Hike 09
The Mt. Hood National Forest
Buck Peak Hike
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Map of the Buck Peak via Indian Springs Hike

Length: 12.5 mi RT
Elevation Change: 1100' gain
Season: Summer thru Fall
Difficulty:    Challenging
Permit: NW Forest Pass Not Required

Features: This is one of three ways to reach Buck Peak, which by the way is the high point of Multnomah County (4751'). I do not include in this guide the option of starting at Lolo Pass and hiking the PCT to Buck Peak. I do include Hike 10 from Lost Lake as an option, and of course the hike on this page from Indian Springs Campground just south of Wahtum Lake. This hike begins on the PCT at the Indian Springs Campground and follows the PCT to the base of Buck Peak where you take a short cut-off trail to the summit.

Buck Peak is more popular amongst the county high point hikers than most others, but it is a great hike and during wildflower season it is even more spectacular. Because most of the hike uses the Pacific Crest Trail, hiking to Buck Peak from Indian Springs you are pretty much guaranteed good trail conditions.

The first couple miles of this hike is pretty much out in the open, and the PCT parallels an old access road that is now mostly overgrown. About two miles into the hike, the trail crosses the remains of that old road and you don't see it again. The place where the trail crosses the old road is also the place where the trail moves from the west side of the divide that it follows to the east side. It is also the place where the trail pretty much enters a forest for firs, hemlocks, and cedar, which really limits the views until you actually get to Buck Peak.

About five and a half miles into this hike the trail crosses a spring. Someone has inserted a pipe into the ground, out of which clean cold water flows. This is the only water source I noticed on the entire hike. Just a bit further, is the junction to the cutoff trail that takes you to the summit.

This trail gets very little use, so it can be overgrown at times. But they try to keep it clear. It is a short hike from here to the summit, and when the weather cooperates, the views are spectacular.

Looking down on Lost Lake from Buck Peak
How to get there:

These directions take you from Hood River, Oregon. Whatever direction from which you arrive at Hood River, follow the sign of old US Hwy 30 into town. From the west turn right on 13th Street and follow it up the hill until it merges with 12th. If you are approaching from the east, on US 30, turn left on 9th and follow it up the hill until it merges with 12th. Either way, follow 12th south out of town on what is called Tucker Road or Hwy 281. About 6 miles out of town you will cross the Hood River. Immediately after the bridge, bear right and pass Tucker Park. In about another six miles you need to bear to the right again following signs to Lost Lake. This community is referred to as Dee.

As soon as you cross the railroad tracks, bear left and follow the signs to Lost Lake. This paved road becomes Forest Road 18, and you need to follow it about another 5 miles. Then bear right on Forest Road 13 for another 4 miles. Again, bear right on Forest Road 1310 Forest Road 1310 get a bit narrow in places, especially where it is exposed to the south. Be extremely cautious while driving this section of the road and stay away from the cliff side. Continue on FR1310 for about another 6 miles to the trailhead parking area at Wahtum Lake.

At this point, turn left and follow the gravel road up the hill away from Wahtum Lake. For the next couple miles, always bear right at junctions. You will follow this poorly maintained road down a steep hill and across a saddle then back up to a ridge line. Almost unnoticed, you will see a poorly maintained road drop off to the right and down a steep slope. There you will come upon a very primitive campground called Indian Springs. The PCT 2000 runs through the camp, and you can begin your hike to Buck Peak from here.

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