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Bend/Redmond Central Oregon High Cascades Hiking Oregon Three Sisters Area Trip report

Whychus Creek Trail and Overlook – 05/31/21

After back to back 14 mile days we had something more reasonable planned for our drive home on Memorial Day. We had started the weekend with two hikes along Whychus Creek east of Sisters (post). On Monday we stopped at the Whychus Creek Trailhead 4.2 miles west on Elm Street (Forest Road 16) of Highway 20 in Sisters. The trailhead doesn’t seem to be listed on the Deschutes National Forest webpage (They do show the Whychus Creek Overlook Trailhead which is an alternate starting point.)

We actually wound up having to park at a temporary trailhead 1000′ past the official trailhead which was closed for construction (not sure what was being constructed).
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The Whychus Creek Trail followed Whychus Creek through a mixed forest with juniper and sagebrush from the high desert, ponderosa pine, and mixed conifers from the Cascades.
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We really noticed how much more water there was in the creek here, before reaching the diversion ditches closer to Sisters.
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Less than a half mile into the hike we passed a series of rock ledges where native tribes appear to have once camped.
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The trail reached the bank of Whychus Creek at the overhang then climbed back above the creek gaining a view of the top of the North Sister. A few wildflowers added color to the landscape and birds added their song to the sound of the creek.
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IMG_6820North Sister in the distance.

IMG_6804Penstemon

IMG_6810Chocolate lily

IMG_6815Sand lily

IMG_6817Paintbrush

IMG_6818Balsamroot

IMG_6838A Penstemon

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IMG_6841Squirrel!

Just over a mile and a half from the trailhead the Whychus Creek Trail descended back down to the creek passing under some cliffs.
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20210531_063851The penstemon really liked the cliff area.

Looking up stream we could see the logjam waterfall which is the goal of Sullivan’s described hike in his 5th edition Central Oregon Cascades guidebook (hike #31).
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Near the two mile mark we arrived at a series of viewpoints of the falls atop rocks.
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There was a second smaller cascade a little further upstream.
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Sullivan suggests turning back here but just over a half mile away was the Whychus Creek Overlook. A 0.9 mile barrier free loop visits the overlook from the Whychus Creek Overlook Trailhead (see link above). We continued past the falls for approximately 0.2 miles to a signed trail junction.
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We turned left onto the Whychus Draw Trail which led briefly up a draw before turning more steeply uphill traversing an open hillside to the overlook.
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IMG_6887Mt. Hood sighting.

IMG_6889Mt. Jefferson and Black Butte

IMG_6892Chipmunk

IMG_6895White breasted nuthatch

IMG_6897Golden mantled ground squirrel

The Whychus Draw Trail connected to the south side of the Whychus Overlook Trail about a hundred feet from the actual overlook.
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IMG_6913Broken Top and the Three Sisters (bonus points for spotting the golden mantled ground squirrel)

IMG_6912Lewis flax at the overlook.

IMG_6915Buckwheat and penstemon

IMG_6918Whychus Creek below with the Three Sisters on the horizon.

IMG_6919Tam McArthur Rim (post) and Broken Top

IMG_6921South Sister

IMG_6922Middle and North Sister

IMG_6923Mt. Washington

IMG_6924Three Fingered Jack

IMG_6928Mt. Jefferson

IMG_6931Chickadee

After admiring the view from the overlook we hiked the loop. One side (north) is one-way traffic coming from the trailhead to the overlook so we followed the south half of the loop 0.4 to the trailhead then followed the north side 0.5 miles back to the overlook. Two benches along the north side offered additional views to the NNW.
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IMG_6947Interpretive sign along the trail.

IMG_6955Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, and Black Butte

From the overlook we returned to the car the way we’d come. It was a pleasant 5.9 mile hike with some great views and scenery, a perfect way to end the holiday weekend. Happy Trails!

