Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Washington

Grayback Mountain, WA – 05/01/2021

We kicked off our official 2021 hiking season with a bit of an obscure hike from Matt Reeder’s “Off the Beaten Trail” (2nd edition) guidebook. The hike to the summit of Grayback Mountain is a gated dirt road walk through mostly private lands to a view of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks. Because the road to the summit passes through private land it is important to respect the landowners rights, Leave No Trace and be aware that access could be closed at anytime. The hike starts on Washington Department of Natural Resources Land (A Discover Pass is required to park) at a parking area at a gate.
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To reach the trailhead we took Washington Highway 142 north from Lyle, WA 23.3 miles to a junction with the Glenwood-Goldendale Road where we turned left for an additional 5.6 miles to an unmarked junction with Grayback Road on the right. (The road crests just beyond this junction and begins to descend into the Klickitat River Canyon.) We followed Grayback Road for 0.6 miles to the parking area at the end of a meadow.
IMG_3124Looking back toward the meadow.

After checking out the various wildflowers around the trailhead we set off past the gate on Grayback Road.
IMG_3125Western white groundsel

IMG_3134Showy phlox

IMG_3136Larkspur

20210501_074234Mahala Mat (Prostrate ceanothus)

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We then just followed this road for 5.6 miles to a radio tower atop Grayback Mountain. There were several junctions with other roads along the way but by keeping more or less straight and uphill it was easy enough to follow the correct road.

Ranging in elevation from just over 2000′ to approximately 3700′ the scenery varied from oak and ponderosa pines interspersed with meadows to mixed conifers and then to open hillsides filled with wildflowers (mostly parsleys). The views were spectacular and we were fortunate to not only have relatively clear skies but little wind making our time at the summit quite pleasant. We saw no other people during the hike and I don’t think a minute went by that we didn’t hear at least one bird signing. Butterflies came out later in the morning and I spent much of the return hike trying to catch them at rest for pictures.
IMG_3148Showy phlox among the oaks.

IMG_3146Serviceberry

IMG_3151Sparrow

IMG_3153Oregon grape

IMG_3156Strawberry

20210501_075157Arnica

IMG_3165Grayback Mountain from Grayback Road. The first 2.5 miles of the hike only gained 400′ while the next 3.1 gained 1400′.

IMG_3171Large head clover

IMG_3176Camas, much of which had yet to bloom.

IMG_3179Ponderosa pines along the road.

IMG_3180Western buttercups

Small flower woodland star and slender phloxWoodland star and slender phlox

IMG_3184Pussytoes and camas

IMG_3193A cryptantha

IMG_3196Oaks and ponderosas

<img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51153012403_83d088dc07_c.jpg&quot; width="800" height="600" alt="IMG_3197">Death camas and parsley

IMG_3201Lupine

IMG_3214Robin

IMG_3217Dark eyed junco

IMG_3218Bumble bee

IMG_3220A more forested section of the road.

IMG_3223Ball-head waterleaf

IMG_3224Largeleaf sandwort

20210501_085644American vetch

IMG_3233Dandelions in Mahala Mat

IMG_3235Bitter cherry

IMG_3237The real climb started at about the 4 mile mark at a junction below Grayback Mountain.

IMG_3241Sagebrush false dandelion

IMG_3246Climbing up Grayback Mountain

IMG_3258Red breasted nuthatch

IMG_3265First view of Mt. Hood since the trailhead.

IMG_3267Mt. Hood

IMG_3281Buckwheat

IMG_3289Mt. Hood beyond the Klickitat River Canyon

IMG_3294Turkey vulture

IMG_3292Entering the meadows on Grayback Mountain.

IMG_3301Approaching the first view of Mt. Adams.

IMG_3304Mt. Adams

IMG_3306Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks

IMG_3307Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks

IMG_3313In the meadows.

IMG_3314A balsamroot surrounded by parsley.

IMG_3321Indra swallowtail

IMG_3326Western meadowlark in a patch of Columbia desert parsley.

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IMG_3367Radio equipment atop Grayback Mountain with Mt. Adams beyond.

IMG_3360Mt. Hood (we could just barely make out the top of Mt. Jefferson too.) from the summit.

IMG_3361The Klickitat River

IMG_3351Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks

IMG_3353Mt. Adams

IMG_3355Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks (the Klickitat River originates from Goat Rocks.)

IMG_3369Daggerpod

IMG_3371Obligatory survey marker photo.

IMG_3366Looking east across the summit to the long ridge of Indian Rock. The boundary of the Yakima Indian Reservation is just on the north side of the summit.

IMG_3376A few gold stars still had petals.

IMG_3394A hairstreak but I’m not sure which type.

IMG_3400At least 4 ants on a large head clover.

IMG_3404Looking back south down Grayback Mountain.

IMG_3429There was a lot of white-stemmed frasera in the area but this was the closest one to blooming (and it’s a ways off).

Possibly a Brown elfin - Callophrys augustinus?Maybe a brown elfin. I couldn’t get a clear picture of this one.

IMG_3453Erynnis propertius – Propertius Duskywing (aka Western Oak Dustywing). There were lots of these duskywings flying about, it turns out that oaks are their host plants.

IMG_3494Another Erynnis propertius

Juba skipper - Hesperia jubaJuba skippers caught in the act.

Anise SwallowtailAnise swallowtail coming in for a landing on showy phlox.

IMG_3493Alligator lizard on a log.

IMG_3497Western fence lizard

Mylitta crescents - Phyciodes mylitta?I believe these to be Mylitta crescents.

After our relatively crowded previous outing at Columbia Hills State Park (post) the hike to Grayback Mountain was a welcome dose of solitude. While the flower display wasn’t as plentiful here it was still nice and there appeared to be plenty more to come. The view from the summit was worth the visit on its own and the near constant bird song made for a perfect soundtrack for the day. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Grayback Mountain

Categories
Columbia Gorge North Hiking Washington

Columbia Hills State Park – 4/17/2021

We joined the masses of people heading to the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge to catch the wildflower display which may be brief this year due to a combination of a lack of moisture and higher than normal (what is normal anymore?) temperatures. While we try to avoid crowds the hikes in Columbia Hills State Park are a featured hike in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Eastern Oregon” (Hike #2 in the 3rd edition) and one that Heather had missed out on in 2015 when I was joined by my parents (post). Knowing that word was out on social media that the bloom was on, we left even a little earlier than typical in hopes of minimizing the number of encounters with others. We followed the same order that I had done the hikes in during my first visit stopping first at the Horsethief Butte Trailhead.
IMG_2484Mt. Hood from the trailhead.

We followed the trail .3 miles to a junction where, unlike the first visit, we went right first following the trail around to the south side of Horsethief Butte where a fence announced the area beyond was closed.
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IMG_2496Death camas

IMG_2575Western stoneseed

20210417_065844Fiddleneck

IMG_2522Large-flower tritelia

IMG_2528Mt. Hood beyond Horsethief Lake

IMG_2534Standing at the fence looking east.

IMG_2531Wren

IMG_2535Horsethief Butte

IMG_2544Lupine

We then walked back about a quarter of a mile to a sign at an opening in the rock formation.
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Here we turned and headed up into the rocks.
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There is an optional side trail to a viewpoint inside the formation but we wanted to save the time and get to our second stop sooner rather than later. We had been the only car at the trailhead but half an hour later there were another half dozen cars (mostly rock climbers) with more arriving.
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We descended from Horsethief Butte and after a short detour due to a wrong turn at a junction we arrived back at our and drove east on SR 14 for 0.7 miles to the Crawford Oaks Trailhead. While the trailhead opened in May of 2014 my parents I had not parked here opting instead to park at the Dalles Mountain Ranch making this a primarily new hike for me too.
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There was a small handful of cars here but not bad (it was a different story later). We followed the Entry (Access) Road Trail uphill form the parking lot past the Ice Aged Floods Viewpoint.
IMG_2587Horsethief Butte and Mt. Hood from the viewpoint.

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After a 180 degree turn the Entry Road approached Eightmile Creek near Eightmile Creek Falls.
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IMG_2605Purple cushion fleabane

IMG_2608Balsamroot

The road turned uphill along the creek where several Lewis’s woodpeckers were flying from oak to oak.
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IMG_2630Western bluebird

We followed the road down and across Eightmile Creek to an interpretive sign at a junction.
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IMG_2642Ground squirrel

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This was the start of a couple different loop options. We chose to take the left fork which was the Military Road Trail. Going this direction is the shortest route to the Crawford Ranch Complex plus it would mean that we would be heading toward Mt. Hood as we looped around on the Vista Loop Trail (the right hand fork here). The Military Road Trail climbed away from the creek reaching another junction after .3 miles. Here we forked left again leaving the Military Road for the Eightmile Trail. (Sticking to the Military Road would have led us to the Vista Loop Trail in .4 miles.)
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IMG_2666Lupine, balsamroot and parsley

IMG_2668The Crawford Ranch Complex ahead to the left.

IMG_2674Phlox

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The Eightmile trail dropped to cross a smaller stream before finally returning to Eightmile Creek near a fence line.
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IMG_2744Approaching the fence line.

While there was a bit of a break in the flowers at this fence line there was no shortage of birds.
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IMG_2751Yellow-rumped warbler

IMG_2753Back of a scrub jay

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The trail then veered away from the creek and came to another junction after passing through a fence. The flowers here were spectacular and both Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson were visible.
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IMG_2779Mt. Hood

IMG_2764Mt. Jefferson

At the junction we went right on the Ranch Route Trail eschewing a visit to what looked like a very busy Crawford Ranch Complex. The Ranch Route meandered for 1.4 miles through the flowered covered hillsides before arriving at a junction with the Vista Loop and Military Road Trails.
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IMG_2823Yakima milk-vetch

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We turned left on the Vista Loop Trail following it a total of 1.8 miles back to the the junction near Eightmile Creek.
IMG_2860The Columbia River, Horsethief Butte, and Mt. Hood

IMG_2863Death camas

IMG_2872Large head clover

IMG_2893Approaching the junction.

