Tag Archives: Mt. Hood Wilderness

West Zigzag Mountain – 7/04/2020

We continued our 4th of July tradition of hiking by checking off another of William L. Sullivan’s featured hikes, West Zigzag Mountain (Hike #68 “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” 4th edition). He actually describes two hikes, a 1.8 mile round trip to Castle Canyon and an 11+ mile round trip to the former West Zigzag lookout site. We chose the longer hike for this visit which starts from Zigzag Mountain Trailhead.
IMG_8644Parking area is just a wide spot in the road.

Two trails start at the trailhead, the Zigzag Mountain Trail heads uphill to the left while the Road 19 Trail follows the closed road to the right. The Road 19 trail connects with the Castle Canyon Trail in 1.1 miles.
IMG_8645

After a short steep climb the Zigzag Mountain Trail arrived at a wilderness permit box and Mt. Hood Wilderness map.
IMG_8648

After filling out one of the self-issue permits we began to climb. Our last two hikes had cumulative elevation gains right around 4000′ so today’s 3100′ was a little better. It also helped that unlike the trails on our previous two climbs the Zigzag Mountain trail utilized a number of switchbacks to keep the grade much more manageable.
IMG_8651Zigzag Mountain Trail entering the Mt. Hood Wilderness.

The climb was forested with a few flowers present at the lower elevations.
IMG_8656Washington lilies

IMG_8662Tiger lilies

IMG_8663Self-heal

IMG_8683

IMG_8696Salal

IMG_8709Candy sticks

IMG_8717Queen’s cup and bunchberry

IMG_8723Anemone

As we climbed we began to see a fair amount of rhododendron in bloom.
IMG_8734

The trail made 15 switchbacks over the first two miles before straightening out for a bit along a ridge.
IMG_8755

We passed a small rock garden with some penstemon along the ridge.
IMG_8757

IMG_8761

IMG_8766

IMG_8772

The ridge was a bit more open and here we found some beargrass and lupine blooming. There were also opportunities for views but it had clouded up overnight and those clouds weren’t burning off very quickly.
IMG_8783Beargrass

IMG_8785Lupine

IMG_8789

IMG_8787

The trail spent little time on the ridge top and instead rose up and down switching sides of the ridge as it passed under rock outcrops.
IMG_8796Trillium along the north facing side of the ridge.

IMG_8798Mushroom

IMG_8803Pinesap

IMG_8806Passing a rock outcrop.

IMG_8814West Zigzag Mountain from the trail.

IMG_8817Back to the north facing side.

IMG_8819Now on the south facing side.

Near the 2.5 mile mark we came to a rocky viewpoint where we had a nice view of West Zigzag Mountain ahead but not of much else due to the clouds.
IMG_8825

IMG_8824

IMG_8828Sub-alpine mariposa lily at the viewpoint.

Another series of switchbacks followed before the trail straightened out following the ridge of Zigzag Mountain near the 3 mile mark. After another three quarters of a mile of climbing the trail began a series of ups and downs along the ridge. This lasted for the final 2.5 miles to the former lookout site although none of them were very long or too steep. While there weren’t any wildflowers meadows on this hike there were quite a few flowers to be seen along the way.
IMG_8850Lupine and paintbrush

IMG_8864Beargrass and rhododendron

IMG_8867Huckleberry

IMG_8871Cliff beardtongue

IMG_8874

IMG_8879Larkspur

IMG_8892

IMG_8897

IMG_8905Phlox

IMG_8909More cliff beardtongue

IMG_8917Penstemon

20200704_095101Larkspur

IMG_8919On the ridge just before reaching the lookout site.

Around the 5.25 mile mark we came to what would have been a great view of Mt. Hood if not for the clouds.
IMG_8862

After crossing the ridge the trail emerged from the forest near some rock outcrops that framed the forest below.
IMG_8921

We followed a short path led to the top of the southern outcrop where we had a view over to the former lookout site.
IMG_8925

IMG_8928Former lookout site in the tress to the left.

We sat on the outcrop and watched the clouds pass by.
IMG_8929

IMG_8927

With the limited views outward we focused our attention down picking out a few flowers that we hadn’t seen on other parts of the hike.
IMG_8930

IMG_8932Tufted saxifrage

IMG_8941Arnica

IMG_8947Lousewort

IMG_8946Some of the rocks in Castle Canyon

When we started to get a little chilly we decided to head back, but first we had to visit the former lookout site to ensure that we connected this hike with our 2012 hike.
IMG_8950

IMG_8952View of the outcrop from the lookout site.

IMG_8955Raceme pussytoes

We returned the way we’d come spotting a few flowers that we’d missed going the other direction.
IMG_8962Valerian

IMG_8964Salmonberry

IMG_8967Bleeding heart

IMG_8972Violet

IMG_8977Monotropa uniflora aka ghost plant

Despite the clouds never burning off (we did eventually see a couple of slivers of blue sky) it was a good day for the hike. The flowers were good and the clouds kept the temperature down and the gradual grade of the trail kept the 11.4 miles from feeling difficult. We wound up passing 8 other hikers on our return trip which is a pretty low number for a Saturday hike on a trail as close to Portland as this one is so that was also a plus as we are still doing our best to practice proper social distancing. We capped off our 4th by watching the fireworks in our neighborhood with our son and my parents. Happy Trails!

Flickr: West Zigzag Mountain

The Hikes of 2019 – A Look Back

2019 turned out very differently than we’d originally planned. Not long after our first planned long trip to Joseph, OR one our cats, Buddy, had some health issues. After some time at the veterinarians he was doing better but he needed to be prescribed 3 daily medications (two twice a day). We decided that being there for our friend of 17 years was more important than our remaining plans so we cancelled nearly all of our overnight trips and spent the rest of the year doing day hikes from Salem. Buddy is still with us and seems to be doing well although he sleeps more than ever and has taken to wearing sweaters for warmth.
20191102_134933

With us only doing the one long distance trip we didn’t make it to as many new areas as we have been in recent years. On that trip we stopped at the Umatilla Wildlife Refuge near Hermiston (post), OR and hiked in the Hells Canyon (post) and Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness areas (post).
McCormack SloughMCormack Slough in the Umatilla Wildlife Refuge.

Looking into Hells Canyon from the Summit Ridge TrailLooking towards Hells Canyon from Freezout Saddle.

Wenaha River CanyonWenaha River Canyon

Thanks to my parents willingness to take care of the cats we also managed to take an overnight trip up to Seattle in September to watch a Seattle Seahawks game stopping on the way up at Mt. Rainier National Park (post).

Cancelling the majority of our overnight trips had a couple of effects. First it reduced the number of days of hiking from an original 60 to 54. These would have been shorter hikes back to the car after backpacking or on the drive home from wherever we’d been. It also compressed the area in which we were able to hike keeping it under a 3 hour drive from Salem.
2019 HIkes

One thing that wasn’t affected was our tendency not to repeat hikes. Of our 54 days hiking only two days were repeats. For the first time we were able to hike with my brother and his family from Missouri taking them to Jawbone Flats and the Little North Fork Santiam River (post).
Little North Santiam River

The second repeat was to the old lookout site atop Maxwell Butte (post) to get the view that eluded us on our first hike there (post).
Mt. Jefferson, Santiam Lake, and Three Fingered Jack from Maxwell Butte

A visit to Four-In-One Cone, also to get a view that had previously eluded us, (post) was nearly a repeat but we started from a different trailhead making the first (and final) .4 miles new to us.
View from Four-in-one Cone

Thirteen other days did include some trail that we’d previously hiked and three more outings had turn around points that we’d previously been to but from an entirely different route. That left 35 days with entirely new trails to us. To put those figures in miles we hiked a total of 627.7 miles (according to my GPS). Only 70.6 of those miles, or just over 11%, were on portions of trails that we had hiked on in previous years.

I say “trails” but in reality not all the miles we hiked were on actual trails. Some of it was spent on paved roads, decommissioned roads, and some was entirely off trail/road.
Scoggins Creek Recreation AreaRoad walk at Henry Haag Lake

Baty ButteDecommissioned road to Baty Butte.

North Sister and the headwaters of Soap CreekCross country to Thayer Glacial Lake.

2019 was a really good year weather wise. Aside from some rain/snow showers on our Freezout Saddle hike in June and a brief stint of rain at Cascade Head and in the Mollala River Recreation Area precipitation was almost non-existent during our outings.
Marks Cabin Trail a bit below usSnow falling on our Freezout Saddle hike.

Salmon River through the fogRain shower approaching at Cascade Head.

Huckleberry TrailTaking cover under a tree in the Mollala River Recreation Area as a rain shower passes overhead.

Even on those three hikes with measurable precipitation there were breaks allowing for some sort of views.
Rainbow Framing the Wallowa MountainsRainbow framing the Wallowa Mountains from the Feezout Saddle Trail.

View from the Cascade Head TrailView from Cascade Head after the shower.

Veiw from Amanda's TrailView from the morning across the Mollala River Canyon.

Between the cooperative weather and a lack of significant wildfires in the area made 2019 a great year for viewpoints. In fact there was only one hike, our second to the summit of Huckleberry Mountain (post) where we felt skunked on views. That hike began in the Wildwood Recreation area and the interpretive trails along the Salmon River made up for the lack of views up top.
3d Model of Mt. Hood along the Cascade Streamwatch TrailNeat 3D display at Wildwood Recreation Area.

