North Fork John Day River

A day after a cold, wet hike in the North Fork John Day Wilderness by Olive Lake we were headed back to that wilderness for another go around. We had decided to hike the North Fork John Day River on Tuesday because it was the lowest elevation hike we had lined up for the week and Tuesday was supposed to be the coldest day of the week.

We waited until 7am to leave Sumpter hoping that the slightly later than normal start would allow time for any potential snow on the roads to clear, especially over the 5860′ Blue Springs Summit between Granite and Sumpter. Ironically there was only a few patches of snow along the road at the summit but 15 miles further north the trees were flocked and snow was falling steadily at the 5500′ Crane Creek Trailhead. There was a good chance we would passing by this trailhead on our hike if everything went according to plan.

Our starting point for the day was another 2.5 miles away at the North Fork John Day Trailhead.

This trailhead is located at the North Fork John Day Campground at the junction of roads 73 and 52. At an elevation of 5200′ the trailhead was low enough that there was no snow and only a light rain was falling as we set off on the trail.
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We crossed Trail Creek on a log then passed through a section of forest before arriving alongside the North Fork John Day River.
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Soon we entered the North Fork John Day Wilderness.
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Just two weeks before we’d spent Labor Day weekend backpacking on Mt. Adams (Day 1 and Days 2 & 3) in 80 degree temperatures and we’d just driven through snowy winter landscape but along the river was the first time this year that it had felt unmistakably like Fall.
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We passed several mining ruins before arriving at the “Bigfoot Hilton” at the 2.6 mile mark.
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We hopped across Trout Creek just beyond the Bigfoot Hilton and continued further into the wilderness occasionally being startled by grouse.
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Four miles from the Bigfoot Hilton we came to a junction with the Crane Creek Trail.
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Here we turned left for .2 miles down to the North Fork John Day River.
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After talking with a group of bow hunters camped near by we faced a choice, go back the way we’d come or ford the river and continue on a loop. It would have been a little shorter to go back the way we’d come but the prospect of a loop was too appealing, besides we were already wet so staying dry wasn’t an option.
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The calf deep water was reasonably warm all things considered which was a nice surprise. On the far side we met a couple of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employees on their way to do a three day Chinook salmon survey. We wished them luck with the weather before continuing on our respective ways.

The Crane Creek Trail was much more overgrown than the North Fork John Day Trail but it was relatively free of blowdown.
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The trail climbed steadily for 4.1 miles to the Crane Creek Trailhead, the last portion passing through the meadows of Crane Flats where we found most of the snow had melted.
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At the Crane Creek Trailhead we picked up the North Crane Trail which would lead us back to the North Fork John Day Trailhead.
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Remnants of the morning snow remained along this 2.6 mile trail as it passed through alternating meadows and forest.
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We had been expecting to have to ford the river again to get back to the trailhead but ended up taking a right at some point when the actual trail veered left and popped out onto Road 73 just before the river a quarter mile from our car. We crossed the river on the road and walked through the campground to our car.
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It was a much warmer hike than we had been expecting and a really enjoyable 14 mile loop. We would be heading back to the same area the next day for another hike at a higher elevation but for now it was time to head back to Sumpter and get cleaned up. Happy Trails!

Flickr: North Fork John Day River

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Olive Lake

With the forecast calling for the possibility of snow at higher elevations from Monday through Friday of our vacation we were keeping a close eye on forecasts to help choose when to do each of the hikes we’d planned on. The really cold air wasn’t due to hit until about 11am Monday morning so we decided to do our planned loop past Olive Lake first knowing that the high point of the loop was at an elevation over 7400′ in the Greenhorn Mountains. We hoped that by starting early we could stay ahead of any snow that might fall so with that in mind we got an early start and arrived at the Lost Creek Trailhead just before 7am.

