Yocum Ridge

Yesterday we completed what turned out to be our longest hike to date – Yocum Ridge. According to our 100 hikes guidebook the distance of the trail is 8.7 miles one way to a viewpoint of Mt. Hood’s Sandy Galcier. With that in mind we were anticipating a total distance around 17.5 miles, but by the time we were done exploring Yocum Ridge our garmin showed a total distance of 19.7 miles. :O Our original plan was to meet my parents at the trail head and hike together to Ramona Falls, but they were unfortunately unable to make it so Heather and I were off on our own just before 7am.

It was a cloudy morning as we crossed the Sandy River and made our way along Ramona Creek toward the falls.

Crossing the Sandy River
Crossing the Sandy River

Ramona Creek is one of the prettiest creeks we’ve hiked along, but the dense forest always seems too dark to get any pictures to really do it justice.

Ramona Creek
Ramona Creek

When we arrived at Ramona Falls it was just as impressive as we had remembered it from our first visit the previous July.

Ramona Falls
Ramona Falls

From Ramona Falls we took the Timberline Trail north for .7 miles to the Yocum Ridge trail and began our climb. We were presently surprised by the gentle grade of the trail which climbs nearly 3000′. The lower portion of the trail was heavily forested with lots of mushrooms and red huckleberries. We spotted one pika (and heard many more) and a small frog along the trail as well. The clouds were low and a light fog filled the trees making it impossible to tell if the trail offered any views. We passed a couple of small ponds and some meadows that had been home to flowers earlier in the year.

We were holding out hope that we would eventually climb above the clouds and into blue skies but we began to think that was just wishful thinking. We caught our break though as we approached the south side of the ridge near a rock field and wild flower meadow. When we came out of the trees in the meadow we were greeted by blue sky and sunlight. Looking up toward Mt. Hood the summit was visible above the tree tops.

Mt. Hood above the tree tops.
Mt. Hood above the tree tops.

The clouds were still all around so we decided to double time it up the trail not knowing how long the views would last. We were slowed by the increasingly scenic wildflower meadows and views to the south across Paradise Park to the distant summit of Mt. Jefferson.

Paint & aster meadow
Paint & aster meadow


Paradise Park & Mt. Jefferson
Paradise Park & Mt. Jefferson

As we hurried up the trail other flowers such as western pasque, bistort, fireweed, and groundsel showed up in the meadows. The trail then entered a series of spectacular meadows as it traversed around the ridge finally revealing a view of Mt. Hood.
Small clouds were passing in front of the mountain as we approached through the meadows. From this side of the ridge we had an up close view of Illumination Rock and the Reid Glacier.

Reid Glacier & Illumination Rock
Reid Glacier & Illumination Rock

The wildflower meadows were on all sides as the trail headed straight for the mountain.

The trail eventually came to the edge of the Sandy River canyon where melt water from the Reid Glacier feeds the Sandy River. A series of waterfalls could be seen (and heard) below.
We explored the area and spotted another good sized water fall further down and across the canyon. This one was flowing from the Paradise Park area down into the Sandy River.

Waterfall along the Paradise Park branch of the Sandy River
Waterfall along the Paradise Park branch of the Sandy River

We finally pulled ourselves away from the spectacular views and continued on the trail toward the north side of the ridge. The trail climbed as it crossed the ridge and passed through many more wildflower meadows. When we reached the north side of the ridge we found the clouds again. There was a bank of clouds settled over the valley between Yocum Ridge and McNeil Point. Here the trail turned up the ridge at it’s steepest grade. We reached a small saddle below the rocky cliffs that top the ridge where we found a couple of camp sites and lingering snow patches. To the right of the cliffs we could see blue sky, but on the left it was all clouds. We decided to continue on what appeared to be a faint path across loose rocks and sand to see if we could once again rise above the clouds. The “faint path” completely disappeared and visabillity was all but gone when we decided to turn around and go back. We looked at some trip reports later that showed we had been headed straight for the mountain with the Sandy Glacier to our left but we’d have never known it.

Heather returning on the “faint path”.

Back at the saddle the clouds began to rise keeping the mountain hidden but giving us a better look at the flowers surrounding this area. He we found lupine, cat’s ears, and even a few avalanche lilies. While exploring the tent sites we stumbled on a small group of scotch bluebells.

Avalanche lilies
Avalanche lilies
Cat's ear
Cat’s ear


Scotch bluebells
Scotch bluebells

When we started our return trip the clouds had risen from the valley floor giving us views below, but when we arrived at the Reid Glacier viewpoint Mt. Hood was hidden. We found a couple of fellow hikers here that we had met near Ramona Falls and asked if they had made it in time to see the mountain and they had not. We all stuck around waiting to see if we would catch another cloud break since there was still plenty of blue sky around. While we were waiting a Red Tailed hawk circled overhead checking us and the meadow out.

Red Tailed hawk
Red Tailed hawk

While I was attempting to catch the hawk in flight Mt. Hood decided to make an encore appearance.

Red Tailed hawk over Mt. Hood
Red Tailed hawk over Mt. Hood

The clouds continued to roll in allowing us brief glimpses of the mountain before we decided it was time to start our return trip.

On the way down we were provided some new views due to the rise in the cloud levels. We spotted the bottoms of Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Adams, Lost Lake, and the large waterfall coming from Paradise Park.
We stopped briefly at Ramona Falls where a large crowed now milled about and then continued on the final 3.4 mile leg along the Sandy River to our waiting car. It was a long hike and we only got to see half of the views, but in the end it didn’t matter. What we did see was amazing enough and now we have an excuse to return since we have unfinished business on the north side :). Happy Trails.

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201968046749949.1073741852.1448521051&type=1
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157635221888570/

Johnston Ridge Observatory & Coldwater Peak

We took advantage of a day off recently and headed up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mt. St. Helens. This was the farthest north we have traveled for a hike and would be the first time we would be able to see the collapsed side of the volcano. We were a bit disappointed when we arrived and realized that the winds had shifted and were blowing from the south east causing a hazy sky due to smoke from a wildfire near The Dalles Oregon. We parked in the observatory parking lot and surveyed our hike’s destination, Coldwater Peak.

Coldwater Peak from the parking lot.
Coldwater Peak from the parking lot.

The observatory was not open yet (It opens at 10:00am) but we walked around the paved loop trail there before setting off on the boundary trail. Good views of Mt. St. Helens were plentiful despite the blue haze from the smoke.
I had us all on the lookout for elk down in the valley below and it wasn’t long before we spotted a small group.
It appeared to be a small heard of about 15 elk but as we worked our way along the trail and got a better view of the valley below we saw the rest of the heard.

As we rounded a ridge end we got our first view of Spirit Lake and it’s floating trees. Mt. Adams was visible through the haze further to the east.
The trail then dipped slightly to a jct with the Truman Trail and continued on behind Harry’s Ridge. Here there was a decent variety of flowers that were growing in the mud and ash that had spilled over the ridge here during the 1980 eruption.
We also began to find berries :). Here were mostly thimble and huckleberries but we even found a few ripe salmon berries.

Thimble & huckleberries
Thimble & huckleberries

Later we would add strawberries to the menu.

Just after we had reached the Harry’s Ridge trail we spotted another half dozen elk running up a game trail below us. The trail was now gaining elevation providing better views of Spirit Lake and distant Mt. Adams.
When the trail crested we had a nice view of St. Helens Lake below. The trail then drops down in order to pass through a rock arch before continuing above the west side of the lake.

The rock arch that the trail passes through and St. Helens Lake
The rock arch that the trail passes through and St. Helens Lake

Near the north end of St. Helens Lake was the sign for the Coldwater Peak Trail which we turned up to begin our climb. We were so busy looking for berries (which we had all been snacking on as we hiked) that we somehow walked right off the trail at a switchback. It took a moment but I finally spotted it across the hillside going up so we headed cross country until we intersected it. Back on the trail we continued our climb up amid an increasing number of flowers (and plenty of berries).

The views from the summit were good despite the persistent haze which had now completely hidden Mt. Adams.

Mt. St. Helens from Coldwater Peak
Mt. St. Helens from Coldwater Peak


Johnston Ridge Observatory from Coldwater Peak
Johnston Ridge Observatory from Coldwater Peak


Mt. Rainier from Coldwater Peak
Mt. Rainier from Coldwater Peak

We couldn’t get to the highest point on the rocks of Coldwater Peak though. We found that we were greatly outnumbered on the summit by flying ants!

Flying ants filling the sky and covering the rocks on Coldwater Peak
Flying ants filling the sky and covering the rocks on Coldwater Peak

They were sticking to the west side of the peak and as long as we remained a few feet from that edge they left us alone so we were able to eat in peace.

We headed back down the trail and tried to figure out where we had lost it on the way up but we never did figure that mystery out. The smoke had gotten worse and it could now be faintly smelled in the air. We ate more berries on the way back and stopped to watch the elk heard again before dropping our packs off at the car and heading to the now open observatory to pay for the passes that we were supposed to have in order to hike in the area. Since we were there we took a tour around the small but interesting observatory before getting in the car and daring Portland’s rush hour traffic. Happy Trails

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201951052645107.1073741851.1448521051&type=1
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157635195793722/

Jefferson Park via South Breitenbush Trail

Our hike this week brought us back to what is my personal favorite destination – Jefferson Park. I can’t really say what it is about the area that makes it my favorite, but I think it is a case where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Jefferson Park is home to several lakes, wildflower meadows, berry patches, snow melt ponds, creeks, and the beginnings of the South Fork Breitenbush River. Oh yeah, the back drop to all of this is Mt. Jefferson, Oregon’s 2nd tallest peak at 10,497′. Our first visit came late in September 2011 when we took the Whitewater Trail and entered the park from the south. In October 2012 we took the Pacific Crest Trail from the north up Park Ridge and down into Jefferson Park. This year we would be coming from the west on the South Breitenbush Trail.

This wasn’t our first time on the South Breitenbush Trail. Earlier this year we had hiked a lower portion of the trail along the South Breitenbush Gorge. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/south-breitenbush-gorge-trail/ For this hike we drove past that portion of trail to the third trail head 5 miles up road 4685. We set off from the large parking area just as the Sun was beginning to shine on the top of the ridge across the South Fork Breitenbush River’s valley. The forest was dense and quite dark as the Sun was hidden behind the ridge we were climbing. The trail climbed steadily far enough from the river to hide it’s existence. The trees also hid Mt. Jefferson as we crossed several small streams before the forest began thinning as it became drier. I noticed what appeared to be a brushy clearing that might offer a view so I started looking for a side trail. Sure enough I spotted a pair of rocks oddly placed on a small log which signaled a faint path out through the manzanita. A short distance later Mt. Jefferson came into view giving us our first good view of the mountain.077

Onward and upward we trudged as the forest became sparser offering more frequent views of the mountain. We started noticing more and more ripe huckleberries as we entered the areas that got more sunlight and made sure we took a good sampling. The trail finally flattened out on a plateau where we encountered our first snow melt pond.
It seemed to belong in Jefferson Park which made us feel like we must be close which turned out to not exactly be the case. We passed through heather meadows that must have been quite a display when they were in bloom and also found some nice patches of wild blueberry bushes where the ripe berries in the sun smelled just like a freshly baked pie. We finally switchbacked down along the edge of a rock slide and followed a flower lined creek toward the South Fork Breitenbush River.

I had begun to think that we might have missed out on most of the wildflowers despite the fact we had come much earlier than in previous years. As usual I was worrying for nothing. Beginning with the creek the number of flowers began to increase and by the time we had traveled a short distance along the river we found the bank was ablaze in yellow and orange.
On the other side of the trail was a field of purple and white below the rock summit of Park Butte.
We had managed to come at a great time when many of the earlier flowers were still in bloom, but there were also later flowers such as gentians on display. To top it off the mosquitoes were no longer a nuisance.

We crossed the river and climbed a small ridge to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail and turned north (left) toward Russell Lake. The outlet of Russell Lake is one of the sources of the river and its location between Park Butte and Mt. Jefferson makes it an ideal lunch spot. We ate our lunch (and a few more berries) while we watched a plethora of fish jumping in the lake. It seemed like there was one jumping everywhere you looked, and I even managed to get a picture of one.

After lunch we headed south along the PCT through the meadows of Jefferson Park eventually taking one of the many side trails toward the other lakes of the park. We started at Scout Lake and worked our way around the shore so we were across from Mt. Jefferson.
We then headed west over a small hill and down to blue Bays Lake with its rocky peninsulas.

Bays Lake
Bays Lake

From Bays Lake we made our way north past small Rock Lake to Park Lake and another great view.

Park Lake
Park Lake

A trail following the outlet of Park Lake led us back to the South Breitenbush Trail near the river crossing.

