Tag Archives: wildflowers

2019 Wildflower Gallery

One of the most challenging things about our hiking trips is attempting to identify the numerous different wildflowers that we see (and knowing if it’s an invasive like foxglove or if it’s native). We love seeing the flowers and spend much of our hikes looking for them but we’re just a couple of amateurs when it comes to knowing much about them. We rely heavily on the Wildflower Search website and more knowledgeable folks in wildflower groups for ids. Asters and fleabanes as well as many yellow wildflowers tend to give us the most trouble. On our own we probably get as many wrong as right. Even when we have a good idea we tend to use a general common name such as “penstemon” or “lupine” instead of attempting to identify the specific variety.

We saw somewhere in the vicinity of 200 different varieties of flowers. We have labeled them on Flickr with our best guesses, but in most cases the id is uncertain so any corrections/suggestions are greatly appreciated.

With that here is a fairly comprehensive gallery of the different flowers that we saw during our 2019 hikes. I’m posting these in the date order in which the photos were taken (with the exception of the first and last) but this is not necessarily the order in which we first saw them during the year.

In February we encountered our first flowers of the year.
Snow queenSnow queen

Red flowering currantRed flowering currant

ToothwortToothwort

Fairy slipperFairy slipper

Glacier liliesGlacier lilies

Chickweed monkeyflowerChickweed monkeyflower

Giant white wakerobinGiant white wakerobin

Giant fawn liliesGiant fawn lilies

Camas and plectritisCamas and plectritis

FringecupFringecup

Bleeding heartBleeding heart

BluebellsBluebells?

DogwoodDogwood

Large solomonsealLarge solomonseal

Vine mapleVine maple

Something in the pea family

Chocolate liliesChocolate lilies

ColtsfootColtsfoot

Wild roseWild rose

Wildflower at Warrior Point

Ball-head waterleafBall-head waterleaf

ArnicaArnica

ManzanitaManzanita

CurrantA currant

Jacob's ladderShowy jacob’s ladder

Oregon anemoneOregon anemone

LupineLupine

Vanilla LeafVanilla leaf

LarkspurLarkspur

Woodland starsWoodland stars

Popcorn flowerPopcorn flower

SalsifySalsify

Deadly nightshadeDeadly nightshade

Rock clematisRock clematis

TwinberryTwinberry?

BluebellsBluebells

CinqufoilCinquefoil

MeadowrueMeadowrue

VioletA violet

Shooting starShooting star

Old man's whiskersOld man’s whiskers

Western stoneseedWestern stoneseed

Blue dicksBlue dicks

BalsamrootBalsamroot

Slender phloxSlender phlox

Cutleaf daisyCutleaf daisy

Large head cloverLarge head clover

KittentailsKittentails

Hariy clematisHairy clematis

Yellow bellYellow bell

Browns peonyBrown’s peony (blossoms hadn’t opened yet)

Small flower miterwortSmall flower miterwort

VetchVetch

YarrowYarrow

HoundstongueHoundstongue

CatchflyA catchfly

Branched hareleafBranched hareleaf

WatercressWatercress

FiddleneckFiddleneck

Rough eyelashweedRough eyelashweed

PenstemonPenstemon

PhloxPhlox

Spreading dogbaneSpreading dogbane

BuckwheatBuckwheat

Scab penstemonScab penstemon

Wildflower along the Wenaha River Trail

Oregon sunshineOregon sunshine?

False sunflowerFalse sunflower?

Sticky purple geraniumSticky purple geranium

Threadleaf phaceliaThreadleaf phacelia

SkullcapSkullcap

Stream globe mallowStream globe mallow

Blue mustardBlue mustard?

ClarkiaRagged robin

Blanket flowerBlanket flower

Cusick's paintbrushCusick’s paintbrush

Wild onionWild onion

Monument plantMonument plant

RockcressRockcress

Hoary balsamrootHoary balsamroot

CamasCamas

White-stem fraseraWhite-stem frasera

Milk vetchMilk vetch

CloverA clover

Dwarf yellow fleabaneDwarf yellow fleabane

IrisIris

Wild irisIris

PaintbrushPaintbrush

Blue-eyed maryBlue-eyed mary

Cats ear liliesCat’s ear lilies

CandyflowerCandy flower

ThimbleberryThimbleberry

StonecropStonecrop

Youth-on-ageYouth-on-age

Wildflower along the Cascade Streamwatch Trail

False lily of the valleyFalse lily of the valley

CoralrootCoralroot

FairybellsFairybells

Scoutler's cordyalisScouler’s cordyalis

CoralrootCoralroot

OokowOokow

AnemoneAnemone

Bunch berryBunchberry

Rhododendron blossomsRhododendron

Wild bugbaneWild bugbane

Avalanche liliesAvalanche lilies

PaintbrushPaintbrush

Western pasque flowerWestern pasque flower

ValerianValerian

Mountain heatherMountain heather

PenstemonPenstemon

ManzanitaManzanita

Dwarf lupineDwarf lupine

PussypawsPussypaws

White dwarf lupineWhite dwarf lupine

Sagebrush false dandelionSagebrush false dandelion?

DaisiesDaisies

FoxgloveFoxglove

Self-healSelf-heal

Tailed kittentailsTailed kittentails

Wildflowers along the Grouse Vista TrailGoldenbanner?

VetchVetch?

LarkspurLarkspur

PhloxPhlox

PaintbrushPaintbrush

LupineLupine

VioletsViolets

LousewortLousewort

Marsh marigoldMarsh marigold

SalalSalal

ThistleThistle

MonkeyflowerMonkeyflower

Probably cultivated radishCultivated radish?

CloverA clover

Beach morning gloryBeach morning glory

GroundconeGroundcone

Wild roseSome sort of rose

Striped coralrootStriped coralroot

PenstemonPenstemon

Arrowleaf buckwheatArrowleaf buckwheat

Star-flower solomonsealStar-flower solomonseal

Raceme pussytoesRaceme pussytoes

BeargrassBeargrass

CoralrootCoralroot

Blue-head giliaBlue-head gilia

PenstemonPenstemon

GroundselGroundsel?

Insideout flowerInside-out flower

StarflowerStarflower

CandysticksCandysticks

Wild strawberryWild strawberry

ColumbineColumbine

Showy phloxShowy phlox

TrilliumTrillium

Bladder campionBladder campion?

CatchflyCatchfly

AsterAster or fleabane

CurrantA currant

Wood violetWood violet

PussytoesPussytoes

LousewortLousewort

Jacob's ladderJacob’s ladder?

WallflowerWallflower

Wild gingerWild ginger

Giant blue-eyed maryGiant blue-eyed mary

ConeflowerConeflower

Cow parsnipCow parsnip

tall bluebellsTall mountain bluebells

Scarlet giliaScarlet gilia

Orange agoserisOrange agoseris

Owls cloverOwls clover

A phaceliaSome sort of phacelia?

