- Trip Name: Cone and Iron Mountain
- Trip Length: 6.6 mile loop
- Trip Time: 3-4 hours
- Best time to visit: Spring to Fall, Summer for best flowers
- Difficulty rating: 4 (not too long but some steep sections)
- Views: 9
- Wilderness experience: 5 (more crowds on summer weekends)
- Recommended activities: Day hike, wildflower viewing
- Best for: Hikers, families, dogs
- Restroom: Yes, at Tombstone Pass Parking area
- Permit: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annual pass, $5 day use fee payable on-site)
- Click here to download our FREE topo trail map
- Click here to download this Trail Guide as a a PDF
- Click here to purchase the GPS file for this hike ($3)
- Click here to check out our photos from this hike
Trip Technical Data
- Trailhead: Tombstone Pass Sno-Park or Roadside pull off at mile post 64 (no fee)
- Trailhead Elevation: 4,173 feet
- Elevation of Iron Mountain: 5,440 feet
- Elevation Gain: 1,267 feet
Driving Directions to Trailhead from Bend:
Travel Time: 1.25 hours
Head west on Highway 20 through Sisters, Oregon. Once through downtown Sisters continue to follow Highway 20 West for 25.5 miles over Santiam Pass to Santiam Junction. Continue to Follow Route 20 by taking a left at this junction. In 3.2 miles, keep right to stay on Highway 20. In about 7.5 miles, at highway mile post 64 there is a parking area on the left (south) side of the highway. This is the best spot to park as you are close to the trail and will avoid the fee at Tombstone Pass Parking Area, a half mile up the road. There a several turn outs off the highway in this area however all but one are marked no parking, so be sure you are parked legally.
From the roadside parking area roadwalk about 500 feet uphill to where the trail intersects the road on the right (north) side and begin you ascent into the forest. The trail gains elevation steadily but not too steeply. For the first mile you will make your way through a forest dense with hemlock, fir trees, and a rare Oregon site, the shaggy-bark Alaskan cedar. You will soon notice the main attraction, the wildflowers, with scattered lone Crimson Columbine, bunches of Columbia Windflower, small patches of Larkspur and a few Wild Rose shrubs. As you continue to gain elevation, at one mile, you will enter the first large meadow dominated by Larkspur and Indian Paintbrush.
Over the next 2.25 miles you wander up and down on switchbacks, and move between lush forest and meadows covered with wildflowers. About 3.25 miles into your hike, you will reach the trail that leads to the summit of Iron Mountain. This is an out and back trail covering 1.4 miles and quickly gaining 600 feet of elevation. I highly recommend making your way to the top. Once you arrive at the summit, there are sweeping views of Diamond Peak to the Coastal Range and all the way to Mount Adams in Washington State. There is a fantastic viewing platform with a map pointing out all the mountains within sight.
After taking in the scenery at the top of Iron Mountain make your way down the switchbacks back to the loop trail and continue left towards the highway. In about 0.75 mile you will reach Highway 20 and here you want to (carefully) cross the highway and follow the trail as it parallels the road to Tombstone Parking Area. If you take a right in the parking area, and then a quick left back into the woods, the trail continues to parallel the highway and pops out near your car. We chose to roadwalk the half mile back to our car at this point. If you do this remember cars are moving fast through here so stay as far off the pavement as you can.
Once your reach you car you have completed this scenic and flowery 6.6 mile loop hike.Please let us know how your hike went and share some of your photos on our Facebookpage!
For more information about these and many other wildflowers visit out Resources page for a link to a great wildflower identification page.