There's no shortage of spots to view the Great American Eclipse in Oregon.
But few places will capture the once-in-a-lifetime moment more dramatically than the top of a mountain within the eclipse's path of totality.
From the Oregon Coast to the Cascades, the Ochocos to the Elkhorns, countless mountain summits will fall into darkness on Aug. 21.
Here are 34 of the best hikes to mountaintops within the eclipse path in Oregon, with details on how to get there.
Some of the mountains will have special regulations in place on eclipse day — the number of cars allowed at the trailhead, for example — so make sure to plan ahead.
Every highway and road in the eclipse path is expected to have major traffic and possible gridlock in the Aug. 17 to 21 window. So, consider going well in advance and bring enough food, water and gas to get stuck on the highway for hours if not days.
Coast / Coast Range / Willamette Valley
The Oregon Coast will be the first place to see the eclipse in America, beginning at 10:16 a.m., followed shortly thereafter by the Coast Range and Willamette Valley.
The coast’s marine clouds and fog mean there’s only a 44 percent chance the eclipse will be viewable, but chances improve once you reach Salem at 67 percent.
The open meadow at the top of this ocean-side headland north of Lincoln City offers stunning views of the ocean, the Salmon River, and the Coast Range.
There are two routes to the summit meadows of Cascade Head.
The easiest, a 2-mile round-trip hike, starts at a trailhead on Forest Service Road 1861 north of Lincoln City. This route will be restricted on eclipse day. The gate on USFS Road 1861 will open at 6 a.m. on Aug. 21 and remain open until parking areas reach capacity of 105 cars. Then it will close. It will likely happen fast.
The other route begins at a lower trailhead at Knight Park. It climbs a steep 1,300 feet and 3.4 miles to the summit meadows. There are multiple viewpoints on this route, but parking will likely be a major challenge.
Directions to upper trailhead: From Lincoln City (or Highway 18 from Salem), go north on Highway 101 and continue 3.7 miles. Keep an eye out as you head uphill on Highway 101 for Forest Road 1861 on the left. Turn onto Forest Service Road 1861 and follow it 3.2 miles to the Nature Conservancy Trailhead on the left. Coordinates: 45.063526, -123.972538.
Directions to lower trailhead: Follow Highway 22 west, and continue toward Lincoln City on Highway 18. Take Highway 101 north 1 mile from the interchange, and just north of Lincoln City, turn left on Three Rocks Road. Follow the road 2.3 miles, and turn left on Savage Road 100 yards to the parking lot of the Knight Park boat ramp. Coordinates: 45.045796, -123.998115.
The highest mountain in the Coast Range at 4,098 feet, the alpine meadows here should be an amazing place to view the eclipse. But there are a number of special regulations in place.
First, unlike the rest of the summer, you won’t be able to drive near the top unless you have a special permit for the upper parking lot, which sold out last March.
Those without a permit will have a couple of options. A shuttle service will bring people from Corvallis to the upper trailhead, where a 1.5-mile hike with 400 feet of climbing brings you to the summit. The shuttle service (totaleclipsemaryspeak.com) costs $70 to $85.
More hearty adventurers can hike or bike from Highway 34 up Marys Peak Road, 9 to 10 miles to the top.
Another option is to hike North Ridge Trail via Woods Creek Road Trailhead. Permits for Woods Creek Trailhead are sold out, but people can find a place to park on Highway 34, ride or hike Woods Creek Road and then hike North Ridge Trail to the summit.
“We needed to make sure roads were not going to be blocked so we could get emergency vehicles in,” Siuslaw National Forest spokeswoman Lisa Romano said. “People without permits can still come, it will just be a little more of an adventure.”
Marys Peak map: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/siuslaw/recarea/?recid=42311
Directions: Marys Peak coordinates: 44.504287, -123.551217.
You can see the ocean from the summit meadows of this 3,153-foot mountain between Pacific City and McMinnville.
The top should offer a beautiful place to see the eclipse — provided the weather is clear — but there are a few regulations.
Unless you have a permit, you won’t be able to drive to the top of the mountain, which is normally allowed. In this case, you’ll need to hike Pioneer Indian Trail from Hebo Lake or South Lake campgrounds to the summit.
The easiest hike to access is Hebo Lake to the summit, which is around 3.5 miles (7 miles round-trip) with 1,535 feet of climb. Expect the hike to be longer since parking on Forest Service Road 14 could back you up.
The hike from South Lake Trailhead is more secluded, longer at 4.5 miles (9 round-trip) and requires less climb. However, the trailhead is more complicated to access, since you have to navigate a series of remote roads from Willamina to South Lake. Bring a Siuslaw National Forest map.
Here’s a map of closures and trails on eclipse day: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd551240.pdf
Directions (Hebo Lake Campground): From Salem, take Highway 22 west toward Lincoln City. At Valley Junction’s split, follow Highway 22 (avoiding Highway 18 to the coast) to the tiny town of Hebo. Hebo Mountain Road / Forest Service Road 14 is on the right. Follow it four miles to the lake and campground (or wherever you can park). Coordinates: 45.230948,-123.795947.
Directions (South Lake Campground): Coordinates: 45.20134, -123.72325.
Baskett Butte and Bald Mountain
This beautiful and easy hike west of Salem leads to a nice summit on a point sometimes called Bald Mountain.
However, because the hike is within Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, special regulations are in place. Only 55 passenger cars will be allowed into the refuge, beginning at 6 a.m. After that, the refuge will be closed until after the eclipse. So, get there early.
The hike begins off Colville Road and follows trails on a 1.5 mile loop through oak forest to a railed viewpoint.
Directions: From Salem, cross the Marion Street Bridge and take Highway 22 west 13 miles to Rickreall. Turn north on Highway 99W for 1.9 miles and turn left on gravel Coville Road 1.5 miles to the trailhead parking lot on the right. Coordinates: 44.961933, -123.2574.
Chip Ross Park / Dimple Hill
Located on the northern edge of Corvallis, there’s a good chance this hike will be swarmed, but it should also offer a cool hike with eclipse views.
The hike starts at Chip Ross Park and follows an easy loop to a hilltop meadow with views of the Willamette Valley and Cascades.
The loop intersects with a junction for Dan's Trail on the right, which accesses McDonald-Dunn Research Forest and climbs to the summit of Dimple Hill, on an 8-mile round-trip trek that climbs 1,700 feet.
Directions: Head north on Highway 99W from Corvallis 2.3 miles (or south on 99W from Salem), and turn left on Walnut Boulevard. Follow it 0.6 miles and turn right on Highland Drive for 0.9 miles and turn left on Lester Avenue to its end at the trailhead. Coordinates: 44.606116,-123.279144.
Countless mountain tops will offer striking views of the eclipse in Willamette National Forest around the small town of Detroit. There are no restrictions on these hikes, but be warned: traffic on Highway 22 could be brutal around eclipse day.
Forest officials ask visitors to only park on one side of Forest Service Roads to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
“There’s no limits on access, but we’ll have rangers at the popular trailheads,” Detroit district ranger Grady McMahan said. “Hikers should come early and be prepared to leave late with extra supplies.
This steep trail climbs to an old lookout site and forested summit in the Opal Creek Wilderness east of Salem.
The hike climbs steeply to an old lookout site with distant views of Mount Jefferson and Battle Ax Mountain. A sweeping panorama of the Little North canyon looms below.
The trail continues another mile to the true summit, but be warned — this area is quite forested. It offers better views of Hood and Jefferson than the lookout site, but might not be ideal for watching the eclipse.
The hike is 5.6 miles round-trip to lookout site, 2,200-foot gain; and 7.8 miles, 2,700-foot gain to summit.
Directions: Head east on Highway 22 for 23 miles. Turn left on North Fork Road at the second yellow flashing light in Mehama. Drive 16.8 miles, staying left at a sign for Three Pools to stay on Road 2209. Pass Henline Falls Trailhead, and drive one more mile to a trailhead for Henline Mountain. Coordinates: 44.842333, -122.3094
Views span the Opal Creek and Bull of the Woods wilderness from the summit of Whetstone Mountain at 4,969 feet. The cost of admission is 9.7 miles round-trip and 3,000 feet of climb to reach the former lookout site.
This hike begins at the Opal Creek Gate Trailhead. Follow the old road 0.6 miles to a bridge over Gold Creek and turn left onto Trail No. 3369. Follow the steep trail up dozens of switchbacks a total of 4 miles (4.6 from gate), and turn left onto Trail No. 4969 for 0.25 miles to the summit of Whetstone Mountain.
