Crescent Mountain is one of the harder to reach peaks of the Old Cascades, a region of volcanos that were active between 17 and 35 million years ago. As volcanic activity moved to the east to the present day Cascades, these mountains continued to erode, leaving us with a diverse landscape of steep sided peaks, deep old growth forest, and lush, flower filled meadows. The trail to Crescent Mountain passes through all of these ecosystems, and grants us an amazing view from the top.
The trail begins from the Crescent Mountain Trailhead, located at the end of a gravel road near the Lava Lake Sno-Park. It begins as a very gradual downhill stroll through some thick forest as you head up the Maude Creek drainage. You will cross over Maude Creek about 1.25 miles from the trailhead and then soon will find yourself trudging up the mountain. The trail doesn’t mess around much as you climb 1,200 feet in the next mile and a half. This is also were the mosquitos seem to pick up, so if you came for the flowers, then the bugs will likely make you pay for it.
After the first 1,200 foot climb, the ascension doesn’t really letup much, but you will finally emerge from the trees into the Crescent Mountain Meadows. The meadows are filled with a variety of different wildflowers, including lupine, paintbrush, columbine, larkspur, Oregon sunshine, and even beargrass during certain years. While you will continue climbing up the south face of Crescent Mountain as you make your way through the meadows, the beauty of the wildflowers and the ever-improving views of North Peak and Cone Peak ahead of you and the Three Sisters ad Mt Washington behind you will help you to forget your aching legs.
You will remain in the meadows for a little less than a mile before you re-enter the forest along the summit ridge of Crescent Mountain. While the flowers disappear here, the shade will be a nice reward. The trail also gets pretty steep again as you make the final push towards the summit. Its only half a mile though, so you will be there before you know it. Just a tenth of a mile before reaching the summit, you will reach the only trail junction of the hike. The trail to the left will continue around the back side of Crescent Mountain on its way to the South Pyramid Creek Trailhead. You don’t want to go that way, so head right up to the summit of Crescent Mountain.
Once you reach the summit, you will find the remains of an old fire lookout. Head to the northern most point of the ridge for views down to Crescent Lake below you and look out across the northern summit of Crescent Mountain and on towards seemingly never ending peaks to the north. Mt Jefferson and Mt Hood dominate the northern Skyline, and views extend to South Sister to the south. It’s a great place to sit back and relax and just soak it all in.
To reach the Crescent Mountain trailhead, take highway 20 either 3.8 miles west of Santiam Junction or 44 miles east of Sweet Home. Head north on Forest Road 2067 at the Lava Lake Sno-Park. Follow this paved road for 1 mile before veering left onto a gravel road. Follow this road for 0.7 miles and the trailhead will be located at the end of the road.
Passes: No passes are required
Dogs: Dogs are allowed and must be on leash or under voice control at all times.
Usage: Low - Moderate
Bugs: Mosquitos can be pretty bad during the late spring and early summer months.
Open Season: June- Octboer
Flowers: The flowers usually reach their peak form late June to early July.