Stacker Butte

  • Level: Moderate
  • Length: 5.2 miles (or 7.8 to very end, can’t verify)
  • Elevation: 1,535 ft. gain
  • Type: Out and back
  • Open: all year
  • Permit: Discover Pass, or $10
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Drive time from Portland: 2h
  • Google map: “Stacker Butte”
  • Features: spring flowers, Columbia River Gorge, mountain views

The drive up to the trailhead was phenomenal. The wildflowers began immediately and the further up I drove, the more varied they became. I could smell lupine in the air, with the occasional red-orange paintbrush shocking my line of vision. It was gorgeous, but I have to be honest, I did not love this hike and almost turned around about halfway to the top. It’s basically just a long unchanging road walk. I would say skip it, except the wildflowers are more amazing here than anywhere else I’ve been. Even more amazing than Tom McCall/Rowena Crest because it’s so much more expansive. The balsamroot yellow-stippled hills appear to go on forever and from the top of the butte on a clear day you come face to face with Mt. Adams. In the distance you can also apparently see Mt. Rainier, Three Sisters, Goat Rocks, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood. I didn’t go on a super clear day, so maybe that would’ve made it different.

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The first mile-and-a-half of this trail is absolutely worth it. I saw wildflowers I’d never seen before, but as I went higher, the flowers started to thin out and it was just grassland and satellite towers. Although, the view of the Columbia River Gorge was still very beautiful even on this mostly cloudy day. I had planned to do the full 7.8 mile trail (which continues on to the left of the FAA beacon at the top of the butte), but seeing the same gravel road continue on flocked by even more satellite towers just didn’t inspire me.

I say drive up to the trailhead and enjoy the wildflowers here for awhile. Putz around, take pictures, lose your mind to nature, hopefully spot a wild turkey (I saw two!), etc. and then turn back around and drive down to nearby Horsethief Butte and Eightmile Creek Falls and explore there. This is one of my favorite areas. It teems with history and energy. Do some research on it! For over 15,000 years, it was home to native settlements, trading villages and fishing areas, etc. It was the oldest, continuously inhabited area until 1957 when the construction of the Dalles Dam submerged and destroyed the area. Majorly fucked.

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The “trail”

From the trailhead:

From the gate, walk 2.6 miles up the road to that big white butt plug-esque FFA beacon and return how you came. For the 7.8 mile trail, continue on the road up to the left of the beacon and return how you came.

This is what hiking looks like right now.

A post shared by Jenny Bruso (@unlikelyhikers) (@jennybruso) on

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