Red Mtn. is the highest peak in Baker county Oregon and is part of the Eagle Cap Wilderness area. It is one of many northwest peaks named Red Mtn. but when you stand on top of it you can easily see why it got its name.
It is popular in the fact that it is the highest point in Baker county and attracts those who aspire to climb all of the county highpoints in the st ate of Oregon. It doesn't require much in the way of technical skill but is a difficult scramble, as the upper thousand feet or so is totally loose. Not a lot of solid ground and care must be taken as to foot placement as it would be easy to break or turn an ankle as the stuff shifts underneath you. The best aspect of the climb is achieved when you reach the ridgeline and are blessed with a nice ridge walk that takes you to the summit, a lofty viewpoint that gives you a superb 360 degree panorama of the Eagle Cap wonderland.
Getting ThereJust north of Baker City Oregon as you travel on I-84, take the exit for OR 86 and head NE towards Richland. A few miles beyond Richland but before you would get to a small town called halfway, start looking for FR77 on the left. You will find yourself on a well graded dirt / gravel road that quickly ascends into higher country. You'll pass the McBride Campground, where FR 7715 branches north. Follow FR 7715 to its end at the Summit Point trailhead. Here is a site that might help orient you a little better
Another route to access Red Mountain is described in William Sullivan's book " 100 Hikes in Eastern Oregon" Go to Hike #72 and follow his directions for accessing Crater Lake (Red Mtn can be reached from here by hooking into the trail that comes from Summit Point. This route is shorter in length but requires a lot more driving to reach the TH. I'll quote his directions as follows
"From I-84, take exit 302 onto highway 86 toward Richland 23.2 miles. At a pointer for Sparta just beyond mp 23, turn uphill to the left on gravel Sparta Lane for 4.9 miles. Then turn left on East Eagle Creek Road for 5.8 miles to a 5 way road junction. Veer right on Empire Gulch Road 7015 for 4.8 miles and cross a bridge to a T-shaped junction. Turn leftr on road 77 for 2.8 miles and fork to the right on East Eagle road 7745 for another 6.4 miles. After you pass the Eagle Creek Trailhead for horse trailers sign, continue straight ahead for another 0.8 mile to a parking turn around loop at the end of the gravel road. Park here and look for a small sign for the Little Kettle Creek trail on th e uphill, right hand side of the loop. Follow this trail up through this trail up through the forest about 200 yards to a junctionwith the horse trailer TH trail and start switchbacking uphill. Aat 3.5 miles you'll crest the lip of a hanging valley and cross a small creek. The trail continues up eventually reaching Crater Lake at 5.9 miles." Red Mountain is just across the valley. Elevation gain from the TH to Crater Lake is almost 3000 feet. OK, whew, I hope you got all that. If I ever go back (doubtful at this point in time), I'd give this route a try.
Red TapeFill out the free wilderness permit at the trailhead and attach a copy to your pack. I don't recall that a NW trailpass is required although it is always a good idea to have one.
When To ClimbThe best time of year to climb would be after the snow melts off of the trail so June through late October would be my choice. However, snow doesn't stop serious hiker /climbers and the snow actually could make the talus slopes more compatible as long as there isn't any avalanche danger.
This makes for a long hike, close to 18 miles round trip with a total elevation gain (counting the ups and downs) of about 4500 feet. It can be done as a day trip or as an overnight backpack trip.
CampingCamping is allowed at Crater Lake (keep 200 feet back from lake) and I also saw several other spots that would make good camp spots about 7 miles in. As you can tell from the attached pictures, camping can be done in all seasons and Crater Lake makes a good base camp.
Weather ConditionsBaker City is the nearest place that has a local weather report for its area and while this isn't exact since it isn't Red Mtn, it will give you an idea of what the weather in the area may be like.
Since the time/temperature link seems to be down a lot lately, click
HERE for Baker City weather conditions
Baker County OregonWith the help of Wikipedia, I was able to find some of the following information out about this county:
The county was named for Edward Dickinson Baker, a senator from Oregon who was killed at Ball's Bluff, a battle of the American Civil War. It was split from the eastern part of Wasco County. The county seat of Baker County is Baker City. As of 2000, the population is 16,741.
The first groups from the eastern United States interested in settling in Oregon only paused in the area on their way to the Willamette Valley, unaware of the potential wealth they passed over. At Flagstaff Hill, near Baker City, 15 miles of wagon ruts left by immigrants can still be seen.
In 1861 gold was discovered and Baker County became one of the Northwest's largest gold producers. The Blue Bucket Mine, a mythical rich vein of gold, is part of the folklore from this period.
On September 22 of the following year, the state assembly created Baker County from the eastern part of Wasco County. Later, Union County and Malheur County were created from this county. The boundaries were adjusted for the last time in 1901 when the area between the Powder River and the Wallowa Mountains was returned to Baker County.
The original county seat was at Auburn. While at first a booming mining town with 5,000 inhabitants, once the gold was mined out Auburn's population dwindled, and county citizens eventually voted in 1868 to make Baker City, incorporated in 1874, the new county seat.
Gold mining was the original impetus for settlement in the area, and at one time the county was the largest gold producer in the Northwest. With the exhaustion of the gold fields, agriculture, stock raising, logging became the primary economic pursuits. In the last decades of the 20th century, tourism also contributed to the local economy, helped by attractions that include the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area, the Hells Canyon Recreation Area, and Anthony Lakes Ski Resort. The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretative Center has drawn numerous visitors since its opening in 1993.
- Krag Peak
Just to the north of Red Mtn is another 9000 footer, Krag Peak.