HoneysuckleHoneysuckler

Wild onionWild onion

Twin flowerTwin flower

PenstemonPenstemon

PaintbrushTwo types of paintbrush

Stream orchidStream orchid?

Tiger lilyTiger lily

Wildflowers along the Grassy Knoll Trail

PenstemonPenstemon

Field chickweedField chickweed

Wildflowers along the Grassy Knoll Trail

LupineLupine

Wildflowers along the Grassy Knoll Trail

Wildflowers along the Grassy Knoll Trail

Spotted coralrootSpotted coralroot

LupineLupine

AvensAvens?

Farewll to springFarewell to spring

PenstemonPenstemon

Washington lilyWashington lily

WintergreenWintergreen

PinesapPinesap

PinedropPinedrop

PaintbrushPaintbrush

Mock orangeMock orange

Prince's pinePrince’s pine

Bachelor buttonBachelor button

A pyrolaPyrola

Queen's cupQueen’s cup

AsterAster (or a fleabane)?

Bog orchidBog orchid

Elephants headElephant’s head

RainieraRainiera

Ghost pipeGhost pipe

Scouler's bluebellsScouler’s bluebells

MonkshoodMonkshood

MonkeyflowerPink monkeyflower

Creeping wire lettuceCreeping wire lettuce

FireweedFireweed

PenstemonPenstemon

AsterAster (or a fleabane)

SpireaSpirea

Wildflower along the Olallie Mountain Trail

HedgenettleHedgenettle

Scouler's St. Johns wort and pearly everlastingScouler’s St. Johns wort

Wildflowers along the trail to Crabtree Valley

GentianGentian

PennyroyalPennyroal

ChicoryChicory

PeaA pea?

ThistleThistle

The last wildflowers for us this year (we aren’t counting the invasive herb robert seen at Forest Park in December) was some fading pearly everlasting in mid-October.
Pearly everlastingThis pearly is in better shape from an August hike.

Hopefully we aren’t too far off on these. Names aside they are all a delight to see out on our hikes. Happy Trails!

Baty Butte, Skookum Lake, and Thunder Mountain – 7/26/2019

Sticking with our Matt Reeder inspired vacation, on Thursday we selected a hike featured in both his “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region” and “Off the Beaten Trail” second edition. In the latter he doesn’t describe the extended hike to Baty Butte. We started our hike at the Thunder Mountain Trailhead where, just as at the Pine Ridge Trailhead, we were greeted by mosquitoes.
IMG_4576Spur road leading to the trail from the pullout.

IMG_4580Signage at the end of the closed spur.

The trail began climbing almost immediately via a switchback that passed us through a thimbleberry and devil’s club covered hillside.
IMG_4581Thimbleberry crowding the trail.

IMG_4582Devil’s club along the trail. We each had our hands brush against some and it doesn’t feel pleasant.

IMG_4587Lupine and paintbrush in the thimbleberries as the trail enters the forest.

After the initial battle with the brush the trail entered the forest where some old growth was present and the trail much clearer.
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IMG_4600It looked like these two trees fell out of the same hole but in different directions.

IMG_4609Anemone and queen’s cup

IMG_4612Beargrass and huckleberry bushes.

After climbing for a mile we reached a viewpoint at a switchback with a view of Mt. Jefferson.
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IMG_4618Schreiner Peak in front of Mt. Jefferson.

Another .2 miles of climbing along a wildflower dotted ridge brought us to a junction just below the summit of Thunder Mountain.
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IMG_4626Small sign on the tree marking the trail to Thunder Mountain’s summit.

We decided to save Thunder Mountain for the return trip due to the position of the Sun and the presence of quite a bit of haze. We followed the pointers on a temporary sign for Skookum Lake and Baty Butte.
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The Skookum Lake Trail began to descend along a steep hillside that looked to have had an excellent wildflower display just a week or two earlier. As it was there were still a decent number of flowers in bloom.
IMG_4631Columbine

IMG_4635Washington lilies

IMG_4647Penstemon

IMG_4648Assorted flowers

20190726_075502Washington lilies

IMG_4650Oregon sunshine

20190726_075546Scouler’s bluebells

IMG_4653Columbine and a couple different types of penstemon.

IMG_4663Cat’s ear lily

IMG_4666Lupine

20190726_080627Pyrola

The trail left the wildflowers as it made a horseshoe shaped turn into thicker trees.
IMG_4671Skookum Lake Trail below coming out of the horseshoe turn.

Approximately a mile from the Thunder Mountain junction we passed a rocky viewpoint where large basalt boulders were jumbled along the hillside.
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We didn’t stop to check out the view until our way back by, but there was a decent view of Mt. Hood and through the trees we could make out Mt. Rainier.
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IMG_4933Mt. Hood

IMG_4938Mt. Rainier

The trail descended another half mile beyond the rocks before leveling out along a meadow.
IMG_4675The trail skirts a talus slope above the meadow.

IMG_4681Finally leveling out by the meadow after losing approximately 700′.

The meadow is also the site of the junction with the abandoned Baty Butte Trail which was marked by a sad little rock cairn and tattered flagging along with an easy to miss temporary sign.
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IMG_4889I missed the sign until we had come back and started down the Skookum Lake Trail.

There were a few mosquitoes patrolling the meadow so we didn’t linger long but we did stick around long enough to notice several types of flowers still blooming.
IMG_4686Tall bluebells

IMG_4687The yellow might be a groundsel.

IMG_4689Aster

The tread of the trail was difficult to make out but there was some flagging on the far side and a faint path to it.
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Beyond the meadow the trail became a bit more obvious as it passed through the trees. Occasional flagging assisted in keeping us on track.
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The trail climbed a bit before arriving at an old roadbed .4 miles from the meadow.
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The road was a casualty of the 1996 storms that caused flooding in Oregon and washed out much of the Fish Creek road network. The roadbed is now more of a wildflower garden. We turned right onto the road following a faint path through the flowers.
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Shortly after setting off on the road there was a nice view of Mt. Hood to the north.
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This was by far the most enjoyable stretch of old roadbed we’ve been on. The wildflowers were profuse and there were dozens of butterflies flying about. It was the tail end of the flowers but they were still very impressive.
IMG_4705Paintbrush, penstemon and lupine

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IMG_4721Mostly past lupine

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IMG_4732Several butterflies on Oregon sunshine.

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IMG_4742Scarlet gilia

IMG_4745Fireweed

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At about the .4 mile mark another old road joined from the right which wasn’t a problem on the way to Baty Butte but it is worth noting because coming from the other direction it looked like it might be easy to continue straight on the wrong roadbed.
IMG_4840Left is the wrong way on the return, the correct route is to the right through the brush.

