Another rocky, craggy barren peak in the Cascades, Sawtooth Mountain stands over Indigo Lake and offers great views from Crater Lake to the Three Sisters. There are 3 small pinnacles on the summit crest of this mountain, each one looks different. The south pinnacle is characteristic of crumbly reddish-yellow volcanic eroded rock. The central peak, the summit is Cascade dinner plate galore. It appears to be a dome-shaped pile of flat rocks piled neatly on top of the other and is extremely loose. The east pinnacle appears as more of a large blocky form of the dinner plates and is more rectangular shaped. Scree fields descend down to treeline from each.
There are 3 ways to approach the summit crags. You can either take the Sawtooth Mountain Trail which starts to the north of the peak and wanders around the southwest side of it before coming up the south side. There is also another variation of this trail that starts at the same trailhead but heads to Indigo Lake, then up and over the east ridge to come back to the south side. It meets up with the trail coming over from Cowhorn Mountain, which is the other way to approach Sawtooth. Whatever way you go, you end up on the south side and have to scramble over the south pinnacle to the main summit pinnacle.
Views are great and the scrambling is fun, although it takes a bit of routefinding as the trails can get faint at times.
From the east or west, you need to get to Highway 58 in the south central Oregon Cascades. In the west this is accessed off Interstate 5 in Goshen, OR. In the east this is found off highway 97 just north of Crater Lake. From either direction head towards Oakridge, OR. The road you want to turn south on is about a mile east of Oakridge and is labelled with a green sign "Kitson Spgs Rd/Hills Creek Dam/Middle Fork Willamette". Go half a mile and turn right onto Road 21 at a sign marked "Diamond Drive" (this road is also called Rigdon Road). Take this 30.6 miles to Road 2154. Follow signs from here for 9/3 miles to Timpanogas Campground. Once there, look for a brown hiker symbol sign which leads to a small parking area where the trailhead is.
If you are wanting to approach this from Cowhorn Mountain, see the directions/route to the summit of that mountain. Where the trail heads to the summit, you would continue on .3 miles to a junction on the left. Take the left .3 miles to a "T" in the trail. Take the left route 2.1 miles to where it meets the Indigo Lake Trail approach to this mountain.
Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead.
When To Climb
July through October
Camping is allowed in the area and there are some decent spots to camp along the trail. Best one is probably where the Sawtooth Mountain Trail crests the second ridge and turns left in a nice open area. Beware though, I came across an elk/deer carcass that had been picked clean and the hide ripped off that looked like some type of predator got it.
Nearest campground is at the trailhead and is the Timpanogas Campground. There are also numerous campgrounds along Road 21 if this one is full.
Middle Fork Ranger District
49098 Salmon Creek Road
PO BOX 1410
Oakridge, OR 97464