Viewpoint on Huckleberry MountainView atop Huckleberry Mountain.

Even on that day blue sky made an appearance before the end of our hike.
Mt. Hood behind some clouds

We also never got much of a view (but we did see blue sky) on our visit to Silver Star Mountain (post) but the point of that hike was to see the flower display.
Wildflowers along the Silver Star Trail

As always our hikes included a variety of landscapes, natural features, and some man-made ones. A sample of which follows. (We will cover wildflowers and wildlife in separate posts later.)
Gales CreekGales Creek – Coast Range

Dry Creek FallsDry Creek Falls – Columbia River Gorge, OR

Camassia Natural AreaCamassia Natural Area – West Linn

The Two Chiefs and Table MountainTwo Chiefs and Table Mountain – Columbia River Gorge, WA

Nature Trial at Oak IslandOak Island – Columbia River

B.C. Creek FallsB.C. Creek Falls – Wallowa Mountains

Wallowa Mountains including Hurricaine Point and Ruby PeakWallowa Mountains

Harins ButteHarsin Butte – Zumwalt Prairie

Sardine MountainSardine Mountain – Willamette National Forest

Gorton FallsGorton Creek Falls – Columbia River Gorge, OR

Mt. Hood from Lost LakeMt. Hood from Lost Lake

Mt. Hood from the Vista Ridge TrailMt. Hood from Vista Ridge

Sand Mountain LookoutSand Mountain Lookout – Willamette National Forest

Cape Kiwanda and Haystack RockCape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock from Sitka Sedge Beach

High LakeHigh Lake – Mt. Hood National Forest

Tidbits MountainTidbits Mountain – Willamette National Forest

Bunchgrass MeadowBunchgrass Meadow – Willamette National Forest

Top tier of the Breitenbush CascadesBreitenbush Cascades – Willamette National Forest

Mt. St. HelensMt. St. Helens from Cinnamon Ridge – Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

View from Bear PointMt. Jefferson from Bear Point – Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

Sawmill FallsSawmill Falls – Little North Fork Santiam River

Three Fingered Jack with Three Sisters and Mt. Washington beyond Red ButteThree Fingered Jack, The Three Sisters, and Mt. Washington

Scramble route up Baty ButteScramble route to Baty Butte – Mt. Hood National Forest

Boulder LakeBoulder Lake – Mt. Hood National Forest

Drift CreekDrift Creek – Drift Creek Wilderness

Thayer Glacial LakeNorth Sister and Thayer Glacial Lake – Three Sisters Wilderness

View from Four-in-one ConeNorth Sister, Middle Sister, and The Husband from Four-In-One Cone – Three Sisters Wilderness

Mt. Hood from Tumala MountainMt. Hood from Tumala Mountain – Mt. Hood National Forest

Bull of the Woods LookoutBull of the Woods Lookout – Bull of the Woods Wilderness

Mt. Hood and Barret Spur from Elk CoveMt. Hood from Elk Cove – Mt. Hood Wilderness

Mt. Jefferson and Hunts CoveMt. Jefferson and Hunts Cove – Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

Mt. Jefferson with Monon, Olallie and Timber LakesView from Olallie Butte – Warm Springs Indian Reservation

Lillian FallsLillian Falls – Waldo Lake Wilderness

Olallie Mountain lookoutOlallie Mountain Lookout – Three Sisters Wilderness

King TutKing Tut – Crabtree Valley

View from Ruddy HillMt. Jefferson from Ruddy Hill – Mt. Hood National Forest

Henry Haag LakeHenry Haag Lake – Scoggins Valley

View from the north summit of The TwinsWaldo Lake and the Cascade Mountains from The Twins – Deschutes National Forest

Bobby LakeBobby Lake – Deschutes National Forest

Patrol Cabin at Indian Henry's Hunting GroundIndian Henry’s Hunting Ground – Mt. Rainier National Park

Fog over the valley from Trail 17 (Theodore Trail)Fog over the valley from Mt. Pisgah – Eugene, OR

Twin Peaks and Gifford LakeTwin Peaks and Gifford Lake – Olallie Lake Scenic Area

Mt. Adams from Lookout MountainMt. Adams from Lookout Mountain – Badger Creek Wilderness Area

Huckleberry TrailMollala River Recreation Area

View from the PCT and Indian Mountain Trail junctionView toward Washington from the Pacific Crest Trail near Indian Mountain – Mt. Hood National Forest

Clackamas River at Alder FlatClackamas River – Mt. Hood National Forest

Maple TrailForest Park – Portland, OR

Tilikum CrossingTilikum Crossing – Portland, OR

There were many more great places and sights that we visited but they can’t all be included here. It was another amazing year of discovering God’s creation and we are looking forward to seeing what next year brings. For the first time I have two sets of planned hikes going into next year, one is in the hopes that Buddy continues to do well on his medications leading us to stick to day hikes through the year and the other includes long distance trips in the unfortunate event that we have to say goodbye to our furry friend.

Either way we know that we will be blown away yet again by whatever we see on those hikes. Happy Trails and Happy New Year to all!

Flickr: Album List

Cloud Cap to Elk Cove – 8/17/2019

For the grand finale hike of our August vacation we headed for Mt. Hood to do the section of the Timberline Trail from Cloud Cap to Elk Cove. We had been to Cloud Cap in 2016 during our hike up Cooper Spur (post) and we’ve visited Elk Cove a couple of times (most recently in 2017 post) via a western approach on the Timberline Trail. We had not however been on the 5 mile section of the Timberline Trail between the Coe Branch (we turned back at the crossing in 2014 post) and the Cloud Cap Saddle Campground.

We had a bit of a scare on the way to the trailhead as most of the drive was spent in a light drizzle which became heavier at Government Camp. At the White River sno-park Mt. Hood was hidden behind a layer of gray clouds but as we continued north on Highway 35 we emerged from the grey. By the time we were winding our way up Cloud Cap Road the sky was blue and there were no signs of the clouds hiding on the other side of the mountain. We parked at the Cloud Cap Trailhead and hiked through the campground to a pair of signboards marking the Timberline Trail.
IMG_6943

We turned right onto that trail and followed it through a short stretch of green trees before emerging into a recovering fire scar.
IMG_6945

IMG_6948

The trail turns north toward Mt. Adams and away from Mt. Hood as it prepares to drop steeply into the gorge carved by the glacial Eliot Branch which could be heard roaring in the chasm below.
IMG_6951Mt. Adams ahead above the clouds.

We descended a series of switchbacks which provided ample views of Mt. Hood without having to strain our necks looking behind us.
IMG_6954Mt. Hood

The Eliot Branch has a reputation as being one of the trickier crossing on the mountain ever since a bridge was swept away over a decade ago. In fact the Timberline Trail had “officially” been closed for years (there were still unofficial crossings) until the Forest Service completed a reroute of the trail in 2016. As we neared the stream the first looks were impressive.
IMG_6957

IMG_6960

The combination of the cloudy water, thundering noise, and swift current make glacial streams seem particularly daunting. Crossing earlier in the day minimizes the amount flow making morning crossings easier than those later in the afternoon or evening. We arrived at the crossing shortly before 8am so that was in our favor. There was also a promising looking log a bit downstream but it looked like it might be a tricky descent to reach it from this direction and we were (or at least I was) hoping to get a little fording practice in so we picked a reasonable looking spot and made our way through the water which was only just reaching our calves at its deepest.
IMG_6966

20190817_074932

IMG_6967

It was a fairly uneventful crossing except for having forgotten just how cold a glacial stream is. Brrrr!!

We had lost over 350′ of elevation getting down to the Eliot that needed to be made up now that we were across. The Timberline Trail gained over 500′ in the next three quarters of a mile as it climbed out of the canyon.
IMG_6970

IMG_6973We entered the Mt. Hood Wilderness on the way up.

IMG_6976

IMG_6979

The burned trees allowed for fairly consistent views of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.
IMG_6980Mt. Adams

IMG_6981Mt. Rainier peaking over the clouds to the left of Mt. Adams.

IMG_6985Mt. Hood

IMG_6987

The trail leveled out near the 6000′ elevation and passed through a stand of green trees before arriving at a small wildflower lined stream. A pair of marmots ran into the rocks as we approached.
IMG_6988

IMG_7006Penstemon

IMG_7001

IMG_7008Monkeyflower

IMG_7009

IMG_7011Jacob’s ladder

IMG_7012Western Pasque flower

A second stream followed shortly after.
IMG_7019

20190817_082231Paintbrush

20190817_082250Lupine with a beetle.

Continuing on we passed a hillside covered with western pasque flower seed heads, often referred to as hippies on a stick.
IMG_7030

IMG_7028

As we rounded a ridge end we stopped to talk to a backpacker going in the other direction. He asked if we were from the area and wanted to know which mountains he had been seeing to the north. In addition to Adams and Rainier, Mt. St. Helens was just barely visible from that spot which we were able to point out to him.
IMG_7034

We rounded the forested ridge and came to a large rock field below the Langille Crags.
IMG_7039

IMG_7040

IMG_7041

Just over a mile from the Eliot crossing we arrived at the first of Compass Creeks three branches.
IMG_7051_stitch

Compass Creek is fed by the Langille Glacier and each branch sports a waterfall above the Timberline Trail.
IMG_7059

A short scramble up the rocks along the creek brought us to the base of the falls.
IMG_7062

IMG_7069

IMG_7076Mt. Adams from Compass Creek.