We followed the Entry/Access Road back down to the now packed trailhead.
IMG_2896Hawk watching all the hikers.

IMG_2898A different hawk? watching the goings on.

IMG_2908Western fence lizard watching everything.

IMG_2899Poppy, manroot, and red-stemmed storksbill

IMG_2913The crowded trailhead

This stop clocked in at 6.9 miles and 900′ of elevation gain.

We opened up a spot here and drove west on SR-14 to Dalles Mountain Road where we turned north (right) and drove 3.5 miles to a fork near the Crawford Ranch Complex. Here we turned left heading uphill for another 1.4 miles (passing a number of hikers walking up along the road) to the Stacker Butte Trailhead. There were a fair number of cars but a few spots were open.
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IMG_2915While both were part of the Crawford Ranch, Stacker Butte is not part of the Columbia Hills State Park but is part of the Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve.

The hike here is pretty straight forward following the gravel road approximately 2.6 miles to some towers on the 3220′ summit of the butte. The flowers were thickest along the lower section of the hike with some that we had not seen down lower including paintbrush, daggerpod and some sicklepod rockcress.
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IMG_3116Yakima milk-vetch

IMG_2935Paintbrush amid the balsamroot.

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IMG_2951Phlox

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IMG_2961Big-seed biscuitroot

IMG_2977Sicklepod rockcress

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IMG_2990Sagebrush false dandelions

20210417_121519Daggerpod

IMG_3044Daggerpod

IMG_3021Slender toothwort?

IMG_3022Shooting stars in front of a little blue-eyed Mary

20210417_122308Large head clover

IMG_3031Popcorn flower

IMG_3024Larkspur

20210417_131353Woodland stars

At the summit we were treated to a clear view of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Goat Rocks to the north.

IMG_3000Mt. Adams

IMG_3004Mt. Rainier

IMG_3011Goat Rocks

After a little rest on top we headed down admiring the flowers along the way and watching for wildlife too.
IMG_3051Swallowtail

IMG_3058Western fence lizards

IMG_3111White crowned sparrow

IMG_3113Another sparrow

IMG_3100Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood as we neared the trailhead.

The three hikes came to a combined 13.2 miles and 2240′ of elevation gain which is why we didn’t just hike up the road from the ranch complex. It’s a little too early in the season for a 16 mile, 3000′ hiking day. Maybe in a couple more months. Happy Trails!

All three tracks for the day.
Categories
Hiking

Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge – 04/15/2021

Having visited the Ankeny and William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuges on Tuesday (post) and Wednesday (post) respectively I visited the third refuge comprising the Willamette Valley Complex, Baskett Slough on Thursday. For the final in this trifecta I had the chance to hike with my Father so I picked him up just after 6am and off we went. Like the other two refuges in the complex I had visited Baskett Slough before, most recently in May of last year (post) during the initial COVID lock down when many places weren’t open and we were trying to stay close to home. We began our hike at the Baskett Butte Trailhead.
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IMG_2292Mt. Jefferson from the trailhead.

The Rich Guadagno Memorial Loop Trail begins here and we followed it uphill to the start of the loop where we forked left continuing uphill to a second junction with the side trail to the Rich Guadagno Viewing Platform. We were just a couple of weeks earlier than Heather and my visit from last year but it made a big difference. The hill had been covered with wildflowers during that hike but there were just a few out now.
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IMG_2299A few lupine and buttercups

IMG_2300Camas

IMG_2308Castilleja levisecta – Golden Paintbrush

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IMG_2314A few little flowers starting to open up.

IMG_2323View from the deck.

IMG_2329Western meadowlark

We returned to the loop and continued into the woods on the side of Baskett Butte where we kept a streak of mine alive by spotting deer in this area.
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There weren’t nearly as many flowers here as there had been in the woods at Finley NWR but a few fawn lilies and toothworts were blooming.
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The rangers had been busy cleaning up after the ice storm based on some large piles of debris but it also appeared there was more work to do.
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We turned left at a sign for the Moffiti/Morgan Loop Trail and headed downhill toward Moffiti Marsh.
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IMG_2368Camas pretending to be part of a lupine plant.

IMG_2374White crowned sparrow

IMG_2381Hawk

IMG_2385Lesser scaup

IMG_2389American wigeons

IMG_2397Pied billed grebe

IMG_2405Yellowlegs

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Red-winged blackbirds

IMG_2424Savannah sparrow

We turned right along a path parallel to Smithfield Road following it to a small trailhead (where Heather and I started the 2020 hike). The fences across Smithfield Road were popular with the feathered community.
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IMG_2429Swallows

IMG_2430A robin, a western bluebird and swallows

IMG_2435A green winged teal and a cinnamon teal in a small marsh.

We took the path from the trailhead to Morgan Lake where there were a lot of ducks doing their best to stay as far away from us as possible.
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IMG_2439This scrub jay wasn’t shy.

IMG_2448Neither was this serious looking spotted towhee

IMG_2443Norther shovelers heading to the opposite side of the lake.

IMG_2453A bufflehead and some lesser scaups

IMG_2455Canada goose flyover

IMG_2458Mallard pair

After passing the lake we got a wild hair and instead of following the loop up around the north side of Baskett Butte we decided to stay on a fainter grassy track around the eastern side of the butte.
IMG_2462Old out building below Baskett Butte.

This seemed to be a good way to avoid the elevation gain of going up and over the saddle on Baskett Butte but along the way the grassy track disappeared into a field. There was another track heading uphill toward the butte but we were set on not climbing so we sallied forth.
IMG_2463Not only was this uphill but we didn’t know for sure where it might lead.

IMG_2464Along the field we went.

On the bright side our little adventure led us to the only blooming checkermallow we’d seen all morning.
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At a row of vegetation if briefly appeared we might be turning back but a break in the brush provided us a way through (it appeared to be a popular route with the resident deer and elk.
IMG_2477Looking uphill along the row of brush.

On the other side of the brush we found a huge flock of geese (or several smaller flocks that had merged)
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IMG_2476An extremely small portion of the geese.

We veered right away from the geese not wanting to be the cause of what we could only imagine would have been quite a commotion and cut across another field directly to the trailhead which was now visible.
IMG_2480Baskett Butte from the field.

Our route may have actually been a little shorter than if we had stayed on the trail as my GPS showed 4.8 miles while the route as described by Sullivan is 4.9 miles. It also saved a little bit of elevation gain and allowed us to see a little part of the refuge that we hadn’t before. It would have been pretty ugly though if it had rained recently though as I can only imagine those fields would be muddy messes. While not quite as exciting as the other two refuges Baskett Slough has always managed to deliver wildlife sightings and is definitely worth a visit. Happy Trails!

Our route with the “highlighted” section showing the off-trail route around Baskett Butte

Flickr: Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge

Categories
Corvallis Hiking Oregon Willamette Valley

Finley Wildlife Refuge Loop – 4/14/2021

A day after visiting the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge (post) I headed out to the William L. Finely National Wildlife Refuge for another attempt at spotting wildlife. Heather once again was working so I was on my own again. We had done two previous hikes here, one in 2017 visiting the Cabell Marsh and hiking the Woodpecker and Mill Hill Loops and the other in 2020 starting near Pigeon Butte. My plan was to combine most of those two hikes and add a few new short stretches to make a big loop through the refuge starting from the Woodpecker Loop Trailhead. One item to note is that some of the refuge is closed from November 1st through March 31st making this loop impossible during the seasonal closure.

The refuge is open from dawn to dusk and I arrived at the trailhead just as the Sun was beginning to rise behind Mt. Jefferson.
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From the Woodpecker Loop Trailhead I walked down to the refuge road and followed it to the left back to the Cabell Barn then turned right on a road at a season trail sign for the Cabell Marsh Overlook. I followed the roadbed to the Cabell Lodge and past the overlook down to Cabell Marsh.
IMG_1824Mt. Hood from the refuge road

IMG_1826The Three Sisters from the road

IMG_1832Yellow paintbrush

IMG_1841Cabell Barn

img src=”https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51116225393_9feb61f994_c.jpg&#8221; width=”800″ height=”600″ alt=”IMG_1860″>Cabell Lodge

IMG_1852Rabbit at the lodge

IMG_1865Cabell Marsh Overlook

IMG_1871White crowned sparrows

IMG_1878Deer in a field near Cabell Marsh

IMG_1879Cabell Marsh (the marsh had been drained when we visited in 2020)

I slowly walked along the dike at the marsh using binoculars to try and identify how many different ducks were out on the water.
IMG_1880Norther shovelers

IMG_1887American coots

IMG_1889Ring-necked ducks

IMG_1892Buffleheads

IMG_1908Black pheobe

IMG_1910American wigeons

IMG_1915_stitchCabell Marsh

IMG_1921Canada geese

Wood duck, ring-necked ducks and a pie billed grebeWood duck, ring-necked ducks and a pied billed grebe

IMG_1951More northern shovelers

IMG_1953Ring-necked ducks

IMG_1955Green winged teal

IMG_1956Robin

At a junction on the SW end of the Marsh I stayed left following a roadbed past a huge flock of geese and some ponds to a junction with the Pigeon Butte Trail.
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IMG_1983Killdeer

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IMG_1991Red-winged blackbird

IMG_2003Junction with the Pigeon Butte Trail (grassy track heading uphill)

Originally I had planned on skipping the half mile trail to the top of Pigeon Butte but it was a beautiful morning and it had been too cloudy to see much on our hike in 2020 so I turned uphill an tagged the summit before returning to my originally planned loop.
IMG_2004Tortoiseshell butterfly

IMG_2012Spotted towhee serenade

IMG_2020Bewick’s wren

IMG_2022Madrone

IMG_2027Mourning dove

IMG_2029Camas blooming near the summit

IMG_2034View from Pigeon Butte

IMG_2036Scrub jay spotted on the way down.

IMG_2038One of the “blue” butterflies, maybe a silvery blue

IMG_2043Acorn woodpecker

When I got back down to the junction I continued south on the Pigeon Butte Trail to a junction at a pond below Cheadle Barn.
IMG_2050Looking back at Pigeon Butte, the yellow paintbrush was starting its bloom on the hillside.

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Instead of heading for the barn and the Cheadle Marsh Trail which we had used on our 2020 visit I went right following a roadbed to Bruce Road across from the Field 12 Overlook.
IMG_2068Looking back at Pigeon Butte and the Cheadle Barn

IMG_2066Western bluebird

IMG_2070Bruce Rd and a sign for the overlook.

IMG_2071Swallows at the overlook

IMG_2075Mary’s Peak and Pigeon Butte from the overlook.

IMG_2076Mary’s Peak (post)

I then walked west on Bruce Road to the trailhead for the Beaver Pond and Cattail Pond Trails passing the Mitigation Wetland along the way. I paused at the wetland to watch a great blue heron and egret along with a number of ducks in.
IMG_2083Ground squirrel on Bruce Rd.

IMG_2080Sparrows

IMG_2085Western bluebird

IMG_2088Mitigation Wetland

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IMG_2103Egret

IMG_2098heron flying by the egret

IMG_2125Northern shoveler

IMG_2126Green winged teals

IMG_2129Trailhead off of Bruce Road

I turned off of Bruce Road at the trailhead and followed the grassy track to a fork where I veered left on the Beaver Pond Trail. This trail led briefly through the woods before arriving at the Beaver Pond where I startled a heron and a few ducks but an egret and a few other ducks stuck around.
IMG_2132Ground squirrel

IMG_2136Entering the woods

IMG_2142Giant white wakerobin

IMG_2144Fairybells

IMG_2162Startled heron

IMG_2169Egret and a cinnamon teal pair and maybe an American wigeon

As I was watching the egret I noticed something else in the water but I wasn’t sure if it was an animal or a log/rock in disguise. Even with binoculars I could decide but after looking at the pictures it was in fact a nutria that appeared to be napping.
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The egret finally flew off and I continued on to a junction just beyond the pond where I turned left heading slightly uphill toward the Refuge Headquarters and the Mill Hill Loop.
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IMG_2181Candyflower

At a signed 4-way junction I followed a pointer for the Mill Hill Trail to the left but not before I checked out a patch of pink along the trail straight ahead.
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IMG_2188The pink turned out to be shooting stars.

I hiked the Mill Hill Loop (which led back to the junction right past the shooting stars) and then turned left on the Intertie Trail. The Mill Hill Loop was full of surprises with a number of different wildflowers blooming and a turtle sighting. The turtle was on a log in a wetland quite a bit below a bench along the trail and I only spotted it with the help of the binoculars but that counts.
IMG_2196Iris

IMG_2201Bleeding heart

IMG_2220One of many fairy slippers

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IMG_2218It took some work to get the camera to stop focusing on the brush in the foreground.

IMG_2230Buttercups

IMG_2232Violets

IMG_2238Fawn lilies

IMG_2244Back at the junction and onto the Intertie Trail

I followed the Intertie Trail to the Woodpecker Loop ignoring side trails to the Refuge Headquarters.
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IMG_2256Service berry

IMG_2257The Woodpecker Loop

I turned left opting to head uphill on a slightly longer route back to my car so that I could check out the view from a hilltop viewing structure.
IMG_2259Norther flicker along the Woodpecker Loop

IMG_2263Amphibian pond and interpretive kiosk.

IMG_2267Viewing structure

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IMG_2272Mt. Jefferson

IMG_2273The Three Sisters

I watched a pair of raptors chase each other around but couldn’t get a clear enough view to tell what kind they were (maybe Cooper’s hawks?).
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IMG_2279This was the best shot I could get at 40x zoom with the sun in front of me.

After accepting that a clearer picture wasn’t possible I left the shelter and hiked downhill to my waiting car. While I only passed two other hikers on the trails there were a number of folks at the trailhead either just arriving or getting ready to leave. My loop with the mile detour up and down Pigeon Butte came in at 11.3 miles. The great thing about Finley is the diversity it offers with forest, woodlands, marshes and fields each supporting different plants and wildlife. The possibility of long, medium and short hikes is also nice. The one drawback is that there is a lot of poison oak in the area but they keep the trails wide enough that it really isn’t much of a problem.

Happy Trails!

Flickr: Finley Wildlife Refuge Loop

Categories
Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Willamette Valley

Ankeny Wildlife Refuge – 04/13/2021

I found myself with some time off that Heather does not and after spending the first day getting the car serviced and receiving my first dose of COVID vaccine (YAY) I spent the next morning exploring the Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. We had visited once before in 2014 for a short hike described by Sullivan in his “100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades” guidebook (post). This time I hoped to explore more of the refuge by hiking some of the dike trails that are open from April 1st to September 30th. I started my morning at the Eagle Marsh parking area on Buena Vista Road.
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There is a nice kiosk there overlooking the marsh from which quite a few ducks and geese were visible.
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IMG_1362Buffleheads

IMG_1370Canada goose and mallards

IMG_1373American coot

IMG_1375Ring-necked ducks (I’m not sure all the females are the same.)

IMG_1392Geese flying over Eagle Marsh as the Sun rises.

There was more vegetation at the southern end of the marsh where robins and blackbirds were singing.
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At the end of Eagle Marsh the dike split and I had intended to stay straight (the Refuge trail map appeared to show a possible loop around Willow Marsh but other maps do not show a dike at the southern end) but a sign there announced that dike was closed due to active nesting so I turned left instead.
IMG_1415Willow Marsh

There were a lot of ducks in Willow Marsh but they were keeping a safe distance from me.
IMG_1429A bufflehead and mallards

IMG_1432Mallards and ring-necked ducks

I then turned right along a dike passing between Willow and Teal Marshes.
IMG_1435Teal Marsh to the left of the dike.

It was more of the same treatment from the ducks in Teal Marsh.
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IMG_1454Mallards an northern shovelers

IMG_1457Buffleheads

While the ducks stayed away I had better luck with the smaller birds.
IMG_1468Spotted towhee

IMG_1473Red-winged blackbird

IMG_1476Female red-winged blackbird

IMG_1482Sparrow

IMG_1506Yellow-rumped warbler

At the end of Teal Marsh I turned around and headed back past the ducks.
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IMG_1507Geese coming in for a landing on Teal Marsh

IMG_1516Northern flicker

IMG_1517Green-winged teal

IMG_1520Ring-necked ducks and a bufflehead pair

IMG_1524Scrub jay

IMG_1541Pie billed grebe at Eagle Marsh

The out-and-back was a nice, albeit windy, 3.2 mile walk with no elevation gain. From Eagle Marsh I turned left (SW) onto Buena Vista Road and drove a quarter mile to a small pullout at a green gate.
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From here I planned on following another dike past Mohoff Pond and Pintail Marsh to Wintel Road and then follow that road briefly to the Rail Trail Loop Area which is where we had been on our first visit. A bald eagle flew over Mohoff Pond just as I set off.
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Mohoff Pond was busy with a number of different ducks but primarily they seemed to be northern shovelers.
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IMG_1580I didn’t see it when I took the picture but it appears there is an eagle on the ground in the distance here.

The activity wasn’t only at Mohoff Pond though as a handful of egrets were mostly out of view in a field on the other side of the railroad tracks.
IMG_1559One of the egrets taking off.

IMG_1589Brewer’s blackbird on a tree along the railroad tracks.

I stayed right at a junction with a dike running between Mohoff Pond and Pintail Marsh.
IMG_1591Pintail Marsh ahead on the left.

IMG_1761The dike between Mohoff Pond and Pintail Marsh.

IMG_1592Ducks at Pintail Marsh

There was a gravel parking area at the southern end of Pintail Marsh where I hopped onto Wintel Road and headed left following the narrow shoulder for .3 miles to another green gate on the right hand side of the road.
IMG_1596Pintail Marsh

IMG_1736Looking back at the gate and Wintel Road

I followed a grassy track which split 100 feet from the gate and turned right (left would have led me to the Rail Trail Parking area). The path led past a little standing water before leading onto a dike along Wood Duck Pond.
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IMG_1601Yellow legs

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I passed the Rail Trail Boardwalk and stayed on the dike now retracing our steps from our first visit.
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The dike turned south wrapping around Dunlin Pond.
IMG_1613The boardwalk across Dunlin Pond from the dike.

IMG_1639Ring-necked ducks

IMG_1634Ring-necked ducks taking off.

IMG_1626Sparrow

IMG_1646Common yellowthroat

IMG_1641Hawk and a sparrow

At the far end of Dunlin Pond the dike split again at Killdeer Marsh. Here I turned right and looped around Killdeer Marsh.
IMG_1653Killdeer Marsh

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IMG_1660Another yellow legs?

IMG_1663Mustard along Killdeer Marsh

IMG_1669A killdeer amid ducks at Killdeer Marsh

The dike didn’t quite go all the way around the marsh but it was easy walking along the edge of a field to get back to the dike on the north side of the marsh. The only issue was a 5 foot wide wet area between the field and dike where try as I might my shoes wound up wet. Once I was back on the dike I had the choice to go left back along Killdeer Marsh or a different dike veering off to the right along South Pond. I chose right and followed this dike around the end of South Pond.
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IMG_1683South Pond

IMG_1688Cinnamon Teal in South Pond

The dike led me to one of two actual trails in the Refuge, the Rail Trail.
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IMG_1711Damaged trees from the ice storm earlier this year.

IMG_1712Turkey vulture

IMG_1718Candyflower

I turned right at the boardwalk and followed it over the water to the dike on the far side.
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IMG_1728American coots

IMG_1731I think this is a ring-necked duck and a lesser scaup.

At the dike I turned right and retraced my steps back to Witnel Road and headed back toward Pintail Marsh. Instead of going to the gravel parking lot that I had been at earlier I left the road at the Pintail/Egret Marsh Boardwalk Trailhead.
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I followed this short boardwalk along and over Bashaw Creek to a bird blind.
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Again on the trail map it appeared that the boardwalk connect to a dike at Egret Marsh but it instead it dead ended at the blind.
IMG_1742The dike from the blind.

I turned around and headed back to Witnel Road a little dissapointed but then I spotted a little green frog on a log and all was good.
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When I got back to the lot a Pintail Marsh I turned right thinking I would follow the dike on the other side Pintail Marsh and Mohoff Pond.
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I stayed right when I passed another dike that allowed for a loop around Frog Marsh and stopped at a photo blind (reservable from 10/1-3/31).
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At the junction with the other end of the Frog Marsh Loop I ran into another obstacle, more active nesting had closed the dike along Pintail Marsh so I did the loop around Frog Marsh and back to the gravel lot I went.
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I retraced my steps on the dike along the west side of Pintail Marsh before turning right on the dike between the marsh and Mohoff Pond.
IMG_1756Killdeer on the dike.

IMG_1759A whole lot of geese in the air ahead.

I turned left at a four way junction where the closed dike joined from between Pintail and Egret Marshes.
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I was now on a dike between Mohoff Pond (left) and Mallard Marsh (right).
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Ducks and geese were everywhere as I trudged directly into the wind along the dike.
IMG_1776Green-winged teals

IMG_1784Northern shovelers

IMG_1781Canada geese

IMG_1788Another green-winged teal

IMG_1790Various ducks

IMG_1796Northern pintails

IMG_1803Crow

IMG_1806A green-winged teal and a yellow legs

My second stop wound up coming to 7.5 miles making for a 10.7 mile day. I only passed two people all day and saw a lot of different birds which made for a great hike. If I were a more patient person I would have sat at a blind or two and waited for some closer encounters but I prefer to keep moving so I have to settle for the long distance shots more often than not. Either way Ankeny is a great place to visit. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Ankeny Wildlife Refuge

Categories
Columbia Gorge North Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Trip report

Mitchell Point, Lyle Cherry Orchard & Sevenmile Hill – 3/27/21

We normally only do one hike a month from November through April but a forecast of sunny skies and highs in the low to mid 60’s combined with a chance to see some early wildflowers was enough to break that rule and head to the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge. The first wildflowers (usually grass widows and/or parsleys) can show up as early as January in areas such as Catherine Creek (post) with things really picking up by late March and running through early June in the upper meadow of Dog Mountain (post). We had previously been to Catherine Creek (along with Coyote Wall), the Tom McCall Preserve (post), Columbia Hills State Park (post), Memaloose Hills (post) and Swale Canyon (post) so for this outing we decided to check out the Lyle Cherry Orchard and Sevenmile Hill.

Before we got to those wildflower hikes we planned a quick stop at the Mitchell Point Trailhead to make the 1.1 mile climb up to the top of the point. We had actually stopped here in 2018 (after our Memaloose Hills hike) to take the Wygant Trail up to a viewpoint. Originally my plan had been to do these three hikes in a different order starting at the Lyle Cherry Orchard and ending with Mitchell Point but after looking at the plan a little more I realized that it had two flaws. First the exit to the Mitchell Point Trail is only accessible from the eastbound lanes of I-84 and there is no westbound access to I-84 from the trailhead either. (I had made this mistake with the outing in 2018 leading to some extra driving.) The second issue had to do with crowds and our never ending attempt to avoid them. Leaving Mitchell Point as the last hike might have meant dealing with some crowds whereas we didn’t expect Sevenmile Hill to be busy. Our plan seemed to be working pretty well as we were the first car at the Mitchell Point Trailhead.
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We headed to the left of the signboard to the Mitchell Point Trail which began climbing almost immediately.
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The trail switchbacked up a forested hillside with a few blooming toothworts.
IMG_0890Bench at a switchback.

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We then crossed a talus slope beneath Mitchell Point where lots of tiny blue-eyed Mary grew amid the rocks.
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IMG_0914Reroute below Mitchell Point

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IMG_0919Mushrooms’ and some sedums.

Views to the west along the Columbia River opened up as we climbed.
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The trail briefly reentered the forest and climbed to a set of power lines and an accompanying road.
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The trail never quite reached the road instead turning east then north as it headed out toward Mitchell Point.
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IMG_0927Houndstongue

We followed the trail out onto Mitchell Points Ridge which was dotted with wildflowers including a lot of bright grass widows.
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IMG_0934Grass Widows

IMG_0961Woodland stars

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IMG_0931Yellow bell lily

IMG_0938Desert parsley and woodland stars

IMG_0954A saxifrage

IMG_0965Gold stars and woodland stars

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In addition to the wildflowers the view from Mitchell Point was impressive.
IMG_0962Looking west

IMG_0966North across the Columbia River into Washington

IMG_0964East

In typical Gorge fashion it was a bit windy (a theme that would continue throughout the day) which didn’t seem to bother the birds.
IMG_0985Looks like moss for a nest maybe?

We returned the way we’d come arriving back at the trailhead to find we were still the only people there, but we weren’t alone.
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IMG_1001Turkeys on the Wygant Trail

At just over 2 miles round trip the hike to Mitchell Point made for a nice short hike but it comes at a price gaining over a thousand feet on the way up. From this trailhead we continued east to Hood River where we paid the $2 toll to cross the bridge into Washington. We continued east on SR 14 through the town of Lyle then parked at a gravel pullout on the left hand side of the road just beyond a tunnel. This was the unsigned trailhead for the Lyle Cherry Orchard Hike. There were maybe a half dozen or so cars here already which we were pleased with given the large number of cars we already passed by at the Coyote Wall and Catherine Creek Trailheads (and it wasn’t even 8:45 yet). The unsigned trail starts near the eastern end of the parking area and passing along a rock wall through oak trees with lots of poison oak.
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IMG_1015Red leaves of poison oak behind a death camas

IMG_1017More poison oak behind a waterleaf

IMG_1012Poison oak around some balsamroot

A short distance up the trail there is a niceĀ  map and trails signboard announcing the start of land owned by the Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

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From the signboard the trail continues to climb through the rock and oaks to a plateau where the poison oak is briefly left behind.
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IMG_1037Fiddleneck

IMG_1040Desert parsley

IMG_1045Manroot

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IMG_1057Lots of death camas blooming on the plateau.

We followed the trail as it headed gradually uphill toward a second plateau.
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IMG_1064Looking up at the cliffs above.

IMG_1068Balsamroot blooming below the rim.

At a fork in the trail we detoured left for a view of the Columbia River.
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We returned to the main trail which began to climb the hillside below the rim. While it was still a couple of weeks from prime wildflower season here there was a good balsamroot display along with a few other flowers in bloom.
IMG_1081Balsamroot

IMG_1085Woodland stars with some lupine leaves

IMG_1090Columbia desert parsley

IMG_1096A biscuitroot

IMG_1104Balsamroot

20210327_092349Balsamroot

The trail leveled out again after reaching the rim of the upper plateau where it also reentered an oak woodland.
IMG_1114View west (With a snow capped Mt. Defiance (post) in the distance.)

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Amid the oaks were some additional types of flowers.
IMG_1125Larkspur

IMG_1131Buttercups

IMG_1138Glacier lilies

IMG_1158Yellow bell lily, woodland stars, grass widows and shooting stars.

20210327_104840Yellow bell lilies

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IMG_1162Toothwort

IMG_1163Sagebrush false dandelions

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IMG_1167Tortoiseshell butterfly

Just under 2.5 miles from the trailhead we came to a junction which is the start of a short loop. We stayed left arriving at an old road bed a short distance later where we turned right and soon entered the site of the old orchard. Nearly all the cherry trees are gone and the few that remain only have a few branches that continue to bloom and we were too early for those.
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The trail looped through the now open meadow with views east of the Columbia River.
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A short spur trail on the SW part of the loop led to a viewpoint to the west.
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IMG_1183Tom McCall Point and the Rowena Plateau with Mt. Defiance in the distance.

After checking out the view we completed the loop and headed back the way we’d come. We had only encountered a couple of other hikers up to this point (we’d seen more from afar) but the return trip was a different story. There was a lot of mask donning and stepping aside on the way back to the trailhead.
IMG_1205Hikers on the trailhead and below.

One bit of excitement on the return trip was spotting a couple of orange-tip butterflies. We rarely see these pretty butterflies and it’s even rarer that I manage to get any kind of picture.
IMG_1217Just my third photo of an orange-tip.

The hike here for us came to 5.5 miles with another 1200′ of elevation gain giving us over 2200′ for the day so far. The parking area was now a full two rows of cars with more arriving (it was between 11:30 & 12:00). We quickly packed up and opened a spot for someone else and once again headed east on SR 14. We re-crossed the Columbia River on Highway 197 into The Dalles and took I-84 west for 5 miles following the Oregon Hikers directions to the Sevenmile Hill Trailhead

We weren’t sure how popular this hike is given that there are no official trails. That question, at least for this time of the year, was answered when we pulled into the empty gravel pullout.
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Our plan was to follow the entry in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide (description). The area consists of Forest Service land surrounded by private holdings (note the no trespassing sign across the road in the photo above).
We headed uphill and left, away from the blocked road passing a gravel pit on our left.
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We were supposed to reach a knoll with a small windbreak made out of erratics (rocks from the Rocky Mountains deposited by the Missoula Floods). The first knoll we climbed had some erratics but no windbreak.
IMG_1231Mt. Hood and Columbia desert parsley from the first knoll we tried.

IMG_1234Top of knoll #1.

IMG_1232A lone balsamroot blossom.

We weren’t sure if this was the right knoll or not but we did know from the map in the field guide that we should continue uphill and to the left. We kept climbing up the grassy hillside and reached the top of another knoll where we did indeed find a small windbreak.
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From the knoll we followed a faint grassy track past a spring to a stand of oak trees.
IMG_1243The path leading past the spring to the oaks.

IMG_1246The spring

There was a fence on the hillside at the oak trees. We got a bit confused here reading the hike description. It reads “Head up gradually to your left, reaching a draw. Walk across the broken fence line here and cross a small bench. Continue hiking up to your left. At some point, you should see the southwest boundary corner of the property and a fence line ahead.” We had not noticed another fence line and this fence was broken here with no signs so we continued on the faint path. That was a mistake and the fence we passed through was the boundary. When we reached a small crest where we could see everything ahead of us there was no other fence in sight.
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We quickly turned and began heading uphill to the NE to relocate the fence line and get ourselves on the correct side (Our apologies to whomever that land belongs too).
IMG_1262Back on the right side

Now we were back on course and followed the fence line uphill. While the wildflowers here would have been better from mid to late April there were a few splashes of color here and there.
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IMG_1249Balsamroot surrounded by some little white flowers.

IMG_1251Lupine thinking about blooming.

IMG_1254Larkspur

IMG_1259Yellow bell lilies

We deviated from the description as we neared the top of the hill electing not to follow the fence through a stand of oak trees, where the guide indicates there is a profusion of poison oak, opting instead to pass through the oaks lower on the hillside.
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IMG_1269We didn’t notice any poison oak here.

On the far side of the oaks we turned almost directly uphill reaching a viewpoint where Mt. Adams rose to the north beyond the Columbia River.
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IMG_1277A grass widow at the viewpoint.

IMG_1286Mt. Adams

IMG_1288Mt. Hood over the oak stand.

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We turned right along the rim following deer and elk trails through the oaks and past more viewpoints.
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From a grassy rise along the ridge we could see a faint path leading into another stand of trees where we could also make out the fence line marking the eastern boundary of the Forest Service Land.
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We headed downhill and followed the path to the fence line and then followed it down.
IMG_1310The Dalles beyond the fence line.

IMG_1318Heading down the fence line.

As we lost elevation we began to see quite a few more flowers. It seemed that the flowers at this eastern end were ahead of those to the west.
20210327_143435Large head clover

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IMG_1325A lupine with blossoms.

IMG_1329Hillside covered in Columbia desert parsley

IMG_1333Our car had been joined by one other. (middle left of photo)

IMG_1341Gooseberry Creek

We turned away from the fence on an old farm road following it back to the road near the trailhead by the “No Trespassing” signs.

This loop came in at 4.3 miles according to my GPS and was at least 1250′ of elevation gain which was made more difficult by the cross country terrain. There was little to no level footing for the vast majority of this hike and coming after we had already hiked 7.6 miles and gained 2200′ it really tired us out. That being said it was a great day to be out. One thing to note is that all three hikes are in located in tick country (we were lucky enough not to pick up any) and both Sevenmile Hill and Lyle Cherry Orchard are in rattlesnake country (again didn’t see any). Happy Trails and stay safe out there!

Flickr: Mitchell Point, Lyle Cherry Orchard & Sevenmile Hill

Categories
Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast

Alder Island, God’s Thumb & Roads End – 3/13/2021

We were hoping for some nicer weather on the Saturday before the dreaded “Spring forward” which always seems to be the harder of the two time changes to adjust to. In addition to adjusting to the struggle, adjusting to the change springing forward also meant losing an hour of light in the morning when we like to do our hiking. We got our nice weather so we headed out to Lincoln City to explore some of the nearby trails and cross off another of Sullivan’s featured hikes at Roads End Beach. The hike at Roads End (#35 in the 3rd edition “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range) was one nine remaining featured hikes in his third edition which we reverted back to this year due to not knowing when (if) the final featured hike in his 4th edition, the Salmonberry Railroad, will reopen to hikers (post).

The Roads End hike is a roughly 2.8 mile out and back along Roads End Beach at the north end of Lincoln City which gave us an opportunity to add some mileage to our day and check out two other nearby destinations. The first of which was a quick stop at the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge just south of Lincoln City. With the time change not yet happening we were able to arrive early and start hiking by 6:30am and more importantly drive through Lincoln City without any traffic to speak of.
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The refuge offers a single trail, a short lollipop loop (just under a mile) around Alder Island. Canoeing and kayaking is a popular activity here. It was in the mid 30’s as we set off from the small parking area so there were no human paddlers out yet but the frosty temperature didn’t dissuade others.
IMG_0632Mallard pair

IMG_0635Canada geese

IMG_0642Goose and a mallard in the channels.

While the Sun wasn’t quite above the Coast Range great blue herons were already busy working on building a nest in some trees across a channel.
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It wasn’t just the bigger birds that were busy. A ruby-crowned kinglet was busy in the brush.
Ruby-crowned kinglet

Approximately .2 miles north of the parking area we made a hard right turn crossing over some water to Alder Island and the start of the short loop.
IMG_0656Several interpretive signs were placed along the loop.

IMG_0657A reminder that COVID-19 is still an issue.

The trail passed through stands of alder as it followed a small branch of the Siletz River for .3 miles before reaching a bench facing the main branch of the river. There were a number of ducks a geese in the channel but the highlight came when Heather spotted something heading down to the water on the far side ahead of us. It was a river otter! This had been one of, if not the, most wanted animal sightings on our list of critters we’d yet to see while hiking (or driving to a hike). Unfortunately the otter was too quick and far enough away in the low morning light to get more than a blurry photo of it swimming across the channel.
IMG_0662The larger muddy area along the bank ahead on the right is where Heather spotted the otter.

IMG_0665Alder lined trail.

IMG_0659Blurry photo of a non-breeding male hooded merganser.

Blurry River OtterThe blurry river otter.

IMG_0670Another mallard

IMG_0672Canada geese

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IMG_0681Siletz River

The bench might have been a nice place to sit for awhile had it been a little warmer but we needed to keep moving so we continued on the loop which led us back along the main river channel,
IMG_0685Western grebe

IMG_0688Goose and a bufflehead (the duck not the post)

IMG_0689Bufflehead

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IMG_0701Spring is coming!

We completed the loop and headed back to the car just as the Sun was cresting the foothills.
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We then drove back through Lincoln City (still with very little traffic) and made our way to the parking lot at the Roads End Recreation Site.
IMG_0703Sentry at the Roads End entrance.

We weren’t quite ready to head out along the beach though. Before doing the featured hike we planned on visiting the increasingly popular God’s Thumb. We were hoping that 7:30am was still early enough to avoid the crowds that were sure to show up later in the day. While there are two closer trailheads (The Villages and the Sal La Sea Trailhead), parking at Roads End meant having access to bathrooms and not having to move the car again.

God’s Thumb (arrow) from the Roads End parking Area

We followed the Oregon Hikers Field Guide directions (see link for God’s Thumb above) to make our way up through the neighborhood between Roads End and the Sal La Sea Trailhead.
There weren’t any people but the neighborhood was fairly active.
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We passed a single car parked at the trailhead as we continued on by a gate across an old roadbed.
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We had walked up some steep hills through the neighborhood and that theme continued on the old road bed for .4 miles before leveling out at a ridge top junction.
IMG_0722It’s hard to tell just how much uphill this is. Fortunately it wasn’t very muddy.

IMG_0723A little easier to see the uphill here, this was near the top.

IMG_0724The junction.

We turned left at the junction following the ridge out to The Knoll, an open space overlooking Lincoln City to the south.
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IMG_0733The Roads End parking area is the open green space in the center along the ocean.

IMG_0731The Pacific Ocean.

IMG_0735Roads End Point jutting out to the north.

IMG_0737The Knoll

We returned to the junction and continued straight following the ridge north.
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IMG_0740Snow queen

IMG_0744More signs of Spring, salmonberry blossom and buds.

IMG_0749Sitka spruce and ferns along the ridge.

At the far end of the ridge (after approx 1/3 of a mile) we came to another junction with a trail coming up from the trailhead at The Villages.
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Here we turned left and began a short descent that looked to be in some doubt due to several large downed trees.
IMG_0751The downed trees ahead in the distance.

As it turned out there was just one tree to duck under while the rest looked to have been recently taken care of.
IMG_0752The last of the tree fall.

The trail then dipped into an open meadow before rising again on the far side.
IMG_0754Mud had begun to be a bit of an annoyance at this point.

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After reaching the top of the hill the trail briefly continued north before turning left in a grassy meadow.
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IMG_0764Busy woodpecker

IMG_0766The trail getting nearing the turn left.

IMG_0769Lone tree in the meadow.

IMG_0771Lone robin in the lone tree.

From the meadow there was a view of Cascade Head (post) to the north and to God’s Thumb jutting out into the Pacific to the west.
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The trail to God’s Thumb crosses a narrow saddle before climbing steeply to the top of the thumb. We were thankful that it hadn’t rained for a few days which eliminated any issues that mud might have made with footing. We were also pleased that we didn’t see any other hikers in the area that we might have to pass on the way there.
IMG_0779Heather crossing the saddle (left of the big bush)

IMG_0801Cascade Head from the saddle.

IMG_0800Final pitch up to the top.

The view of Cascade Head was great from the thumb and we were able to enjoy it by ourselves.
IMG_0788Not quite to ourselves, we shared the space briefly with some chestnut backed chickadees.

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IMG_0795Cascade Head and the mouth of the Salmon River.

IMG_0792Roads End Point and Lincoln City

IMG_0790Rocks below God’s Thumb

We did actually see another hiker but he wasn’t coming down the trail to God’s Thumb, he was heading down to the ocean in the cove north of us.
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After enjoying the view for a bit we headed back. We finally passed some other hikers just as we started down into the valley before climbing back up to the junction at the ridge end. It was beginning to be a fairly steady stream of hikers as we reached the junction where we forked left to make a loop out of the middle of the hike. The old road bed on this side of the ridge was much muddier than what we’d come up, but we also spotted quite a few yellow violets and a single toothwort along this route.
IMG_0807A reasonable representation of the wet/muddy conditions on this part of the hike.

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IMG_0815Toothwort

A mile and a half from the junction we arrived at the very crowded trailhead at The Villages. Here we turned left on a little path which quickly joined another old roadbed.
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Less than a half mile later we were passing another gate along Sal La Sea Drive.
IMG_0828The gate and Sal La Sea Drive in the distance.

IMG_0829It’s not a hike at the coast without some skunk cabbage.

