Categories
Hiking Klamath/Siskiyou Mountains Oregon Trip report

Rogue River Trail – Big Bend to Clay Hill – 05/14/2021

Day two of our Southern Oregon Coast extended weekend had us visiting the Rogue River Trail for the first time. We were admittedly a bit apprehensive about this hike as we had hiked another river trail (the Illinois) in the area around the same time of year in 2016 and had been overrun with ticks on that outing. This turned out to be a much more pleasant outing with just a single tick needing to be flicked off Heather which she promptly flicked straight at me.

We started our hike at the Big Bend/Foster Bar Trailhead at the western end of the Rogue River National Recreation Trail.
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It was a beautiful morning as we set off on the trail in the forest skirting a pasture.
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IMG_4221Madia

IMG_4225Blue dicks

Near the half mile mark the trail passed below the Illahe Lodge where a couple of deer had their eyes on us.
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The trail passed through a fence that was booby trapped with poison oak.
IMG_4507The poison oak trap in the afternoon.

While the relative absence of ticks was great we still aren’t accustomed to hiking with the amount of poison oak that tends to be present in the southern part of the State but we’re working on that. This hike was a good test as the majority of the first 4.5 miles of the trail passed through quite a bit of vegetation that more often than not included poison oak. We weren’t entirely sure what to make of the hikers we saw in shorts or pants that left open skin near the calves and ankles, were we being too paranoid or are they crazy? The first four miles also included a couple of climbs to bypass private land which limited the views of the river quite a bit.
IMG_4234Bridge over Billings Creek.

20210514_072347Del Norte iris

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IMG_4278Tolmie’s mariposa lily

20210514_074548Douglas iris with insect.

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IMG_4300More mariposa lilies (with a poison oak background)

IMG_4303Thimbleberry

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IMG_4315The Rogue River from the trail during one of the climbs.

20210514_091222Henderson’s stars

IMG_4328One of dozens of lizards we saw (or heard).

IMG_4330Camas

We watched a number of rafts float by and later learned that it was the last weekend to float the river without needing a permit so it was an extra busy weekend.
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We had honestly been a little underwhelmed with the trail as we reached the bridge over Flea Creek at the 4.5 mile mark. We had equated the Rogue River Trail with the dramatic views we’d seen in others photos but the section of trail up to now was short on those.
IMG_4339Footbridge over Flea Creek

Things changed in a hurry beyond Flea Creek though as the views opened up a bit before the trail arrived at Flora Del Falls less than a quarter mile later.
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We took an extended break at the falls before continuing on another 1.75 miles to the Clay Hill Lodge where we decided to turn around. The scenery was now excellent, exactly what we had been hoping for but it was warmer than we were used to and we had more hiking to do over the next couple of days so as tempting as continuing on was, the lodge made for a good turnaround point.
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20210514_094757Oregon sunshine

20210514_095219Elegant brodiaea

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IMG_4388Yarrow

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IMG_4398Bindweed

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IMG_4407Poppies

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IMG_4439Clay Hill Lodge

IMG_4441Rafts in Clay Hill Rapids

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IMG_4462Winecup clarkia

We saw our only snake of the day on our return trip when we spotted our first ring-necked snake in the trail.
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The rafts seemed to have given way to Jet Boats which we could hear coming well before we saw them.
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We stopped again at Flora Del Falls where I was tormented by a swallow tail that just wouldn’t land.
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IMG_4489One of the dozens of photos I took trying to get the swallow tail in flight.

After the break we headed back to the trailhead. We were trying to come up with markers to break up the 4.5 mile section and Heather remembered that Sullivan had said that there were 5 bridge crossings over named creeks. We ignored the “named creeks” detail and began counting bridges down from 5. There were well more than 5 bridge, closer to a dozen but only 5 crossed “named creeks”. Either way we made it back to the car (and past a few cows) finishing a very nice 12.9 mile hike just after 2:15pm.
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After staying in Gold Beach the night before we were now headed north to Bandon for a couple of nights. We stopped for dinner in Port Orford at the Crazy Norwegian on a recommendation from Heather’s Dad. We shared a clam chowder and split the fish and chips. They were wonderful, a perfect ending to our day.

We found out a couple of days later that we had missed running into the folks from Boots on the Trail, one of our favorite hiking blogs. They had been hiking the entire trail one way and would be doing this section on Saturday the 15th, one day after our hike. We have wondered if that might happen sometime when we are down in that area and it almost did. Maybe next trip. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Rogue River Trail – Big Bend to Clay Hill Lodge

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Southern Coast Trip report

Trail Hopping Down the Southern Oregon Coast – 05/13/2021

Our first big trip of the year was an extended weekend visit to the southern Oregon coast area to finish the remaining featured hikes from Sullivan’s “100 Hikes Oregon Coast & Coast Range” (3rd ed.) as well as a couple from his additional hikes section. For the first day of the trip we had set an ambitious goal of stopping at five different trailheads on the way to our motel in Gold Beach and after checking in continuing almost to the California border for a sixth hike on the Oregon Redwoods Trail. We got our typical early start driving from Salem to Eugene to take Highway 126 toward the coast and our first stop at the Mapleton Hill Pioneer Trailhead .
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The short loop (0.6 miles) on the Pioneer Trail here follows portions of the historic North Fork Trail and Mapleton Hill Road which were early routes connecting Florence and Eugene.
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The trail was in good shape and there were a some wildflowers in bloom to go along with the numerous interpretive signs along the loop.
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IMG_3827Thimbleberry

IMG_3828Salmonberry

IMG_3833McLeod Creek

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IMG_3849One of the sharp turns.

IMG_3840Fairy bells

IMG_3853Columbine

20210513_073907Bleeding heart

20210513_074116Monkeyflower

IMG_3864Sourgrass

20210513_074232Star flower

IMG_3861Trillium

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20210513_074727Star flower solomonseal

20210513_074801Twisted stalk

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IMG_3888Wren – We heard lots of birds but didn’t see many of them.

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IMG_3893Waterleaf

After completing the loop we drove west from the trailhead on Road 5070/North Fork Siuslaw Road to Road 5084 which we followed 5 miles to the Pawn Trailhead.
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This was another short loop hike (0.8 miles) which combined with the Pioneer Trail make up featured hike #57 in the 3rd edition (they were moved to the additional hikes section in the 4th edition). This trail suffered some storm damage over the Winter and as of our hike had only been 80% cleared. It is also an interpretive trail but instead of signs there are markers which correspond to information on a brochure that can be downloaded from the Forest Service here. The name “Pawn” was derived from the last names of four families that settled in the area in the early 1900’s – the Pooles, Akerleys, Worthingtons, and Nolans.
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While this trail was relatively close to the Pioneer Trail the presence of the old growth trees gave the hike a different feel.
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IMG_3912Marker for a fire scarred Douglas fir. According to the brochure the last major fire in the area was in the 1860s.

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The storm damage proved to be a bit tricky but it appeared the Forest Service had started a reroute of the trail which we were able to follow.
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IMG_3930We had to climb over this big tree.

We lost the reroute after climbing over the big trunk and had to bushwack our way through some debris before climbing up on a second downed trunk and walking along it to the resumption of the trail. At one point Heather bumped a limb and pine needles exploded over her head like confetti giving us both a good laugh.
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The loop ended shortly beyond the damage and we were soon back at the trailhead. From there we drove west on North Fork Siuslaw Road into Florence. From Florence we took Highway 101 south toward Coos Bay. We turned off a little north of North Bend at a sign for Horsefall Dune and Beach. Our next stop was yet another short loop trail, this time at Bluebill Lake. We parked at the Bluebill Trailhead and set off on the wide trail.
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We went clockwise around the loop. The water level of the lake varies throughout the year but there was a good amount of water now but no flooding which can be an issue in late Winter/early Spring.
IMG_3943Looking at the bridge at the north end of the lake.

IMG_3946Canada geese

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IMG_3964Cormorants flying above the lake.

IMG_3965Cormorant

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IMG_3972Ring necked ducks

IMG_3982Rhododendron

IMG_3986Boardwalk at the south end of the lake.

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IMG_3999Sparrow

IMG_4002Coming up on the bridge at the north end.

IMG_4010Yellow rumped warbler

IMG_4013Finch

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After completing the 1.5 mile hike here we returned to Highway 101 and continued south into Coos Bay where we detoured to our fourth stop of the day at Millicoma Marsh. This was an interesting trailhead given that it was right next to a middle school track and field.
IMG_4025The trail on the far side of the track.

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We followed the posted directions and kept to the outside of the grass as we walked around the track to the trail.
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IMG_4028One of three panels on a signboard at the start of the trails.

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<img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51186413813_b626e92da2_c.jpg&quot; width="800" height="600" alt="IMG_4030">Woodpecker

Two tenths of a mile from the signboard the grassy track came to a junction. The loop continued to the left but a quarter mile spur trail to the right led to an observation bench. We hiked out to the end of the spur trail before continuing on the loop.
IMG_4031This bench is at the junction.

IMG_4034Sparrow near the junction.

IMG_4035Heading to the observation structure.

