Cone Peak Iron Mountain Loop

The most popular hike in central Oregon is undoubtedly the Cone Peak/Iron Mt. loop. I like to begin the hike from the parking area at Tombstone Pass on Highway 20, and hike in a counter-clockwise direction. Do not cross the highway here, but follow the designated trail from the parking area downhill through the woods. Along this woodsy path reside some of the prettiest wildflowers–those white beauties that love the shade.

After you cross the highway, the trail begins a steady climb in big trees. New flowers appear–currants, wild rose, and lots of spotted coralroot. Soon you will see columbine, tiger lily, and others–particularly wild ginger. The ginger flowers hides itself beneath the low leaves, so be to peak under the leaves for a look at this interesting bloom.

As you begin to come out into more open terrain, rock gardens become the focal point, with some spectacular sedums mixed with other flowers, such as gilia, larkspur and paintbrush.

Soon the meadows of Cone Peak appear in all their glory.

The array of wildflowers is spectacular and varied. Here are some that you are likely to see.

Farther up the trail, you might find rock penstemon in some of the rocky outcroppings.

After travelling farther through some more wooded areas, you come upon a junction with the Iron Mt. trail. This short steep section may offer a few additional varieties of flowers, but in favor of my knees, I generally continue on downhill to complete the loop. This section is less interesting, but features lots of false bugbane and some coneflowers.

Peak times vary with the snowpack and the spring weather, but mid-June to mid-July are usually the outer limits for prime time viewing. Flower lists available on request.