IMG_7079Wildflowers along Compass Creek.

IMG_7083Monkeyflower and paintbrush

IMG_7101Hummingbird near Compass Creek.

After admiring the falls we continued on rounding two small ridges before arriving at the middle branch of Compass Creek .3 miles from the first.
IMG_7102

IMG_7105

IMG_7106

This branch didn’t have nearly the amount of water as the first leaving the waterfall a little wispy.
IMG_7111

There was yet another stream a short distance away which was putting on a wonderful wildflower display including a nice combination of pink and yellow monkeyflowers.
IMG_7119

IMG_7123Lupine, paintbrush and monkeyflower.

IMG_7124

IMG_7126

IMG_7130

This alpine stream was sublime and a reminder of why Mt. Hood is such a wonderful place. We kept going passing an aster covered hillside and then another meadow full of other types of flowers.
IMG_7144

IMG_7147

IMG_7149

It was another .3 miles between the middle and final branches of Compass Creek where another waterfall crashed down behind a snow bridge.
IMG_7152

IMG_7263

IMG_7271

IMG_7268

After crossing the final branch of Compass Creek the trail headed down a ridge along the creek passing views of a lower waterfall.
IMG_7157Mt. Adams (again) from Compass Creek.

IMG_7159

IMG_7164Waterfall on Compass Creek below the Timberline Trail.

In the next mile we passed through a wildflower meadow, green trees, a fire scar, and lost 350′ of elevation before arriving at yet another little stream.
IMG_7172

IMG_7174

IMG_7176

IMG_7177

IMG_7178

IMG_7185

The trail then headed downhill more quickly as we approached the Coe Branch.
IMG_7191

A little over a mile and a half from Compass Creek we arrived at the Coe Branch and were pleased to find a pair of nice makeshift log bridges spanning the stream.
IMG_7192

IMG_7194

The crossing was no issue at all and we soon found ourselves climbing away from the Coe.
IMG_7204

IMG_7209

The climb away from the Coe Branch wasn’t nearly as steep as the descent had been and after three quarters of a mile we arrived at a sign for Elk Cove.
IMG_7217

We followed the trail into the meadow where the view of Mt. Hood and Barrett Spur (post) was as impressive as always.
IMG_7223

IMG_7224_stitch

IMG_7230

20190817_104227

We explored a bit and then rested at a familiar spot along the stream that flows through Elk Cove.
IMG_7238

IMG_7246

IMG_7249Coe Glacier

After resting and soaking in the scenery we headed back. We stopped again below Compass Creek Falls where we watched a hummingbird moth visiting the monkeyflowers.
IMG_7286

IMG_7294

When we had finally made it back to the Eliot crossing we used the log we’d seen that morning as suggested by some hikers who we passed shortly before reaching the stream.
IMG_7341

IMG_7344

We actually wouldn’t have minded the ice cold water at that point, but the flow had increased now that it was after 1pm so the log was the safest option. We made the final climb back up to Cloud Cap taking our final look at Mt. Hood and the Eliot Glacier.
IMG_7359

IMG_7364

IMG_7365

The hike was 12.3 miles round trip with approximately 2700′ of cumulative elevation gain, most of which came from dropping down to and climbing up from the Eliot and Coe Branches. It was a perfect day, blue skies and cool temperatures, and there couldn’t have been a better way to end our 6 days of hiking. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Cloud Cap to Elk Cove

Vista Ridge and Owl Point – 6/22/2019

In 2017 we hiked the Vista Ridge Trail to Eden Park, Cairn Basin, and Elk Cove in the Mt. Hood Wilderness (post). It had been a cloudy August day which deprived us of any views of the mountain save for a brief glimpse from Elk Cove. The lack of views was enough to put the trail back on our to do list, but there were a couple of other reasons we had wanted to get back to this trail. First was the side trip to Owl Point along a segment of the Old Vista Ridge Trail which was reclaimed by volunteers in 2007. The second was a desire to see the avalanche lilies that bloom profusely on Vista Ridge in the fire scar left by the 2011 Dollar Fire.

We had been following reports on the avalanche lilies from fellow hikers and after seeing that they were blooming we checked the weather forecast for a clear day and headed up to the Vista Ridge Trailhead.
IMG_9657

The view of Mt. Hood had been clear on our drive so we decided to head out to Owl Point first and then up Vista Ridge for the lilies. We followed the Vista Ridge Trail for .4 miles to a junction with the Old Vista Ridge Trail at the edge of the 2011 fire scar.
IMG_9661

IMG_9664

We turned left onto the Old Vista Ridge Trail and headed toward Owl Point. The trail, which relies on volunteers to keep it maintained, was in good shape.
IMG_9666

As we made our way north along though we began to run into some fog.
IMG_9667

We had gone a little over half a mile from the junction and decided to turn back and save the viewpoint for later not wanting to risk missing out on a view. We backtracked to the junction, filled out a wilderness entry permit and headed up a fog free Vista Ridge.
IMG_9671

IMG_9675

Unlike our last visit this time we could see Mt. Hood through the snags as we climbed.
IMG_9683

Looking back over our shoulders we could see the cloud that had caused us to turn back was not actually over Owl Point.
IMG_9689

IMG_9690 Mt. Adams beyond Owl Point

Most of the avalanche lilies were already past until shortly after entering the Mt. Hood Wilderness a mile up the Vista Ridge Trail.
IMG_9692

At first the lilies were sparse but then small patches appeared followed by increasingly large fields of white.
IMG_9696

IMG_9697

IMG_9700

IMG_9702

IMG_9706

IMG_9721

20190622_091402

As we gained elevation we left the heavy bloom behind and began seeing flowers that had yet to open.
IMG_9736

We hit snow about two and a quarter miles from the trailhead.
IMG_9738

IMG_9739

It was patchy and navigable without needing our microspikes and we continued uphill for another quarter mile passing a nice view of Mt. Adams and the Eden Park Trail along the way.
IMG_9745

IMG_9748

IMG_9749Eden Park Trail

We ended our climb at a snowfield where the Vista Ridge Trail headed left of the ridge toward its junction with the Timberline Trail.
IMG_9765

The trail looked passable with the microspikes but we had a nice view from where we were and didn’t see a point in continuing on given we still wanted to get out to Owl Point and we were planning on hiking for the next three days straight.
IMG_9763

Near our turn around we spotted some other early bloomers – western pasque flowers aka hippies on a stick.
IMG_9769

20190622_093738

IMG_9774western pasque flowers already going to seed

Paintbrush and cinquefoil was also present.
IMG_9781

20190622_093621

After an extended break enjoying the view of Mt. Hood we headed back down to the Old Vista Ridge Trail junction stopping along the way to once again admire the avalanche lilies and also to share a moment with a friendly yellow-rumped warbler.
IMG_9826

IMG_9834

We turned back onto the Old Vista Ridge Trail and repeated the first section which seemed to climb more this second time. (At least our legs felt like it did.) This time there was no fog though and we soon found ourselves at a viewpoint looking at Owl Point.
IMG_9856

There was also a decent view of Mt. Hood.
IMG_9866

After the initial climb the trail leveled out some along the ridge top where a few patches of snow remained.
IMG_9874

That meant more avalanche lilies, although nowhere near the numbers that Vista Ridge was home to.
IMG_9879

After climbing to a saddle we came to a sign for The Rockpile viewpoint.
IMG_9885

IMG_9886

The short spur trail led out to a nice view of Mt. Hood but we had startled a dog that was with some backpackers and it wouldn’t stop barking so we quickly took our leave heading for quieter surroundings.
IMG_9888

IMG_9892

The spur trail to Owl Point was just a tenth of a mile from the trail to the Rockpile.
IMG_9894

We followed this spur to it’s end at a register at Owl Point.
IMG_9898

IMG_9899

Laurance Lake lay below to the east with Surveryors Ridge beyond.
IMG_9900

Mt. Hood was the main attraction though.
IMG_9902

IMG_9928

We sat for awhile admiring the mountain and studying Vista Ridge where we could see the trail cutting across the snow beyond where we had turned around.
IMG_9922

IMG_9923

We also spent some time looking for pikas but never saw (or heard) any. We did however have a butterfly join us briefly.
IMG_9925

When we had returned to the Old Vista Ridge Trail we continued north for another tenth of a mile to visit Alki Point.
IMG_9935

This viewpoint looked north and on a cleared day would have offered views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams. We settled for a glimpse of Rainier’s summit above some clouds (that’s Mt. Defiance in the foreground) and a semi-obstructed view of Mt. Adams.
IMG_9938

IMG_9939Mt. Rainier (sort of)

IMG_9941Mt. Adams

We headed back to the trailhead completing a 10.8 mile hike that would have been under 10 had we not had the false start on the Old Vista Ridge Trail in the morning. The avalanche lilies had not disappointed, it was a great way to start a four day stretch of hiking. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Owl Point and Vista Ridge

Progress Report – Oregon Wilderness Areas

In our last post we wrote about our ambitious (possibly overly so) goal of completing 500 “featured” hikes in William L. Sullivan’s guidebooks. The topic of this post is another one of our goals, visiting all 45 of Oregon’s accessible designated wilderness areas (Three Arch Rocks and Oregon Islands are off limits to all visitors). This goal should be quite a bit easier to accomplish given the much smaller number of needed hikes and the fact that the wilderness areas aren’t changing every few years. (There is legislation pending that would create the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness in the coast range between Reedsport and Eugene.)

