Backpack - Oregon Butte


Backpack - Oregon Butte

Enjoy varied terrain from Oregon Butte trailhead to lower Panjab Creek through flower studded subalpine forest and along high ridge trails with sweeping mountain and canyon views in Blue Mountains Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness.

  • Moderate
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 17.4 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 2,000 ft
  • Pace: 1-2

Meet 8:00am at Panjab TH, for parking 1 or more cars and carpooling to arrive approx 9:00am at Teepee TH and begin backpack soon after.  Allow approx 5 minute drive to Panjab TH, from Panjab CG or Tucannon River CG, plus approx 50-60 minutes if  driving from Dayton.  High clearance vehicle recommended for drive between Panjab TH to Teepee TH.

Approx drive time from Seattle/Portland to Dayton ~4-4.5 hours + approx 2 hours to Teepee TH (via Panjab TH/CG or Tucannon CG). 

Driving directions from Dayton to Panjab TH:  From US 12/Main St in Dayton, turn R (across from Seneca Bldg) onto Hartsock Grade/Patit Road (road sign on ground).   After 17 miles, turn L at stop sign to Patit Road, pass Lewis Gulch Road near pavement end and onto good gravel road for approx 3-4 miles, then turn R onto paved Tucannon River Road (becomes FR 47), after 11 miles pass Tucannon CG (on L), where pavement soon ends and continue S on gravel road.  Pass Panjab CG (on L) and drive 2-3 miles further, arriving at Panjab TH (on L).

Driving directions to Teepee TH/CG from Tucannon CG or Panjab TH (gravel/dirt roads):  From Tucannon CG, drive approx 2 mi SW on FR47, to junction (signed Godman Guard Stn 16 mi); or from Panjab TH, drive approx 3 mi N to junction.  Turn at junction toward Godman Guard Stn onto FR 4620 which includes short rough rocky section.  L turn at monument onto Kendall Skyline Drive, pass Midway CG on R, drive 5 miles further, taking L fork onto FR 4608, pass Godman Guard Stn in 1 mile, and drive approx 6 miles to road end at Teepee TH/CG. 

Update 3/1: 

For members only, or guest accompanying a member.

Do not submit permission requests before March 10, when registration opens.   Be sure to read all leader notes, meeting place/time details, and route/place before submitting leader permission request.   Include complete responses to following in leader permission request form or supplementary email for leader review:  provide examples of your Mountaineers 3+ day moderate to strenuous backpacks (incl mileage, elev gain) during past 24 months including 2500-3000+ feet gain and up to 9-11 mi days, current fitness/conditioning activities and planned backpacks that prepare you for this trip, experience and comfort with easy/moderate stream fords (calf to knee depth), and travel over snow (may be small snowfields).   Indicate you will bring microspikes (if snow fields) and trekking poles, and transportation plans (carpool interest, drive or ride). 

Recommend car camp night if 6/22 near trailhead.  For 1-way backpack, we’ll need 3 vehicles, including 1 parked at Panjab TH on 6/23, -OR- if 1-2 vehicles, we we will do backpack with camping 2 nights at Oregon Butte and a RT day hike with light pack toward Panjab junction.

General description:  circuit and side trails including Oregon Butte and  lookout, Indian Corral, possible short western section of Mt. Misery Highline, and Panjab Creek to Panjab TH.  All camps have springs or creeks nearby.  Chance of some snow travel and stream crossings (up to calf or knee level).  Leisurely to moderate pace, to accommodate occasional brief stops along trails for enjoyment of the amazing scenery, photos,  and nature. 

If you prefer a slow leisurely pace with plenty of stops for wildflowers, birding or photos, please join the June 16-18 Oregon Butte/Panjab naturalist/photo hike trip rather than this backpack.

