Mt. Hood National Forest
October 29, 2022
Ever since our first trip up to Rocky Butte (post) last winter, we have wanted to connect the trail to Grasshopper Point. We also wanted to squeeze one last backpacking trip in before calling our end of season. This isn’t a traditional backpacking destination given that it’s not in a wilderness and the trail is short. We planned to hike to Rocky Butte and drop our gear before continuing our hike to Grasshopper Point. Directions to the trailhead for Rocky Butte can be found in my previous post. There is an old fire ring on the summit of Rocky Butte that was most likely left over from when it was in service and where we would set up camp for the night. Oregon Hikers (post) has marked this hike as a lost hike, so continue at your own risk. We pin pointed our bearing with a compass and ranger district map before starting the remainder of our hike. Or I should say, my partner did this and I watched to learn. This is helpful if you know where you are currently located on a map and where you are wanting to head. It will help keep you on track in the general direction from point A to point B. Continuing up and over Rocky Butte the trail is still well defined. We followed this to the first road crossing with NF-130 and picked the trail up down the road to the left. From here the trail alternated between visible tread and following the flagging. There were only a few spots that caused us to pause and search a bit harder for flagging, cut logs, or a blaze in the trees. The cross-country hiking here is fairly easy and could still be accomplished by following the path of least resistance along the compass bearing. We reached a second road crossing with NF-140 that had an OHV trail #475 sign on the ground pointing towards an old decommissioned road. We followed this well worn tread until we spotted an old trail sign for #475 nailed in a tree off to the left. Reading the detailed description from Oregon Hikers led us to believe we should turn here. There was also another old sign nailed to a tree off to the right side of the OHV trail. This implied that the hiker use trail crossed the OHV trail here. After searching around the signed tree we were unable to find any obvious tread or flagging to indicate a trail. We decided to follow the OHV trail instead since it was well defined and if it truly did follow the old NF-142 road it would get us close enough to cross country back to the actual trail.
We followed the road tread until it petered out and turned into a user trail with flagging to the left. This eventually connected to a more obvious trail that we could only assume was the one we needed. It seemed well defined heading both left and right, but given the lack of trail near the signs we found we didn’t believe it stayed that way for too long. We turned right to continue towards Grasshopper Point. There were patches of snow through out the trail as we gained elevation, but now most of the trail was covered. Someone had been here fairly recently as we started to follow footprints. I assumed they were a hunter given that it was Elk Season and not many other people head out this way during this time of year. It’s always good to be aware of your state hunting seasons when recreating in the shoulder season. We like to use the big game magazine to gauge the risk of the area by checking the type of hunt and number of tags taken out. We also wear blaze orange beanies while hiking during hunting season. This felt particularly necessary since we were hiking on a less traveled trail and somewhat cross-country. We followed the snowy track and footprints all the way to the NF-4860 road crossing. There is a post here to mark the trail for OHV users. The footprints and trail continued directly across the road to head up the final side of the point. We followed the footprints and flagging for a while but it seemed like the trail started to head down the slope. The footprints had also disappeared and deviated from the trail here. We decided to head straight up the slope instead of following the trail down. This is were things got confusing for us. We figured we were very close but couldn’t find anything in the obvious clearings. The description we had of the area wasn’t very helpful either and, if anything, confused us more. We spent a good chunk of time backtracking and circling around the broad summit. We were about to give up and start heading back when my partner stumbled upon the foundation blocks. Success! It looks like some of them have been moved from their original location, but they are still there. I will continue the directions from where we left the “trail”. After heading up the slope to the flat summit, you will continue farther until you reach a well defined road. This road was not listed on our ranger district map. Where we came out there was a post which made us think this was at one time a trail. Take a left on the road and follow it. The road makes a bend to the right where we found another post with a US Forest Service marker off to the left. This also seemed to be marking a “trail” and might be where the trail we were following earlier comes out but I can’t say for sure. We continued on the road past the bend. Shortly after this the road makes a fork. The left fork is faint while the right fork is defined. If you head down the faint left fork you can find the foundation off to the left of the road. It is in a rocky area and might be hard to spot if you’re not looking closely. We saved ourselves any further confusion on the way back by going the same way and avoiding the other potential “trails”. This hike was around 4.7 miles RT with 1,010′ in elevation gain.
Grasshopper Point (5,385′).
Former Fire Lookout Site Register: US 597; OR 38
A tower was first built on Grasshopper Point in 1933 as a 72′ timber tower with L-6 cab. The following winter it was blown over during a storm. They re-erected the tower in 1934. I’m inclined to believe they built it taller given other sources list it as an 84′ treater timber tower, but it’s also possible these are conflicting heights. It was used as an Aircraft Warning Station in the 1940s. Old photos show there was a cabin for living quarters and another structure that was either used for storage or a garage at the base. It was last staffed in 1964 and destroyed sometime between 1967 and 1969 by intentional burning.
Rocky Butte (4,796′).
Not registered on the National Historic Lookout or the Former Fire Lookout Site Register.
There is minimal information on when Rocky Butte was built but it pre-dates 1930. It was most likely abandoned in the 1930s or 1940s, but still stands today. This crows nest sits atop a 60′ Ponderosa pine. The guy wires, some of the top boards, and most of the ladder are still present.
5 thoughts on “Grasshopper Point & Rocky Butte”
Intentional burning? By Forest Service or arson? Boy, that looks like a rugged trail. Love your tips about using a compass to start start and directions. Love the snow in October. When we lived in Colorado in 1997-1999 we loved going to the high evelations from June on because there was usually snow somewhere.
Burned by the Forest Service. They burned a lot of Fire Lookouts down themselves unfortunately since they were seen as a liability. The terrain wasn’t too bad, but definitely a little rough around the edges after being abandoned. I haven’t had a chance to visit Colorado, but I bet it’s gorgeous in the snow!
Oh crap, I forgot you’re way farther west! I saw snow and thought Colorado. You would love Colorado, I bet! We were in places 11,000+ feet in elevation. Oh, I see. I bet thinking ahead about such structures is necessary. I hadn’t thought of that. We have fire towers here that they take the stairs off of or gate.
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Haha no worries! I’ll make it out to Colorado some time. It definitely has everything I would love. And yeah, we have a few like that too (with gates and stairs removed that is). I’m not sure how they decided which ones to keep or burn, but I’m sure they had some reasoning for it.
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Haha. Wrong set of mountains! Oops!