Track for Whychus Creek and Overlook

Flickr: Whychus Creek Trail

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Oregon Trip report

Lost Corral Trail – Cottonwood Canyon State Park – 05/30/21

After a 14 mile three stop day on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend we had another 14ish mile day planned for Sunday but this time just a single stop at the J.S. Burres Trailhead at Cottonwood Canyon State Park.
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This was our second visit to the park having previously hiked the Hard Stone and Pinnacles Trails in 2017. The John Day River acts as the boundary between Sherman and Gilliam Counties and those trails are located on the north (Sherman Co.) side of the river. The J.S. Burris State Wayside is on the south side of the river which puts it in Gilliam County. This makes it one of the only hikes that I could find in Gilliam County and Gilliam County was one of the two remaining counties in Oregon in which we had yet to hike. (The other is Umatilla which has plenty of trails, we just haven’t gotten around to them yet.)

The main attraction at the wayside is the boat ramp but it also serves as the trailhead for the Lost Corral Trail.
IMG_6771Afternoon photo of the start of the trail.

It was already 68 degrees, according to the car anyway, when we arrived shortly before 7:30am which meant it was going to be a hot hike. We had planned for high temperatures and were each carrying extra water. The Lost Corral Trail follows an old roadbed for 4.3 miles to the start of the 0.9 mile Esau Loop Trail. There is also an option to tack on a 4.3 mile off trail loop that would take us up into the hills above the river. It was an ambitious plan given the expected temperatures but we set off determined to give it a go. Shortly after setting out, and stopping to watch a couple of rabbits, I asked Heather if she remembered if I locked the car. She didn’t and neither did I so I double timed it a quarter mile back to the trailhead to make sure it was locked then rejoined Heather up the trail.
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IMG_6465This section was so nice I did it twice.

We both felt the Lost Corral Trail had better views of the John Day than the other trails had offered.
IMG_6470Cottonwood Canyon State Park main area across the river.

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There were less wildflowers despite being the same time of year but that was likely due to the drought conditions that are plaguing the West this year.
IMG_6473One of the exceptions was mock orange which was blooming profusely along the trail.

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IMG_6476Dalmation toadflax and yarrow.

IMG_6481Beetle on what might be hairy golden aster

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IMG_6497A lupine

This would be a day of missed opportunities where the wildlife was concerned and it started about a mile into the hike when a pheasant waited until we had unknowingly passed him before he flew off never to be seen again. Later as we approached the second bench along the trail (near the 3 mile mark) I spotted the brown back side and tail, of what I believe was an otter, dive into the water and disappear. On our way back a family of Chukars startled us and scattered before I could turn on the camera and finally a snake (not a rattler, possibly a yellow bellied racer) slithered through the vegetation not quite allowing for a clear picture, but I digress.

Back to the hike, just after the pheasant encounter, the trail crossed a wide sandy flat where tracks revealed the presence of a number of critters.
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IMG_6516More mock orange along the trail.

20210530_082907Close up of the mock orange.

IMG_6522Butterfly on western clematis

IMG_6530This red winged blackbird cooperated for a photo op.

20210530_083630Salsify

IMG_6533Wild roses

There had been a large number of cliff swallow nests along the Pinnacles Trail but we only saw a few on this side of the river.
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There might not have been a lot of swallows but there were plenty of butterflies.
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IMG_6751We saw this viceroy on the way back to the car.

There were also a large number of birds but most could only be heard and not seen as they stuck to the thick vegetation along the river.
IMG_6545Magpie dive bombing a hawk.

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IMG_6565Coming up on the second bench.

IMG_6577The otter or whatever it was was right in this area.

We sat at the bench and rested hoping to get another glimpse of the animal but it never rematerialized. We did however spot some big fish in the water below.
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After resigning ourselves to the fact that the otter was not going to make another appearance we continued on.
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IMG_6590Cedar waxwings

IMG_6603The Pinnacles

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IMG_6617Ducks

We turned left when we reached a sign for the Esau Loop Trail.
IMG_6619Esau Loop Trail sign.

IMG_6620Looking back at The Pinnacles from the Esau Loop Trail.

