Tag Archives: Oregon

Mount June

Ah the elusive view. One of my favorite rewards on a hike is reaching that spot where the view simply takes your breath away. It could be the sudden appearance of a giant snow covered mountain that looks so close that you could reach out and touch it or a wildflower meadow that seems to have been painted by the Creator himself or a panoramic view that is so immense that you can barely take it all in. We’re lucky enough to live in an area where there are plenty of places to hike where these types of views are possible. Possible but not guaranteed. We were reminded of that once again on our recent hike up Mount June.

There are a number of things that can end your chances to have the view you had hoped for. Hazy skies, forest fires, fog and clouds can all conspire against you. Unfortunately it was fog and clouds that proved our nemesis on Mount June. We had heard that the area is known for it’s fog but had also heard that often the rocky summit of Mount June rises above it to offer a view of a string of Cascade peaks. The forecast had called for a partly cloudy/mostly sunny morning with clear skies starting around 1:00pm.

We were the first to arrive at the trail head on this morning and were immediately struck by the darkness of the forest as soon as we stepped on the trail. Within a short distance we entered the fog which we had heard about.
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We noticed a number of the same Spring flowers we had seen over a month earlier at lower elevations blooming here now. Trillium, sourgrass, and wood violets add color to the forest along with a good number of fawn lilies. Once again we were too early for the rhododendron & beargrass displays even though these were in bloom along the road at the trail head.

It appeared to be raining most of the time we were in the forest but upon reaching a series of meadows near Sawtooth rock we realized it was not in fact raining. The fog was so damp that the condensation was falling from the trees creating the rainy affect. The meadows here were filled with wildflowers glistening with water droplets. The foggy conditions meant no views and even made it hard to make out large Sawtooth rock at the far end of the meadows. We skipped a short side trail to it’s base hoping that on our way back the skies might be clearer.

We continued on the Sawtooth trail toward Hardesty Mountain. Our plan was to make a short loop on it’s summit and visit the sight of a former lookout tower. As we reached our furthest point a hint of blue sky seemed to be just a little further to the North just out of our reach. We had a snack at the former lookout site and then completed the loop and headed back hoping that blue sky might be waiting for us on Mount June.

This time we took the trail to the base of Sawtooth rock where the conditions were slightly improved. Many birds were now flying around the meadows and we spotted one with some bright yellow coloring. It turned out to be a yellow-rumped warbler.
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The fog had lifted some and there was even a short lived opening giving us a view of the forest below, but Mount June was still hidden in the clouds.

We took the .5 mile climb to Mount June’s rocky summit which was for some reason particularly tough on this day. I don’t know if it was due to it being toward the end of the hike or the cumulative effect of a week of hiking but it was a trudge. Much to our disappointment the we found the same clouds and fog on the summit as we had been in all day. We decided to have some lunch and hope that the sunny skies that had been forecast would materialize since it was just now 1:00pm. The clouds kept rolling past us and all we managed were a couple of very short glimpses of Mt. Bailey and the ghostly outline of Mt. Thielsen to the SE.
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The view had eluded us once again, simply teasing us with a small brief sample of what could have been.

It was a good example of just why the elusive view is one of the most rewarding things for me on a hike. The mountains and forests don’t move but there is never a guarantee that they will be there to be seen. The view must be pursued and caught to be enjoyed.

After lunch we returned to the car where fluffy white clouds floated by in the blue sky. As we drove away there was no missing Mount June, it was the only peak with a cloud draped over it’s summit. We have many more hikes planned where we will have a chance to capture the elusive view, and after Mount June it will be even sweeter when we finally do. Happy Trails

foggy photos on facebook:https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201288913212035.1073741835.1448521051&type=1
flickr:http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633890026592/

Saddle Mountain

I am not sure we had completely dried out after our Hamilton Mountain hike (I know ours shoes hadn’t) but we were back in the “saddle” yesterday for another hike. Saddle Mountain state park was our destination, located in the NW corner of Oregon just 20 miles from the coastal city of Seaside. Saddle Mountain is known for it’s wildflowers and rare plants as well as being the highest point in northwest Oregon.

Once again we were we greeted at the trail head by a layer of low clouds which made for a damp morning. The good news was that there was no wind or rain this time. The trail started out amid salmon and thimble berry bushes in a forest of alders. The trail climbs 1603 feet in just 2.5 miles so the forest and plants changed often. A quick .2 climb to the Humbug Mountain viewpoint provided a view up toward Saddle Mountain’s cloud covered summit.
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We returned to the summit trail and headed up through the fog passing multiple meadows full of wildflowers and lush forests. Much like our previous hike, visibility was limited to a couple hundred feet due to the low clouds but the variety of plants and flowers we were encountering kept us entertained. The trail itself was fairly steep and much of it consisted of wire enclosed rocks which looked like it could be slick but we didn’t have any real problems. Several picnic tables were placed along the trail at switchbacks which allowed for breaks from the climb if needed.

