5 miles round-trip
Best Times To Visit
winter through spring
2.5 hours from Bend, Oregon
Gaining the summit of Sutton Mountain is attainable for hikers with moderate fitness and offers a reprieve from the snow-laden Cascades during most of the winter.
Topping out at 4,694 feet, Sutton Mountain looms large over its surroundings. From its summit, superb views of Central Cascades peaks, from Mt. Jefferson to Mt. Adams, can be observed on a clear day. Sutton also provides a unique birds-eye perspective of the Painted Hills, the vaunted centerpiece of the John Day formation, a 16 million year old geologic event, which also shaped Sutton Mountain.
Sutton Mountain is a 29,000-acre wilderness study area managed by the Bureau of Land Management for primitive recreation, naturalness and opportunities to experience solitude. For nearly 20 years, ONDA has been part of an effort to permanently protect this area as wilderness to ensure these values are preserved.
Notes and advice
As always, hikers should carry the 10 Essentials and follow Leave No Trace principles. Make sure to pack your compass, maps and sturdy boots. Bring plenty of clothing layers; temperature extremes are the norm.
Visitors can find lodging, gas, restaurants and groceries in nearby Mitchell, Oregon.
From Prineville, follow Highway 26 toward Mitchell for 47 miles. Then head north on OR-207 toward Fossil and Spray.
Find the trail (marked as public land) just north of mile marker 15 on the west side of the road. This is just south of where the main highway veers right (toward Service Creek and Spray) at the junction of Girds Creek Road, which goes left toward Twickenham.
Look closely, the public land entry is fairly discrete. About 0.4 miles south of the junction, find a wide spot on the east side of the highway. Park there and walk south along the west side of the highway. In a couple hundred yards, just before mile marker 15, find a sign saying “public lands.” Let yourself in through a gate in the fence and close it behind you.
From there, follow an obvious old Jeep road to the top. You’re walking at first along the edge of an active private ranch, so be courteous and obey the signs.