It’s hard to believe that it’s already time to recap our 2016 hiking year, and what a great year for hiking it turned out to be! I spent our off-season (Nov-Apr) putting together a 7 year plan (yes I have an issue) to help us achieve two of the goals we’ve set for ourselves. One is to hike each of the featured hikes in each of William L. Sullivan’s five “100 Hikes/Travel Guide” books and the second is to visit each of Oregon’s 45 designated wilderness areas. (There are 47 but the Oregon Islands and Three Arch Rocks Wilderness Areas are off-limits.) In previous years I had only put together a schedule for the upcoming year, but by looking further ahead I was able to make sure we weren’t going to miss any hikes and they were scheduled at what should be good times to visit. We also now had a handy list of options, laid out by the best times to visit, to pick from if we needed to change plans for any reason. The schedule remains a work in process but as it stands today we will finish visiting all the wilderness areas with Grassy Knob in 2022 and 460 of the 500 featured hikes in Sullivan’s books by the end of 2023. The remaining 40 hikes are too far away for day trips so they are incorporated into vacations that will need to happen further down the road.
The first draft of our 2016 hikes was completed on 12/18/15 and consisted of 57 days worth of hikes totaling 624.4 miles. History had shown that those numbers (and the hikes themselves) would change as the year played out, but it was a solid starting point. That again proved to be the case as 10 of the original hikes were swapped out for others and 4 additional hikes were added, and the total mileage rose by over 150 miles to end at 792.8. We visited 8 wilderness areas for the first time knocking 7 more off the Oregon list. They were the Oregon Badlands, Kalmiopsis, Menagerie, Eagle Cap, Mountain Lakes, Sky Lakes, and Lower White River Wildernesses in Oregon and the Marble Mountain Wilderness in California. In addition to the new areas we hiked in the Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, and Mark O. Hatfield Wildernesses as well as the the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and the Mt. St. Helens Volcanic National Monument.
Our travels took us on hikes further to the west (Cape Sebastian State Park), east (West Fork Wallowa Trail – Eagle Cap Wilderness), and south (Cliff Lake – Marble Mountain Wilderness) than ever before. Our trips to the Marble Mountain and Eagle Cap Wilderness areas were our first 5 day/4 night backpacking trips which proved to be just about the limit on how long we can stay out given our current gear.
The weather was exceptional for nearly all of our hikes. Early winter storms left a more normal snow pack which helped make 2016 a pretty good wildflower year and we only ran into two weather related issues. The first was a slight chance of rain for our vacation week in May during which we’d planned on visiting the desert in SE Oregon. Any precipitation in that area would have made it impossible to reach our planned trailheads so we put that vacation off and headed to the Southern Oregon Coast instead which wound up being a great plan B. The second was a July hike on Scar Ridge in the Old Cascades which was swapped for Fifteenmile Creek on the east side of the Mt. Hood National Forest due to probable thunderstorms.
Although the weather conditions were almost always great the same couldn’t be said for the condition of a few of the trails. During our May vacation we encountered a host of ticks along the Illinois River Trail. Later in the year it was blowdown that proved to be the biggest obstacle. In the Sky Lakes Wilderness a section of the Badger Lake Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail was a mess.
This was also the case along much of the Bowerman Lake Trail in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.
As well as the Hand Lake Trail in the Mt. Washington Wilderness.
The one consistent regardless of the location, weather, or trail conditions was the beauty and diversity that makes the Pacific Northwest so special. From west to east starting with the Oregon Coast:
Tillamook Head from the Fort-to-Sea Trail
Lone Ranch Beach from Cape Ferrelo
View from the Oregon Coast Trail in Samuel H. Boardman State Park
Past the Klamath Mountains in Southern Oregon and Northern California:
Little Vulcan and Vulcan Lake below Vulcan Peak
Marble Mountain Wilderness
and the Coast Range to the north:
Old Growth Ridge Trail in the Siuslaw National Forest
Sweet Creek Falls
across the Willamette Valley:
Minto-Brown Island Park
into the Old Cascade Mountains:
Coffin Mountain from Bachelor Mountain
Rooster Rock in the Menagerie Wilderness
over the Cascade Mountains:
The Three Sisters
Three Fingered Jack
Coldwater Peak and Snow Lake – Mt. Margaret Backcountry, Mt. St. Helens Volcanic National Monument
into the High Desert of Central Oregon:
Badlands Rock – Oregon Badlands Wilderness
Painted Hills – John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
NE to the Wallowa Mountains:
Ice Lake and the Matterhorn
Glacier Peak and Eagle Cap from Glacier Lake
Eagle Cap Wilderness
Here is a look at the locations of our hikes. The hiker symbols are the trailheads and the yellow house icon denotes the approximate location of our campsites.
An interactive version can been accessed here and includes all of our previous hikes.
In addition to the spectacular views the areas provided a wonderful variety of wildlife and vegetation.
We encountered a number of flowers for the first time this year.
Western blue clematis
Mountain coyote mint
California Lady Slippers
California Yerba Santa
Some sort of catchfly
California pitcher plant (Darlingtonia californica)
Golden Bee Plant
White mariposa lily
There were just too many sights to fit into a year end wrap up so to see a sample from each of our hikes this album contains a few photos from each hike which attempt to show the beauty of each trail. There are a lot of photos (793 – One for each mile hiked) but then again there is a lot of beauty in God’s creation.
Happy Trails in 2017 and beyond!
11 replies on “The Hikes of 2016 – A Look Back”
You guys have my favorite hiking site! Great pictures and beta on places I am keen to go myself. Looking forward to where you go next year!
Thanks. We’ve got some hikes in the Mt. Shasta area on next year’s list. Every time I see one of your posts I know we’ve just got to get down there.
That is awesome! What hikes down in this area do you think you will do?
Since we have that goal to hike all of the featured hikes in Sullivan’s book I’ve got 8 of those penciled in. Pilot Rock on the way down, Kangaroo & Bull Lake, Caribou Lake, Castle Lake, Castle Dome, Black Butte, South Gate Meadows, and Mt. Eddy. One wrinkle is he has a new edition coming out in April so the featured hikes may change. We may be able to fit one more in which I’d be happy to have suggestions on.
That is a pretty good list. You are really getting a good feel for the area with that set. I do have a couple of suggestions though.
First, the creation of the Soda Mountain Wilderness has altered the trail conditions going to Pilot Rock. The parking area is now further away from where it appears on the map and much of the hike is on a dirt road (not my style). Though most people just hike up the road, I prefer to hike on the PCT, which you pass on the way to the new trailhead. The hike is a little longer but way more interesting, and you would still cover the same section as mentioned in his book as you approach Pilot Rock.
Second, when you hike to Bull Lake, it is much more interesting to do a loop that includes climbing to the summit of Cory Peak. Great views and really easy cross country travel make this a great hike. You can find beta for that on my site, in the Scott Mountains section.
Third, Castle Dome is pretty cool but it is much more of a spring hike due to temps. It is lower in elevation and the temperature can get pretty hot there in the summer. Get a really early start on that one to avoid the heat.
Fourth, be sure to hit Heart Lake when you hike Castle Lake. Climb to the top of Castle Peak for an incredible view (see my site, again).
Fifth, the road to South Gate Meadow does not open until July 1, but I suspect with the amount of snow we are getting, it may not open for a couple weeks after that this year. Also, be sure to the loop listed on my site, especially in a counterclockwise direction.
Sixth, if you have time, be sure to take the short hike to to the McCloud River Falls. Short, easy, and awesome.
If you guys don’t want to rough it some of the time, we have a cabin for guests across the street from our house. If no one is scheduled to stay when you are down, you guys are welcome to use it.
I hope that helps!
Great suggestions, this helps a lot, and thanks for the offer. When we get the actual dates nailed down we’ll let you know and if it works out great, if not that’s okay too.
Wow those mountain pics are amazing!! How high did you hike up mt. hood?
Just over 8900′ on Hood.
Very, very nice! You guys get wildlife photos that we can only dream about. And “…hike each of the featured hikes in each of William L. Sullivan’s five “100 Hikes/Travel Guide” books…” is a worthy goal. Kind of puts our just doing the 45 wilderness areas to shame. Guess we’ll have to start on the wilderness areas in CA! 😉
Now that would be quite an accomplishment. I’ve started incorporating some of the hikes you’ve posted that aren’t in Sullivan’s books into our rotation.
I’ve greatly enjoyed your trip descriptions and photos. Looking forward to a lot more in 2017