Directions: Head east on Highway 22 for 23 miles. Turn left on North Fork Road at the second yellow flashing light in Mehama. Drive 16.8 miles, staying left at a sign for Three Pools to stay on Road 2209. Continue 4 miles, pass Henline Falls and Henline Mountain trailheads, to the gated road for Opal Creek Trail. Coordinates: 44.859869,-122.264485.
Battle Ax Mountain
A word of caution, though: the drive here is awful. Make sure you give yourself extra time and drive slow.
Multiple trailheads offer access to this area off rugged Forest Road 4697, but the easiest spot to begin is Bagby Hot Springs Trail #544. Follow it 2 miles, then turn left and follow Battle Ax Trail No. 3340 to the mountain’s summit at 5,558 feet.
A former lookout tower site, this view here offers a panorama of everything from Mount Hood to Diamond Peak. From the top, hike down switchbacks 1.5 miles to Beachie Saddle and then turn left toward your car parked on Road 4697.
Make sure to bring a map, and a GPS device is recommended.
Directions: In Detroit, turn left on Breitenbush Road 46 and drive 4.3 miles. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 4696 and follow it for 0.7 miles. Turn left on Forest Service Road 4697 and drive 4.7 miles. Bear left at the Y intersection, following signs for Elk Lake, for 1.8 miles. You can park at Elk Lake and hike up the road up to the trailhead, or veer right and follow the awful road to roadside trailheads. Coordinates: 44.823285, -122.130697.
Yet another former lookout site above Detroit Lake offers stunning views of Mount Jefferson and, well, pretty much everywhere.
This hike is a bit easier than some of the others on this list, requiring just 2.6 miles round-trip to Dome Rock with about 774 feet of climb.
The route begins on the side of Forest Service Road 2223 where an unmarked trail shoots uphill into the forest. The official name of this spot is Northern Tumble Creek Trailhead, but there is no sign.
From the trailhead, you'll hike 0.4 miles through forest to a trail junction with a sign for Tumble Lake and Dome Rock. Turn left, and hike a half-mile to a sign for Dome Rock Trail on your left. Follow the trail up switchbacks, climbing 438 feet in 0.4 miles, past increasingly beautiful views to the summit once home to a lookout tower.
From the summit, you can look down upon Tumble Lake or outward onto Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood, Three Fingered Jack, Mount Washington and just about every other major peak on a clear day.
Directions: From Salem, follow Highway 22 to Detroit. Just past the Detroit Ranger Station and before the bridge, turn left onto French Creek Road 2223. Follow the pavement 4.1 miles. At a fork, veer left onto gravel to stay on road 2223. Follow this bumpy road, which has some exposure, for 3.7 miles. There is no sign marking the trailhead, but you can easily see a trail shooting into the forest on the left side of the road. Park at a pullout on the right side of the road. If you reach a fork with FSR 520, you've gone too far. Coordinates: 44.755267, -122.225.
The view from this former lookout site features Detroit Lake on one side and Mount Jefferson on the other.
Beginning on the south side of Detroit Lake, this moderately difficult hike is 4.5 miles round-trip with 1,325 feet of climb. It runs through groves of old-growth and second-growth forest to a spectacular viewpoint of Mount Jefferson. It’s mostly a green tunnel with a big payoff at the top.
Directions: From Salem, drive east on Highway 22 to Detroit. Follow Highway 22 another 3 miles north and turn right on Blowout Road 10. Follow the winding paved road 3.7 miles, and turn left at a sign into a small parking area and trailhead. Coordinates: 44.706933, -122.161217.
This gigantic cinder cone is the tallest mountain between Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson at 7,218 feet. It’s partly on Warm Springs Reservation, but the trail is open to the public, officials said.
The hike is 8 miles round-trip and climbs 2,600 feet to a wide open summit. There is very little shade on this hike and no water. The summit is open and should have big views.
At least one or two hiking groups are planning to climb Olallie for the eclipse, so expect other people on the trail.
Directions: The trailhead is unsigned and no official directions available. However, trail coordinates are listed as: 44.8419, -121.7798 and a map of Willamette National Forest shows a trail from near Olallie Lake.
The view of Mount Jefferson fills up the entire sky, so close it feels as though you could reach out and touch Oregon's second-tallest mountain, from the summit of this easy to moderate hike.
