We'll do a 6.6 mile loop hike including a trip up to the top of Iron Mountain, known for its views and wildflowers. This hike also has an elevation gain of 1,900 feet so I would consider this a medium difficulty adventure recommended for those who have done something of this difficulty before. Please read the whole description so you know what you're signing up for.
We'll meet at Best Buy and drive approximately 1 hour 45 minutes to the trailhead and shoot for being on the trail at 11am.
We will be carpooling so please indicate in your RSVP whether you would like a ride or have one to offer. This is about 165 miles round trip. The cost drivers incur in getting everyone to the trailhead is not only gas but wear and tear, oil changes, insurance, tires and everything else that goes into maintaining a car. For trips I organize, I ask passengers to contribute 10 cents per mile, or in this case $15 (rounding) to drivers. This is in line with what the Portland Hiking Meetup and Obsidians charge. It will be a lot easier if you can bring exact change.
Here's a Forest Service map and website of the trip:
They do require Northwest Forest Pass or day parking permit. If you are thinking of getting one they are $30 and available at Ranger Stations, REI and many other locations:
Otherwise, it's typically $5 for day parking. Please plan to contribute to this if your driver doesn't have the pass.
Please bring sturdy hiking shoes or boots, a lunch, plenty of water, sun protection and layered clothing for all weather possibilities. As with all of my hikes in the Cascades, appropriate clothing means dress in layers and no cotton. YES, I AM SERIOUS. I have taken people on hikes in July and we have been poured on. Ask the guy who wore jeans and spent the end of the hike shivering in them how fun it was. This fine video goes into detail on the subject. It is like wearing a seatbelt in the car. Wool or synthetic office or athletic clothes from thrift shops work just as well as hiking gear from your favorite outdoor store.
Also, please no dogs. Nearly every dog owner on earth believes their pooch is well-behaved. On the trail with a bunch of new people is not the place to put this theory to the test.
There's a hike map and full description downloadable in PDF format here:
My best guess is that the hike will take us about 4-5 hours with lunch. My best guess for return to Eugene is about 6pm.
Here's William Sullivan's description from 100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades (We'll take the trip in a clockwise direction, different from what he describes. We will get to see the sights he describes, but I want to do the hardest part of the loop at the beginning when we are fresh):
Moderate (to Iron Mountain)
1900 feet elevation gain
Open mid-June through October
Iron Mountain's lookout building is one of the Old Cascades' most popular hiking goals, but most people hike to it the wrong way-up a steep, dusty, largely viewless forest trail on the west side of Tombstone Pass. To really see the July wildflowers that make this area famous, take the longer, better graded Cone Peak Trail through the alpine meadows on the east side of Tombstone Pass. In fact, the viewpoint amid these flower-packed fields makes a worthwhile dayhike destination in itself.
Start by driving Highway 20 east of Sweet Home 36 miles (or west of Santiam Pass 13 miles). At milepost 64, just 0.4 mile east of Tombstone, park at a small pullout marked with a brown hiker-symbol sign. The Cone Peak Trail sets out climbing steadily through an old-growth forest that includes shaggy-barked Alaska cedars, rare in Oregon but common here.
The entire ridge from Iron Mountain to Echo Mountain is a biological wonderland, featuring more types of trees (17) than any other area in Oregon, and fully 60 plant species considered rare or unusual in the Western Cascades. After 1.1 mile and several switchbacks, emerge from the forests in a rock garden of early-summer wildflowers: fuzzy cat's ears, purple larkspur, yellow stonecrop, and pink penstemon. The path continues across a cinder-strewn shoulder of Cone Peak-a landscape where one wouldn't think plants could grow at all, but where red paintbrush and other flowers wash the slopes with color. The viewpoint here overlooks Iron Mountain and~Tombstone Prairie. Beyond the meadow viewpoint the trail descends slightly to a saddle and contours halfw-ay around Iron Mountain to a junction with the Iron Mountain Trail. Tum left and climb 0.7 mile on steep switchbacks to the lookout building.
To the east, all the major Cascade peaks are visible. To the west, look for Rooster Rock (Hike #14) and, on a clear day, Marys Peak in the Coast Range. Be cautious near the summit cliffs. A lookout staffer fell to his death here in 1990. The entire building blew off the peak in a 1976 winter storm and had to be returned by helicopter. To return from the lookout on a loop, keep left as you descend the Iron Mountain Trail. In 1.7 miles you'll reach Highway 20. Don't walk back along this busy road. Instead follow the trail across the highway, heading toward the official Iron Mountain Trailhead on Road 15, downhill another 100 yards. Just before you reach Road 15, however, turn left on the Santiam Wagon Road-a pleasant path that climbs 0.3 mile to the Tombstone Pass Sno-park. Walk to the
far right end of this parking lot and angle downhill on the Tombstone Nature Trail. Then keep left for 0.6 mile to find a new connector trail that climbs to your car at the Cone Peak Trailhead on Highway 20.