The wildflowers were even more impressive on the way out as the Sun was now overhead and many of the flowers such as the gentians were opening.


Butterflies had also come out to play.

After having taken all three of the main approaches to Jefferson Park my favorite would be coming in from the north on the PCT over Park Ridge. The view from the ridge is second to none, but the awful road to the trail head also has few rivals. The Whitewater trail was the easiest and offered nice views, but the entrance to Jefferson Park is not as impressive as the others. The South Breitenbush Trail was the longest (6.2miles one way compared to 5.6 & 5.1 respectively) and gained the most elevation but it offered a great variety of scenery and is the least visited of the trails. In reality you can’t go wrong by picking any of these trails as Jefferson Park is well worth the trip. Happy Trails.

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201909424804437.1073741850.1448521051&type=1
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157635134756828/

Barrett Spur via the Mazama Trail

After a short break following our vacation in Central Oregon we were back on the trails exploring the north side of Mt. Hood. Our scheduled hike was the Mazama Trail which climbs to the Timberline Trail along Cathedral Ridge. From the Timberline Trail we would head clockwise around the mountain passing through Cairn and Wy’East Basins to a viewpoint overlooking Elk Cove. Then the plan was to head up to Dollar Lake then on to the 7300′ knoll on Barrett Spur and go cross-country back down to Wy’East Basin and back to our car, possibly visiting Eden Park on the way back. If that sounds like a lot it’s because it was. 🙂

The forecast called for isolated thunderstorms beginning at 1pm so we made sure we got our usual early start. There had been a nice storm that came through the previous night and clouds lingered near the mountain as we drove toward the trail head.

Mt. Hood from Lolo Pass Rd.
Mt. Hood from Lolo Pass Rd.

When we arrived at the parking area a group from the Mazamas was camped there. We found out they had been doing trail maintenance for 4 days. One of the group informed us that Search and Rescue had come down the trail the day before looking for a hiker that was missing from the Ramona Falls area and that we should keep on the lookout (We found out later that he was found after the S&R team had spoken with the Mazama group). From the trail head we had a great view of Mt. Hood with Barrett Spur just below and to the left and Cathedral Ridge to our right.

The Mazama Trail was reconstructed by the Portland Mazama Club and they also maintain the trail. The group that had been doing the recent trail work had done an excellent job and the trail was in great shape. The trail sets off in a forest of Rhododendron but quickly comes to a rock slide which it switchbacks up through. After reentering the forest a second series of switchbacks ensue. This may have been the most switchbacks we’ve encountered in such a short distance but they made the climb a bit easier than it would have been otherwise. Near the bottom of the switchbacks we met a snowshoe hare on the trail.
Once we had completed the switchbacks the trail climbed more gradually sometimes through burnt forest and others in the green trees. The previous days rain kept the dust and ash from being an annoyance in the burnt sections and the 4.2 miles of the trail went by surprisingly quickly.

When we reached the Timberline Trail we took a left and headed for Cairn Basin. We had been on this section of the trial the previous year when we had hiked up the Top Spur Trail to McNeil Point. It was interesting to find that even though we were visiting almost two weeks earlier in the year the flowers were already at a later stage due to the low snow pack and early Spring. Still the displays were impressive.

We crossed Ladd Creek, passed through Cairn Basin, crossed another branch of Ladd Creek, and made our way to Wy’East Basin.

Aster field in Wy'East Basin
Aster field in Wy’East Basin

It would have been possible to head up to Barrett Spur from here, but we were unsure of the path so we decided to go on to the Elk Cove viewpoint and then up past Dollar Lake and try and come down to this point instead so I marked it on the Garmin for later reference.

The “unofficial” trail to Dollar Lake is approximately .7mi from Wy’East Basin, but we wanted to check out the Elk Cove viewpoint which was just an additional .2mi according to William Sullivan’s description. I didn’t do a very good job of reading his description though so we walked past the viewpoint and continued down the Timberline Trail toward Elk Cove a ways before I realized we had dropped further than we had intended. We consulted our topo maps, the garmin, and Sullivan’s book and climbed back to the correct viewpoint then walked back to find the path to Dollar Lake just as it was described in the guide book. The saving grace of the extra descent and subsequent climb was a nice field of western pasque flowers and paintbrush with a mountain view.