This was a much rougher trail that passed through the sagebrush along the river before looping back over a low rise.
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IMG_6629Unknown flower

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IMG_6636Sagebrush mariposa lilies

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Before completing the this loop we came to a signboard at a roadbed.
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Our planned off trail loop began here. The roadbed that the Lost Corral Trail followed turned up Esau Canyon after passing a rocky ridge end. The Oregon Hikers Field Guide entry described “rounding the corner of the low cliff” then scrambling up to the ridge top to a fence line and following that up the ridge crest. Having turned left on the Esau Loop Trail we were approaching from the opposite direction but it gave us a clear view of the cliffs that we needed to get around in order to scramble up the ridge.
IMG_6640The more open looking hillside to the right of the cliffs was deceptively steep so we followed the road to the left until the the terrain appeared more hospitable.

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IMG_6643We set off from the roadbed here.

The hillside was steep so there was a lot of switch backing and pausing along the way.
IMG_6644Have these gone to seed or blossoms?

IMG_6650Possibly a hawksbeard

20210530_102726Sagebrush mariposa lily

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IMG_6658Found the fence line.

Cattle trails followed the fence line uphill which gave us something to follow although they tended to just go straight uphill.
IMG_6660I took this photo at 10:35, it looks like I’m close to the top.

This one was taken ten minutes later.
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Twenty more minutes later and the high point was in sight.
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IMG_6664These two lizards beat us to the top.

The climb gained approximately 900′ in a little over 3/4 of a mile. From the high point we could see the top of Mt. Adams beyond the John Day River Canyon.
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IMG_6682The very top of Mt. Rainier was also visible (barely)

We followed the ridge south picking up a faint jeep track and gaining better views of Mt. Adams.
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IMG_6690View SE

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The jeep track dropped to the left of the crest and after a little over a half mile it turned sharply downhill into Esau Canyon.
IMG_6698Descending into Esau Canyon on the jeep track.

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Lower on the hillside the track began to switchback passing through a fence(we had to crawl under) before arriving at a creek bed with a little running water.

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After using the steps to get over the fence we followed the road back down Esau Canyon to the Lost Corral Trail.
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IMG_6709Second climb over the fence.

IMG_6714Beetles on thistle.

IMG_6719Yarrow and lupine

IMG_6723Western meadowlark

IMG_6730The Lost Corral Trail where it passes the cliff at the ridge end.

From there we followed the Lost Corral Trail through the Lost Corral (which we had missed earlier due to turning onto the Esau Loop Trail) and returned to the trailhead.
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IMG_6769Cottonwood Canyon State Park in the afternoon.

My GPS read 14.3 miles but factoring my trip back to lock our car it was probably closer to 13.8 miles. On a cooler day that wouldn’t be so bad, even with the steep scramble up the ridge, but it was over 90 degrees by the time our hike was over and the heat had made it a tough hike. Carrying the extra water had been a good call as we were down to our hydro flasks by the end. Despite the challenge of the heat it had been an enjoyable hike with a good amount of wildlife sightings and no ticks or rattlesnakes were seen. Happy Trails!

Our route with the “highlighted” section showing the off-trail loop.

Flickr: Lost Corral Trail

Categories
Bend/Redmond Central Oregon Hiking Oregon Trip report

Whychus Canyon Preserve, Alder Springs, & Huntington Wagon Road – 05/29/21

For Memorial Day weekend this year we headed to Bend to visit Heather’s family and of course do some hiking. Having finally reached our goal of completing all 100 featured hikes in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Oregon Cascades” 4th edition last year (post) we kicked off this trip with a stop at a the Whychus Canyon Preserve, which was a new featured hike in his 5th edition.

The 930 acre preserve is owned and managed by the Deschutes Land Trust who have established over 7 miles of hiker only (dogs on leash) trails open to the public. The focus here is conservation so respecting the rules and Leaving No Trace is imperative (as it always should be) in order to keep the access open. We arrived at the trailhead a little after 7am on Saturday morning to find the parking area empty.
IMG_5809Kiosk and bench at the trailhead.

A map at the kiosk shows that there are a number of loops possible here and we decided to deviate slightly from the route described by Sullivan.
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From the kiosk we followed a pointer for the Rim & Creek Trails onto a dirt path.
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The trail led slightly downhill, through a red gate and after just 0.2 miles arrived a “T” shaped junction with the Rim Trail where Sullivan has you turn right. We opted for a slightly longer loop and turned left instead.
IMG_5815Tent caterpillars (and the red gate)

As we followed the Rim Trail west along the canyon we began to get some good mountain views.
IMG_5827Mt. Washington and Black Butte (post)

IMG_5837Broken Top, The Three Sisters, Black Crater (post), Little Belknap & Belknap Crater (post), and Mt. Washington.

After 0.4 miles the trail made a 180 degree turn dropping further into the canyon.
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IMG_5843Whychus Creek was hidden by trees for the most part.

While there weren’t a lot of wildflowers a number of different types were present.
IMG_5847Balsamroot

IMG_5850Lupine

IMG_5855Paintbrush

IMG_5870A Penstemon

IMG_5874Western stoneseed

IMG_5875Sedum leibergii -Leiberg’s Stonecrop

IMG_5848Spreading stickseed

IMG_5853Western wallflower

In addition to the various flowers we spotted some varied wildlife as well.
IMG_5844Magpie playing hard to get.

IMG_5864Spotted towhee

IMG_5895Black-headed grossbeak

IMG_5885Ochre ringlet

IMG_5898Pair of bucks in Whychus Creek

This is a good time to mention how much I appreciate the zoom on my Canon XS740HS. While I often look at other peoples photos and wish mine were as crisp/clear the compact size and low price (compared to even low end DSLR cameras) of the little point and shoot has worked well enough. Those two bucks are a good example as we spotted them from here.
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Approximately 0.6 miles from the big turn we arrived at a signed junction. Uphill led back to the trailhead (where we would have come down following Sullivan’s directions) while the Creek Trail headed downhill to the left.
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We turned downhill and switchbacked downhill for 0.2 miles to Whychus Creek.
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We followed along the creek on this trail for 1.5 miles, ignoring a steep trail to the right at the 0.8 mile mark. The sounds of the creek combined with the songs of birds made for a relaxing stroll through the canyon.
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20210529_081300Chokecherry

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IMG_5941Star-flower false solomonseal

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IMG_5950Trail junction at the 0.8 mile mark.

20210529_082320Spider on a wallflower.

IMG_5953Lewis flax

20210529_084000 Heuchera cylindrica -roundleaf allumroot

At the 1.5 mile mark the trail turned uphill away from the creek and made a turn back toward the trailhead.
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The trail climbed for 0.4 miles before leveling out near a rock outcrop where a side trail to the right led to a viewpoint.
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IMG_5969Oregon sunshine

IMG_5976Buckwheat and penstemon

IMG_5982Sign post for the viewpoint.

IMG_5983Heading for the rock outcrop/viewpoint.

IMG_5990Middle and North Sister with Whychus Creek below.

Two tenths of a mile beyond the viewpoint we passed the upper end of the cutoff trail coming up from the Creek Trail.
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We were now on the Meadow Trail which we followed for 1.5 miles (ignoring a signed trail to the left at the 0.5 mile mark). We were still spotting different flowers and wildlife on this stretch.
IMG_5998A monkeyflower

20210529_092023Sand lilies

IMG_6004Trail sign in the distance for spur trail to the Santiam Wagon Road.

IMG_6008Death camas

IMG_6011Sagebrush false dandelions

IMG_6021Pinion jay

IMG_6034Mountain bluebird pair

IMG_6041Mourning dove

IMG_6047unidentified little songbird.

IMG_6051Lizard

IMG_6058Second type of lizard

IMG_6060Showy townsendia

Just before reaching the trailhead the trail joined the Santiam Wagon Road at an interpretive sign.

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This wasn’t the first time we’d been on this historic 400 mile route between the Willamette Valley and Eastern Oregon (House Rock, Iron Mountain, Fish Lake, Sand Mountain , ) but it did mark the eastern most portion we’d been on.

We turned right on the Wagon Road for a few steps and were back at the trailhead where there was now a second car. We were surprised there weren’t more considering how nice a hike it had been. We logged just a little over 5 miles on our GPS and were now ready to head to our second stop of the day at the Alder Springs Trailhead.

Whychus Canyon Track

This was another chance to visit Whychus Creek but unlike Whychus Canyon we had done the hike at Alder Springs before (post). That hike had been almost 10 years prior having taken place on 8/3/2011. Two things stand out about that first visit. Most notably we only did the Alder Springs hike because our Plan A, Benson Lake/Scott Mountain Loop, was still under too much snow (also the mosquitos were horrendous). It has been quite some time since there has been that much snow that late in the year, yes climate change is real. Secondly it was a really nice hike but August probably wasn’t the best month for it. It’s been on my list of hikes to revisit at a different (better) time of the year. The road to the trailhead is seasonally closed (typically 12/1-3/31) so April or May seemed the best time to catch wildflowers and cooler temperatures.

Another difference between Whychus Canyon and Alder Springs is the access road. While the former is almost entirely paved with a short stretch of good gravel the latter is not far removed from a 4×4 jeep track. Rocks, washouts, and dried mud holes await for most of the final 4.7 miles to the rather larger parking area which we were surprised to find nearly full at 10:15am. At first we couldn’t figure out why there were so many cars SUVs and trucks here while it was just us and one other car at the preserve then it hit us, you can camp here. That realization came from overhearing a large group saying something about having to make two trips down and “the beer”.
IMG_6066Looking back up the dirt access road to the North Sister, Mt. Washington and Black Butte
IMG_6067The trailhead signboard.

This time we didn’t take the side trip down the 0.4 mile Old Bridge Trail but otherwise it was the same route as we had taken nearly 10 years before. The big difference was the number of wildflowers in bloom and the number of people we encountered, mostly on the way back to the car. The scenery was stunning and the ford at the 1.5 mile mark refreshing.
IMG_6070Buckwheat

20210529_103018Rough eyelashweed

IMG_6094Yarrow

IMG_6103Fiddleneck

20210529_104231Largeflower hawksbeard

IMG_6111Purple cushion fleabane

IMG_6114Oregon sunshine

20210529_104625Blue mountain prairie clover

20210529_104747Lewis flax

IMG_6122Lupine

IMG_6123Bearded hawksbeard

IMG_6134Haven’t id this one yet.

IMG_6118The Three Sisters, Belknap Crater and Mt. Washington with some dancing clouds.

IMG_6126Whychus Creek Canyon

IMG_6136Love the different rock formations in the canyon.

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IMG_6143Catchfly

IMG_6149Balsamroot

IMG_6160Paintbrush

IMG_6161Pretty sure this side creek was dry on our previous visit.

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IMG_6171Whychus Creek at the ford.

We’ll get into a little more of the history of Whychus Creek when we cover our Memorial Day hike but we noted that the water level seemed about the same as it had on our previous crossing and that the water was surprisingly warm given the source of the creek is the glaciers and snowfields of Broken Top and the Three Sisters. After a bit of thinking it dawned on us that higher up near Sisters water is diverted to irrigation ditches and other uses.

IMG_6176Alder Springs

IMG_6181Columbine

20210529_113821A clarkia, possibly Lassen

20210529_113835Threadleaf phacelia

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IMG_6217Unknown

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20210529_121450Creek dogwood and a beetle covered in pollen

20210529_125533Grand Colloma

20210529_124730Deadly nightshade

IMG_6305Rose with crab spider

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Veatch’s blazingstar

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IMG_6255Dragon fly

We took a break at the end of the trail along the Deschutes River before hiking back just as we had done on the previous visit.
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IMG_6300Confluence of the Deschutes (left) and Whychus Creek (right).

Butterflies and birds were out in force on the hike back.
IMG_6311Bald eagle

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IMG_6359Cedar hairstreak

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IMG_6369Turkey vulture

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IMG_6389Mountain chickadee

The hike here came in at 6.4 miles and 650′ of elevation gain giving us a little over 11.5 miles and 1120′ of climbing so far on the day.

Track for Alder Springs

We had one more quick stop planned for the day. Our first hike had been on Deschutes Land Trust land and the second in the Crooked River National Grassland managed by the Ochoco National Forest and our final stop at the Huntington Wagon Road was on BLM land. The hike here was of particular interest to me as the trailhead is only 2 miles from where I lived from 2nd grade until leaving home for college and yet I had no idea it was there. The BLM has created a 1.2 mile long interpretive trail along a section of a route that was built to haul supplies from The Dalles to build Fort Klamath.
IMG_6395Trailhead on McGrath Road.

