The summit of Whetstone Mountain is a dramatic, fairly moderate hike offering expansive views of several peaks, from Mount Rainier all the way to the Three Sisters. The foundation for a long-gone lookout tower is visible on the rocky, wide open summit. The trail winds in and out of old-growth fir forests, passing several small streams and a small pond under a rock slide. The hike itself is pleasant and rarely steep, with several viewpoints to different peaks along the way. The trail is lined with large huckleberry plants promising plenty of trailside snacking in late summer. Spring means flowering rhododendrons, trillium, and bunchberry.
Getting to the hike is a bit of slog, taking just over two hours from Portland, but it is mostly on paved roads with the last few miles on decent gravel roads. On the plus side, the isolation of the hike means few people. Snow is present into late June, as are mosquitoes, but not in unbearable numbers. Usually the trail is passable from mid-June to early November.
The hike starts with a quarter-mile descent into old-growth forests. At the mile mark the trail passes a pond and ascends to a wooded ridge. Turn right near the top of the ridge onto a somewhat faint trail leading to the summit. Stay right at the next intersection as the trail climbs quickly to the top.