Why it’s great: Cedar Butte feels like a private reserve for panorama hunters. Rising above Tillamook State Forest 50 miles west of Portland, this former lookout site commands the deep green contours of Kings Mountain, Little South Fork Kilchis River canyon, and Sawtooth Ridge, among numerous other ripples of remote topography. On clear days, sightlines even extend to the Pacific. Don’t let this hike’s short distance fool you. After a gentle ascent through a drab clear-cut, the path enters replanted forest and becomes near vertical in sections, ascending some 700 feet in less than a mile. Wildflowers—Scouler’s harebell, wood sorrel, bear grass, and penstemon—line the trail in spring. A pair of weathered wooden benches at the summit reward spent legs.
Don’t forget: Trailhead access comes via a still-active logging road that’s not for the faint of heart. Take a high-clearance vehicle and a driver who’s not averse to narrow passages and steep drop-offs.
Post-hike watering hole:
Apolloni Vineyards Stop at this kid-friendly, barrel-lined tasting room outside of Forest Grove for $5 tasting flights and nibbles of rosemary-flecked cheeses. If you’re lucky, the sample selection will include the “Super” Tuscan-style Soleggio, a peppery red blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot. 14135 NW Timmerman Rd, Forest Grove (Highway 6 at milepost 44); 503-359-3606
Trailhead directions: From Portland, follow US 26 west and take Highway 6 toward Tillamook. Between milepost 18 and 17, turn right onto Cedar Butte Road and cross a small bridge. Follow the Cedar Butte Trail signs 5.6 miles to the parking area, and look for the trailhead to the left. No fees or permits required