Drake Peak is in a small knot of summits exceeding 8,000 feet in the Warner Mountains. The other high peaks in the immediate vicinity are Twelvemile Peak
, Light Peak
, and Crook Peak
. Drake Peak consists of basalt uplifted as a fault block. The fault block which uplifted this small group is more extensively eroded than other eastern Oregon fault blocks such as Winter Rim and Hart Mountain.
Drake Peak is accessed by the road that ends at the summit of Light Peak. The first 8 miles of road is paved. The subsequent dirt road, which is a pretty good road for the region, goes all the way to the Light Peak summit.
Views from the summit include the three surrounding peaks previously listed, Hart Lake and Hart Mountain to the northeast, the southern Warner Mountains to the, well, south. Mt. Shasta is visible to the southwest when visibility is good, and there are clear lines of sight to numerous mountains and distinctive fault blocks to the west and northwest. There isn't much vegetation out here to obstruct the view of geologic landforms.
The ‘Drake Peak’ lookout is actually on the west summit of Light Peak which is about 100 feet lower than the east summit of Light Peak.
Find Lakeview on a road map of Oregon. It’s at the south end of the state near the center for those of you unfamiliar with Oregon. Just north of Lakeview Highway 140 heads east. Follow Hwy 140 east for 10 miles, then turn left (north). The sign says ‘Mud Creek Campground’. Follow the road all the way to Mud Creek Campground which is adjacent to Bull Prairie. The distance is approximately 8 miles; all paved. Take a right on USFS road #019 one-half mile past Mud Creek Campground. The sign says ‘Drake Peak 6’. This is a dirt road. The road forks after six miles. Turn right and drive until you run out of road after about 300 yards. You’re now at the top of Light Peak and can see Drake Peak directly to the east.
If you turn left at the fork the dirt road near the top it will take you to the ‘Drake Peak’ lookout.
A ridge connects Drake Peak to Light Peak. There is a 4WD track which descends the ridge from the Light Peak summit to the saddle between the two peaks. This track goes right over rock piles and is steep enough to require true 4WD to ascend, so I recommend walking if you don’t have complete confidence in the capabilities of your vehicle.
I love eastern Oregon. The Winema and Fremont National Forests
were administratively combined in 2002 and in 2005 the only site which requires a Northwest Forest Pass is the Mt. McLoughlin trailhead. In summary, there is no red tape.
When To Climb
Any time there isn’t significant snow on the ground. There is a ski area at Warner summit on Hwy 140, so Drake Peak does get some snow. It would, however, be an excellent 8-mile snowshoe trek if you can get to Mud Creek Campground at an elevation of 6,500 feet.
This area is very popular during deer hunting season, so I recommend avoiding it during the season if you don’t like crowds or sharing the woods with many armed people. It is nicely deserted outside of hunting season and holidays.
Mud Creek Campground has a pit toilet and a handpump well. There are about 10 campsites and it is lightly utilized outside of holidays and hunting season. More to love about eastern Oregon - there is no charge at Mud Creek Campground (as of 2005). Mud Creek, which runs through Bull Prairie then adjacent to the campground, does not look like a 'mud creek'. It is a pretty stream with good fishing. I recommend a Royal Coachman for the eastern brook trout and a caddis fly for the native Redband Trout.
If the campground is too low for you the Drake Peak Lookout
at 8,222 feet can be rented for $25 per night. Price is current in 2005.
There is not a large market for road and weather conditions in this part of the country. Check the weather for Lakeview and try the phone numbers for the Fremont National Forest. The lack of amenities in this part of the country is more than compensated for by the knowledge and demeanor of the Forest Service employees.
Drake Peak is ranked 64th on Jeff Howbert’s The 100 highest points in Oregon