IMG_4841Flagging marking the correct path.

Near the three quarter mile mark on the road we passed some rock out crops and a talus slope where we spotted a pika and some golden-mantled ground squirrels.
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Shortly after passing along a narrow ridge the road arrived at the base of Baty Butte.
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The road continued around the butte to the left but the Baty Butte Trail headed uphill amid some small trees.
IMG_4790Baty Butte Trail to the right.

The trail climbed around the side of the butte and showed some signs of recent trail maintenance.
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After .4 miles on the trail, as it began to curve around a ridge, we turned uphill on a scramble trail.
IMG_4797Baty Butte Trail starting to curve around the ridge.

IMG_4798Scramble route up the ridge.

It was a steep quarter mile climb up the ridge which devolved into a narrow rocky spine toward the top.
IMG_4800Looking down from the start of the spine.

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It required the use of our hands to navigate this and we stopped at a wide (for the ridge) spot. From here it appeared that the number of trees increased to a point that would make continuing even more difficult.
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From this viewpoint we had a view of Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters.
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IMG_4820Mt. Jefferson

IMG_4821Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, and the Three Sisters.

There was also an excellent view of Table Rock and Rooster Rock in the Table Rock Wilderness (post).
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IMG_4813Rooster Rock is the formation to the far left.

IMG_4823Looking down from Baty Butte.

After a brief rest we headed back eager to see more of the butterflies and flowers along the road.
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20190726_105330Orange agoseris

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IMG_4860Pearly everlasting

IMG_4861Penstemon

We also got to sample a few ripe strawberries.
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The trail heading off of the road was easier to spot than it had been at the meadow.
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Back through the meadow we went to the Skookum Lake Trail.
IMG_4877Monkeyflower along the trail.

IMG_4887Crab spider on aster.

We turned left following the pointer for Skookum Lake.
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The Skookum Lake Trail descended for three tenths of a mile to Skookum Lake.
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IMG_4893Rhododendron along the Skookum Lake Trail.

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The little lake was full of activity with butterflies flying along the shore and rough skinned newts floating lazily in the water. Trout were also visible swimming in the shallows.
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We followed the trail along the lake shore to the Skookum Lake Campground.
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A forest road used to provide access to the primitive campground. It still sees some use though as the litter left in a bucket near the picnic table showed.
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As we headed back along the lake Heather spotted a crawdad on a log.
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After watching the crawdad for a bit we climbed back up to the junction with the Baty Butte Trail and then made the steep climb back up to the Thunder Mountain spur trail where we turend left.
IMG_4939Small sign on a tree marking the trail to the summit of Thunder Mountain.

It was just a tenth of a mile climb to the site of the former lookout tower at the summit.
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From the summit we could again see Mt. Jefferson but now we also had a view north to Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams.
IMG_4945The view north.

IMG_4947Mt. St. Helens

IMG_4949Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams beyond Fish Creek Mountain (post).

IMG_4967Mt. Hood

IMG_4966Mt. Jefferson

From the summit we headed back down to the car stopping at the lower viewpoint which had a better view of Mt. Jefferson.
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Shortly before reaching the brushy section we passed a group of backpackers headed up the trail, the only people we saw all day. This was a really nice hike with a variety of scenery. Even if the scramble up Baty Butte is a little too much for some with the exposure the road walk to the butte was well worth a visit during wildflower season. The hike came in at just over 10 miles with a little over 3000′ of elevation gain making it a bit of a challenge but nothing too crazy. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Baty Butte, Skookum Lake, and Thunder Mountain

Grassy Knoll & Big Huckleberry Mountain – 7/06/2019

It has been an interesting couple of months where the weather is concerned. We have spent a lot of time checking forecasts trying to find the most favorable hiking conditions. It seems that in years past when the forecast hasn’t been good it hasn’t been good anywhere within our driving range but this year has been different. For the most part we have been able to find at least one location with the possibility of “partly sunny” conditions. For our most recent hike that location was Grassy Knoll in Washington.

A quick scan of forecasts the night before our hike showed that the forecast for Grassy Knoll was partly sunny skies moving to mostly sunny later in the day. Nearby Big Huckleberry Mountain, which was to be our turn around point, was a little less favorable but mostly cloudy to partly sunny didn’t sound too bad.

We followed the directions to the Grassy Knoll Trailhead from the Oregonhikers.org field guide. While the forecast had been good the roads were not. The roads weren’t the worst we’d been on, but they did take home the award for most unavoidable potholes. High clearance was helpful and driving was slow at times but we arrived at the trailhead in one piece.

We had driven through quite a bit of drizzle between Portland and Cascade Locks but had been encouraged by the sight of the edge of the cloud cover to the east. Unfortunately the break was further east than we were so we set off on the trail under a full cover of clouds.
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The trail started off in a past peak wildflower meadow but there were still a few flowers blooming.
IMG_2729Arrow leaf buckwheat

IMG_2730Blue-head gilia, stonecrop, wild onion, and arrow leaf buckwheat

IMG_2735Farewell-to-spring waiting for the Sun (just like us)

After climbing through the meadow the trail entered the forest and continued to climb fairly steeply at first.
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There were a surprising number of flowers blooming amid the bushes and trees along the forested ridge.
IMG_2746Tiger lily

IMG_2765Twin flower

IMG_2768Penstemon

IMG_2761Lupine

IMG_2787Arnica?

IMG_2793Patinbrush and penstemon

IMG_2797Columbine

IMG_2803Lots of arnica

The trail passed what we took for two viewpoints, but with the cloudy conditions we couldn’t tell what the view should have been.
IMG_2784First viewpoint approximately 1 mile in.

IMG_2774First viewpoint

IMG_2807Second viewpoint, about 1.5 miles in. The hillside was covered in cat’s ear lilies.

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IMG_2811Penstemon and cat’s ears

IMG_2824Cat’s ears and wild onion

Beyond the second viewpoint the trail alternated between forest and wildflower meadow for a quarter mile before starting a fairly steep climb up the open hillside of Grassy Knoll.
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IMG_2834Two kinds of paintbrush

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20190706_081442Onion

20190706_081510Looks to be some sort of orchid

IMG_2848Blue-head gilia and an unknown yellow flower.

IMG_2852Arrow leaf buckwheat and blue-head gilia

IMG_2857A bunch of flowers

IMG_2862Starting up Grassy Knoll

We were a little late for peak flowers but the hillside still had a lot to show us.
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IMG_2865Balsamroot

IMG_2877Catchfly

After just two miles of hiking we came to the site of the former lookout tower atop Grassy Knoll. It wasn’t even close to partly sunny by the way.
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With no view to speak of we continued on hoping that the clouds would start breaking up soon, or at least by the time we were passing back by. The trail leaving Grassy Knoll was a bit brushy at first but then cleared up. There were plenty more flowers to see as we continued along a somewhat level ridge.
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IMG_2894A little better view down for a moment.

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IMG_2897Larkspur

A little under a quarter mile from the lookout site we entered the first in a series of impressive wildflower meadows along the ridge.
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This first meadow had a bit of a beetle infestation.
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IMG_2926Phlox and a cat’s ear lily

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IMG_2952Another type of penstemon

IMG_2957Beargrass

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IMG_2996Not sure what this is either, it’s the first time we recall seeing it.

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Finally, after nearly one and a quarter miles of wildflower bliss the trail veered off the ridge to the left and entered the forest.
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It was a nice forest with a bright green understory.
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Around the 3.75 mile mark we arrived at Cold Springs Camp
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A spur trail led down to what we presume was Cold Spring but it was hidden in brush. The unofficial (but signed) Alway Trail led downhill on a faint path to FR 68 from the camp as well. Just beyond this camp was another sign for Hilltop Camp, but unlike Cold Springs Camp this one looked to no longer be used.
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The trail was part of the Cascade Crest Trail which was the precursor to the Pacific Crest Trail. The current route of the PCT is further to the west but it does pass Big Huckleberry Mountain and we would briefly be on it later.

From the camps the trail lost some elevation as it passed beneath a rock outcrop which looked to have a pretty good sized cave or at least a big overhang at its base.
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We arrived at the PCT five and a quarter miles from the trailhead.
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From here we were about five miles south of the trailhead where we had set off on the PCT on our 2018 hike to Indian Racetrack in the Indian Heaven Wilderness (post). We turned right, took a couple of steps, and veered right again following the pointer for Big Huckleberry Mountain. A .2 mile climb brought us to the open summit where the forecast was right for the first time today, it was mostly cloudy.
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Big Huckleberry Mountain was also home to a lookout at one time but now aside from a few remains the summit was just occupied by wildflowers.
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A fairly long rocky spine extended east from the former lookout site with a couple of pockets of trees separating the open areas where the flowers were prevalent.
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The slope eventually steepened enough to make for a good stopping point.
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The end here was just a little further beneath the clouds which allowed for a good view of the Big Lava Bed which lay between Big Huckleberry Mountain and Mt. Adams but not for much else.
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There was also a view south where the Bridge of the Gods could be seen (barely) spanning the Columbia River.
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After exploring the summit and also resting a bit we headed back. There were some encouraging signs that the clouds might actually move on as we made our way back through the wildflower meadows.
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IMG_3146Snowy flank of Mt. Adams through the clouds.

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Back at Grassy Knoll the conditions were better than they had been earlier in the morning but they still weren’t great.
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IMG_3212Wind Mountain and the Columbia River

The same was true for the other viewpoints.
IMG_3227Little Huckleberry Mountain and Big Lava Bed

IMG_3229A bit of Mt. Adams again.

It was a little frustrating to be able to see clear blue sky beyond the edge of the clouds, but what can you do. The flower show had been more than entertaining and to cap the hike off the farewell-to-spring near the trailhead had started to open up despite the lack of sunshine.
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Missing out on the view will put this 11.8 mile hike toward the front of the list for a revisit, although the roads might hold it back just a bit. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Grassy Knoll and Big Huckleberry Mountain

Bunchgrass Ridge – 7/04/2019

For the 4th of July this year we headed to the Oakridge area to check out a portion of the Eugene to Crest Trail. The concept of the trail is for a continuous trail from Eugene, OR to the Pacific Crest Trail east of Waldo Lake. Despite beginning in the 1970’s the trail has not been completed but a 108 mile route has been established using trails and roads with multiple access points.

We chose to begin our hike at the Eugene to Crest Trailhead #4 It was an interesting drive to the trailhead as winter storms brought extensive damage along Highway 58 causing its closure for a time due to slides and downed trees. Those same conditions affected many of the Forest Service roads and trails. As we headed up FR 2408 toward the trailhead it was apparent that the Forest Service had been busy clearing downed trees along the lower portion of the road. It was interesting to see that higher elevations hadn’t suffered near as much damage though as the number of recently cut trees decreased significantly. Then as we neared the trailhead a young black bear darted across the road in front of the car.

After the excitement of seeing the bear we pulled into the parking area where we discovered a fair number of mosquitoes waiting for us. We applied a bit of bug spray and set off on the signed trail.
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In a tenth of a mile we arrived at a junction with the Eugene to Crest Trail where we turned left.
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A short distance later we entered Little Bunchgrass Meadow.
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The meadow had quite a bit of lupine and some white pussytoes and cat’s ear lilies blooming with tiger lilies and orange agoseris just getting started.
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IMG_2117The only tiger lily that seemed to be open yet.

20190704_072419orange agoseris beginning to open.

20190704_072403Cat’s ear lily

IMG_2120Pussytoes

At the end of the meadow the trail entered the forest where a few vanilla leaf and a single trillium were still blooming.
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It wasn’t long before we popped out into a second meadow. This one was filled with bunchgrass aka beargrass. Unfortunately it appeared that we had missed the beargrass bloom by a year as only a couple of plants had flowers while many others had dead stalks.
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We repeated the meadow-forest-meadow pattern a couple of times as the trail followed the ridge SE. Occasionally there were views of the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and the top of Mt. Bachelor to the NE.
IMG_2132The Three Sisters and Broken Top

IMG_2136Larkspur along the trail.

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IMG_2138Bunchberry

IMG_2142Anemone

IMG_2149Another meadow

IMG_2159The Three Sisters and Broken Top

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IMG_2170Queen’s cup

IMG_2181The Three Sisters, Broken Top, and a bit of Mt. Bachelor

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IMG_2208Rhododendron

IMG_2210Another meadow full of not-in-bloom beargrass.

The first mile and a half of the trail had been fairly level as it passed along the ridge but after passing through the last beargrass meadow for a while the trail began to gradually gain elevation. The trail left the ridge top in favor of the SW facing slope.
IMG_2214View from the SW facing hillside.

IMG_2215Looking SE

The trail then regained the ridge where we once again had views of the Three Sisters and Broken Top along with Mt. Jefferson and the very tip of Three Fingered Jack.
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IMG_2221Mt. Jefferson behind the ridge extending from Mule Mountain (post). The tip of Three Fingered Jack is visible just to the left of the high point along the ridge to the far right.

After passing a knoll on our right we got our fist glimpse of Diamond Peak ahead to the SE.
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IMG_2229Diamond Peak through the trees.

After a brief drop to a saddle we climbed past a wildflower rock garden to a nice viewpoint just over two and a quarter miles from the trailhead.
IMG_2241Valerian in the saddle.

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IMG_2270Mt. Yoran, Diamond Peak, and Mt. Bailey

IMG_2276Mt. Yoran and Diamond Peak

IMG_2272Mt. Bailey

IMG_2656View to the NE (from the afternoon on the way back)

IMG_2658The Husband, Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Ball Butte(from the afternoon on the way back)

IMG_2281Mt. Jefferson and the tips of Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Washington

From the viewpoint the trail descended fairly steeply past what appeared to be a small spring but it is not shown on any map that I could find.
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Sections of our route passed through and by the fire scar from the 1991 Warner Creek burn but as we descended from the viewpoint we were passed through a newer scar from the 2017 Kelsey Creek Fire.
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In this newer scar we found one of the best clumps of western wallfower we’d ever seen.
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There was also a large wild ginger blossom which we don’t get to see very often so clearly.
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After losing almost 500′ of elevation the trail looked to regain it as it climbed from a saddle up a ridge and around a knoll before dropping down again.
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From the high point we had a nice view of the ridge behind us that our route had followed.
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Ahead we could see another ridge line on the far side of Kelsey Creek which was in the valley below.
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From this view we couldn’t really make out the ridge between us and the one across the valley. We began to wonder about the rest of our route. We did have two paper maps and our GPS with us but instead of looking at those we wondered if we would be curving around this valley or following an unseen ridge to our right. Whatever our route would be, it began by heading downhill. There was fairly thick vegetation along the trail but it had also recently been cut back.
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We could see a green meadow ahead of and below us.
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Just over three and a half miles in the trail leveled off at a saddle above the meadow. The wildflower display on the saddle was really impressive with large groups of blue-head gilia and giant blue-eyed Mary creating carpets of blue and numerous other flowers scattered about.
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IMG_2332Giant blue-eyed Mary

20190704_091315Giant blue-eyed Mary

IMG_2328Giant blue-eyed Mary and blue-head gilia

IMG_2334Cat’s ear lily and blue-head gilia

IMG_2339Coneflower

IMG_2342Cow parsnip

IMG_2345Tall mountain bluebell

IMG_2347More of the blue flowers

IMG_2350Larkspur

20190704_092323Jacob’s ladder

20190704_092346An aster or fleabane

IMG_2361Columbine and valerian

IMG_2362Lupine

IMG_2370Not sure what type of flower this one is.

IMG_2364Valerian filled meadow below the trail.

IMG_2373White yarrow, giant blue-eyed Mary, and tall mountain bluebells

Beyond the saddle the trail did not follow a ridge in any direction. It lost a little more elevation passing under a hillside dotted with pink rhododendron.
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The low elevation was approximately 5250′ which the trail dipped to briefly as it started to wind around the headwaters of Kelsey Creek. As we came around we started to climb and quickly realized that the trail was going to take us up and over the ridge we had been looking at from the viewpoint across the valley. From the low point the trail gained 150′ over the first three tenths of a mile before launching uphill to gain another 450′ in the next .4 miles.
IMG_2381Looking back at our route so far.

IMG_2383The trail coming around Kelsey Creek is visible on the hillside behind us.

The trail crested in yet another bunchgrass filled meadow.
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The open hillside here provided views ahead to Fuji Mountain in the Waldo Lake Wilderness (post) as well as Diamond Peak and a good look at Mt. Bailey (post).
IMG_2414Fuji Mountain (left), flat topped Mt. David Douglass, Mt. Yoran (shorter thumb to the left of Diamond Peak), and Diamond Peak.

IMG_2403Mt. Yoran and Diamond Peak

IMG_2401Mt. Bailey

We were particularly excited to see Mt. Bailey. It’s one we don’t often get a good view of due to its relatively low profile (8368′) and its alignment which often puts it behind Diamond Peak in the line of sight.

This meadow lasted off and on for a little over half a mile. There again wasn’t much beargrass in bloom but we did come upon a nice display of scarlet gilia, also known as skyrocket which seemed fitting on the 4th of July.
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20190704_101615A few orange agoseris were scattered about.

IMG_2425Scarlet gilia

IMG_2432More scarlet gilia

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At the edge of the meadow we arrived at a rock outcrop.
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The trail switchbacked down below the outcrop which was home to a few flowers of it’s own.
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IMG_2452A thistle that was getting ready to bloom.

IMG_2456Wallflower

Below the outcrop the trail passed through more beargrass with Big Bunchgrass Meadow covering the hillside ahead with a bright green color.
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We had one complaint as we headed toward our goal, the trail was losing elevation. Interestingly though we found ourselves in an entirely different type of forest than we had encountered during the hike so far. It had a drier feel with pines and a grassy forest floor.
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Soon though we popped out into Big Bunchgrass Meadow which didn’t appear to have much if any bunchgrass. False hellebore, grasses, and flowers filled this meadow.
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The flowers weren’t profuse but there was a nice variety and the butterflies seemed to be enjoying them.
IMG_2479Owl’s head clover

IMG_2488Larkspur, an owl’s head clover, and scarlet gilia

IMG_2491Aster or fleabane and an orange agoseris

IMG_2508Coneflower

IMG_2510Hyssop

IMG_2514Butterflies on a cat’s ear lily

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20190704_105633Wait that’s not a butterfly.

As the trail continued to lose elevation we decided to make our turnaround point a trail junction with a tie trail coming up to the meadow from the Bunchgrass Lower Trailhead. There was a post in the meadow with a pointer for the trail but it wasn’t exactly near the post and we missed it on our first pass. We turned around after rounding a small corner that gave us a nice view of Fuji Mountain.
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IMG_2499Fuji Mountain

Looking back we realized just how far we had come down to reach the meadow.
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As we came back around the small corner we spotted the faint trail veering off to the left.
IMG_2513The post, with an orange top, is up and to the right in front of a tree.

We headed back uphill and stopped for a break at the rock outcrop.
IMG_2552Heather at the rock outcrop.

I wandered up along the outcrop to see if there might be a good viewpoint atop the ridge. I was hoping for the Three Sisters and Broken Top but they were nowhere to be seen.
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IMG_2543Big Bunchgrass Meadow and Fuji Mountain

IMG_2544Diamond Peak

I did find a little clump of Oregon sunshine though.
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After our break we continued on looking for anything we might have missed on our first pass as well as for any wildlife.
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IMG_2567Crab spider (probably waiting for that Washington lily to open)

IMG_2585Turkey vulture

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IMG_2594Back in the valerian meadows

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IMG_2683Not sure what this is going to be either.

We never did see that bear again, although there were several piles of scat along the trail. As for people we passed a group of three hikers at the viewpoint about 2 miles from the trailhead and a pair of mountain bikers at the junction near the trailhead. It was a little surprising to us that we didn’t see more, the trail was in great shape with good views and wildflowers. The first few miles were relatively easy too with the real climbing occuring in the latter half of the hike. We logged 11.8 miles on the GPS which seems to be right around where all our hikes have been lately. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Bunchgrass Ridge

Tidbits Mountain – 6/29/2019

As we continued to let the weather dictate our vacation plans we couldn’t pass up a “sunny” morning forecast for Tidbits Mountain near Blue River, OR. Another of Sullivan’s featured hikes, the trip to the site of a former lookout tower atop Tidbits Mountain is just 4.4 miles round trip from the Tidbits South Trailhead. This was actually a bit of a problem as the drive from Salem was a little over two and a half hours which meant our hiking time would most likely not be greater than our driving time which would break our rule of not driving longer than hiking. Our original plan to solve this was going to be making a second stop at the Lower McKenzie River Trailhead where we could hike as far as we liked on the McKenzie River Trail, but while researching the Tidbits Mountain hike another option presented itself.

The Gold Hill Trail travels 3.2 miles along a ridge to a junction with the Tidbits Mountain Trail three quarters of a mile from the summit of Tidbits Mountain. Instead of driving to a different trailhead we could spend some time on the Gold Hill Trail which the Forest Service warned sees only periodic maintenance.

We started our hike not at the Tidbits South Trailhead but rather along Forest Road 1509 where FR 877 headed uphill .2 miles to the trailhead on the left.
IMG_1504FR 877 at FR 1509

Both the Forest Service and Sullivan pointed out that FR 877 was steep and Sullivan added that turning around at the trailhead was “awkward”, thus our decision to walk up the road.
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As we hiked up the road there were a couple of views of the rocky pinnacles of Tidbits Mountain on the left.
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A sign marked the start of the Tidbits Mountain Trail.
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The trail climbed gradually for 1.3 miles to a junction on a ridge crest. This section of trail passed through some old growth trees and was full of rhododendron blooms. It was by far the best display of rhododendron that we had seen.
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There were a few other flowers along the way as well but none in anywhere near the numbers as the rhodies.
IMG_1531Penstemon

IMG_1535Showy phlox

IMG_1538<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″Paintbrush and stonecrop

IMG_1544Anemone

IMG_1546Iris

IMG_1555Arnica

At the junction we turned left following a pointer for the Tidbits Mountain Lookout.
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This section of trail traversed a rocky hillside on the north side of Tidbits Mountain. Being on the north facing slope trillium were still in bloom and a few remnants of glacial lilies remained.
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The talus slopes below Tidbits Mountain allowed for some previews of the views to come at the summit.
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IMG_1605Looking west toward the Green Mountain Lookout.

IMG_1607Green Mountain Lookout

IMG_1603Mt. Jefferson

IMG_1601Three Fingered Jack

The talus is also home to one of our favorite wild animals, the pika! They are not particularly easy to see but once you know what you are looking for with a little luck you’ll spot one of these rabbit relatives. It was a lucky day for us as we spotted two.
IMG_1614There is at least one pika in this picture.

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IMG_1648There is another one in this picture.

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When we weren’t scanning the rocks for pikas we did a lot of looking up at the formations above us.
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IMG_1636Columbine and solomonseal in the talus slope.

IMG_1630Last of the snow along the talus.

At a saddle a half mile from the junction with the Gold Hill Trail we came to a second junction. This one was unsigned. To the right a trail headed downhill to the Tidbits West Trailhead. The Gold Hill Trail used to continue straight here but it was so faint and overgrown that we didn’t even see it on the first pass. We turned uphill to the left and began the steep .2 mile climb to the summit.
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IMG_1684Catchfly on the way up.

IMG_1685Lookout remains below the summit.

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IMG_1693Foundation remains

IMG_1696Wildflowers at the summit.

The 360 degree view from the summit was very good although our timing meant the sun was overhead between us and the Cascades impacting the ability to get clear photos of those mountains.
IMG_1698NE we could see Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and Three Fingered Jack.

IMG_1703Mt. Hood

IMG_1705Mt. Jefferson behind Iron Mountain and Cone Peak

IMG_1707Three Fingered Jack

The eastern view added Mt. Washington, The Three Sisters, and Mt. Bachelor.
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IMG_1708Mt. Washington

IMG_1750Three Sisters

IMG_1718Mt. Bachelor

We could also just make out the lookout tower atop nearby Carpenter Mountain (post).
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To the SE we could make out Maiden Peak, Mt. Thielsen, and Diamond Peak.
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IMG_1719Maiden Peak (post)

IMG_1762Mt. Thielsen (post)

IMG_1722Diamond Peak

We spent a good amount of time on the summit taking in the view before descending to a lower viewpoint with a number of flowers.
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IMG_1802Cat’s ear lilies

IMG_1806Oregon sunshine amid buckwheat

IMG_1807Penstemon and paintbrush

IMG_1816A fleabane or aster

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IMG_1819Looking down from the lower viewpoint.

We then headed back down to the trail junction where we found the faint tread of Historical Gold Hill Trail. We followed it just far enough to get a close up view of a flower garden.
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IMG_1850Western wallflower

IMG_1853Larkspur

20190629_092727Paintbrush

20190629_093003Cinquefoil

We returned to the Tidbits Mountain Trail and recrossed the talus slopes, this time we didn’t spot any pikas. We did stop to admire some of the flowers though.
20190629_093755Baneberry

20190629_093642Current

IMG_1879Bleeding heart, trillium and wood violets

20190629_093952Wood violet

With the Sun starting to pass overhead Mt. Jefferson was a little more photogenic.
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When we arrived back at the junction with the Gold Hill Trail we briefly searched for any sign of a former shelter that was indicated on the map.
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After failing to uncover any sign of it we headed out on the Gold Hill Trail. Given the Forest Service mentioned that this trail only receives periodic maintenance we weren’t sure how far we might go but we were curious to check it out.
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The trail was pretty overgrown, not crowded with brush, but it had a lot of vegetation growing in the middle of it indicating a lack of use.
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We soon passed a rock outcrop where a patch of small monkeyflowers were blooming.
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We followed the trail a total of 2.7 miles losing a total of 800′ through a series of ups and downs as it followed a ridge to the north and east. We passed through some lovely forest filled with more blooming rhododendron and by several rock outcrops. There were occasional views of the Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor through the trees and also spotted some deer, at least one doe and fawn, as they dashed away through the trees. Despite the lack of use and periodic maintenance the trail was in pretty good shape with just a few trees to step over.
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IMG_1914North and Middle Sister

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IMG_1927Mt. Bachelor

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20190629_104300Showy phlox

IMG_1939Washington lilies getting ready to bloom

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At the 2.7 mile mark the trail began a final 400′ descent in the remaining half mile to FR 1509. We weren’t overly keen on having to climb back up that just to say we reached the road plus we had set an 11:30 turn around time and it was just after 11:20. We noticed an open knoll just off trail to the right so we decided to check it out and make this be our turn around spot.
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The knoll turned out to be very interesting. In addition to some nice views there were a number of flowers.
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IMG_1975The Two Girls

IMG_1999Mt. Washington and the Three Sisters

IMG_1986Wolf Rock an Mt. Washington

IMG_2007North Sister

IMG_2008Middle Sister

IMG_2010South Sister

IMG_1990Mt. Jefferson had been overtaken by clouds but Iron Mountain and Cone Peak were still visible.

IMG_1996Buckwheat and paintbrush

IMG_2021Wallflower and cat’s ear lilies

IMG_2015Penstemon and paintbrush

After exploring the knoll we headed back looking for anything we missed on our first pass. We did notice a couple of interesting old tree trunks and a grouse crossed the trail in front of us.
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IMG_2040Young tree growing out of an old trunk.

IMG_2049Grouse

We made our way back to the Tidbits Mountain Trail and returned to the trailhead without seeing another person until we ran into a gentleman at the trailhead who seemed to just be out for a drive and looking around. We ended up with a 10.5 mile hike which was perfect. It was a nice way to end our vacation. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Tidbits Mountain

Fish Creek Mountain and High Lake – 6/28/2019

After taking Wednesday and Thursday off from hiking due to less than favorable weather forecasts we headed out on Friday planning on hiking the Riverside Trail along the Clackamas River. The forecast was for a 40% chance of showers and partly sunny so we thought a river hike was a safe bet and the Riverside Trail was one of Sullivan’s featured hikes that we had yet to do.

As we turned onto Highway 242 at Estacada though we began to rethink our plan. The sky had been relatively clear so far and we hated wasting a good river hike on a day where there might be views to have. Prior to knowing what the weather was going to be like we had originally had Fish Creek Mountain as one of our hikes for the week and as luck would have it the trailhead for that hike was also off of Highway 242. When we reached the sign for Indian Henry Campground (just before the 4th green bridge coming from the west) we veered right onto FR 4620. We followed this one lane paved road for 5.1 miles to gravel where we forked uphill for an additional 2.6 miles to the trailhead on the left. The trailhead is an old roadbed that is only marked by a wooden sign on a tree next to the start of the Fish Creek Mountain Trail. (Note: The sign is unreadable unless up close.)
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The trailhead was moved to this location following the road to the original trailhead being washed out in 1996. The trail here was constructed by volunteers who connected it to the washed out road .4 miles from the original trailhead.
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The trail gains 500′ over seven tenths of a mile as it climbs through a mixed forest to the decommissioned road.
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We started to question our decision as we found ourselves in a bit of fog as we arrived at the old road.
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IMG_1116Columbine along the decommissioned road.

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The trail along this stretch was a bit overgrown in places and the moisture from the plants soaked us pretty good.
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After a relatively level .4 miles along the road we arrived at the original trailhead where the trail headed up a ridge past a trail marker.
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The trail climbed along the ridge and as it did we began to emerge from the fog.
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The ridge was mostly forested with a few views to the west through the trees, but as we climbed occasional small meadows popped up filled with wildflowers.
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Just over a mile and a quarter from the old road we came to a rocky outcrop where the flowers were amazing. As a bonus there was a nice view of Mt. Jefferson to the SE.
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It wasn’t the largest wildflower area by any means, but there was an impressive variety of flowers in bloom, so much so that we stopped again on our way down.
IMG_1213Buckwheat

20190628_081050A penstemon

IMG_1232False sunflower

IMG_1239A penstemon

20190628_081334Oregon sunshine

>IMG_1251Lupine among others

20190628_081532Cliff beardstounge

20190628_081630Catchfly

IMG_1267Groundsel

IMG_1268blue head gilia

IMG_1283Bleeding heart

20190628_110821Paintbrush

20190628_110922Woodland stars

IMG_1470Larkspur and ballhead waterleaf

20190628_110713Yarrow

20190628_111116Valerian

20190628_110406Cat’s ear lily

20190628_110329Wild rose

20190628_110300Buckwheat in blue head gilia

20190628_082032Thimbleberry

IMG_1472Larkspur, leafy pea, and candy flower

IMG_1286Rhododendron (just around the corner from the outcrop)

Beyond the viewpoint the trail gained an additional 600′ over the next .7 miles to a fork. There were a few more flowers along this stretch, mostly white forest varieties.
20190628_082236Star-flowered solomonseal

20190628_082244Plumed solomonseal

20190628_082253Vanilla leaf

20190628_082630Pussytoes

IMG_1317Beargrass

IMG_1320Trail fork

From the fork the Fish Creek Mountain Trail continues uphill a little under a half mile to the site of the former lookout tower at the summit. The fork to the right heads downhill for .7 miles to High Lake. With blue sky overhead we decided to visit the summit first and stayed left at the junction.
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Some of the foundation remains from the old lookout at the overgrown summit.
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Despite the blue sky overhead clouds had moved in around us effectively eliminating any mountain views (Mt. Jefferson should have been visible from the summit). We rested a bit checking out the beargrass and a green beetle that was scurrying through the grass.
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We started back down and noticed a side trail to the left about 110 yards from the old lookout site. We headed up this path which lead to a rocky outcrop with a survey marker.
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It looked like it would have been a pretty good viewpoint but for us it was just a view of the clouds passing by.
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After watching for a view of Mt. Hood that never developed in a break in the clouds as they passed by we returned to the trail fork and turned left toward High Lake.
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This trail lost nearly 500′ as it wound down to the small glacial lake. Nestled in a basin below Fish Creek Mountain the vegetation along the trail was quite a bit behind that along the Fish Creek Mountain Trail. Here huckleberry bushes were still sprouting leaves and trillium were still in bloom.

