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Hiking Mount Bachelor

Hike Mt Bachelor

Hike Mt Bachelor

Mount Bachelor is best known as the sixth largest ski resort in the United States. When the snow melts, the lower half is turned into a mountain biking park. Less well known is the Mt Bachelor Trail, which let’s you hike from the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway all the way to the 9,056′ summit. Hiking Mount Bachelor gives you a great view of the surrounding area, and puts the mountain in a whole different perspective.

Trail Details
Summit: 9,056′
Distance: 6.4 miles
Time: 4-5 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: 2,664 ft
Dogs: Yes
When to go: When the ski resort closes
The key restriction is that the trail doesn’t open until the ski resort closes, which can vary depending on the weather and snowfall for the season. Even after the ski resort closes, snow fields can remain for weeks or longer, so you need to be comfortable with navigating over or around snow (and the requisite skills and gear for snow travel).

Getting to the Trailhead

The trail starts near the Sunrise Lodge, which is closed in the off season. In fact, the entire parking area is closed off, so you’ll have to park off of Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway, walk around the gate and head for the area where the parking lot ends and the ski area begins.

In the trees along the last parking lot, you’ll find a dirt trail with an easily overlooked sign marking the beginning of the Mount Bachelor Trail (download the maps on GaiaGPS before you head to the trailhead).  This sole hiking trail leads directly to the summit.

Hiking the Mount Bachelor Trail

The first mile and a half the trail travels through forest with occasional views onto what would be ski runs in the winter. It’s a pleasant, easy-to-follow trail.

The lower section is below the timer line

Once in a while you traverse an open area below the ski lifts. Covered in snow earlier in the year, now wildflowers bloom.

Clusters of wildflowers on the Mt Bachelor Trail

As you climb higher, the trees become thinner and the terrain rockier. Stone cairns such as the one below help mark the trail. When it’s dry, the trail is pretty easy to follow, but if patches of snow remain, these cairns help you stay on course.

Along the route, watch for rock cairns that mark the trail

The trees thin out at 1.6 miles as you continue across a dirt maintenance road. It’s not uncommon to find snowfields year round here, and the trail footprint may be obscured. Keep in mind that the trail stays roughly parallel and left (south) of the Summit Express lift. Watch for the rock cairns, and refer to your GPS.

As you near the top, the mountain becomes mostly talus, scree and chunks of basalt, but the path is fairly well defined. It pays to stop occasionally and turn around to soak in the views. You can see Tumalo Mountain (just off to the left in the photo below) across the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway in the valley below.

The top half of the Mt Bachelor Trail has plenty of scree on either side

As you near the summit, you first reach the top of the Summit Express ski lift. The summit is northwest of the ski lift.

The large summit area has a couple of cauldrons with trails circling them, and no distinct peak.  It’s worth exploring the summit area and checking out the views in each direction before retracing your path back to the trailhead.

The return trip is 3.8 miles back down the mountain using the same trail you climbed up.

Mount Bachelor Trail Map & Elevation Profile

Download file: Mount_Bachelor_Hike.gpx

Mount Bachelor Hiking Resources

  • Check the Mount Bachelor Events Calendar before planning your hike, to confirm that the skiing is over and there aren’t conflicting events (like the annual mountain running event).
  • Carry the ten essentials. Conditions on the summit can vary greatly from those at the trailhead, with bitter cold and high winds.
  • The main lodge further north on Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway has limited dining facilities open mainly to support the mountain bike park.

Bend Area Weather Forecast

[forecast width=”100%” location=”97701″]

Get a more detailed forecast for Mt Bachelor from Mountain Forecast.

Commemorate your achievement with a replica benchmark!

2018 Central Oregon Six-Pack of Peaks ChallengeThe Central Oregon Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge

Mount Bachelor is part of the Central Oregon Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge, a self-paced hiking challenge that takes you up six, iconic peaks–each one a bit higher and tougher.

It’s a challenge in itself, or great training for still bigger adventures. Learn more and sign-up here.

Originally hiked solo on July 26, 2017. All photos by the author. 

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