Henline Mountain in the Opal Creek Wilderness is a nice hike summit located an hour and a half from Portland. I use this mountain as a great place to exercise as the views are great, the trail is pretty well-maintained and it rises about 2700 vertical feet over 3.8 miles. The trail crosses some neat rock fields and has several viewpoints on rock outcroppings along it from which you can see Mt. Jefferson as well as the surrounding Cascades, including square-topped Battle Ax. You can also look to the west at these outcroppings and see the tallest mountain in Oregon's Coast Range, Marys Peak.
The trail to the abandoned lookout switchbacks up the mountain past some neat rock formations and a couple rock slides. In Spring and early Summer, the rhododendrons and beargrass that cover the mountainside bloom and hummingbirds fly around. It's truly a beautiful hike. The trail ends at the lookout site but the true summit is a mile to the north through the forest. It makes for a better summit since you have to do a bit of bushwhacking to find it.
From Salem, OR in the west, take North Santiam Highway 22 (follow the sign that says to Detroit Lake) for 23 miles to the town of Mehama and the second flashing yellow light at the Swiss Village Restaurant. Take a left here onto Little North Fork Road and go 14.8 miles on the paved road until it changes to gravel. Continue straight on this potholed road for 1.3 miles to a fork. Go left onto Road 2209 past the sign that says "Road Closed 6 Miles Ahead". Exactly one mile after this fork, watch for the trailhead on the left side of the road. (Henline Mountain Trail 3352) Park on the shoulder.
NOTE! A section of the North Fork Road will be closed from June 21 to September 9, 2010. The trailhead can still be accessed using Gates Hill Road. Gates Hill Road can be accessed further east on Highway 22 past the North Fork Road junction in the town of Gates. Turn left on Gates Hill Road and go 5 miles to the junction with the North Fork Road at the Elkhorn Valley Golf Course. Turn right onto North Fork Road and proceed to the trailhead as normal.
You need a Northwest Forest Pass to park and these can be obtained from about any outdoor store in the Northwest. You also need to fill out and take with you a Wilderness Permit which are supposed to be available at the trailhead sign but every time I have done this trail, they have been empty.
When To Climb
Year-round. Great Spring and Summer hike to see the flowers and plants. Can be done in the winter but you will need to bring appropriate gear/clothing for snow.
Camping is allowed on the mountain but you'd have to search for a flat site. At the second rock outcropping/viewpoint on the trail, to the right side there is an area of moss-covered rocks that might make for a good campsite. You can also camp at the old lookout site at the end of the trail.
There is also a campground down the approach road if you would have taken the fork to the right. The following site has the specifics/prices and how to contact them.
http://sports.yahoo.com/parks/acts/6/or/0618/16091.html (see "Links")
Detroit Ranger District
HC73, Box 320
Mill City, OR 97360
fax (503) 854-4239
Friends of Opal Creek WildernessLINK HERE