Skip the stiff climb up Larch Mountain and the crowded lower parking lots on the Historic Highway. This lesser-used route offers a more moderate ascent to the top of this ancient shield volcano and more quiet time on the trail. The hike starts 11.3 miles up Larch Mountain Road at a locked gate. Walk a quarter mile up the rocky service road to a junction with the Larch Mountain Trail #441. Bear left and descend through old-growth hemlock and fir; trillium, monkey flower and bleeding heart dot the ground.
Half a mile later, fork right onto Multnomah Spur #446. Nearly a mile in, cross Multnomah Creek, then immediately veer right onto Multnomah Creek Trail #444 and enter the "crater" of Larch Mountain, a boggy marsh carpeted with Indian hellebore. Past the crater, the ascent to the summit begins on easy switchbacks.
At mile 3.5, crest the ridge and turn right onto Oneonta Trail #424; the trail ends 0.9 mile later at Larch Mountain Road. Continue up the road 0.4 mile to Larch Mountain Park, and climb the stairs to the rocky promontory of Sherrard Point. You'll find grand views over the Columbia River Gorge and Mounts St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood and Jefferson.
Finish the loop by heading back down the stairs and forking right at a junction to the summit proper, an open area in the trees (no views). Pick up the trail to the right and descend through a short stretch of snaggly forest, then back into the greener fir and hemlock. In no time, you'll reconnect with the forest road; turn left for the short descent back to your car.
Note: Early season hikers may find Larch Mountain Road closed just past MP 10 and a small parking area on the west side. The walk up the road from this point is 1.5 miles. The trail can retain a lot of snow on the north-facing slopes above the crater well into early summer, making navigation tricky in some areas.
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo
- Distance: 11.3
Location: 45.5492064, -122.0918922
From the trailhead, hike southeast up the rocky forest road.
Location: 45.5456331, -122.0893571
Turn left, heading east, onto Larch Mountain Trail #441.
Location: 45.5451433, -122.0880711
Pass a small campsite with fire ring.
Location: 45.5470406, -122.0818377
Bear right (east) onto Multnomah Spur Trail #446. Hike through forests of hemlock and fir.
Location: 45.5469354, -122.0787692
Cross Multnomah Creek on a wooden bridge, then bear right (south) onto Multnomah Creek Trail #444.
Location: 45.5426825, -122.0799816
The trail travels inside the Larch Mountain Crater, a boggy marsh filled with Indian hellebore (a highly poisonous plant).
Location: 45.5396459, -122.0839993
Fallen trees block the trail; jog around to the right.
Location: 45.5392585, -122.0850543
Cross the first of three small creek crossings.
Location: 45.5377872, -122.0867775
Another small creek crossing.
Location: 45.5315813, -122.0783518
Hop across the route's last creek crossing. Monkeyflower flourish in this area.
Location: 45.5341347, -122.071104
Look for views of Mounts St. Helens and Rainer in an opening above a slide area.
Location: 45.5350201, -122.065849
Turn right (southeast) on Oneonta Trail #424.
Location: 45.528056, -122.0814336
The Oneonta Trail ends here. Turn right onto the road.
Location: 45.5289827, -122.0876908
Continue northwest at the Larch Mountain Park entrance.
Location: 45.5296663, -122.088393
Pick up the trail to Sherrard Point at the northwest corner of the parking area. The trail to the top of Sherrard Point climbs a set of stairs.
Location: 45.5327545, -122.0876356
Sherrard Point: Enjoy the views of Mounts St. Helens, Rainier, Hood, Jefferson, and Adams. Turn around and descend the stairs. In 650 feet, bear right toward Larch Mountain's summit proper.
Location: 45.5314701, -122.0891762
Bear right, heading southwest.
Location: 45.5306509, -122.0899379
Crest the summit of Larch Mountain, an open area in the trees with no views. Info: This ancient volcano was actually named for the noble fir, which was called larch by local lumbermen. (There are no larch trees on Larch Mountain). Next, pick up the trail on the right, heading west.
Location: 45.5311134, -122.0920751
The trail passes a very old campsite with moss-covered picnic tables.
Location: 45.5456355, -122.0894551
Back at the forest road, turn left (north) to return to the trailhead.
Location: 45.5327478, -122.0874918
Spectacular views of Mount Hood await from the top of Sherrard Point. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5474463, -122.0904207
Lots of this little white flower line the trails on Larch Mtn. © Eli Boschetto
Larch Mountain Trail
Location: 45.5456317, -122.0892781
Follow the signs to Larch Mountain; go left for the crater loop. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5470856, -122.0802069
Wander through forest of hemlock and fir on the Larch Mountain Trail. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5466724, -122.0783186
After crossing Multnomah Creek, head up the Multnomah Creek Trail to Larch Mountain © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5420513, -122.0804107
Highly poisonous, the swampy Larch Mountain Crater is full of Indian hellebore. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5408264, -122.0817947
At a higher elevation than most other Gorge hikes, trillium blooms here later in the season. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5320864, -122.079134
An opening in the trees offers views of Mts. St. Helens and Rainier. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5344162, -122.070508
Small Lewis' monkeyflower can be found in moist, shaded areas along the trail. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5350324, -122.0656371
Follow the signs to Larch Mountain summit. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5319812, -122.0885754
Take the paved stairs to the top of Sherrard Point for stunning views. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.532387, -122.0882642
The trail to the top of Sherrard Point offers spectacular views of the Columbia Gorge and the Cascade volcanoes. © Eli Boschetto
Mount St. Helens
Location: 45.5328379, -122.0878887
View of Mount St. Helens from Sherrard Point. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5328455, -122.0876527
View Mounts St. Helens, Rainier and Adams from the top of Sherrard Point. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.5320864, -122.0935535
Sunlight filters through wooded forest on Larch Mountain. © Eli Boschetto
Location: 45.541405, -122.0937252
This delicate little pink flower is scattered along the Larch Mountain Trail. © Eli Boschetto