The inspiration for this goal came from a fellow hiker and blogger over at Boots on the Trail. This smaller goal fit well into our 500 featured hikes goal too as thirty nine of the wilderness areas are destinations of at least one of the featured hikes. The remaining six: Copper-Salmon, Lower White River, Rock Creek, Cummins Creek, Bridge Creek, and Grassy Knob were still included in the books but as additional hikes in the back. Between the hike descriptions in the guidebooks and Boots on the Trail’s trip reports we’ve had plenty of information to work with.

This was an appealing goal too. Wilderness areas are dear to our hearts and home to many of our favorite places. These areas are the least affected by humans and we feel best reflect God’s work as Creator. To me they are akin to a museum showcasing His finest artistry. Just as we would in a museum we admire and enjoy the wilderness but we do our best not to affect it meaning adhering whenever possible to Leave No Trace principles.

We have made pretty good progress on this goal so far and as of 12/31/18 we had visited 38 of the 45 accessible areas (and seen the other two from the beach). We’re currently on track to have visited them all by the end of 2020.

Below is a chronological list of the wilderness areas we’ve been to (or seen) as well as any subsequent year(s) we’ve visited with some links to selected trip reports.

Opal Creek – 2009, 10, 11, 12, 14, 18

Battle Ax CreekBattle Ax Creek – 2014

Mt. Jefferson – 2010, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18

Mt. Jeffferson from Russell LakeMt. Jefferson from Russell Lake – 2016

Drift Creek – 2010

Drift CreekDrift Creek – 2010

Mt. Washington – 2011, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17

Mt. Washington and Mt. Jefferson from the Pacific Crest TrailMt. Washington from the Pacific Crest Trail – 2015

Three Sisters – 2011, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

The Three Sisters from the edge of the plateauThe Three Sisters – 2014

Three Arch Rocks – 2011, 18

Three Arch Rocks WildernessThree Arch Rocks from Cape Meares – 2018

Mark O. Hatfield – 2012, 14, 15, 16

Triple FallsTriple Falls – 2012

Mt. Hood – 2012, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Mt. Hood from the Timberline TrailMt. Hood – 2015

Oregon Islands – 2012, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Bandon IslandsBandon Islands – 2018

Mill Creek – 2012

Twin PillarsTwin Pillars – 2011

Mt. Thielsen – 2012, 14

Howlock Mountain and Mt. ThielsenHowlock Mountain and Mt. Thielsen – 2014

Table Rock – 2012, 15

Table RockTable Rock – 2015

Salmon-Huckleberry – 2013, 14, 15, 17, 18

Frustration FallsFrustration Falls – 2018

Diamond Peak – 2013, 14, 18

Small waterfall on Trapper CreekTrapper Creek – 2014

Waldo Lake – 2013, 15, 18

Waldo LakeView from Fuji Mountain – 2013

Roaring River – 2013

Serene LakeSerene Lake – 2013

Badger Creek – 2014

Badger Creek WildernessBadger Creek Wilderness – 2014

Middle Santiam – 2014

Donaca LakeDonaca Lake – 2014

Bull of the Woods – 2014, 15, 18

Emerald Pool on Elk Lake CreekEmerald Pool – 2018

Soda Mountain – 2015, 17

Looking west from Boccard PointView from Boccard Point – 2015

Red Buttes – 2015

Red Buttes, Kangaroo Mountain and Rattlesnake MountainRed Buttes – 2015

Oregon Badlands – 2016

View from Flatiron RockOregon Badlands Wilderness – 2016

Kalmiopsis – 2016

Vulcan Lake below Vulcan PeakVulcan Lake – 2016

Menagerie – 2016

Rooster Rock from a viewpoint in the Menagerie WildernessRooster Rock – 2016

Eagle Cap – 2016

Glacier LakeGlacier Lake – 2016

Mountain Lakes – 2016

Mt. McLoughlin, Whiteface Peak, Pelican Butte, and Mount Harriman from Aspen ButteView from Aspen Butte – 2016

Sky Lakes – 2016

Mt. McLoughlin from Freye LakeMt. McLoughlin from Freye Lake – 2016

Lower White River – 2016

White RiverWhite River – 2016

Rock Creek – 2017

Rock CreekRock Creek – 2017

Spring Basin – 2017

Hedgehog cactusHedgehog Cactus – 2017

Bridge Creek – 2017

View to the north from the Bridge Creek WildernessBridge Creek Wilderness – 2017

Wild-Rogue – 2017

Hanging RockHanging Rock – 2017

Grassy Knob – 2017

View from Grassy KnobView from Grassy Knob – 2017

Clackamas – 2017

Big BottomBig Bottom – 2017

North Fork John Day – 2017, 18

Baldy LakeBaldy Lake – 2017

Cummins Creek – 2017

Cummins Ridge TrailCummins Ridge Trail – 2017

Rogue-Umpqua Divide – 2018

Hummingbird MeadowsHummingbird Meadows – 2018

Steens Mountain – 2018

View from the Pike Creek TrailView along the Pine Creek Trail – 2018

Strawberry Mountain – 2018

Slide LakeSlide Lake – 2018

Copper-Salmon – 2018

Barklow Mountain TrailBarklow Mountain Trail – 2018

The remaining areas and year of our planned visit looks like this:

2019 – Hells Canyon, North Fork Umatilla, Wenaha-Tucannon
2020 – Boulder Creek, Black Canyon, Monument Rock, Gearhart Mountain

If the Devil’s Staircase is added in the meantime we will do our best to work that in (it is currently on our list of hikes but not until 2023. For more information on Oregon’s wilderness areas visit Wilderness.net here.

Happy Trails!

The Hikes of 2017 – A Look Back

Once again it’s time for our year end review post. Each year has a bit of a different feel to it, but this year was especially so. This was by far the most challenging year we’ve faced in terms of being able to visit the trails we’d planned on. A heavy winter snow pack lingered delaying access to many areas. Then an unusually bad fire season closed much of the Mt. Jefferson and Three Sisters Wilderness areas as well as parts of the Columbia Gorge. Snow returned in mid-September causing more changes to our plans. In the end plans for 39 of our originally scheduled 63 days of hiking were pushed out to future years as well as 2 additional short hikes that were part of multi stop days. Plans for another 12 of those days were shifted around on the schedule which meant that only 10 of our originally planned days occurred as we had envisioned them in January. We had also planned on spending 18 nights backpacking but wound up with a measly 3 nights in the tent. Despite all the issues we actually managed to end the year having hiked on 64 days and covered 751.6 miles.

Here is a look at where we wound up. The blue hiker symbols denote trailheads and the two yellow houses are the approximate location of our two backpacking campsites.
2017 Trailheads

Due to the issues with access to so many locations the mix of hikes this year was very different. An example of this is the average high point of our hikes:

                     2013-2016                2017
Jan.-Apr.    1444′                        1776′
May             2718′                        2355′
June            4900′                        3690′
July             5553′                        6530′
August       6419′                        3048′
Sept.           6400′                        4175′
Oct.             4886′                        3484′
Nov.-Dec.   2042′                        750′

Another example is our mileage distribution:

                     2013-2016                2017
Jan.-Apr.    9.19%                       9.74%
May             13.57%                     14.14%
June            13.75%                      13.50%
July             13.75%                      19.15%
August       19.33%                      6.07%
Sept.           14.13%                      23.28%
Oct.             12.17%                      10.36%
Nov.-Dec.   4.11%                        3.75%

As you can see August was way off the norm with many of those miles coming in September this year. Several wildfires were burning by then and we also changed some plans due to work and family commitments. Finally we chose to stick close to home the weekend of the solar eclipse .

On many occasions we visited multiple trailheads in a single day. We had been slowly increasing the frequency of doing so but this year 25 of our 64 days included more than one stop. In fact we stopped at a total of 106 trailheads this last year.

None of that made it a bad year, it just felt very different. The 64 hiking days was the most we’ve managed in a single year and the 751.6 miles was second only to 2016s 792.8 We managed to make decent headway on our quest to visit all of Oregon’s 45 visit-able wilderness areas by checking 8 more off the list. Rock Creek (post), Spring Basin (post), Wild Rogue (post), Grassy Knob (post), Bridge Creek (post), Clackamas (post), North Fork John Day (post), and Cummins Creek (post).

This year we made use of guidebooks by four different authors as well as a few websites. Most of our destinations can be found in William L. Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Oregon guidebooks (information) but we also made use of Scott Cook’s “Bend, Overall“, Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region“, and Bubba Suess’s “Hiking in Northern California“.

A special thanks goes out to Bubba Suess and his Hike Mt. Shasta website for his suggestions and input on our visit to the Mt. Shasta area in July. On that trip we visited four of California’s wilderness areas: Russian (post), Castle Crags (post), Trinity Alps (post), and Mt. Shasta (post). Our visit the the Trinity Alps brought us to the most southerly point while hiking to date. We also reached our highest elevation on that trip when we hiked to the top of Mt. Eddy (post) and saw our first rattle snake along the PCT (post).

We also set a new mark for the western most point reached on a hike when we visited Cape Blanco in May (post).

One way that this year was no different than previous years was that we once again saw and experienced many things for the first time during our hikes. It’s not surprising that we saw new things given that 57 out of our 64 days were comprised of entirely new sections of trail and none of the other 7 were exact repeats. In fact only about 17.2 miles retraced steps from previous hikes which works out to less than 2.5% of our total mileage for the year.