As we approached the summit we noticed some very slight breaks in the clouds which gave us hope. We decided to have some lunch and spend some time at the summit hoping that some views would open up. The clouds were actually moving from east to west toward the Ocean which we could now occasionally see through the clouds. We spent over an hour watching the clouds pass by us as better and better views opened up on all sides. Many swallows zoomed about as we waited and a Junco and a crow also stopped by to check us out. As the view opened up to the west was the Pacific, north the city of Astoria, OR and the Columbia River flowing into the Ocean
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and to the south the coastal mountains. The only disappointment was that on a clear day the Cascade mountains from Mt. Rainier to Mt. Jefferson would have been visible to the East.

We headed back down now able to see the forest below. The wildflowers became even prettier as the increased light made their colors more intense. We took the side trail to the Humbug Mountain viewpoint again to get the cloudless view of Saddle Mountain before returning to the car.
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If you are a wildflower or plant enthusiast this is a great hike, especially from May-July when the flowers are on display. If you can find a clear day (which isn’t easy near the Oregon Coast) the view is a great bonus. Next up is Mount June and yet another attempt at a view of the Cascades. Until then-Happy Trails.

For more info on Saddle Mountain visit: http://www.oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=140
Photo albums-fb: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201276380778732.1073741834.1448521051&type=1
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Tamolitch Pool

Amazing! That is a good start in describing Tamolitch Pool which was the highlight of our most recent hike. Beautiful, gorgeous, and spectacular would also be fitting. We were looking for a good rainy day hike and decided on a section of the McKenzie River Trail in the Willamette National Forest. We had hiked a different section of the trail in September that passed Sahalie & Koosah Falls. This time we would start further down the McKenzie River with Koosah Falls being our turn around point.

We arrived armed with our rain gear and set off through a lush, damp forest. The trail quickly descended to the river, crossed two creeks on bridges, and traveled next to the McKenzie for awhile. It then climbed above the river as it crossed an old lava flow with moss covered rocks and numerous views to the roaring river below.
McKeznie River

Our first view of Tamolitch Pool came just after the 2 mile mark. It was one of those “take your breath away” moments. The pool sits in a small bowl below a dry waterfall. The crystal clear water offers a view to the bottom and is a blue that is truly stunning.
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We spent some time exploring the rim of the bowl watching the McKenzie River flow full speed ahead from this still pool’s outlet.
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After a snack we continued up the trail following the now dry riverbed toward Koosah Falls. Somewhere below us the McKenzie River flowed underground, buried by a lava flow, on it’s way to Tamolitch Pool. The forest along this portion of the trail changed often as we crossed the old riverbed on a series of log bridges. After another 3 miles we reached Carmen Reservoir (and most importantly bathrooms) where the McKenzie was once again visible above ground. Another 0.4 mile stretch brought us to Koosah Falls and our turn around point.

On our way back we stopped again at the pool which was just as stunning now as it was in the morning. Round trip to the pool from the trail head at Trailbridge is only 4.2 miles. Koosah Falls is a little over 11 but can be visited from the nearby Sahalie Falls parking area on a 2 mile loop. The McKenzie River Trail runs a total distance of 26.5 miles with numerous access points making it easy to do the entire trail in shorter sections. Until next time – Happy Trails 🙂

Photos from the hike on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201255605619366.1073741832.1448521051&type=3
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633751250296/

Angel’s Rest & Wahkeena Falls

The weather threw us a curve ball this last week. After enjoying a couple of weeks of summer like weather snow returned to some of the lower elevations. A fact we discovered on the way to our most recent hike. After seeing the amount of snow on the road to the Wildcat Mountain trail head we decided to alter our plans a bit and headed to the Columbia Gorge instead.

Despite the side trip we arrived at the Angel’s Rest trail head (Bridal Veil exit 28 off I-84) before 7:30am. There was only one car in the parking area which we knew would change by the time we hiked back out given the popularity of the Gorge trails. The weather was typical of our experience hiking in the area, low clouds and mild temps. The trail set off in a damp green forest and made it’s way on a steady climb up to Angel’s Rest, a rocky bluff overlooking the Columbia River. The trail was lined with flowers along the way, mostly larkspur and columbine but many different varieties were present. After passing Coopey Falls views begin to open of the Columbia River to the west especially as you reach a rock field crossing.