IMG_4036Looking toward Coos Bay along the Coos River.

IMG_4037McCullough Memorial Bridge spanning Coos Bay.

IMG_4038Wetlands from the end of the spur.

We returned to the loop and continued counterclockwise around. There wasn’t much wildlife activity which was probably a matter of timing as it looked like an area where we might see quite a bit. In any case the hike was pleasant with nice scenery.
IMG_4039Bitter cherry

IMG_4042Crow

IMG_4044Turkey vulture

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IMG_4048Cormorants overhead

IMG_4052Canada goose with goslings

IMG_4056Buttercups

IMG_4058Pale flax

IMG_4059Arriving back at the field.

Up to this point we had only passed one other hiker all day (at Bluebill Lake) but this area was popular and we ran into over a half dozen other users on this 1.8 mile jaunt.

From Coos Bay we continued south on Hwy 101 for 14.6 miles before turning right onto West Beaver Hill Road at a sign for the Seven Devils Wayside, our next stop. We parked in the large lot where only one other vehicle sat and promptly headed down to the beach.
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IMG_4063Ground squirrel enjoying the view.

IMG_4067Twomile Creek

Our plan here was to hike south along the beach at least as far as Fivemile Point to complete another of Sullivan’s featured hikes. We hopped across the creek using rocks and logs and set off on what is considered possibly the windiest beach along the Oregon coast (it was windy).
IMG_4076Shore bird in the creek.

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The occupant of the other vehicle had headed north so we had this stretch of beach to ourselves, and a few feathered friends.
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The hillside was covered with yellow gorse, an invasive but colorful shrub.
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The gorse wasn’t the only yellow flowers present though.
IMG_4090Brass buttons (another non-native)

We were looking for a side trail up to a viewpoint bench that Sullivan showed as .7 miles from the trailhead just beyond a brown outcrop.
IMG_4078The brown outcrop a little way ahead with Fivemile Point further on.

We couldn’t pick out any trail just several stream beds and seeps so we kept going coming next to a rock spire a short distance from Fivemile Point.
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We passed the spire and continued to Fivemile Point where the ocean was coming up to the rocks effectively creating our turn around point.
IMG_4104Whiskey Run Beach lay on the other side of the rocks with another parking area 0.8 further south.

IMG_4105A cormorant off Fivemile Point

We turned back and headed north past the spire.
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We were now walking into the stiff wind but from this direction Heather was able to spot some stairs in the vegetation marking the side trail to the bench.
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We followed a good trail .2 miles to said bench.
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IMG_4130View from the bench.

After a short break at the viewpoint we descended to the beach and returned to our car.
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We returned to Highway 101 and drove south into Gold Beach where we checked into our motel and dropped our stuff off before hitting the road again. Our final stop of the day had us driving south of Brookings to the Oregon Redwoods Trailhead.
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A 1.2 mile barrier free lollipop loop trail starts at the trailhead.
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We were once again the only people on this trail which was especially nice given the setting amid the giant trees. Although the trees here aren’t as big as those found in California we were once again awestruck by them. We stayed right where the barrier free loop started which brought us to a hollowed out trunk with room for several people.
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IMG_4179Coming up on the hollow trunk straight ahead.

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Approximately a half mile into the loop portion of the trail the Oregon Redwoods Trail split off allowing for a longer (2.5 miles total) hike.
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We set off on the Pioneer Trail at 7:19am and stepped off the Oregon Redwood Trail at 5:51pm. We logged 9.8 miles of hiking but nearly 147 miles (as the crow flies) separated the Oregon Redwoods Trailhead from the Pawn Trailhead (and another 70 miles home) making for a long but great day. We had gotten to see a great variety of scenery all in one day. To top it off we could now check three more featured hikes off our yet-to-do list. The only thing that could have made the day better would have been an actual knob on the cold water handle in the motel shower. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Southern Oregon Coast

Categories
Columbia Gorge North Hiking Washington

Hardy Ridge Loop

For the third hike in a row we found ourselves headed to Washington. Our destination this time was Beacon Rock State Park for a hike to Hardy Ridge. We’d been to the park twice before with Hamilton Mountain being our goal each time (on our second visit we also hiked up Beacon Rock (post)). For each of our hikes to Hamilton Mountain we had started at the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead but for today’s hike we parked at the Equestrian Trailhead.
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There is a gated road and a trail that begin at the far end of the parking area which meet after a few hundred feet.
IMG_3514Equestrian Trail at the trailhead.

IMG_3528On the old roadbed/Equestrian Trail.

We followed the Equestrian Trail uphill through the forest and past a number of wildflowers for 1.2 miles to a 4-way junction.
IMG_3520Vanilla leaf

IMG_3522Fairy bells

IMG_3529Violets

IMG_3530Star-flowered false solomon seal

IMG_3533Youth-on-age

IMG_3537Possibly a cinquefoil

IMG_3542Thimbleberry

IMG_3545Fringecup

IMG_3547At the 4-way jct the Equestrian Trial continued straight with the West Hardy Trail to the left and Lower Loop Trail to the right.

We turned left on the West Hardy Trail which followed an overgrown road bed along the west flank of Hardy Ridge. A brief appearance of blue sky gave us a moment of hope that the mostly cloudy forecast might have been wrong but the blue was quickly replaced with gray clouds.
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IMG_3556Salmonberry

IMG_3559False solomon seal

IMG_3560Bleeding heart

IMG_3563Here come the clouds.

After 1.3 miles on the West Hardy Trail we turned right onto the Hardy Ridge Trail.
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This hiker only trail climbed approximately 800′ in 0.8 miles to a junction at a saddle on Hardy Ridge.
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IMG_3575Baneberry

IMG_3585Trillium

IMG_3590Paintbrush

IMG_3592Red flowering currant

IMG_3598Chocolate lily

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IMG_3624Anemones

IMG_3626Looking across the Columbia River into Oregon.

IMG_3627Horsetail Falls (post) in Oregon.

IMG_3629Field chickweed and Oregon grape

IMG_3631Junction at the saddle.

At the junction we turned left onto a well worn trail (not shown on maps) that led north along Hardy Ridge. This trail followed the spine of the ridge 0.8 miles to the ridge’s highest point at an elevation a little under 3000′. On a clear day Mt. Hood and the tops of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier would have been visible from the high point, but on this day the sights were limited to the various flowers blooming along the ridge. As we approached the high point we were greeted with a few snowflakes.
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IMG_3637Glacier lily

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IMG_3651Trilliums

IMG_3665Glacier lilies along the trail.

IMG_3668Another hiker caught up to us at this rock field not far from the high point. It looked like the trail was going across the rocks for a bit and she decided to turn around but after just a few feet the trail resumed behind a bush.

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IMG_3671Phlox

IMG_3676Paintbrush and glacier lilies.

IMG_3678The high point.

IMG_3684Glacier lilies at the high point.

We didn’t stay long at the top, while we were fortunate to not be dealing with any of the winds the Columbia Gorge is known for it was chilly (as evidenced by the snowflakes) so we headed back down. Along the way we met a spotted towhee that wasn’t the least bit bothered by the weather.
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As we made our way down the clouds began to lift a bit and by the time we were approaching the junction we were under them which gave us a nice view of Hamilton Mountain.
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IMG_3701Hamilton Mountain (high point to the right) and the Columbia River.

IMG_3706Bonneville Dam and the Hamilton Mountain Trail crossing The Saddle.

IMG_3708Upper McCord Creek Falls (post-partially closed due to fire damage as of writing)

The only snowy peak we could see though was Larch Mountain (post) to the SW.
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When we reached the junction we turned left onto the East Hardy Trail and began a mile long descent to another junction.
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IMG_3721Squirrel

IMG_3727Snail

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At this 3-way junction we faced a choice. Most descriptions of the Hardy Ridge Loop (including Sullivan’s) would have sent us straight on the East Hardy Trail for 0.8 miles to the Equestrian Trail then right on that trail 1.7 miles back to the trailhead for an 8.5 mile hike. We opted to extend our hike by turning left instead on the Bridge Trail.
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IMG_3738Bleeding heart along a little stream.

IMG_3739False lily-of-the-valley getting ready to bloom.

IMG_3743Possibly a Dictyoptera aurora (Golden net-winged beetle)

A little over three quarters of a mile we arrived at the trail’s namesake bridge over Hardy Creek.
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After crossing the creek the trail climbed for a tenth of a mile to the Upper Hardy Trail (another old roadbed).
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Here again we could have shortened our hike by turning right following a pointer for the Equestrian Trail but we wanted to revisit The Saddle north of Hamilton Mountain. We turned left on the Upper Hardy Trail climbing approximately 300′ in 0.6 miles to yet another junction.
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IMG_3759Hardy Ridge from the Upper Hardy Trail.

We once again faced a choice at this junction.
IMG_3762The left fork would have been slightly longer by leading us around the back side of a knoll and making a 180 degree turn following the east side of the ridge toward The Saddle.

IMG_3764We turned right opting for the slightly shorter route to The Saddle.

