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Bushwhacking Stams Mtn, OR | June 2020

AE7EU's picture
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I have to say, this was a fun hike, it's really my style.  It is truly a bushwhack hike, there is no trail, and you will not be afforded a road or any kind of guide.  A GPS waypoint of the peak is absolutely necessary, and even that won't help you at points from getting into trouble with really dense, thick undergrowth.  Be prepared to climb over and through stands of pine trees, manzanita, and deadfall.  This area is littered with old logging roads, which have given rise to dense thick stands of 1" pine trees 6 inches apart.  The path you will likely take crosses these roads, and you will have to get through the stands.

Stams Mountain is a kind of 6-pt hill on the northern edge of the Freemont-Winema national forest.  Approx 1hr 15min drive from Bend, use Deschutes MVUM #9 and Freemont-Winema MVUM #2 with Avenza maps to get to the 'trailhead'.  There is one road that goes right by the base of the mountain, forest road 2415.  Driving from highway 97, take Hwy 31 east for 15 miles.  At the 15 mile marker point, you will see a turn-off from the road for 2415 across from a USFS fire warning sign.  Take this road south for some 8 miles of washbordy gravel road.  The worst washboards are past the logging camp.  The turnoff is at 43°22'17.03"N 121°27'4.06"W (43.371397, -121.451128).  At this point, you have a decision to make.  Do you value your vehicle?  Do you have high ground clearance?  Are you a tree hugger?  You can park at this junction, or continue up the road maybe a quarter mile until you run into trees that are too big to drive over.  But to even get to that point, you'll be scraping paint and killing saplings.  Park and go hiking.  Take your GPS and just straight line navigate to the summit.

As stated earlier, you make your own trail.  It's fun, enjoy it.  I suggest a hat and sunglasses, durable pants and shirt, because you WILL get hit by branches.  Mid-june I was getting hit by mosquitos, and the pollen was in full season - my backpack came out yellow.

However note, there are 3 'summits' on Stams Mtn, and the Freemont-Winema MVUM has the summit in the wrong spot.  The activation zone for Stams is nearly a half mile wide going East-west, and covers all 3 summits.  The three summits are within 10 vertical feet of each other, and don't dip below 50' between them.

There isn't much of a view at the NW summit.  You get a few views of Diamond Peak heading back if you find a good clearing.  The SW 'true' summit may do better for views.  I was able to send text spots from the summit.  14 contacts (including 2 s2s) in half an hour and I was happy. 

Map of stams activation zone and the route I took
Diamond Peak from my path back down the mountain
Stams Mountain Summit