We were surprised by the width of Angel’s Rest when we arrived at the bluff. It was much wider than we had expected and we spent some time exploring around the area and because we arrived early we had it all to ourselves.
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When we first arrived here we were in the midst of some very low clouds which obstructed our views but they eventually moved on allowing us to see across the river to Washington.

The round trip to Angel’s Rest is about 4.6 miles so we had planned on combining this hike with the Wahkeena Falls trail a couple of miles to the east via the Foxglove trail. This trail obviously doesn’t see much traffic and was fairly overgrown but usable. By the time we had completed this 1.3 mile segment we were pretty soaked from the damp leaves that we brushed against. We then continued on the Angel’s Rest trail passing pretty Wahkeena Spring to the junction with the Wahkeena trail.

The Wahkeena Trail followed Wahkeena creek down through the forest with a brief side trip to Fairy Falls.
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After passing below the falls the trail rejoins Wahkeena Creek crossing it twice before joining a paved path that switchbacks down to Wahkeena Falls.

The closer we got to the falls the more crowded the trail became but we eventually picked our way down to the double cascade of Wahkeena Falls.
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Next came the most dangerous portion of the hike, crossing the historic Columbia River Highway and the seemingly endless stream of cars creeping along trying to get a glimpse of the waterfalls along the way. After a successful game of Frogger and a brief pit stop we headed back up the Wahkeena Trail to begin the 6.7 mile trek back to our car.

By now the trails had become even more crowded but once we reached the junction we lost the crowds for awhile. The advantage of an early start was clear upon arriving back at Angel’s Rest. At least two dozen people, likely more were mulling around on the bluff that we had had to ourselves just 6 hours earlier. When we reached the now full parking area cars were lined along the shoulders of the highway and more were cruising around looking for a free spot. The gorge has some amazing waterfalls, beautiful forests and amazing views which explains the crowds. Our advice is to avoid the weekends, get there early, and don’t stop at the most popular spots. With a vast network of trails many of the real popular falls can be reached from less crowded trail heads if you’re willing to do a little extra hiking and really when is that such a bad thing :). Happy Trails ~

Photos – Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201243609559472.1073741831.1448521051&type=3
Flickr:http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633713648095/

South Breitenbush Gorge Trail

Well it seems that summer has arrived early in the Pacific NW. We’ve enjoyed some unusually warm/dry weather which has me making some adjustments to our hiking plans. We’re hoping that some of the trails will be snow free earlier this year than the previous couple. On the flip side we’re hoping that the weather doesn’t translate to an early or particularly bad fire season, but I digress. On to the trip report for the South Breitenbush Gorge trail.

For the second hike in a row we headed to the Detroit, OR recreation area, and for the 2nd week in a row we were greeted with great weather. This time we would be hiking the first 3.6 miles of the South Breitenbush Gorge trail. The trail itself continues on to Jefferson Park (one of my favorite places) where it meets the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail sets off near the South Breitenbush River and quickly crosses it on a series of footbridges. Our sources (William Sullivan’s “100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades” and Oregonhiking.com) had warned that these bridges are prone to floods which was apparent upon seeing them. They were a patchwork of styles and materials which only added to their charm. This one in particular was rather bouncy which Dominique found a bit unsettling.
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Once across the river the trail followed along at a distance through the forest. Never out of earshot but seldom in view the South Breitenbush flowed along on it’s way to Detroit Lake. In addition to the sound of the river there was almost always a bird singing, and though we didn’t see many we knew there was always one close by.

Like last week we spotted a flower that we had not previously seen on a hike. Last time it was Fairy Slippers (of which we saw many on this hike) and this time it was Fairy Bells which are twin small white flowers. In addition there were many other flowers in bloom including Wood Violets, Sourgrass, Red-Flowering Currant, Salmon Berries, Strawberries, Trillium, Vanilla Leaf, Oregon Grape, and Solomonseal. Rhododendron and Beargrass were present but had yet to bloom; although, there was a very colorful bud showing on a single Rhody and I managed to spot a Beargrass bloom along the road on the way back to Detroit. Heather is sure I am obsessed with Beargrass. She might be right.

The trail was well maintained and never steep. Our goal was to reach Roaring Creek then continue another .5miles to a pullout on road 4685 that can be used as an alternate trail access. Roaring Creek was the scenic highlight. The water cascading over mossy rocks down through the forest was very pretty.
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After spending some time taking in the view we continued on to our turnaround spot where we spotted a rough skinned newt and headed back to the car. This was our final planned hike with less than 1000 feet of elevation gain as we get ready to start climbing up to some better viewpoints. Something of which we are all looking forward to. Until next time – Happy Trails.

