Hike Difficulty: challenging – “Stein” must translate from some foreign language as “burning legs”
Hike Length: 9.03 mi roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2562 ft
Time: 3 hr 23 mins
Tick Count: Me-0 Grace-0 Hooray!
My Rating (out of 5): 4.5 – This morning I was flipping through my hiking book trying to find something novel to do. I’ve felt very limited recently because a lot of the summit hikes that I would like to do are still covered in snow. The book suggests a lot of low-elevation river hikes, but I wanted to summit a mountain and have some amazing views. I just wasn’t sure which summit hikes were ready for me.
In my research, I found a website that described how to estimate the snow level of mountains near you. I figured I could use that info to calculate which mountains are hikeable. The website said that for roughly every 1000 feet in elevation gain, you can expect it to be 3.5 degrees colder. Doing the math with some of the smaller peaks in the area, I ended up choosing Stein Butte, whose peak is around 4400 feet. I knew it had been warm enough long enough that Stein would be clear. Oh man, was it a hot day! Perfect for exploring this new hike.
I definitely love the Applegate area. To get to Stein Butte, park at the Seattle Bar parking lot on the south end of the lake. For me, since it was out of season, the gate to the parking lot was closed. As a result, I had to park across the road, which actually put me closer to the trailhead anyway. You can find the Stein Butte trailhead on the east side of the highway past the makeshift parking spots.
The trail is pretty demanding from the get-go, rising 1500 feet in the matter of 2.5 grueling miles. You don’t get a whole lot of payoff with the view until you reach the ridgecrest after that 2.5 miles. From there, it’s 2 more miles with a little less steep of a climb up to the summit. Although the first leg of the hike kicked my butt, I really enjoyed walking across the ridgecrest. It offered wonderful views of the lake and surrounding mountains. I’ll have to come back to this trail later in the season, as it was absolutely beautiful on top of being a good workout.