The trailhead is located 11.5 miles west of Granite along Road 10. Along the way to the trailhead the road passes the historic Fremont Powerhouse.
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Our plan for the hike was to start on the Lost Creek Trail then take the Saddle Camp Trail to Olive Lake then continue up to Saddle Camp and take the Blue Mountain Trail SE to the Lost Creek Trail and take that back down to the trailhead. We set off on the trail and in .2 miles came to the remains of a redwood pipeline that supplied water from Olive Lake and Lost Creek to the Fremont Powerhouse.
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We got distracted by the pipeline and missed the right turn onto the Saddle Camp Trail. We’d gone almost a quarter mile past the junction when we caught our mistake. Shortly after passing a North Fork John Day Wilderness sign we realized we’d missed it since our map showed the junction prior to the wilderness boundary.
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This was our first time in this particular wilderness checking one more Oregon Wilderness off our “need to visit” list.

We turned around and headed back the way we’d come. The Saddle Camp Trail was marked with a sign that was much easier to spot from this direction.
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We followed this trail through the forest for a mile and a half to another junction.
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Here we turned right and headed downhill for .2 miles to the Olive Lake Campground.
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It is possible to drive to the campground and there is a 1.9 mile trail around the lake which we decided not to take on this day due to the presence of low clouds and wanting to get up and down as early as possible. We did however visit the lake shore.
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After checking out Olive Lake we returned to the junction and continued uphill on the Saddle Camp Trail. After .7 miles we crossed Lake Creek near Upper Reservoir, a large marshy meadow.
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In the next 2 miles the trail passed along the meadow before climbing 600′ to Saddle Camp and a junction with the Blue Mountain Trail.
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A light rain had fallen off and on and now at the saddle we were in the clouds so it was damp. Luckily we had our rain gear on and stayed relatively dry as we traversed along Saddle Ridge. It was a bit of a shame about the clouds because the open ridge would have provided some excellent views along the way.
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It was close to 10:30am when we spotted a cairn apparently marking the high point of the ridge. A few small snowflakes greeted us as we approached.
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The wind had kicked up as well and it was getting cold fast as we passed the cairn.
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As we began to descend to a junction at Dupratt Springs Pass the snow began to accumulate.
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We had to hunt around just a bit to find the Lost Creek Trail sign at the pass but Heather located it and we headed downhill past a large cairn.
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I don’t have a pair of waterproof boots/shoes and this was one of the rare times that I wish I had some and will probably be picking up a pair in the not too distant future. Both my feet and hands (due to taking pictures and not wearing my thicker waterproof gloves) were painfully cold as we entered the first of several meadows on our return route.
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We wound up losing the trail somewhere near the end of the meadow and had to do a little bit of back and forth using the GPS to locate the tread again which we did in another small meadow where we crossed Lost Creek.
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The trail wound up following an old roadbed before reaching the Lost Creek Trail junction at another saddle 2.3 miles from Dupratt Springs Pass.
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We’d dropped out of the snow and the air had warmed up enough that we were warming up some as we descended from the pass. It was just under three miles back to the trailhead from the junction. The trail passed through five meadows and crossed Lost Creek again before arriving back at the Saddle Camp Trail junction where we had turned that morning.
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We passed a couple of bow hunting camps near the meadows but didn’t see any hikers on the trails. We did spot one doe near one of the meadows but she bolted before my cold hands could retrieve the camera.

Overall it was a nice hike that would have been a lot better without the clouds (and frozen extremities). We returned to Sumpter wondering if the 5800′ pass on the road between Granite and Sumpter would wind up being an issue at any point during the week. After changing and warming up we drove into Baker City and picked up some food and supplies from Safeway. We were all set for the week, now we just needed the weather to cooperate. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Olive Lake

Blue Basin, Bates, and Sumpter

After a successful first hike and nice visit with Heather’s parents on the first day of our vacation we left Bend early Sunday morning and headed for Sumpter. To reach Sumpter from Bend we’d need to drive through Prineville and take Highway 26 through the Ochoco Mountains (where the Desolation Fire was burning) and John Day to Highway 7 at Austin Junction then follow that highway 25.2 miles to the Sumpter Valley Highway.

To break up the over 200 mile drive we planned a couple of short hikes along the way starting with Blue Basin in the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

This was our third visit to the monument having previously hiked in the Painted Hills and Clarno Units.

