Tipsoo Peak (8,034) is one of the few 8000-foot Cascade volcanos (it ties for #38 in terms of elevation) with a well-graded trail to its summit. Located in Oregon’s Mount Thielsen Wilderness, it is an easy hike to spectacular 360º views, including Howlock Mountain, Mount Thielsen, Mount Bailey, Diamond Peak, the Three Sisters, and Diamond, Miller, and Maidu Lakes. Directly south of its summit is the highest point (7,560 feet) on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in Oregon and Washington. We decided to do a quick hike to its summit to: (a) take in the views on what was to be a full bluebird day, (b) check-out snow levels along the PCT, and (c) generate an excuse to stop at Beckie’s Cafe in Union Creek for some of their delicious pie (because hiking is hard and you need to stay fueled!).
To reach the Tipsoo Peak Trail (USFS #1472), we turned off Highway 138, four miles north of Diamond Lake, on to Cinnamon Butte Road 4793. We then went 4.9 miles on good to fair gravel roads (Forest Roads 100 & 300) to the trailhead. There was no snow on the roads and none at the trailhead at 6,250 feet. There were, however, A WHOLE LOT of mosquitos waiting for us there, so we wasted no time in getting our gear on and heading up the trail, which started out completely snow-free.
By about 6,800 feet, large patches of snow started to cover the trail,
and, by 7,200 feet, the trail had completely disappeared under 2 to 5 feet of nicely consolidated Spring snow – very easy to walk on. So, rather than pretend to be following the trail, we just turned due east and started up the snow on a relatively gentle slope, one that never got at all steep. And the higher we climbed, the better the views got!
It was just about a mile in a straight line up the snow to the summit and we were soon there, enjoying the view and the nice breeze that finally banished (at least temporarily) the hoards of ravening mosquitos that had plagued us since the trailhead.
From the top, the views were HUGE as promised. We could clearly see the Three Sisters to the north (and maybe Jefferson too),
while, to the south, it was all about Mount Thielsen.
Looking down to where the PCT passes just south of Tipsoo, all we could see was a solid blanket of snow across that trail’s entire alignment through the Mount Thielsen Wilderness. We could sorta see ski tracks where the PCT is supposed to be, but no boot tracks. The melt is certainly on, but it might be mid- to late-August before anyone actually sees the PCT.
This was not the case during the drought years of 2014 and 2015!
We enjoyed the summit until thoughts of pie were too vivid to ignore, then slathered on more DEET, took one last look at Thielsen through a keyhole in the summit ridge,
and headed back.
If up was quick on the snow, down was even quicker. We ended-up doing the 4.5 mile roundtrip (with 1,700 feet of elevation gain) with time to spare for lunch at the Diamond Lake Resort and that mandatory stop at Beckie’s for take-out pie (coconut cream & chocolate cream). In a perfect world, there would be a fresh pie dispenser at every trailhead…