Some new flowers for us included:
Butter and eggsButter and eggs – Yontocket

Possibly tomcat cloverTomcat clover – Rough and Ready Botanical Wayside

dalmatian toadflax along the John Day RiverDalmation toadflax – Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Heart-leafed milkweedHeart-leafed milkweed – Applegate Lake

California groundconeCalifornia groundcones – Jacksonville

GeraniumGeranium – Lost Creek Lake

GeraniumGeranium – Round Mountain

rockfringe willowherbRockfringe willowherb – Mt. Eddy

Leopard lilyLeopard Lily – Trinity Alps Wilderness

There were a few new critters too:
Bullock's OrioleBullock’s Oriole – Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Big Horn SheepBig horn sheep – Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Sheep mothSheep moth – Grasshopper Meadow

Pigeon guillemotPigeon guillemot – Yaquina Bay

EgretEgret – Cape Disappointment State Park

CaterpillarCaterpillar – Cape Disappointment State Park

As is often the case we started and ended our hikes at the coast.
Berry Creek flowing toward the PacificBaker Beach in January

Exposed rocks on Ona BeachOna Beach in December

In between we visited some pretty amazing places. Here are just a few of the highlights:
Clarno Unit - John Day Fossil BedsPalisades – Clarno Unit, John Day Fossil Beds, April

Hedgehog cactusHedgehog Cactus – Spring Basin Wilderness, April

Fern CanyonFern Canyon – Prairie Creek State Park, May

Tall Trees GroveTall Trees Grove – Redwoods National Park, May

Crack in the GroundCrack in the Ground, Christmas Valley, May

Wildflowers on Lower Table RockWildflowers on Lower Table Rock, Medford, June

View to the north from the Bridge Creek WildernessNorth Point – Bridge Creek Wilderness, June

Upper Linton FallsUpper Linton Falls – Three Sisters Wilderness, July

Deadfall Lakes from Mt. EddyView from the Summit of Mt. Eddy, July

Caribou LakeCaribou Lake – Trinity Alps Wilderness, July

Vista Ridge TrailFireweed along the Vista Ridge Trail – Mt. Hood Wilderness, August

Grey back whale seen from Yaquina HeadWhale – Yaquina Head, August

Mt. Adams from Horseshoe MeadowHorseshoe Meadow – Mt. Adams Wilderness, September

Bull elk at Clatsop SpitBull elk – Clatsop Spit, September

View from the Blue Basin Overlook TrailBlue Basin – John Day Fossil Beds, September

Mt. Ireland from Baldy LakeBaldy Lake – North Fork John Day Wilderness, September

Dead Mountain TrailDead Mountain Trail – Willamette National Forest – October

Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mirror LakeMt. Hood from Tom Dick and Harry Mountain – Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, October

Cummins Ridge TrailCummins Creek Wilderness, November

It is only a small sample of the amazing diversity that we are blessed with here in the Pacific Northwest. We are looking forward to discovering more new places next year, hopefully with less disruptions to our plans (including not tossing my camera into any rivers). Happy Trails!

Lower White River Wilderness and Twin Lakes Loop

We took advantage of a favorable weather forecast and ended our “hiking season” with a pair of hikes south of Mt. Hood in two separate wilderness areas. Our first hike was in the Lower White River Wilderness.

Designated a wilderness area in 2009, the 4 square mile Lower White River Wilderness has no official trails. The narrow wilderness SE of Mt. Hood covers a portion of the White River and it’s canyon on either side from Keeps Mill Forest Camp for approximately 7.5 miles. A use trail from the forest camp follows the river a short distance and this was our planned route into the wilderness.
Lower White River Wilderness Sign

Keeps Mill Forest Camp is located at the end of Road 2120 which is accessed from Highway 216. The narrow dirt road is poorly maintained along the final mile and a half making it suitable only for high clearance vehicles. Instead of driving all the way down to the camp we parked at a pullout near the Camas Trail which crosses Road 2120 on it’s way from Camas Prairie to Keeps Mill Forest Camp.
Camas Trail sign along Road 2010

We followed the Camas Trail down to the campground. It was still pretty dark and also fairly foggy when we arrived back on Road 2120 near the entrance of Keeps Mill Forest Camp.
Keep's Mill Forest Camp

The campground is located near the confluence of Clear Creek and the White River.
Clear Creek
Clear Creek

White River
White River

We found the use trail along the river and followed it for about half a mile where it appeared to become fairly brushy.

Lower White River Wilderness

White River

Lower White River Wilderness

The trail had been traveling between the river and a talus slope where the remains of an old flume could be seen amid the rocks.
Talus slope with the remains of an old flume

Old flume remains in the Lower White River Wilderness

We turned around here having accomplished our goal of hiking into the wilderness and seeing some of the flume remains and headed back to the campground and up the Camas Trail.
Camas Trail

Fog and a little blue sky over the talus slope along the Camas Trail

When we got back to where we’d parked Heather spotted a doe that quickly fled into the forest. The hike had been just under 2 miles with approximately 250′ of elevation gain climbing up the Camas Trail.

We hopped back into the car and headed toward Mt. Hood turning off Highway 26 at the Frog Lake Sno-Park for our next hike.
Frog Lake Sno-Park sign

Our planned hike here was a loop visiting Palmateer Point, the Twin Lakes, Frog Lake Butte, and Frog Lake. We began by heading north from the large parking lot on a short connector trail that brought us to the Pacific Crest Trail.
Pacific Crest Trail near the Frog Lake Sno-Park

We turned right on the PCT at a sign for Barlow Pass.
Trail sign for Barlow Pass

Pacific Crest Trail

After 1.4 miles we arrived a trail junction with the Twin Lakes Trail.
Pacific Crest Trail near the Mt. Hood Wilderness boundary

Turning right on the Twin Lakes Trail would have led past Lower then Upper Twin Lake before returning to the PCT 1.4 miles to the north after traveling a total of 3.1 miles. We had a longer loop planned so we stuck to the PCT and entered the Mt. Hood Wilderness.
Pacific Crest Trail entering the Mt. Hood Wilderness

There were no views along this section of the PCT but it was a pleasant forest walk and we kept busy spotting all the different mushrooms along the trail.
Mushroom

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Mushroom along the Pacific Crest Trail

We passed the other end of the Twin Lakes Trail sticking to the PCT for another 3/4 miles to the Palmateer Trail.
Twin Lakes Trail

Palmeteer Trail

We turned onto the Palmateer Trail and followed it for nearly a mile passing a junction with the Devil’s Half Acre Trail along the way.
Palmateer Trail

Trail sign along the Palmateer Trail

We forked left at a post after .9 miles.
Spur trail to Palmateer Point

This .3 mile spur trail led up to Palmateer Point.
Heading to Palmateer Point

View along the spur trail to Palmateer Point

We were hoping for a close up view of Mt. Hood but found that a jumble of clouds were preventing that.
Mt. Hood behind clouds from Palamteer Point

We took a break on the point watching a pair of hawks soaring nearby and admiring the golden larches in the valley below.
One of two hawks flying around Palmateer Point

Hawk on Palmateer Point

Larches

Larches

This was our first good look at the larches, the only deciduous conifers, sporting their fall colors.

After getting a brief glimpse of Mt. Hood’s summit we headed back down to continue our loop.
Mt. Hood hiding behind clouds from Palmateer Point

We passed in and out of small patches of fog for the next .6 miles to a junction with a .2 mile tie-trail that would have led to the Twin Lakes Trail.
Sunrays in the Mt. Hood Wilderness

Trail sign along the Palmateer Trail

This was the route equestrians would need to take, but we stuck to the Palmateer Trail heading for another viewpoint.
Palmateer Trail

Mt. Hood was still mostly hidden when we arrived at the small rocky viewpoint so it was once again the larches that were the highlight.
Mt. Hood from the Palmateer Trail

Larches in the valley below the Palmateer Trail

Larches

We followed the Palmateer Trail to it’s end at the Twin Lakes Trail along Upper Twin Lake.
Upper Twin Lake

Mt. Hood was starting to reveal more of itself as the day went on.
Mt. Hood from Upper Twin Lake

We followed trails counter-clockwise around the lake getting an even better view of the mountain’s snowy summit from the lake’s southern end.
Upper Twin Lake

Mt. Hood from Upper Twin Lake

Mt. Hood from Upper Twin Lake

When we arrived back at the Twin Lakes Trail we headed south down to Lower Twin Lake which was .7 miles away.
Trail junction near Upper Twin Lake

The lower lake is just off the Twin Lakes Trail and is accessed from the direction we were coming from by the Frog Lake Butte Trail.
Frog Lake Butte Trail sign near Lower Twin Lake

Lower Twin Lake

Again we did a counter-clockwise loop around the lake.
Lower Twin Lake

The quickest way back to the sno-park would have been to return to the Twin Lakes Trail and follow it back to the Pacific Crest Trail for a 9.1 mile loop (not counting the loops around the lakes). By being willing to do an extra 4 miles though we could visit one more viewpoint and another lake by taking the Frog Lake Butte Trail.
Frog Lake Butte Trail

This trail led 1.3 miles to a junction on a saddle with the Frog Lake Trail.
Frog Lake Butte Trail

At the junction we turned uphill toward Frog Lake Butte climbing steeply for .7 miles to the summit.
Cell tower on Frog Lake Butte

The final portion of the trail followed Frog Lake Butte Road past a communications tower to a viewpoint where Mt. Hood was now mostly visible.
Mt. Hood from Frog Lake Butte