We took the path up to Dollar Lake and easily spotted the trail heading up Barrett Spur on the opposite side. We took the sometimes faint path up along the edge of Elk Cove’s Canyon. Flowers dotted the ridge adding color to the climb and below in Elk Cove a vibrant display of flowers surrounded a patch of melting snow.
At one point we heard an odd noise that we couldn’t place at first. We paused looking back down toward Elk Cove where the sound had come from when we heard it again. This time it was clear as a bell as it rose up the canyon walls, it was a Bull Elk bugling. 🙂

As we neared the knoll, clouds began to cover Mt. Hood and by the time we had reached the wind break atop it we were in the clouds and Mt. Hood was hidden.
We settled in at the wind break to have lunch and hopefully have the clouds pass which they quickly began to do. As they lifted we were gifted with some spectacular views of the mountain.

When it was time to head back down we could see the Timberline Trail below and after once again consulting our maps we decided on the correct ridge to follow down to Wy’East Basin. On the way up we’d spotted a small cairn that seemed to mark a possible path we could follow so when we reached it we veered left. A series of cairns led us along the ridge past several snow fields. Clumps of lupine and paint managed to grow amid the rocks in the gully.
We followed the path down through the gully and wound up right where we had hoped in Wy’East Basin.

Back on the Timberline Trail I threw out the idea of taking a slightly longer return route by dropping down into Eden Park. We decided a different path was worth the extra .7 miles and took the Vista Ridge Trail for .3 miles and then turned right on an unmarked trail toward Eden Park. More floral displays greeted us along the way and Eden Park did not disappoint.

From Eden Park we climbed back up to the Timberline Trail at Cairn Basin and hung a right to get back to the Mazama Trail. This time the trail felt all of the 4.2 miles despite the fact we were going downhill. When it was all said and done we had covered 16.2 miles and climbed a cumulative 5089′. The weather had remained nice despite the forecast and we still had a good view of the mountain as we prepared to drive home.
Happy Trails.

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201808005669022.1073741849.1448521051&type=1
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157635036745114/

Coffin & Bachelor Mountains

We wanted to get one last hike in on the way home from vacation and Coffin & Bachelor Mountains provided the perfect opportunity. We decided to combine these two short hikes and climb both the neighboring mountains on the same day. A two-day long spat of thunderstorms had ended, but the clouds remained in the Cascades and it quickly became clear we wouldn’t be enjoying any views from the summits on this day.

We parked at the Coffin Mt. trail head and set off on Forest Road 1168 toward the Bachelor Mt. trail. We could have driven to this trail head, but instead we decided to walk the 1.2 miles of bumpy roads and enjoy the roadside flowers.
It was an easy walk so we quickly arrived at the post (no sign) marking the start of the trail.

Since the clouds were denying us the views we had hoped for we turned our attention to the many wild flowers still on display and the abundant ripe strawberries which we sampled throughout the day.
The trail climbed up through a forested side of the mountain then turned a corner onto a drier rocky hillside. The trail then leveled out on a forested ridge. The vegetation was very damp and our shoes and pant legs were quickly soaked.

The trail split and we took the left fork toward the summit. After passing through another forested section we again found ourselves amid wildflower meadows where a few bear grass plumes remained as did some cascade lilies.
Then the trail traversed a small rock slide where a Pika stood lookout before reaching the small flat summit where a fire tower once stood.

The clouds were so thick we couldn’t even see nearby Coffin Mountain so after a quick snack we headed back down and returned to the Coffin Mountain trail head. Near the start of the trail we found a thimbleberry patch with two ripe berries. We tried the berries and unanimously decided that they were now our favorite wild berry. The trail then continued up amid what must have been a spectacular display of bear grass. Even though the bear grass was done many other flowers remained in bloom.
The number and variety of flowers increased as we made our way up the 1.5 mile trail to the staffed lookout tower.

When we reached the summit a cloud was passing over limiting visibility to several feet. From the edge of Coffin Mountains cliffs all we could see was grey making for an eerie effect. We made use of the helicopter pad and had a second breakfast.
A couple of slight breaks in the clouds gave us a view down to the forest below but it was obvious we wouldn’t be seeing any of the Cascade peaks this time around. We were anxious to get back down to the car and head home so we quickly covered the 1.5 miles back to the car. This one will be added to the list of hikes to retry when the weather is better. Happy Trails.

