[Wildflower Hikes and Trips in Crook County, OR] [Field Trips for the 2018 NPSO Annual Meeting]

Wildflowers of Lookout Mountain

Northern Approach: Lookout Mt.Trail #804, Mother Lode Mine Trail #808A, Independent Mine Trail #808

Ochoco National Forest

Crook County, OR

Wildflowers along Trail #804, Lookout Mountain, Ochoco National Forest.......June 15, 2015.

Wildflowers in bloom near the summit of Lookout Mountain along Trail #804, Ochoco National Forest........June 15, 2015.

Map of Lookout Mountain Trails, courtesty of Oregon Hikers

Lookout Mountain is a high plateau with several rocky points on its western face with nice views of the western Ochoco Range. Trails ascend both from the Ochoco Ranger Station (14.6 miles rt - difficult and used by mountain bikes) or from the Independent Mine (4-7 miles rt). The access trails climb fairly steeply through coniferous forest, eventually reaching the flat plateau covered with rock garden plants and sagebrush.

The Independent Mine Trailhead begins at an elevation of 5900'. I usually hike the middle trail, Trail 808A which ascends steeply for about a mile to the plateau. I then usually turn right (west) and head along an old access road about a mile or so to the North Point (6600'). One can also continue slightly southwest along Trail 808A (an old road) to connect with Trail 808, then turn left on this trail, passing a wood Snow Shelter and finally arriving at the Summit of Lookout Mt. (6926').

Taking the longer estern loop route of Trail 808, one immediately notices that the slope is much gentler. Proceed east from the Independent Mine Trailhead along Tr. 808, climbing gradually through conifer forestbefore reaching the top of the plateau after a mile. Proceed southward along Trail 808 for another 3 miles before reaching an old stone corral at the summit. Continuing on the shorter second portion of the loop, proceed north along Tr. 808, passing the intersection with Tr 808A and eventually passing the old Independent Mine, which once yielded cinnabar, which was then processed into mercury. The Trailhead is reached 2.8 miles after leaving the summit. The whole loop provided by Trails 808 and 804 or 808A is about 7miles long. While hiking on Lookout Mt, be on the lookout for wild horses which were released early during World War II when local ranchers realized that cavalry outfits were no longer needed to fight a war.


From Prineville, OR: Drive east along US Highway 26 for about 17 miles and turn right at a fork in the road that is signed "Ochoco Creek" and Ochoco Ranger Station. Proceed along this paved road (County Rd 23) for about 8.2 miles, watching for deer and pronghorn before reaching the ranger station. At 0.2 miles past the ranger station, turn right onto paved Forest Road #42. Drive upwards through open ponderosa pine forests for about 7 miles until a pass is reached. You will see a sign stating "Independent Mine". Turn right onto a dirt road, Forest Rd. #4205, passing the parking area about 100 yards up the road (a trailhead for the Round Mt. South Trail & longer northern approach to Lookout Mt. Trail system) and continuing another 0.9 miles to the Trailhead listed above. This access road is bumpy and full of pot holes, so drive slowly. Most passenger cars should make it to the trailhead just fine.

Facilities: There no developed facilities at the trailhead. The 3 trails leading to the summit of Lookout Mt. from this trailhead do cross several small streams, but water from Brush Creek should be filtered while water from any stream draining the north slope of Lookout Mt. should be avoided due to the potential of arsenic poisoning. Dogs and humans should not drink from streams along the lower mile of the Lookout Mt.Trail #804!

Wildflowers: From Memorial Day weekend through the first half of June, expect to find: Tolmie's onion (Allium tolmiei), heartleaf arnica (Arnica cordifolia), Whitney's balloon milkvetch (Astragalus whitneyi), arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata), wavyleaf paintbrush (Castilleja applegatei var. pinetorum), pale Wallowa paintbrush (Castilleja oresbia), Baker's hawksbeard (Crepis bakeri), gray hawksbeard (Crepis intermedia), upland larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum), steershead (Dicentra uniflora), King's smooth sandwort (Eremogone kingii var. glabrescens), Eaton's shaggy daisy (Erigeron eatonii var. villosus), foreign fleabane (Erigeron glacialis), yellow desert daisy (Erigeron linearis), Nevada lewisia (Lewisia nevadensis), threeleaf lewisia (Lewisia triphylla), up to 7 desert parsleys (Lomatium sp.), long-flowered bluebells (Mertensia longiflora), smooth-leaved gilia (Navarretia capillaris), alpine pennycress (Noccaea fendleri ssp. glauca), mountain sweet cicely (Osmorhiza occidentalis), Brown's peony (Paeonia brownii), shrubby penstemon (Penstemon fruticosus), daggerpods (Phoenicaulis cheiranthoides), roughfruit fairybells (Prosartes trachycarpa), sagebrush buttercup (Ranunculus glaberrimus var. glaberrimus), woolly goldenweed (Stenotus lanuginosus), bighead clover (Trifolium macrocephalum), upland yellow violet (Viola praemorsa ssp. linguifolia).

Partial Plant Lists For Lookout Mountain:

* Comprehensive Flora for Lookout Mountain & Access Trails

June 25, 2017: Lookout Mt. via the Mother Lode Trail #808A and Lookout Mt. Trail #804 (Ochoco National Forest)

May 29, 2016: Lookout Mountain (Ochoco National Forest) - Accessed via trails 808, 808A and 804.

June 15, 2015: Lookout Mountain via the Mother Lode Mine Trail #808A & Lookout Mt. Trail #804 (Ochoco National Forest)

August 10, 2014: Lookout Mountain via the Mother Lode Mine Trail #808A & Lookout Mt. Trail #804 (Ochoco National Forest)

June 22, 1998

Paul Slichter