Mt. Hood from Frog Lake Butte

We stayed at the viewpoint for awhile watching as the clouds slowly passed by.
Mt. Hood from Frog Lake Butte

When we were satisfied that we’d gotten about as good a view as we were going to get we headed back down to the Frog Lake Trail and continued downhill on it.
Frog Lake Butte Trail

This trail crossed Frog Lake Butte Road before entering what appeared to be an old clear cut where we had a nice view of Mt. Jefferson to the south.
Frog Lake Butte Trail

Mt. Jefferson from the Frog Lake Butte Trail

Mt. Jefferson from the Frog Lake Butte Trail

After 1.3 miles we arrived at the Frog Lake Campground where we detoured briefly to get a look at Frog Lake.
Frog Lake

Frog Lake

A .7 mile walk along Frog Lake Butte Road brought us back to the sno-park and our waiting car.
Frog Lake Butte Road

The loop came to 14.1 miles which was nicely broken up into shorter sections by the various sights and trail junctions. It was a very enjoyable hike on a great weather day and a perfect end to our 2016 hiking season. We’ll try and get out on a trail at least once a month until next year’s season starts. For now – Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157672250482753

Cooper Spur

We have had the hike up Cooper Spur on Mt. Hood in our plans for the last several years but for one reason or another it has wound up getting bumped from the schedule.  It was on our schedule again this year with an October date set.  Not wanting to miss out on this hike again we decided to take advantage of what appeared to be an excellent weather forecast and move it up.

Our plan was to start out at the Tilly Jane Ski Trail along Forest Road 3512 and explore the Cloud Cap/Tilly Jane Historic District as well as hiking up Cooper Spur. This starting point adds nearly 2000′ of elevation gain and approximately 5.5 miles to the hike vs starting at either the Tilly Jane or Cloud Cap Saddle Campgrounds but we decided we’d rather spend time hiking up to those areas than driving an additional 30 minutes each way.

The trailhead is located just beyond the Cooper Spur Ski Area on Forest Road 3512. To reach it turn off of Highway 35 onto Cooper Spur Road then turn left onto Cloud Cap Road (Forest Road 3512) at the Cooper Spur Mountain Resort. The trailhead is 1.5 miles along this road with parking on the right.
IMG_6569

Informational signs at the trailhead told a little about the historic district.
IMG_6567

IMG_6568

The trail headed uphill through the forest, reaching a junction after a half mile with the Polallie Ridge Trail which we would be taking as part of our return route.
IMG_6572

IMG_6574

The trail climbed very steadily and soon entered forest burned in the 2011 Dollar Lake Fire.
IMG_6579

The burnt trees allowed for some nice views of not only Mt. Hood but also Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens in Washington.
IMG_6587

IMG_6590

It was very apparent that earlier in the year there had been a nice display of wildflowers along the trail but most of them had long since passed although a few holdouts did remain.
IMG_6606

The dead trees seemed to host plenty of life in the form of a variety of birds flying from tree to tree.
IMG_6601

IMG_6619

IMG_6627

After nearly 3 miles of climbing we neared the Tilly Jane A Frame which was hidden in non-burnt trees.
IMG_6628

Despite being threatened by the 2011 fire, firefighters had been able to save all the structures in the historic district.

Heather and I were busy talking as we approached the A-Frame and I suddenly noticed there was a deer in the trail about 20 yards away. It walked into the trees as I was grabbing the camera, but then a second deer appeared.
IMG_6629

She sized us up for a moment then proceeded to take a few bites of the plants as she followed the other one into the trees.
IMG_6631

IMG_6633

As we continued up the trail we spotted the first deer and saw that it was a young buck.
IMG_6634

After watching the deer for a moment we proceeded to the A-Frame to have a look.
IMG_6638

IMG_6639

IMG_6640

IMG_6642

The A-Frame was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939 and can sleep up to 20. It originally had a kitchen and dining hall on the ground floor with the sleeping area above in the loft.

West of the A-Frame is the Legion Cookhouse (built in 1924) which is not in the best of shape.
IMG_6644

IMG_6645

Just beyond the cookhouse a trail sign announced the Tilly Jane Trail.
IMG_6649

We turned left on the trail after taking a quick look at the American Legion Amphitheater which was also constructed in the 1920s.
IMG_6651

The Tilly Jane Trail enters the Mt. Hood Wilderness about a quarter mile from the cookhouse.
IMG_6654

The trail then proceeds uphill along the Polallie Creek Canyon just over three quarters of a mile to the Timberline Trail. A 1980 flash flood sent an 80′ deep wall of water and debris down the canyon. Viewpoints along the way offered a look at the origin of the flood at the headwall of the canyon.
IMG_6656

IMG_6659

Beyond the viewpoint of the headwall the forest began thinning out providing nice views ahead of Mt. Hood.
IMG_6666

We also had a great view of Mt. Adams which is something we seem to rarely get.
IMG_6676

Just over a mile from the cookhouse and 4 miles from the trailhead on FR 3512 we arrived at the Timberline Trail.
IMG_6681

We followed the pointer for Cooper Spur a tenth of a mile to the Cooper Spur Shelter.
IMG_6688

Cloud Cap Inn was visible from the shelter which we planned to visit on our way down.
IMG_6690

IMG_6691

We continued up from the shelter following a clear trail.
IMG_6701

The official trail shown on maps switchbacks uphill but we wound up off the trail after visiting a viewpoint of the Eliot Glacier near a memorial plaque for Robert Edling, a mountain rescue pilot that died in a crop duster accident near The Dalles.
IMG_6703

IMG_6708

From the memorial plaque we headed straight up the ridge following a confusion of faint paths up through the rocks.
IMG_6713

This was much steeper than the switchbacks would have been and when the official trail came close enough for us to see it we hopped back on. We left it again though when it headed straight for a snowfield. It was a cold morning (the expected high for the day in the area was 48) and we knew that the snow would be covered in ice so we wouldn’t be able to cross it. We returned to the edge of the ridge and headed straight up again. In addition to making the distance a little shorter, the main advantage to this route were the views. The views of the Eliot Glacier were really interesting.
IMG_6718

IMG_6719

IMG_6720

IMG_6721

IMG_6722

IMG_6723

IMG_6717

The route steepened quite a bit as it veered to the east to climb to the top of a moraine.
IMG_6725

A stone windbreak at the top wasn’t housing any hikers but there were a few ladybugs taking shelter.
IMG_6736

IMG_6768

The official trail ends here where the views were spectacular. To the south Broken Top, The Three Sisters, and Mt. Jefferson were all visible.
IMG_6738

To the north Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams were all virtually cloud free.
IMG_6740

IMG_6746

IMG_6741

IMG_6743

To the NE the Columbia River snaked from the dry brown landscape of eastern WA and OR into the forested cliffs of the Columbia Gorge.
IMG_6755

Further to the east the Newton Clark Glacier drained into the Newton Creek Canyon.
IMG_6756

Mt. Hood provided the most dramatic view though.
IMG_6750

One of the features on Mt. Hood that we had a good view of was Pulpit Rock.
IMG_6760

Another unique feature in the area is Hiroshima Rock. A boulder inscribed by a group of Japanese climbers in 1910.
IMG_6751

For more information on the Hiroshima Rock check out this post by WyEast Blog.

Even though the official trail ended at roughly 8500′ on top of the moraine, a climbers trail continued along the ridge past Tie-in Rock, a large boulder not far beyond the start of the ridge. The ridge was snow free so we continued on passing Tie-in Rock and continuing to an elevation just over 8900′ where the trail dropped slightly to a saddle between the Eliot and Newton Clark Glaciers.

Heather crossing the ridge. (Tie-in Rock is the large boulder in the distance just to the right of the trail.)
IMG_6770

The first section of the ridge was somewhat level before a final rocky climb to our turnaround point.
IMG_6773

We passed a final memorial plaque along the way remembering the victims of a 1981 climbing accident.
IMG_6774

IMG_6775

Other than a bow hunter, who had been at the trailhead when we arrived that morning, we hadn’t seen anyone other people and were alone on the ridge.
IMG_6785

From this highest point one final Cascade Peak came into view to the south – Diamond Peak.
IMG_6804

After enjoying the views we headed back down the way we’d come. As we were descending some high clouds passed overhead changing the scenery a bit.
IMG_6817

We decided to follow the official trail on the way down from the moraine which turned out not to be the best decision. The snowfield was still impassible and it was a lot bigger than we had anticipated which caused us to have to swing out wide and make our way down along the snow in loose rocks and sand.
IMG_6821

After passing below the snowfield we contoured back toward the official trail eventually picking it up about a mile and a half from the Timberline Trail. We then followed it back down to the junction and turned left on the Timberline Trail and headed toward Cloud Cap.
IMG_6824

IMG_6825

The trail descended to a crossing of the upper (and dry) portion of Tilly Jane Creek where it split. With no signs it was difficult to tell if we should turn downhill along the creek or climb to the ridge along the Eliot Moraine. We chose to go up where we found a nice path with great views along the ridge.
IMG_6832

IMG_6828

IMG_6830

Near the end of the moraine the trail dropped down to the right into the forest.
IMG_6835

After 1.2 miles we came to a sign for the Cloud Cap Trailhead.
IMG_6836

We followed that trail for 100 yards to the Cloud Cap Saddle Campground where a road led up and around a hill to the Cloud Cap Inn.
IMG_6837

IMG_6838

Snowshoe Cabin
IMG_6839

Cloud Cap Inn
IMG_6846

IMG_6848

IMG_6849

The inn was opened in 1889 and is currently maintained by the Hood River Crag Rats who use the inn as a base for snow surveys and mountain rescues. Click  here for more on the inn’s history.

