Bull of the Woods Wilderness


Located 70 miles southeast of Portland and 65 miles east of Salem, the 36,731-acre Bull of the Woods Wilderness is relatively isolated. Steep ridges are deeply cut by a number of streams including the headwaters of the Collawash, Breitenbush, and Little North Santiam Rivers. The slopes of the numerous peaks are steep, with lower inclines ranging from 30 to 60 degrees and upper inclines from 60 to 90 degrees.

Vegetation changes from old-growth Douglas-fir/western hemlock to sparse sub-alpine forests. About a dozen lakes provide opportunities for fishing. The lakes are scattered throughout the Wilderness, accessible by trail but separated by high ridges. 

At 5,523 feet, Bull of the Woods Peak marks the hub of a relatively challenging 75-mile trail system, with several longer or shorter loop opportunities. A historic fire lookout used to exist at the summit on Bull of the Woods Peak, but was unfortunately burned during the Bull Complex fire in 2021. Traveling through this area you may come across relics of past mining activity from as early as the 1880s. 

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Parts of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness were burned in the 2021 Bull Complex Fire. Learn about the Forest's fire recovery updates.
Permit Info: Free, self-issued Wilderness permits are required when provided at a trail portal from May 15 thru October 15.
Closest Towns: Estacada, OR
Passes: Some trailheads require a day use fee. View a list of available Recreation Passes that may be used in lieu of day use fee payment.
Information Center: Clackamas River Ranger District: (971) 333-4100

General Information


Bull of the Woods Wilderness is about 2.5 hours southwest of Portland, OR via OR-224 and Forest Road 46 (Cascades Scenic Byway).

Trails that access Bull of the Woods Wilderness: 

Southern access at Elk Lake: 

Other trails within Bull of the Woods Wilderness:

Map of 2009 Wilderness Additions

Topo Maps

Bagby Hotsprings, Bull of the Woods, Battle Ax, Mother Lode Mountain. Download free U.S. Forest Service Topo maps.

Looking for maps? 

Check out our Maps & Publications page.



Go to Wilderness.net for online maps and other important Wilderness information.

General Notes:

Recreation opportunities: 

The Pansy Lake Trail to the lookout tower travels about 1.2 easy miles to Pansy Lake before starting to climb. The Hot Springs Trail leads about 1.5 miles to Bagby Hot Springs, where you soak in one of the available tubs. (Camping is not allowed at Bagby Hotspings).

You can continue on the Hot Springs Trail for more than 13 miles across the middle of the Wilderness. 

Twin Lakes and Elk Lake at the southern boundary are the most popular camping destinations and, as a result, are the most impacted. 


Lake and Pond Fishing

River and Stream Fishing

Day Hiking


Horse Riding

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities