Tag Archives: paulina peak

Central Oregon Oddities

On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend we headed south of Bend on a tour of oddities, most of which were geologic in nature.  In addition to our usual Sullivan guide books (Central and Eastern Oregon for these hikes) we had the 2012 updated “Bend, Overall” by Scott Cook with us.

Our first stop was the only hike that was solely covered by Cook, South Ice Cave.  From Bend we drove south on Highway 97 to LaPine where we turned left on Finley Butte Rd which became NF-22. After 25 miles we turned left at a sign into a parking area.
IMG_0924

A short path descended into a depression where numerous small birds were busy singing in the pine trees.
2017-05-28 06.21.00

IMG_0932

We followed the path to the right which led to the entrance to South Ice Cave, a .25 mile long lava tube.
2017-05-28 06.21.28

IMG_0939

Armed with headlamps and warm clothing we headed down into the cave. Cook suggests that May is the best month to visit to see the ice but noted that each year is different as far as how much ice is present. We may have been just a bit late this year but there was indeed ice on the floor of the cave near the entrance.
IMG_0942

We climbed over a pile of rocks and went deeper into the cave where the amount of ice increased.
IMG_0954

We continued to scramble over the lava trying to avoid the ice as much as possible since it made the rocks very slick, on the other hand the lava was sort of sharp and both our pants came away with battle scars. A little further into the cave we came to the best of the ice display where icicles hung overhead and ice nubs rose from the rocks.
IMG_0966

IMG_0969

IMG_0984

IMG_0985

Near the back of the cave the ice pretty much disappeared and the cave ended unceremoniously.
IMG_0974

I had reached the end first and as I turned to see if I could see where Heather was a bat flew through my headlamp’s light. It had apparently passed by Heather as well because when I told her there were bats she said she knew. 🙂

Despite the ice it wasn’t as cold in the cave as we’d anticipated and we were both a little warm from all the scrambling by the time we emerged from the cave.
IMG_0988

The half mile round trip took us about an hour which is what Cook had said to expect in the guidebook. After taking off our extra clothing we headed off to our next stop – Fort Rock State Park.

We turned left out of the parking area back onto NF-22 and followed it for a mile to a stop sign at NF-18 where we turned right. We stayed on NF-18 for 15 miles to the entrance of Fort Rock State Park. We had stopped here in 2014 after a hike up Hager Mountain and toured the inside of Fort Rock so this time we decided to hike around the outside.

From the parking area we followed a path to some plaques on rocks.
IMG_1001

2017-05-28 07.53.53

From these rocks we turned right and passed through a barbed wire fence heading around the outside of Fort Rock.
IMG_1006

Although there is no official trail around the outside there was almost always a clear path through the sagebrush. Much like our visit to Cottonwood Canyon State Park the previous day we kept our eyes peeled for wildflowers and wildlife amid the sagebrush and on the cliffs above.
IMG_1008

2017-05-28 07.59.10

IMG_1025

IMG_1030

IMG_1035

IMG_1038

IMG_1041

IMG_1047

IMG_1049

IMG_1052

IMG_1056

IMG_1062

IMG_1060

2017-05-28 08.27.27

2017-05-28 08.43.21

IMG_1083

After approximately a mile and a half we rounded the west cliff of Fort Rock where we could now see into Fort Rock.
2017-05-28 08.54.22_stitch

We turned left onto an old road bed and followed it around the inside of Fort Rocks cliffs.
IMG_1097

We skipped the .2 mile trail up to a viewpoint which we had visited on our previous trip and stuck to the road bed which climbed up next to an explorable rock shelf where there were several lizards and a lot of bright red paintbrush.
IMG_1105

IMG_1118

IMG_1119

IMG_1120

The trail then passed by a rock pillar before returning to the parking area.
IMG_1127

For our next stop we headed toward Christmas Valley by heading south from the park to the town of Fort Rock where we turned left and followed signs for Christmas Valley a total of 27 miles. After passing through the town we turned left at a sign for Crack in the Ground and followed this dirt/gravel road for 7.2 miles to a small parking area with a toilet. The trail started on the far side of the road at a signboard.
IMG_1145

IMG_1147

A level .2 mile path passed through sagebrush dotted with white phlox to a picnic table near the entrance to Crack in the Ground.
IMG_1153

IMG_1152

2017-05-28 10.37.28

A path led down into the lava slot which reaches a depth of 70′.
IMG_1158

2017-05-28 10.38.55

2017-05-28 10.40.01

IMG_1172

IMG_1168

There were some interesting textures along the canyon walls.
IMG_1159

IMG_1166

It was nice and cool inside the crack and there was still some left over snow managing to hide from the sun at the bottom.
IMG_1170

2017-05-28 10.42.15

2017-05-28 10.47.42

We emerged from the crack at a saddle after a little less than a quarter of a mile. We had made the mistake of not bringing the guidebook with us and were really confused because even though we both remembered something different neither of us had expected to be out of the crack yet (we’d both remembered it wrong).

