Columbia County High Point Trip Report

Oregon Butte (6,387 ft)

Date: July 2, 2003
Author: Dean Molen

I accessed this high point from Dayton Washington by turning right (south) on 4th street which also has a sign simply stating SKI on it. This is the route to the ski area SKI BLUEWOOD and, carefully obeying the speed limit, continue 5 miles to a turn on the left which is the unpaved Hatley Gulch road. Go 4.4 miles to its end and turn right onto graveled Skyline Drive. Stay on this road until you go 6 miles and come to a sign indicating that Godman Springs is 12 miles to the right. Turn right on this road and in one mile you come to the Umatilla National Forest. Take the left fork and now you will truly be on Skyline Drive. In some places the road tops the ridge and you have views down into canyons on both sides. Truly one of the unsung scenic roads in our state. In 10.6 miles, you come to a fork in the road, take the left one (FS 4608). If you go to the right you'll end up going uphill to the Godman Springs Campground. It is 6.3 miles on this road to TeePee Trailhead. Prior to reaching the trailhead, you come to a three way fork (about the 4 mile mark) in the road, one of which goes uphill. Take the right fork, this is the one that leads to TeePee trailhead. You need a Northwest Forest Pass to park in this rather primitive lot but it has tables and a vault toilet.

The trail goes right to work and I found it to be very pleasant. I took the right fork at about the mile and a half mark and followed it up the ridge where some views were available in every direction. The trail then drops back down 250 feet to meet up again with the other trail from the fork. Continuing on, you drop down another 100 feet and then you begin to climb the trail up the butte leading to the lookout. A spring is passed with nice cold water (filter needed?) and the easy trail eventually works its way up to the ridge leading to the lookout. A pile of rocks about 150 feet north of the lookout are worth investigating but didn't appear to be the highest point on the ridge.

It seemed that the highest point was actually under the lookout station. A benchmark is just to the left of the steps but I was informed by the lookout, Charlie, that the Benchmark had been removed from its previous position (which would have been exactly under the center of the lookout, built in 1933). I was given a royal tour of the lookout by the two very nice lookout caretakers, Bev and Charlie. Their favorite times in the lookout (they had been there several summers) was during an electrical storm. Charlie's face lit up when he talked about them; "they are exciting" he exclaimed. They have to sit on special insulation stools during a storm. When I asked if there was anything they appreciated from visitors, both were quick to say "Fruits and vegetables". They had many fun and interesting stories but after an hour and a half I felt that I had overstayed my welcome and returned by a shortcut they told me about to the trail, intersecting it at the spring. The short-cut trail goes uphill from just beyond the spring rather than following the horse trail which contours to the north.

Total miles 5.5 and elevation gained 1400 feet. A great hike on a nice summer day. The lookout couple are worth the visit, very enjoyable people who are very dedicated to their important work.

Pictures of this cohp are included in my Washington state album.