Pansy Lake

Bull of the Woods Lookout

  • Easy (to Pansy Lake)
  • 2.4 miles round trip
  • 500 feet elevation gain
  • Open mid-May to mid-November
  • Use: hikers, horses


  • Moderate (to Bull of the Woods)
  • 7.1-mile loop
  • 2000 feet elevation gain
  • Open July through October

The romp to this popular mountain lake is easy enough for children, but there’s adventure here for hardier hikers as well. A scenic loop continues up to a historic lookout tower in the heart of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness.

This area is part of a 16- to 25-million-year-old volcanic mountain range predating the more famous High Cascade peaks. Erosion has carved up this older range, exposing quartz veins with ore that attracted prospectors in the late 1800s. One of these early visitors was Robert Bagby, who blazed a trail from Bagby Hot Springs to a cabin he built by this lake. Because of the color of the copper ore he found here, he named his claim the Pansy Blossom Mine—and the lake became known as Pansy Lake. Some say the name “Bull of the Woods” refers to a big elk bagged by Bagby, but others note the phrase was common in Oregon’s ox-logging days as a title for a tough crew boss.

From Interstate 205 near Oregon City, take exit …

Other Options

An easier route to the lookout tower starts near …

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington.