Category Archives: Hiking

Throwback Thursday – Three Fingered Jack

This week’s Throwback Thursday hike is a 13.5 mile loop taken on 10/13/12 partly along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. We started our hike at the Pacific Crest Trailhead near Santiam Pass along Highway 22. Our plan for the day was to follow the PCT to the SW flank of Three Fingered Jack then return on a loop by leaving the PCT on the way back above Martin Lake and hiking cross country past that lake to the Summit Lake Trail.

We arrived just before daylight and were rewarded with some amazing sights as we waited for enough light to start hiking.Three Fingered Jack/PCT trailhead

Morning from the trailhead

Mt. Washington in the morning from the trailhead

Mt. Washington

The trailhead is located in the fire scar of the 2003 B & B Fire. One of those B’s is for Booth Lake which we planned on visiting as we returned on the Summit Trail.Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

A short distance after passing the junction with the Summit Trail the PCT entered the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.Entering the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness on the Pacific Crest Trail

From the wilderness boundary Three Fingered Jack was only about 3 miles away but was hidden behind the rise of the land. There were plenty of views to be had to the south though.Hayrick Butte and Hoodoo

Hayrick Butte and the Hoodo Ski Area

View from the Pacific Crest Trail

Mt. Washington and the North and Middle Sisters

We spent a lot of time looking over our shoulders as the views only got better as we made the gradual climb toward Three Fingered Jack.Black Crater, Broken Top, the North & Middle Sister and Mt. Washington

Mt. Washington

Mt. Washington

North and Middle Sister

North and Middle Sister

Broken Top

Broken Top

Three Fingered Jack finally came into view when the trail leveled out on a plateau.Three Fingered Jack

Three Fingered Jack

At the 1.25 mile mark we arrived at a junction with the Santiam Lake Trail.Pacific Crest Trail junction with the Santiam Lake Trail

We continued on the PCT through the silver snags of the B & B Fire which were a surprisingly nice contrast to the bright red Fall huckleberry leaves.Pacific Crest Trail

Contrasting colors in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

Another impressive view came two miles from the Santiam Trail junction.Three Fingered Jack

Three Fingered Jack

View from the Pacific Crest Trail

Looking south

The PCT had steepened a bit as it climbed to this view on a ridge which it now followed into green trees.Three Fingered Jack

Pacific Crest Trail

The ridge passed above Booth and Martin Lakes which lay to the east.Martin and Booth Lakes and Black Butte

Black Butte (post) beyond Martin and Booth Lakes

Just under a half mile from the viewpoint we passed a spot along the ridge where we would head cross-country on the way back. We were still gaining elevation which gave us a view of Diamond Peak even further south.View from the Pacific Crest Trail

Diamond Peak

We also noticed that the stubborn Pole Creek Fire was still putting up a smoke column from the Three Sisters Wilderness.Black Crater, Broken Top, smoke from the Pole Creek Fire, Mt. Bachelor, The Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, The Husband, Big Lake, Hayrick Butte, Scott Mountain, and Diamond Peak

Broken Top and the Pole Creek Fire

To the west we spotted Lower Berley Lake.Lower Berley Lake

Three Fingered Jack disappeared again for a bit but not long after crossing a rocky section of the ridge the PCT rounded a corner and Three Fingered Jack came back into view.Three Fingered Jack

Continuing on just a couple tenths of a mile more brought us to even better views of the volcano’s western face.Three Fingered Jack

A climbers trail was clearly visible heading up toward the summit.Three Fingered Jack

We followed the PCT to the junction with the climbers trail which was approximately 5.5 miles from the trailhead.Three Fingered Jack

It was tempting to head up the path but apparently only for me. Heather and Dominique were good turning around here so they took a short break as I went up a very short distance. The trail was fairly steep and the loose rock made it more effort than I was willing to expend so I quickly returned and we began our hike back.

On the way back along the PCT we spotted a trail heading off to the right (SW) just over half a mile from the climbers trail. This short spur led to a rock outcrop with spectacular view.View from the Pacific Crest Trail

From here we could see at least a part of 7 Cascade Peaks: Broken Top, Mt. Bachelor, All three of the Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, and Diamond Peak.Black Crater, Broken Top, Mt. Bachelor, the Three Sisters and Mt. Washington

From left to right: Broken Top, Mt. Bachelor, North Sister, the summit of South Sister, Middle Sister, and Mt. Washington.

Scott Mountain and Diamond Peak

Diamond Peak

After a nice long break soaking in the view we continued south on the PCT past the rock section along the ridge.Pacific Crest Trail

Shortly after the rocks we headed downhill at a low point along the ridge into the least steep looking gully we had seen on the way by earlier.Off-trail route to Martin Lake from the Pacific Crest Trail

The route was fairly steep but the good news was that the lake was at the bottom of a bowl so we basically just needed to stay heading downhill and we would by default find Martin Lake. The trees were sparse enough to make travel easy and we soon found ourselves along a fern covered hillside.Cross country route from the Pacific  Crest Trail to Martin Lake

Fern covered hillside near Martin Lake

This was our first real foray into off-trail travel but between the map, GPS and knowing that the lake was at the bottom of the bowl we had no trouble finding the water after traveling approximately .4 miles.Martin Lake

Several deer had been on the far side of Martin Lake but ran as we emerged from the trees. They had been in the area of an old trail that ran from the Summit Trail to Martin Lake but had not been maintained since the B & B Fire.Martin Lake

Martin Lake

We made our way around the south shore of the lake to its east end hoping to pick up the trail we had seen from the west end.Martin Lake

The trail was basically non-existent though.Cross country route to the Summit Trail

The good news was we knew that the Summit Trail was due east from Martin Lake and to make things easier so was Black Butte. We used the 6436′ butte as our guide as we traveled the half mile from Martin Lake to the Summit Lake Trail.Black Butte

We were a little concerned that the Summit Lake Trail might be hard to spot so I occasionally checked the GPS to make sure it wasn’t showing that we’d crossed it. We wound up having no problem identifying the dusty Summit Lake Trail though and turned right onto it. After a quarter mile we took a short spur to the right to Booth Lake.Booth Lake

We were joined by an eagle who landed in the snags on the far side of the lake.Eagle on the far side of Booth Lake

From the shore Three Fingered Jack was visible peaking over a ridge.Three Fingered Jack from Booth Lake

There was a decent breeze which created some eerie sounds as it passed through the dead trees. We left Booth Lake and continued south on the Summit Lake trail which remained in the B & B scar for the rest of the hike.Three Fingered Jack

Mt. Jefferson Wilderness along the Summit Trail

Colorful hillside along the Summit Trail

The trail climbed gradually for 3/4 of a mile to a saddle before descending more steeply for a little over a mile to Square Lake.Square Lake, Broken Top, North & Middle Sister and Mt. Washington

As we began descending the clouds over the North Sister formed into an interesting shape.Cool cloud formation passing over the North Sister

We took another short break at the lake where the only view we had was east to Black Butte.Square Lake

Square Lake

We followed a pointer for the Santiam Pass Trailhead at the junction with the Round Lake Trail.Trail sign for the Santiam Pass Trailhead

It was roughly 2.2 miles back to the PCT from Square Lake. The trail climbed away from the lake gaining a final view of Three Fingered Jack to the north.Three Fingered Jack and Square Lake

We then passed along a hillside covered in golden ferns with decent views of Mt. Washington but an increase in clouds and slight drizzle began obscuring the views of the other mountains.On the way back to the Santaim Pass Trailhead

Mt. Washington

After completing the loop and arriving back at the trailhead we drove to my parents house near Bend. They were away for the weekend but the house was being watched carefully by their guard owl.Owl in Central Oregon after the hike

We had another hike planned for the next day in the Three Sisters Wilderness so we spent the night at their house and set off the next day on what would become known as “The hike that shall not be named“. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Three Fingered Jack

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Washington Park & Council Crest

As we continue to work our way through the featured hikes in William L. Sullivan’s 100 Hikes guidebooks we occasionally come to some that call for a little creativity on our part. Often times this is due to the overall distance being short enough that we would likely break our self imposed rule of not spending more time driving than hiking on day trips. One of our solutions for these hikes is to combine them with other nearby hikes. On Mother’s Day weekend that is what we did with the Washington Park and Council Crest hikes described in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” book.

The handy thing about these hikes was that we could start them from the same location, Portland’s Washington Park. The location also gave us a good opportunity to visit the Oregon Zoo for the first time in many years. The zoo was open from 9:30-4:00 so figured we’d have enough time for a tour after our hikes given our typical early start. Our Son joined us for this outing and promptly fell back asleep in the car as we drove up Interstate 5 to Portland.

We arrived at Washington Park just before 6am and parked north of the Max Station near the entrance to the Vietnam Veterans of Oregon Memorial. Our plan was to head north loosely following Sullivan’s suggested Washington Park route to Pittock Mansion then return and head south to Council Crest and back then visit the zoo.

