Tag Archives: Buck Peak

Buck Peak

A week out from our somewhat cloudy visit to the Mount Margaret Backcountry we found ourselves heading back into the clouds on the Pacific Crest Trail. Our goal for the day was the viewpoint atop Buck Peak which is just off the PCT to the NW of Lost Lake in the Mt. Hood National Forest. We began our hike at the Pacific Crest Trailhead at Lolo Pass.
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We headed north on the PCT which quickly passed under some power lines where we met our first clouds.
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Looking back toward Mt. Hood from the power lines it looked like blue skies around the mountain.
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The PCT climbed gently up a ridge where we had a few views between the clouds that were passing over.
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A decent variety of flowers could be found along the more open portions of the trail.
Rhododendron
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Pink pyrola
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Tiger lilies
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Bees on goldenrod
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Columbine
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Larkspur
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Catchfly
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Oregon sunshine
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Lupine
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Penstemon
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The trail soon entered the trees where it remained for the majority of remainder of the hike to Buck Peak. The forest was full of huckleberries and some salmonberries.
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It was increasingly foggy as we gained elevation.
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Approximately 4.5 miles from Lolo Pass we arrived at a junction with the Huckleberry Mountain Trail which led down to Lost Lake.
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We continued on the PCT passing a spur trail to Salvation Spring and heading further into the clouds. There were a number of downed trees across the trail after the Huckleberry Mountain junction but nothing impassable. With the forest and the clouds, views were few but we did get a couple of glimpses of Lost Lake along the way. The majority of the time we were just looking at the different flowers along the way.
Beargrass
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Monkeyflower
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Parrot’s beak lousewort
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False hellbore
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Coralroot
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The trail to Buck Peak was unsigned but easy to spot as it split up and to the right from the PCT.
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The trail was a little brushy and the clouds had left the plants rather damp which in turned soaked us pretty quickly.
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After a half-mile on the Buck Peak Trail we arrived at the signed summit.
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The panoramic viewpoint of several Cascade Mountains was on the fritz and we were lucky to get a couple of looks at Lost Lake below.
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We sat on the rocky viewpoint for awhile watching the clouds pass over hoping to wait them out but finally decided it could be hours before the view cleared and headed back down. Things had already cleared up some along the PCT and the views were starting to open up as we made our return trip.
Lost Lake Butte above Lost Lake
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Buck Peak still in a cloud.
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Eventually the sky had cleared enough to provide some great views of Lost Lake, Mt. Hood, and even Mt. Adams in Washington.
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The butterflies had come out in the afternoon and as we passed the rockier section of trail they were busy pollinating the flowers.
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Mt. Hood loomed large as we passed under the power lines and finished up our hike.
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The hike was over 15 miles round trip but really didn’t feel that long. The approximately 1500′ of elevation gain was gradual and spread out nicely. One item to note is that this section of the PCT and the Buck Peak Trail are in the Bull Run Watershed Management Area which is the primary source of drinking water for Portland and is closed to the public. Hikers are required to remain on the trails within the area’s boundary. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157671458188065

Red Buttes Wilderness Day 4 – Azalea Lake and beyond.

We woke up early on the final day of our trip and began packing up under a full moon.
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We had been having a great time backpacking but we were also looking forward to our reservations for that night at the Chateau at the Oregon Caves. We said goodbye to Azalea Lake and climbed back up to the saddle between Figurehead Mountain and Buck Peak watching the sun color the clouds as it rose.
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Preston Peak
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It was a beautiful morning as we retraced our route from Monday in reverse. We skipped the .1 mile side trip to Cirque Lake and paused at Sucker Gap for a snack.
Swan Mountain from Sucker Gap
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A little over half a mile beyond Sucker Gap we spotted another pair of hikers making their way up the trail. I don’t know who was more surprised, but we all had shocked looks on our faces. They hadn’t expected to see anyone else on the trails. They were from Medford and on their way up to Sucker Gap and then going to head off-trail up either Swan Mountain or Pyramid Peak. We informed them that they had broken a tie between humans seen and bears making the final 5 to 3 in favor of people. They let us know that they had seen our car at the lower trailhead so we knew it was still waiting for us. We arrived at our car close to 1pm and headed for the Oregon Caves National Monument which was only about 20 miles away.

We arrived before check-in (3pm) so we wandered around the gift shop and had a wonderful lunch in the cafe before picking up our room keys. The Chateau was amazing. Considered one of the “Great Lodges” the six story building was originally built in 1934.
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Lobby
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Our room
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It really felt like we’d gone back in time in the rustic building and immediately felt at home. The Chateau would be closing for the season after the weekend but the staff was very friendly and helpful and dinner in the Chateau Dining Room was excellent. Oh, and Cave Creek flows right through the building which was the icing on the cake. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157660616631445/with/22658987801/