A hike up Iron Mountain may sound like a rough trek, but it’s actually just a 2.5 mile loop through meadows of wildflowers.
To be fair, it is all uphill (about 1,500 foot gain) but the sights are worth a little sweat. Iron Mountain is a little-known geographic wonder, and on its rocky soil grows a spectacular crop of red, blue, and yellow alpine wildflowers. The well-graded switchbacks take hikers through groves of tress and meadows rich with blossoms, all the way to a lookout with a view of the Cascade Mountains.
Spring and summertime hikers will have the best shot at enjoying the wonder of over 300 species of flowers in bloom. The view from the summit is spectacular on any clear day, but try a morning or evening trip to catch an amazing mountain sunrise or set. Hikers can often glimpse Cone Peak, Echo Mountain, Browder Ridge, and the Three Sisters from the trail top.
The hike is backpackable and family-friendly, but the trail is steep, narrow in places and has many switchbacks. A restroom is available at this trailhead, as is an interpretive brochure. Be sure to bring food, water and – of course – a camera.
Directions from Portland: Travel south on Interstate 5 to Albany and the junction with U.S. 20. Take U.S. 20 east through Sweet Home. Keep driving 34 miles to Forest Service Road 15 and turn right. The parking area will be 0.5 miles down the road to the right.
A $5 NW Forest Service Pass per vehicle is required. Visitors can also use their Annual NW Forest Service Pass instead.