For those who don’t want the challenge of the long, arduous climb up from the south, from the north, there is a much shorter way to the small, former lookout site at the summit of Whetstone Mountain. This trail passes through moist woods and small wet areas including a charming small pond at the base of a talus slope (see photo above). Listen for pikas here. Many interesting species of ferns, wildflowers, and flowering shrubs can be seen along this section before the trail winds up to an intersection on the dry ridge and heads right to the rocky top. Numerous wildflowers grow on the cliffs below, but most require binoculars for a good look. For a much longer walk, take a left at the intersection. The trail continues along a rhododendron-covered ridge for many miles to the east, deeper into the Bull of the Woods Wilderness.
Trail: 4.8 miles round trip (3950–4969′)
Location: northern Marion County; Mt. Hood National Forest, Clackamas River Ranger District
USGS Map: Battle Ax; T8S.R5E.S21
Habitats: rock, wetland, creek, lake, forest
Bloom: late June to August
From Estacada, head southeast on Hwy 224 for 25.6 miles. Just past Ripplebrook turn right onto Road 46 and follow for 3.6 miles. Turn right on Road 63 for 3.5 miles. Turn right onto Road 70, and follow for 7.4 miles of pavement. Fork right, staying on Road 70 as it turns to gravel. After 1.7 miles, turn left onto Road 7030. Follow this narrow road for 5.5 miles of mixed gravel and pavement until it tees into Road 7020. Turn right and drive for 0.7 mile. At a sign for Whetstone Mt. trail, fork left onto spur Road 7020-028 which deadends in 0.1 mile at a parking area.
Or, after 7.4 miles on Road 70, fork LEFT onto 7020. Continue on this gravel road for 5.9 miles. Continue straight at intersection with 7030 for 0.7 miles before turning left onto 7020-028 to parking area.
If the Google Earth image doesn’t load properly or you lose the location, just reload the page.