We began our hike at a sign for the Hoyt Arboretum Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
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After reviewing a large signboard map we passed through the memorial.
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I mentioned we loosely followed Sullivan’s route for two reasons. First we were going to do his described loop in the opposite direction in order to cross busy Burnside Road earlier in the morning when we hoped there would be less traffic to dodge. The second reason was that there were far more trail junctions than we had expected and we took a couple of “alternate” routes early on. A connector trail from the end of the memorial led to the Wildwood Trail where we turned left. At the next junction we turned right onto the Maple Trail instead of staying on the Wildwood Trail as our guidebook suggested. Luckily we realized our mistake fairly quickly as we compared the map from the book to the GPS and turned left on another connector trail that led us back up to the Wildwood Trail at SW Knights Blvd.
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We turned left onto the Wildwood Trail.
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After about a tenth of a mile we came to another junction. Here we turned right and once again left the Wildwood Trail. We quickly climbed to a crossing of SW Fairview Blvd where we found a sign for the Hemlock Trail.
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We followed the Hemlock Trail north but turned off of it to the right onto the Fir Trail. The guidebook would have had us continue further on the Hemlock Trail and then turn onto the Creek Trail but we were frankly a bit confused by the number of junctions and were doing our best to match up the GPS track to the path drawn on the map. After a short stint on the Fir Trail we decided it was heading the wrong direction so we turned left onto the Redwood Trail which got us headed back in the correct direction at least. We knew there should be a creek on our left and after crossing SW Fischer Lane it was evident that this was the case. We figured as long as we kept it close by we were at least headed in the right direction. A tenth of a mile from Fischer Lane we finally noticed a trails sign for the Creek Trail.
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To be fair there had been a good presence of trial signs throughout but there had been so many options that it was overwhelming our not fully awake brains. We followed the pointer down to the Creek Trail where we turned right. We passed a neat display of roots from a tree on the hillside and then below the Redwood Observation Deck before reaching the end of the Creek Trail at another junction with the Wildwood Trail.
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We turned left onto the Wildwood Trail following a pointer for the Pittock Mansion.
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From Johnson Creek the Wildwood Trail climbed for just over a quarter mile to W Burnside Road. Burnside is a busy street so it was time for our mad dash. Luckily at 6:40am on Saturday there wasn’t much traffic. I scampered across then two cars stopped for Heather & Dominique.
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There are plans to build a pedestrian bridge over the road as soon as 2019 which seems like a great idea.

From Burnside the trail climbed over 250′ in just over half a mile to NW Pittock Dr. A sign at the road indicated that a section of the Wildwood Trail beyond was closed due to an active landslide, but it was time for us to leave the trail here anyway.
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We turned right and followed the road uphill to the Pittock Mansion.
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We followed a flower lined path to the right past the Gate Lodge.
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The path continued beyond the gate house wrapping around the mansion to a viewpoint at the end of a lawn.
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The viewpoint overlooks the city of Portland and on a clear day (which this had been forecasted to be) the view would include Mt. Hood.
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The 16,000 square foot mansion was built in 1914 in the French Renaissance style.
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Self-guided and guided tours are available for the mansion but we were far too early for those and will have to save them for another visit.

A second viewpoint to the north looks across the Columbia River to what would have been, on a clear day, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams in Washington.
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After wandering through the grounds we returned the way we’d come. After another successful crossing of Burnside we arrived back at the junction with the Creek Trail. Here we left our earlier route and kept to the Wildwood Trail which climbed uphill away from the creek past a junction with the Redwood Trail.
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We stuck to the Wildwood Trail and quickly came to the Redwood Observation Deck.
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We continued on from the deck climbing to a ridge where we crossed SW Fairview Blvd (again) then descended to a signed junction for the Japanese Garden.
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This is another place we’ve yet to get to but will someday. We stayed right the junction remaining on the Wildwood Trail as it passed above the garden which we could see below.
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The Wildwood Trail wrapped around the hillside past a junction for the Mac Trail to the Rose Garden and then an archery range.
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A section of the trail near the archery range had recently been reopened after being realigned.
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We wound up leaving the Wildwood Trail shortly after passing the archery ranger when we took a left onto the Maple Trail then a right on the Walnut Trail and finally following the Ash Trail from a three way junction of the Maple, Walnut & Ash Trails back to Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
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After a brief stop at our car to grab a snack it was time to head to Council Crest so we returned to the memorial entrance where we turned left onto an unmarked path.
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This path quickly joined the Marquam Trail which we followed south behind the World Forestry Center.
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We were hoping the clouds would burn off as the morning progressed but one look toward Council Crest let us know that that was probably wishful thinking.
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The Marquam Trail descended to SW Canyon Rd where we once again had to dash across a road to a freeway bridge which followed over Highway 26. On the far side of the bridge we dashed across the highway on ramp then followed the shoulder downhill to a continuation of the trail.
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This was one of the strangest maneuvers that we could remember doing on a trail. From the on ramp the Marquam Trail climbed through a nice but noisy forest for a about .6 miles to SW Patton Road. Here the route followed the shoulder of the road right to an intersection. We followed the crosswalk stripes across SW Humphrey Blvd then left across Patton onto SW Talbot Rd.
IMG_3267 View back to the intersection from SW Talbot Rd

We followed the shoulder of Talbot Rd for approximately a tenth of a mile to another intersection.
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Here we crossed SW Fairmount Blvd and got back onto a proper trail.
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We stuck to the paved path as it wound around the hillside and up to Council Crest, the highest point in Portland at 1073′.
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Not only had the clouds not burned off, they were low enough that we were practically in them. On a clearer day the mountains from Mt. Rainier to Mt. Jefferson would have been visible but instead we had a nice view of a green water tower.
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The views from Council Crest would have to wait for another time. Not only was there no view but the moisture from the clouds made it a little chilly up there. We headed back returning to our car to change and grab our zoo tickets. The hike to Pittock Mansion and back had been just under 6 miles and the out-and-back to Council Crest 3.5 miles. The early start and a crisp pace had gotten us back to the car at 9:45am leaving us more than enough time to enjoy the zoo.
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We spent about 4 hours wandering around there which isn’t really a hike so I wont get into the details here but many of the animals were out and about and it wasn’t long before the clouds did in fact burn off. As we left the zoo a glance up at Council Crest said it would have been a different view up there in the afternoon.
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Happy Trails!

