In the fall, is there anything better than riding to a panoramic view of mountains newly dusted with snow? Or in the early summer, enjoying a profusion of blooming rhododendrons while on your way to a splendid viewpoint? No matter what season you ride it, the Lost Lake Butte Trail offers a delightful riding experience and breathtaking views.
The 5-mile round trip to the summit of 4,470-foot Lost Lake Butte is fairly level for the first mile, then in the next 1.5 miles you’ll gain about 1,000 feet of elevation. It’s worth the climb, because the views are spectacular. You’ll have a breathtaking view of Mt. Hood, plus Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. St. Helens. Looking off to the east you’ll see the Hood River Valley and the Columbia Gorge. Dazzling!
The trail departs from Lost Lake Horse Camp, on the north side of Mt. Hood. Pick up the connector trail behind the horse camp’s upper campsites, which will take you to the Skyline Trail #655. Turn left and follow the Skyline Trail for 1 mile, then turn right on the Lost Lake Butte Trail #616. The trail climbs steeply, and after 1.5 miles you’ll arrive at the summit. The lower part of the trail is rather rocky, but the higher you go the fewer rocks there are. Wonderful views await you at the top.
Ride Statistics: This is a moderate 5-mile out-and-back ride. Elevations are 3,200 to 4,450 feet. There is no stock water on the trail. Hoof protection is recommended. The best maps of the trail are Hood River Ranger District map and the Mt. Hood Wilderness map.
Getting to Lost Lake Horse Camp: From I-84 in Hood River, take Exit 64 and head south on Hwy. 35. After 5.4 miles turn right on Ehrck Hill Dr. and follow it 1.8 miles, turn right on Summit Dr. and continue 1.8 miles, then turn left onto the Dee/Hood River Hwy. Follow it 4.2 miles and turn right on Lost Lake Road, then continue 14 miles to Lost Lake. The road is paved all the way to the horse camp. Alternatively, you can take Hwy. 26 east from Portland to Zigzag and drive over Lolo Pass on the gravel Lolo Pass Road, then turn left on Lost Lake Rd. and continue 7 miles to the lake.
Lost Lake Horse Camp Facilities: 6 single-vehicle sites with 2-, 3-, or 4-horse log corrals, fire rings, and picnic tables. The camp has drinking water from spigots next to every other campsite, a toilet, a manure pit, and garbage cans. A fee is charged for overnight camping. If you’re planning to camp, it’s a good idea to call Lost Lake Resort (541-386-6366) in advance and let them know you’re coming so they don’t allow overflow campers from the popular family campgrounds nearby to use all the horse camp spaces. The horse camp’s elevation is 3,200 feet.
More Information: The Lost Lake Butte Trail is covered in the Lost Lake Horse Camp chapter of Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2013).