IMG_3768Coltsfoot

Just under three quarters of a mile after turning right we were rejoined by the the left hand fork of the Upper Hardy Trail.
IMG_3769Southern junction of the two forks of the Upper Hardy Trail.

The Upper Hardy Trail then descended for .2 miles to The Saddle and a junction with the Hamilton Mountain Trail.
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IMG_3771Hikers coming down from Hamilton Mountain.

For the first time on this hike were at a familiar spot. We turned right onto the Equestrian Trail following it for 150 yards to a sign for Dons Cutoff Trail.
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On both of our previous visits we had stayed on the Equestrian Trail following it downhill for a mile to a 3-way junction at Hardy Creek. This time we took Dons Cutoff which would bring us to the same junction in just a tenth of a mile more. Dons Cutoff headed steeply downhill arriving at the Upper Hardy Trail after half a mile.
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IMG_3781Dons Cutoff Trail nearing the Upper Hardy Trail.

We turned left on the old roadbed following the Upper Hardy Trail for .4 miles to a junction with the Equestrian Trail and then arrived at Hardy Creek after another tenth of a mile.
IMG_3782Upper Hardy Trail

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IMG_3787Equestrian Trail

IMG_3789Hardy Creek

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We crossed Hardy Creek on the Equestrian Trail following it for a half mile to the 4-way junction.
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Had we opted for the described hike we would have arrived at this junction on the East Hardy Trail. We faced another choice here, keep on the Equestrian Trail for 1.7 miles or turn left onto the Lower Loop Trail and add approximately 0.4 miles to the hike. You guessed it we turned left and took the Lower Loop Trail which popped us out onto the Equestrian Trail at the 4-way junction where we had turned up the West Hardy Trail that morning.
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We turned left and followed the Equestrian Trail downhill for the final 1.2 miles of what turned out to be 13 mile hike that gained approximately 2700′ of elevation. Slugs were out in force along the final stretch including a number of small black specimens.
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IMG_3808Spotted this guy while I was photographing the slug above. Not sure if it’s a crane fly or ?

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There are some hikes where missing out on the mountain views is a real bummer but this wasn’t one of those for us. It was just a great day in the forest with flowers, creeks, critters, and a good deal of solitude despite the park being popular. The number of trails and options provided in the park allow for people to spread out a bit with Hamilton Mountain being the busiest area which we pretty much avoided (other than The Saddle) on this day. Happy Trails!

Our track for the day.

Flickr: Hardy Ridge Loop

Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Washington

Grayback Mountain, WA – 05/01/2021

We kicked off our official 2021 hiking season with a bit of an obscure hike from Matt Reeder’s “Off the Beaten Trail” (2nd edition) guidebook. The hike to the summit of Grayback Mountain is a gated dirt road walk through mostly private lands to a view of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks. Because the road to the summit passes through private land it is important to respect the landowners rights, Leave No Trace and be aware that access could be closed at anytime. The hike starts on Washington Department of Natural Resources Land (A Discover Pass is required to park) at a parking area at a gate.
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To reach the trailhead we took Washington Highway 142 north from Lyle, WA 23.3 miles to a junction with the Glenwood-Goldendale Road where we turned left for an additional 5.6 miles to an unmarked junction with Grayback Road on the right. (The road crests just beyond this junction and begins to descend into the Klickitat River Canyon.) We followed Grayback Road for 0.6 miles to the parking area at the end of a meadow.
IMG_3124Looking back toward the meadow.

After checking out the various wildflowers around the trailhead we set off past the gate on Grayback Road.
IMG_3125Western white groundsel

IMG_3134Showy phlox

IMG_3136Larkspur

20210501_074234Mahala Mat (Prostrate ceanothus)

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We then just followed this road for 5.6 miles to a radio tower atop Grayback Mountain. There were several junctions with other roads along the way but by keeping more or less straight and uphill it was easy enough to follow the correct road.

Ranging in elevation from just over 2000′ to approximately 3700′ the scenery varied from oak and ponderosa pines interspersed with meadows to mixed conifers and then to open hillsides filled with wildflowers (mostly parsleys). The views were spectacular and we were fortunate to not only have relatively clear skies but little wind making our time at the summit quite pleasant. We saw no other people during the hike and I don’t think a minute went by that we didn’t hear at least one bird signing. Butterflies came out later in the morning and I spent much of the return hike trying to catch them at rest for pictures.
IMG_3148Showy phlox among the oaks.

IMG_3146Serviceberry

IMG_3151Sparrow

IMG_3153Oregon grape

IMG_3156Strawberry

20210501_075157Arnica

IMG_3165Grayback Mountain from Grayback Road. The first 2.5 miles of the hike only gained 400′ while the next 3.1 gained 1400′.

IMG_3171Large head clover

IMG_3176Camas, much of which had yet to bloom.

IMG_3179Ponderosa pines along the road.

IMG_3180Western buttercups

Small flower woodland star and slender phloxWoodland star and slender phlox

IMG_3184Pussytoes and camas

IMG_3193A cryptantha

IMG_3196Oaks and ponderosas

<img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51153012403_83d088dc07_c.jpg&quot; width="800" height="600" alt="IMG_3197">Death camas and parsley

IMG_3201Lupine

IMG_3214Robin

IMG_3217Dark eyed junco

IMG_3218Bumble bee

IMG_3220A more forested section of the road.

IMG_3223Ball-head waterleaf

IMG_3224Largeleaf sandwort

20210501_085644American vetch

IMG_3233Dandelions in Mahala Mat

IMG_3235Bitter cherry

IMG_3237The real climb started at about the 4 mile mark at a junction below Grayback Mountain.

IMG_3241Sagebrush false dandelion

IMG_3246Climbing up Grayback Mountain

IMG_3258Red breasted nuthatch

IMG_3265First view of Mt. Hood since the trailhead.

IMG_3267Mt. Hood

IMG_3281Buckwheat

IMG_3289Mt. Hood beyond the Klickitat River Canyon

IMG_3294Turkey vulture

IMG_3292Entering the meadows on Grayback Mountain.

IMG_3301Approaching the first view of Mt. Adams.

IMG_3304Mt. Adams

IMG_3306Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks

IMG_3307Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks

IMG_3313In the meadows.

IMG_3314A balsamroot surrounded by parsley.

IMG_3321Indra swallowtail

IMG_3326Western meadowlark in a patch of Columbia desert parsley.

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IMG_3367Radio equipment atop Grayback Mountain with Mt. Adams beyond.

IMG_3360Mt. Hood (we could just barely make out the top of Mt. Jefferson too.) from the summit.

IMG_3361The Klickitat River

IMG_3351Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks

IMG_3353Mt. Adams

IMG_3355Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks (the Klickitat River originates from Goat Rocks.)

IMG_3369Daggerpod

IMG_3371Obligatory survey marker photo.

IMG_3366Looking east across the summit to the long ridge of Indian Rock. The boundary of the Yakima Indian Reservation is just on the north side of the summit.

IMG_3376A few gold stars still had petals.

IMG_3394A hairstreak but I’m not sure which type.

IMG_3400At least 4 ants on a large head clover.

IMG_3404Looking back south down Grayback Mountain.

IMG_3429There was a lot of white-stemmed frasera in the area but this was the closest one to blooming (and it’s a ways off).

Possibly a Brown elfin - Callophrys augustinus?Maybe a brown elfin. I couldn’t get a clear picture of this one.

IMG_3453Erynnis propertius – Propertius Duskywing (aka Western Oak Dustywing). There were lots of these duskywings flying about, it turns out that oaks are their host plants.

IMG_3494Another Erynnis propertius

Juba skipper - Hesperia jubaJuba skippers caught in the act.

Anise SwallowtailAnise swallowtail coming in for a landing on showy phlox.

IMG_3493Alligator lizard on a log.

IMG_3497Western fence lizard

Mylitta crescents - Phyciodes mylitta?I believe these to be Mylitta crescents.

After our relatively crowded previous outing at Columbia Hills State Park (post) the hike to Grayback Mountain was a welcome dose of solitude. While the flower display wasn’t as plentiful here it was still nice and there appeared to be plenty more to come. The view from the summit was worth the visit on its own and the near constant bird song made for a perfect soundtrack for the day. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Grayback Mountain

Categories
Columbia Gorge North Hiking Washington

Columbia Hills State Park – 4/17/2021

We joined the masses of people heading to the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge to catch the wildflower display which may be brief this year due to a combination of a lack of moisture and higher than normal (what is normal anymore?) temperatures. While we try to avoid crowds the hikes in Columbia Hills State Park are a featured hike in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Eastern Oregon” (Hike #2 in the 3rd edition) and one that Heather had missed out on in 2015 when I was joined by my parents (post). Knowing that word was out on social media that the bloom was on, we left even a little earlier than typical in hopes of minimizing the number of encounters with others. We followed the same order that I had done the hikes in during my first visit stopping first at the Horsethief Butte Trailhead.
IMG_2484Mt. Hood from the trailhead.

We followed the trail .3 miles to a junction where, unlike the first visit, we went right first following the trail around to the south side of Horsethief Butte where a fence announced the area beyond was closed.
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IMG_2496Death camas

IMG_2575Western stoneseed

20210417_065844Fiddleneck

IMG_2522Large-flower tritelia

IMG_2528Mt. Hood beyond Horsethief Lake

IMG_2534Standing at the fence looking east.

IMG_2531Wren

IMG_2535Horsethief Butte

IMG_2544Lupine

We then walked back about a quarter of a mile to a sign at an opening in the rock formation.
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Here we turned and headed up into the rocks.
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There is an optional side trail to a viewpoint inside the formation but we wanted to save the time and get to our second stop sooner rather than later. We had been the only car at the trailhead but half an hour later there were another half dozen cars (mostly rock climbers) with more arriving.
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We descended from Horsethief Butte and after a short detour due to a wrong turn at a junction we arrived back at our and drove east on SR 14 for 0.7 miles to the Crawford Oaks Trailhead. While the trailhead opened in May of 2014 my parents I had not parked here opting instead to park at the Dalles Mountain Ranch making this a primarily new hike for me too.
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There was a small handful of cars here but not bad (it was a different story later). We followed the Entry (Access) Road Trail uphill form the parking lot past the Ice Aged Floods Viewpoint.
IMG_2587Horsethief Butte and Mt. Hood from the viewpoint.

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After a 180 degree turn the Entry Road approached Eightmile Creek near Eightmile Creek Falls.
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IMG_2605Purple cushion fleabane

IMG_2608Balsamroot

The road turned uphill along the creek where several Lewis’s woodpeckers were flying from oak to oak.
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IMG_2630Western bluebird

We followed the road down and across Eightmile Creek to an interpretive sign at a junction.
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IMG_2642Ground squirrel

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This was the start of a couple different loop options. We chose to take the left fork which was the Military Road Trail. Going this direction is the shortest route to the Crawford Ranch Complex plus it would mean that we would be heading toward Mt. Hood as we looped around on the Vista Loop Trail (the right hand fork here). The Military Road Trail climbed away from the creek reaching another junction after .3 miles. Here we forked left again leaving the Military Road for the Eightmile Trail. (Sticking to the Military Road would have led us to the Vista Loop Trail in .4 miles.)
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IMG_2666Lupine, balsamroot and parsley

IMG_2668The Crawford Ranch Complex ahead to the left.

IMG_2674Phlox

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The Eightmile trail dropped to cross a smaller stream before finally returning to Eightmile Creek near a fence line.
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IMG_2744Approaching the fence line.

While there was a bit of a break in the flowers at this fence line there was no shortage of birds.
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IMG_2751Yellow-rumped warbler

IMG_2753Back of a scrub jay

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The trail then veered away from the creek and came to another junction after passing through a fence. The flowers here were spectacular and both Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson were visible.
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IMG_2779Mt. Hood

IMG_2764Mt. Jefferson

At the junction we went right on the Ranch Route Trail eschewing a visit to what looked like a very busy Crawford Ranch Complex. The Ranch Route meandered for 1.4 miles through the flowered covered hillsides before arriving at a junction with the Vista Loop and Military Road Trails.
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IMG_2823Yakima milk-vetch

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We turned left on the Vista Loop Trail following it a total of 1.8 miles back to the the junction near Eightmile Creek.
IMG_2860The Columbia River, Horsethief Butte, and Mt. Hood

IMG_2863Death camas

IMG_2872Large head clover

IMG_2893Approaching the junction.

We followed the Entry/Access Road back down to the now packed trailhead.
IMG_2896Hawk watching all the hikers.

IMG_2898A different hawk? watching the goings on.

IMG_2908Western fence lizard watching everything.

IMG_2899Poppy, manroot, and red-stemmed storksbill

IMG_2913The crowded trailhead

This stop clocked in at 6.9 miles and 900′ of elevation gain.

We opened up a spot here and drove west on SR-14 to Dalles Mountain Road where we turned north (right) and drove 3.5 miles to a fork near the Crawford Ranch Complex. Here we turned left heading uphill for another 1.4 miles (passing a number of hikers walking up along the road) to the Stacker Butte Trailhead. There were a fair number of cars but a few spots were open.
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IMG_2915While both were part of the Crawford Ranch, Stacker Butte is not part of the Columbia Hills State Park but is part of the Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve.

The hike here is pretty straight forward following the gravel road approximately 2.6 miles to some towers on the 3220′ summit of the butte. The flowers were thickest along the lower section of the hike with some that we had not seen down lower including paintbrush, daggerpod and some sicklepod rockcress.
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IMG_3116Yakima milk-vetch

IMG_2935Paintbrush amid the balsamroot.

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IMG_2951Phlox

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IMG_2961Big-seed biscuitroot

IMG_2977Sicklepod rockcress

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IMG_2990Sagebrush false dandelions

20210417_121519Daggerpod

IMG_3044Daggerpod

IMG_3021Slender toothwort?

IMG_3022Shooting stars in front of a little blue-eyed Mary

20210417_122308Large head clover

IMG_3031Popcorn flower

IMG_3024Larkspur

20210417_131353Woodland stars

At the summit we were treated to a clear view of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Goat Rocks to the north.

IMG_3000Mt. Adams

IMG_3004Mt. Rainier

IMG_3011Goat Rocks

After a little rest on top we headed down admiring the flowers along the way and watching for wildlife too.
IMG_3051Swallowtail

IMG_3058Western fence lizards

IMG_3111White crowned sparrow

IMG_3113Another sparrow

IMG_3100Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood as we neared the trailhead.

The three hikes came to a combined 13.2 miles and 2240′ of elevation gain which is why we didn’t just hike up the road from the ranch complex. It’s a little too early in the season for a 16 mile, 3000′ hiking day. Maybe in a couple more months. Happy Trails!

All three tracks for the day.
Categories
Hiking

Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge – 04/15/2021

Having visited the Ankeny and William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuges on Tuesday (post) and Wednesday (post) respectively I visited the third refuge comprising the Willamette Valley Complex, Baskett Slough on Thursday. For the final in this trifecta I had the chance to hike with my Father so I picked him up just after 6am and off we went. Like the other two refuges in the complex I had visited Baskett Slough before, most recently in May of last year (post) during the initial COVID lock down when many places weren’t open and we were trying to stay close to home. We began our hike at the Baskett Butte Trailhead.
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IMG_2292Mt. Jefferson from the trailhead.

The Rich Guadagno Memorial Loop Trail begins here and we followed it uphill to the start of the loop where we forked left continuing uphill to a second junction with the side trail to the Rich Guadagno Viewing Platform. We were just a couple of weeks earlier than Heather and my visit from last year but it made a big difference. The hill had been covered with wildflowers during that hike but there were just a few out now.
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IMG_2299A few lupine and buttercups

IMG_2300Camas

IMG_2308Castilleja levisecta – Golden Paintbrush

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IMG_2314A few little flowers starting to open up.

IMG_2323View from the deck.

IMG_2329Western meadowlark

We returned to the loop and continued into the woods on the side of Baskett Butte where we kept a streak of mine alive by spotting deer in this area.
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There weren’t nearly as many flowers here as there had been in the woods at Finley NWR but a few fawn lilies and toothworts were blooming.
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The rangers had been busy cleaning up after the ice storm based on some large piles of debris but it also appeared there was more work to do.
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We turned left at a sign for the Moffiti/Morgan Loop Trail and headed downhill toward Moffiti Marsh.
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IMG_2368Camas pretending to be part of a lupine plant.

IMG_2374White crowned sparrow

IMG_2381Hawk

IMG_2385Lesser scaup

IMG_2389American wigeons

IMG_2397Pied billed grebe

IMG_2405Yellowlegs

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Red-winged blackbirds

IMG_2424Savannah sparrow

We turned right along a path parallel to Smithfield Road following it to a small trailhead (where Heather and I started the 2020 hike). The fences across Smithfield Road were popular with the feathered community.
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IMG_2429Swallows

IMG_2430A robin, a western bluebird and swallows

IMG_2435A green winged teal and a cinnamon teal in a small marsh.

We took the path from the trailhead to Morgan Lake where there were a lot of ducks doing their best to stay as far away from us as possible.
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IMG_2439This scrub jay wasn’t shy.

IMG_2448Neither was this serious looking spotted towhee

IMG_2443Norther shovelers heading to the opposite side of the lake.

IMG_2453A bufflehead and some lesser scaups

IMG_2455Canada goose flyover

IMG_2458Mallard pair

After passing the lake we got a wild hair and instead of following the loop up around the north side of Baskett Butte we decided to stay on a fainter grassy track around the eastern side of the butte.
IMG_2462Old out building below Baskett Butte.

This seemed to be a good way to avoid the elevation gain of going up and over the saddle on Baskett Butte but along the way the grassy track disappeared into a field. There was another track heading uphill toward the butte but we were set on not climbing so we sallied forth.
IMG_2463Not only was this uphill but we didn’t know for sure where it might lead.

IMG_2464Along the field we went.

On the bright side our little adventure led us to the only blooming checkermallow we’d seen all morning.
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At a row of vegetation if briefly appeared we might be turning back but a break in the brush provided us a way through (it appeared to be a popular route with the resident deer and elk.
IMG_2477Looking uphill along the row of brush.

On the other side of the brush we found a huge flock of geese (or several smaller flocks that had merged)
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IMG_2476An extremely small portion of the geese.

We veered right away from the geese not wanting to be the cause of what we could only imagine would have been quite a commotion and cut across another field directly to the trailhead which was now visible.
IMG_2480Baskett Butte from the field.

Our route may have actually been a little shorter than if we had stayed on the trail as my GPS showed 4.8 miles while the route as described by Sullivan is 4.9 miles. It also saved a little bit of elevation gain and allowed us to see a little part of the refuge that we hadn’t before. It would have been pretty ugly though if it had rained recently though as I can only imagine those fields would be muddy messes. While not quite as exciting as the other two refuges Baskett Slough has always managed to deliver wildlife sightings and is definitely worth a visit. Happy Trails!

Our route with the “highlighted” section showing the off-trail route around Baskett Butte

Flickr: Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge

Categories
Corvallis Hiking Oregon Willamette Valley

Finley Wildlife Refuge Loop – 4/14/2021

A day after visiting the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge (post) I headed out to the William L. Finely National Wildlife Refuge for another attempt at spotting wildlife. Heather once again was working so I was on my own again. We had done two previous hikes here, one in 2017 visiting the Cabell Marsh and hiking the Woodpecker and Mill Hill Loops and the other in 2020 starting near Pigeon Butte. My plan was to combine most of those two hikes and add a few new short stretches to make a big loop through the refuge starting from the Woodpecker Loop Trailhead. One item to note is that some of the refuge is closed from November 1st through March 31st making this loop impossible during the seasonal closure.

The refuge is open from dawn to dusk and I arrived at the trailhead just as the Sun was beginning to rise behind Mt. Jefferson.
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From the Woodpecker Loop Trailhead I walked down to the refuge road and followed it to the left back to the Cabell Barn then turned right on a road at a season trail sign for the Cabell Marsh Overlook. I followed the roadbed to the Cabell Lodge and past the overlook down to Cabell Marsh.
IMG_1824Mt. Hood from the refuge road

IMG_1826The Three Sisters from the road

IMG_1832Yellow paintbrush

IMG_1841Cabell Barn

img src=”https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51116225393_9feb61f994_c.jpg&#8221; width=”800″ height=”600″ alt=”IMG_1860″>Cabell Lodge

IMG_1852Rabbit at the lodge

IMG_1865Cabell Marsh Overlook

IMG_1871White crowned sparrows

IMG_1878Deer in a field near Cabell Marsh

IMG_1879Cabell Marsh (the marsh had been drained when we visited in 2020)

I slowly walked along the dike at the marsh using binoculars to try and identify how many different ducks were out on the water.
IMG_1880Norther shovelers

IMG_1887American coots

IMG_1889Ring-necked ducks

IMG_1892Buffleheads

IMG_1908Black pheobe

IMG_1910American wigeons

IMG_1915_stitchCabell Marsh

IMG_1921Canada geese

Wood duck, ring-necked ducks and a pie billed grebeWood duck, ring-necked ducks and a pied billed grebe

IMG_1951More northern shovelers

IMG_1953Ring-necked ducks

IMG_1955Green winged teal

IMG_1956Robin

At a junction on the SW end of the Marsh I stayed left following a roadbed past a huge flock of geese and some ponds to a junction with the Pigeon Butte Trail.
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IMG_1983Killdeer

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IMG_1991Red-winged blackbird

IMG_2003Junction with the Pigeon Butte Trail (grassy track heading uphill)

Originally I had planned on skipping the half mile trail to the top of Pigeon Butte but it was a beautiful morning and it had been too cloudy to see much on our hike in 2020 so I turned uphill an tagged the summit before returning to my originally planned loop.
IMG_2004Tortoiseshell butterfly

IMG_2012Spotted towhee serenade

IMG_2020Bewick’s wren

IMG_2022Madrone

IMG_2027Mourning dove

IMG_2029Camas blooming near the summit

IMG_2034View from Pigeon Butte

IMG_2036Scrub jay spotted on the way down.

IMG_2038One of the “blue” butterflies, maybe a silvery blue

IMG_2043Acorn woodpecker

When I got back down to the junction I continued south on the Pigeon Butte Trail to a junction at a pond below Cheadle Barn.
IMG_2050Looking back at Pigeon Butte, the yellow paintbrush was starting its bloom on the hillside.

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Instead of heading for the barn and the Cheadle Marsh Trail which we had used on our 2020 visit I went right following a roadbed to Bruce Road across from the Field 12 Overlook.
IMG_2068Looking back at Pigeon Butte and the Cheadle Barn

IMG_2066Western bluebird

IMG_2070Bruce Rd and a sign for the overlook.

IMG_2071Swallows at the overlook

IMG_2075Mary’s Peak and Pigeon Butte from the overlook.

IMG_2076Mary’s Peak (post)

I then walked west on Bruce Road to the trailhead for the Beaver Pond and Cattail Pond Trails passing the Mitigation Wetland along the way. I paused at the wetland to watch a great blue heron and egret along with a number of ducks in.
IMG_2083Ground squirrel on Bruce Rd.

IMG_2080Sparrows

IMG_2085Western bluebird

IMG_2088Mitigation Wetland

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IMG_2103Egret

IMG_2098heron flying by the egret

IMG_2125Northern shoveler

IMG_2126Green winged teals

IMG_2129Trailhead off of Bruce Road

I turned off of Bruce Road at the trailhead and followed the grassy track to a fork where I veered left on the Beaver Pond Trail. This trail led briefly through the woods before arriving at the Beaver Pond where I startled a heron and a few ducks but an egret and a few other ducks stuck around.
IMG_2132Ground squirrel

IMG_2136Entering the woods

IMG_2142Giant white wakerobin

IMG_2144Fairybells

IMG_2162Startled heron

IMG_2169Egret and a cinnamon teal pair and maybe an American wigeon

As I was watching the egret I noticed something else in the water but I wasn’t sure if it was an animal or a log/rock in disguise. Even with binoculars I could decide but after looking at the pictures it was in fact a nutria that appeared to be napping.
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The egret finally flew off and I continued on to a junction just beyond the pond where I turned left heading slightly uphill toward the Refuge Headquarters and the Mill Hill Loop.
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IMG_2181Candyflower

At a signed 4-way junction I followed a pointer for the Mill Hill Trail to the left but not before I checked out a patch of pink along the trail straight ahead.
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IMG_2188The pink turned out to be shooting stars.

I hiked the Mill Hill Loop (which led back to the junction right past the shooting stars) and then turned left on the Intertie Trail. The Mill Hill Loop was full of surprises with a number of different wildflowers blooming and a turtle sighting. The turtle was on a log in a wetland quite a bit below a bench along the trail and I only spotted it with the help of the binoculars but that counts.
IMG_2196Iris

IMG_2201Bleeding heart

IMG_2220One of many fairy slippers

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IMG_2218It took some work to get the camera to stop focusing on the brush in the foreground.

IMG_2230Buttercups

IMG_2232Violets

IMG_2238Fawn lilies

IMG_2244Back at the junction and onto the Intertie Trail

I followed the Intertie Trail to the Woodpecker Loop ignoring side trails to the Refuge Headquarters.
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IMG_2256Service berry

IMG_2257The Woodpecker Loop

I turned left opting to head uphill on a slightly longer route back to my car so that I could check out the view from a hilltop viewing structure.
IMG_2259Norther flicker along the Woodpecker Loop

IMG_2263Amphibian pond and interpretive kiosk.

IMG_2267Viewing structure

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IMG_2272Mt. Jefferson

IMG_2273The Three Sisters

I watched a pair of raptors chase each other around but couldn’t get a clear enough view to tell what kind they were (maybe Cooper’s hawks?).
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IMG_2279This was the best shot I could get at 40x zoom with the sun in front of me.

After accepting that a clearer picture wasn’t possible I left the shelter and hiked downhill to my waiting car. While I only passed two other hikers on the trails there were a number of folks at the trailhead either just arriving or getting ready to leave. My loop with the mile detour up and down Pigeon Butte came in at 11.3 miles. The great thing about Finley is the diversity it offers with forest, woodlands, marshes and fields each supporting different plants and wildlife. The possibility of long, medium and short hikes is also nice. The one drawback is that there is a lot of poison oak in the area but they keep the trails wide enough that it really isn’t much of a problem.

Happy Trails!

Flickr: Finley Wildlife Refuge Loop

Categories
Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Willamette Valley

Ankeny Wildlife Refuge – 04/13/2021

I found myself with some time off that Heather does not and after spending the first day getting the car serviced and receiving my first dose of COVID vaccine (YAY) I spent the next morning exploring the Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. We had visited once before in 2014 for a short hike described by Sullivan in his “100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades” guidebook (post). This time I hoped to explore more of the refuge by hiking some of the dike trails that are open from April 1st to September 30th. I started my morning at the Eagle Marsh parking area on Buena Vista Road.
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There is a nice kiosk there overlooking the marsh from which quite a few ducks and geese were visible.
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IMG_1362Buffleheads

IMG_1370Canada goose and mallards

IMG_1373American coot

IMG_1375Ring-necked ducks (I’m not sure all the females are the same.)

IMG_1392Geese flying over Eagle Marsh as the Sun rises.

There was more vegetation at the southern end of the marsh where robins and blackbirds were singing.
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At the end of Eagle Marsh the dike split and I had intended to stay straight (the Refuge trail map appeared to show a possible loop around Willow Marsh but other maps do not show a dike at the southern end) but a sign there announced that dike was closed due to active nesting so I turned left instead.
IMG_1415Willow Marsh

There were a lot of ducks in Willow Marsh but they were keeping a safe distance from me.
IMG_1429A bufflehead and mallards

IMG_1432Mallards and ring-necked ducks

I then turned right along a dike passing between Willow and Teal Marshes.
IMG_1435Teal Marsh to the left of the dike.

It was more of the same treatment from the ducks in Teal Marsh.
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IMG_1454Mallards an northern shovelers

IMG_1457Buffleheads

While the ducks stayed away I had better luck with the smaller birds.
IMG_1468Spotted towhee

IMG_1473Red-winged blackbird

IMG_1476Female red-winged blackbird

IMG_1482Sparrow

IMG_1506Yellow-rumped warbler

At the end of Teal Marsh I turned around and headed back past the ducks.
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IMG_1507Geese coming in for a landing on Teal Marsh

IMG_1516Northern flicker

IMG_1517Green-winged teal

IMG_1520Ring-necked ducks and a bufflehead pair

IMG_1524Scrub jay

IMG_1541Pie billed grebe at Eagle Marsh

The out-and-back was a nice, albeit windy, 3.2 mile walk with no elevation gain. From Eagle Marsh I turned left (SW) onto Buena Vista Road and drove a quarter mile to a small pullout at a green gate.
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From here I planned on following another dike past Mohoff Pond and Pintail Marsh to Wintel Road and then follow that road briefly to the Rail Trail Loop Area which is where we had been on our first visit. A bald eagle flew over Mohoff Pond just as I set off.
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Mohoff Pond was busy with a number of different ducks but primarily they seemed to be northern shovelers.
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IMG_1580I didn’t see it when I took the picture but it appears there is an eagle on the ground in the distance here.

The activity wasn’t only at Mohoff Pond though as a handful of egrets were mostly out of view in a field on the other side of the railroad tracks.
IMG_1559One of the egrets taking off.

IMG_1589Brewer’s blackbird on a tree along the railroad tracks.

I stayed right at a junction with a dike running between Mohoff Pond and Pintail Marsh.
IMG_1591Pintail Marsh ahead on the left.

IMG_1761The dike between Mohoff Pond and Pintail Marsh.

IMG_1592Ducks at Pintail Marsh

There was a gravel parking area at the southern end of Pintail Marsh where I hopped onto Wintel Road and headed left following the narrow shoulder for .3 miles to another green gate on the right hand side of the road.
IMG_1596Pintail Marsh

IMG_1736Looking back at the gate and Wintel Road

I followed a grassy track which split 100 feet from the gate and turned right (left would have led me to the Rail Trail Parking area). The path led past a little standing water before leading onto a dike along Wood Duck Pond.
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IMG_1601Yellow legs

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I passed the Rail Trail Boardwalk and stayed on the dike now retracing our steps from our first visit.
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The dike turned south wrapping around Dunlin Pond.
IMG_1613The boardwalk across Dunlin Pond from the dike.

IMG_1639Ring-necked ducks

IMG_1634Ring-necked ducks taking off.

IMG_1626Sparrow

IMG_1646Common yellowthroat

IMG_1641Hawk and a sparrow

At the far end of Dunlin Pond the dike split again at Killdeer Marsh. Here I turned right and looped around Killdeer Marsh.
IMG_1653Killdeer Marsh

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IMG_1660Another yellow legs?

IMG_1663Mustard along Killdeer Marsh

IMG_1669A killdeer amid ducks at Killdeer Marsh

The dike didn’t quite go all the way around the marsh but it was easy walking along the edge of a field to get back to the dike on the north side of the marsh. The only issue was a 5 foot wide wet area between the field and dike where try as I might my shoes wound up wet. Once I was back on the dike I had the choice to go left back along Killdeer Marsh or a different dike veering off to the right along South Pond. I chose right and followed this dike around the end of South Pond.
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IMG_1683South Pond

IMG_1688Cinnamon Teal in South Pond

The dike led me to one of two actual trails in the Refuge, the Rail Trail.
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IMG_1711Damaged trees from the ice storm earlier this year.

IMG_1712Turkey vulture

IMG_1718Candyflower

I turned right at the boardwalk and followed it over the water to the dike on the far side.
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IMG_1728American coots

IMG_1731I think this is a ring-necked duck and a lesser scaup.

At the dike I turned right and retraced my steps back to Witnel Road and headed back toward Pintail Marsh. Instead of going to the gravel parking lot that I had been at earlier I left the road at the Pintail/Egret Marsh Boardwalk Trailhead.
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I followed this short boardwalk along and over Bashaw Creek to a bird blind.
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Again on the trail map it appeared that the boardwalk connect to a dike at Egret Marsh but it instead it dead ended at the blind.
IMG_1742The dike from the blind.

I turned around and headed back to Witnel Road a little dissapointed but then I spotted a little green frog on a log and all was good.
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When I got back to the lot a Pintail Marsh I turned right thinking I would follow the dike on the other side Pintail Marsh and Mohoff Pond.
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I stayed right when I passed another dike that allowed for a loop around Frog Marsh and stopped at a photo blind (reservable from 10/1-3/31).
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At the junction with the other end of the Frog Marsh Loop I ran into another obstacle, more active nesting had closed the dike along Pintail Marsh so I did the loop around Frog Marsh and back to the gravel lot I went.
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I retraced my steps on the dike along the west side of Pintail Marsh before turning right on the dike between the marsh and Mohoff Pond.
IMG_1756Killdeer on the dike.

IMG_1759A whole lot of geese in the air ahead.

I turned left at a four way junction where the closed dike joined from between Pintail and Egret Marshes.
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I was now on a dike between Mohoff Pond (left) and Mallard Marsh (right).
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Ducks and geese were everywhere as I trudged directly into the wind along the dike.
IMG_1776Green-winged teals

IMG_1784Northern shovelers

IMG_1781Canada geese

IMG_1788Another green-winged teal

IMG_1790Various ducks

IMG_1796Northern pintails

IMG_1803Crow

IMG_1806A green-winged teal and a yellow legs

My second stop wound up coming to 7.5 miles making for a 10.7 mile day. I only passed two people all day and saw a lot of different birds which made for a great hike. If I were a more patient person I would have sat at a blind or two and waited for some closer encounters but I prefer to keep moving so I have to settle for the long distance shots more often than not. Either way Ankeny is a great place to visit. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Ankeny Wildlife Refuge

Categories
Columbia Gorge North Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Trip report

Mitchell Point, Lyle Cherry Orchard & Sevenmile Hill – 3/27/21

We normally only do one hike a month from November through April but a forecast of sunny skies and highs in the low to mid 60’s combined with a chance to see some early wildflowers was enough to break that rule and head to the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge. The first wildflowers (usually grass widows and/or parsleys) can show up as early as January in areas such as Catherine Creek (post) with things really picking up by late March and running through early June in the upper meadow of Dog Mountain (post). We had previously been to Catherine Creek (along with Coyote Wall), the Tom McCall Preserve (post), Columbia Hills State Park (post), Memaloose Hills (post) and Swale Canyon (post) so for this outing we decided to check out the Lyle Cherry Orchard and Sevenmile Hill.

Before we got to those wildflower hikes we planned a quick stop at the Mitchell Point Trailhead to make the 1.1 mile climb up to the top of the point. We had actually stopped here in 2018 (after our Memaloose Hills hike) to take the Wygant Trail up to a viewpoint. Originally my plan had been to do these three hikes in a different order starting at the Lyle Cherry Orchard and ending with Mitchell Point but after looking at the plan a little more I realized that it had two flaws. First the exit to the Mitchell Point Trail is only accessible from the eastbound lanes of I-84 and there is no westbound access to I-84 from the trailhead either. (I had made this mistake with the outing in 2018 leading to some extra driving.) The second issue had to do with crowds and our never ending attempt to avoid them. Leaving Mitchell Point as the last hike might have meant dealing with some crowds whereas we didn’t expect Sevenmile Hill to be busy. Our plan seemed to be working pretty well as we were the first car at the Mitchell Point Trailhead.
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We headed to the left of the signboard to the Mitchell Point Trail which began climbing almost immediately.
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The trail switchbacked up a forested hillside with a few blooming toothworts.
IMG_0890Bench at a switchback.

