DISTANCE
12.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,368 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

hiking

trail running

forest

views

hiking
21 days ago

I hiked this trail on a mid-November day, before the first big storms arrived. There were only a few short patches of ice in shaded spots on the trail.

A few observations:
=> Access is very easy, taking OR 58 to the Waldo Lake road. The parking area (wide shoulders on the east side of the road) is just about 2 miles from the turn-off from OR58. Note: there are 'facilities' on the side of the road before you get to the trailhead.
=> Instead of parking off Waldo Lake road, you can start at Gold Lake (if that road is not closed as it was on the day I went).
=> You can also reach the summit of Fuji Mountain from the upper trailhead, at the end of NFR 5883. This would be a much shorter hike (3 miles round-trip -- trail documented on the Alltrails site) but a very different experience.
=> The lakes on the way up can be very pleasant a bit earlier in the season... but after the mosquitoes are gone.
==> I only met another party on the trail between Waldo road and the upper trailhead; the last section (to the summit) is clearly more frequented.
==> There are no views until the last mile before the summit. The interest before that is in the forest setting, the lakes, and just being 'out there'

The trail.
=> The trail is very well maintained and overall well cut and graded. A few exceptions for the half mile on either side of the intersection with South Waldo Lake trail where the Fuji Mth trail goes straight up a few times. Nevertheless, the trail is overall a very good on and easy to navigate.
=> The out-and-back distance is just about 12 miles (a bit more if you park at Gold Lake).
=> The last 1.25 miles to the summit is actually easier than the 1.5 miles that precedes it. The grade is relatively gentle and 6 to 8 (depending how you count) switchbacks help negotiate the summit pyramid.
=> The views are mostly to the west, north and east. There are some partially obstructed views to Diamond Peak to the south.
=> The summit offers a good platform (where the lookout once stood) and side trail to a lower overlook, that can accommodate a few hiking parties
I gave 5 stars mostly because of the classice "Cascades Range" sweeping views from the top... but the forest and lakes are nothing to thumb one's nose at.