This is a scenic, off-pavement route for exploring the Mt. Hood National Forest. It has great views of Mt. Hood throughout; with views of Jefferson, Three Sisters, Adams, St. Helen and Rainer depending on clearness. The route has many rough sections which may be dusty and requires good ground clearance. In dry conditions its run able with 2WD, in wet / snowy conditions 4WD or an off-road ready AWD is necessary.
Take Hwy 35 to Bennett Pass; this is the Mt. Hood Meadows exit. The route starts by taking 3550 southeast. As you climb toward the ridge you have great views of Mt. Hood behind you and across the valley that Hwy 35 follows.
Then you pass through a gap in the rock before arriving at the junction of 3550 & 4891. At the junction go left to stay on 3550.
Now you’ll be following Gunsight ridge, to the west will be great views of Mt. Hood.
To the east will be views of Jefferson, Badger Lake and off to eastern Oregon.
As you follow 3550 along Gunsight ridge you come across a sign for Jack who must have made an impression on someone to rate this sign.
When you reach 4410 go left. The views of Mt. Hood continue and if it clears you can view Adams, St. Helen and Rainer. There are a number of side trails that take out to the edge of the ridge. When we sat on the rocks at the edge for a food break we had a red tail hawk hunting and a peregrine falcon circle over us about 20’ away.
When you get to 620, go left and at 44 take another left. 44 will take you back to Hwy 35.
For a side trip check out trip 3 to Badger Lake in Art Bernstein’s Oregon Byways book. Also in the area is Bonney Butte where during the fall is great place to view migrating raptors.
Special thanks to Gregg for taking me out and showing me this great off-pavement route.