Mount Washington is the central plug (volcanic neck) of an extinct shield volcano. The mountain is located in the Mount Washington Wilderness of the Willamette National Forest. The main access to its slopes is via the Pacific Crest Trail.Because of its beauty, easy access, and relatively simple summit route, Mount Washington is a very popular destination and the normal route can be crowded, especially on weekends.Summit views are excellent with Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack to the north and the Sisters complex to the southeast.The first ascent was made via a north ridge variation in 1923 by Armin Furrer, Leo Harryman, Ervin McNeal, Phil Philbrook, Ron Sellers, and Wilbur Watkins. The original ascent route no longer exists due to rock fall.
To reach the area, take U.S. Highway 20-126 to the Hoodoo Ski Bowl and Big Lake turnoff on Santiam Pass. Turn south off U.S. 20-126 toward the ski area and Big Lake on USFS 2690. There are two common approaches to the mountain from the north, via the Pacific Crest Trail from its trailhead or via an unofficial trail connection to the Pacific Crest Trail from the Patjens Lake Loop Trail starting on the west side of Big Lake. The approaches are about the same distance. Which you chose to use may depend on if and / or where you camp.
Pacific Crest Trailhead:Take USFS 2690 to just before Big Lake, turn left on road 500 (sign for PCT trailhead). It is about .5 miles to the trailhead. There is ample parking at the trailhead with no NW Forest Pass required. Follow the PCT south for about 3.5 miles, to a climbers' trail which goes uphill to the east. The climbers' trail is usually marked by a cairn and is just after a large rock on the left side of the trail. If you reach Coldwater Spring, the only year-round water source on this section of the PCT, you have missed the climbers' trail and hiked about 10 minutes too far. About 150 feet after leaving the PCT, the climbers' trail splits. The right fork can be used to gain the west ridge or routes on the south face. The left fork gains the North Ridge. The trail is very well worn and easy to follow.Patjens Lake Trailhead:
Take USFS 2690 to the trailhead (about 4 miles from the pass) which is located on the west side of Big Lake.Follow an unmarked trail along the lake for two or three minutes, to a junction with a second trail called the Patjens Lake Trail. Continue around Big Lake until the trail leaves the shoreline. At an obvious junction, turn left (east). (Continuing straight will lead away from Mt. Washington to Patjens Lake.) Head east for about five minutes. Several spur trails will join the trail from the west, but continue east until the trail splits. Take the right fork for two or three minutes to a clearing with a pile of dead logs on its south side. (The left fork continues around the east side of Big Lake). Turn right (south) in the clearing and follow a wide trail for five minutes to its junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). From here it is about 1.75 miles to the climber’s trail described above.To more easily gain climbs on the east side of the mountain follow US 20-126 to the Big Lake turnoff as before. Turn south on USFS 2690 and drive about 3 miles. Turn left (east) on USFS 811 and follow a rough dirt road 3 miles to Hortense Lake. Follow a trail south for about 2 miles to Cache Creek. Leave the trail and travel cross country up Cache Creek and through meadows above to the east side.
The mountain is located in the Mount Washington Wilderness of the Willamette National Forest.A wilderness permit is required between Memorial Day and October 31. They are available free at the trailheads.
Summer and Fall after the rock and the PCT are relatively free of snow.
For conditions, you can contact the McKenzie Ranger District. 57600 McKenzie Hwy McKenzie Bridge, OR 97413 (541) 822-3381