Another section of the crack continued on the other side of the saddle but it was impassable after just a couple hundred feet.
IMG_1183

IMG_1190

We did remember that Sullivan had said the canyon did become impassable at some point but that it was possible to follow the rim for another mile so we continued on a clear path on the west side of the crack. Views extended across the desert to some distant buttes.
2017-05-28 10.53.40

Lizards and butterfly covered flowers were common along the rim.
IMG_1181

IMG_1186

IMG_1189

2017-05-28 10.58.55

We came to another a saddle and remained on the rim to yet another saddle where we decided to drop back into the crack.
IMG_1195

We figured that if we found this section impassable we would just turn around and call it good. It wasn’t quite as deep or dramatic as the first section but it was still interesting and better yet, passable.
IMG_1198

2017-05-28 11.21.29

We passed another small saddle before coming to what appeared to be the end of the crack where it split into three slots.
IMG_1201

We turned back after emerging from this section and followed an old dirt track on the east side of the crack.
IMG_1202

The road brought us back to the saddle between the first section and the impassable section. We crossed over to the west side of the rim here and followed a clear trail back to the picnic table and then returned to our car. We pulled out the book which showed us we had basically done the hike as described although Sullivan didn’t mention being able to pass through the later sections of the crack. We had hiked roughly two and three quarters of a mile which agreed with the distances on his map.

From Crack in the Ground we drove back to the town of Fort Rock and continued west 6.5 miles to Highway 31. Here we turned north toward LaPine and drove just over 7 miles to a sign for Hole in the Ground near milepost 22. We followed signs for 4.4 miles to a small parking area on the rim of the 425′ deep volcanic maar created when a volcanic gas bubble exploded. A similar occurrence formed Fort Rock only the lava at Fort Rock formed under the water of an ancient lake. Over time the currents and waves of the lake removed all but the hardest rock leaving the fortress like ring.
IMG_1258

IMG_1203

IMG_1207

A steep dirt trail headed straight down into the crater.
IMG_1208

We were surprised to find some blue lewis flax among the flowers blooming at the bottom.
IMG_1223

IMG_1232

2017-05-28 13.23.06

2017-05-28 13.27.07

After a half mile we arrived at the small playa at the center of Hole in the Ground.
IMG_1233

To get an idea of the size of the crater a couple of other hikers had come down behind us and are on the trail in the following picture.
2017-05-28 13.26.12

An old dirt track extended from the playa to the far side of the crater and eventually wound its way up to the rim after 1.2 miles.
2017-05-28 13.26.19

Along the way it passed a nice stand of ponderosa pines.
IMG_1243

Once we obtained the rim Paulina Peak was visible to the north across the crater.
IMG_1246

IMG_1248

Mt. Bachelor and the South Sister were also visible to the NW.
IMG_1250

We followed the road along the rim just over a half mile back to our waiting car then headed for our next stop – Big Tree. We returned to Highway 31 and continued north to Highway 97 then through LaPine. Seven miles north of LaPine we turned left at a sign for LaPine State Park.

We had visited this park before in 2015, but had not made it to Big Tree – Oregon’s largest ponderosa pine.

A half mile after entering the park we turned right at a four way junction following a Big Tree pointer. A .7 mile gravel road brought us to the trailhead parking area.
IMG_1261

A paved .2 mile path led to the tree.
IMG_1262

IMG_1264

IMG_1267

We continued on the Big Pine Loop passing near the Deschutes River before looping back to the trailhead.
2017-05-28 15.11.51

It was a quick half mile hike but after visiting the redwoods, Oregon’s largest Myrtle Tree and several large port orford cedars and douglas firs on the Big Tree Trail on our southern Oregon vacation earlier in the month it was fitting to add this behemoth to the list.

