Sardine Mountain has always been a landmark for me to quickly identify other surrounding peaks or rocks that are located in the Detroit Ranger District. This summit was named indirectly after the nearby Sardine Creek was named. Apparently back in 1867 Thomas Henness found a sardine can in the creek (a very unusual find for that time). There really is no trail to the top. It’s a short but steep open scramble. Sardine Mountain doesn’t look that interesting from a distance, but on top offers a variety of rock formations to explore. The summit ridge runs in a South to North direction for about a tenth of a mile. This summit offers a different perspective of the surrounding peaks and volcanoes. Tumble Lake is about 1300’ below, surrounded by Tumble, Elephant, & Dome Rock.
From Salem, head East towards Detroit. After passing the Detroit Lake campground and before entering the town of Detroit, take a left on French Creek road #2223. Drive for about 4 miles till the pavement ends and the road splits. Stay left where the road splits. You’re still on road #2223. Drive for about 4.5 more miles to Knutson Saddle. Just when it looks like you’ve passed Sardine, look to your right and park when you see an old brush covered jeep trail heading down the mountain.
Since there is no official trail, I guess there is no trailhead. If there is no trailhead, I guess there is no trail permit required. Just park & play...
When To Climb
Spring, Summer & Fall are the best time to climb this peak, especially for the views. Sardine is to far from any snow-plowed road to reach after the snow starts closing roads.
The large, noisy, expensive, Detroit Lake Campground is right across the Hwy. Or, if you follow the "leave no trace" rules, there are incredible spots all around the area.
For current conditions, first call the Detroit Ranger Station at 503-854-3366 then try this link.