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Flickr album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633457445053/

Stahlman Point

Sometimes the weather makes you an offer you just can’t refuse. This was supposed to be an off weekend so Heather could rest after last weekends Eugene marathon, but the prospect of clear skies and 80 degree weather proved to be too enticing. We decided to sneak in a short hike to take advantage of the summer like conditions and chose Stahlman Point near Detroit Lake. We had started this hike a couple of times in years past but due to time constraints had never had made it to the summit viewpoint. The trail gains just over 1300 feet in 2.3 miles to the site of a former lookout tower.

The morning got off to a rocky start when I woke up 45 minutes after the alarm was to have gone off. Anyone familiar with the Sienfeld episode with the marathon runner should know it was the volume. Luckily we always get everything we can ready the night before a hike so after a bit of scrambling we were off at our normal time and were hiking by 6:30am.

There were several types of wildflowers in bloom including trillium, sourgrass, yellow wood violets, and our first encounter with fairyslippers.
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It was still too early for the rhododendron and beargrass blooms but they were both starting to show buds and in a few weeks should be putting on quite a display. The trail offered a few glimpses of Detroit Lake and the ridges of the Willamette Forest beyond. A small spring trickles across the trail near the 2 mile mark. It then ends at a rocky viewpoint that was once home to a fire lookout. Here among the rocks were several other types of flower including a single penstemon that we nearly missed hiding at the base of an outcropping.

The viewpoint provided a clear view of Mt. Jefferson to the northeast. A lone cloud hovered over it’s summit and seemed to refuse to budge from it’s perch.
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Several birds joined us while we had a quick snack and took in the view before heading back down to the car for our drive home.

Photos from the hike http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633411223157/

Posted by Deryl Yunck on Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bayocean Spit

Before I dive into a description of our most recent hike I wanted to mention that last night we had a chance to listen to a presentation by William L. Sullivan, the author of the hiking books we use to plan our hikes. He presented a number of new hikes that are included in his updated guide to the Central Oregon Cascades. He travels around Oregon giving presentations throughout the year and you can check his calendar of events at http://www.oregonhiking.com/ if you are interested in attending one.

Now on to our hike. We traveled to Tillamook on the Oregon Coast for a hike around Bayocean Spit which protects Tillamook Bay. I’d picked this hike due to the lack of elevation gain given both Heather and I have races in two weeks (a full marathon for her and a half for me).

This turned out to be another interesting hike with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the bay on the other. Between the two the spit is a mix of grassy dunes and a small forest. We decided on hiking in a figure 8 pattern in order to cover both sides of the spit as well as explore the forest via a .5mile connector trail. We left the parking area and headed West across some grassy dunes toward the beach sporting some less than attractive ponchos. It was a cloudy day with intermittent rain. We must have been a sight because it wasn’t long before we noticed a doe watching us from behind a dune.
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We found the beach which was empty aside from a few seagulls and turned north. There were numerous shells and sand dollars in the sand. To the south was Cape Meares along with Pillar & Pyramid rocks, and to the north was Cape Falcon. As we approached the forested section of the spit we quickly spotted several Bald Eagles perched in the tree tops. We also noticed a large gathering of seagulls on the beach. Curious about the attraction Dominique and I set off for a closer look while Heather searched for the connector trail to the bay side. As we got closer to the birds we noticed that they were huddled around the end of a log that had washed up on the beach. That end of the log appeared to be covered with some type of clam. 081

After satisfying our curiosity we headed back to the now located connector trail. This sandy half mile trail led through a small but varied forest to an old dike road along Tillamook Bay. The water level was low due to it being a low tide and the number of birds was less than we had hoped, but we did spot a Great Blue Heron, several ducks, Canadian Geese, and another Bald Eagle. We continued north along the road to an abandoned campground across the bay from the city of Garibaldi. Shortly after the campground we spotted some flagging leading back across the spit toward the ocean.

The flags marked a path across another set of grassy dunes. We spotted three more deer before reaching the beach where we turned south and began our return trip. We stopped to take a closer look at what I was now calling the “seagull log”
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and the took the connector trail back through the forest to the road. This time we turned right (south) and headed back toward the parking area. It wasn’t until this last leg that we saw any other people which made for a very peaceful day.

We’ll be taking a few weeks off from hiking now due to the upcoming races, but then our hiking season will kick into high gear. Hopefully the weather will continue to cooperate and most of the snow will have melted from the lower elevations by then. In the meantime thanks to the Salem Audobon Society and William Sullivan I have some new hikes to read about and trips to plan. Until next time – Happy Trails 🙂

Pictures from the hike on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200995758203343.1073741827.1448521051&type=3
or Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633242847785/