There are two commonly used routes to summit Wildcat Mountain: One leaves from the Wildcat Mountain Trailhead off of NF-105, and the other uses the McIntyre Ridge Trail. If peace and tranquility are your objective, look no further than the Wildcat Trailhead. Close enough to Portland for a day hike, yet far enough away from any busy road with all of Mount Hood National Forest behind you, Wildcat Trail is a secluded oasis. It is not very well known even to most native Oregonians, and going the entire hike without seeing another human is likely. The layers upon layers of pine needles and leaves provide for a soft trail underfoot, and the only sounds you will hear are those of your own steady breathing and the wind in the trees.
The trail begins in a gravel parking lot. On the south side is what looks like an old road, but it has long since had tank traps dug into it, which make it impassible. Continue up this old road until you reach the rock quarry. The rock quarry is expansive, and there are no signs for the trail, but the trail is not hard to find. Continue to the southern edge of the quarry and enjoy the expansive view of the valley. Follow the path underneath the vertical wall of the quarry to find the trail.
The trail begins in the open and green Douglas fir forest. After a few switchbacks, the trail leads back to the ridge, where the trail is mildly rocky before returning to woods. The abundance of madrone growing in the understory creates an almost jungle-like experience. Most of the trail does not provide much of a view, but the forest is quite open, and the calmness is refreshing. Tread quietly, and there is a good chance of seeing wildlife such as deer, elk, birds, and chipmunks.
There are several large and flat areas along the trail that would provide a comfortable place for a tent. After a few miles, an equally large trail merges from the left. This is the entry point for McIntyre Ridge Trail. The sign post for the trail is not far. Beyond the sign post lies a small patch of cedar trees as the trail heads south up the ridge. Keep an eye out for a glimpse of Mount Hood through the trees to your left. The Douglas fir and white fir forest becomes older and spacious, and it is great habitat for elk viewing.
After a mile or so you will come to a junction with an obvious trail leading up to your right. There is no sign, but this is the summit trail for Wildcat. The going briefly gets steeper, but it's only about 0.1 mile before reaching the summit!
The summit block is rocky with a ring of rocks for a campfire. The trees on the summit have grown taller (10 to 25 years old) and obscure most of the view. Hikers can just barely manage to see part of Mount Hood through the trees. On the south side of the summit block, there is what looks to be a deer trail. Squeeze your way down this to a small clearing for a better view of Mount Hood, but be careful because it is steeper and is not a designated trail. After enjoying the view, lunch and tranquility, return back to your vehicle the way you came.