Just before you get to the town on Detroit, OR from the west on Highway 22 and before you get the big view of Mt. Jefferson, you notice a flat-topped peak on the eastern horizon. Coffin Mountain rises 5770 feet up in the Willamette National Forest just west of Mount Jefferson. The trail to the top is not hard or very long (1000 feet of elevation gain in 1.5 miles), just enough for a nice hike. The peak may look like it has a flat top but it really is just a long ridge with crags on the ends.
At the southern end of the ridge, at 5752 feet is a communications building but at the north end, at the summit, is a working lookout. It is staffed in the summer as a fire lookout and is closed to the public but you can still chat with the staff. You wouldn't notice it much by the hike up through mostly grassy meadows but the northeast side of the summit is a dramatic cliff several hundred feet high. You can sit and dangle your feet off the edge though while you have a bite to eat. Views extend from Adams to Broken Top along the Cascade crest. To the east you can see Detroit Lake as well.
Though not much of a "climb", this one makes for a nice morning or afternoon hike and is great to combine with nearby Bachelor Mountain to get a quick workout in. In early summer, the meadows are filled with flowers. Not far from Iron Mountain and it's unique flora, Coffin Mountain hosts one of the more spectacular displays and it visited by the Native Plant Society of Oregon in mid-June.
From Portland, take I-5 south to Salem where you will pick up Highway 22 east at exit 253. Take this east for almost 69 miles. Just before mile marker 69, turn right onto Straight Creek Road (paved). Take this just over 4 miles to a fork where there is supposed to be a sign for the Coffin Mountain Trailhead but I did not see it. It is Road 1168 and there is a sign designating it as such. Take this right fork and go 3.8 miles to an unmarked road on the left. A few dozen yards on this road and you are at the trailhead.
If you are coming from the east (Bend), take Highway 20 to the Highway 20/22 junction where you will go right and continue on Highway 22 to the same point, except coming from this direction, Straight Creek Road would be just "after" milepost 69. Continue as above.
From the Eugene area, you would take Highway 126 east to Highway 20. Turn right onto Highway 20 and go to the Santiam junction where it meets Highway 22. Turn left onto 22 and go to the same road just after milepost 69. Then, continue as above.
No fees or permits required. Not a NW Forest Pass area (yet....).
When To Climb
Since the trailhead is at 4750 feet, the snow level is going to be the deciding factor here. More than likely, it will be open from mid or late-June through October though.
This is a day use area only. No camping is allowed. (sorry, not my rule)
Detroit Ranger District
Current Conditions Link
Weather Underground for Detroit, OR