The Round Mountain Trail in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest is over 9 miles long, but whether you start at the north trailhead near Walton Lake or the south trailhead off of Forest Service Road 42, the second half of your journey will be all downhill. That's because the trail climbs up one side and down the other of its namesake Round Mountain.
Your pups can enjoy the whole length if you plan a pick-up or car drop at the other side, or you can summit from north and south on different days, returning the way you came. The climb up the mountain will take plenty of will-power for you and your pack, and the final ascent to the summit is steep and rocky: not ideal for tender paws or tiny lapdogs. For the athletic pups in your pack, the stunning views over the Cascade Mountains will be worth this challenging climb.
As you hike, you'll traverse an old growth forest broken up with occasional meadows. Note that the trail briefly merges with a forest road at the summit, so make sure you sniff out the right trail when it veers off again a few dozen yards downhill. The Round Mountain Trail is popular with mountain bikers, which means it's best to skip the earbuds so you can hear speeders approach. Fido and Fifi will help you keep an ear to the ground!
The peak is close to 7,000 feet, and snows linger through spring at such high elevation. Thus, Round Mountain trail is best traveled in mid-late summer or early fall. An autumn visit will reward you with bright yellow color on the aspen and larch trees along your hike.
Round Mountain Trail is a true backwoods experience, so you won't find amenities at either trailhead; bring everything you and your pups might need, including snacks and water. The closest restroom is the vault toilet at Walton Lake Campground. Your buddies will find lots of convenient trees to wee on along the way, and we're pretty sure they don't mind ruff-ing it a little.