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Whetstone Mountain Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. Hood from Whetstone Mountain (bobcat)
Big trees, Whetstone Creek (bobcat)
Mt. Jefferson and Battle Ax from Whetstone Mountain (bobcat)
Route to Whetstone Mountain from the Whetstone Trailhead (bobcat)
  • Start point: Whetstone TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Whetstone Mountain
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • High Point: 4,969 feet
  • Elevation gain: 1360 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer to mid-fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Whetstone Mountain is the westernmost peak of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness and looks over the valleys of Whetstone Creek, East Gold Creek, and the Little North Santiam River. This is the short way to the mountain: a longer hike to the summit, which is better incorporated into a loop down to Battle Ax Creek, is from the Opal Creek Trailhead, almost five miles one-way. Views from this old lookout site are extensive, ranging from Mount Hood and the Washington volcanoes to the Three Sisters.

The Whetstone Trail #546 drops down from the entrance to the parking area through rhododendrons, huckleberries, bear-grass, and second-growth silver fir, Douglas-fir, and mountain hemlock. Reach a wilderness sign-in box. Then, about 100 yards farther on, the trail enters shady old growth with some lovely trees: big Douglas-firs, western hemlock and silver fir. Pass the Bull of the Woods Wilderness sign. The trail rises and switchbacks three times past more large conifers. Then there’s a level traverse where you encounter a huge Douglas-fir and cross the bottom of a talus slope with its squeaking pikas. See a willow and alder lined tarn to the left and rocky cliffs above. The trail makes six shortish switchbacks upward and then levels at a small tarn. It then crosses a small creek and rises to the Whetstone-Whetstone Mountain Trail West Junction, the latter being the Willamette National Forest's Trail #3369.

Go right here, and switchback up twice. In late summer/early fall vine maples blaze on the rocky slopes. Reach the crest of the ridge again and then traverse below the crest among large silver firs. Soon reach the Whetstone Mountain-Whetstone Summit Trail Junction, signed for the "Whetstone Mtn Lookout," and go right.

Make six switchbacks up to the summit of Whetstone Mountain through Alaska yellow-cedar, silver fir, noble fir, and mountain hemlock. The base of an old fire lookout remains. To the north Mount Hood looms and Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams peek up above ridge crests. The view to the east and south is more spectacular: Olallie Butte, Battle Ax, Mount Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, the Three Sisters. After spending time admiring the scenery, return the way you came.

This short approach to Whetstone is recommended if you are camped in the area or if you are doing a longer outing, such as the Silver King Lake via Whetstone Ridge Hike. The old growth trees on the route and the expansive views make it a good side trip.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Battle Ax, OR #524
  • 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: Clackamas River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • 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

  • Off the Beaten Trail by Matt Reeder
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker
  • Oregon's Wilderness Areas by George Wuerthner
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland & Northwest Oregon by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Oregon's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • A Hiker's Guide to Oregon's Hidden Wilderness (Central Cascades Conservation Council) (Hikes indexed by trail number)

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.