Activation Report: W7O/CE-180 -Gray Butte & W7O/CE-303 – Sisters View | March 2023

These two summits are very close and located in the Crooked River National Grassland northeast of Terrebonne, OR and adjacent to Smith Rock State Park. They are easily accessible most of the year via Skull Hollow Road, which is a well maintained gravel road up to the parking area. If the road is muddy, it may be a better idea to park at the Skull Hollow Trailhead which adds about a mile to the hike.

Area View

Skull Hollow Trailhead Parking Option

The hike follows a dirt road all the way up to the top. It is not terribly difficult but does get steeper as you ascend past the saddle and through an old green bump gate. During the “summer” season, April 1- Dec 1, you can drive up the lower 1.25 miles of the dirt road to the saddle and start from there. The hike is about 3 miles from the dispersed camping area (or 1.75 miles from the saddle parking) with a total elevation gain of 1855 ft. There are two separate tower installations on the top but there is plenty of space for multiple operators and we didn’t notice any RF interference. The summit can be windy but there are several spots to hide from the wind. There are also plenty of bushes and rocks to use to put a mast in the air.

Looking North

Looking East

If time and weather allows after activating this 4[+3] point summit, the Sisters View summit is a relatively low effort. After descending the access road to the saddle, there is a small dispersed camp site on the east side of the saddle, and just beyond there is an old jeep track that climbs up the ridge about 3/4 mile to the activation zone. This is a very steep hike for the first 200 yards but mellows out once you achieve the ridge. You will have a spectacular view of the central Oregon Cascades if the ceiling is high enough. There are a couple of false summits but once you are within 500ft of the AZ, the activation zone is quite large so we stopped short of the actual summit to save some time as weather was starting to move in.

Sisters View access and AZ

Descent and climb to second summit

These two summits make for a terrific afternoon of hiking with SOTA. All told we were out for around 5 hours door to door. While we did each get several 2M contacts, HF is a good choice to ensure success as there aren’t as many hams who will respond in this part of the state.

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