This hike in the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains takes you through the historic Tombstone Prairie, up the side of Cone Peak through towering old growth forest to flower covered alpine meadows and up to the top of Iron Mountain with views of at least 6 snow capped volcanic peaks strung out along the Cascade Mountains. It's hard to beat this hike for views and wild flowers when they're in season in July. This loop alternative to the more direct out-and-back of the shorter Iron Mountain Trail is definitely worth the extra distance. It's a popular hike in early July, especially on weekends, but on this weekday I encountered about 7 people.
The trail head for going counterclockwise on this loop is located at the far end of the paved Tombstone Snow Park off of Highway 20 east of Sweet Home. There is a $5 fee but Senior Passes and Golden Age Passes are excepted. This trail head is for the Cone Peak and Tombstone Nature trails. Shortly after starting on this trail it passes through Tombstone Prairie where a signed fork to the left takes you across Highway 20 and starts the climb up the side of Cone Peak through old growth forest. The right fork of the trail is a continuation of the Tombstone Prairie Nature Trail. The trail traverses the south side of Cone Peak and follows a ridge to the north side of Iron Mountain. From there it traverses around to the west side of Iron mountain where it intersects with the Iron Mountain Trail. I did not see a side trail going up to the top of Cone Peak. The trail is well maintained. The old fire lookout tower on top of Iron Mountain has been removed and a viewing platform was built in its place. Snow can linger into late May and early June on the west and north sides of Iron Mountain making the traverse of the steep slopes somewhat treacherous.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.