The Sheep Rock Unit is located approximately 30 miles east of Mitchell, OR. To reach the Blue Basin Trialhead we turned north on Highway 19 towards the Thomas Condon Visitors Center. It was too early for the center to be open but we stopped along the way to take in the view of Sheep Rock.
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After 5 miles on Highway 19 we turned left into the parking area for the Blue Basin Area.
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It was a beautiful morning with a few clouds in the sky providing for some dramatic views right off the bat.
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We chose to start our hike with the Blue Basin Overlook Trail.
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The path passed alongside a field where songbirds were happily enjoying their morning.
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It wasn’t long before we got our first good look at the exposed volcanic ash that gave the area its name.
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In the morning light the ash appeared more green than blue. The contrast between the ash and the golden grasses on the hillsides was beautiful.
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We were a bit surprised to see some yellow flowers still blooming as we wrapped around another scenic outcrop of ash.
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The trees were filled with birds as the trail climbed toward the rim.
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The trail climbed gradually for the most part for the first 1.2 miles and we were captivated by the formations created by the ash.
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The trail then began to climb in earnest passing a bench with an encouraging sign along the way.
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We were thankful that it was a cool morning as we couldn’t imagine attempting the hike on a hot summer day.

The trail became somewhat level once it reached the rim where the views were breathtaking.
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A short spur trail led to a bench at the overlook which had even more impressive views.
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After attempting to comprehend what we were seeing we continued on the loop which passes through some private land on the way to more spectacular views before descending to a bench at a trail junction.
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Here we turned right on the Island of Time Trail which led into the heart of Blue Basin.
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It was only .4 miles to the end of this trail but the scenery seemed endless. The various colors and textures were remarkable and numerous informative interpretive signs sat along the path.
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We sat at a bench at the end of the trail soaking in the view on what was a perfectly peaceful morning.
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All of the hikes in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument had been enjoyable but this 4.2 mile hike was by far the most impressive to us.

After returning to our car we drove back to Highway 26 and continued east. The air was once again hazy due to wildfire smoke making it hard for us to see much of the Strawberry Mountains as we passed by. After 66 miles we turned left onto Highway 7 for 1.1 miles then left again on Middle Fork Lane for .4 miles to Bates State Park.
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The park is located at the site of a former company lumber town. Bates Pond is all that is left from the town now. Several trails at the park gave us the opportunity to explore the area on a 2.6 mile hike starting on the Pond Trail which began on a road bed marked by a metal post.
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The trail followed the road along Bates Pond where numerous ducks paddled about.
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We crossed Bridge Creek on a footbridge at the far end of the pond and continued around the pond.
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We startled a heron that flew ahead of us into a tree before taking off again across the pond to another tree.
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When the Bates Pond Trail ended at the Bridge Creek Trail we stayed straight following Bridge Creek and ignoring side trails and the nosy residents.
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Just before arriving at a gate we turned uphill to the left onto the Meadow Trail.
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After a short climb the trail leveled off then came to an end at the Dixie Trail where we stayed right.
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From this trail there was a view of the pond and to some buttes to the east.
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Along the way we met one of the cutest ground squirrel we’d ever seen.
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The Dixie Trail descended to the Bridge Creek Trail near the footbridge at the end of the pond and we simply followed the Bates Pond Trail back to our car.
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It was only a quarter after twelve when we’d finished and our check-in time was 2:30 in Sumpter which was only about a half an hour away. We still had one short hike left in Sumpter which would be good for about an hour which would have leave us a little early. We solved that issue by turning the wrong way (left) when leaving Bates. We only realized our mistake after driving over 16 miles which should have brought us to the ghost town of Whitney but didn’t.