We returned to Highway 97 and drove north another 10 miles to exit 153 for our final hike of the day. At the exit we followed pointers for the Lava Cast Forest. After 9 miles of gravel road we arrived at the trailhead in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
IMG_1274

A paved 1 mile interpretive loop here led through a lava flow where the molds of trees remain from when the lava cooled around their burning trunks.
IMG_1291

2017-05-28 16.10.49

IMG_1299

IMG_1312

IMG_1319

Other sights along the trail included a few wildflowers, the rim of Newberry Crater, and a view of Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, and the Three Sisters.
IMG_1287

IMG_1301

2017-05-28 16.17.17

IMG_1332

When it was all said and done we hiked a total of right around 9 miles on the day and saw some amazingly diverse and unique scenery all within a relatively small area. It had been one of the most interesting days of hiking to date. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Central Oregon Oddities

Throwback Thursday – Paulina Peak

With the frequency of our hikes down during our off-season we’ve decided to go back and write up some of our outings from before we started this blog. We’re hoping to have Throwback Thursday posts during those weeks that we don’t have a new trip report to write. We’ll start with hikes that we haven’t repeated since starting the blog and, at least to begin with, are not in our plans to be hiked again in the foreseeable future. That is not to say that they are not worthwhile hikes, they all are. In our attempt to take as many different trails as possible we rarely repeat hikes, and when we do it has typically been because we missed something the first time such as a view or blooming wildflowers.

Please keep in mind that we completed all of the throwback hikes at least 4 years ago so before visiting any of the trails be sure to check with the managing agency on their current condition and availability.

With that disclaimer we’d like to start off with one of the most diverse hikes in terms of scenery that we’ve taken – Paulina Peak in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. This hike was done on 8/6/2011 during a week long vacation in Central Oregon.

There are a number of hiking options in the monument and our visit consisted of a loop using several different trails allowing us to visit several different worthwhile goals. We began our hike by parking at the Big Obsidian Flow Trailhead.
Big Obsidian Flow

Big Obsidian Flow Amphitheater sign at the trailhead

We started with the .8 mile interpretive Big Obsidian Trail which took us into the obsidian flow passing numerous information signs along the way.
Interpretive sign at the Big Obsidian Flow

Obsidian

Big Obsidian Flow

In addition to the interpretive signs and cool rock formations the trail offers views of Paulina Peak, Paulina Lake, and Lost Lake.
Paulina Peak from the Big Obsidian Flow Trail

Paulina Lake
Paulina Lake with Mt. Bachelor and the South Sister beyond.

Lost Lake

A great option for kids this proved to be perfect warm up for the longer loop we had planned. After returning to the parking area we followed the Silica Trail for 100 yards to a junction with the Newberry Crater Trail where we turned right.
Newberry Crater Trail sign

We followed this trail for another half mile to the Lost Lake Trail where we once again turned right following a pointer for the Crater Rim Trail.
Lost Lake Trail sign

The Lost Lake Trail passed near Lost Lake but not close enough to get a look although occasional hints of sulfur in the air gave it’s presence away. After passing Lost Lake the trail began switching back uphill alongside the Big Obsidian Flow. The open forest sported a number of blooming lupine plants.
Forest along the Lost Lake Trail

Lupine

Snow along the Lost Lake Trail

As we climbed we gained views of both of the large lakes in the Newberry Caldera.
Paulina Lake
Paulina Lake

East Lake
East Lake

After nearly 3 miles on the Lost Lake Trail the trail leveled out after cresting a knoll. Here the trail forked. The left fork led a quarter mile to the Pumice Flat and then on to the Crater Rim in another 3/4 of a mile while the right hand fork reached the Crater Rim Trail in only a half mile (and at a much closer point to Paulina Peak).
Trail signs along the Lost Lake Trail

Before taking the right hand fork we visited the Pumice Flat which was dotted with purple dwarf lupine blossoms.
Lupine near the Pumice Flat

Pumice Flat

Pumice Flat

From the junction near the Pumice Flat the trail climbed almost 350′ to the rim of the caldera and the Crater Rim Trail. This section of trail offered a nice view of our goal, Paulina Peak, as well as a look down on the Pumice Flat from above.
Paulina Peak

Pumice Flat near the Crater Rim Trail junction

Junction with the Crater Rim Trail

We turned right on the Crater Rim Trail and headed toward Paulina Peak. Although it was a little hazy out due to smoke form a couple of forest fires the views along this section extended from Mt. Jefferson in the north to Mt. Thielsen in the South.
Mt. Jefferson
Mt. Jefferson

Mt. Thielsen
Mt. Thielsen

The views back down into the caldera where less affected by the haze.
Pumice Flat and the Big Obsidian Flow from the Crater Rim Trail
Pumice Flat

East Lake and the Big Obsidian Flow
East Lake

Paulina Lake
Paulina Lake

The trail traversed around the south side of Paulina Peak meeting up with Road 500 two and a half miles from where we had turned onto the Crater Rim Trail.
Crater Rim Trail

Crater Rim Trail

Road 500 allows people to drive up to the 7984′ summit of Paulina Peak which makes it accessible to anyone. The Crater Rim Trail picked up on the far side of Road 500 at a trail sign after a 100′ jog to the left.
Crater Rim Trail

Crater Rim Trail

We followed the Crater Rim Trail for an additional .9 miles where we arrived at a junction with the Paulina Peak Trail.
Paulina Peak Trail

We followed this trail to the parking area atop Paulina Peak at the end of Road 500.
Paulina Peak summit sign

Despite the haze the 360 degree view was spectacular.
Diamond Peak
Diamond Peak to the SW

View from Paulina Peak
Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, and The Three Sisters to the NW

Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top and the Three Sisters
Closer look at the mountains

Paulina Lake
Paulina Lake to the north.

East Lake
East Lake and the Big Obsidian Flow to the NE

Big Obsidian Flow and the Pumice Flat from Paulina Peak
Pumice Flat to the East

After a nice break at the summit we returned to the Crater Rim Trail and continued on our loop. The trail headed down into the forest passing a view back to Paulina Peaks cliffy north face before recrossing Road 500 after 1.8 miles.
Crater Rim Trail

Paulina Peak

After another mile we reached a junction near Road 21 and the Paulina Visitor Center. Here we faced a choice. We could have turned right on a horse path for 3 miles back to the Big Obsidian Trailhead or we could cross Road 21 and take a slightly longer route along the shore of Paulina Lake. Of course we chose option C which was to take the lake shore trail but only after detouring to visit Paulina Falls.
Trail sign along the Crater Rim Trail

We followed the Crater Rim Trail across Road 21 and briefly along the entrance road to the Paulina Lake Lodge then turned left on the Paulina Falls Trail which followed Pualina Creek .3 miles to a picnic area at the falls viewpoint.
Paulina Creek

Paulina Creek

The twin falls were beautiful and quite a change from the other scenery we had encountered so far during the hike.
Paulina Falls

After a taking advantage of the cooler air by the falls to recharge we set off on the final leg our our hike. We crossed the lodge entrance road where we picked up the Paulina Lake Shore Loop Trail.
Trail sign for the Paulina Lake Shore Loop Trail

This 7.5 mile trail loops around Paulina Lake and is on our schedule for this year along with the upper portion of the Peter Skene Ogden Trail.  To complete our loop for this trip we would follow the lake shore for roughly 2.5 miles to the Silica Trail.

The scenery along this section of the lake shore varied quite a bit changing from grassy marsh to forest to rocky shore line and back.
Paulina Lake

Forest along the Paulina Lake Shore Loop Trail

Paulina Lake

Paulina Lake

Paulina Peak

BIg Obsidian Flow from Paulina Lake

After all the different views and scenery the hiked had provided up to the point when we arrived at the Silica Trail the final half mile paled in comparison.
Trial sign for the Silica Trail

The Silica Trail led away from Paulina Lake through a mostly viewless, dusty lodgepole pine forest before crossing Road 21 and bringing us back to the Big Obsidian Flow Trailhead.
Big Obsidian Flow sign

Our hike was somewhere around 15 miles (pre GPS) with approx 2500′ of elevation gain so it’s not for everyone, but everyone of the highlights of this hike are accessible via shorter options. This and the availability of numerous other recreational activities make the Newberry National Volcanic Monument a great place to visit. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157632954961759

Hager Mountain Part Deux & Fort Rock

The third day of our Central Oregon visit had us returning to a hike we had done last July 31st – Hager Mountian. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/hager-mountain/
Smoke from a wildfire had prevented us from having any views from the 7185′ summit that day but we had enjoyed the hike and seen signs of what seemed like it might be a decent amount of flowers if we had visited a bit earlier. We were hoping to get the views and to see some more flowers this time around and we also planned to stop at Fort Rock State Park on the way back to Bend, OR.

