Distance: 7 miles | Difficulty: Weekend Warrior | Directions to Lookout Mountain: From Portland, take Interstate 84 east to Highway 26 for about 150 miles to reach Prineville. From there, continue east for 15 miles and fork right onto Ochoco Creek Road. Continue 8 miles, passing Ochoco Ranger Station and arriving at a junction with Road 42. Turn right here and drive 6.5 miles to a junction with Road 4205. Make a right, passing a pair of trailheads, and travel 1 mile to the road’s end at the Mother Lode Mine Trailhead.
The Ochoco Mountains’ highest peak, Lookout Mountain, is Central Oregon in a nutshell—especially in summer, when the smell of warm pine needles perfectly accents the scenery. A 7-mile loop hike provides a taste of it all.
The Lookout Mountain trail system visits some old mining areas and even older trees in a semi-arid forest east of Prineville. The path winds through venerable old-growth stands of subalpine fir and ponderosa pine, periodically escaping into rainbow-hued meadows of wildflowers and sagebrush. Views of almost every snow-capped peak you can think of wait at the summit. There are a handful of trails that take off from the trailhead and several loops, so a good map is recommended. One potential outing takes the Lookout Mountain Trail 804 to 807A to the Independent Mine Trail 808 back to the trailhead, completing the circle.