After correcting our mistake we drove back to Highway 7 and headed east for 25 miles to a sign for Sumpter where we turned left for 3 miles. We turned left into the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area.
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Here a 1240-ton dredge used to scoop up river gravel and filter out gold dust sits amid tailings left in its wake. The site is also home to the Sumpter Valley Railroad which hauled timber to Bates and Prairie City. We parked near the visitors center by the dredge.
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We started our visit by exploring the dredge.
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Next we took the South Trail for .4 miles through ponds amid the tailings to the Powder River.
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We turned left onto the .3 mile McCulley Creek Trail which was flooded near its end by some nifty beaver work.
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We returned to the South Trail and finished the loop which ended at a machinery yard near the dredge.
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We walked left around the dredge and picked up the North Trail which traveled along Cracker Creek.
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We had been hoping to see a beaver but knew the chances of that during the day were slim so we settled for a quail.
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We turned left at a Ridge Trail sign and followed this path to the Railroad Station.
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From the station we crossed the parks entrance road and took the Walking Trail back to the dredge.
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As it turned out our motel was right across the street from the park. We had originally planned to stay at the Granite Lodge in Granite but that establishment appeared to be for sale from what we could tell, so Heather started looking for a place in Sumpter. There were a couple of choices but we picked the Sumpter Stockade due to the themed rooms looking fun. It turned out that this motel had just changed owners and the previous owners hadn’t stayed open past Labor Day. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there and the new owners were great!
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We were given the Civil War Room.
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After dropping off our stuff we decided to try out a hand dipped corn dog stand we’d seen on the next block. That turned out to be a great decision as both the corn dogs and cheese sticks from Cajun Concessions were excellent! It was a satisfying end to another great day of hiking.

It looked like things were going to start getting interesting the next day as the system from the Gulf of Alaska was supposed to begin arriving overnight and temperatures would start dropping around 11am on Monday with the snow level dropping as low as 5000′. We went to bed knowing there was a good chance we’d be hiking in snow by the end of the following day. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Blue Basin, Bates, and Sumpter

Paulina Lake via Ten Mile Sno-Park

The year of rearranging continued to present challenges as we prepared for our final week of vacation. Originally planned for mid-August we had rescheduled a planned trip to Steens Mountain due to work considerations. An unusually cold and wet weather system due to arrive from the Gulf of Alaska the first Sunday night of our vacation derailed those plans. In fact it ended any thoughts of attempting to backpack as the entire week called for rain or snow showers, depending on elevation, everywhere we looked. At the last minute we decided to dial up a group of hikes in the southern Blue Mountains near Sumpter, OR.

The disappointment of having to change our plans once again this year was tempered by the prospect of the wet weather helping to put out the numerous wildfires burning in the Pacific Northwest.

We had planned to stay in Bend on our way to Steens Mountain and visit Heather’s parents and it made sense to do the same on the way to Sumpter so the only hike planned for the week to survive the rearranging was a visit to Paulina Lake in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. This hike would allow us to fill in some blanks along both Paulina Creek and Paulina Lake left from two previous hikes. (Paulina Creek and Paulina Peak)

On our hike up Paulina Creek from the Peter Skene Ogden Trailhead we had turned around after approximately 5.5 miles at footbridge over Paulina Creek. After looking at some maps it appeared that this footbridge was near the Ten Mile Sno-Park. Our plan this time was to start at the sno-park and hike over to the bridge and take the Peter Skene Ogden Trail up past Paulina Falls to Paulina Lake, loop around the lake, then return down the creek for a total of about 14.5 miles.

The drive from Salem to Bend was extremely smokey but fortunately for us the conditions inside the Newberry Caldera were much better, just a general haze instead of the heavy smoke we’d passed through. After parking at the sno-park we decided to follow the Ponderosa Trail hoping it would take us to the footbridge.
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In hindsight we should have printed out a copy of a nordic trails map of the area especially given that they do not show up on the GPS map nor were they included in our guidebook’s map. The trail was easy enough to follow, there was a visible path as well as blue diamond markers on the trees to mark the way.
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We quickly realized we were heading up the creek away from the footbridge but we decided to just keep going since we knew from the trail sign that the Ponderosa Trail went to Paulina Lake. We could take this up to the lake then come down on the trail we’d intended to come up on after finishing the lake loop.