Flickr: Pittock Mansion & Council Crest
Oregon Zoo

Throwback Thursday – Twin Pillars

The subject of the this weeks Throwback Thursday is our first hike in the Ochoco Mountains. On 7/31/2012 we planned on visiting the Twin Pillars in the Mill Creek Wilderness. There were two fires in the Mill Creek Wilderness in 2017, the Belknap and Desolation Fires but it doesn’t look like either burned over the route we took on this visit.

We started at the Twin Pillars South Trailhead located near Wildcat Campground. The trailhead can be reached by driving Highway 26 9.2 miles east of Prineville and turning left on Mill Creek Road for 10.6 miles to the entrance of Wildcat Campground. We parked at a large gravel parking area 200 yards after turning into the campground area.Twin Pillars Trailhead

We followed a short path into the campground opting not to ford Mill Creek at a horse crossing. After walking to the far end of the campground we came to a gate and the start of the Twin Pillars Trail.Twin Pillars Trailhead

The trail almost immediately entered the Mill Creek Wilderness.Mill Creek Wilderness sign

The trail followed Mill Creek through a forest with ponderosa pines and a few remaining wildflowers.Mill Creek Wilderness

Mill Creek

Lewis Mock Orange

Twin Pillars Trail

The official trail fords the creek 7 times in the first 2 miles but often cattle trails existed on both sides of the creek making many of the fords unnecessary. Low summer water levels allowed us to stay dry on the crossings we did do.Twin Pillars Trail

Beyond the 7th ford the trail entered scars of a wildfire that swept through the wilderness in 2000.Mill Creek along the Twin Pillars Trail

Twin Pillars Trail

Here we ran into some of the cattle responsible for the unofficial paths.Cows along Mill Creek

We played a frustrating game of follow the leader with them as they would move up the trail ahead of us leaving “land mines” along the way. Eventually they would stop and move off the trail but as we approached they would once again hop on the trail in front of us and repeat the game. We lost them somewhere around the 2.9 mile mark where the Belknap Trail joined from the east. Just beyond this junction we crossed Mill Creek for the final time as the trail veered away from Mill Creek and headed uphill toward the now visible Twin Pillars.Twin Pillars

Twin Pillars

Due to the majority of trees having been lost to the fire in 2000 this section of trail was very exposed to the sun and therefore quite warm.Twin Pillars Trail

The trail crossed Brogan Creek as it continued to climb uphill.Unnamed creek along the Twin Pillars Trail

There were more cows off in the brush along this section but they stayed off the trail. We also spotted a pair of norther flickers and a Lewis’s woodpecker.Northern flickers

Lewis's Woodpecker

The trail continued to get closer to the Twin Pillars and began to wind around the rock formation.Twin Pillars

Twin Pillars

We were looking for a side trail to the base of the pillars which we expected to find around 2.5 miles from the Belknap Trail junction. We didn’t notice anything as we continued around the pillars and we soon found ourselves behind the rocks where the trail veered away from them toward the Twin Pillars North Trailhead on Forest Road 27. That trailhead offers a shorter hike to Twin Pillars (5.2 miles RT) but a worse drive.Twin Pillars

The view from this spot included Mt. Bachelor and the South Sister as well as the rhyolite ash Steins Pillar (post).View from Twin Pillars

Mt. Bachelor

Mt. Bachelor

South Sister

South Sister

View from the Twin Pillars Trail

Steins Pillar

Steins Pillar

We decided to bushwack to the base of the rocks as best we could and then worked our way around to the south a bit.Twin Pillars

We couldn’t tell whether we were on a path or not but we followed whatever it was as best we could down away from the pillars toward the trail. As luck would have it we popped out onto the trail right by a snag that had a burnt trail sign attached to it.Burtn sign for the spur trail to Twin Pillars

It seems we had stumbled onto the side trail after all. We returned the way we’d come even playing another round of follow the cattle. We’re planning on redoing this hike at some point in late Spring or early Summer in hopes of catching more flowers and avoiding some of the heat. Until then the cows will just have to play their games with other hikers. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Twin Pillars

Lawler Trail to Patterson Mountain

For our first hike in May we headed east of Eugene, OR on Highway 58 to the Lawler Trail. The 5.5 mile trail gains over 2700′ to the Lone Wolf/Patterson Mountain Trail. Our plan was to start at the Lawler Trailhead.

