Categories
High Cascades Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon Trip report

Vista Ridge and Owl Point – 6/22/2019

In 2017 we hiked the Vista Ridge Trail to Eden Park, Cairn Basin, and Elk Cove in the Mt. Hood Wilderness (post). It had been a cloudy August day which deprived us of any views of the mountain save for a brief glimpse from Elk Cove. The lack of views was enough to put the trail back on our to do list, but there were a couple of other reasons we had wanted to get back to this trail. First was the side trip to Owl Point along a segment of the Old Vista Ridge Trail which was reclaimed by volunteers in 2007. The second was a desire to see the avalanche lilies that bloom profusely on Vista Ridge in the fire scar left by the 2011 Dollar Fire.

We had been following reports on the avalanche lilies from fellow hikers and after seeing that they were blooming we checked the weather forecast for a clear day and headed up to the Vista Ridge Trailhead.
IMG_9657

The view of Mt. Hood had been clear on our drive so we decided to head out to Owl Point first and then up Vista Ridge for the lilies. We followed the Vista Ridge Trail for .4 miles to a junction with the Old Vista Ridge Trail at the edge of the 2011 fire scar.
IMG_9661

IMG_9664

We turned left onto the Old Vista Ridge Trail and headed toward Owl Point. The trail, which relies on volunteers to keep it maintained, was in good shape.
IMG_9666

As we made our way north along though we began to run into some fog.
IMG_9667

We had gone a little over half a mile from the junction and decided to turn back and save the viewpoint for later not wanting to risk missing out on a view. We backtracked to the junction, filled out a wilderness entry permit and headed up a fog free Vista Ridge.
IMG_9671

IMG_9675

Unlike our last visit this time we could see Mt. Hood through the snags as we climbed.
IMG_9683

Looking back over our shoulders we could see the cloud that had caused us to turn back was not actually over Owl Point.
IMG_9689

IMG_9690 Mt. Adams beyond Owl Point

Most of the avalanche lilies were already past until shortly after entering the Mt. Hood Wilderness a mile up the Vista Ridge Trail.
IMG_9692

At first the lilies were sparse but then small patches appeared followed by increasingly large fields of white.
IMG_9696

IMG_9697

IMG_9700

IMG_9702

IMG_9706

IMG_9721

20190622_091402

As we gained elevation we left the heavy bloom behind and began seeing flowers that had yet to open.
IMG_9736

We hit snow about two and a quarter miles from the trailhead.
IMG_9738

IMG_9739

It was patchy and navigable without needing our microspikes and we continued uphill for another quarter mile passing a nice view of Mt. Adams and the Eden Park Trail along the way.
IMG_9745

IMG_9748

IMG_9749Eden Park Trail

We ended our climb at a snowfield where the Vista Ridge Trail headed left of the ridge toward its junction with the Timberline Trail.
IMG_9765

The trail looked passable with the microspikes but we had a nice view from where we were and didn’t see a point in continuing on given we still wanted to get out to Owl Point and we were planning on hiking for the next three days straight.
IMG_9763

Near our turn around we spotted some other early bloomers – western pasque flowers aka hippies on a stick.
IMG_9769

20190622_093738

IMG_9774western pasque flowers already going to seed

Paintbrush and cinquefoil was also present.
IMG_9781

20190622_093621

After an extended break enjoying the view of Mt. Hood we headed back down to the Old Vista Ridge Trail junction stopping along the way to once again admire the avalanche lilies and also to share a moment with a friendly yellow-rumped warbler.
IMG_9826

IMG_9834

We turned back onto the Old Vista Ridge Trail and repeated the first section which seemed to climb more this second time. (At least our legs felt like it did.) This time there was no fog though and we soon found ourselves at a viewpoint looking at Owl Point.
IMG_9856

There was also a decent view of Mt. Hood.
IMG_9866

After the initial climb the trail leveled out some along the ridge top where a few patches of snow remained.
IMG_9874

That meant more avalanche lilies, although nowhere near the numbers that Vista Ridge was home to.
IMG_9879

After climbing to a saddle we came to a sign for The Rockpile viewpoint.
IMG_9885

IMG_9886

The short spur trail led out to a nice view of Mt. Hood but we had startled a dog that was with some backpackers and it wouldn’t stop barking so we quickly took our leave heading for quieter surroundings.
IMG_9888

IMG_9892

The spur trail to Owl Point was just a tenth of a mile from the trail to the Rockpile.
IMG_9894

We followed this spur to it’s end at a register at Owl Point.
IMG_9898

IMG_9899

Laurance Lake lay below to the east with Surveryors Ridge beyond.
IMG_9900

Mt. Hood was the main attraction though.
IMG_9902

IMG_9928

We sat for awhile admiring the mountain and studying Vista Ridge where we could see the trail cutting across the snow beyond where we had turned around.
IMG_9922

IMG_9923

We also spent some time looking for pikas but never saw (or heard) any. We did however have a butterfly join us briefly.
IMG_9925

When we had returned to the Old Vista Ridge Trail we continued north for another tenth of a mile to visit Alki Point.
IMG_9935

This viewpoint looked north and on a cleared day would have offered views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams. We settled for a glimpse of Rainier’s summit above some clouds (that’s Mt. Defiance in the foreground) and a semi-obstructed view of Mt. Adams.
IMG_9938

IMG_9939Mt. Rainier (sort of)

IMG_9941Mt. Adams

We headed back to the trailhead completing a 10.8 mile hike that would have been under 10 had we not had the false start on the Old Vista Ridge Trail in the morning. The avalanche lilies had not disappointed, it was a great way to start a four day stretch of hiking. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Owl Point and Vista Ridge

One reply on “Vista Ridge and Owl Point – 6/22/2019”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s