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We then crossed a talus slope beneath Mitchell Point where lots of tiny blue-eyed Mary grew amid the rocks.
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IMG_0914Reroute below Mitchell Point

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IMG_0919Mushrooms’ and some sedums.

Views to the west along the Columbia River opened up as we climbed.
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The trail briefly reentered the forest and climbed to a set of power lines and an accompanying road.
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The trail never quite reached the road instead turning east then north as it headed out toward Mitchell Point.
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IMG_0927Houndstongue

We followed the trail out onto Mitchell Points Ridge which was dotted with wildflowers including a lot of bright grass widows.
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IMG_0934Grass Widows

IMG_0961Woodland stars

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IMG_0931Yellow bell lily

IMG_0938Desert parsley and woodland stars

IMG_0954A saxifrage

IMG_0965Gold stars and woodland stars

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In addition to the wildflowers the view from Mitchell Point was impressive.
IMG_0962Looking west

IMG_0966North across the Columbia River into Washington

IMG_0964East

In typical Gorge fashion it was a bit windy (a theme that would continue throughout the day) which didn’t seem to bother the birds.
IMG_0985Looks like moss for a nest maybe?

We returned the way we’d come arriving back at the trailhead to find we were still the only people there, but we weren’t alone.
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IMG_1001Turkeys on the Wygant Trail

At just over 2 miles round trip the hike to Mitchell Point made for a nice short hike but it comes at a price gaining over a thousand feet on the way up. From this trailhead we continued east to Hood River where we paid the $2 toll to cross the bridge into Washington. We continued east on SR 14 through the town of Lyle then parked at a gravel pullout on the left hand side of the road just beyond a tunnel. This was the unsigned trailhead for the Lyle Cherry Orchard Hike. There were maybe a half dozen or so cars here already which we were pleased with given the large number of cars we already passed by at the Coyote Wall and Catherine Creek Trailheads (and it wasn’t even 8:45 yet). The unsigned trail starts near the eastern end of the parking area and passing along a rock wall through oak trees with lots of poison oak.
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IMG_1015Red leaves of poison oak behind a death camas

IMG_1017More poison oak behind a waterleaf

IMG_1012Poison oak around some balsamroot

A short distance up the trail there is a niceĀ  map and trails signboard announcing the start of land owned by the Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

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From the signboard the trail continues to climb through the rock and oaks to a plateau where the poison oak is briefly left behind.
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IMG_1037Fiddleneck

IMG_1040Desert parsley

IMG_1045Manroot

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IMG_1057Lots of death camas blooming on the plateau.

We followed the trail as it headed gradually uphill toward a second plateau.
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IMG_1064Looking up at the cliffs above.

IMG_1068Balsamroot blooming below the rim.

At a fork in the trail we detoured left for a view of the Columbia River.
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We returned to the main trail which began to climb the hillside below the rim. While it was still a couple of weeks from prime wildflower season here there was a good balsamroot display along with a few other flowers in bloom.
IMG_1081Balsamroot

IMG_1085Woodland stars with some lupine leaves

IMG_1090Columbia desert parsley

IMG_1096A biscuitroot

IMG_1104Balsamroot

20210327_092349Balsamroot

The trail leveled out again after reaching the rim of the upper plateau where it also reentered an oak woodland.
IMG_1114View west (With a snow capped Mt. Defiance (post) in the distance.)

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Amid the oaks were some additional types of flowers.
IMG_1125Larkspur

IMG_1131Buttercups

IMG_1138Glacier lilies

IMG_1158Yellow bell lily, woodland stars, grass widows and shooting stars.

20210327_104840Yellow bell lilies

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IMG_1162Toothwort

IMG_1163Sagebrush false dandelions

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IMG_1167Tortoiseshell butterfly

Just under 2.5 miles from the trailhead we came to a junction which is the start of a short loop. We stayed left arriving at an old road bed a short distance later where we turned right and soon entered the site of the old orchard. Nearly all the cherry trees are gone and the few that remain only have a few branches that continue to bloom and we were too early for those.
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The trail looped through the now open meadow with views east of the Columbia River.
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A short spur trail on the SW part of the loop led to a viewpoint to the west.
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IMG_1183Tom McCall Point and the Rowena Plateau with Mt. Defiance in the distance.

After checking out the view we completed the loop and headed back the way we’d come. We had only encountered a couple of other hikers up to this point (we’d seen more from afar) but the return trip was a different story. There was a lot of mask donning and stepping aside on the way back to the trailhead.
IMG_1205Hikers on the trailhead and below.

One bit of excitement on the return trip was spotting a couple of orange-tip butterflies. We rarely see these pretty butterflies and it’s even rarer that I manage to get any kind of picture.
IMG_1217Just my third photo of an orange-tip.

The hike here for us came to 5.5 miles with another 1200′ of elevation gain giving us over 2200′ for the day so far. The parking area was now a full two rows of cars with more arriving (it was between 11:30 & 12:00). We quickly packed up and opened a spot for someone else and once again headed east on SR 14. We re-crossed the Columbia River on Highway 197 into The Dalles and took I-84 west for 5 miles following the Oregon Hikers directions to the Sevenmile Hill Trailhead

We weren’t sure how popular this hike is given that there are no official trails. That question, at least for this time of the year, was answered when we pulled into the empty gravel pullout.
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Our plan was to follow the entry in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide (description). The area consists of Forest Service land surrounded by private holdings (note the no trespassing sign across the road in the photo above).
We headed uphill and left, away from the blocked road passing a gravel pit on our left.
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We were supposed to reach a knoll with a small windbreak made out of erratics (rocks from the Rocky Mountains deposited by the Missoula Floods). The first knoll we climbed had some erratics but no windbreak.
IMG_1231Mt. Hood and Columbia desert parsley from the first knoll we tried.

IMG_1234Top of knoll #1.

IMG_1232A lone balsamroot blossom.

We weren’t sure if this was the right knoll or not but we did know from the map in the field guide that we should continue uphill and to the left. We kept climbing up the grassy hillside and reached the top of another knoll where we did indeed find a small windbreak.
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From the knoll we followed a faint grassy track past a spring to a stand of oak trees.
IMG_1243The path leading past the spring to the oaks.

IMG_1246The spring

There was a fence on the hillside at the oak trees. We got a bit confused here reading the hike description. It reads “Head up gradually to your left, reaching a draw. Walk across the broken fence line here and cross a small bench. Continue hiking up to your left. At some point, you should see the southwest boundary corner of the property and a fence line ahead.” We had not noticed another fence line and this fence was broken here with no signs so we continued on the faint path. That was a mistake and the fence we passed through was the boundary. When we reached a small crest where we could see everything ahead of us there was no other fence in sight.
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We quickly turned and began heading uphill to the NE to relocate the fence line and get ourselves on the correct side (Our apologies to whomever that land belongs too).
IMG_1262Back on the right side

Now we were back on course and followed the fence line uphill. While the wildflowers here would have been better from mid to late April there were a few splashes of color here and there.
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IMG_1249Balsamroot surrounded by some little white flowers.

IMG_1251Lupine thinking about blooming.

IMG_1254Larkspur

IMG_1259Yellow bell lilies

We deviated from the description as we neared the top of the hill electing not to follow the fence through a stand of oak trees, where the guide indicates there is a profusion of poison oak, opting instead to pass through the oaks lower on the hillside.
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IMG_1269We didn’t notice any poison oak here.

On the far side of the oaks we turned almost directly uphill reaching a viewpoint where Mt. Adams rose to the north beyond the Columbia River.
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IMG_1277A grass widow at the viewpoint.

IMG_1286Mt. Adams

IMG_1288Mt. Hood over the oak stand.

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We turned right along the rim following deer and elk trails through the oaks and past more viewpoints.
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From a grassy rise along the ridge we could see a faint path leading into another stand of trees where we could also make out the fence line marking the eastern boundary of the Forest Service Land.
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We headed downhill and followed the path to the fence line and then followed it down.
IMG_1310The Dalles beyond the fence line.

IMG_1318Heading down the fence line.

As we lost elevation we began to see quite a few more flowers. It seemed that the flowers at this eastern end were ahead of those to the west.
20210327_143435Large head clover

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IMG_1325A lupine with blossoms.

IMG_1329Hillside covered in Columbia desert parsley

IMG_1333Our car had been joined by one other. (middle left of photo)

IMG_1341Gooseberry Creek

We turned away from the fence on an old farm road following it back to the road near the trailhead by the “No Trespassing” signs.

This loop came in at 4.3 miles according to my GPS and was at least 1250′ of elevation gain which was made more difficult by the cross country terrain. There was little to no level footing for the vast majority of this hike and coming after we had already hiked 7.6 miles and gained 2200′ it really tired us out. That being said it was a great day to be out. One thing to note is that all three hikes are in located in tick country (we were lucky enough not to pick up any) and both Sevenmile Hill and Lyle Cherry Orchard are in rattlesnake country (again didn’t see any). Happy Trails and stay safe out there!

