Belknap Crater is shield volcano in the central Oregon High Cascades. It is located in the Mount Washington Wilderness area (approximately 3 miles north of State Highway 242). Belknap Crater can be accessed by taking the Little Belknap Crater trail that leaves Highway 242 half a mile west of the Dee Wright Observatory at the summit of the McKenzie Pass. A Northwest Forest Permit is required. There is no "developed" trail to Belknap Crater and its summit. However, the easiest route is from the north following a ridge. To access this ridge, continue north on the Pacific Crest Trail past Little Belknap Crater for 0.4 - 0.5 mile and then head cross-country to the left (west) to the ridge. The ridge is visible from the trail. The climb is somewhat challenging in that it is up a rather steep slope in loose cinders. Not unlike climbing a sand dune, actually. The trip down, however, is quite easy, as it is basically no more than "skiing" in the cinders. The crater is partly forested. Views from the summit include the North
and Middle Sister
s, Black Crater
, Mount Washington
, and the rest of the McKenzie Pass area.
How To Get There
Drive on Highway 242 to the McKenzie Pass area. Go 0.5 mile west of the Dee Wright Observatory and pull off at a parking area that is identified by a Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) marker (a triangular marker). This is the trailhead for Little Belknap Crater, a satellite peak of Belknap. However, to get to Belknap Crater, you must go on the Little Belknap trail a ways, then turn off the trail to climb Belknap. See "Routes" for more information.
No permits are necessary to park in the parking area or to enter the Wilderness area (Belknap is located within the Mount Washington Wilderness).
Mountain and Pass Conditions
Conditions for the McKenzie Pass area can be found at the McKenzie Ranger District
When to Climb
The time to climb Belknap Crater is from mid-July to October (when the McKenzie Pass is open). Unfortunately, it often gets very hot in the summer. Bring a lot of water.