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There is a lot to see along the trail as far as scenery goes. It’s mostly sagebrush and juniper with some lava formations mixed in. The history is what makes this hike interesting, and the dozens of lizards scurrying about.
IMG_6400A 300+ year old juniper named an Oregon Heritage Tree

IMG_6404Sagebrush, juniper and lava – my childhood 🙂

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IMG_6408Tree blaze

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IMG_6414Buckwheat

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IMG_6423Ruts along the wagon road.

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IMG_6427Skipper on Showy townsendia.

IMG_6433Post marking the relic fence line and turnaround point.

IMG_6434An old fence post and barbed wire.

IMG_6436Junipers are some interesting trees, they come in all shapes and sizes.

Track for the Huntington Wagon Road

In total we hiked 14 miles with 1150′ of elevation gain. We got to see two sections of Whychus Creek and Canyon as well as parts of two historic Wagon Roads. We ended the day by enjoying some homemade lasagna at Heather’s parents place. Not a bad way to start a holiday weekend. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Whychus Canyon Preserve, Alder Springs, and Huntington Wagon Road

Categories
Bend/Redmond Central Oregon Hiking Oregon Trip report

Wildcat Canyon (Maston Trail System) – 10/11/2020

A wet weather system arrived with the weekend dropping some much need rain over the wildfires in Oregon and depositing a decent amount of new snow on the Cascades. This was great news and one of the few times that we were more than happy that our original plan was forced to change due to weather. We were going to be in Bend to celebrate the 75th birthday of Heather’s Dad which provided us an opportunity to hike in the rain shadow of the Cascades before heading home Sunday morning. It was a nice celebration and a rare event for all our calendars to align and be together.

Having finished all 100 featured hikes (post) in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Oregon Cascades” (4th edition) we turned to his 5th edition of the book and decided to check out Wildcat Canyon (Hike #36). Wildcat Canyon is part of the Bureau of Land Management’s Maston Trail System, a 4,000 acre mixed use network of trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. It also happens to be located in my old stomping grounds near Tumalo, OR. The Maston Trailhead (see previous link) is less than 10 driving miles from the my parent’s old house between Bend and Redmond and just over 5 miles from my former elementary school. Way back then the Maston Trail System didn’t exist but I had spent time exploring the Deschutes River Canyon near that area, closer to Eagle Crest Resort, so I was excited to check the trail system out.

We were the second car at the Maston Trailhead that morning.
Sunrise at the Maston Trailhead

Maston TrailheadCline Buttes from the Maston Trailhead.

It was a crisp morning with a bit of frost on the ground, the kind of morning that reminded me of a high school job I had moving irrigation pipes at a nearby farm. We set off through the equestrian parking area and passed through an open fence by a trail map.
Equestrain trail at the Maston Trailhead

Maston Trailhead map

This was the Settlement Trail (an equestrian/hiker only trail), named for the settlers who had cleared the land and began constructing farms in the early 1900’s in preparation of the arrival of irrigation water. The water never came and by the 1930’s the farms had been abandoned.
Interpretive sign at the Maston TrailheadInterpretive sign at the Maston Trailhead telling the story of the settlers.

Old foundations along the Settlement TrailStone foundation of one of the abandoned buildings along the Settlement Trail.

We followed the Settlement Trail by staying right at junctions for the first 1.5 miles.
Settlement Trail

Settlement TrailTypical sign at a junction. Not all of the junctions had signs and not all of the signs identified which trail/junction it was so having a copy of the trail system map is a really good idea.

There were a lot of different birds about but most wouldn’t stay still long enough for a picture and those that did perched at the top of junipers distant enough to make identifying them even with a 30x zoom a bit difficult.
Songbird atop a juniperThis one may be a sparrow of some sort, it was signing quite a bit.

Bird atop a juniperPossibly another sparrow or a finch or something else.

Bluebird atop a treeMaybe a bluebird?

We took a wrong turn at a junction just over a half mile from the trailhead. We had been expecting to see the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead to our right which our guidebook indicated we should go down to, so when we spotted a signboard along a road less then a tenth of a mile to our right we headed for it. When we got to the little pullout at the road we double checked the map and realized that we had turned right too early so we turned around and returned to the junction. We turned right again and continued on the Settlement Trail another quarter of a mile to the actual Wildcat Canyon Trailhead.
Wildcat Canyon Parking from the Settlement TrailWildcat Canyon Trailhead off to the right.

We spotted the only non-bird wildlife of the day near this trailhead when a rabbit raced out of the sagebrush and paused briefly on the other side of a juniper.
Out of focus rabbit behind the juniperI managed to snap one photo and of course the camera focused on said juniper instead of the rabbit beyond.

We stayed straight at the trailhead on the Settlement Trail which was now almost directly next to the Rockbar Trail (a mountain bike trail). The Settlement Trail quickly arrived on the basalt cliffs above the Deschutes River Canyon.
Deschutes River and Wildcat CanyonWildcat Canyon on the right joining the Deschutes River Canyon

Deschutes RiverThe Deschutes River near where the canyons meet.

Deschutes RiverGrizzly Mountain in the distance beyond the Deschutes River.

The trail turned north along the canyon rim which we followed for half a mile, switching to the Rockbar Trail when the equestrian trail crossed over it.
Deschutes RiverAnother of several viewpoints along the rim.

Deschutes RiverSome Fall color along the Deschutes River.

Rock doveRock dove

Deschutes River CanyonA viewpoint along the Rockbar Trail.

Deschutes River

Deschutes RiverLooking south up the river canyon.

Deschutes RiverA calm pool along the Deschutes.

Stellar's jayI could see this one, a Stellar’s jay.

Shortly after the Rockbar Trail turned away from the canyon it crossed a private road.
Rockbar TrailComing up to the road.

We followed Sullivan’s instructions and jogged left 100′ picking up the equestrian trail again.
An equestrian continuing on the far side of Necomb Road

We turned uphill on the equestrian trail to a junction with the Headgate Trail, another mountain bike trail, in just 100 yards.
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We turned left following this single track through the juniper and sagebrush for approximately 2 miles ignoring side trails along the way.
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Headgate TrailThis was Junction 2 (one of the junctions with an identifying sign). We stayed right on the Headgate Trail here.

At a slightly higher elevation than the Settlement Trail the Headgate Trail would have provided a fairly nice view of the Cascades but on this day they were mostly shrouded in clouds although we could see fresh snow on Tam McArthur Rim (post) and on the lowest portion of the South and North Sisters.
View from the Headgate TrailTam McArthur Rim is left center with South Sister in the center and North Sister to the right center.

We turned down what we believe on the map to be the Maston Tie Trail (it was unmarked) and followed it for a quarter of mile back to the beginning of the Settlement Trail at the Maston Trailhead.
Maston Tie TrailHeather and Dominique on the Maston Trail.

Maston Tie Trail comging back to the Maston TrailheadComing up on the Settlement Trail.

This wound up being a nice loop, just under 5 miles, with minimal elevation gain (200′ or so). The network of trails provides options for both shorter and longer loops too with multiple starting points available. We hope to come back again in the Spring some year to check out more of the area and see what it looks like during a different season. Until then this was a great introduction to the area. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Wildcat Canyon

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Lakeview Oregon Trip report

Lake Abert and Summer Lake – 07/24/2020

Our time in Lakeview had come to an end and we were ready to head home after a week of hot, challenging, but enjoyable hiking. Before we went home though we had planned two more stops on the way. The second stop was to do the final featured hike in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Easter Oregon” 3rd edition in the Klamath Falls section. That hike was at the Summer Lake Wildlife Area but before that hike we had originally planned to hike to the top of Abert Rim.

