Frog Lake Buttes
Updated: Nov 28, 2022
A snowy peak bagging hike in Mount Hood National Forest.
Peak Name: Frog Lake Buttes (via road, not trail) Peak Coordinates: 45.2227, -121.6626 (semi bushwhack required to reach “official peak”) Peak Elevation: 5295′ Access: Depending on snow levels during winter, either microspikes or snowshoes up unmaintained winter roads.
Route Type: In and out Route: FS 2610 & Frog Lake Butte Road Distance: 6.01 miles (round trip) Elevation Range: 3902′ to 5295′ Ascent/Descent: + 1627′ / – 1648′ Note: Sno-Park Permit required from November 1 – April 30 for parking at Frog Lake Sno-Park. Date hike was done: 1-7-21
Before we drove up the mountain, we got our Sno-Park Pass in Sandy. It was a pretty day driving up the mountain. It was cloudy, but with no sign of snow. The snow wasn’t as deep on the mountain as I was expecting and there wasn’t very fresh snow either. We parked at Frog Lake Sno-Park and the parking lot was no where close to full. I’d recommend going on week days and non-holiday weeks because parking can fill up on busy weekends.
I checked the snow and we only needed microspikes, the snow wasn’t fresh enough to need snowshoes. We started our hike going down FS 2610. We only saw 2 other people close to the snow park on our hike. We went for 0.25 miles down the road and then came to an intersection. We went left on Frog Lake Butte Road and it was uphill all the way to Frog Lake Butte summit from there. It was snow covered and it seemed the road was mostly used by snowmobiles from the tracks we followed. We didn’t see anyone on the road.
Along the road there were a few different points where we could see Mt Jefferson and Three Sisters on full display. We took the hike nice and easy, just enjoying getting to be outside. I hadn’t been able to get out in December so I was beyond excited to be back in my happy place.
I kept my eye out for the trail that lead up to the summit. The trail and the road both can take you to the summit. The higher up we got, the deeper the snow started to become and with the peak being right about 5000′ I decided it would be a better bet to hike up the road like I’d originally planned than to try and follow the trail.
The snow on the trees started to get heavier and the road started to get steeper (especially in the last mile). There was a large sharp corner and right after that there was a split in the road. We stayed to the left which took us up to the summit. The road was narrower, bumpier, steeper, covered in deeper snow, and the snow wasn’t as firmly packed so we sunk a bit with our continuing steps.
Near the summit we followed the snowmobile tracks which seemed to be the only thing that had recently been there. I don’t think the tracks were on the road. It was pretty steep and we were careful how we stepped since the snow was over 5 feet deep. The snowmobile tracks were packed down enough that we weren’t sinking that deep, thankfully. We looked back and Mt Jefferson broke into full view through all the clouds with the sun shining brightly near it. It was incredible!
We made it to the AT&T cellphone tower at the top of the butte. It was 3.07 miles to the top. It was all dark grey mist to the west, so we weren’t able to see Mt Hood. There was a strong, cold wind blowing. One of my legs fell into a hole in the snow. I army crawled away from it as quickly as possible. I was not happy about it, but I gave my mom a good laugh. The hole was a good 5 ft deep.
We went just a little ways back down the side of the butte to where the view of Mt Jefferson was. It wasn’t windy there. I took pictures and had a snack. Sadly, most of my pictures didn’t turn out well from this hike. It was just one of those days.
The hike was all downhill back to the car. The sun was out a little bit on and off, and it was a bit warmer out. We trekked the 3 miles back to the trailhead. It was a nice outing. We wore microspikes which were really helpful. I don’t think I’d enjoy snowshoeing that far uphill so I’m glad we only needed microspikes.
I wouldn’t recommend trying to follow the Frog Lake #530 Trail to the top, especially since the snow is significantly deeper at the top of the butte. The road is probably the safest route during winter. I did try looking for the trail at the top to see if anyone had hiked up it and couldn’t find any tracks. It would end up being an off trail excursion since the trail wouldn’t be followable.
We got back to our car after 4 hours out and having gone 6.01 miles round trip. Even though the elevation gain is gradual all the way up, it is intense and definitely is classified as difficult in the snow.
Parking: 45.22908, -121.69871
FS 2610 and Frog Lake Butte Road Intersection (turn left): 45.22668, -121.69580
View of Mt Jefferson & Three Sisters: 45.22282, -121.68575
View of tip of Mt Hood: 45.21501, -121.67694
Split in road (stay left): 45.21144, -121.67071
Second view of Mt Jefferson & Three Sisters: 45.21518, -121.66815
Frog Lake Butte (AT&T cellphone tower): 45.21708, -121.66625
How to get there (from Sandy, OR): Take Hwy 26 out of Sandy, OR for 35 miles. Turn left into Frog Lake Sno-Park (on FS 2610).
Hood River Ranger District map location: T4S R9E S16
This is not intended to be used for navigational purposes, but to give an overview of the route I took. I have driven a lot in the area and I’m very comfortable with driving on the back roads, so even without a GPS I’m able to find my way. It’s important to know your comfort and navigation abilities before blindly following a GPS to a map location. You are doing so at your own risk. Reference my disclaimer for more information on being responsible outdoors.