Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
9.40 mi (15.13 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Located within the Willamette National Forest, the Cowhorn Butte roadless area has something for every kind of nature lover! For those looking for a big climb, Cowhorn Mountain, the halfway point between Diamond Peak and Mount Thielsen, stands at 7,664 feet and is located within this region. 

This mountain, unknown to many, has a unique story of its own. The region originally had Little and Big Cowhorn Mountains, but the cowhorn-shaped spire fell from Little Cowhorn during a 1911 storm that hit the area, and these mountains were renamed. Big Cowhorn was renamed Mount Thielsen, and Little Cowhorn was changed to Cowhorn Mountain.

The red-cinder ridge leading to the summit is a Class 2 to Class 3 scramble after a mostly gentle hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, but it is well worth it. The summit rises above the tree line and offers beautiful views of the surrounding areas, including Mount Thielsen, Diamond Peak, Three Sisters, and Mount Bailey. A storm that hit the area in 1911 significantly eroded the trail, creating varying colors of red and black along most of the way. 

This area also has attractions for long distance hikers, as the Pacific Crest Trail runs straight through it.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass

Pros

Great views. Walking on the red-cinder ridge of a stratovolcano.

Cons

Steep and loose volcanic rock.

Trailhead Elevation

5,821.00 ft (1,774.24 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,840.00 ft (560.83 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Mountaineering
Rock climbing
Big vistas
Geologically significant

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

We were a little worried about the smoke last summer but we got up above it and it made for some great views. The scramble to the summit had a bit of loose rock but a fun way to end the hike
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