The forest service website mentioned a slide about .75 miles from the trailhead and that turning around was difficult for passenger cars so we were expecting some interesting driving conditions. We turned off of Highway 58 onto Patterson Mountain Road (Forest Service Road 5840) and then left onto FS Road 531 after a short climb uphill. Not long after turning onto this road we passed a trail and hiker sign on the right. As we passed a second signed trail just east of Duval Creek, there was also space for a couple of vehicles. These were part of the Lawler Extension Trail that extends between the Lawler Trailhead and the Eula Ridge Trailhead. None of these possible starting points were options for us since they would have required over 20 miles of hiking (nearly 25 round trip from the Eula Ridge TH).

Just beyond the trail at Duval Creek we came upon a small tree across Road 531. We carry a small saw and ax with us just in case we need to do some clearing and I thought I was finally going to get to us them, but it turned out that the tree was not stuck in the ground and it was small enough that I was able to drag it off to the side so we could continue. After a little over 2 miles on Road 531 we veered uphill to the right on Road 535. This was the road with the slide and it was narrow. We were driving slowly looking for the slide when we arrived at a small turnaround and a hiker sign.IMG_2845

We still aren’t sure if the slide had been cleared or if the note about the slide was old and this spot was actually the site of it. It clearly wasn’t the original trailhead because we had to walk up the old road bed to reach the start of the actual trail. We came upon some wood that had been laid across the road marking the location of the Lawler Extension Trail coming up from below.IMG_2848

Instead of being .75 miles from the trailhead we arrived at then end of the old road bed and the start of the trail in just over .25 miles.IMG_2852

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We turned onto the trail which quickly began to climb into the forest.IMG_2855

A first series of switchbacks passed beneath some large rock outcroppings.IMG_2864

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After getting past the rocks the trail swung back around climbing above them to another series of switchbacks. Along the way the forest was dotted with white trillium.IMG_2875

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We also spotted a green frog.IMG_2884

After approximately 1.75 miles we gained a ridge. Soon we came to a grassy viewpoint amid manzanita bushes and fawn lilies.IMG_2895

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The trail followed the ridge through shifting forests and past more early wildflowers.IMG_2904

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A quarter mile from the viewpoint the trail dropped to a saddle before climbing back up to another viewpoint .7 miles from the first. The view from the previous viewpoint was to the NE while this one looked west.IMG_2932

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Patterson Mountain in the upper left hand corner and Hardesty Mountain on the right.

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Lookout Point Reservoir

There was a nice madrone tree at the western end of the grassy opening.IMG_2941

After taking in the view we continued along the ridge passing a cool rock pinnacle.IMG_2943

Beyond the pinnacle the trail dropped to another saddle and the first of three road crossings.IMG_2951

Road 213 was clearly no longer in use but there was a nice red flowering current at the junction.IMG_2952

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The Lawler Trail climbed from the saddle into a small section of forest that had experienced a burn at some point. It was either a small forest fire or possibly from a burnout operation during the Deception Fire of 2014.IMG_2956

Beyond the burn area we began to encounter some minor blowdown which was all manageable.IMG_2960

An eighth of a mile after crossing Road 213 we arrived at another decommissioned road, FS 542.IMG_2961

Another .3 miles of climbing brought us to the third road crossing, FS 543, which appeared to still be in use.IMG_2968

Between these two crossing we passed one of the oddest looking trees we’ve seen. As we approached it looked as if its trunk was shaped in a loop.IMG_2965

Looking at if from the other side showed that it wasn’t quite a loop but it had grown in some interesting directions.IMG_2964

The trail continued climbing beyond FS 543 and we began running into small patches of snow and more blowdown.

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A little over a half mile beyond the road we gained another ridge and headed up it. The ridge provided some views of several Cascade snow peaks.IMG_3000

North & Middle Sister

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South Sister

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Broken Top

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Mt. Bachelor

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Diamond Peak

We continued along the ridge which became broader, more forested, and snowy to the signed junction of the Lawler and Lone Wolf/Patterson Mountain Trails.IMG_3010

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We turned right at the junction passing between a large snow patch and the skunk cabbage filled southern end of the Lone Wolf Meadow.IMG_3019

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This trail took us along the Lone Wolf Meadow for half a mile to another junction. The hellebore was just beginning to come up in the meadow which was apparently full of frogs. We never saw any but boy could we hear them.IMG_3027

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At the junction we turned right to visit the Lone Wolf Shelter.IMG_3032

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We took a break at the shelter listening to the chorus of frogs mix with the sounds of stream flowing from the meadow and the various birds calling from the trees.IMG_3044

After our relaxing rest at the shelter we continued on toward the summit of Patterson Mountain. The trail passed above another meadow that was full of more yellow skunk cabbage.IMG_3048

After passing the forested summit of Patterson Mountain the trail dropped slightly to a saddle with a small meadow.IMG_3057

Here a few yellow glacier lilies mixed with purple snow queen and some small white flowers.IMG_3062

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A final quarter mile of hiking brought us to the end of the trail and a bench at a rocky viewpoint.IMG_3065

From here views extended west past Hardesty Mountain and Lookout Point Reservoir to the Willamette Valley.IMG_3081

The Three Sisters and Broken Top could be seen to the NE.IMG_3070

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We sat on the bench for a bit. The only sounds were of the occasional bird and it was wonderfully peaceful. We pulled ourselves away at 11:45 and started back. We had only seen a couple of mountain bikers up to that point but as we made our way back to the shelter we began to see a few more people. We passed a couple of families who had started from the Lone Wolf/Patterson Trailhead which allowed for a kid friendly 5 mile round trip to the bench viewpoint.

