The Devils Peak snowshoe offers a challenging uphill climb that rewards hikers with outstanding views from the Devils Peak Lookout tower. Nestled along Cool Creek just south of Welches, Oregon, this snowshoe trip offers quick access from the Portland metro area. During the summer this can result in a more crowded trail, but winter adventuring is more sparse and provides access to a day of solitude.
The trailhead begins along Trail #794, clearly marked by trail signage from the forest road. The beginning of the trail is unrelenting and steep, a sign of things to come. A light pack and decent snowshoes with heel bars are suggested, as there are very few areas to rest your calves along the trail.
Your hike climbs 3,200 feet in elevation over a solid 4 miles, switch-backing through old-growth forest with a couple crossings at small creeks and waterfalls. Rhodedendron bushes, mushrooms, and mosses thrive under the thick canopy of conifers. The grade is consistent throughout from start to finish. At the junction with Trail #793 (signage for Hunchback Mountain Trail), keep right. You'll quickly come upon the spur trail junction around a hundred yards after the Hunchback Trail junction; keep left to follow the spur trail uphill for the final quarter-mile to Devils Peak and the Devils Peak Lookout.
The Devils Peak Lookout is a former fire lookout that has been decommissioned for use for over 25 years. The lookout is now open for public use on a first-come, first-served basis. Access is not guaranteed, and visitors should assume that cars at the trailhead indicate that the lookout is already in use. Come prepared to snow camp or hike out if needed.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.