Mt. McLoughlin is located within Sky Lakes Wilderness. The 5 mile long trail to the summit of Mt. McLoughlin winds through rocky terrain. In many places it is difficult to see and follow. After it leaves the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail behind (at a point about a mile from the parking lot), the trail ascends through a boulder-strewn forest; watch for blazed trees. Above timberline piled-up rock cairns mark the route to the ridge-top summit route. Along the ridge, the trail is marked by the old Forest Service telephone poles which lead to the top. Due to steep slopes, poor footing and coarse bare rock, horses are not recommended for the Mt. McLoughlin Trail above its junction with the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.
CAUTION! Each year a number of people become disoriented or lost on the way back down, usually due to coming down a different route than they used when climbing the mountain. Tempting as it may seem to descend the sandy, cinder slope on the south side of the mountain, the lower you go on this slope, the farther away you are from the trail. Once down to timberline it is a 2 mile, boulder-hopping hike northeast back to the trail. A better way is to return back down the ridge, keeping the poles in sight until the trail leaves the ridge.
The trail can be difficult to follow during the descent, particularly if it is getting late and the light is fading. Stay alert for trail blazes and familiar landmarks. Look back up the trail occasionally; this may help you stay on it going down. If you lose the trail and cannot find it again, the best direction to travel would be to the east or southeast (which will take you either to the Pacific Crest Trail or to Highway 140).
Although summertime weather is usually mild at the mountain's base, the summit is subject to cold winds, driving rains, lightning and snow storms. Be prepared for weather changes -- and know the symptoms and treatment of hypothermia. Bring along warm, rain-repellent clothing.
The hike from the trailhead to the top of the peak involves an elevation gain of about 4,000 feet. There is no water along the summit trail; carry enough liquid for your needs.
At a Glance
03/15/2013: No current conditions report available.
||Not available. Surface water should be treated.
High Cascades Ranger District
Connecting trails: Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail
Trail is not designed for: pack and saddle, mountain bike, motorized bike, ATV, 4-wheel drive, barrier free