Once we were back on the Lawler Trail we passed some equestrians on their way up and were passed by a handful of mountain bikers on their way down. Some of the wildflowers had opened up as the day moved on adding some sights to the decent that we had not seen earlier.20180505_114836

Toothwort

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Sour grass

The insects were a little more active as well.IMG_3120

As we were finishing our hike along the old road bed I spotted a little garter snake curled up by the trail.IMG_3138

We were still the only car parked on Road 535 which was good because we had been slightly concerned about getting penned in if more people parked there. As we drove out it appeared that the equestrians had parked at Duval Creek and the Mountain Bikers had likely either parked at the Eula or Hardesty Trailheads.

The hike was on the longer side coming in a little over 16 miles and had a cumulative elevation gain over 3000′ putting it squarely in the difficult category, but it had been worth the effort. The various viewpoints helped provide breaks along the way and in the end we encountered less than 20 other people. While the shorter option of starting at the Lone Wolf/Patterson Trailhead is surely the choice of most hikers this longer option would be a great training hike for those seeking one. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Patterson Mountain

Throwback Thursday – Metolius River

Throwback Thursday is dedicated this week to one of the best wildlife hikes we’ve taken. On July 29th, 2012 on the way to Central Oregon we stopped at the Lower Canyon Creek Campground along the Metolius River. We parked at the West Metolius Trailhead at the far end of the campground.

West Metolius River Trailhead

An interesting thing here was the presence of a parking attendant.

Golden mantled ground squirrel

The trail begins along the banks of the Metolius River and stick close to it for the first 1.25 miles.

Metolius River

Just over a quarter mile from the trailhead a series of springs gushed from the far bank of the river.

Springs along the Metolius River

Springs along the Metolius River

Wildflowers grew along the bank and sometimes out in the river.

Metolius River

Scarlet gilia

Monkshod and hedge-nettle

Wildflowers along the Metolius River

Monkeyflower

Near the 1.25 mile mark the trail climbed away from the river just a bit as it wound through a steep canyon.

Metolius River

Soon we were back down along the riverbank though.

Metolius River

At the 2.7 mile mark we arrived at the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery. Driving here is an option and can be a fun place for kids to watch and even feed the fish.

Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery

Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery

Fish at Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery

The hatchery apparently has other fans as well.

Bald Eagles

Bald Eagles

For a shorter 5.7 mile hike we could have turned around here and headed back but a 6.4 mile loop could be completed by continuing on from the fish hatchery to a bridge at the Lower Bridge Campground so after looking at all the fish we continued on. In the 3.2 miles to the bridge we spotted a variety of wildlife.

Robin

Robin

Yellow rumped warbler

Yellow rumped warbler

Western fence lizard

Western fence lizard

Douglas squirrel

Douglas squirrel

Deer in a meadow along the West Metolius Trail

Doe

Lorquin's admiral butterfly

Lorquin’s admiral

Mylitta crescent butterfly

Mylitta crescent? butterfly

western fence lizard

Another western fence lizard

Coronis fritillary

Fritillary butterfly

Osprey

Osprey

We crossed the Metolius on the bridge and headed back along the eastern bank.

Metolius River

East Metolius Trail

The 3.2 miles back to the bridge at the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery also had its share of wildlife.

Junco

Junco

Chipmunk

Chipmunk

Silver-spotted skipper on lewis flax

Silver-spotted skipper

Golden mantled ground squirrel

Golden-mantled ground squirrel

Chipmunk

Another chipmunk

Golden mantled ground squirrel

Another ground squirrel

Western tanager

Western tanager

The bridge to the hatchery offers a great view of Wizard Falls. Not exactly a waterfall, Wizard Falls is created by ledges in the lava rock below the river creating a colorful water feature.

Wizard Falls

Wizard Falls

After crossing the bridge we returned to the trailhead and headed to Sisters. This was a great hike for not a lot of effort. There was very little elevation gain making the 11.8 miles very manageable. Another nice aspect to this trail is that it is open most of the year (other than during winter storms). Happy Trails!

