Salmon Butte Trail is a 12.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Welches, Oregon that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and walking and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Directions from Sandy: Travel east on Hwy. 26 to Welches. One mile east of the traffic light turn left on to Salmon River Road (2618) and continue six miles. The trail starts 1/4 mile up the old spur road to the right.
Apparently the etiquette on this trail is to post one's time, so in keeping with this, I gently ran up and down while stopping for requisite photos in 3h24m.
Early November run, with lots of mushrooms present including coral/Coprinus/Lycoperdan/Chanterelles/Gomphus/Russula/Ganoderma... Saw a few dogs and their owners. Felt safe even though it was the season for shooters.
The way is up is not super steep but still gets a workout! Mostly just forest the entire way up until you get to very top. There are a couple clearings where you can get a glimpse of the mountains. Was misty up there but I did get a couple minutes of seeing Mt. Hood. I did the whole thing in 5 hrs 20 minutes with frequent stops on the way up and then had lunch up there too. Bring warmer clothes for the top cuz it's freezing up there!! Did not see one human the entire time!
Great workout if you push it. I didn't see a single person the entire time I was on it. Momma Hood was hiding but stunning views and vegetation none the less.
The distance is wrong here - it is actually 12.17 miles due to a road wash out at the beginning. The trail itself is relatively easy, flat and gradual - it's the distance that makes this a moderate trail. I hiked this August 31, 2014 - mostly cloudy, early am rain made the vegetation wet, and high humidity. I think I counted 11 log crossings and 5 (small) stream crossings. There are few tree roots or rocks to trip over, you could run this trail if you were so inclined. I walk at a fairly good pace and carried about 8 lbs and made it out and back in 5 hours flat. The forest is beautiful, however, there isn't much to see until almost mile 6 when you pop out on a ridge with a teaser of the views. I could only see Mt. Jefferson and Sisters to South today - but a clear day would reveal Mt. Hood, Mt Adams, and Mt. Saint Helen's as well. The Salmon River at the start of this hike is a beautiful river, very scenic. Even with the rain last night many people were camping along the banks.
I ran this trail like a champion. The view at the top is amazing! The first stream you cross that rushes past the trail is the purest and most delicious water i have ever tasted. Birthday hike took me 6 hrs at a strenuous pace.
The trailhead for Salmon Butte is easy to miss. You drive south on East Salmon River Road and go almost to the complete end about 2 and 1/2 miles beyond the first bridge over the Salmon River. The trailhead is on the right (west) hand side of the road; the sign is up about twenty feet high on a tree so you can miss it easily. If you've gone to the very end of this gravelly, rutted road..then you've gone too far, head back about 1/10 of a mile where the road widens for parked cars.
The trail itself takes you on a gradual ascent (2500 ft. over 4.1 miles) I would rate it as "moderately" difficult. There are no dangerous exposures, and most of the way is under a nice tree canopy and some beautiful forest. I rated this one as a "4 star" because I was lucky to come upon a beautiful doe in the woods that suddenly jumped across my path coming around a switchback. It then followed me thru the woods on the ridgeline above me until finally I could get a good photograph.
The top of Salmon Butte is bald and you get an almost 360 degree view with Mt. Hood, Jefferson, Adams and St. Helens all visible on a clear day. Lots of butterflies on top if you visit in August. The trail itself has a pretty soft bed...not rocky at all.