From Hood River, drive south on Highway 35 until reaching Forest Service Road 44 (approximately 25 miles south of Hood River). Drive east on this road, reaching Road 4420 after 8 miles. Turn south on this road, staying left in 2.1 miles onto Road 2730. Drive this road for 2 miles, past Fifteen Mile Campground to the parking area on the north side of the road.
Lying just east of Mt. Hood, Lookout Mountain offers fantastic views of the peak, as well as views of every other major Cascade peak between the Three Sisters and Mt. Ranier. While the summit of the 6500’ mountain can get crowded, quite trails can reaching the peak can be found. Most people hike to the summit from the northwest, but by starting at the Fret Creek Trailhead you can miss the most of the crowds, as well as visit a quiet little lake and experience great views high above the Badger Creek Valley.
From the trailhead, the path climbs fairly steeply before leveling off and crossing Fret Creek. About one-half mile later, the trail crosses to the eastern side of the creek as it rises through the forest of fir, hemlock, and spruce. There are a few nice flower-filled meadows along the western shore of the nice little creek.
The trail continues, eventually crossing Fret Creek again, this time with no bridge. The crossing is not difficult, but it can get quite muddy. The path climbs fairly steeply from there, reaching Oval Lake at 2 miles. While there are no spectacular mountain views from the lake, it is a very nice place to relax. Rock spires rise along the ridges to the south and east, and several campsites can be found on the northern shore.
Continuing to Lookout Mountain, the trail advances for a few hundred yards before reaching the Divide Trail, which climbs to the ridgeline, offering the first views to the south. The walk along the ridge offers even better views as you approach Lookout Mountain. After 1.25 miles, the trail reaches the intersection with the more popular routes to Lookout Mountain (along with the masses of people with it). Enjoy the views at the top before returning the same way to the trailhead.
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