Categories
Blue Mountains - North Hiking Oregon Trip report

Buck Creek Trail – 06/15/2021

For our third and final hike in the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness we had originally planned on a 13.9 mile loop using the Buck Creek, Lake Creek, and Buck Mountain Trails. That plan had been scrapped due to the damage caused by the February 2020 flooding in the area which left the roads and trails damaged. We parked as we had the two previous days at a gate along Bingham Springs Road (NF-32). Unlike the previous two days though it had rained overnight and the clouds were still breaking up as we set off on the 1.4 mile road walk to the Buck Creek Trailhead
IMG_7875

IMG_7878

There were no masses of swallowtails along the road this morning (post) but we did see a merganser across the Umatilla where some of the butterflies had been.
IMG_7884

IMG_7883

While the first two hikes in this wilderness had been featured hikes in Sullivan’s guidebook the Buck Creek/Buck Mountain Trails were back of the book entries. The Forest Service again had listed them both as open but the latest update (late May 2021) indicated that only the first 2 miles of the Buck Creek Trail had been cleared since the flooding and just the first 1/2 mile of the Buck Mountain Trail had received any maintenance. We were prepared to turn around when the maintenance petered out on both of these trails and we decided to start with the Buck Mountain Trail since it was said to be steep. We figured climbing first thing in the morning was better than later in the day.
IMG_7888Buck Creek Trailhead

IMG_7889Buck Creek Trail straight ahead with the Buck Mountain Trail to the right. Notice that the Buck Mountain Trail didn’t receive a nice new sign. (Not pictured is the Ninemile Ridge Trail to the left.)

IMG_7890

Just a few hundred feet down the Buck Mountain Trail we arrived at Buck Creek where there was no bridge nor any way to cross dry footed.
IMG_7891

IMG_7892

It would have been an easy enough ford but starting the morning of with soaked feet didn’t sound appealing to either of us, especially to simply climb for 1/2 a mile and turn around assuming no further maintenance had been done on the trail. Since we weren’t willing to get wet we decided to return to the trail junction and head up the Buck Creek Trail.
IMG_7893

It didn’t take long to realize that fording the creek or not we were not going to have dry feet today. The Buck Creek Trail had been maintained but not brushed out. The overnight rain transferred easily from the vegetation to our clothing and soon not only were our feet wet but so were our pants and at least the lower half of our shirts.
IMG_7896

IMG_7898Nice new wilderness sign along the trail.

IMG_7900

IMG_7902Signs of the flooding.

IMG_7904Blue sky

IMG_7907

IMG_7908Washed out section of trail.

IMG_7911Recent trail repair here.

IMG_7912Slugs didn’t mind the damp conditions.

We made it a little over 1.75 miles before stopping at a deep washout.
IMG_7923

There was no visible tread entering or leaving this deep ditch and we had spent the previous tenth of a mile or so pushing our way through the wet vegetation so we assumed the maintenance hadn’t gotten any further. We turned back and did our best to pick up any water that we’d missed on the first pass.
IMG_7925

20210615_083538Honeysuckle was everywhere in this wilderness, on all three hikes.

IMG_7932Squirrel!

We took a short detour when we reached NF-32 to check out some damage to the bridge over the South Fork Umatilla River.
IMG_7947

There were no swallowtails today, and the merganser was no longer where we’d seen it but now there was a spotted sandpiper on the rocks where the swallowtails and merganser had been.
IMG_7950

Apparently that is a popular spot for wildlife. We returned to car and drove back to Pendleton for the last time on this trip. For dinner we walked from the Rugged Country Lodge to Hal’s Hamburgers, in business since 1952. It was a nice ending to our stay in Pendleton. A brief but wet 6.5 mile hike with only a couple of hundred feet of elevation gain and a good old fashioned hamburger. Happy Trails!

Our short hike up Buck Creek

Flickr: Buck Creek Trail

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