Horsepasture Mountain

  • Moderate
  • 2.8 miles round trip
  • 910 feet elevation gain
  • Open late June to early November
  • Use: hikers, horses, bicycles

Mountain views and wildflower meadows highlight the relatively easy climb to this panoramic former lookout site perched on a crag between the Three Sisters and the McKenzie River Valley. Horsepasture Mountain was named by early forest rangers. While riding the Olallie Trail from McKenzie Bridge to lookout towers on Olallie Ridge, rangers often camped at the (since vanished) Horsepasture Saddle Shelter and let their mounts graze the nearby peak’s meadows. Indians, too, once visited this area, drawn by the huckleberries that still ripen on Olallie Ridge each August. In fact, olallie is the Chinook jargon word for “berry.” To find the trailhead, drive Highway . . .

When you reach the summit’s cliff-edge crags, you’ll find three large anchor bolts marking the lookout tower’s site. The Three Sisters dominate the horizon to the east, with conical Mt. Bachelor to the right and ghostly Mt. Hood far to the left. Below, displayed like a volcanology exhibit, ancient High Cascades lava flows funnel down the great flat-bottomed trough of the McKenzie River Valley toward the blue horizons of the distant Willamette Valley.

Other Options

For a longer, relatively level hike from the same trailhead, go …

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