When we came to a snowmobile track (Road 500) we followed it right for about four tenths of a mile before veering left back onto the nordic trail towards the sound of Paulina Creek.
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Being a nordic trail the Ponderosa Trail had a good deal of blowdown but it was mostly lodgepole pine trees which we easily stepped over.
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The trail never approached the creek and offered almost no views of the water. A little over 2.5 miles from the sno-park we arrived at a signed trail to a viewpoint below Paulina Creek Falls.
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After visiting the lower viewpoint we continued on to the upper viewpoint which had been our turnaround point during our Paulina Peak hike.
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We headed upstream a little over a quarter mile to the start of the Paulina Lake Loop just after crossing the road to the Paulina Lake Lodge.
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We started around the lake in a counter-clockwise direction which was the same direction we’d gone during our Paulina Peak hike. We passed some familiar scenery including a small rocky peninsula and a marshy area filled with birds and a view of Paulina Peak.
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After 2.4 miles on the loop we arrived at the boat ramp near Little Crater Campground.
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On our previous visit we had taken the Silica Trail from the parking area here. This time we could either follow the paved road to the campground on the loop trial or we could climb up and over Little Crater, a cinder cone. Even though I had planned on taking the Little Crater Trail my 14.5 mile estimate had not taken into consideration that this route would add a little over a mile to the hike.
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The Little Crater Trail climbed up past an interesting rock outcrop to a junction.
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At the junction we went right passing around the crater and gaining increasingly impressive views of the Newberry Caldera.
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The first views were of the Big Obsidian Flow and Paulina Peak.
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Paulina Lake was soon visible to the west and East Lake came partially into view to the east behind the Central Pumice Cone.
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After passing over the summit the trail descended to another junction where we turned right following a pointer for Little Crater Campground.
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We picked up the loop trail just to the north of the campground.
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The next section of the loop trail had some nice, albeit hazy, views of Paulina Peak and the marina at the lodge way across the lake.
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The trail hugged the lake shore as it passed by the inter lake obsidian flow.
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Beyond the lava flow, and 1.2 miles from Little Crater Campground, we came to a side trail down to some hot springs along the lake shore.
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Our timing was good as two groups of hikers were just leaving as we arrived. We decided to take off our shoes and socks and soak our feet in one of the pools.
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The water was amazing. It was almost exactly the temperature of a nice hot bath even with a little water from the lake lapping in. We sat for a while enjoying the view (and a large dragonfly) before continuing on.
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We finally tore ourselves away from the hot springs and continued on. From the springs the trail climbed above the lake as it traversed a cinder hillside
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The trail then descended back near the lake shore to North Cove before entering a little thicker forest.
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We had seen been seeing hikers off and on all day and as we passed through the trees along this stretch I thought I spotted a little black dog along the side of the trail. Then a second small black animal emerged from the brush on the other side of the trail and I realized they weren’t small dogs they were little bear cubs! Heather spotted the second cub as I was simultaneously announcing bear and trying to get the camera ready. I once again failed to get a photo though as we were too busy talking loudly and trying to locate mama bear. We never did spot her but she had to be close by given how small the cubs were. We paused long enough to give the bears plenty of time to leave the area before continuing.

Approximately 2.2 miles from the hot springs we turned uphill following a trail sign and passed above the Paulina Lake Lodge before descending after a quarter mile to a junction with the Peter Skene Ogden Trail.
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We turned down this trail which passed another viewpoint of Paulina Creek Falls after a quarter mile.
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Unlike the Ponderosa Trail this trail offered many glimpses of Paulina Creek. Much like the lower section of the creek we had hiked along previously there were many small cascades to admire along the way.
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Three miles beyond the viewpoint we arrived at the footbridge we had been looking for that morning. A trail sign indicated that it was 1/8 mile to Road 500 and 3/4 to the sno-park.
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The view from the bridge upstream was now obscured by a fallen tree.
Paulina Creek

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We crossed the bridge and passed a view of the waterfall just downstream from it.
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We briefly followed Road 500 but then veered right onto what appeared to be a mountain bike trail
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We followed the mountain bike trail for half a mile before arriving at a dirt road which we recognized from that morning. We turned right on the road and followed it back to the sno-park which was only a tenth of a mile away.

