Located less than 20 miles southwest of Mount Hood, Wildcat Mountain’s lush ridgelines offer dramatic views of this iconic peak. This 6.6-mile route starts on the east side of a gravel parking area on NFD 105 and follows sweeping switchbacks to a saddle below Wildcat Mountain. Along the way, hikers will visit a clearing with wide views over Eagle Creek Valley and traverse shady hemlock forest lined with beargrass, bunchberry, mountain rhododendron, and avalanche lily.
After 1.3 miles, the trail crests the saddle. Turn left at the 3-way junction located here for a 0.8-mile side trip to a small meadow filled with beargrass, paintbrush, and stunning views of Mount Hood. Backtrack to the trail junction and turn left. Continue the gentle climb southeast for another 0.6 mile to a faint, unsigned spur on the right that climbs to Wildcat Mountain’s summit. Follow this short, overgrown path to a small clearing on the summit (once the site of a fire lookout). Peek through the trees to find views of Mounts Hood and Rainier.
Head back to the main trail and continue southeast another half mile to the rock garden, a narrow, rocky ridgetop covered with spring and summer wildflowers (paintbrush, penstemon, lupine, beargrass, and rhododendron). Several high points offer huge views across Boulder Creek Valley and Eagle Creek to five Cascades volcanoes: St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson. Take your time to relish the picturesque scene before turning around for the trek back to the trailhead.
MORE INFO: Mount Hood National Forest
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo