Badlands Rock -> Flatiron Rock Loop

Tag two of the most impressive rock formations in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness.

Hiking Easy

Distance
14 km
Ascent
119 m
Descent
119 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
1.1 km
High Point
1.1 km
Gradient
Badlands Rock -> Flatiron Rock Loop Map

The Oregon Badlands Wilderness is a flat desert landscape punctuated by large upthrust formations of volcanic rock. This loop visits two of the most popular rock formations: Badlands Rock and Flatiron Rock. From the top of these formations, you'll enjoy 360-degree views of this remote desert landscape, as well as long-range views of the Cascade volcanoes in the distance.

Description

The hike to Badlands Rock follows a wide, sandy, non-technical path that leads almost directly to the rock with very little twisting or turning. This sandy trail passes through the unique ecosystem of the Oregon Badlands. Juniper trees thrive in this arid climate. It's relatively rare to find juniper trees that are this tall and majestic, but they're everywhere in the Oregon Badlands! Oftentimes, you'll spot them growing right on top of a ledge of volcanic rock.

The trail out to Badlands Rock is easy and absolutely nontechnical, and it's almost entirely flat. While sometimes the soft sand can slow you down, it's difficult to imagine an easier 6-mile hike in a Wilderness area than this one! Consequently, this route has received an "Easy" FATMAP difficulty rating.

When you reach the rock, most hikers will feel the urge to scramble to the top of it. This optional climb to the top is much more technical than the trail out to the rock, and can approach a FATMAP "Severe" rating. The climb to the top isn't factored into the difficulty rating that's been assigned to this hike.

To reach the top, look for a sign for the Badlands Rock trail. This points to a small trail that scrambles up a cleft in the rock to a middle landing that's surrounded by lava rock on all sides. From the middle landing, you can scramble up to reach a view from the top of the lava rock cliffs via a myriad of options. However, these scrambles will require the use of hands and do pose some fall danger. Exercise caution, but enjoy the views!

From Badlands Rock, take the Castle Trail west to reach Flatiron Rock. As the name implies, Flatiron is a small flat-topped formation that has a small trail circling the rim. On top of the rock, "one can walk in an oblong-shaped moat, or crack for a lunar-like hiking experience," according to the BLM. To continue the loop, follow the Flatiron Rock two-track trail to the south. If anything, this trail is even wider than the one that leads to Badlands Rock.

To finish the loop, look for a lefthand turn onto the Homestead Trail to head back to Badlands Rock, and then one more righthand turn to head back to the trailhead.

All told, this loop will provide an incredible 8.6-mile loop through a stunning desert landscape. Enjoy it!

Difficulty

Easy

Walking along a well-kept trail that’s mostly flat. No obstacles are present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Historical
  • Picturesque

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area