Crescent Mountain (North and South) is the quintessential ride in the Old Cascade Crest (OCC) network of trails — it’s got it all. Old growth forests, creek crossings, huge alpine meadows and a summit spur with an incredible view of the Cascade Range (from the East). Oh – and climbing. Lots and lots of climbing! 2,500 feet of elevation gain in about four miles makes this a very tough climb. 30% grades are common and most people will walk some sections. It’s all ride-able, but it’s just a constant push once the tread turns upward.
Crescent Mountain South is really only a blue level of difficulty but the steep sections and trenched-out root sections make for a black rating.
The trail starts out with a ripping fast (but short) downhill from the parking area on the South side, and soon levels out for a few small creek crossings. You will also travel up a very eroded section where the trail acts as a creek at times during the year. The roots provide a nice techy treat if you are into that sort of thing. Shortly after that, the trail starts ascending steadily up the hill with several switchbacks to soften the blow. Eventually you pop out into a vast meadow where the trail grade flattens out slightly and you will see some amazing views of the surrounding foothills and the Cascades.
Once past the meadow, the trail returns to more brutal grades again and ascends into more old growth. After a short distance of tough climbing, there is a spur trail about 200 feet long which will head up onto the rocky and exposed summit.If you don’t turn right at the spur, you the trail continues, but we have that listed as Crescent Mountain North for ease of updating.
The view is incredible! You will see remnants of where a lookout once stood, and you can walk along the top of the ridge and get a view of some beautiful meadows and the lesser know Crescent Lake below to the North.
If you choose to ride down the trail back to the South it’s a very fun descent, but be wary of hidden rocks in the meadow. The grass can hide the tread at certain times during the summer. We brushed the meadow with Nathan from OTTA using a gas powered brusher just before the Trans-Cascadia race, but that stuff grows back fast.
Hit up Horse Creek Lodge & Outfitters if you need a guide or a shuttle to Crescent Mountain.