After visiting Cloud Cap we passed back through the campground where we turned left on the Tilly Jane Trail.
IMG_6852

This section of the trail passed through a mix of burnt and unburnt forest and still had a few flowers along it.
Aster
IMG_6854

Pearly everlasting
IMG_6855

Goldenrod
IMG_6857

IMG_6859

We followed signs to the Tilly Jane Campground and the 1924 Tilly Jane Guard Station.
IMG_6860

IMG_6863

IMG_6864

The trail crossed Tilly Jane Creek on a footbridge between the Guard Station and the amphitheater.
IMG_6866

IMG_6868

Instead of returning on the Tilly Jane Ski Trail which led past the A-Frame we turned back uphill on the Tilly Jane Trail for a couple hundred feet to a trail sign for the Polallie Ridge Trail.
IMG_6871

The Polallie Ridge Trail quickly entered the Dollar Fire burn area. The trail stuck closely to the top of the ridge as it headed straight downhill.
IMG_6876

IMG_6882

There was a nice view back to Mt. Hood as well as the headwall of the Polallie Creek Canyon.
IMG_6878

The trail was faint and appeared to get more use by deer than hikers. Manzanita and chinkapin covered sections of the trail but it was passable.
IMG_6883

IMG_6888

chinkapin
IMG_6885

The trail eventually reentered forest unaffected by the fire and just over 2 miles from the Tilly Jane Trail junction we turned left following a blue arrow for the Polallie Ridge Trail.
IMG_6889

IMG_6890

IMG_6891

Another quarter mile brought us back to the Tilly Jane Ski Trail just .5 miles from our car.
IMG_6892

IMG_6894

The total distance for the hike was 13.9 miles with a little over 5000′ of elevation gain. It had been a near perfect day for the hike with the cool temperatures and lack of troublesome clouds. Having had Cooper Spur all to ourselves was just a bonus. We had begun seeing other hikers when we began descending from the moraine at 8500′ and there were plenty of cars at Cloud Cap and the Tilly Jane Campground as well as the trailhead when we got back. It was another good reminder why we get ourselves up so early on hiking days.

Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157674245738906

Paradise Park via Hidden Lake Trail

Just like our previous hike (Jefferson Park via Woodpecker Ridge) our latest outing consisted of a new way to visit a familiar area. Our goal this time was Paradise Park on Mt. Hood which we had hiked to twice previously; first in August 2012 on a day hike from Timberline Lodge and again in July 2014 during an overnight trip that started from the Burnt Lake Trailhead.  This hike was originally going to be a 13.2 mile day hike consisting of  a loop using the Hidden Lake, Pacific Crest, and Paradise Park Trails.  The drawback to this plan was that the planned loop did not bring us to Paradise Park. We would need to add at least another mile to the hike to reach the park and even then we would only be seeing a small portion of the Paradise Park area.   Our solution was to turn it into an overnight backpacking trip which would allow us to set up camp and then explore to our hearts content (or until our feet said no more).

We decided to park at the Paradise Park Trailhead and walk .9 miles along Road 39 to the Hidden Lake Trailhead.
Paradise Park Trailhead

Hidden Lake Trailhead

We turned up the Hidden Lake Trail, stopping to fill out a wilderness permit and read a nearby sign recalling the organization of the Mazamas.
Hidden Lake Trail

Interpretive sign near the Hidden Lake Trailhead

The Hidden Lake Trail climbed at a pretty good pitch at first, eventually becoming less steep as it gained the forested ridge and approached Hidden Lake.
Entering the Mt. Hood Wilderness on the Hidden Lake Trail

Hidden Lake Trail

We reached the spur trail to Hidden Lake about 2 miles up the Hidden Lake Trail. The lake itself was not visible from the trail but the presence of a campsite just off the trail gave its presence away. We followed the spur trail past the campsite to the small forested lake.
Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

The muddy lake shore seemed to be attracting a fair number of yellow jackets so we kept our distance and didn’t stay long. From the lake the trail climbed nearly another 2000′ in approximately 2.5 miles. The forested ridge provided no views of Mt. Hood but there was a nice supply of ripe huckleberries for us to munch on as we climbed. The trees did provide some protection from the Sun which was welcome because it was already a warm morning. Temperatures in the Willamette Valley were supposed to hit triple digits and the high at Paradise Park was forecast to be around 70 for the day. We were able to keep a decent pace though and at the Pacific Crest Trail we turned left toward Paradise Park.
Hidden Lake Trail junction with the Pacific Crest Trail

Mt. Hood finally came into view as we hiked along the PCT.
Mt. Hood from the Pacific Crest Trail

From the Hidden Lake Trail junction it was a mile and a half to the dramatic Zigzag Canyon overlook. From the overlook, Mt. Hood looms behind Mississippi Head as the Zigzag River roars below.
Mt. Hood and the Zigzag River Canyon

To the south Mt. Jefferson was visible although it was a little hazy.
Mt. Jefferson

The PCT drops approximately 500′ from the overlook down to the Zigzag River. We rock hopped across the water then decided to head upstream toward Zigzag Falls.
Zigzag Falls

On our 2012 hike we noticed the fall but didn’t actually make it all the way there. It had seemed too far away. Our definition of “too far” has apparently changed over time. This time Zigzag Falls appeared relatively close and it didn’t take us long to arrive at the waterfall.
Zigzag Falls

Zigzag Falls

We were surprised at the power of the waterfall as it crashed down into the splash pool. A nice cool mist was being generated and we took advantage by sitting nearby and taking a fairly long break. After cooling off we returned to the PCT and continued toward Paradise Park. The climb out of the northern side of the canyon was much shorter than the descent on the far side and shortly after climbing out we came to a junction with the Paradise Park Loop Trail.
Pacific Crest Trail junction with the southern end of the Paradise Park Loop Trail

The 2.4 mile Paradise Park Loop Trail climbs up to the wildflower meadows of Paradise Park and eventually rejoins the PCT further to the north. Before we headed up to Paradise Park though, we wanted to find a campsite so we could leave our heavy backpacks behind. After passing the junction we began looking for a suitable spot. We were hoping to find something near the junction with the Paradise Park Trail which was just a half mile from the Paradise Park Loop Trail. There were a couple decent spots just before we reached the Paradise Park Trail but we preferred to be a little further off the busy Pacific Crest Trail so we decided to turn down the Paradise Park Trail and see if we could find something along this trail.
Paradise Park Trail junction with the Pacific Crest Trail

As we descended the .2 miles to a junction with the Burnt Lake Trail, we agreed to turn around if we were unable to find a decent campsite. We found what we were looking for near the trail junction and were able to set up our tent.
Campsite along the Paradise Park Trail

After getting camp situated we headed back up to the Pacific Crest Trail where we faced a choice. To reach Paradise Park we could go straight up the Paradise Park Trail, turn right and take the Paradise Park Loop counterclockwise, or turn left and do the loop clockwise. We had done the loop counterclockwise in 2012 and gone straight up the Paradise Park Trail in 2014 so of course we chose clockwise this time just to be different. When we reached Lost Creek we turned off the PCT and headed up a sandy hill to visit Lost Creek Falls.
Lost Creek Falls

Lost Creek Falls

Lost Creek Falls

Continuing on from Lost Creek Falls we passed the trickle of the ironically named Rushing Water Creek.
Rushing Water Creek

We reached the northern end of the Paradise Park Loop Trail 2 miles from the Paradise Park Trail and turned uphill.
Pacific Crest Trail junction with the northern end of the Paradise Park Loop Trail

The northern end of the trail passes through drier meadows that were filled with aster and big views of Mt. Hood. A wider variety of flowers were present where there was more moisture.
Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Loop Trail

Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Loop Trail

Mt. Hood and split rock from the Paradise Park Loop Trail

Gentians
Gentians

Cat’s ear lily
Cat's ear lily

Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Loop Trail

Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Loop Trail

We stopped to get water from the wildflower lined north fork of Lost Creek.
Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Loop Trail

Wildflowers along a branch of Lost Creek

Wildflowers alogn a branch of Lost Creek

Mt. Hood was briefly hidden as we wrapped around a hillside covered in aster and fireweed that separates the branches of Lost Creek.
Fireweed and aster along the Paradise Park Loop Trail

Meadows of aster and lupine were visible below the trail.
Aster meadow

Lupine and groundsel

Beyond the hill we passed the site of the former Paradise Park Shelter before descending to the main branch of Lost Creek.
Site of the former Paradise Park shelter

Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Loop Trail at Lost Creek

There were lots of flowers near the creek including an impressive patch of yellow and pink monkeyflower.
Wildflowers along Lost Creek

Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Loop Trail

The meadows along the trail on the south side of Lost Creek were much greener with more wildflowers.
Lupine and groundsel

Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Loop Trail

When we arrived at the junction with the Paradise Park Trail we remarked at the difference in the types of flowers present from our visit in 2012. That visit had been on August 27th and the meadow had been full of lupine and bistort.
Mt. Hood from Paradise Park

This time it was mostly aster that filled the meadow.
Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Trail

One area we had not explored on either of our previous visit was further up the Paradise Park Trail so this time we turned toward the mountain and headed up through the wildflower meadows.
Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Trail