The end result of the hike was a 15.8 mile loop on what turned out to be a very pleasant day. It was hard to imagine that the area would likely be seeing snow in the next 48-72 hours.

It was a great start to our vacation with lots of wildlife, decent views despite the haze, and a wonderful soak in the hot springs. We were anxious to see what the next 6 days of hiking would bring. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Paulina Lake

Seaside

Before leaving the coast we took one final hike on Tuesday morning. We stopped in Seaside parking at Elvin C. Goodman Park which is located on 12th just west of the Necanicum River.

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We walked west on 12th St. passing the Seaside Promenade and headed out onto the beach.

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It was a foggy morning and visibility was low so it took us a while to even spot the ocean as we angled to the right toward the mouth of the Necanicum River.

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After about a half mile on the beach we arrived at the river where we turned right and followed the bank inland.

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We climbed a low bluff near a sewage plant and followed a clear path to the left around the facility.

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We turned inland at 15th St. then took a left on N. Franklin St. When we came to 12th we detoured back to the park to change our shoes which were damp from the grasses along the river. With dry shoes on we went back to Franklin, turning left, and continued south to Broadway St. jogging right at 9th and 5th streets. The final block or so of Franklin is closed to cars.

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We turned west onto Broadway and followed it to its end at a turnaround with a statue of Lewis and Clark.

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We had actually walked this stretch on Broadway early on Saturday when we’d come into Seaside for dinner. There was a car show going on at the time and muscle cars and old hot rods had been cruising the street around the statue then.

From the turnaround we headed south on the Seaside Promenade.

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The paved promenade extends 1.5 miles from 12th Street to Avenue U. We passed hotels, vacation rentals and at the .6 mile mark a sign for the “Salt Works”.
We turned inland on Lewis and Clark Way following the Salt Works signs to a replica of the stone oven used to boil salt water for the Lewis and Clark expedition.

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After reading all the interpretive signs we returned to the promenade and continued south to its end at Avenue U.

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We turned around and headed north. The promenade was fairly busy with dog walkers, joggers, and a few bicyclists all making use of the paved path.

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The fog was stubborn this morning and really limited any views toward the ocean.

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We passed Broadway Street and continued north toward 12th St. passing the Seaside Aquarium along the way.

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We turned up 12th St. and returned to our car. Our distance for the morning was 5.7 miles which was perfect for a short hike before driving home. As we crossed the coast range we popped out of the clouds into bluer skies. Smoke on the horizon from the many wildfires reminded us of why we’d chosen the coast as our alternate vacation spot. It had been a good choice, nice hikes with plenty of wildlife and a lot of history thrown in. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Seaside

Long Beach, Cape Disappointment State Park, and Fort Columbia

For the third day of our 4 day mini-vacation we headed north into Washington for a series of hikes along the coast from Long Beach to the Columbia River. We decided to start with the northernmost hike and work our way south. Our first stop was at the north end of the 7.2 mile Discovery Trail located on North 26th St. in Long Beach.

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Normally when we have a 7.2 mile trail we would just hike the entire thing out and back and call it a day, but on this rare occasion we were going to follow Sullivan’s easy 3 hike description. From this trailhead we were simply following the trail for .3 miles to a replica of Clark’s Tree. The replica represents a tree where William Clark carved his name on a tree in November of 1805 to claim the territory for the U.S.

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We took a short sandy path from the tree to the foredune to take a look at the ocean before heading back.

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For our next hike we drove south to Sid Snyder St. where a .4 mile stretch of boardwalk parallels the paved Discovery Trail.

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Interpretive signs lined the boardwalk including one showing all of the shipwrecks that have occurred in the area.

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We returned via the paved Discovery Trail and once again hopped into the car and headed south. We left Long Beach and continued south on Highway 101 for 3 miles to the stoplight in Ilwaco where we turned right on Highway 100 and entered Cape Disappointment State Park.

