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Aspen Butte

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.5 (2) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A hike to the expansive views from Aspen Butte, the high point of Oregon's Mountain Lakes Wilderness.


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Map Key

13.3

Miles

21.4

KM

Out and Back

8,196' 2,498 m

High

5,758' 1,755 m

Low

2,638' 804 m

Up

2,638' 804 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (4°)

35%

Max Grade (19°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Commonly Backpacked · Lake · Views

The usual wilderness area regulations and restrictions apply in the Mountain Lakes Wilderness. No permits are required, but please register at the trailhead. The Clover Creek Trail is usually closed—unless you ski or snowshoe—by snow from December to May.

Overview

At 8,208 feet, Aspen Butte is the highest point in Oregon’s Mountain Lakes Wilderness and a great place to find fresh air and expansive views. The shortest access to Aspen Butte (12.8 miles round-trip) is from the Clover Creek Trailhead via the Clover Creek (USFS #3722) and Mountain Lakes (USFS #3727) Trails, with a use trail taking you to the actual summit. The trailhead at 5,700 feet, with unpaved parking for 6-8 cars but no amenities or potable water.

Description

From the trailhead, the Clover Creek Trail #3722 is mostly level for its first 0.7 miles, then turns into the Clover Creek drainage and climbs gradually up the slope. At 2.3 miles from the trailhead, you’ll pass a small, unnamed pond and, at 2.7 miles, Clover Lake. This lake is small but can be a refreshing break on a hot day. Continuing up the Clover Creek Trail #3722, you’ll reach a signed junction with the Mountain Lakes Loop Trail #3727 at 3.8 miles from the trailhead. Turn right (east) here and follow the Mountain Lakes Trail up to a viewpoint on the rim where you can see Lake Harriette below and Mount Harriman in the distance.

From this viewpoint, follow the Mountain Lakes Trail southeast below the rim to where it crosses the rim and start a steep descent toward Lake Harriette. Do not descend here. Rather turn right (southeast) onto a use trail that continues along the ridge toward Aspen Butte. Its tread is easy to see most of the way, but it is also marked with cairns here and there, particularly when it crosses one of the small boulder fields on the ridge. If in doubt, stay on or near the ridgecrest. The climb to the summit is mostly gentle and becomes only moderately steep (but with no scrambling) in its last 0.3 miles.

There was a fire lookout on the summit from 1910 to 1928; all that remains of it now is the view: Mount McLoughlin to the northwest, Mount Harriman, and Pelican Butte to the north; Upper Klamath Lake to the east; 14,179 foot Mount Shasta to the south. After taking in all these views (and maybe a lunch and a nap), retrace your steps to the trailhead.

Contacts

Shared By:

Bruce Hope

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 2 votes

#2658

Overall
  4.5 from 2 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#74

in Oregon

#2,658

Overall
11 Views Last Month
1,178 Since Oct 19, 2017
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Lake Harriette from the rim.
Oct 16, 2017 near Klamath…, OR
Descending the use trail along the ridge below Aspen Butte (Mt. McLoughlin in the distance)
Oct 16, 2017 near Klamath…, OR
Mount McLoughlin from the summit of Aspen Butte.
Oct 16, 2017 near Klamath…, OR
Signs at junction of the Clover Creek and Mountain Lakes Trails.
Oct 19, 2017 near Klamath…, OR
Looking downhill at the signed junction of the Clover Creek Cut-off Trail (white arrow) and the Clover Creek Trail (black arrow).
Jul 27, 2018 near Klamath…, OR
A meadow along the Clover Creek Trail.
Oct 16, 2017 near Klamath…, OR

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Check-Ins

Jul 3, 2020
Mitch Hebblewhite
Was a beautiful hike up to Aspen Butte. Definitely bring bug spray the mosquitos were ramped, but well worth the hike to the top. 13mi — 5h 30m
Aug 26, 2017
Bruce Hope
Went out and back to Aspen Butte. Trail in good condition. View from the summit great despite all the wildfire smoke.
Jun 6, 2015
Bruce Hope