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We even ran into a small patch of snow hiding under some downed branches along the trail.
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The small lake was quite pretty and it was also full of rough skinned newts.
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We followed a rough use trail around the lake past a handful of campsites.
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IMG_1417Curious newt

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It was a little too chilly to hang out by the lake so after completing the loop we started back up to the Fish Creek Mountain Trail. Along the way we finally got a glimpse of part of Mt. Hood, albeit not much of one.
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Mt. Jefferson had all but disappeared too when we stopped back at the flower filled viewpoint.
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We had at least had a good view earlier and the wildflowers had made this a great hike even if we hadn’t had any views. We headed back down looking for any other flowers to take pictures of and found a few.
20190628_113006_001Inside out flower

20190628_113615Spotted coralroot

20190628_113701Stripped coralroot

20190628_114624Starflower

IMG_1489Candy sticks

IMG_1500Wild strawberries

We were happy with our decision to forgo the Riverside Trail in favor of this hike. We had not expected to see such a variety of flowers in bloom which was a pleasant surprise. The combination of the flowers, a view of Mt. Jefferson and a nice lake made for a great 8.1 mile hike. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Fish Creek Mountain

Silver Star Mountain via Grouse Vista – 6/24/2019

We continued to rearrange our vacation plans based on a seemingly ever changing forecast. On Sunday night the Monday forecast for Silver Star Mountain was mostly sunny so we decided to make our third visit to the area. Our first hike at Silver Star Mountain began at the Silver Star Mountain Trailhead in 2013 (post). The road to that trailhead has become extremely rough and is now only recommended for high clearance vehicles. Then in 2015 we used the Bluff Mountain Trail to visit Silver Star (post). A better road but still a bit rough and further away.

For this visit we would start at the Grouse Vista Trailhead. We took the Battleground approach described in the trailhead link which was a mostly paved road approach with just a final 5.5 miles of decent gravel driving.

The Tarbell Trail crosses the road at the trailhead. The route to Silver Star begins on the far side of the road, opposite the restrooms and signboard. (A Washington Discover Pass is required to park here.)
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The trail climbs from the start as it follows an old roadbed uphill.
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The Tarbell Trail splits off just before the .2 mile mark allowing for a loop. We stayed right at the fork on the Grouse Vista Trail.
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The trail gains 500′ over the next half mile as it climbs up a ridge end. The rocky surface provides an added challenge.
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As the trail begins to emerge from the trees Sturgeon Rock is visible across the Rock Creek Valley (when clouds aren’t hovering over it). The loop route that we were considering would have us descending beneath Sturgeon Rock.
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The trail continued to climb around the ridge and we soon found ourselves with a view of Pyramid Rock (and the Sun).
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IMG_0311Sturgeon Rock (still with cloud) and Pyramid Rock

A smattering of flowers were popping up along the trail as we approached Pyramid Rock.
IMG_0301Wild iris

IMG_0304Paintbrush and lupine

IMG_0309Daisies

IMG_0317Penstemon

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Shortly before reaching Pyramid Rock we detoured on a spur to the right that lead up to a meadow in a saddle.
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Here we had what would turn out to be our only view of a Cascade volcano on the day as Mt. Hood rose above a mass of clouds over the Columbia River Gorge.
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We returned to the trail and continued heading toward Sturgeon Rock past ever improving flower displays.
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IMG_0344paintbrush and mountain spirea

IMG_0345Beargrass

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IMG_0361Columbine

IMG_0373A penstemon

IMG_0374More penstemon

IMG_0377Variety pack

IMG_0378Tiger lily

IMG_0381Golden pea and paintbrush

IMG_0392Another variety pack

IMG_0394Wallflower

As we neared the junction with the summit trail we could see that clouds had now overtaken Pyramid Rock.
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They were moving up the Rock Creek drainage heading for the summit of Silver Star so when we arrived at the large rock cairn marking the junction we decided that we would skip the summit for now and head north on the Silver Star Trail.
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IMG_0402Avalanche lilies near the junction.

IMG_0404Sign for the Silver Star Trail.

IMG_0405Silver Star Trail

We headed out along the Silver Star trail which began on top of the ridge. This was a new section of trail for us as we had done a big loop around the ridge on our first visit. There wasn’t much visible at the first viewpoint we arrived at but we were able to see Little Baldy which the Bluff Mountain Trail passes along.
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We followed this trail along the ridge for just over a mile and a half passing in and out of the clouds as they in turn passed over the area. The lack of views was mildly disappointing but the flowers more than made up for it.
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IMG_0441Sturgeon Rock momentarily out of the clouds.

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IMG_0490Phlox

IMG_0496Beargrass

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IMG_0582White crowned sparrow

We arrived at Ed’s Trail having already seen a wide variety of flowers.
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We turned up Ed’s Trail wondering if we could possibly see any more types.
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For the most part it was the same cast but in continuously different combinations.
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There were a few new sightings though.
IMG_0627Cat’s ear lily

IMG_0632Rose

IMG_0635Violets

IMG_0640Rock penstemon

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And some we’d seen but not a lot of yet.
IMG_0652Bleeding heart

IMG_0660Candy flower

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IMG_0672Lousewort

IMG_0682An aster or fleabane

A unique feature of Ed’s Trail is a rock arch just past the one mile mark.
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IMG_0680Backside of the arch.

Beyond the arch the next quarter of a mile gets a little tricky. There are two short but steep scramble sections. The first was a bit muddy making it a little slick. The second is a rocky section with pretty good holds.
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We had forgotten just how steep these places were and had considered doing the loop in the opposite direction. We were glad we had not.

Silver Star’s summit soon came into view and although it was cloud free there didn’t appear to be much hope for views of the surrounding mountains anytime soon.
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When we arrived back at the junction we eschewed the .3 mile climb to the summit opting to skip the 250′ climb since we’d been up there twice before and there weren’t going to be any views. Instead we continued past the rock cairn two tenths of a mile and turned down hill on a rocky unmarked roadbed.
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This return route would add about 1.6 miles to the hike, but it would cut down on the amount of time spent descending on a rocky roadbed. We find that toward the end of hikes our feet and lower legs are much more sensitive to uneven terrain, especially loose rocks. We had been down this 1.4 mile section of road before passing the basalt columns of Sturgeon Rock.
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Silver Star was not done with the flower show even though we were now in denser forest as we spotted some marsh marigolds and marsh corydalis near a wet area.
IMG_0712Marsh marigold

IMG_0714Marsh corydalis

The section of the Tarbell Trail that runs from the Grouse Vista Trailhead to Hidden Falls had been closed on weekdays during much of 2018 due to an active logging operation. There were plenty of signs of it when we arrived at the junction with that trail.
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We turned left onto the Tarbell Trail which followed the new logging road for a bit before crossing it into the clear cut.
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IMG_0733Pyramid Rock from the Tarbell Trail

IMG_0741Black headed grosbeak

IMG_0737Mountain parnassian

After descedning a series of switchbacks the trail left the clear cut and reentred the forest before reaching a footbridge over Rock Creek.
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Beyond Rock Creek the trail traversed the hillside beneath Pyramid Rock wrapping around the ridge end to meet the Grouse Vista Trail. Along this final stretch we noticed some green orchids near a seep that was also popular with butterflies.
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The trailhead parking lot had filled up while we’d been hiking but we only ran into a half dozen people on the trails, far fewer than the number of different flowers we had seen over our 11.1 miles. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Silver Star Mountain via Grouse Vista