The Last Visit to an Old Friend in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness

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Whetstone Mountain

I’ve enjoyed the hike to the summit of 4969-foot Whetstone Mountain over the years. It’s roughly 2 1/2 miles from the trailhead at 3,900 feet.

But, a late-July hike this year stretched my patience and endurance.

Small pond along the trail

First, it was a very hot day. By the time I returned to the trailhead it was 84 degrees, and it reached 100 degrees in Portland. I struggled with drinking enough water to stay hydrated. And, the trail had not been maintained much, especially the upper part.

The lower trail passes through an old-growth Douglas Fir forest with much undergrowth. There were a lot of rhododendrons which are very difficult to navigate through. Due to all of the blowdowns over the trail, I spent quite a bit of time climbing over logs and fighting through the brush. Also, the trail was beginning to disappear in places.

Near the top of the trail, it turned to a sub-alpine fir and mountain hemlock forest. There were few blowdowns, but the trail had sloughed away in multiple places on steep hillsides. Needless to say, it was an adventure.

The vistas from the summit were ample compensation though, as one would expect from an old lookout site. Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson and the Opal Creek Wilderness were some of the sights to see.

After taking a well-deserved break and eating a snack, I began the rough hike back to the trailhead.

Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson from Whetstone summit

One of many large blowdowns over the trail

False Hellebore, Thistle and Oregon Sunshine

Wildflower rock garden below summit

Yep, that’s the trail

Cascade Lily, Orange Agoseris and Lupine

Nobel Fir cones at summit

Small pond along trail


Categories: Oregon Cascades HikesTags:


  1. Very glad to see you made it back safely, and that you made time during your strenuous walk to capture the beauty of nature. Easy to get dehydrated.

  2. Looks like it’s a beautiful hike in normal times. The severe cuts in budget have left a lot undone. Maybe round up some fellow hikers to get together to clear the trail? Hoping better times are ahead.

    • Good advice Sandy. I didn’t mention it in the post, but there is a longer, better-maintained trail to the summit (or actually to the last one-quarter mile) from the Opal Creek area. Who knows, they may decide to close the trail I took.

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