At Sal La Sea Drive I suggested turning left as it looked like the road would take us back downhill almost directly to the Roads End Recreation Site but Heather wasn’t sold on that. (She was sure there was a hidden uphill that would be worse than what we were facing to get back to the Sal La Sea Trailhead.) Never one to pass up a climb we turned right and headed up Sal La Sea Drive. It was a little over 3/4 of a mile back to that trailhead (where there were now 9 cars) and somewhere in there Heather realized she had chosen poorly. We then retraced our path from earlier back down to Roads End. Along the way we saw over a half dozen more deer among the houses which we found humorous, in the woods we saw no deer and a bunch of people and in the neighborhood we saw no people and a bunch of deer.
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While our plan to avoid people had worked well at Alder Island and for our visits to The Knoll and God’s Thumb there was no chance for privacy along the beach at Roads End. While it was busy it was a nice walk along the beach for almost a mile and a half to Roads End Point where continuing is only possible during low tides.
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IMG_0849Coltsfoot

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IMG_0853An immature bald eagle flew overhead at one point.

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IMG_0863Little waterfall along the beach.

IMG_0866Roads End Point

IMG_0871Not going around that today.

We headed back saying one last goodbye to God’s Thumb and The Knoll before driving back home to Salem.
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IMG_0879God’s Thumb on the right.

IMG_0880Hikers on The Knoll

Our mileage for the day was right around ten with a mile coming at Alder Island, two and three quarters at Roads End and the remaining six and a quarter being The Knoll and God’s Thumb. There was 1420′ of elevation gain all of which was during the portion from Roads End to God’s Thumb and back. While we’ve had good weather for all three of our hikes thus far in 2021 this hike was the first to truly feel like Winter is coming to an end. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Alder Island, God’s Thumb & Roads End

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

North Fork Nehalem River – 02/20/2021

Like much of the U.S. we’ve had some ugly weather so far in February so when we saw the potential for a “not too wet” window of time we decided to head out for this month’s hike. On our schedule for February was the North Fork Nehalem River in the Coastal Range. This hike came from the Oregon Hikers Field Guide, my favorite online source for ideas. This particular hike utilizes roads instead of trails which was actually a good thing after an unusually destructive ice and snow storm had come through just a week before our hike. We hopped that the combination of the roads and some clearcuts along those roads would mean we wouldn’t have to deal with much if any debris from the storm. As we drove west on Highway 26 from Portland we were amazed at how much damage there was to trees in the Coastal Range. Between the damage we saw and a couple of heavy rain showers we were wondering what we might be getting ourselves into as we turned south onto Highway 53. The rain let up as we wound our way down past more damaged trees to the Nehalem Fish Hatchery. We had planned to stop at the hatchery first for a quick stop to see Umbrella Falls but signs at the hatchery indicated it was closed to visitors due to COVID-19 (the ODFW website for the hatchery didn’t mention the closure). With access to the 1/8 mile path to the falls blocked we had to skip Umbrella Falls for now and we drove the short distance north on Highway 53 to Cole Mountain Road (just north of the bridge over the North Fork Nehalem River) where we turned west (right) and kept right at a fork to reach the North Fork Nehalem Trailhead.
Trailhead on North Fork Road

We parked at a pullout before a gate marking the start of private land owned by McCracken Woodlands LLC and set off on foot.
Informational sign from McMracken Woodlands LLC

After crossing over a small stream we started getting views of the North Fork Nehalem River on our right.
Stream along North Fork Road

North Fork Nehalem River

North Fork Nehalem River

We were soon passing one of several clearcuts.
Clearcut above North Fork Road

While we are always on the lookout for wildlife we rarely spot anything when we’re specifically looking for something. Today was no exception and after scanning the hillside and coming up empty we started walking again. I turned around to see what the view was like behind us and caught movement 2/3rds of the way up the hill. It was a pair of deer that were well aware of us and making their way in the other direction.
Deer in the clearcut

Deer moving away from us through the clearcut

A mile into the hike we crossed the river on a bridge.
North Fork Road crossing the North Fork Nehalem River

North Fork Nehalem River

North Fork Nehalem River

Just under a half a mile from the bridge we came to North Fork Falls where some steps led down to a fish ladder.
North Fork Falls

North Fork Falls

Fish ladder at North Fork Falls

North Fork Nehalem River

After checking out the falls and fish ladder we continued on North Fork Road passing twin seasonal waterfalls, a quarry, and a pond before crossing over Gods Valley Creek near the two and three quarter mile mark of the hike.
North Fork Road

Twin seasonal waterfalls along North Fork Road

Pond along North Fork Road

Gods Valley CreekGods Valley Creek

Just beyond Gods Valley Creek we spotted some old moss covered picnic tables. We’d be interested in the history here as there was also at least one former campsite with an old fire ring in the area as well. Our guess is that before the logging this was some sort of recreation area but we haven’t been able to find any information online about it.
Old picnic tables

FrogFrog near the old picnic tables.

After crossing the creek the road left the North Fork Nehalem as the river bent northward sticking to a straight line to another crossing of the River just before the 3.5 mile mark.
North Fork Road

North Fork Road crossing the North Fork Nehalem River

North Fork Nehalem River

A gate at the far end of this bridge marked the boundary of the private land and the start of the Clatsop State Forest. We followed North Fork Road through the forest another two miles to Fall Creek (just on the far side of another large quarry).
Skunk cabbageNot much in the way of flowers yet but there was a bit of skunk cabbage in bloom.

Skunk cabbage

North Fork RoadSome low hanging trees, presumably from the storm. The roads had been cleared but occasional damage along the side of the road was evident.

North Fork Nehalem River

Snail shell

Old stump amid younger treesThere were no recent clearcuts in the Clatsop State Forest section but there was evidence of past logging.

Fall CreekFall Creek

After crossing Fall Creek the road (which is shown on maps as Hill Road here) turned away from the river and followed Fall Creek. We took a short detour to the right toward the river where a gated suspension bridge led to another fish ladder.
North Fork Nehalem River

Path to a closed suspension bridge over the North Fork Nehalem RiverNot sure why I neglected to get a picture of the bridge from the locked gate but this is the only one I took of the bridge.

Upper North Fork FallsThe hike description in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide mentions walking along the bank to get a view of Upper North Fork Falls from the rocks below but that wasn’t going to be an option with the river level today.

After checking out the bridge we returned to the the road and continued uphill along Fall Creek to visit three more waterfalls.
Hill Road along Fall Creek

We came to the first fall after .3 miles, a side stream flowing into Fall Creek. The lack of leaves made it a little easier to see the falls than it would be later in the year.
Waterfall spilling into Fall Creek

I was able to make my way down to Fall Creek below the falls for a closer look. (I did however get slapped in the face a couple of times by the vegetation.)
Waterfall spilling into Fall Creek

Another quarter mile brought us to the final two falls. A stepped fall on Fall Creek and another side stream flowing into Fall Creek.
Falls on Fall Creek

Waterfalls on Fall Creek

Waterfall spilling into Fall Creek

Waterfall spilling into Fall Creek

We were pleasantly surprised at how nice these last three waterfalls were, especially the two on the side streams. We were also thankful that we hadn’t had any real precipitation to deal with. We headed back the way we’d come looking for anything we’d missed on our fist pass.
Thick moss on a treeWe both thought that this thick moss looked like some sort of hairstyle.

Mushrooms

Rough skinned newtRough-skinned newt

A brief mist passed over but that was it and we enjoyed some bright blue sky as we finished up our outing.
North Fork Road

The hike came in at a little under twelve and a half miles with just over 500′ of elevation gain. We passed three anglers on the road on the way back and saw two more (their fishing line anyway) down on river. This was a great winter hike and a thoroughly enjoyable outing despite being entirely on roads. It just goes to show that it’s the not the surface but the surroundings that make a good hike. Happy Trails!

Flickr: North Fork Nehalem River

Categories
Hiking Uncategorized

Central Oregon Cascades

Several years ago we set a goal for ourselves to hike all 500 featured hikes in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes…” series of guidebooks (post). In 2020 we finished the first of his five guidebooks covering the Central Oregon Cascades. The achievement became bittersweet just 10 days after finishing the final featured hike at Erma Bell Lakes (post) when a freak windstorm caused the Lionshead and Beachie fires to explode burning a number of the trails that we had hiked on our journey to complete this goal. On the one hand we were fortunate enough to see these areas before they burned but it also means being more aware of what was lost, at least for the time being. The 2020 fires were not the first to burn trails that we’d hiked in the area, sometimes after and sometimes before. Fire is part of a forest’s cycle but their time frames take much longer than ours.

For this post we want to recap our journey to complete the 100 featured hikes while sharing a little of what the area looked like as we experienced it but first a little context. The area that Sullivan covers in the Central Cascades book, as well as his books for the other four areas, isn’t exactly easy to define. The vast majority of hikes could be fit into a rectangle starting with the upper left hand corner in Salem and extending east to Highway 97 then south to the junction of highways 97 & 58, then west until intersecting with a line due south from Salem. (The imaginary line follows I5 south until Cottage Grove where the freeway jogs SW.) That is over simplification though as that description overlaps at times with hikes described in the NW & Eastern books and excludes two featured hikes west of I5 and two east of Highway 97. The first snip below generally shows the described rectangle with the hiker symbols representing trailheads where we have started hikes (not limited to the featured hikes being discussed here). The second snip excludes any hikes that are included in one of the other areas that Sullivan covers.

The area is home to a variety of landscapes and ecosystems and contains at least parts of nine designated Wilderness Areas: Opal Creek, Bull of the Woods, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Three Sisters, Menagerie, Middle Santiam, Waldo Lake, and Diamond Peak.

The area has been hit by a number of large fires since 2000. The map below covers the same approximate area as the second map above. The colored areas represent fires with yellow being 2000-2005, light orange 2006-10, dark orange 2011-14, and red 15-19.

Not included in the map above are the Green Ridge, Beachie or Lionshead Fires from 2020. The Green Ridge fire did not burn over any of the featured hikes (it did burn part of the Green Ridge Trail) but the Beachie and Lionshead Fires impacted a number of hikes in the Mt. Jefferson, Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek Wilderness and surrounding areas.

The map below includes the Riverside Fire (large fire to the north), Beachie and Lionshead (center left and right which combined after Labor Day) and the Green Ridge Fire (SE).

We were lucky enough to complete many of the hikes prior to them being burned but we also hiked a number post fire and have seen the recovery in process. I’ve done my best to note below if a featured hike has experienced fire since 2000 with the year and name of the fire.

After all of that here are the 100 featured hikes from the 2012 4th edition of “100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades”:

#1 – Ankeny Wildlife Refuge-Hiked 4/6/2014
Ankeny Wildlife Refuge

#2 – Silver Fall-Hiked 2006, 7/30/2010 & 3/29/2018
Middle North FallsMiddle North Falls

#3 – Shellburg Falls-Hiked 5/23/2011
Burned-2020 Beachie Fire
Shellburg FallsShellburg Falls

#4 – Little North Santiam-Hiked 4/5/2012
Burned-2020 Beachie Fire
Snow on the Little North Santaim River

#5 – Henline Falls & Henline Mountain 7/27/2009 & 6/14/2020
Burned-2020 Beachie Fire
Henline FallsHenline Falls

#6 – Opal Creek 7/4/2010, 7/4/2012, 6/21/2014 & 7/24/2019
Burned-2020 Beachie Fire
Jawbone FlatsJawbone Flats

#7 – Dome Rock and Tumble Lake 7/18/2010
Burned-2020 Beachie Fire
Tumble LakeTumble Lake from Dome Rock

#8 – Battle Ax and Twin Lakes 9/20/2014
Olallie Butte and Mt. Jefferson with Elk Lake belowMt. Jefferson from Battle Ax

#9 – Stahlman Point 5/6/2013
Burned 2020 Beachie Fire
View from Stahlman PointView from Stahlman Point

#10 – Coffin Mountain Lookout 8/2/2013 & 7/4/2016
Coffin Mountain Lookout with the Three Sisters and The Husband beyond

#11 – Three Pyramids 7/18/2020
Meadow along the Pyramids TrailMeadow below the Three Pyramids

#12 – Crescent Mt. 7/6/2014
Beargrass meadow along the Crescent Mountain TrailBeargrass on Crescent Mountain

#13 – Browder Ridge 9/9/2012 & 7/4/2018
Mt. JeffersonMt. Jefferson from Browder Ridge

#14 – Echo Basin and Fish Lake 6/19/2020
Echo Basin TrailBoardwalk in Echo Basin

#15 – Iron Mt. 7/25/2010 & 7/4/2014
Iron Mountain from the Cone Peak MeadowIron Mountain from the trail.

#16 – House Rock 11/8/2014
House Rock

#17 – Rooster Rock 6/12/2016
Rooster Rock from a viewpoint in the Menagerie Wilderness

#18 – Cascadia State Park 6/12/2016
Soda Creek FallsSoda Creek Falls

#19 – Crabtree Lake 9/7/2019
Crabtree Lake

#20 – McDowell Creek Park 2/16/2014
Majestic FallsMajestic Falls

#21 – South Breitenbush Gorge 5/11/2013
Burned 2020 Lionshead Fire
Roaring CreekRoaring Creek

#22 – Jefferson Park 9/23/2011, 10/13/2014, & 8/8/2015
Burned partly in 2017 Whitewater and rest in 2020 Lionshead Fire
Mt. Jefferson from Jefferson ParkMt. Jefferson

#23 – Pamelia Lake 9/19/2013 & 9/8/2018
Pamelia Lake

#24 – Marion Lake 10/3/2014 & 9/10/2016
Burned 2002 Mt. Marion, 2003 B&B Complex, 2006 Puzzle, 2015 208SRZ Marion
Three Fingered Jack from Marion LakeThree Fingered Jack from Marion Lake

#25 – Duffy Lake 7/28/2010
Burned 2002 Mt. Marion, 2003 B&B Complex
Mowich Lake and Duffy ButteMowich Lake and Duffy Butte from Red Butte

#26 – Three Fingered Jack 10/13/2012
Burned 2003 B&B Complex
Three Fingered Jack

#27 – Canyon Creek Meadows 7/28/2013
Burned 2003 B&B Complex
The trail aheadThree Fingered Jack

#28 – Carl Lake 9/1/2018
Burned 2003, B&B Complex, 2006 Puzzle
Carl Lake

#29 – Metolius River 7/23/2012
Wizard FallsWizard Falls

#30 – Black Butte 10/13/2013 & 5/28/2018
Burned 2009 Black Butte II
Cupola style lookout on Black Butte

#31 – Alder Springs 8/3/2011
Deschutes RiverDeschutes River

#32 – Scout Camp Trail 5/1/2016
Balsamroot hillside

#33 – Steelhead Falls 5/1/2016
Steelhead Falls

#34 – Smith Rock 7/14/2006, 7/13/2011 & 6/5/2015
Monkey FaceMonkey Face

#35 – Shevlin Park 8/5/2011
Hixson Crossing Covered BridgeHixson Crossing Covered Bridge

#36 – Tumalo Falls 9/27/2014
Tumalo Falls

#37 – Dillon & Benham Falls 8/1/2013
Benham FallsBenham Falls

#38 – Lava Cast Forest and Lava River Cave 5/28/2017
Newberry Crater from the Lava Cast Forest

#39 – Fall River 9/16/2015
Fall River

#40 – LaPine State Park 9/16/2015
Deschutes RiverDeschutes River

#41 – Poxy Falls and Linton Lake 5/3/2014(Proxy Falls) & 6/25/2017(Linton Lake)
Burned (Linton Falls) 2017 Separation Fire
Proxy FallsProxy Falls

#42 – Obsidian Trail 10/14/2012
Burned (tiny portion of trail) 2017 Separation Fire
Obsidian FallsObsidian Falls

#43 – Four-in-one-Cone 10/14/2012 & 8/14/2019
View from Four-in-one ConeView from Four-in-One-Cone

#44 – Benson Lake 10/14/2012 & 8/30/2014
Burned (small section of longer loop trail) 2010 Scott Mt. Fire
Benson Lake

#45 – Hand Lake Shelter 8/30/2014
Hand Lake Shelter

#46 – Little Belknap Crater 9/14/2015
Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, and Mt. Jefferson from Little Belknap CraterMt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, and Mt. Jefferson from Little Belknap Crater

#47 – Matthieu Lakes 7/29/2013
Burned 2017 Milli Fire
South Matthieu LakeNorth Sister from South Matthieu Lake

#48 – Black Crater 10/1/2016
Burned 2017 Milli Fire
Remanants of the lookout tower on Black CraterFormer lookout site on Black Crater.

#49 – Chambers Lakes 8/26/2014
Burned 2012 Pole Creek Fire
South Sister from Camp LakeSouth Sister from Camp Lake

#50 – Park Meadow 8/27/2014
Burned 2012 Pole Creek Fire
Middle and North Sister beyond Golden LakeMiddle and North Sister from Golden Lake

#51 – Tam McArthur Rim 8/31/2013
Broken Top and Broken HandBroken Top and Broken Hand from Tam McArthur Ridge

#52 – Tumalo Mt. 9/27/2014
Trees near the summit of Tumalo MountainTrees near the summit of Tumalo Mountain.

#53 – Todd Lake and Broken Top 8/23/2014
Broken Top from No Name LakeBroken Top from No Name Lake

#54 – Sparks Lake 10/1/2014
South Sister from Sparks LakeSouth Sister from Sparks Lake

#55 – Green Lakes via Fall Creek 9/15/2015
The third Green LakeThe third Green Lake

#56 – Moraine Lake and South Sister 9/1/2013
View from the South SisterLooking north from the South Sister.

#57 – Sisters Mirror Lake 9/19/2015
South Sister from Sisters Mirror LakeSouth Sister from Sisters Mirror Lake

#58 – Horse Lake 8/4/2011
Horse LakeHorse Lake

#59 – Doris & Cliff Lakes 9/29/2014
Doris LakeDoris Lake

#60 – Clear Lake 6/15/2014
Clear Lake

#61 – Sahalie & Koosah Falls 9/9/2012
Sahalie FallsSahalie Falls

#62 – Tamolitch Pool 5/27/2013
Tamolitch Pool

#63 – Rainbow Falls and Separation Lake 5/3/2014
Separation LakeSeparation Lake

#64 – Horsepasture Mt. 7/7/2018
South Sister and Mt. Bachelor from the Horsepasture Mountain TrailSouth Sister and Mt. Bachelor form Horsepasture Mountain.

#65 – Olallie Mt. 9/1/2019
Burned 2017 Olallie Lookout Fire (Lookout burned down winter 2019/20).
Olallie Mountain lookout

#66 – Lowder Mt. 9/1/2019
View from Lowder MountainView from Lowder Mountain.

#67 – Tidbits Mt. 6/29/2019
View from Tidbits MountainView from Tidbits Mountain.

#68 – Castle Rock 6/3/2017
Monkeyflower and pletritisMonkeyflower and plectritis on Castle Rock.

#69 – French Pete Creek 5/16/2015
Burned 2017 Rebel and 2018 Terwilliger Fires
French Pete Creek

#70 – Erma Bell Lakes 8/29/2020
Middle Erma Bell LakeMiddle Erma Bell Lake

#71 – Spencer Butte 2/9/2020
View from Spencer ButteFog over Eugene.

#72 – Mt. Pisgah 10/5/2019
Summit of Mt. PisgahSummit marker on Mt. Pisgah.

#73 – Shotgun Creek 2/9/2020
Shotgun Creek

#74 – Fall Creek 3/31/2013
Burned 2003 Clark and 2017 Jones Fires
Fall Creek

#75 – Mt. June 6/2/2013
Sawtooth TrailSawtooth Trail

#76 – Goodman Creek 11/10/2013
Small Falls on a branch of Goodman Creek

#77 – Patterson Mt. 5/5/2018
Lone Wolf MeadowLone Wolf Meadow

#78 – Tire Mt. 6/8/2014
Wildflowers along the Tire Mountain TrailWildflowers along the Tire Mt. Trail.

