When its namesake spire was blown off in a storm in 1911, this High Cascade peak was almost forgotten about and still is not very well known. But being the high point halfway between Mt. Thielsen and Diamond Peak, this rocky-topped peak has great views from Crater Lake to the Three Sisters. The summit has a Class 2/3 scramble after a mostly gentle hike along the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.
The summit rises above treeline and is the erosion-resistant core of a stratovolcano. A red-cinder ridge leads to it from just off the PCT. Lakes dot the valleys and nearby Sawtooth Mountain is just a short hike away. The southeast face looks like it might have promising technical climbs but I'm sure if the rock quality was good enough for that, it would be known.
The main trail follows a ridge up from the south and has great viewpoints along the way of the summit. Once you get off the PCT though, it changes from a dusty wide path to a faint climbers trail along alternating crumbly and solid yellow, red and black volcanic rock. The summit is kind of small but nice enough to sit and enjoy the views. Cowhorn Mountain can also be accessed from the north via trails from Timpanogas Lake as well as Sawtooth Mountain. Combining Sawtooth and Cowhorn makes for a long day at about 20 miles roundtrip but is a great double-peak day.
To access the south trail:
From the north (Portland/Eugene/etc.) take I-5 south to Highway 58 in Goshen. Take 58 east past Crescent Lake to a small road on the right labelled 6020. It is just to the southeast of Odell Butte. Take this gravel road 5.2 miles along teeth-loosening washboard gravel to Road 60 (Windigo Pass Road). Turn left on Road 60 and take this 9.1 miles to the trailhead on the RIGHT side of the road. There is another one across the road that says Windigo Pass Trailhead that you need to ignore.
From the east, simply take Highway 97 to Highway 58 and then take 58 to the same Road 6020.
From the west (Roseburg) take Highway 138 east 73.5 miles to Windigo Pass Road (Road 60). Turn left here and go 4.5 miles to a junction for Lemolo Lake. Curve right and go another 7.6 miles to the trailhead.
For access to the north trails, see directions on Getting There on the Sawtooth Mountain (OR) mountain page. (will be putting up later today)
Red TapeNorthwest Forest Pass
is required to park at the trailheads (although the signs for them are graffittied up there).
When To Climb
July through October
(note that there is a gate on Road 6020 just before you get to Road 60 and right at a railroad crossing that may be closed once there is sufficient snowfall)
Camping is allowed in the area and there are several spots along the trail where you could camp. There is a campsite at the trailhead with a fire pit and several nearby on Road 60.
For campgrounds, there are several around nearby Lemolo Lake (a few miles further west on Road 60 is the turnoff road for this) as well as Lemolo Lake Resort
. There are also campground at Timpanogas Lake Campground
to the north.
Middle Fork Ranger Station
49098 Salmon Creek Road
PO Box 1410
Oakridge, OR 97464