We were originally headed for a signed parking lot for Beards Hollow 1.9 miles away. We needed a $10 Discovery Pass to park there but, when we turned right into the parking area we discovered that there was no self-pay station. We had passed a Beards Hollow Viewpoint about a mile before turning into the parking lot which didn’t require a pass so we drove back uphill to the viewpoint parking lot and started our hike from there.

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A trail led downhill from the viewpoint to the lower parking lot.

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At the lower parking lot we once again picked up the Discovery Trail.

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We followed the paved trail through a wetlands which is a result of the building of the Columbia River jetties.

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When the Discovery Trail made a sharp right near the ocean we took one of several sandy paths to the beach where we turned south and headed for North Head.

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The beach was quite but judging from the number of tire tracks and amount of garbage lying around it gets a lot busier in the evenings. Near the end of the beach we came upon some nice tide pools which we explored briefly before heading back.

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After hiking back up to the viewpoint we continued south on Highway 100 and turned right onto North Head Lighthouse Road. A Discovery Pass is required to park here as well but we spotted a self-pay station near some signboards so we parked and I went to pay.

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I don’t mind having to pay for the passes, but I do get annoyed by how hard it is to buy them sometimes. We had to drive a couple of miles further along Hwy 100 to the park entrance booth where we were finally able to purchase the required pass.

After returning to the North Head parking lot we headed for the North Head Lighthouse.

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A short .3 mile loop passes several buildings that used to house the lighthouse keepers, but are now vacation rentals, before continuing out the headland to the lighthouse which is currently undergoing rennovations.

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After completing the loop we turned right at a sign for the 1.5 mile North Head Trail.

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Our plan was to follow this trail out to McKenzie Head then take a short road walk past Oneil Lake and explore a few more trails in the park from the area near the entrance booth. The North Head Trail passed through a pretty coastal forest going up and down, over and around ridges. We spotted lots of wildlife along this section of trail, mostly in the form of frogs and snakes.

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We crossed Fort Canby Road at a small parking lot for McKenzie Head.

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After stopping to read the interpretive signs we started up the .3 mile path to Battery 247.

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We explored the old bunker and took in the view from North Head before heading back down.

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When we arrived back at the McKenzie Head parking lot we turned right and walked along Fort Canby Road until we were able to cut over to a gravel campground road along Oneil Lake.

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We spotted an egret and an osprey at the lake.

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At the far end of the lake we crossed Jetty Road just west of the park entrance booth and located the Cape Disappointment Trail.

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We followed the trail uphill past a viewpoint of the jetty.

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The trail continued to climb from the viewpoint passing a set of stairs that led to a hilltop with a view of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

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The little hilltop was a dead end so we backtracked down the stairs and continued following the trail to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

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The aroma near the center was less than appealing due to the presence of sea birds on the rocks below.

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At the far end of the center we managed to find a spot in the shade where we couldn’t smell the birds and took a short break.

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It was another .6 miles to the lighthouse from the interpretive center so we sallied forth. The trail dipped down between a Coast Guard station and Dead Mans Cove.

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A narrow paved road led from the Coast Guard station uphill to the lighthouse and an impressive view.

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After another short break we returned to the interpretive center and walked around the east side and explored Battery Harvey Allen.

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After exploring the battery we returned to the park entrance booth. We headed out Jetty Road past the booth and park entrance sign toward the boat launch across Coast Guard Road. On the far side of that road we located a trail sign for the Coastal Forest Trail.

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There was a moment of hesitation when we read the caution sign warning of ground hornets on the trail. Growing up I had a huge fear of bees and any related species but as we’ve been hiking I’ve come to an understanding with most of the yellow and black insects. Hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets are not on that list. We decided to proceed but with extreme caution.

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Our plan was to do the 1.5 mile loop. At the far end of the loop near a bench a spur trail led out to a viewpoint.

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A heron was hunting in the grasses nearby.

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We completed the loop without running into any hornets and I was relieved when we got back to Coast Guard Road. After passing Oneil Lake on Fort Canby Road again we took the North Head Trail back to our car at the lighthouse parking lot. There were more snakes on the trail on the return trip than we’d seen earlier in the day which was fine with me since they weren’t hornets.

