Lookout Mountain via Fret Creek Loop


  • 9.4 mile loop hike combining Forest Service Trails and 4×4 roads.
  • 1912 feet of elevation gain
  • Great views of the east side of Mount Hood!

The normal approach to Lookout Mountain summit starts at High Prairie Trailhead and is just 3 miles.  We attempted to start from there last week but encountered more snow on the road 4410 than we wanted to deal with and turned back. This trip we were looking for a longer hike that would see more of the terrain around Lookout Mountain and enjoy some more of the perfect weather. We started at the Fret Creek Trailhead just past the bend in road 2730 where Fifteenmile Creek crosses under the road and passes along Fifteenmile Campground.

The trail heads uphill across the road, following near Fret Creek then crossing it and heading up its south arm to Oval Lake after 1.85 miles. From there the trail continues up to the ridge, and at 2.5 miles an excellent viewpoint looking south over the Badger Creek Wilderness. There are some great rock formations and Flag Point is visible to the southeast.

Looking east at Flag Point

From here the trail follows the ridge line up a mile, rising eventually to the summit of Lookout Mountain at 3.5 miles. Much of the trail and ridge still had a good covering of snow, a few deep still in spots, but as the trail just follows the ridge it is easy to find the way.  

No snow on the flat summit where a square footing remains from a Forest Service Lookout that was here from 1911- 1966.

The east face of Mount Hood viewed from the summit of Lookout Mountain

From the summit we headed down across more snow and along a muddy old road track to the High Prairie Trailhead at 4.8 miles. There were some outstanding fields of flowering. From the trailhead we followed 4420 east were it becomes gravel then dirt, a definite 4×4 high clearance route. To your right along the road is the Wilderness Boundary, and on the left, to the north, is the start of the Dog River and watershed for the city of the Dalles. At 8.5 miles the 4420 meets 2730 and then its just a half mile till the loop is complete.

Published by Jim Wilson

An avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast, I settled in Oregon after years of working on hiking trails in Southeast Alaska with the USFS and exploring the Pacific Northwest and rest of the country in the offseason.