The hike is 4.6 miles round-trip with 904 feet of climb.
The trail begins just outside the Mount Jefferson Wilderness (the trailhead doesn't actually indicate where the trail will bring you). After 1.7 miles, follow an unmarked trail to the right and climb 0.6 miles and 503 feet to the summit overlook.
Note: This trail could be closed by the Whitewater Fire. Contact to Forest Service at Detroit for up to date information at 503-854-3366.
Directions: From Detroit, follow Highway 22 for 5.4 miles, just past Idanha, and turn left on McCoy Creek Road (Forest Service Road 2233). Follow the paved and then gravel road 8 miles. Turn a sharp uphill right at the four-way intersection and continue 1 mile, then turn on Forest Service Road No. 635. You will immediately see the trailhead. Coordinates: 44.7215, -121.948733.
The route up Bear Point is steep and rewarding with spectacular views of Mount Jefferson at its 6,039-foot summit. The hike is a total of 7.4 miles round-trip with 3,067 feet of elevation gain.
The route follows two trails. It begins on South Breitenbush Trail No. 3375, following it 2.1 miles. Bear Point Trail No. 3342 begins on the left and climbs 1.6 miles up steep switchbacks to Bear Point.
The route heads into the Mount Jefferson Wilderness and is little traveled. Make sure to plan ahead and bring a map (and GPS device if you have one).
Directions: From Highway 22 in Detroit, go north on Breitenbush Highway 46 about 10 miles. Just past the turn off for Britenbush Hot Springs, turn right on Forest Road 4685 and follow it about 6 miles to the trailhead. Coordinates: 44.74312805676102, -121.8894158172727.
One of the best hikes in the Old Cascades takes you to a former lookout site atop the Three Pyramids.
The hike to the 5,618-foot summit of Middle Pyramid starts amid old-growth forest and quickly passes a small waterfall and dramatic cliff-walled meadow full of wildflowers during early summer.
The trip is 4.2 miles round-trip hiking with a steep 1,783 feet of climb.
Views of every major Cascade peak follow as you climb a brushy trail and emerge to views of the Three Sisters. The finale is a semi-confusing trail to an old lookout site with a panorama from Mount Hood to Diamond Peak.
Directions: From Detroit follow Highway 22 east to milepost 76. Turn right on Lava Lake Meadow Road 2067 and follow for 1.9 miles. After crossing a bridge, turn right onto Forest Road 560 and follow 3.5 miles to the road's end and the trailhead. Coordinates: 44.498747, -122.046414
Fantastic views of major Cascade peaks highlight a moderate hike to the top of this 5,533-foot mountain in the Old Cascades near Santiam Pass. The hike is 3.8 miles round-trip with 1,100 feet of climb.
From a trailhead off Forest Service Road 430, hike 1.3 miles before turning left at a signed junction to reach the top.
This summit was the site of a former lookout tower, and you can see why with views of Jefferson, Hood, Black Butte, Three-Fingered and the Three Sisters.
Directions: Head east on Highway 22, past Detroit and Marion Forks, to milepost 69. Just beyond, turn right onto Road 11 and go 4.1 miles. Turn right at the SECOND junction onto Forest Road 1168 (you will pass one earlier) and continue 3.8 miles. Turn right onto rough FSR 430 for 0.7 miles and left for 0.5 miles to the road’s end and the trailhead. Coordinates: 44.6168, -122.03198.
Right next door to Bachelor Mountain (above), the hike up Coffin Mountain offers a slightly shorter hike and a staffed fire lookout at the top. The hike is 3 miles round-trip with 1,100 feet of climb.
Ask permission before attempting to enter the lookout and don’t expect them to share rations. Bring your own.
The hike climbs a steep ridge through open meadows to a top where a lookout is found on the right.
Directions: Head east on Highway 22, past Detroit and Marion Forks, to milepost 69. Just beyond, turn right onto Road 11 and go 4.1 miles. Turn right at the SECOND junction onto Forest Road 1168 (you will pass one earlier) and continue 3.8 miles and turn left on FSR 450; the trailhead is right there.
Coordinates: 44.6084441, -122.0497065.
A challenging hike in the Old Cascades famous for July flowers reaches a peak with views of every major Cascade peak from Mount Hood to Diamond Peak.
