Geological Significance · Views · Wildlife
The trail follows an old jeep road from the trailhead up a forested ravine before making a turn out of the ravine to the open grassland that makes up the gradual slope to the summit of Sutton Mountain. Wide 360 degree views of the surrounding country give ample opportunities to spot wildlife such as mule deer and elk.
Need to Know
There is a working ranch next to the trailhead. Obviously stay off their fenced-in property and "Please Close the Gate" as the sign at the entrance to the trailhead says. Cattle graze in the surrounding area, though I've never seen them I have seen their dried patties (so I assume they primarily graze during the summer months).
The trailhead can be difficult to find. Girds Creek runs along Highway 207 and the trailhead is below the road grade behind a thick stand of creek-side willows. The first time you go there you'll probably miss it. If you hit the intersection of Highway 207 and Girds Creek Road, you've gone about 1/4 mile too far (if traveling from Mitchell, OR, Gird's Creek Road is about 9.7 miles from the turn-off from Highway 26).
Go back to the first bend in the road and you'll spot an opening in the willows with a "Please Close the Gate" sign on a wire fence. You can either drive through the fence (there are multiple campsites located at the trailhead) or you can park across the highway on a wide gravel turnout. (Note: The trailhead can be quite muddy in spring).
At the north end of the trailhead you should see a gate with a BLM sign. Head to the gate and pass around it and you are on the old jeep road which forms the Sutton Mountain trail (no motor vehicles are allowed on this "road"). From here on out the run is uphill with few breaks. You start out in a juniper forest heading up a ravine.
You continue up this ravine about one-half its total length (Sutton Mountain's summit is located near the top of the ravine). The trail makes a right turn crossing the ravine and heading up the side of a ridge which changes from juniper forest to open grassland the rest of the way to Sutton Mountain's summit. As you round the ridge you head in a northwest direction. In about a mile you'll pass into a wire-fenced corral.
Pass though the corral and on the far side you'll notice the trail continuing up the slope. Sutton Mountain is basically straight ahead on a long upward slope which looks easier to run than it is. The road continues up to near Sutton Mountain's summit but continues past about 100 feet below the summit. Although the run up to the summit is a relatively gradual slope, once at the summit the country falls away quickly and you get a 360 degree view of the surrounding country, including numerous mountain ranges in the distance (you should be able to see Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood on a clear day).
The road continues beyond the summit and you can go as far as you please, just remember there is no water in this area. Return the way you came.
Flora & Fauna
Elk and Mule Deer are common. Multiple deer skeletons would imply a few mountain lions are also probably around.
Shared By: Chris S