OverviewThe forest service built a mighty lookout atop Yamsay Mountain back in the late 1920's. 80 feet high and a view of this part of Oregon that was unparalled at the time, Yamsay was probably king of the central Oregon lookouts. However, as far as I can tell, it was dismantled in 1961 and the road that led to the lookout was bermed a zillion times and allowed to return to a more natural state. In the almost 50 years since the decomissioning of the lookout, hundreds of trees have fallen down across the road creating an obstacle course that has to be negotiated in order to attain the summit of Yamsay. From where you park at the TH, it is nearly 3.6 miles of interesting hiking. The last 3/4 of a mile is pretty straightforward.
Elevation gain: 1700 feet (from 6500 feet to 8200 (not including ups and downs of the berms)
See the main page for this information.
Route DescriptionOnce you leave the trailhead, you will find yourself at first on a very narrow and bermed road that soon widens but greets you with lots of fallen timber to negotiate around, under, over, etc. I found that most often when I encountered a lot of trees (deadfall) across the road, that there was a use trail that easily circumvented the section, generally on the north side of the road and occasionally on the south. Soon, this becomes a fun kind of game where you are kept on your toes looking for the easiest path through this obstacle course. Whenever possible, I tried to stay on the road itself although the road surface is loose sand in many areas. This keeps up consistently until you reach this first major switchback, located HERE
I noted occasional blue diamonds on some trees along the road as it seems that this road must be a nice snomobile trail in the wintertime when the deadfall is totally covered with snow.
Another switchback is located HERE and once you get to this point, the road is relatively obstacle free, except for the annoying berms that cause you continually gain a few feet in elevation and then lose it again. Before long, you notice the skyline is getting lower on the north side of the road as you get closer to the summit and soon you notice the concrete abutments that once supported the lookout tower.
It took me 2 hours and fifteen minutes to cover the obstacle course of a trail but you'll be faster than I am. Factor in geezer time and this hike is doable in under two hours, easy.
It took me only an hour and ten minutes to get back to the trailhead and you'll find my time is doable by most non-geezers in the same time arena.
I spent about a half hour on the summit enjoying the views. I had a nice view of Bald Mountain, a prominence peak to the north (complete with active lookout) and worth a visit.
Essential GearThe ten essentials and plenty of water. This is a hot hike if you don't go early in the morning. There is no water on this mountain in late summer.
Hike stats: 7.2 miles Elevation gain: 1800 feet (includes ups/downs)