Hike 57
The Mt. Hood National Forest
Bald Butte via Oak Ridge Hike
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Map of the Oak Ridge Trail to Surveyors Ridge
and Bald Butte Hike

Length: 9.4 mi RT
Elevation Change: 2340' gain
Season: Almost year round
Difficulty:    Difficult
Permit: NW Forest Pass Not Required


 Click for PDF Topo Map of this Hike 

This hike is a little different, in that it isn't entirely within the national forest, or wilderness areas, and it starts on a road and crosses a road a number of times. This hike takes you up Oak Ridge to the Surveyor's Ridge Trail, which is a favorite of mountain bikers. One outstanding feature about mountain bike trails is that the bikers keep the trail extremely well groomed. Thank them when you get an opportunity.

You begin the climb on Trail #688A, which starts out fairly gentle, but then climbs steeply until you reach the top and the Surveyor's Ridge Trail #688. As you leave the trail head you can see your destination, Bald Butte, in the distance with a set of very large power lines running between you and the summit. Also, within a quarter mile, you will skirt a recently logged clear cut area. The upside is that you now get fantastic views of Mt Hood, and soon the clear cut will be awash in wildflowers.

Shortly after the logged area, the trail descends briefly to cross a small stream, then begins to climb. Soon you will cross a fairly new logging road, and after you do, the trail really begins to climb. From here on it gains about 850 feet per mile, all the way to the top of the ridge. Very few areas are gentle, but there are some, and the wildflowers are abundant both in the dense forested areas and out in the open areas.

Just before you reach the Surveyor's Ridge Trail, you will cross yet another logging road. Actually, you could take the road by bearing to the left and walking a short distance to the place where Trail 688 crosses this road, then pick up the trail heading north from there. Or, you could cross the road where you meet it, and walk a very short distance to Trail #688, then bear left, or north, and head for Bald Butte.

After leaving that road area, the trail meanders gently north, then as it makes a short sharp descent, you will come out into an open area with a fantastic view of Mt. Hood to the south. Continue north on the trail, skirting yet another logged area, you will descend to the power line area. You can actually drive to this part of the trail, if you only want to take the short steep climb up Bald Butte. Either way, the trail now resembles more of a road than a trail as it makes its way up a very steep knoll. The top of this knoll is tree covered, but the ascent offers fantastic views to the south.

The road/trail wanders through a forested area before descending rather steeply to a saddle. Then you are at the very base of Bald Butte. The climb up the face is fairly steep, but short and the rewards when you reach the top make all of this so rewarding! In season the wildflowers are abundant, and in the winter the snowfields are adrift. Anyway or anytime you choose to climb Bald Butte, you are in for a treat.

Mt. Hood from the summit of Bald Butte
How to get there:

 Click for PDF Directions Map of this Hike 

The best way to reach the trailhead for the Bald Butte hike is to follow Oregon State Highway 35 south of Hood River, and through the small area known as Mt. Hood. When you pass through this community, the Hood River Ranger District offices will be on your right. As you continue south on Hwy 35, keep your eye open for a Forest Service brown sign on your left, announcing the trail to Bald Butte. Take a left on Smullin Road, and drive but a short distance, and just before Smullin bears to the right, you will see a road on your left. Follow this road a very short distance to the obvious trail head.

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