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201735237249857.1073741848.1448521051&type=1
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157634901559507/

Dillon & Benham Falls

Thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening. We were driving up the Cascade Lakes Highway through an impressive thunderstorm attempting to reach the Green Lakes trail head at Fall Creek when we came to our senses. The second round of hail and the increasing display of lighting prompted a retreat back down toward the city of Bend, OR. We had known this was a possibility the day before when the lighting and thunder had started so we invoked our backup plan and headed south of Bend to the Benham Falls picnic area on the Deschutes River near the Lava Lands Visitor Center.

We parked on the east side of the river at the picnic area and waited for a rain shower to pass and some sunlight before setting out. We promptly crossed the river on a footbridge and remained on the west side for the remainder of the hike. The river was calm and peaceful above Benham Falls as we walked along watching the sun rise through the clouds to the east while the thunder and lighting continued to the west.

After approximately .7 miles the river became louder as it approached Benham Falls. The falls are not a classic waterfall but rather a series of turbulent rapids as the Deschutes flows through a lava canyon.
We headed up to the parking area here to make use of the facilities and had a deer bolt away as we came around a corner. Then a forest service vehicle pulled up and we spoke briefly with the driver who confirmed we made the right choice when we turned around. He said it was a mess up in the Cascades with many small lightning fires having been spotted. Indeed we heard (and saw) the helicopters and planes throughout the day flying over on their way assist with the fires.

The river calmed again after Benham Falls passing forest on the west bank and a lava flow on the east. The sun made a couple of brief appearances, once creating a faint rainbow in front of us, and then disappeared. We were heading toward the Slough Day Use area and the hike was quickly turning into a wildlife spotting bonanza. We saw douglas squirrels, golden mantled squirrels, chipmunks, and scores of birds. Heather also spotted a paper wasp nest near the trail which was not the kind of wildlife I was interested in seeing.

When we reached a small slough pond we started noticing little Pacific Tree Frogs hopping along the trail.

A pair of Pacific Tree Frogs
A pair of Pacific Tree Frogs

The further we walked the more frogs we spotted and soon our progress was slowed as we tip-toed along trying to avoid all the little frogs.

We made it to the day use area and went down to the river for a closer look when I noticed something staring at us from across the water. At first we thought it was another deer, but then I spotted a second one and we noticed that their heads were darker than that of a deer. We broke out the binoculars and while we were watching a couple more came into view and we confirmed that they were indeed elk. The first we have seen while actually hiking :). They headed on down the river and out of sight so we continued on as well. We didn’t have to go far when we spotted them again on the opposite bank. There was now close to 20 elk including a small bull and several calves.
The trail then swung around a 10 acre slough lake where the number of frogs somehow increased. There were now dozens of frogs hopping in all directions. There were also several families of ducks who left the reeds and headed for the center of the water as we approached.

Next we passed through a short forested section of the trail and came to the edge of a large meadow. Looking across the meadow we could see Mt. Bachelor beneath the clouds in the distance. Here we were greeted by mosquitoes which quickly became a nuisance. The thunder and lightning had not quit and as we hurried across the meadow a heavy rain began to fall. It was both a blessing and a curse as the rain helped keep the mosquitoes at bay, but drenched us in the process.

Shortly after leaving the meadow we reached the parking area for Dillon Falls. Like Benham Falls, Dillon Falls was a series of rapids in a lava canyon. We spotted an Osprey clenching a fish that it had snatched from the river as we descended down toward the calmer waters below the falls.
A series of log steps brought us down into the canyon and to the river’s bank where we passed through some different types of vegetation including a section of trail lined with ferns.

Over the next three miles we passed Aspen (where whitewater rafters put in), Big Eddy Rapids (where the rafters scream), and Lava Island (where they get out). Near Big Eddy there were several Osprey across the river including one perched on its nest.
A smaller bird was circling the river, occasionally diving into the water hunting for something. Just past the Lava Island Day Use area we came to our turn around point a small rock shelter used long ago by hunters.

The thunderstorms had ended and the trail became increasingly crowded on our way back, but the wildlife remained abundant. The birds and golden mantled squirrels kept us entertained as we returned to the car. We had started the morning expecting mountains and lakes, but instead found a river and wildlife which proved to be a more than adequate replacement.
Happy Trails 🙂

Facebook pictures: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201735043005001.1073741847.1448521051&type=1
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157634888763551/