Hike 88
The Mt. Hood National Forest
Potato Butte via Red Lake Trailhead Hike
( Red Lake, Averill Lake, Wall Lake, Sheep Lake, Potato Butte )
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Map of the Potato Butte Hike

Length: 7.4 miles round trip
Elevation Change: 1680' gain
Season: Summer thru Fall
Difficulty:   Challenging
Permit:   NW Forest Pass Required


 Click for PDF Topo Map of this Hike 

Beauty for the buck, it doesn't get much better than this hike. First of all, you can drive your vehicle on paved road almost to the doorsteps of this hike. Second of all, it's an easy climb and a wonderful hike through a high lake basin surrounded by white pine and mosquitos.... oops, there I go again. Oh, well, every hike has its down side.

So lather up, and let's hike to Potato Butte. The trail begins to climb immediately, but not until you reach the Potato does it really get steep. You hike mostly in a forested environment until you reach the basin at about a mile and three quarters. Here things level off a bit and you soon come to the first lake, Red Lake. You need to leave the main trail to your right and follow user trails to the lakes edge. From here you get glimpses of Mt jefferson and Double Peaks. This is one of many beautiful lakes nestled in the forests of the Olallie Basin.

To continue your journey, make your way back to the trail and head east. In about a half mile you will come to the next lake, Averill Lake. I really like this one. Its color and setting is really nice. You can catch a glimpse of Olallie Butte to the east and Double Peaks to the southeast. Back to the trail.

Its only about another half mile to the next lake, Wall Lake. Unlike the first two lakes, the trail follows along the south side of this lake, giving you the first view of your destination, Potato Butte. Boy, it sure doesn't look tall from this lake. Oh well, looks are deceiving. The trail continues on past Wall Lake.

In only about a quarter mile you come to the last of this series of lakes, Sheep Lake. This is also a very lovely lake, and you get a better view of Olallie Butte from here. Fortunately, there is a sign nailed to a tree indicating which way it is to Potato Butte. Follow the sign, and follow the path. You will wander through fairly open marshy areas until you get to the base of Potato Butte. Along the way, there is one pond that throws a great photo opt for Mt Jefferson which is trying to make an appearance.

Now the real climbing begins. I hope you've hydrated well, because the maker of this trail forgot one little word..... switchback.... there aren't any. The trail just goes straight up the mountain. But what a reward when you get there. The top is actually kinda big, so you need to walk to the far north side of the top to view Mt Hood and points north. Then walk back toward the southeast corner to get great views of Olallie Butte and Mt Jefferson and Double Peaks and all the lakes below. Be sure to have plenty of film or media for your digital camera....you'll need it.

Potato Butte rises above Sheep Lake
How to get there:

 Click for PDF Directions Map of this Hike 

Follow Highway 224 out of Estacada for about 26 miles. Right after the bridge just beyond the Ripplebrook Station, bear right and continue on Road 46 for another 26 miles. Watch for Road 380 on your left, and take it for about a mile to the trailhead.

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