hike: Lookout Mountain via High Prairie
Located on the east side of Mount Hood in the Badger Creek Wilderness, Lookout Mountain is accessible via several trails that lead to the top – this is the shortest route from the High Prairie trailhead.
distance: 3 miles
elevation gain: 565 ft.
drive time from Portland: 2 hours
parking pass: none
hike description: OregonHikers.org – Lookout Mountain Loop
The hike may be shorter than other options, but the drive to the trailhead is long via a bumpy gravel road. A friend and I were scouting to see if the Western Larches had started to turn color yet. It was also a day dedicated to photography. Since this is a short and easy hike, we both brought our full tripods with a plan to make frequent stops for photos.
Instead of doing the loop, we hiked on the lower trail both directions due to the views it offers. At the trailhead, we stayed to the right at the loop split. After crossing through a meadow by the trailhead and a short section of forest, views to the west of Mount Hood are frequent. We took every side trail we came across, many of which had interesting rock formations.
Along the ridge are many side trails leading to viewpoints with interesting rock formations and old gnarled trees.
The final section of trail up to Lookout Mountain (6,525 ft.) is gradual in its ascent, with views of the Badger Creek Wilderness as you round the mountain.
From the top of Lookout Mountain, you can see Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Adams to the north, Mount Jefferson to the south, and central Oregon’s flat and dry landscape to the east. Of course, Mount Hood dominates all of the views to the west.
After a long break at the top of Lookout Mountain, we headed back the same way we hiked in.