The summit was a former fire lookout location, and the Cascade views are excellent.
The hike up Crescent Mountain is 9 miles round-trip with 2,200 feet of gain.
Directions: From Salem, head east on Highway 22, past Detroit, for 80 miles. Turn right onto Highway 20 (heading west) and continue 3.8 miles to Lava Lake Sno-Park. Continue through the parking area to paved Lava Lake Road 2067. After one mile, turn left on gravel Road 508 for 0.7 mile to a large trailhead. Coordinates: 44.42930050809759, -122.0302437063441.
This obscure hike is easy and beautiful but highly remote.
Located between the Bull of the Woods Wilderness, the Olallie Plateau and Breitenbush River, this humble high point features a fabulous view of Mount Jefferson, fields of wildflowers and an old cabin that once served as the living quarters for the occupants of the now-demolished lookout tower.
The hike of 4.2 miles round-trip, with 1,000 feet of climb, begins at Rho Ridge’s southern trailhead. Hike through a meadow overflowing with beargrass and Cascade lilies until the trail reaches the deep forest on the southern slopes of Hawk Mountain. Continue to a trail junction at Round Meadow, and turn right to hike to the cabin at the edge of the wide summit.
For details and a map, purchase Matt Reeder’s book “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region.”
Directions: Coordinates: 44.84069, -121.94742.
This hidden gem is one of the least-hiked mountains of the Old Cascades, even though it begins in old-growth forest, treks through wildflower meadows and reaches multiple spectacular viewpoints.
A hike all the way to the top is 8.4 miles round-trip (2,000 feet of climb), but a shorter viewpoint is 3.2 miles (1,100 feet of climb).
The trail begins at the Gate Creek Trailhead and charges uphill through a forest of giant Douglas fir and hemlock, before reaching a meadowed viewpoint. Continue another 2.5 miles and 1,000 feet to the ridge's summit at 5,760 feet. The upper meadows of this hike can be confusing, so bringing William Sullivan's book "100 Hikes in the Central Cascades" is recommended.
Directions: From Santiam Junction, follow Highway 20 heading southwest toward Corvallis to milepost 68. Turn left onto Hackleman Road (Forest Service Road 2672) and stay on it through a split in the road for 1.8 miles. Turn right onto Forest Service Road 1598 and follow it 2.8 miles to a trailhead sign and parking pullout on the left (the trail starts on the right side of the road). Coordinates: 44.37300060657984, -122.1340878752638.
This little-known hike takes you past a beautiful and quiet mountain lake before heading to the fire-scarred viewpoint of the Mount Jefferson Wilderness. The hike is 10 miles round-trip with 1,400 feet of climb (it’s a bit easier and less crowded than the more popular route via Marion Lake).
Begin at a trailhead near a Boy Scout Camp on the Pine Ridge Trail as it cuts a path that is mostly level. At 2 miles, reach a junction with a spur trail down to peaceful Temple Lake (a nice side trip or camping spot).
To reach Marion Mountain, continue on Pine Ridge Trail into forest burned during the B&B Fire of 2003. At mile 4, you’ll reach a spur trail to the summit of Marion Mountain. Turn right and hike 0.8 mile uphill to the summit, where the view includes Mount Jefferson, Marion Lake and the burned forests around Lake of the Woods.
Directions: For details, purchase Matt Reeder’s book “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region.”
Best known for striking wildflower displays in July, this popular hike in the South Santiam area travels through a pretty meadow before reaching a wooden deck and viewpoint.
The hike is five miles round-trip with 900 feet of elevation to Cone Peak meadows or 7.8 miles with 1,50 feet of gain to Iron Mountain's summit at 5,455 feet.
There are shorter routes to the top. For details, buy William Sullivan's book "100 Hikes in the Central Cascades."
Directions: Head east on Highway 20, past Sweet Home, and in 36 miles reach Tombstone Pass Trailhead. Watch for the parking area on the right, between milepost 63 and 64. Walk to the end of the parking lot beyond the bathroom to find the trailhead. Coordinates: 44.39323474971147, -122.1489720507339.
Mount Jefferson / Three-Fingered Jack / Mount Washington
These three mountains are the tallest and most dominating peaks within the path of the eclipse. But, all three require technical ability and mountaineering experience.
