Suggested First Summits

The following are summit suggestions for various popular areas in the Pacific Northwest. They have been contributed by operators who have activated and identified them as good for beginners or new activators. If you have any questions, contact the submitter for details about access, and trail or summit conditions.

Northwest Oregon, Portland Area

Contributed by: Dan, KK7DS and Etienne, K7ATN

1 point: Bald Peak W7O/NC-051

This summit is very accessible and is right in the middle of the quaint Bald Peak State Park. You can drive right to it, but with a little creativity, you can park at the radio facility down the road and walk up into the park if you like. Flat grassy fields, tall nearby trees, and a picnic table make this a very attractive first activation spot. 

1 point: Mount Sylvania W7O/WV-096

This summit is in a suburban neighborhood in Nansen Summit Park which encompasses the peak itself. It's a "pavement activation" but pleasant because of the park. The closest address to the summit appears to be 20 Nansen Summit, Lake Oswego. You can park a few blocks down from the park in order to climb a minimum of 100 feet to the summit. Note that the park is closed from 10PM to 6AM and is very popular with walkers and joggers in all kinds of weather.

1 point: Beacon Rock W7W/LC-163

Beacon Rock is located off of Highway 14 in a Washington State Park of the same name about one hour east of Portland. With 680 feet of elevation gain the hike is not particularly strenuous or rough. The summit area is small - perhaps 4 meters by 6 meters. The trail is very popular on fair weekends and can have strong winds and still a few visitors even in poor weather. You might choose to set up on the first switchback down from the summit in order to leave the summit for those wishing to enjoy the view. Using headphones might also help the quietude. The summit is heavily treed and the slopes are steep so it may be difficult to erect larger antennas. Note that there is a fee or Washington Discover Pass required to park at this site. 

2 points: S. Saddle Mountain W7O/NC-002

The more southern of the two mountains named "Saddle Mountain" is closer to the metro area than the other and is fairly accessible. There is a commercial radio repeater site at the top, which means that you can drive nearly all the way to the top in a regular vehicle. The final ascent on a road is a short half mile or so. It's not a very picturesque spot, but it's an easy two-pointer that's not too far from Portland.

4 points: Frog Lake Buttes W7O/CN-024

If you're getting a little more adventurous, Frog Lake Buttes is just south of Mt. Hood and provides a non-technical ascent worth four points. This one has a SnoPark at the base of it and is doable year round, if you're willing to ski or snowshoe to the top. 

6 points: Lookout Mountain W7O/CN-008

Just south of Mt. Hood with spectacular 360-degree views of all the nearby peaks is Lookout Mountain. The trail to the top is moderately difficult although not very technical. The view from the top is amazing and getting there will score you six points. At the summit, the remains of a lookout tower provide a very nice flat operating surface. Have a care when you research this peak - there are about 14 peaks in Oregon with "Lookout" in the name.

Southern Oregon

Contributed by: Andrew-NO6E

1 point: Upper Table Rock W7O/CS-157

With easy access from Interstate 5 north of Medford, Upper Table Rock offers lots of space at the summit, great views and a well-maintained, easy trail.  The preferred one is 1.25 miles and gains 720 feet of elevation.  Well over 10,000 people visit each year.

2 points: Onion Mountain W7O/SC-048

Accessed from Highway 199 near Grants Pass, this summit has a communications site and an abandoned US Forest Service fire lookout and relatively easy road access.  The summit has both structures and trees, with lots of space for easy operation.

1 point: Spur 2 Benchmark W7O/CC-084

Visitors to the southern Oregon Coast will find this summit just south of Florence easy to reach. There's a short hike past a gate on logging roads and views of Florence and the ocean.

2 points: Roxy Ann Peak W7O/CS-147

This summit is just east of Medford and is surrounded by Prescott Park. It's an easy hike on a gravel road or for the adventurous, there is some potential for shortcuts on the many unmarked trails.

