The namesake of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness Area is also the fourth highest peak there at 5523 feet just behind Schreiner Peak, Battle Ax and Big Slide Mountain. The area is characterized by steep craggy peaks with lots of lakes and rivers. The name of this peak is attributed to one of two stories. Firstly, an area miner and prospector named Robert Bagby (namesake of nearby Bagby Hot Springs) from the 1800's, who built a cabin by Pansy Lake on the trail to the summit, is said to have bagged a large elk here. (He also is attributed to naming Pansy Lake by naming his nearby claim Pansy Blossom Mine due to the color of the copper ore there.) The second story is that the term "Bull of the Woods" was a common phrase in Oregon's ox-logging days as the title of a tough crew boss.*
There are no less than 5 approaches to the summit of Bull of the Woods. Most popular starts near Pansy Creek, follows the creek to Pansy Lake, then up the west ridge to the old lookout tower at the summit. There is also an earlier turnoff that heads up past Dickey Lake before gaining the north ridge. This trail is a bit steeper and narrower through thick forest with fewer views. You can also approach from the northwest via the Big Slide Lake Trail a well as from the east via Welcome Lakes. Finally, there is also a popular trail that starts at the end of the north ridge and hikes past both North Dickey Peak and South Dickey Peak on the way to the summit.
Views of Cascade volcanoes abound in clear weather from Rainier to the Three Sisters with Mt. Jefferson being the closest. You also get a great view of why nearby Big Slide Mountain is named that.
The trail is fairly easy with only 2000 feet of elevation gain over a loop of 7.1 miles.
Click here for a link to another site with photos and information about this Old Cascade peak.
*This information taken from William Sullivan's "100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon".
Getting ThereFor the West Ridge, from Portland, take exit 12 off I-205 and head towards Estacada (east). This is Highway 224 and continue 26 miles to the Ripplebrook Ranger Station. From there, continue straight on Road 46 for about 3.4 miles and turn right onto Road 63. Take this about 5 and 1/2 miles to Road 6340. Turn right here at a sign for the Pansy Basin Trail. Go 7.6 miles and fork right onto Road 6341 and go 3 and 1/2 miles to the trailhead. There is a small parking area here.
(Note: If you want to take the easier and shorter trail that follows the north ridge, you'd continue on Road 6340 to it's end at the Pansy Basin Trailhead.)
For the East Ridge, follow Road 63 for 12.2 miles until the pavement ends and the road forks. Take the right on road 6380 and follow it for 2.8 miles to the trailhead for trail #559. Make sure to stay left after crossing the Collawash river. There is a parking area on the left side of the road just past the trailhead.
Red TapeNorthwest Forest Pass required to park here.
When To ClimbJuly through October
Outside of this the road in may be closed due to snow.
CampingThere are spots to camp near the trailhead. There are also 7 spots at Pansy Lake to camp. You could also camp at the summit by the lookout. (note: the lookout is rarely staffed and the door has been opened although the top half is boarded up, you could actually get in the lookout if needed. There is a bed, table and kitchen area but I am sure this is frowned upon if not illegal. This also may change and was the condition of the lookout as of September 2003)
There are also like a dozen campsites along the road into the area from the Ripplebrook Ranger Station. They are literally everywhere.
Mountain ConditionsEstacada Ranger Station
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