Trask Mountain is a seldom summited low-elevation peak located within the coastal ranges of northwestern Oregon. The peak is most notable and important as the highest point in Yamhill County, Oregon. The peak is also the most prominent peak in that county. The peak was also the site of a fire lookout tower and cabin for many years.
Most people attempting to summit Trask Mountain do so because of its stature, despite a low elevation of 3424', as the highest point of Yamhill County. Some other people might attempt Trask Mountain because, with 1824' of clean prominence, it is the most prominent peak in the county. Weyerhauser
controls and maintains access to the lands containing and surrounding Trask Mountain. Those lands and road systems are primarily used for logging, but public access to the peak is still allowed year-round. However, a lower access gate is commonly found to be closed during most of the year.
The significance of this gate can be substantial. If the gate is open, the road should be drivable by most street-legal vehicles until within several hundred vertical feet of the summit, only requiring a short walk to the mountaintop. However, if the gate is closed, the route becomes a 18-19 mile roundtrip hike (or hike/bike combination). The optimum timeframe to attempt Trask Mountain is during November weekends (Saturdays, Sundays), during which time deer hunting season is in full effect and the lower access gate tends to be open. The peak is not recommended to be attempted during weekdays, as logging activity has top priority on the road systems.
Following Abandoned Summit Road...
By virtue of being the highest and most prominent point in Yamhill County, Trask Mountain was once an ideal location for a fire lookout site. A "crow's nest" tree platform was constructed in 1916. That lookout tower was replaced during 1934 by a 65'-tall wooden tower with 7' x 7' cab. Ground house living quarters were also built during that same timeframe. The fire lookout tower stood for many years, but by the mid-1990s all of the summit structures had either collapsed or been destroyed (or both). Only several remnants of the fire lookout structures still remain, including the cornerstones for the tower and ground house.
Summit Area & Some Lookout Remnants
FROM YAMHILL, OR:
1) Drive west on Main Street, the name of which quickly changes to Moores Valley Road.
2) After nearly 1.5 miles, at a triangular-shaped road junction, continue straight (west) onto NW Oak Ridge Road.
3) After ~3.5 miles along NW Oak Ridge Road, a "Y" intersection is encountered. Veer right, to remain on NW Oak Ridge Road.
NOTE: The veering left would lead onto NW Fairdale Road.
4) After ~2.6 miles from the ""Y intersection, turn sharply left.
NOTE: This road is the northwestern end of NW Old Railroad Grade Road, which maps show quickly changes into the northeastern end of NW Fairdale Road.
5) After ~0.9 miles further, veer right onto NW Toll Road. Some maps and GPS devices also show this as Trask Toll Road
NOTE: This road might not be signed. Please check your map and GPS. An entrance gate is encountered within a few blocks distance.
The key to finding Trask Mountain is by using a map and GPS, although staying on what appears to be the most-used road will be the correct choices in most locations along the road approach.
6) Drive along NW Toll Road / NW Trask Toll Road. After ~3.3 miles, veer right to remain heading west on NW Trask Toll Road.
7) After ~2.8 miles further, veer left/straight to continue heading west.
NOTE: Heading right/northeast would lead the wrong direction, towards NW Fairchild Creek Road.
8) After ~2.3 miles further, turn left/south onto NW Trask Mountain Road.
9) After ~0.5 miles further, near the Tillamook County/Yamhill County line at "BM 2997" (shown on maps), turn left/south towards the west-northwest slopes of Trask Mountain. The road goes uphill.
NOTE: This road is not shown on many maps.
10) After ~0.5 miles, the road crests before heading downhill. DO NOT
continue following the main road beyond the road-crest. Looking east, towards the upper forested slopes of Trask Mountain, an old roadbed might be noticed. If so, this was the former summit road for Trask Mountain, and the summit is only several hundred vertical feet from the road-crest of the main road. Park the vehicle along the side of the main road and hike the remainder of the route (see below).
Begin hiking east up steep forested slopes, perhaps trying to stay on the old abandoned roadbed where easier or appropriate, until reaching the open meadows atop Trask Mountain. Continue hiking east-northeast a short distance further until reaching the open area that once was the site of the fire lookout tower. Touch all of the highest points to claim a successful summit.
Final Summit Approach
An access gate is located near the entrance of NW Toll Road, near the former community of Fairdale. The gate can be closed at any time without notice, but is typically open during weekends throughout deer hunting season. Because of this aspect, the optimum time to attempt the peak is during a Saturday or Sunday in early November, when the lower access gate is most likely open and while logging activity is minimal.
Most roads in this area are unsigned. It is highly recommended to take a map and GPS for extra directional references, if needed.
The upper slopes of Trask Mountain are covered in evergreen forests, ferns, and small shrubbery. An abandoned summit road can be followed to the mountaintop, or some people might opt to head directly uphill through forests.
Heading Directly Uphill, Bypassing Old Summit Road...
No camping is allowed on Trask Mountain or any of the approach roads.
Some brief past trip reports can be found at this link