Flatiron Rock – Oregon Badlands Wilderness

We thought our hikes were done for the year after visiting Chip Ross Park and Dimple Hill earlier this month, but a rare opportunity to hike with our Son on Christmas Eve couldn’t be passed up.  We were heading to Bend to celebrate Christmas with our families and after driving over Santiam Pass  we met up with Dominique and drove to the Flatiron Rock Trailhead on Highway 20 east of town.

Flatiron Rock Trailhead

Our plan was to repeat part of a 22.6 mile hike we had done this past May. This time around we were shooting for a 7 mile hike out to Flatiron Rock and back.

We followed the same course as on our previous visit starting out on the 1.9 mile Ancient Juniper Trail. Unlike last time there was a few inches of snow on the trail and more along side it.
Trail sign in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness

Ancient Juniper Trail - Oregon Badlands Wilderness

It was a beautiful day with temperatures just below freezing. The sagebrush and junipers were covered in snow and robins sang as they gobbled up juniper berries.
Ancient Juniper Trail - Oregon Badlands Wilderness

Snow covered sagebrush

Robin catching snow?

When we arrived at the Ancient Juniper Trail junction with the Flatiron Rock Trail things were a litter whiter than last time.
Trail junction in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness

Trail junction in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness

At the junction we turned left onto the Flatiron Rock Trail and followed it 1.6 more miles to Flatiron Rock at a junction with the Castle Trail.
Flatiron Rock from the Flatiron Rock Trail

Flatiron Rock from the Flatiron Rock Trail

Flatiron Rock Trail junction with the Castle Trail

The number of hikers who had been through the snow before us had been dwindling and at Flatiron Rock it appeared that no one had ventured up into the rock itself since the last snow.
Flatiron Rock

I reached the rock first and headed inside its passageways to get a birds eye view of Heather and Dominique coming up the trail.
View from Flatiron Rock

View from Flatiron Rock

Flatiron Rock Trail

Although a few clouds limited the views from Flatiron Rock they were better than they had been on the cloudy day in May as both the Middle and North Sister appeared on the horizon.
Middle and North Sister from Flatiron Rock

Middle and North Sister from Flatiron Rock

In addition to those 10,000′ peaks Black Butte, Gray Butte, and Powell Butte rose above the high desert.
Black Butte

Gray Butte

Powell Butte

Several passages on Flatiron Rock allow for a nearly half mile loop past colorful lichen and interesting rock formations including a couple of arches.
Inside Flatiron Rock

Lichen on the rocks

Rock arch in Flatiron Rock

Rock arch in Flatiron Rock

Various animal tracks could be seen in the snow but the only ones we saw were the robins which seemed to particularly like the rock.
Robins (at least 14) at Flatiron Rock

After completing the loop we retraced our steps to the junction with the Ancient Juniper Trail where we remained on the Flatiron Trail for 1.2 miles to the trailhead. Between the passing clouds and the lowering of the Sun the light began to soften along this final stretch sometimes leaving the snow with a beautiful blueish color.
Flatiron Rock Trail

Flatiron Rock Trail

Flatiron Rock Trail

After finishing the hike we drove to my parents house and relaxed waiting for them to return with my brother and his family. It was the perfect way to kick of Christmas weekend and to cap off our 2016 hiking year all in one. Happy Trails (and Holidays)!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157674546328223

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Chip Ross Park and Dimple Hill

A week of snow and icy conditions had kept us indoors much of the week so when the forecast for Sunday looked promising we decided to cash in our December hike and make the short drive down to Chip Ross Park in Corvallis.  The park offers a 1.5 mile loop trail as well as access to the more extensive trail network in Oregon State University’s McDonald-Dunn Research Forest.

It was a foggy morning when we arrived at the parking area at the end of Lester Rd.
Chip Ross Park Trailhead

Chip Ross Park had been closed part of the year as the City of Corvallis attempts to restore the area to it’s natural oak habitat. Many trees have been removed and some of the trails closed or rerouted. A small section of the loop remains closed but should be reopened in early 2017.
Chip Ross Park

We headed left along a wide tract passing many piles of debris left over from the tree removal.
Chip Ross Park<

After a quick half mile climb we arrived at a signboard and trail map for the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest.
Infromational signboard for McDonald-Dunn Research Forest

McDonald-Dunn Research Forest Trail Map

We had visited the forest in October when we hiked to the summit of McCulloch Peak and really enjoyed that hike so we were looking forward to checking out some of the other trails.

We set off on Lower Dan’s Trail following it through the forest just under a mile to a road crossing.
Lower Dan's Trail

Lower Dan's Trail

Road crossing of Lower Dan's Trail

We then took Upper Dan’s Trail which began on the far side of the road.
Upper Dan's Trail

This trail crossed Jackson Creek on a footbridge before climbing up toward the summit of Dimple Hill.
Upper Dan's Trail

Upper Dan's Trail

Junctions along the way were well signed making it fairly easy to stay on track.
Upper Dan's Trail

Trail map in the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest

As we followed Upper Dan’s Trail to the 1493′ summit of Dimple Hill we began to catch some glimpses of blue sky above the fog.
Blue sky above the trees

McDonald-Dunn Research Forest

Approximately 2.5 miles from the road crossing we arrived at the summit of Dimple Hill.
Dimple Hill summit

The summit was above the clouds and we had a great view of Mary’s Peak to the south.
Clouds below Dimple Hill

Mary's Peak from Dimple Hill

Mary's Peak from Dimple Hill

Mary's Peak from Dimple Hill

We took a short rest on the summit bench soaking in the sunshine before continuing on.
Bench on Dimple Hill

Trees on Dimple Hill

Frozen grass on Dimple Hill

We took Road 650 down and around the NE side of Dimple Hill where we found quite a bit more snow than there had been at the summit.
Looking west from Dimple Hill

Snowy trees on Dimple Hill

The combination of snow, fog, and sunlight created some beautiful scenery.
Sunlight in the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest

McDonald-Dunn Research Forest

At a fork in the road we headed right on Road 600 a.k.a. Patterson Road.
Road junction in McDonald-Dunn Research Forest

After about three quarters of a mile on Patterson Road we turned downhill on the Upper Horse Trail
Upper Horse Trail

This trail switchbacked downhill eventually reentering the fog.
Upper Horse Trail

At another junction we followed a pointer for the Lower Horse Trail.
Lower Horse Trail

We continued to follow pointers for the Lower Horse Trail passing a private residence in a meadow before turning right briefly on the road to that house.
Lower Horse Trail

Meadow along the Lower Horse Trail

Short road walk along the Lower Horse Trail

We forked left on this road which crossed Jackson Creek before leading us back to Lower Dan’s Trail at the road crossing. We then headed back to Chip Ross Park where we checked out it’s summit benches which were still in heavy fog.
Bench in Chip Ross Park

Bench in Chip Ross Park

The total hike was 9.1 miles with approximately 1650′ elevation gain. The view on Dimple Hill was wonderful and just what the doctor had ordered after the spell of bad weather we’d had. For what was possibly our final hike of 2016 it was a great way to end the year. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157678011347405