We’ve developed a tradition of using the day off of work provided by the 4th of July holiday to take a hike. One of our go to areas in the first part of July is the Old (Western) Cascades. The Old Cascades are older than the volcanic peaks of the High Cascades and rise only half as high meaning they melt out much sooner than their younger companions. These highly eroded volcanoes are home to old growth forests and top notch wildflower meadows.
This year we decided to visit the Scar Mountain Trail. The hike is listed in our usual guidebook, William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades” as hike #111. Due to it not being a featured hike the description in that book is brief so we turned to another excellent resource, “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region” by Matt Reeder.
We followed his directions to the North Pyramid Trailhead where we parked then crossed Forest Road 2266 to the signed Scar Mountain Trail.
The Scar Mountain Trail is part of the approximately 30 mile long Old Cascades Loop. We had done another section of this loop in 2014 when we started at the Pyramids Trailhead and hiked to Donaca Lake for an overnight stay.
The trail climbed through a nice forest,gradually at first then more steeply as it switchbacked up toward a ridge top.
The switchbacks ended after just over a mile and the trail began to traverse along the hillside below the ridge. There were occasional glimpses of the Three Pyramids to the south and Daly Lake in the valley below.
For the next mile and a half the trail continued to gain elevation via a series of ups and downs as it gained the ridge top and alternated between its west and east sides providing views of several of the High Cascades to the SE, Mt. Jefferson to the NE, and Coffin & Bachelor Mountains to the north.
Mt. Washington, the Three Sisters and the Husband
Coffin and Bachelor Mountains
A few small patches of snow lingered on and along the trail.
The trial began to climb steeply again at the 2.5 mile mark as it headed up Trappers Butte. The forested summit offered some similar views to what we had seen on the way up but one big difference was the presence of some non-white wildflowers near the top.
The trail then descended roughly 400′ in .8 miles to a saddle where it crossed an old roadbed in a clearing with blooming beargrass and rhododendron and view of the Three Pyramids.
Another one and three quarter miles of ups and downs had us nearing our goal, a dramatic rock pinnacle on Scar Mountain. The trail had been in reasonably good shape with some minor blowdown and a few brushy spots which became a bit more frequent as we climbed Scar Mountain.
The flowers on and around the pinnacle might not have been as impressive as the meadows on some of the other nearby peaks but there were still some nice displays.
The real reward for this hike were the views from Scar Mountains cliffs.
Mt. Adams peaking over a ridge and Mt. Hood
Three Fingered Jack
The Three Sisters and the Husband
The Husband behind the Three Pyramids
Crescent Mountain, North Peak, Echo Mountain, and South Peak
North Peak, Echo Mountain, South Peak, Cone Peak, and Iron Mountain.
We took a nice break near the pinnacle where there seemed to be less mosquitoes. They hadn’t been too noticeable but with the snow still melting there were more around than we realized given the number of bites we discovered later.
We returned the way we’d come passing the time on the ups and downs by admiring the many different flowers in the forest including large numbers of coralroots.
Round trip was just under 12 miles with a good amount of elevation gain overall but broken up enough to never feel too daunting. Like many of the trails in the Old Cascades the Scar Mountain Trail offered a good dose of solitude. We neither spotted nor heard another person during the hike. Instead we listened for the calls of sooty grouse, the singing of birds, and “meeps” of hidden pikas. Happy Trails!
Flickr: Scar Mountain
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