The Mt. Mcloughlin Trail is about 5 miles long via Mt. Mcloughlin Trailhead. You can also access this trail via Pacific Crest Trail from Summit Sno Park/ Trailhead on Highway 140, which adds a couple miles to the trail each way. Horses are not recommended on this trail.
This very difficult, yet rewarding trail is located within the Sky Lakes Wilderness and winds through rocky terrain to the summit of Mt. McLoughlin (9,495'), the sixth highest Cascade peak in Oregon. After the trail leaves the Pacific Crest Trail (at a point a little over a mile from the Mt. Mcloughlin Trailhead parking lot), the trail ascends through a boulder strewn forest. Watch for blazed trees and a well worn path. Above timberline, marks spray-painted on boulders are unreliable. Once you reach the main ridge, follow the ridge line up to the summit. Watch your footing and avoid the loose scree on the left.
Be aware: 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, the lower you get down this slope, the further away you become from the trail...and once down to the timberline, it's a 2-mile strenuous boulder-hopping hike back east to the trail.
The safest way to descend is simply to follow the same ridge-line route that took you to the summit.
- Be in good shape and have some experience with easier climbs.
- Check the weather before you go.
- Start early. It can take 4 to 6.5 hours to reach the summit. Plan on summiting by 1 p.m.
- Remember Mt. Mcloughlin is within designated Wilderness where regulations apply. Remember to Leave No Trace.
- The maintained trail ends at the tree line; traveling close to the ridgeline when above the tree line will help you return on the maintained trail on the way down.
- Keep Fourmile Lake in view while going down. When above the tree line, if you can't see Fourmile Lake you may be straying too far from the ridgeline to return to the maintained trail.
At a Glance
Mt. Mcloughlin Trailhead.