OverviewThe Dickey Creek Trail is a long one for sure but there are many benefits to this route. The trailhead does not require a NW Forest Pass. The initial hike is down (which is a pain on the way back though) and into an old growth forest along Dickey Creek with monster fir and cedar. Once you descend all the way to the creek crossing, you then climb through a multitude of rhododendrons that make the hillside pink from June into July. You will also cross a large slide area with 800 foot cliffs, could visit a secret off-trail lake and can camp at wonderful Big Slide Lake watching dozens of newts swim in the shallows. The east side of the ridge on the last mile or so to the summit wanders through wildflower meadows and ends in a scramble up to the summit where amazing views from Washington to southern Oregon dazzle. The feel you get on this hike is of a more rugged, open ascent than the usual Western Cascade forest tromp.
Getting ThereSee the Getting There Section of the main page for directions to the trailhead.
Route DescriptionFrom the trailhead at 2940 feet, hike southwest along an old road .3 miles that then falls down sharply into an old growth forest at 2500 feet by .8 miles into the hike. Walk a short distance through the trees until you skirt to the right around a pond. The path here can get pretty overgrown and brushy and you will fight through some thorny bits but in July there are wild raspberries here to enjoy. Another 2.1 miles will get you to a crossing of Dickey Creek (no bridge but there are enough fallen trees and large rocks to manage) at 2900 feet.
On the other side of the creek you will switchback up through rhodies until you are angling SE along a more open gravelly slope from 3650 feet to 3750 feet. From here, continue through some forest until you come to the first slide area and views of the cliffs to your left. Another short section of forest brings you to the main slide area after a creekbed (usually dry by July). The trail ambles through the rock field and pikas can be heard. You can also see the lookout tower on Bull of the Woods ahead and slightly right now.
Just after the slide area you will come to a fork in the trail which is 2.6 miles from where you crossed Dickey Creek. The trail to the right goes down to Big Slide Lake and makes for a nice rest spot (if you have not yet already rested and gotten something to eat and drink). To continue on to the summit, take the left fork which climbs up to the ridge between Big Slide and Bull of the Woods. Take a left at the first junction (to the right heads to BotW). Shortly after this left turn, look to your left through the bushes and see a small pond (more newts there too). Not far from the pond you will come to another “T” junction. This one is signed and the trail to the right leads to Welcome Lakes. Ignore that way and continue left on Trail 555. You will begin to notice the more open landscape that is now shorter pine trees rather than fir. There is also kinnickinnick and beargass now dominating the lower ground rather than rhodies and salal. You will soon see the main ridge ahead to the summit.
Continue on the path as it switchbacks up a bit onto the ridge. Here you will pass through some small open areas dominated by beargass and thick hard bushes (sometimes overgrowing the trail). A few hundred feet up you will then enter a series of three wildflower meadows (the beargrass disappears here). Views ahead and slightly right now are of Olallie Butte and Mt. Jefferson. At one point, there is a nice open saddle on the ridge where you can see the summit. The trail continues on the east side of the ridge but if you wanted you could bushwhack and scramble up the ridge (some exposure if you go too far left and it is loose rock so be careful if you do). I descended this way and can’t really recommend it. You’ll get torn up by the bushes and it is no faster or aesthetic.
You will have to fight through overgrown areas of the trail between the 3 wildflower meadows and on the third one, where it looks like the trail will head off the ridge (it doesn’t it dead ends on a small sub summit on the ridge), look up and left and leave the trail to scramble up the loose pinnacle. When you have the chance, head left into what looks like a dead end in bushes. If you don’t you will wall out below the summit. A very faint climbers path (more like small ledges in the scree) will lead you up the correct way if you can detect it. There is also a path that heads down the other side (west) side of the ridge through snow into July down to Lake Lenore. If you are heading that way to camp, enjoy it, otherwise ignore it or you will lose 700 feet of altitude you’ll have to reclaim to get back out.
Descend the same way back to the trailhead but if you want to visit a secret lake that you may have noticed from the summit own in the slide area, bushwhack up a couple hundred yards along the north side of that creekbed just to the north of the big slide area on the trail. There you will find a secret lake set among the walls of the Big Slide.
Total mileage comes in at about 15 roundtrip with an elevation gain including all the ups and downs at just over 3800 feet