Western Washington, Seattle Area

Contributed by: Etienne, K7ATN

1 point: "Mt. Electric" W7W/KG-141

The drive is an easy one and you'll find parking at a 4-way road junction (two roads gated). Head up 1.5 miles on the gated road to the north. The highest point on this road appears to be in the activation zone, but if you want to continue, the ill-defined broad summit can be found in the trees and shrubs.

2 points: South Tiger Mountain W7W/KG-121

There are three "Tiger" summits in the Tiger Mountain Forest about 20 miles east of Seattle off I-90. South is the easiest of the three. It would be possible to do two or three in a single day. The roads here are regularly used by mountain bikes and that mode might be a faster alternative to hiking. A Washington State Discover Pass is required.

2 points: West Tiger Mountain W7W/KG-116

Another of the three "Tiger" summits in the Tiger Mountain Forest about 20 miles east of Seattle off I-90. West Tiger is the longest hike of the three with a one-way distance of almost six miles. It would be possible to do two or three in a single day - Tiger and West Tiger would be a good combination. This summit has very extensive radio and TV installations and RFI was an issue - consider setting up at the edge of the activation zone. The roads here are regularly used by mountain bikes and that mode might be faster than hiking. A Washington State Discover Pass is required.

2 points: Squak Mountain W7W/KG-122

Just south of downtown Issaquah is Squak Mountain. It's a Washington State Park and so access is straightforward. There are two trailheads - the park website only describes the southern one, the one on the north can be accessed from I-90 Exit 17, then Front Street N to W Sunset Way. Take Mountain Park Blvd SW and then a left on Mountainside Drive SW. Follow Mountainside until a sharp curve where there is parking and park signs. Check the trail map carefully as there are several junctions on the way to the summit and one unsigned (very short) trail link. There is some radio equipment on the summit itself and plenty of room for antennas. A Washington State Discover Pass is required here.

Southwest Idaho, Boise Area

Contributed by: Etienne, K7ATN

2 points: Squaw Butte W7I/SR-126

A good summit for those that don't mind a bit of driving on dirt roads and some cross-country travel to reach the summit. The start of the directions found in the link below is in Emmett - about 45 minutes from Boise.

6 points: Shafer Butte W7I/BC-064

Shafer Butte is an excellent activation not far from Metro Boise - about an hour up Bogus Basin Road will get you there - and another 1.25 miles or so and 700 feet of hiking will gain you the summit proper. These six ponts are considerably easier than the two points of Squaw Butte described above. Shafer Butte is very close to 4-point Mores Mountain - there is a 2wd accessible road which runs on the north side of both which you can easily drive in the summer.   The road to Squaw Butte is plowed year round, but you will need chains or 4wd in the winter.


West Central Montana, Missoula Area

Contributed by: Vick, K7VK

1 point: Mount Jumbo  W7M/LM-175

The City of Missoula’s Mount Jumbo Park, is a popular hiking and dog walking area with miles of trails and the SOTA summit.  Two trails, one from the north and one from the south access the Mount Jumbo summit. 

The approach from the north is an easy hike.  The summit has good grassland area to set up antennas and operate including a few nearby trees, 10-30’ tall.  Views of the surrounding valleys, upper Clarkfork, Missoula and Bitterroot are excellent.  Low power VHF/UHF simplex communications with the Missoula area hams is easy. Cell phone coverage is good.

Missoula Parks map:

Note: this area is closed December 1 and reopens March 15 and later depending on elk and deer use.

2 points: University Mountain  W7M/LM-145

University Mountain is within the Pattee Canyon Recreation Area managed by the US Forest Service.  An exception is that the SOTA summit is within Montana State Trust Land and a State Land Recreational Use License is advised.  This license is available from sporting goods stores where hunting and fishing licenses are sold or at Montana FWP or DNRC offices. 

Access the summit by two trails or a ‘closed to motor vehicles’ road used for hiking, mountain biking or winter skiing. The shortest route begins at the top of Pattee Canyon.  Views are excellent.  There are lots of large trees and open areas to install antennas and get away from the communication facilities.  Low power VHF/UHF simplex operations are easy with Missoula area hams.  Cell coverage is good.