Flickr: Mitchell Point, Lyle Cherry Orchard & Sevenmile Hill

Categories
Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast

Alder Island, God’s Thumb & Roads End – 3/13/2021

We were hoping for some nicer weather on the Saturday before the dreaded “Spring forward” which always seems to be the harder of the two time changes to adjust to. In addition to adjusting to the struggle, adjusting to the change springing forward also meant losing an hour of light in the morning when we like to do our hiking. We got our nice weather so we headed out to Lincoln City to explore some of the nearby trails and cross off another of Sullivan’s featured hikes at Roads End Beach. The hike at Roads End (#35 in the 3rd edition “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range) was one nine remaining featured hikes in his third edition which we reverted back to this year due to not knowing when (if) the final featured hike in his 4th edition, the Salmonberry Railroad, will reopen to hikers (post).

The Roads End hike is a roughly 2.8 mile out and back along Roads End Beach at the north end of Lincoln City which gave us an opportunity to add some mileage to our day and check out two other nearby destinations. The first of which was a quick stop at the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge just south of Lincoln City. With the time change not yet happening we were able to arrive early and start hiking by 6:30am and more importantly drive through Lincoln City without any traffic to speak of.
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The refuge offers a single trail, a short lollipop loop (just under a mile) around Alder Island. Canoeing and kayaking is a popular activity here. It was in the mid 30’s as we set off from the small parking area so there were no human paddlers out yet but the frosty temperature didn’t dissuade others.
IMG_0632Mallard pair

IMG_0635Canada geese

IMG_0642Goose and a mallard in the channels.

While the Sun wasn’t quite above the Coast Range great blue herons were already busy working on building a nest in some trees across a channel.
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It wasn’t just the bigger birds that were busy. A ruby-crowned kinglet was busy in the brush.
Ruby-crowned kinglet

Approximately .2 miles north of the parking area we made a hard right turn crossing over some water to Alder Island and the start of the short loop.
IMG_0656Several interpretive signs were placed along the loop.

IMG_0657A reminder that COVID-19 is still an issue.

The trail passed through stands of alder as it followed a small branch of the Siletz River for .3 miles before reaching a bench facing the main branch of the river. There were a number of ducks a geese in the channel but the highlight came when Heather spotted something heading down to the water on the far side ahead of us. It was a river otter! This had been one of, if not the, most wanted animal sightings on our list of critters we’d yet to see while hiking (or driving to a hike). Unfortunately the otter was too quick and far enough away in the low morning light to get more than a blurry photo of it swimming across the channel.
IMG_0662The larger muddy area along the bank ahead on the right is where Heather spotted the otter.

IMG_0665Alder lined trail.

IMG_0659Blurry photo of a non-breeding male hooded merganser.

Blurry River OtterThe blurry river otter.

IMG_0670Another mallard

IMG_0672Canada geese

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IMG_0681Siletz River

The bench might have been a nice place to sit for awhile had it been a little warmer but we needed to keep moving so we continued on the loop which led us back along the main river channel,
IMG_0685Western grebe

IMG_0688Goose and a bufflehead (the duck not the post)

IMG_0689Bufflehead

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IMG_0701Spring is coming!

We completed the loop and headed back to the car just as the Sun was cresting the foothills.
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We then drove back through Lincoln City (still with very little traffic) and made our way to the parking lot at the Roads End Recreation Site.
IMG_0703Sentry at the Roads End entrance.

We weren’t quite ready to head out along the beach though. Before doing the featured hike we planned on visiting the increasingly popular God’s Thumb. We were hoping that 7:30am was still early enough to avoid the crowds that were sure to show up later in the day. While there are two closer trailheads (The Villages and the Sal La Sea Trailhead), parking at Roads End meant having access to bathrooms and not having to move the car again.

God’s Thumb (arrow) from the Roads End parking Area

We followed the Oregon Hikers Field Guide directions (see link for God’s Thumb above) to make our way up through the neighborhood between Roads End and the Sal La Sea Trailhead.
There weren’t any people but the neighborhood was fairly active.
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We passed a single car parked at the trailhead as we continued on by a gate across an old roadbed.
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We had walked up some steep hills through the neighborhood and that theme continued on the old road bed for .4 miles before leveling out at a ridge top junction.
IMG_0722It’s hard to tell just how much uphill this is. Fortunately it wasn’t very muddy.

IMG_0723A little easier to see the uphill here, this was near the top.

IMG_0724The junction.

We turned left at the junction following the ridge out to The Knoll, an open space overlooking Lincoln City to the south.
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IMG_0733The Roads End parking area is the open green space in the center along the ocean.

IMG_0731The Pacific Ocean.

IMG_0735Roads End Point jutting out to the north.

IMG_0737The Knoll

We returned to the junction and continued straight following the ridge north.
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IMG_0740Snow queen

IMG_0744More signs of Spring, salmonberry blossom and buds.

IMG_0749Sitka spruce and ferns along the ridge.

At the far end of the ridge (after approx 1/3 of a mile) we came to another junction with a trail coming up from the trailhead at The Villages.
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Here we turned left and began a short descent that looked to be in some doubt due to several large downed trees.
IMG_0751The downed trees ahead in the distance.

As it turned out there was just one tree to duck under while the rest looked to have been recently taken care of.
IMG_0752The last of the tree fall.

The trail then dipped into an open meadow before rising again on the far side.
IMG_0754Mud had begun to be a bit of an annoyance at this point.

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After reaching the top of the hill the trail briefly continued north before turning left in a grassy meadow.
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IMG_0764Busy woodpecker

IMG_0766The trail getting nearing the turn left.

IMG_0769Lone tree in the meadow.

IMG_0771Lone robin in the lone tree.

From the meadow there was a view of Cascade Head (post) to the north and to God’s Thumb jutting out into the Pacific to the west.
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The trail to God’s Thumb crosses a narrow saddle before climbing steeply to the top of the thumb. We were thankful that it hadn’t rained for a few days which eliminated any issues that mud might have made with footing. We were also pleased that we didn’t see any other hikers in the area that we might have to pass on the way there.
IMG_0779Heather crossing the saddle (left of the big bush)

IMG_0801Cascade Head from the saddle.

IMG_0800Final pitch up to the top.

The view of Cascade Head was great from the thumb and we were able to enjoy it by ourselves.
IMG_0788Not quite to ourselves, we shared the space briefly with some chestnut backed chickadees.

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IMG_0795Cascade Head and the mouth of the Salmon River.

IMG_0792Roads End Point and Lincoln City

IMG_0790Rocks below God’s Thumb

We did actually see another hiker but he wasn’t coming down the trail to God’s Thumb, he was heading down to the ocean in the cove north of us.
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After enjoying the view for a bit we headed back. We finally passed some other hikers just as we started down into the valley before climbing back up to the junction at the ridge end. It was beginning to be a fairly steady stream of hikers as we reached the junction where we forked left to make a loop out of the middle of the hike. The old road bed on this side of the ridge was much muddier than what we’d come up, but we also spotted quite a few yellow violets and a single toothwort along this route.
IMG_0807A reasonable representation of the wet/muddy conditions on this part of the hike.

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IMG_0815Toothwort

A mile and a half from the junction we arrived at the very crowded trailhead at The Villages. Here we turned left on a little path which quickly joined another old roadbed.
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Less than a half mile later we were passing another gate along Sal La Sea Drive.
IMG_0828The gate and Sal La Sea Drive in the distance.

IMG_0829It’s not a hike at the coast without some skunk cabbage.

At Sal La Sea Drive I suggested turning left as it looked like the road would take us back downhill almost directly to the Roads End Recreation Site but Heather wasn’t sold on that. (She was sure there was a hidden uphill that would be worse than what we were facing to get back to the Sal La Sea Trailhead.) Never one to pass up a climb we turned right and headed up Sal La Sea Drive. It was a little over 3/4 of a mile back to that trailhead (where there were now 9 cars) and somewhere in there Heather realized she had chosen poorly. We then retraced our path from earlier back down to Roads End. Along the way we saw over a half dozen more deer among the houses which we found humorous, in the woods we saw no deer and a bunch of people and in the neighborhood we saw no people and a bunch of deer.
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While our plan to avoid people had worked well at Alder Island and for our visits to The Knoll and God’s Thumb there was no chance for privacy along the beach at Roads End. While it was busy it was a nice walk along the beach for almost a mile and a half to Roads End Point where continuing is only possible during low tides.
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IMG_0849Coltsfoot

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IMG_0853An immature bald eagle flew overhead at one point.

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IMG_0863Little waterfall along the beach.

IMG_0866Roads End Point

IMG_0871Not going around that today.

We headed back saying one last goodbye to God’s Thumb and The Knoll before driving back home to Salem.
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IMG_0879God’s Thumb on the right.

IMG_0880Hikers on The Knoll

Our mileage for the day was right around ten with a mile coming at Alder Island, two and three quarters at Roads End and the remaining six and a quarter being The Knoll and God’s Thumb. There was 1420′ of elevation gain all of which was during the portion from Roads End to God’s Thumb and back. While we’ve had good weather for all three of our hikes thus far in 2021 this hike was the first to truly feel like Winter is coming to an end. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Alder Island, God’s Thumb & Roads End