While 2010 is the year we consider the year we started hiking there were a few outings prior to 2009 that prompted our desire to become hikers. It took us a while to find our groove and 2009 was a good example of this. We were interested in hiking but didn’t really know what we were doing. We had a single guidebook (printed in 2004) that contained 280 hikes throughout the state but was light on the details of each hike. The book did have a very helpful 10 page section on hiking tips though that we took to heart. We had hoped to hike more regularly in 2009 but had a hard time deciding on where to go, often leaving it up to the day before of even the day we were thinking of hiking to decide where to go. That often resulted in a deferral to “next weekend” leaving us with only a couple of outings.
The only 2009 outing that we have photos from was our hike to Henline Falls in the Opal Creek Wilderness. Ironically this hike wasn’t in our guidebook but was suggested by a co-worker. At 2 miles round trip this was a hike we knew we could do, but being new to hiking it didn’t occur to us at the time that a July 27th outing was a little late in the year to see Henline Falls with anywhere near peak water volume.
We were less than impressed with the waterfall that day and decided to also try the nearby Henline Mountain Trail which was also mentioned by my co-worker. We didn’t get far up that trail at all before the climb took it’s toll on certain members of our group (I won’t name names but you know who you are. :)) balked at the difficulty and we turned around.
Ten years and 10 1/2 months later it was finally time go back and finish the Henline Mountain Trail and revisit Henline Falls when there would be more water. The forecast called for a 30% chance of showers early, but later in the day for mostly sunny skies. Since starting early is what we do we were ready for some potentially wet conditions but it didn’t seem too bad as we drove through Elkhorn and to the junction of FR 2209 & 2207. The trailheads for Henline Falls and Henline Mountain are on FR 2209 but we had planned on making a quick stop at Sullivan Creek Falls along FR 2207 before starting our hikes.
We turned onto FR 2207 and followed it for 3.8 rough and wet miles to a pullout opposite Sullivan Creek Falls.
There were scramble trails on either side of the cascade with the one on the right hand side leading to a view part way up the falls.
The scramble trail.
It may have been possible to continue higher but it was really wet and slick so back down to the car I went. Heather was putting on her rain gear which I also did before driving back to FR 2209 and continuing to the Henline Falls Trailhead.
We set off on the Henline Falls Trails which quickly entered the Opal Creek Wilderness.
We were watching for the Ogle Mountain Trail which was approximately a half mile along the Henline Falls Trail. We were thinking of exploring this trail a bit after visiting the falls so we wanted to make sure we knew where it was. After passing a small trail that led into the brush we spotted the obvious Ogle Mountain Trail marked by an orange-red sign with an “X” on it.
Not the Ogle Mountain Trail.
The Ogle Mountain Trail on the right.
For now we kept left and continued another relatively level half mile to Henline Falls.
This time we could see why the falls were popular. The water was blasting down into the splash pool generating a lot of wind and mist. We skipped visiting the old mine shaft that is near the fall this time due to the slick rocks.
After enjoying the falls we started back, briefly turning uphill on a steep trail that we thought might connect the Henline Falls and Ogle Mountain Trails, but we quickly turned around after consulting our GPS and seeing how much higher up the Ogle Mountain Trail was from where we were. We went back down to the Henline Falls Trail and followed it back to the junction with the Ogle Mountain Trail which we then turned up.
The Ogle Mountain Trail used to extend all the way to the Ogle Mountain, but the mine is on private property and the trail now effectively ends at the forest boundary. We were wanting to scout it out for a possible hike some other time to attempt to visit some of the “Family of Falls” located above Henline Falls on Henline Creek. The trail climbed much more steeply than we had anticipated but we seemed to be starting to level out a bit after .2 miles which is when I spotted a fair amount of poison oak encroaching on the trail. That combined with the climb convinced us to let the Ogle Mountain Trail remain a mystery, at least for now. We retreated to the Henline Falls Trail and returned to our car which we then drove to the Henline Mountain Trailhead.
It was still foggy but the rain had pretty much stopped as we started our climb up the Henline Mountain Trail. While there was some poison oak along the lower half of this trail it wasn’t crowding the trail like it had been on the Ogle Mountain Trial.
Penstemon with poison oak in the background along the trail near the trailhead.
This trail also quickly entered the Opal Creek Wilderness as it climbed relentlessly for 3 miles to the site of a former lookout.
At the lower elevations we spotted a couple of flowers that we had yet to see this year.
Little prince’s pine
After a little over three quarters of a mile we came to short spur trail that led to a viewpoint above a talus slope which we had crossed earlier.
Looking up at the viewpoint from the talus slope.
Spur trail to the viewpoint.
We still weren’t anywhere near the mostly sunny segment of the day so there was a very limited view from the rocky outcrop.
The trail passing through the talus slope below.
A quarter mile later we came to a second, larger viewpoint.
Penstemon at the viewpoint.
I believe that is Rocky Top behind the clouds.
Blue sky to the west.
We continued climbing from this second viewpoint trading the occasional poison oak in for the more enjoyable beargrass and rhododendron blooms.
Despite the Sun making an occasional appearance we remained mostly in fog as we climbed. We kept our eyes out for different flowers along the way.
Penstemon (cliff beardtongue)
At a switchback at the three mile mark we took a spur trail to the right to the former lookout site.
Instead of sitting at the summit of Henline Mountain the lookout was near a ridge end a mile from the summit and over 400′ lower.
The ridge end beyond where the lookout was.
Looking back toward the summit of Henline Mountain (it is beyond and above the visible trees).
There had been increasing breaks in the clouds, enough to give us some good looks at the seasonal Elkhorn Mountain Falls across the valley.
The falls are obsucred here by the clouds to the lower left.
Elkhorn Mountain Falls
Sub-alpine mariposa lily
With no immediate end to the clouds in sight we returned to the Henline Mountain Trail. The official trail ends at the lookout but a volunteer maintained trail continues 1.1 mile to the actual summit so we turned right onto this trail and continued on. This section of trail finally had some downhill sections, which only meant uphill on the way back but we welcomed the change.
The reason for the ups and downs was that the trail followed a narrow ridge for a half mile. A section of the ridge was open offering views although we were still dealing with the clouds.
Oregon sunshine and cat’s ear lilies
The trail crossed from the east side of the ridge to the forested west side before crossing again to the east into a little meadow with a fair amount of phlox.
The trail steepened again for a bit before dropping one final time to a saddle before making its final ascent to the summit.
Heading uphill after the little meadow.
Snow in a basin below the trail.
Heading down to the saddle below the summit.
The actual summit of Henline Mountain was a little rocky opening with lots of huckleberry bushes.
The trail continued an additional two hundred feet before petering out.
The end of the trail.
Bleeding heart near the end of the trail.
We took a decent break at the summit and had a snack. As we were just starting to leave a bit of a view broke out. It wasn’t much but it was something.
The cloud situation began to improve quite a bit as we headed back to the lookout site. By the time we arrived at the open section of ridge there was a good deal of blue sky overhead.
Looking west down the Little North Santiam River.
Closer look at Battle Ax Mountain.
We stopped at the lookout site again and took another short break now that we could see a little more of the surroundings.
Rocky Top still with a little cloud and Elkhorn Mountain in the foreground.
Looking back at Henline Mountain’s summit.
Whetstone Mountain (center high point) with Bull-of-the Woods (post), Schreiner Peak, and North and South Dickey Peaks over its shoulder to the left.
Yellow rumped warbler at the lookout site.
We continued down under increasingly blue skies.
Looking up at the ridge end of the former lookout site from below.
Chipmunk drying out on the rocks.
We also stopped again briefly at the larger viewpoint to see the difference there now.
Rusty saxifrage at the viewpoint.
We had encountered three people between the Henline Falls Hike and the summit of Henline Mountain. It was a different story on our way down as we passed a number of hikers coming up. When we got back to the trailhead we noticed several cars illegally parked outside of the designated area along FR 2209 and it was the same at Henline Falls despite the presence of posted signs. It’s disappointing to see how many people are willing to ignore the rules. Please don’t be one of those people, either arrive at your hikes early or have backup plans if things don’t work out at your first choice. Disregarding the rules (even if you think they’re dumb) sets a bad example. Let’s do better. Happy Trails!