Iron Mountain’s rocky summit can be clearly seen rising above Highway 20 by anyone who passes between Sweethome and Central Oregon. The Forest Service has also protected this area because of its vast botanical diversity, with over 300 species of flowering plants and 17 different species of trees, more than any other location in Oregon. The wildflowers typically reach their peak in July, but one species or another will likely be blooming throughout most of the summer.
The hike begins from the Iron Mountain – Civil Road Trailhead. The trail leaves from the east end of the parking lot and remains fairly level for the first 600 feet as it traverses a ridgeline. Soon, you will encounter an intersection with the Iron Mountain/Cone Peak Trails. Head to the left and begin your climb. You will come to the junction with the Cone Peak Trail in another 500 feet. Make a right here and continue your march up the mountain.
The climb up the mountain consists of almost 600 feet of vertical in only 0.65 miles. But don’t worry, you will have more than enough switchbacks to help you on your way. You will also notice some flowers in the more exposed, rocky sections along the trail. Once you reach the top, enjoy the vistas from a nice, wooden platform that occupies the site of an old fire lookout. The first lookout, which was built in 1933 was blown off the mountain. They replaced that lookout in 1976, but was later closed and then destroyed in 2007 due to vandalism problems.
To reach the Iron Mountain – Civil Road Trailhead, take Highway 20 thirteen miles west from the junction with Highway 126 or 35 miles east of Sweet Home. Head north on Forest Road 35 for 1.2 miles and then make a right onto Forest Road 38. 1.4 miles and you will find yourself at the trailhead. There’s even a toilet. Enjoy!
Passes: Northwest Forest Pass is required at this trailhead.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times.
Open Season: Snow should be melted off sometime in May to June.
Flowers: Wildflower season ranges from June to August, with it peaking from mid-June through mid-July.