#79 – North Fork and Buffalo Rock 5/10/2020
Buaffalo Rock from the North Fork Willamette RiverBuffalo Rock from the North Fork Willamette River

#80 – Grasshopper Meadow 7/8/2017
Grasshopper Meadow

#81 – Blair Lake and Wall Creek 6/11/2015
Beargrass MeadowBeargrass meadow along the Blair Lake Trail.

#82 – Chuckle Springs 5/24/2020
Burned 2009 Tumblebug Complex
Indigo SpringsIndigo Springs (These springs have not burned.)

#83 – Spirt, Moon, and Pinard Falls 6/17/2020
Moon FallsMoon Falls

#84 – Brice Creek 5/5/2014
Upper Trestle Creek FallsUpper Trestle Creek Falls

#85 – Bohemia Mt. 8/15/2020
Bohemia Mountain

#86 – Eddeeleo Lakes 8/25/2018
Lower Eddeeleo LakeLower Eddeeleo Lake

#87 – Waldo Mt. 9/7/2013
Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, The Three Sisters and Broken Top from Waldo MountainView from the Waldo Mountain Lookout.

#88 – Lillian Falls 8/30/2019
Lillian Falls

#89 – Fuji Mt. 10/6/2013
View from Fuji Mountain

#90 – South Waldo Lake 8/22/2015
Waldo Lake

#91 – The Twins 9/14/2019
View north from the south summit of The Twins

#92 – Rosary Lakes and Maiden Peak 9/3/2016
Pulpit Rock from Middle Rosary LakePulpit Rock from Middle Rosary Lake

#93 – Salt Creek Falls 7/4/2013
Salt Creek Falls

#94 – Midnight & Yoran Lakes 10/18/2014
Yoran LakeYoran Lake

#95 – Diamond View Lake 8/22/2020
Diamond Peak from Diamond View LakeDiamond Peak from Diamond View Lake

#96 – Fawn Lake 9/22/2018
Huckleberry BushesHuckleberry Bushes along Saddle Lake.

#97 – Divide Lake 8/24/2020
Notch LakeNotch Lake

#98 – Blue and Corrigan Lakes 8/23/2020
Diamond Peak from Corrigan LakeDiamond Peak from Corrigan Lake

#99 – Marie Lake and Diamond Peak 8/23/2020
Climbers trail to Diamond PeakDiamond Peak

#100 – Timpanogas Lake 9/17/2016
Sawtooth Mountain from Timpanogas LakeSawtooth Mountain from Timpanogas Lake

In addition to the 100 featured hikes we’ve manged to add other hikes from Sullivan’s addtional hikes located in the back of his book. In doing so we have also completed all 100 featured hikes in the 3rd edition and are just 2 hikes short of completing the 5th edition as well. There were 14 hikes from the 3rd edition that were not featured hikes in the 4th edtion while the 5th edition contains 12 new featured hikes from the 4th edition (Three of these had been featured hikes in the 3rd edition.) Even with all of the hikes we’ve done, and the areas lost to fire in 2020 there are a number of trails in the Central Cascades we have yet to explore. We will continue to work those into our plans as we strive to explore as many different places as possible while we can.

 

Happy Trails!

Scout Lake and Mt. Jefferson

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon

Banks-Vernonia State Trail – Buxton Trestle to Tophill Trailhead – 01/16/2021

We kicked off our 2021 hiking year by revisiting the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. We had run the entire trail in April 2014 as part of an ill fated marathon and I had hiked a short section between the Buxton Trestle and Manning Trailhead in April 2016 while Heather ran a half-marathon (post). We had used the marathon as our “hike” to check off hike #23 in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range”4th edition, but the Banks-Vernonia Trail was only part of a longer lollipop loop through L.L. Stub Stewart State Park that he describes. With this visit we planned on doing the rest of his described hike as well as continuing on to the Tophill Trailhead where we plan to someday start another section hike of the trail.

We began our hike at the Buxton Trailhead where I had started my 2016 hike as well.
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From the far end of the parking lot we took a path down to Mendenhall Creek below the Buxton Trestle.
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The path then took us up to the Banks-Vernonia State Trail where we turned right and crossed the trestle.
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We followed the paved former railroad north approximately 3/4 of a mile into L.L. Stub Stewart State Park.
IMG_0281Leaving the Buxton Trailhead area.

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IMG_0296Entering Stub Stewart State Park.

We continued through the park for another mile and a half passing two marked trails to the right before arriving at a third just north of Williams Creek
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IMG_0308This trail was just north of Logging Creek and appeared to just loop back to the Banks-Vernonia Trail a bit further north.

IMG_0309The Caddywhomper Way(s) Trail was signed better. We skipped the viewpoint given the amount of fog/clouds and not wanting to add another 2 miles to the days total. The Oregonhikers field guide also mentions that there isn’t much of a view left due to the presence of trees.

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IMG_0318Trail junction just north of Williams Creek

This was our first wrong turn of 2021 although it may have been correct back in 2016 when our guidebook was released. The map in the book showed a single trail splitting off to the right just beyond the creek so we turned down what turned out to be the Shoofly Trail.
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After .2 miles we arrived at a signboard with a map (it would have been more helpful up at the junction).
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It was here that we realized that it was the wrong trail and that the Hares Canyon Trail was just a tenth of a mile further north.
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Since we were already down there we checked out Williams Creek stopping before the bridge which was clearly marked “no hikers”.
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I say that it may have been the correct trail at one point because Sullivan’s description says that “after 100 feet a spur down to the right dead ends at the creek bank” and there was a closed fork up to the left that may have at one time been part of the Hares Canyon Trail. It wasn’t now though so back up we went to the Banks-Vernonia Trail where we continued north the the signed Hares Canyon Trail.
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A barricade next to the trail had signs for active logging that was occurring Monday – Friday closing the trail on those days.
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We headed up this trail through the forest where we ran into a pair of rough skinned newts.
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We passed a signed junction with the Brookecreek Trail and then arrived at a new logging road three quarters of a mile from the Banks-Vernonia Trail.
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There were no indications of where the Hares Canyon Trail went so we used the map to decide that it must be somewhere to our right and we followed the logging road a short distance before spotting an obvious trail splitting off of it.
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The trail passed through a thinned forest before popping out on another logging road.
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We stayed right on the road at junctions and dropped to another barricade at the Widowmaker Way Trail.
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IMG_0361Sign for the Widowmaker Way and Harse Canyon Trails.

Passing through the logging operation was a bit depressing to be honest. We’ve been on several trails in the last year that have passed through active or recently logged areas and combined with the trails that we’ve lost to wildfires in the last few years and other trails that are being lost to lack of funding for maintenance it’s a bit of a bummer. Ironically this is all at a time when more people then ever are heading out to the trails overloading the most popular and causing issues with litter and human waste. Enough of the doom and gloom though and back to the hike.

The Hares Canyon Trail followed a roadbed of indeterminate age through a disc golf course arriving at a signboard in a mile marking the northern end of the Mountain Bike Area at North Caddywhomper Way.
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IMG_0378No flowers yet but plenty of mushrooms and fungi.

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IMG_0383The trails were well signed so it was easy to stay on the Hares Canyon Trail.

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IMG_0388Comming up on North Caddywhomper Way

We turned left here following pointers for the Hares Canyon Trail until it crossed a service road (3/4 of a mile from the signboard).
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At a junction on the far side of the service road we veered left following the Unfit Settlement View Trail and pointers for the Skycar View and Boomscooter Trail.
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IMG_0402Wet webs in the trees.

We took a detour to the Skycar View despite the fog since it was only 150 yards away.
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We returned to the Unfit Settlement View Trail and followed it downhill to a junction with the Boomscooter Trail where we turned right.
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The Boomscooter Trail descended past Boomscooter Pond and ended in three quarters of a mile at the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.
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IMG_0415Chatty squirrel

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Sullivan’s description would have had us turn left here and return to the Buxton Trailhead but we turned right instead in order to visit the Tophill Trailhead. There were two reasons for this, one was that if we did do more sections of the trail in the future we didn’t want to have a non-hiked gap in between our section hikes, don’t know why but we prefer them to connect. The second reason was that the Tophill Trailhead had been the halfway point of the 2014 marathon which was also the point at which the train went off the tracks. The section of trail just beyond that trailhead was the only significant uphill of the whole route and we had thought walking it would keep it from doing too much damage, but we hadn’t planned on it being 20 plus degrees warmer that day than it had been during any of our training runs. None of us recovered after the hill and the remainder of the race included a lot of walking and cramping. We were both interested in revisiting that hill and seeing if it really was a bad as it had seemed that day.

It was about 2 miles to the Tophill Trailhead where we walked to Highway 26 then turned around and headed up the hill.
IMG_0435Passing over Highway 47 on the way to the Tophill Trailhead.

IMG_0437Orange jelly fungus on a tree.

IMG_0441Heading up from the hill from the less steep south side.

IMG_0445Highway 47 at the Tophill Trailhead.

The climb back up the couple of switchbacks was underwhelming. It made us work but it also reinforced that it wasn’t the hill that had done us in that day, it had been the heat. We followed the Banks-Vernonia Trail back to the Buxton Trailhead passing back through L.L. Stub Stewart State Park along the way. The trail was fairly busy by the afternoon with joggers, hikers, bikers, and a couple of equestrians enjoying the dry day (with a bonus sighting of blue skies).
IMG_0451Chestnut-backed chickadee

IMG_0460Pond along the trail.

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IMG_0464Entrance road to Stub Stewart.

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IMG_0476Back at the Buxton Trailhead

IMG_0478Bench at the Buxton Trailhead

We had expected the hike to be around 13 miles but our GPS (and time) put it at 15.5 miles. Although not the most exciting or dramatic hike there was a nice variety of sights and the trails (except for the area being logged) were in great to good shape. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Banks-Vernonia State Trail – Buxton to Tophill TH