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We had one final stop left. Following signs for Ilwaco we left the park and returned to Highway 101 where we headed back toward Oregon. Eight miles from Ilwaco we turned right at a sign for Fort Columbia State Park.
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We walked through the old buildings and turned uphill on Military Road. The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was visible in the distance.
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We found a map on a signpost which showed fewer trails than what our guidebook and Google showed.
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We decided to trust the park map and headed up the grassy Military Road Trail.
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The trail passed some overgrown structures.
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When we arrived at 780′ summit we decided to head back down on the Scarborough Trail, forgoing the .5 mile Summit Trail.
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The Scarborough Trail began as a decent dirt trail but soon became overgrown with a few downed trees to climb over.
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After .4 miles we came to another grassy roadbed.
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This was the route shown on the park map. The trail did seem to continue downhill which corresponded to the map in the guidebook but without knowing the condition of that trail we played it safe and followed the roadbed back to the Military Road Trail. On the way down we took a short detour following a use path toward the sound of falling water. The path led to a small waterfall behind a fence with a “Do Not Enter” sign. We took a photo from the fence and then returned to our car.
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When it was all said and done we’d hiked a total of 17.3 miles from 5 different trailheads. It had been a really enjoyable group of hikes full of wildlife and history. Happy Trails!

Flickr: SW Washington Coast

Cannon Beach

For our second day while staying in Gearhart we picked Cannon Beach as our hike. Located just 10 miles south of Gearhart on the other side of Tillamook Head we planned on starting at the city information center on 2nd St. and hiking south along the beach to a waterfall at Hug Point. The round trip would be just under 10.5 miles and allow us to be back to our hotel before the Seahawks played their first regular season game. (We might have been better off hiking based on the way their offense wound up playing.)

The clouds from the previous day were still breaking up as we left our room creating a nice sunrise over Saddle Mountain.

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We drove south on Highway 101 to Cannon Beach, parked, and walked three blocks to the beach.

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The morning coastal fog was rolling in somewhat obscuring the view of Tillamook Head to the north.

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To the south Haystack Rock fared a little better although some of the smaller rocks around it were in the fog.

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We turned south on the beach heading for Haystack Rock which was about a mile away. The rock began catching some early morning sunlight as we passed.

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We continued on passing the Tolovana Beach Wayside on the way to Silver Point two miles beyond Haystack Rock.

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It was fairly foggy at Silver Point where we found several large rocks just offshore, including the aptly named Jockey Cap.

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A little over a half mile after passing Silver Point we arrived at Humbug Point where we passed another well named rock, Lion Rock.

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It was another mile to Hug Point which was also dealing with the morning fog.

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Hug Point was part of a wagon route where settlers had to wait for low tide to be able to pass by. A roadbed was blasted in the headland around 1920 which was still obvious as we approached.

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The other reason we had chosen this hike for the day is that low tide was around 9:20am which we figured was a little later than when we would be arriving. It was a little after 8:30 when we did reach the point and we could have easily stayed dry by crossing over on the roadbed but when we approached it we noticed a lot of marine life on the rocks.

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Instead of trying to avoid them we decided to take off our shoes and socks and wade around Hug Point. The water was about calf deep at its deepest so getting through was easy enough. One the other side we found more anemones and other marine creatures clinging to the rocks.

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Seagulls seemed to be treating it as a buffet.

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After passing a small cove we spotted the small waterfall on Fall Creek. It wasn’t exactly the best time of year to be visiting the falls but the water was still flowing.

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The falls can be accessed from the Hug Point Wayside which avoids the need to navigate around Hug Point. We’ll likely stop there some other time when the flow over the falls is greater.

We turned around here and headed back. After another wade around Hug Point we pulled out our Therm-A-Rest Z Seats and took a seat while our feet dried.

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The clouds continued to break up as the morning progressed.

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We finished our 10.4 mile hike just before 11am and headed back to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon of football. By the time the sun was setting most of the clouds had disappeared teasing a little more blue sky for our Monday Hikes.

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Happy Trails!

Flickr: Cannon Beach