They should not be undertaken unless a team has strong climbing experience and knows the routes. For more information, consider talking to a local mountaineering club such as the Salem-based Chemeketans or Portland-based Mazamas.
Ground zero for eclipse watching in Oregon is Central Oregon, especially the area between Sisters and Madras. The area offers the best chances of a clear sky at almost 90 percent. However, crowds, highway traffic, and wildfire danger make this area tricky to visit. Plan accordingly.
Anyone who's made the trip from Salem to Sisters on Highway 20 has noticed the massive cone that rises in the distance.
While not as dramatic as Mount Jefferson and Washington, the perfect cone shape catches your eye. And the reality is that reaching its 6,436-foot summit is a lot easier than you might expect.
From the upper trailhead, the hike is just 4.4 miles round-trip with 1,500 feet of gain. The top provides a panorama of the Cascades and two historic fire lookouts.
This hike will likely be very crowded on eclipse day.
Directions: From Sisters, head 6.3 miles northwest on Highway. 20. Then turn north onto Forest Service Road 11 for 3.9 miles, west on FS 1110 for 5.5 miles to Black Butte Trailhead. Coordinates: 44.39524, -121.64820.
The Tam-a-láu Trail, beginning at Cove Palisades State Park, offers a hike into unique geological formations and a wide plateau above Lake Billy Chinook.
The hike climbs to “The Peninsula,” which features a wide plateau from which to view the eclipse. The hike is 6 miles round-trip from the campground, and 7 miles from the day use area trailhead, with 600 feet of climb.
At the top, the trail makes a 3.5-mile loop around The Peninsula, which affords spectacular views of the high Cascade Mountain peaks and the Deschutes and Crooked River canyons.
Directions: Head to Cove Palisades State Park and follow this map to the multiple trailheads: http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=main.loadFile&load=_siteFiles%2Fpublications%2Fpalisades_hiking.pdf.
Smith Rock State Park
There is no doubt this iconic state park is going to be packed to capacity, Oregon officials said. The chance to watch the eclipse within the honeycombed spires of this famed landscape will draw thousands.
If you want to hike Smith Rock — or rock climb up a spire for the big moment — get there well in advance. There are multiple hiking options here, but the best views will probably be from near the top of Misery Ridge, which requires a hike of around 3 miles with 800 feet of climb.
Directions: From Bend, follow US Highway 97 north 22 miles. At the sign to Smith Rock State Park, turn east and follow signs 3.2 miles to the main day-use area. Coordinates: 44.36267, -121.13835
Sweeping views of the Ochoco Mountains, and all the way to the Cascades, can be had on this moderately difficult hike east of Prineville.
A 7-mile loop with 1,220 feet of climb circles the meadow-filled plateau and includes a summit lookout at 6,926-feet.
Directions: The best place to start the hike is via Round Mountain Trailhead. For the best information purchase “100 Hikes / Travel Guide Eastern Oregon” by William Sullivan.
The wide-open spaces of Eastern Oregon are another hotbed for eclipse chasers, but with far fewer cities, planning a trip out here will be key. Make sure to bring an extra can of gas and be well-prepared.
Carrol Rim / Painted Hills
The Painted Hills are another spot expected to be a madhouse for the eclipse, so expect crowds crammed into a tiny area if you decide to make the trip.
That said, the best high point for the eclipse at the Painted Hills is Carrol Rim. The hike is 1.6 miles round-trip with 400 feet of climb. At the top, you get panoramic views of the Painted Hills, Sutton Mountain, and canyons as far as the eye can see.
Directions: From Prineville, drive east on US Highway 26 for 43 miles. Just before reaching the town of Mitchell, turn left on Bridge Creek / Burnt Ranch Road at signs for the Painted Hills. Follow this paved road 5.5 miles. At signs, turn left onto gravel Bear Creek Road and follow it to the many trailheads of the Painted Hills. Coordinates: 44.65181,-120.267248.
Walking atop Sutton Mountain feels a bit like entering a pocket of African savanna perched high above the Oregon desert.
Waves of grassland spread across a wide plateau spotted with gnarled juniper trees below a gigantic sky. Located just above the Painted Hills, the hike to this wide plateau and summit follows old roads and cross country routes.
The hike is about 8 miles round-trip with 1,500 feet of climb, but you may want to explore at the top. There isn’t a great defined trail system, so make sure to bring a map and GPS device.
