Polk County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: October 31, 2004
Authors: Peter and Mary Green

Getting to the top of Laurel Mountain in Polk County is a problem. It literally took action by our Congressman to get us permission to hike the road to the top. The FAA is very serious about not letting hikers up to its radar site. Over a period of six months we negotiated with Weyerhaueser, which owns most of the surrounding land, and with the FAA to secure access. First we were told by the FAA to 'come on up', then a few days later the FAA said there was no possible way for us to get to the top. Weyerhaueser was agreeable at first but still the FAA would have none of it. After several months, our Congressman, Earl Blumenauer, was able to convince the FAA to let us in. By that time, however, Weyerhaueser decided it was a bad idea because it would be a breach of the lease between the company and the FAA. With more work from Congressman Blumenauer's office, we finally got the necessary letters in order.

We traveled to the top on a sunny cold Sunday morning when the gates at the bottom - a few miles west of Falls City - were open for hunters. We saw almost no traffic and drove about 8 or 9 miles past the gate to a junction. We took a right and followed the road up to the FAA gate. We parked our car beneath the towing warning and made the easy half mile walk to the top. No one was on the scenic summit when we arrived but we did not wait around for introductions.