Added by Michael Graw
Score an 8700-foot peak and take in huge views of the entire Oregon Cascades on this non-technical summit climb.
At 8,743 feet, Diamond Peak is almost as tall as the other iconic volcanoes of the Oregon Cascades, but sees just a fraction of the people. Outside the range of casual Portland day hikes and hard to see from the highway and from other peaks, Diamond Peak and the spectacular wilderness surrounding it tend to pass under the radar. But, thanks to its position just west of the Cascade range crest, this shield volcano boasts some of the best unimpeded views of the entire Oregon Cascades.
Best of all, the mountain is rugged enough to enable mountaineering-style climbs, yet gentle enough to not require technical skills. It makes for an ideal backcountry ski destination in the winter and spring, while any hiker willing to slog uphill can tackle the peak in the summer and fall.
While the summit hike can easily be done in a day from the Corrigan Lake trailhead, it’s quite enjoyable to spend a night camping at Corrigan Lake. The lake is only 1.2 miles from the trailhead, which makes it ideal for heading out to the mountains after work on a Friday and doing the summit on Saturday morning. Corrigan Lake also has a nice view of the peak, so you can scout out conditions on the mountains before settling in for some stargazing.
While the route-finding involved in this hike is nothing too advanced, most of the route is off-trail so good map, compass, and GPS skills are required. Additionally, if going in winter or spring, and ice axe is a must - even though the south-facing ridges that this route follows are often melted out by mid-May, coming down on the snow is (conditions permitting) a much faster and less injury-prone descent than down-climbing the loose rocks along the ridge. Finally, if going in the spring or early summer - bring enough DEET to wipe out a small jungle!
Start out on the Corrigan Lake Trail, climbing gentle switchbacks from the trailhead for ~1.2 miles until you reach Corrigan Lake. At this point, a sign will point you left towards Diamond Peak - you’ll continue left onto this trail, but first go straight a few yards to visit the lake. If you’re planning on camping, there are a number of established campsites along the lakeside, and the view of Diamond Peak is pretty nice.
Once back on the trail, continue uphill past the lake and then turn right at the junction. Follow this trail for ~15 minutes, until you see what looks like a ridge in front of you (or, GPS coordinates N43 30.867 W122 10.891). Rather than continue towards the ridge, turn left off-trail and begin climbing. There’s no set route here; you’re just working to gain the lower portion of Diamond Peak’s southwest ridge, so continue uphill following the path of least resistance for 30-90 minutes (depending on your speed and where you hit the ridge). You’ll know when you get there, since the trees start to thin out and you can clearly see the route up the ridge towards the summit. From there, you’ll follow the southwest ridge up all the way to it’s top, just below the summit. In spring, the south side of the ridge is melted out and the scrambling is relatively easy, while on the north side deep snow remains well into June. Take your time and take in the amazing views to the south, crossing over to the left (north) to enter a col when you reach the top of the ridge. Follow the col down and then up to the false summit (watch for avalanche danger in this area in winter and early spring), finally completing the hike with a short push over the last 50 yards to the true summit. Views on a clear day extend over the entire western Cascades, from Mount Hood to Mount McLoughlin, and east to the Ochoco Mountains.
To get down, follow the same route you took up - although if you have an ice axe glissading down the snow is a fast and fun option! For skiiers, there are tons of great lines extending down from the summit to the north, although you may have to work to regain and cross over the western ridge to get back to the Corrigan Lake drainage. If you have time, Corrigan Lake is pretty appealing as a swimming hole before you make it all the way back to the car.
From Oakridge, follow Highway 58 east for about 2 miles past the edge of town. Turn right on Kitson Springs Co. Rd, then right again in a half-mile onto Diamond Drive. This is a very long and windy, but scenic and well-maintained road - continue for 29 miles. Turn left onto FS 2149 and drive for 4.5 miles until you reach a trailhead sign with a parking area on the left, just before a big turn in the road. Don’t be fooled by signs for the Pioneer Gulch trailhead just before this that turn off to the right.
- Northwest Forest Pass (or Interagency Pass) - not available at the trailhead, but you can get them in Oakridge
- Day hiking gear (backpacking gear if planning to camp at Corrigan Lake)
- Map and compass, and a GPS is helpful
- Rain gear
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Ice axe (if going in winter or spring)
- Bug spray - bring more than you think you'd ever need
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