Flickr: Metolius River

Memaloose Hills & Wygant Viewpoint

We officially kicked off our 2018 hiking season with a pair of hikes toward the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge. We started our day off by driving east of Mosier on I84 and parking at the Memaloose Rest Area. At the western end of the rest area a gated service road serves as the trailhead.
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We followed the forested old road uphill past some old structures.
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IMG_2448Arnica

20180428_070754Fairy slippers

As we climbed the forest began to give way to an oak grassland.
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The old road passed by the Memaloose Pinnacles, a group of basalt towers.
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Just over a half mile from the rest area the trail left the old road. Here a small viewpoint looked across the Columbia River to the Coyote Wall/Catherine Creek (2016 trip report) areas of Washington.
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We turned uphill to the left climbing up toward the Memaloose Overlook.
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Our pace was slowed as we searched the grassland for different wildflowers. It felt good to get reacquainted with our old friends some of which we hadn’t seen in quite some time.
20180428_072117Paintbrush

20180428_072134Desert parsley

20180428_071825Larkspur

20180428_072234Vetch

20180428_072416Lupine

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20180428_072846Shooting star

20180428_072906Manroot

We arrived at the overlook a mere .8 miles from the rest area.
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The overlook is along Highway 30 which makes it a possible alternate trailhead.

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There was a large patch of fiddleneck near the overlook.
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After admiring the view from the overlook we crossed the highway and continued uphill.
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The flower show not only continued but it picked up as we climbed.
IMG_2543Prairie star

IMG_2548Balsamroot

Even some of the seed heads were photogenic.
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The forecast had called for a chance of showers but the showers weren’t materializing and instead we got some nice sun breaks.
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With all the flowers we had been discussing there were some we had yet to spot. One such flower was the chocolate lily which we suddenly began seeing with some frequency.
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The star of the hike though was the balsamroot which was thick in areas.
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The trail crossed a small stream which we hopped across.
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Not far from the stream crossing was a four-way junction. The right hand path would have eventually led to the top of 957′ Chatfield Hill which on a clearer day would have offered views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood along with wildflower meadows. The left hand path would have led to nowhere in particular. We went straight and headed up 822′ Marsh Hill.
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As we began our climb a pair of hawks flew overhead engaged in an aerial duel. I did my best to capture some of it but it’s not easy with a point and shoot camera.
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Much of Marsh Hill was covered in yellow balsamroot with purple lupine and white large-flowerd triteleia scattered about.
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From the hill we could make out part of Mt. Hood to the south through the clouds.
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To the east the grassy southern slope of Tom McCall Point (2015 trip report) was easy to identify.
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The green hillsides of the Washington side of the gorge rose above the blue waters of the Columbia River to the north.
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To the west was nearby Chatfield Hill.
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We stuck around on the summit for awhile hoping that there would be enough of a break in the clouds for Mt. Hood to pop out but it soon became clear that wasn’t going to happen. We decided to save Chatfield Hill for another year given the clouds weren’t going to let the mountains come out and play. We returned the way we’d come. We only saw a few other hikers, no rattlesnakes (they are prevalent here), didn’t notice any ticks, and stayed out of the poison oak.In addition to the dueling hawks we did see countless smaller birds.
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This first hike came in just under 4 miles which is why we’d had a second stop planned. That next stop was at the Mitchell Point Trailhead. The order in which we chose to do these hikes proved inconvenient from a driving perspective as both trailheads are only accessible by eastbound traffic on I84. In addition neither trailhead provides access to westbound I84 so in order to reach the Mitchell Point Trailhead from the rest area we headed east on the interstate to the Rowena exit (76) where we could get back onto the interstate headed west. We then had to drive by Mitchell Point to the Viento State Park exit (56) where we again exited the interstate only to immediately return heading in the other direction. After driving up and down I84 we arrived at the trailhead right around 10am.
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There are a couple of trails that start from the Mitchell Point Trailhead. The Mitchell Point Trail climbs to the top of Mitchell Point in just over a mile and the Wygant Trail which leads to the top of Wygant Peak. Our trail for this visit was the Wygant Trail although our goal was not the view-less peak itself which is 4.2 miles from the trailhead. We were headed for the last good viewpoint along the trail which was only approximately 3 miles up the trail.

The Wygant Trail is located to the west of the parking area and begins along an abandoned section of the Historic Columbia River Highway.
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We followed an old road bed for a quarter mile then followed a trail sign when the road veered left.
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We soon rejoined the road for another half mile before turning left at another sign.
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The Trailkeepers of Oregon have been working on this trail which was one of the earlier trails to reopen after the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. The fire didn’t reach this particular trail but it had been closed none the less. A work party from TKO had been out the day before working on the trail and their efforts did not go unnoticed.
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There is a lot of poison oak along the majority of the trial so a big thank you to the volunteers that have been clearing the brush. The difference between the sections that they had worked and those that had not was huge.

