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Mt Thielsen: Exploring the Lightning Rod of Oregon

Mt Thielsen, also known as the "Lightning Rod of Oregon" and "Big Cowhorn," is a prominent peak located in southern Oregon, United States. With its jagged and distinctive peak, Mt Thielsen attracts hikers, mountaineers, and nature enthusiasts from around the world.

In this article, we'll explore the location, history, and facts about this iconic mountain, as well as other notable peaks in the area.

Mt. Thielsen


Mt Thielsen is part of the Cascade Range and is located in the Diamond Peak Wilderness, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of Roseburg, Oregon. The mountain rises to an elevation of 9,182 feet (2,799 meters) and is the fourth-highest peak in the Oregon Cascade Range.

Mt Thielsen: At a Glance

  • Location: Diamond Peak Wilderness, Cascade Range, Oregon, USA

  • Height: 9,182 feet (2,799 meters)

  • Mountain Range: Cascade Range

  • First Ascent: 1883 by Ensign E. Hayden

  • Interesting Fact: Mt Thielsen's summit is known for its "lightning rod" appearance, created by a protruding spire of rock at the top.

Near the summit
A climber descending from the summit of Mt. Thielsen

Facts about Mt Thielsen

  • Mt Thielsen's summit is known for its "lightning rod" appearance, created by a protruding spire of rock at the top.

  • The mountain is composed of volcanic rock, including basalt and andesite.

  • Mt Thielsen is considered an active volcano, but its last known eruption occurred over 250,000 years ago.

  • The mountain is located within the Umpqua National Forest and is part of the Pacific Crest Trail, a long-distance hiking trail that stretches from Canada to Mexico.

  • The name "Thielsen" comes from a Scandinavian word meaning "the son of Thiel."

The final scramble to the summit of Mt. Thielsen can be intimidating.

Hiking Mt. Thielsen

Hiking to the summit of Mt. Thielsen is not for the inexperienced. It requires exposed traversing on loose scree and very exposed scrambling on the rock to the summit. Only those who have experience with class 3/4 scrambling and aren't bothered by potential death falls should attempt the final push to the summit.

The trail, also known as Mt. Theilsen Trial #1456, starts from Diamon Lake Loop Road. The trail takes you into the woods and along increasingly steep switchbacks until you meet the Pacific Crest Trail. Here, it's not uncommon to find thru-hikers camping for the night.

Sunset on Mt. Thielsen
Sunset from Mt. Thielsen

Continue straight up the hill towards the summit, which is very much in sight at this point. The trail can be hard to follow once you get onto the scree but keep heading up until you hit solid rock.

The final climb to the summit is around Class 4, with mostly Class 3 moves. There are a few different spots here to turn around if you don't want to attempt the final push (including on the ledge known as "Chicken Out Ledge." More than one person has been turned around here.

Climbing History

Mt Thielsen has a long history of climbing, dating back to the late 19th century. The first recorded ascent of the mountain was in 1874 by John Wesley Hillman, a member of a survey party.

Since then, Mt Thielsen has become a popular destination for climbers, with several routes to the summit ranging in difficulty from relatively easy to extremely challenging. The mountain is also popular with hikers, with several trails leading to the base of the mountain.

Mt. Thielsen Sunset
A view from the slopes of Mt. Thielsen at sunset

Mountains Nearby

In addition to Mt Thielsen, the Cascade Range of Oregon is home to several other notable peaks. Some of the most popular include:

Mount Hood

Located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Mt Thielsen, Mount Hood is the highest peak in Oregon, standing at 11,239 feet (3,426 meters).

Mt. Hood
A majestic view of Mt. Hood

Mount Jefferson

Located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Mt Thielsen, Mount Jefferson is the second-highest peak in Oregon, standing at 10,497 feet (3,199 meters).

Mt. Jefferson
Mt. Jefferson in Oregon

Three Sisters

Located about 60 miles (96 kilometers) north of Mt Thielsen, the Three Sisters are a group of volcanic peaks, each standing over 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) tall.

Three Sisters
The Three Sisters and Broken Top from a distance

Mount Washington

The small but beautiful Mt. Washington is another nearby peak. It is located in the Mount Washington Wilderness of the Willamette National Forest and is 7,795′. The mountain is known for its unique appearance and its challenging and sometimes deadly climbing routes.

To Do Near Mt. Thielsen

  1. Hike to the summit of Mt. Thielsen - this is a challenging hike but offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

  2. Visit Diamond Lake - located just a few miles from Mt. Thielsen, Diamond Lake is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and camping.

  3. Take a scenic drive on the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway - this 172-mile route takes you through some of Oregon's most beautiful landscapes, including the Cascade Mountains and the Umpqua National Forest.

  4. Explore the Umpqua Hot Springs - located about an hour's drive from Mt. Thielsen, the Umpqua Hot Springs offer a relaxing soak in natural hot springs.

  5. Go mountain biking - the area around Mt. Thielsen offers numerous mountain biking trails for riders of all skill levels.

  6. Visit Crater Lake National Park - located about an hour's drive from Mt. Thielsen, Crater Lake is one of Oregon's most famous natural landmarks.

  7. Go rock climbing - Mt. Thielsen is a popular spot for rock climbing, with numerous routes of varying difficulty.

  8. Visit the town of Roseburg - located about an hour's drive from Mt. Thielsen, Roseburg offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions.

  9. Take a scenic flight - several companies in the area offer scenic flights over the Cascade Mountains and Crater Lake.

  10. Visit the Rogue River - located about an hour's drive from Mt. Thielsen, the Rogue River is a popular spot for rafting, kayaking, and fishing.

In Conclusion

Mt Thielsen and the surrounding Cascade Range of Oregon offer a wealth of opportunities for exploration and adventure. From climbing to hiking to simply taking in the stunning natural beauty of the area, Mt Thielsen, and its neighboring peaks are sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

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