Castle Rock

  • Easy (from Road 480)
  • 2.4 miles round trip
  • 630 feet elevation gain
  • Open April to mid-December
  • Use: hikers, horses, bicycles

  • Difficult (from Kings Road)
  • 13.2 miles round trip
  • 2600 feet elevation gain
  • Open all year (lower portion only)

Viewpoint climbs don’t come much easier than this. After a scant mile of well-graded switchbacks through the forest, this path leads to a cliff-edge lookout site overlooking the McKenzie River Valley from Blue River to the Three Sisters. If the hike sounds too easy—or if you’re riding a mountain bike—start 5.4 miles farther down the mountain instead.

From Springfield, follow …

From the old lookout site, the long trough of the McKenzie River Valley is very clearly U-shaped in cross section—evidence the canyon was widened by Ice Age glaciers spilling down from the Three Sisters. Note the green links of Tokatee Golf Course far below and a scrap of Cougar Reservoir to the south. To the east are Mt. Washington and the Three Sisters, while the horizon in all other directions teems with the jumbled ridges of the Old Cascades, patchworked with clearcuts.

Other Options

If this hike’s too short, or if you want to avoid driving the rough gravel on Road 480, consider …

This chapter is an excerpt from 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Central Oregon Cascades.