A Rough Hike to a Former Wildfire Lookout Site

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Grassy Knoll

On the last weekend of summer I drove to Triangle Pass and then to the Grassy Knoll Trailhead, about seven miles north of the Columbia River Gorge. It was cool and sunny – – – about as nice a day that could be found above 3,000 feet in late summer.

The first 1 1/2 miles of the trail climbed rather steeply through a forest with a few examples of large, old-growth Douglas firs. It then reached the rim of a cliff with views across the Big Lava Bed (20 square miles of relatively level basalt rock covered with trees.)

Mt. Adams, crowned with fresh snow, and the jagged old volcanic peaks of the Indian Heaven Wilderness dominated the horizon. From there it was a descent through wet brush before a short climb to the top of 3,648-foot Grassy Knoll, an open, tundra-like ridge crest with views extending across a hazy Columbia River Gorge to Mt. Hood and beyond.

As I returned to the trailhead, I couldn’t help but notice how overgrown the trail had gotten. There was little sign of use, and I saw no other hikers. To add insult to injury, the dirt access road was filled with large, deep potholes. This hike may be removed from my recommended list in the future.

Sunrise near the trailhead

Mt. Hood from Grassy Knoll

Vine Maple leaves picking up their autumn colors

Mt. Adams behind the Big Lava Bed in the early morning

Mt. Adams behind the Big Lava Bed on the return hike

Mt. Adams from Grassy Knoll

The trail remains very pleasant on the top of the ridges

Columbia River from Grassy Knoll

Mt. Adams with fresh snow

Basalt formations







Categories: Washington Cascades HikesTags: , , ,


  1. It’s a shame it’s not been kept up. It looks beautiful. Very lovely photos.

  2. These are magnificently breathtaking. I’ve shared it in several places and called over mulitple coworkers to look at these. Was the air crisp and chilly on the hike? That sunrise is a true joy to behold. Thanks for sharing, John! 🙂

    • Thanks Ellen. It was a cool, crisp morning. But, it had rained heavily the day before. All the underbrush was wet. I looked like a drowned rat by the time I returned to the trailhead.

  3. We hiked to Grassy Knoll and then on to Big Huckleberry Mountain the first week of July this year and there were a few folks on the trail that day That was the tail end of the wildflowers. You had much better views than we did that day. The access road is definitely a deterrent I think.

    • It had poured down rain the day before and all the underbrush was soaked. If it hadn’t been for that, I would have extended the hike to Big Huck too. But I was pretty much drenched by the time I reached Grassy Knoll.

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