Odell Butte P2K
Maiden Peak P2K

Sep 9, 2014
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2


There are three closely-spaced P2Ks in south-central Oregon, none of which are well-known outside the area. Located about 15mi west of US97 at the junction of three counties (Lane, Deschutes and Klamath), they seemed like they'd make for a good short day on my way back from North Sister to San Jose. I never made it to the third peak as my info was lacking and I was running out of time, so Hamner Butte would have to wait for another trip.

Odell Butte

The Odell Butte Road allows any vehicle to drive to within a mile of the lookout that sits atop the summit. With two dirt/gravel approaches, the shortest is from the west along SR58 while the longer one comes in from the NE off Crescent-cutoff Rd. Both approaches are signed as Odell Butte Rd, and having driven both, I can say any vehicle could use either option. Following our successful outing to North Sister and a celebratory dinner in Sisters afterwards, Bob Sumner and I parted ways. I headed south to Odell Butte, driving the last portion of the road in the dark. The parking area at the locked gate was not terribly flat for spending the night, so I drove a short ways back down the road and parked at a flat point on one side of the road. Smoke from a fire (or fires) somewhere in Southern Oregon were obscuring views ever since I had left US97. The smell would linger over the area through the night and all the following day. I had a restless night because I kept waking up with the smell in the air and noticed the clouds outside thickening. I could see them wafting past the nearly full moon overhead, sometimes obscuring it completely, sometimes opening for a brief minute. I opened the van door to look at the moon and noted a cold chill in the air and the ever-present smell of burning forest. Was it possible the fire was close? I had no idea, other than there had been no signs or indications during the drive in. What I didn't know until morning was that coastal fog had pushed in over the mountains during the evening and it was this, along with the smell of smoke, that made me think that the smoke was thicker than it was. I did notice the chill in the air which should have been a good clue, but I was not thinking with all my faculties during those brief waking moments in the middle of the night.

Come morning it became clearer and I set out to hike the short distance to the top of Odell. Views were not going to be on the menu this morning. Following the road on the way up, it took about 20min to cover the mile distance. It was 7a as I approached, and from a distance I could see the lookout's caretaker descending the steps to use the outhouse located near the base. He was inside when I came up to the tower and noted the sign announcing visitors were welcome after 9a. Would he mind if I was a few hours early? Hard to tell. I noted that there are two summit outcrops. The lookout is built on the side of the higher western outcrop. I decided to avoid the stairs in case I wasn't welcome and scrambled up the summit rocks from the northeast side, finding the USGS benchmark at the top. The rocky top and lookout tower were very close to the cloud ceiling and for brief moments I could see that the tower must have very fine, far-reaching views. But faster than I could focus a camera the clouds would rise up and obscure any chance for a good photo. The caretaker came back up the stairs to find me atop the rocks. I gave what I thought was a cheery, "Good morning!" only to get a barely audible reply in return without any smile, suggesting the hearty welcome I might have hoped for was not likely to be forthcoming. I surmised he probably just wanted to go back to bed for another hour. No tower visit for me today. After descending the summit rocks I used the GPS to make a steep, but far more direct descent off the north side of the mountain, getting me back in less than 10min.

Maiden Peak

Heading west on SR58, I went by Odell Lake and then over Willamette Pass. A ski area is located here and there appears to be a large network of cross-country ski trails available around the downhill area. The Gold Lake Sno-Park is located across the highway from Gold Lake Rd which I used to access the Maiden Peak Trailhead about a mile and a half from the highway. The sign indicated 5.8mi to the summit, starting out not long after 8a. The trail is quite nice, traveling through greener forest than one finds on the east side of the crest, though not as lush as those closer to the coast. The trail is open to bicycles as well, making me almost wish I'd brought mine to enjoy the good single track. In fact I saw no other footprints - just tire treads on the trail, though I saw not a soul on the trail with me today. At the two mile mark the trail crosses the PCT which came as a surprise to me. I hadn't realized I was that close to the crest. The coastal cloud layer was already dissipating though the hazy smoke continued. It made for some picturesque scenes with the sun's rays filtering through the trees to the forest floor. It is not until the last half mile or so that the trees begin to give way and the views open up. The last quarter mile as the trail winds around the north side of the summit has the best views. The Three Sisters, Broken Top and Mt. Bachelor were visible to the north poking through the clouds. This view is somewhat obscured as one reaches the rounded summit where views in other directions open up. The pointy spire of Thielsen can be seen far to the south, while nearer to the southwest rises Diamond Peak, the most impressive peak in this area. I would have liked to climb that P2K as well, but the one-way distance is something like 10mi by the easiest route - not something I was going to get in with a 7.5hr drive ahead of me. To the southeast and lower, obscured by the thin smoke layer, were the rounded bumps of Royce Mtn and Odell Butte. As on other Oregon summits I visited this trip, there was no register to be found. I returned via the same route with some jogging in about an hour and a quarter, getting me back well before noontime. At this point I decided to forgo Hamner Butte, changing into some fresh clothes before starting the long drive home. The three days had been the shortest trip I'd yet made to Oregon, but was thoroughly enjoyable. I told myself I should do this more often. As I drove home on I5, I marvelled at all the Coast Range mountains in California I had yet to visit and started making mental notes to pay some of them a visit in the coming weeks...

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For more information see these SummitPost pages: Odell Butte - Maiden Peak

This page last updated: Fri Sep 19 14:09:01 2014
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