start point: Table Rock TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Chicken Rock
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 13.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 4030 feet
  • High Point: 4,881 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer through early Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No, except for the 3.6 mile route to Table Rock



The Table Rock Wilderness, administered by the Bureau of Land Management, protects a small area of the Old Cascades with spotted owl habitat, the remnants of old volcanoes, numerous springs and seeps, and high ridges of wildflower meadows. There is old growth forest in pockets, but much of the area was ravaged by fire in the 1880s. Table Rock itself is a popular hike, but there are several trailheads and miles of trails, some used by equestrians, around the Wilderness. This one is the big loop, taking in a large circle of the Wilderness area as well as its most salient features, Table and Rooster Rocks. As of 2015, many of the junctions are now signed and route finding on this once neglected loop is straightforward.

There are a couple of trailhead options here. For a pure loop, and a shorter hike, begin at the Image Creek Trailhead, which is not a trailhead at all, but offers a short, steep use trail up to the Image Creek Trail to begin the circumnavigation. Beginning at the Table Rock Trailhead will involve some backtracking at the end of the hike and a 16.7 mile outing. You could also leave out the Image Creek Trail altogether by leaving a bike at the Table Rock Trailhead: the hike at the Old Bridge Trailhead and walk counterclockwise around the wilderness to Table Rock and then your bicycle.

From the Image Creek Trailhead:

From the road, look up into the undergrowth for a brown wilderness boundary marker, and locate the use trail heading up past it. This short trail rises steeply on a rocky, slippery tread to the old jeep road that is now the Image Creek Trail. Take note of this spur as this will be your descent route when you complete the loop. Drop down the road bed to cross two channels of Image Creek. Early in the season, the trail may be rather brushy here. The trail rises to the nose of a ridge and then heads relentlessly up, makes a traverse to a saddle, and then drops to the Table Rock-Summit-Image Creek Trail Junction.

From the Table Rock Trailhead:

From the parking area, head over a berm and up the old alder-rimmed road bed, passing a dilapidated outhouse. There are several trickling creek crossings. At a landslide, the trail heads into the woods of silver fir, western hemlock, and Douglas-fir. Hike up and then down to the road again to pass under imposing rock pinnacles. Sitka alder cloaks the bottom of a scree slope. There are views to the northeast. Reach the old trailhead and walk into cool woods past a thicket of rhododendrons, which bloom in July, before coming to the Table Rock-Summit-Image Creek Trail Junction, with the Image Creek Trail coming down from the right.

Continuing from the Table Rock-Summit-Image Creek Trail Junction:

You are now on the Summit Trail. The path here is rooty and blooming with rhododendrons in early summer. The trail levels and then rises and makes a traverse along a steep slope with a creek to the right. Head up a slope below a rock spire. Rise around the nose of a ridge and head up below a rock face brightly emblazoned with rock penstemon before passing through a vine maple thicket. There’s a scramble trail to the right going to the rock pinnacle. The trail makes a traverse through Douglas-fir, silver fir, noble fir and western hemlock forest. A spur right leads to a viewpoint. Curve around a talus slope below a cliff and drop through a thimbleberry/Sitka alder thicket with the basalt columns of Table Rock's cliffs looming above. Listen for pikas squeaking their alarm calls. Here you can catch a view of the top of Mount Hood. Also admire the veritable rock garden at the foot of these cliffs. The path heads into woods and then crosses a scree slope with thimbleberries. The trail rises gradually among rhododendrons, silver and noble firs. At a saddle, reach the Summit-Saddle Trail Junction.

To reach the top of Table Rock, go left here and traverse up among mountain hemlock, western white pine, silver fir, Douglas-fir and noble fir. Bear-grass and huckleberries rim the trail. There’s a switchback and Alaska yellow-cedar appears in the mix. The trail reaches the summit ridge with a great view of Mount Jefferson, clearcuts, Olallie Butte, and Mount Hood. On a clear day, you will see down the Oregon Cascades to the Three Sisters and the Washington peaks. Back in the wooded area of the summit, you can find a survey marker and a campsite. In summer, there are many blooms among the mats of pinemat manzanita and common juniper.

Returning to the Summit-Saddle Trail Junction, head straight and up and take a spur left to a rocky knoll with a view back to Table Rock. The main trail drops and gives a view of Mount Jefferson, then heads up and levels to afford more views. Head through rhododendrons along the ridge and then drop steeply. Rise again, passing possibly the biggest thatch ant nest you will ever see (about 3 yards long!). The trail undulates along the ridge and then drops into lush woods of old growth silver fir. Reach a meadow bordered by old growth. This is probably an old tarn and is now cloaked with salmonberry, stink currant and false hellebore. Also note boulders of breccia in the area. This is the underlying rock to the ridge-capping basalts and basaltic andesites of Table Rock and Rooster Rock. From the meadow, the trail rises quite steeply and is gullied in places. Reach a ridgetop meadow blooming profusely. A spur trail rises right to dry meadows and the top of Chicken Rock. From here, there are views of the volcanic fin of Rooster Rock, with Mount Jefferson behind, and across the wilderness to Table Rock. Descending Chicken Rock, go right and down the south slope of the ridge through a large meadow dominated by little sunflowers to reach the High Ridge-Saddle Trail Junction.

Here, go right into the woods below the ridge crest and reach an open meadow. The trail then drops down the ridge crest in shady woods and then ascends through another meadow. Undulate along the ridge in leafy woods of silver fir, noble fir, and Douglas-fir before reaching an opening carpeted with pinemat manzanita and views south to Mount Washington and the Three Sisters. The trail continues to undulate and then enters woods with an understory of blooming rhododendrons and a Solomon plume carpet. Eventually, you will wind down steeply and make a level traverse below some rock formations. There's more undulation along the ridge crest. Now the tread winds down steeply a second time in Douglas-fir and vine maple woods to reach the High Ridge-Bull Creek-Image Creek Junction on an old jeep road.

Go right here and head up around the nose of a ridge to make a fairly level traverse. Soon, the road bed rises more steeply in a lush area of springs with alders, big-leaf maples and corydalis/devil’s club thickets. Rise again, and then drop through an avenue of red alder. Cross a creek and drop into a lush wet area. After this, the trail drops steeply among larger Douglas-firs and silver firs and enters an alder-shaded outwash area. The trail heads on an open path across the dry, cobbled stream bed of Deetee Creek. Pay attention as it is easy to lose the track here. Look for flagging that might mark the trail resumption through a dense corydalis thicket, and then head up through another thicket. Keep rising and pass through a copse of Sitka alder before ascending more steeply. The old jeep road then drops and becomes fairly level along a path rimmed by deer fern and silver fir saplings. There are a couple more creek crossings before a level gradient in silver fir, Douglas-fir, and western hemlock woods. Head up again and then walk the long downhill stretch towards Image Creek. Before the jeep road reaches the creek, find the spur leading left down to the road and the Image Creek Trailhead.

If you are parked at the Table Rock Trailhead, you have two options. You can drop to the road and hike up it to the trailhead, or you can continue up the Image Creek Trail to the Table Rock-Summit-Image Creek Trail Junction, where you turn left to head back down the former, slide-plagued access road to the parking area.

Note: Because of the diversity of habitat along this loop, this is a great botanizing hike in mid-summer. On July 27th, 2011, I identified 149 species in bloom along these trails (bobcat).

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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.

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