As we did on our previous visit we started at the lowest trail head located on road 28 just over 9 miles south of Silver Lake, OR. It wasn’t long before we began seeing wildflowers. Paint, lupine, death camas, and some balsamroot was scattered amid the ponderosa pines. We were thinking it was pretty good and then we looked ahead and saw a completely unexpected sight. The amount of paint and blasamroot that covered the forest floor was beyond anything we’d imagined. The flowers were spread out in every direction.
DSC08412
DSC08432
DSC08434

By the 1.5 mile mark the trail had left the ponderosa forest. The flowers had decreased here but there were still some to be found.
DSC08470
DSC08465

We passed Hager Spring which was as dry as it was on our last visit and began climbing to the lower meadow. We weren’t sure what to expect for flowers in the meadow. We had gotten a couple of glimpses of it from the lower trail and we thought we could see some yellow which we assumed was balsamroot. As we got closer to the meadow our suspicions were confirmed. The balsamroot was back with a vengeance along with paint and some additional flowers.
DSC08478
Scarlet Gilia
DSC08529
DSC08502
Lewis Flax
DSC08519
DSC08521
Prairie Star
DSC08538

Not only were the flowers amazing but we had a view as we passed through the meadow. For the first time on a hike we could see Mt. Shasta in California beyond Thompson Reservoir.
DSC08531
Along with Mt. Thielsen, Howlock Mt. & Tipsoo Peak
DSC08523
and Mt. Bachelor, The Three Sisters, & Broken Top
DSC08562

We made a switchback in the meadow and could see the summit as we continued up through the meadow. The flowers remained the star of the show.
DSC08581
DSC08585
DSC08589
DSC08598
DSC08600

We left the lower meadow and entered another section of forest. The flowers decreased in this section but there were some arnica starting to bloom and a lot of fireweed just starting to grow. The trail climbed stiffly through the trees making this the most difficult section of the trail before leveling out briefly and then launching up again into the upper meadow. Here we found some more balsamroot and some phlox.
DSC08616
DSC08620
It was in this section that we were looking for the rare green paintbrush that grows on Hager Mountain. We had seen some on our previous visit but it was drying out that day. Now we found some lush versions growing near the trail.
DSC08654

It was exciting to reach the summit to see what views we had missed on the previous hike. The day wasn’t entirely clear but it was a monumental improvement over the last time. We spent about 45 minutes studying the horizon and taking pictures. There are some very interesting geologic formation in that part of Oregon and we were intrigued by some of the odd features.
DSC08644
DSC08646
DSC08648

Warner Peak in the distance to the right:
DSC08649
Gearhart Mountain with a bit of snow:
Gearhart Mountain from Hager Mountain
Fort Rock in the center of the flat area with Paulina Peak, China Hat & East Butte behind from left to right.
DSC08701
From the northwest to the southwest the horizon was dotted with snowy Cascade peaks. It was too cloudy to see Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson appeared like a ghost in the clouds but we had good views starting with the Broken Top, Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor:
DSC08699
Followed by Diamond Peak to their south:
DSC08698
Then Mt. Thielsen, Howlock Mt. & Tipsoo Peak:
DSC08695
Crater Lake had emerged from the previous days clouds as we could easily make out Mt. Scott, The Watchman, and Hillman Peak:
DSC08756
Mt. McGloughlin barely rose above the broad shoulder of Yamsay Mountain:
DSC08757
And finally Mt. Shasta looming large far to the south:
Mt. Shasta fro m Hager Mountain

We were joined on the summit by some of the local wildlife.
DSC08789
DSC08831
DSC08815
DSC08839

By the time we were on our way back down the flower display had actually gotten better. The lewis flax was opening to the sunlight.
DSC08855
DSC08875
DSC08866

We passed four other hikers on our way back to the car as well as a noisy nuthatch and a couple of sagebrush lizards.
DSC08938
DSC08956

Once we were back on the road we returned to Highway 31 and headed north to Fort Rock State Park. Neither of us had been there before but it had piqued our interest on the way past the year before. The rocks are said to be the remainder of an ancient volcanic crater that was worn down by an ice age lake. Whatever the origin the result was an interesting crescent formation full of textured rocks angled this way and that.
2014-06-14 13.45.55
DSC09004
DSC09014
DSC09012

Inside the crescent the ground appeared to be covered in sagebrush, but as we hiked along the loop inside the rocks we noticed a good number of wildflowers that had sprung up amongst the sage.
DSC08987
DSC09003
DSC09032
DSC09034
DSC09049
DSC09085
DSC09110
DSC09115

A short side path led to a notch in the rocks where you could see the Fort Rock Cave:
DSC09060
To the south we could see Hager Mountain where we had been just a couple hours earlier:
DSC09088

It had been a great day of hiking with some really interesting and beautiful scenery. One note of caution though. We both had to knock ticks off, Heather during the Hager Mountain hike and myself back at the car after being on the Fort Rock trails. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157644765557647/
Facebook – Hager Mt.: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204238532710679.1073741885.1448521051&type=1
Fprt Rock: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204238985722004.1073741886.1448521051&type=1