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

Wildflowers of Lookout Mountain

(from the south: Line Butte Trail #807 & Line Butte Tie Trail #807A to South Point)

Ochoco National Forest

Crook County, OR

Steers Head: Dicentra uniflora - Brown's Peony: Paeonia brownii

Steershead (Dicentra uniflora) at left, a species that was found amongst snow patches along the Line Butte Trail in late May 2017. The photo at right shows Brown's peony, a species which grows along the Line Butte Trail and should bloom by early June.

Line Butte Trail #807 & Line Butte Tie Trail #807A, Lookout Mt. South Map, Ochoco National ForestThe Line Butte Trail #807 provides access to South Point at the southern end of Lookout Mt. The trail is relatively unknown to most hikers in the Ochocos, so you are almost always ensured a quiet day on the trail without other human visitors. The first several miles of trail pass through an open forest of big ponderosa pines with a park-like, grass and sedge understory filled with numerous spring wildflowers.

From the Line Butte Trail #807 east trailhead (formerly the Fawn Creek Trailhead), the route climbs gradually through open grasslands and ponderosa pine forest along an old, decommissioned wagon road. The old road has been closed long enough that it appears more like a trail much of the way. After about 1.8 miles you reach a signed trail junction for the Line Butte Tie Trail #807A on the right. Hike uphill on Trail #807A, again following an old wagon road through ever thicker fir forest, eventually gaining open sagebrush slopes near the top of the ridge. A side jaunt to South Point affords views south to the Maury Mountains in the west and the southern-most extension of the Blue Mountains (to the northwest of Burns, OR and Snow Mt on the eastern horizon.

Trail length roundtrip to South Point is about 8.4 miles with 1,100' elevation gain.

Note: The first mile of the trail may have cattle grazing along the first half mile by late June, although most of the trail seems to be spared from grazing.

Hike description from Less Travelled Northwest (with additional maps and photos). Some trail numbers have been changed, and the trailhead may have changed since this page was published.

USFS Lookout Mountain Trail Map (including Trail #807 & #807A)


Access:

From Prineville, OR, drive east along US Highway 26 for about 17 miles and then 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 old ranger station,reach a junction with FS Roads #22 and #42. Turn right onto paved Forest Road #42. Drive upwards through open ponderosa pine forests, crossing a pass and then heading downhill toward Big Summit Prairie. After about 15 miles from the junction with FS Rd #22, turn right onto FS Road #4215 (good gravel) and drive south for about 2 miles before turning right (west) onto FS Rd #4220. Continue on Road #4220 for about 5 miles and then turn right onto FS Rd #250 and drive about 0.8 miles to the Line Butte Trailhead (formerly Fawn Creek TH).

Or to avoid Rd #4220 which may be slower to drive due to deteriorating road surface, keep on FS Road #4215 until you reach the west end of FS Rd #4220 (about 9.4 miles south of the Rd #42 junction). Turn right onto Rd #4220 and drive 1.1 miles to Road #257 (USFS says this should be Rd #250). The trailhead is lightly used and includes a loop road to get turned around in. Cattle graze along the trail, but I am unsure at this point how early they are turned out to pasture here.

Note: There are several spots on Rd #4220 between 4215 and #257 that can be pretty muddy and problematic early in season or after rain events. I found Road #4220 to be quite rough coming in from the north, so it may be better to access this trail via the second route.


Expect to find the following wildflower species along the trail in late May/early June: nettle-leaved horsemint (Agastache urticifolia), silvery pussytoes (Antennaria argentea), heartleaf arnica (Arnica cordifolia), arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata), Eaton's shaggy fleabane (Erigeron eatonii var. villosus), spotted fritillary (Fritillaria atropurpurea), Rydberg's geranium (Geranium viscosissimum var. incisum), ballheaded waterleaf (Hydrophyllum capitatum var. alpinum), western blue flag (Iris missouriensis), threeleaf lewisia (Lewisia triphylla), slender woodland star (Lithophragma tenellum), slender-fruit desert parsley (Lomatium leptocarpum), mountain balm (Monardella odoratissima), Brown's peony (Paeonia brownii), daggerpods (Phoenicaulis cheiranthoides), northern black currant (Ribes hudsonianum var. petiolare), sticky currant (Ribes viscosissimum), bighead clover (Trifolilum macrocephalum). And you might get get lucky and find steershead (Dicentra uniflora) still in bloom!


Plant Lists:

Partial Flora for Lookout Mountain & Access Trails

June 22, 2017: Line Butte Trail #807 from the Fawn Creek Trailhead (Ochoco National Forest)

May 22, 2017: Line Butte Trail #807 from the Fawn Creek Trailhead (Ochoco National Forest)


Paul Slichter