It was interesting to see how the composition of the meadows changed along the way. We passed areas of purple aster, white bistort, and eventually dwarf lupine and yarrow.
Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Trail

Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Trail

Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Trail

Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Trail

We took a break on a large rock with a great view of Mt. Hood and Mississippi Head.
Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Trail

Mississippi Head

There was a cool breeze coming off Mt. Hood which made the temperature perfect. After a snack we followed the trail over to a ridge overlooking the upper portions of the Zigzag Canyon where a couple of waterfalls were visible.
Trail heading over to an overlook of the Zigzag River Canyon

Mississippi Head and Mt. Hood

Seeps flowing down into the Zigzag River Canyon

Waterfall in the Zigzag River Canyon

We headed back down to the Paradise Park Loop Trail and then opted to finish the loop instead of heading straight back down the Paradise Park Trail to the PCT. Once we were back on the Pacific Crest Trail we decided that we would hike back to Lost Creek Falls in order to cook dinner and then refill our water supply for the night. We cooked dinner on the sandy hill then moved to a rock with a view of the falls to eat. As the Sun lowered there was almost a rainbow effect at the base of Lost Creek Falls.
Lost Creek Falls

Lost Creek Falls

After dinner we filtered some water then returned to our campsite along the Paradise Park Trail. Stopping along the way at a nice huckleberry patch for dessert.
Huckleberries along the Paradise Park Trail

Huckleberries along the Paradise Park Trail

It was just after 7pm when we arrived back at camp. There were a ton of little flies out and a fair number of mosquitoes that were much more interested in Heather than myself so we quickly headed into the tent for the night which was okay because we’d somehow managed to put in 19.7 miles for the day.
Campsite along the Paradise Park Trail

It was still dark when we woke the next morning as I went to check the time on my phone. We both expected it to be somewhere around 2 or 3am so we were relieved when it turned out to be 5:23 and not too early to get up. After packing up camp we braved the bugs and prepared breakfast – instant coffee and Backpacker’s Pantry bacon and cheddar mashed potatoes. After eating we began the 6 mile downhill hike toward the Paradise Park Trailhead. We made good time despite being distracted by the abundant ripe huckleberries. The trail was just as view-less as the Hidden Lake Trail had been the day before. Where it would have been possible to filter water on that trail the Paradise Park stream crossings were basically dry. The forest was nice though and this ridge was a bit wider than the one the Hidden Lake Trail, creating a little more of an open feeling.
Paradise Park Trail

Mt. Hood Wilderness

In the middle of the trail was a long section where the trail was about as straight as a trail can be and almost looked like it was following an old road bed. As the trail approached the edge of the ridge the forest thinned and there was a viewpoint looking toward Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain to the south.
Tom Dick and Harry Mountain

While we were at the viewpoint a Turkey Vulture passed by several times close enough to hear the wind on its wings.
Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

The trial then veered away from the ridgeline for .7 miles and began a final set of switchbacks down to the Zigzag River, which it followed back to the Barlow Campground and the Paradise Park Trailhead.
Paradise Park Trail

Zigzag River Trail

Both the Hidden Lake and Paradise Park Trails are longer, steeper routes to Paradise Park than the more popular Pacific Crest Trail from Timberline Lodge hike but they do have things to offer. Solitude and dense forest replace mountain views making these good options for quieter hikes while still bringing you to the big views at Paradise Park. If you’ve already been to Paradise Park via Timberline Lodge either of these trails make a nice alternative, especially when the berries are ripe. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157671573939900

Horseshoe Ridge and Cast Creek Trail Loop

On Father’s Day we headed toward Mt. Hood for a loop hike on some lesser used trails. We planned on using the Horseshoe Ridge and Cast Creek Trails as well as a portion of the Zigzag Mountain Trail for a loop in the Mt. Hood Wilderness. Along the way we’d also visit Cast Lake and depending on visibility detour to the summit of East Zigzag Mountain.

We began our hike by parking along Forest Road 1825-380 at the bridge over Lost Creek near the Riley Horse Camp. The Horseshoe Ridge Trail began on the SW side of the road.
IMG_8679

The trail paralleled Lost Creek for the first 3/4 mile but didn’t get very close to the water until the trail crossed the creek. I had checked the Mt. Hood Forest Service for trail conditions before we left so we knew the bridge was “unusable”.
IMG_8682

IMG_8685

We looked around a bit and noticed a downed tree a little downstream that we could use to cross but it was wet and slick and not wide enough to comfortably walk across in those conditions. We faced the choice of scooting across or fording the creek. Considering the temperature was only in the upper 30’s we decided we’d rather scoot than get soaked.
IMG_8686

Halfway across we discovered that we weren’t the only ones using the log and had to creatively maneuver past a snail and small slug.

Beyond Lost Creek the trail climbed through the forest for nearly 4 miles to the Zigzag Mountain Trail. The climb was never too steep and near the end the trail entered a meadow with wildflowers and views of Mt. St. Helens.
IMG_8698

Columbine and paintbrush
IMG_8733

Beargrass
IMG_8720

Lupine
IMG_8723

Paintbrush
IMG_8719

Lousewort before blooming
IMG_8726

IMG_8728

IMG_8730

IMG_8735

We turned left on the Zigzag Mountain Trail passing through more beargrass meadows and gaining views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_8736

IMG_8737

IMG_8739

IMG_8744

IMG_8746

We followed the trail up to a ridge top where a rocky viewpoint added three Washington volcanoes to the view.
IMG_8752

Mt. St. Helens
IMG_8756

Mt. Rainier
IMG_8755

Mt. Adams
IMG_8754

The trail then crossed over the ridge and began descending along the north side of Zigzag Mountain. We had been on this section of trail in 2012 during a July 9th loop starting from the Burnt Lake South Trailhead. During that hike this portion of trail was still partly covered in snow. This time around there were only a couple of small patches remaining in the brush along the trail.
IMG_8778

We passed above Cast Lake passing a junction with the Devil’s Tie Trail to the Cast Lake Trail.
IMG_8781

IMG_8784

IMG_8790

A half mile hike along this trail brought us to Cast Lake.
IMG_8794

Snow melt and recent precipitation had left standing water on some of the trail and mud along portions of the shore on the SW side of the lake. We followed a path around the north side of the lake past several nice campsites. We turned around shortly after crossing Cast Creek flowing out of the lake. The one thing that the lake lacks is a good view of Mt. Hood, but rhododendron and beargrass were blooming along the shore making for a pretty scene.
IMG_8803

We left Cast Lake and continued our loop on the Zigzag Mountain Trail and quickly arrived at the Cast Creek Trail junction.
IMG_8806

We faced a choice here. We could turn left on the Cast Creek Trail and complete the loop or take another side trip by continuing on the Zigzag Mountain Trail to East Zigzag Mountain. With the weather being as nice as it was and knowing that there would be some flowers in the meadow below the summit we decided on one more side trip. After a short but decent climb we emerged from the trees in the meadow.
IMG_8809

The lower portion of the meadow was full of Phlox and yet to bloom lupine.
IMG_8815

As we climbed higher Mt. Hood came into view and the variety of flowers increased.
IMG_8821

IMG_8827

IMG_8830

IMG_8833

IMG_8840

IMG_8836

Several other Cascade peaks were visible from the ridge.
Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams to the north.
IMG_8854

Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack to the south.
IMG_8857

I left Heather at the summit and headed down into the meadow on the opposite side of the summit. The flowers seemed to be a little behind so I turned around after getting a few pictures including the obligatory Burnt Lake shot.
IMG_8866

IMG_8868

Burnt Lake below Mt. Hood
IMG_8861

I returned to the summit and we headed back to the Cast Creek Trail. We had accidentally taken this trail in 2012 mistaking it for the Cast Lake Trail (we obviously didn’t read the sign well). The Cast Creek Trail begins with a little climb past some decent viewpoints before beginning its decent into the forest.
IMG_8879

Mt. Hood

The rhododendron bloom along the upper portion of the trail was one of the best we’ve witnessed.
IMG_8876

IMG_8882

IMG_8886

The forest along the Cast Creek Trail was quite different from what we had encountered coming up on the Horseshoe Ridge Trail. There was much less underbrush leaving the forest with a more open feeling.
IMG_8890

We kept expecting to see a deer or other larger animal below us through the trees but we never did. What we did see was a garter snake enjoying a patch of sunshine along the trail.
IMG_8894

IMG_8892

According the the Forest Service website neither the Cast Creek nor the Horseshoe Ridge Trail had been maintained since 2014 but they were both in pretty good shape. There were a few downed trees but nothing difficult to maneuver around. We did see one sign of more recent maintenance on the lower portion of the Cast Creek Trail which left us scratching our heads. A small tree had come down across the trail. The top end of the tree had been sawed off, but not the portion that was across the trail. There was a saw mark along the trunk where someone had started a second cut to remove the portion of tree hanging over the trail, but they hadn’t finished it for some reason.
IMG_8917

The Cast Creek Trail ended at a day use area at the far end of Riley Horse Camp.
IMG_8920

We had intended to park here, but failed to find it due to a lack of signage and having turned out of the horse camp before going all the way to the end.
We walked through the horse camp to the road then continued a tenth of a mile back to our car. Both of our GPS devices had the hike at a little over 16 miles which made it pretty long for a day hike, but spending the night at Cast Lake would make it a nice overnight trip. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157669434295252