See this map for more details: https://www.scribd.com/doc/293885159/Sutton-Mountain-Rec-Map.
John Day Fossil Beds
Another national monument at the center of eclipse-mania in Eastern Oregon, expect plenty of crowds. If you’re up for it, come early and consider two high points.
The Thomas Condon Overlook Trail (0.25 miles) takes hikers from the parking lot of museum and visitor center to a wonderful view of surrounding mountains and the John Day River valley.
A more challenging route is Blue Basin Overlook Trail (4 miles round-trip, 800 feet of climb), that offers the best overall view of the surrounding canyon lands.
Directions: From Prineville, drive east on US Highway 26 for 77 miles, passing the turn-off for the Painted Hills, to a junction with State Highway 19. Turn left and follow the State 19 north for 5.2 miles to a roadside "Blue Basin Parking" area on the right.
Thomas Condon coordinates:44.552443,-119.646306
Blue Basin Trailhead coordinates:44.59548,-119.631218
This hidden gem of a mountain range south of John Day should have plenty of peaks great for watching the eclipse. But the granddaddy of the range is 9,038-foot Strawberry Mountain.
Although it was damaged in the 2015 Canyon Creek Complex, Strawberry Mountain looks out over a stunning landscape of mountains, valleys, and high desert.
There are multiple routes to the top. The most scenic by far begins at Strawberry Campground (south of Prairie City). That route passes beautiful Strawberry Lake, Strawberry Falls and Little Strawberry Lake en route to the mountain’s summit on a 13-mile round-trip hike with 3,300 feet of climb.
A much easier route begins off Forest Service Road 1640. It follows burned forest on an old road to the mountain’s base, where a trail leads to the top. That route is about 7 miles with 1,178 feet of climb.
Here’s a good website with details and a map: https://www.outdoorproject.com/adventures/oregon/hikes/strawberry-mountain-wilderness-loop
Directions: Strawberry Campground Trailhead: From Prairie City off Highway 26, turn right onto Main Street and follow it to Bridge Street. Follow the pointers for Strawberry Campground south onto Strawberry Road for 10 miles to its end at the campground. Coordinates for Strawberry Campground: 44.319833,-118.675046.
Rock Creek Butte
The highest point in the Elkhorn Mountains doesn’t have an official trail to its summit, but does offer a fun “scramble” climb to its 9,106-foot summit.
Located west of Baker City, the Elkhorn Mountains are filled with alpine lakes, wildflower meadows and lots of mountain goats.
Start the adventure up Rock Creek Butte from the Twin Lakes Trailhead (tougher hike, easier drive) or Marble Pass Trailhead (easier hike, tougher drive).
From Twin Lakes Trailhead, you’ll climb 3 miles and 2,000 feet to stunning Twin Lakes. Head 1 mile to the Elkhorn Crest Trail, turn left and hike another mile to the base of the butte. From here, pick a route up to the top. All totaled, it’s about 10 miles round-trip with 3,700 feet of climb.
From Marble Pass, it’s 5 miles on Elkhorn Crest Trail to the base of the butte (10 miles round-trip). The hike is much easier with just 1,600 feet of climb, but the drive is one of the worst in the state. You can get a ride from Range Tour and Shuttle Company in Baker City.
Directions to Twin Lake Trailhead: From Baker City, travel south on Highway 7 (also known as the Elkhorn Scenic Byway) toward John Day, for about 22 miles. Turn right on Deer Creek Road, and veer left to stay on Forest Road 6550. Drive about 3.5 miles and turn right on Forest Road 6530. Go 0.6 mile and turn left on Forest Road 030 for 2.5 miles to the trailhead entrance sign. The final 0.5 mile is steep and quite rough. Coordinates: 44.779661, -118.091961
Directions to Marble Pass: The awful nature of this road cannot be stressed enough — only high-clearance vehicles should attempt this drive. From Baker City, go north on Highway 30 to the northern edge of town to Pocahontas Road; turn left (west) on Pocahontas Road and go about 7 miles to the Marble Creek Road (becomes Forest Road 6510); turn left on Marble Creek Road and go 9 miles to the top of the ridge to the trailhead. Coordinates: 44.7733722, -118.043855.
Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for nine years. He is the author of the book “Hiking Southern Oregon” and can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.
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