Enjoy the many wildlife/mammals in W-T Wilderness:  Nearly every mammal species present in the Blue Mountains can be found within the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness including Rocky Mountain elk, bighorn sheep, whitetail and mule deer, black bear, cougar, coyote, pine martens, chipmunks and more.  Birds seen or heard include woodpeckers, hummingbirds, bluebirds, thrushes, c-b chickadee, W tanager, gray jay, eagles, hawks, owls, more.  Common butterflies sightings include:  Lorquin's Admiral, Swallowtail, Checkerspot, Crescent, Blues, Whites, etc.   See many varieties of interesting insects including bumblebees, large colorful hornets, sphinx/clearwing moths, ladybugs, beetles, etc.  

Oregon Butte Lookout photos/info

* Leader will monitor for any adverse issues that occur or forecasted, affecting trip schedule/duration/route:  high winds/gusts (25-30+ mph), wildfires nearby, wildfire smoke (hazardous air quality), and high temps (85-90+ degrees).

Spot WX:  Oregon Butte 10-day Weather Forecast (3-hr intervals for temps, wind & gusts, precip, etc.):

Planned itinerary (Teepee TH): 16-27 mi, approx 2800' gain/loss; route may vary.  Recommended guidebook:  Backpacking Washington (see Oregon Butte loop).

Day 1:  TH to Oregon Butte Spring camp and lookout 3.2 mi 800' gain and optional Danger Pt RT 3.8 mi 539' gain/loss.  Oregon Butte lookout side trip offers 360 degree views of Blues, Wallowas and Seven Devils Mountains.

Day 2: Oregon Butte Spring  camp to Indian Corral/Dunlap Spring camp or Clover Spring camp (on Mt Misery Highline) via Indian Corral (spring nearby). 5-8.7 mi, 600-800' gain/loss. 

Day 3:  Indian Corral/Dunlap Spring camp or Clover Spring camp to Panjab Creek trail and Panjab TH.  6-11 mi up to 2775' loss.

Teepee campground/TH high clearance vehicle recommended for limited rough/rocky sections (no old tires).  Panjab Creek bridge is currently out (5/5) with calf-high easy ford (6/12), and Turkey Creek lower crossing  unbridged (dry boots 6/12) and upper Turkey creek (possible ford) - easy/moderate depth fords  may be necessary. 

Leader will update ranger report on trail/snow cover/bridge conditions early to mid-June, and after mid-June scouting trip and a few days before BP.  Trail maintenance involves primarily removal or cutting of downed/burnt trees over trail.

Water sources:  primarily springs and some creeks.

Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass required at Forest Service trailheads/camps.  WA Discover Pass required for camping/day use in WT Wooten Wildlife Area sites.

WTA links to trail description & trip reports: ;

Recommend accoms:  front country Forest Service camping (ie Tucannon, Panjab or Ladybug CG near Panjab TH, or Godman near Teepee TH), WT Wooten Wildlife Area's primitive camps  along Tucannon River Road (N of Tucannon CG), or motel in Dayton area for night prior to backpack.  Bring your water supply if camping at Forest Service or WA Wildlife campgrounds.  Link to Pomeroy RD Forest Service campgrounds & cabins:

TICKS, RATTLESNAKES, COUGAR AND BLACK BEAR SAFETY:  Please take tick precautions, especially during late spring and early summer.   Be alert for rattlesnakes. Black bear and cougar range in this area, so be aware of camp/travel safety guidance and consider bringing bear spray (bear & cougar deterrent).  See links below for bear/cougar safety guidance:

NOTE:  This backpack is one of the Eastern WA routes  which qualifies towards the Seattle bronze, silver or gold backpack award badge.  Further east and nearby in Asotin area, is the North Fork Asotin River backpack (1-2 nights) including extension on Pinkham Ridge which also qualifies for the backpack badge.

If you have interest and time, consider exploring nearby Palouse Falls State Park or some Blue Mountains' birding gems:  including Touchet and Tucannon River areas as described A Birder's Guide to Washington / Blue Mountains.  See Washington's "Woodpecker Heaven."


Oregon Butte

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp, with guye lines & MSR groundhog-style tent pegs (for up to 20-30mph winds).   Dome style tents such as Big Agnes, Hubba Hubba are good tent tents for moderate winds.
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
Trip Reports