After a mile we spotted a sign for the abandoned Chetwoot Loop to the left of the trail.
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Soon after the sign for the Chetwoot Loop we arrived a ridge above Perham Creek.
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We chose not to follow the viewpoint sign here due to the amount of poison oak seemingly lining the trail in that direction so we turned left and headed down to Perham Creek. A footbridge had spanned the creek up until 2016 when a slide washed it out.
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Interestingly it didn’t appear that it was the creek that did the bridge in but rather a slide down a small gully on the east side of the creek.
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A decent sized log served as an adequate replacement for the bridge allowing us to cross dry footed.
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The trail then climbed away from the creek, at times fairly steeply. As we passed through a brushy clearing we spotted a spotted towhee.
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We continued on watching closely for the ever present poison oak arriving at a lower viewpoint after a little over a mile and a half. Here we had a nice view of Mitchell Point to the east.
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Despite this not being a wildflower hike like our previous stop there were some flowers present, including varieties we hadn’t see in the Memaloose Hills.
IMG_2783Vanilla Leaf

IMG_2784Valerian

IMG_2787Ballhead waterleaf

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At the 2.5 mile mark a side trail led to a middle viewpoint.
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IMG_2803Dog Mountain

This viewpoint was covered in pink plectritis.
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Just uphill from this viewpoint we passed the upper junction with the Chetwoot Loop Trail.
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From the junction it was just another .6 miles to our goal at the upper viewpoint. It was pretty good climb during which we passed the only other hiker we’d see on this trail. This section of trail had not been cleared yet and was somewhat crowded by the poison oak. I also had picked up a couple ticks which were flicked off. The good news was another TKO work party was planned for the following Friday.
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The upper viewpoint had a nice view west down the Columbia River and of Wind and Dog Mountain (2016 trip report) on the Washington side of the gorge.
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We were a bit surprised to see what appeared to be a grass widow blooming at the viewpoint.
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There was also a couple of clumps of phlox present.
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We headed back down to the trailhead dodging the poison oak and keeping an eye out for any more ticks (one did manage to make it all they back home with us before being apprehended). We had briefly considered doing the Mitchell Point Trail before we’d started on the Wygant Trail but that idea had completely left the building by the time we arrived back at the trailhead.
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We have plans for that trail at a future date. We did however walk over to the Mitchell Point Overlook before heading home where the forested top of Wygant Peak could be seen to the west.
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It was a nice way to start our season. A total of 10.2 miles hiked with a decent, but not insane, amount of climbing to get us started. The views and the wildflowers had been good and aside from a couple of sprinkles while on the Wygant Trail the weather had exceeded our expectations. The difference in the terrain and vegetation between these two hikes was also enjoyable given that they are less than miles apart as the crow flies. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Memaloose Hills & Wygant Viewpoint

Throwback Thursday – Cape Mountain

This week we are throwing back to an 8 mile loop we hiked at Cape Mountain north of Florence on Labor Day weekend in 2011. This hike appealed to us for two reasons at the time, it was in the 6 to 10 mile range and it was a loop. Another draw was the possibility of seeing an elk for the first time on a hike.

We began our hike at the Dry Lake Horse Camp located 3 miles off of Highway 101 along Herman Cape Road which is 7 miles north of Florence. From the trailhead we set off on the Princess Tasha Trail.

Princess Tasha Trail

After .4 miles we came to a 4-way junction. Here we took a right onto the Scurvey Ridge Trail. After another .4 miles we came to a viewpoint with a bench.

View from Scurvy Ridge

We followed the ridge for another mile where we arrived at a replica of a hitsi, Siuslaw Indian hunting cabin.

A hitsi which was an Indian hunting shelter

Informationa sign near the shelter

A short distance from the hitsi we arrived at another junction near the Horse Creek Campground

We kept left at junctions following pointers for “Horse Water” for a quarter mile to the Berry Creek Trail. We turned left onto the Berry Creek Trail and followed this trail a total of 2.2 miles. It began on an old roadbed but quickly left that and switchbacked down to Berry Creek.

Berry Creek

After rock hopping across the creek the trail a short distance to another 4-way junction. We left the Berry Creek Trail here turning right on the Nelson Ridge Trail which gently climbed uphill to the ridge crest.

Nelson Ridge Trail

On top of the ridge is a meadow that the Forest Service created in an attempt to simulate the elk friendly habitat that the Native Americans created by setting fires.

Nelson Ridge Trail

Interpretive sign on Cape Mountain

Unfortunately we didn’t see any elk on this day but we took a seat on a bench and enjoyed a somewhat limited view due to low clouds.

View from the meadow on Cape Mountain

View from the Nelson Ridge Trail

After passing through the meadow we kept right at junctions for 1.8 miles back to our car, stopping briefly to take a look at Dry Lake.

Dry Lake

We were done early enough in the day that we decided to drive up Highway 101 three miles to the Sea Lion Caves. While it isn’t exactly a hike the cave tour does require walking along a path to viewpoints and is a worthwhile stop.

Pacific Ocean on the way to the Sea Lion Caves

Inside the cave sea lions lounged on the rocks.

Sea Lions in Sea Lion Cave

Windows in the cave walls also allow a look outside to seabirds on the rocky cliffs.

Pacific Ocean from the Sea Lion Caves

Pelicans

While driving home we spotted a herd of elk grazing in a field on a farm. It figured. It would be another 55 hikes (2 years) before we finally saw elk during a hike. Never the less it had been another nice hike at the coast. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Cape Mountain