The Abert Rim hike had been a featured hike in the 2nd edition of Sullivan’s book but was now relegated to an “additional” hike. The hike to Abert Rim entails a 1.6 mile, 2100′ elevation gain climb entirely off-trail. By this point of our trip we just weren’t up for another off-trail adventure let alone one that gained 2100′ in 1.6 miles. We decided that instead of climbing Abert Rim we would park at the wildlife viewing area where the hike would begin and walk down to Abert Lake. We parked at a signed pullout between mile posts 84 & 85 of Highway 395.
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After reading the interpretive signs at the pullout we headed down a steep trail (we missed the dirt road that led down at a much gentler grade).
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Once we were down the steep little hill we found the dirt road and followed it right along the lake watching the birds and the sunrise.
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IMG_2114Gulls and avocets

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We walked down the shore until we reached a brushy area which was likely Juniper Creek. From here we had a good look across the highway at Juniper Gulch which would have been where we bushwacked up to the rim.
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To get back to our car we followed the dirt road up from the lakeshore.
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We wound up doing a short .7 mile loop which was perfect. From there we drove back south on Hwy 395 to Hwy 31 and turned right (NW). We turned into the wildlife area headquarters (near milepost 70) and followed a pointer fot a “Wildlife Viewing Loop”. After 1.6 miles at a junction we turned right and followed this road to its end at the Windbreak Campground (a $10 parking permit is required, we purchased ours online prior to our trip).
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When planning the trip we had been worried about mosquitoes but for the most part they had been a non-issue. They were a bit of a nuisance along South Fork Crooked Creek (post) and behind Barnhardi Cabin (post) but that had been it. I had received one bite (I think) while Heather had not been quite as lucky, her shoulders were pretty bumpy with just a few on the legs. Our luck ran out at Summer Lake with it’s marshes and ponds it was the prefect recipe for the little buggers. Deet was applied quickly but not before Heather had a 20+ new bites.

Despite that the hike here was nice, it was flat following dikes for 2.3 miles which meant no elevation gain. Birds were almost as plentiful as mosquitoes but boy are they skittish. Most of the ducks flew off before we really got a chance to focus on them. The white faced ibis were more photogenic and we got to see another sandhill crane. We also spotted a coyote and two pups crossing the dike.
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IMG_2172A white faced ibis and some ducks.

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IMG_2220Look more ducks!

IMG_2226White faced ibis coming in for a landing.

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IMG_2272Looking out over Summer Lake

IMG_2294White faced ibis

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IMG_2312Black-neck stilt

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IMG_2319Great blue heron in flight.

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After 2 miles the dike made a hard right and .3 miles later (at a tractor) we reached private land and turned back.
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The dike also provided a good view of Winter Ridge where we had started our Lakeview area hikes (post).
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We double timed it back to the car in an attempt to keep the bugs at bay. We could have done without those pests but c’est la vie. It had been a fun week but our feet were done and by the time we had gotten back to the car we were even happier with our decision to save Abert Rim for another time. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Lake Abert and Summer Lake

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Lakeview Oregon Trip report

Gearhart Mountain – 07/23/2020

Thursday marked our sixth straight day of hiking and promised to be one of the longer, if not longest hikes of our trip. The weather had cooperated and after a couple of afternoons with possible thunderstorms the forecast for Gearhart Mountain was for mostly sunny skies. We were hoping to reach the 8370′ summit of the mountain which is located in the Gearhart Mountain Wilderness, one of 6 Oregon wilderness areas we had yet to visit (we are trying to visit all 46 of the wilderness areas in Oregon open to people post).

This visit would also check off another of William L. Sullivan’s featured hikes (we are trying to hike all of those as well post). The hike begins at the Lookout Rock Trailhead. Sullivan’s entry for this hike described the final half mile of the road to the trailhead as rough and steep. The Forest Service website linked above shows the trailhead before that final half mile of road listing it as closed. I had learned my lesson regarding trailhead roads the day before (post) so we parked at a pullout after about a mile on FR 012.
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We set off up the road which aside from one short stretch with a pretty good runoff channel looked to be in pretty good shape and there was nothing to indicate that the road was actually closed (it continues beyond a gate at the trailhead to the Lookout Rock fire tower).
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IMG_1642The gate on the right through the trees.

In hindsight the drive to this trailhead would have been much easier than the .5 miles to the DeGarmo Canyon Trailhead. Regardless we reached the start of the actual trail, filled out a wilderness questionnaire, and set off on the Gearhart Mountain Trail.
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I was momentarily disappointed when we passed a post that looked like it used to sport a wilderness sign (I like to get photos of signs for each wilderness we enter) but a little further up the trail my spirits were lifted when we spotted one of the signs.
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After .7 miles we came to The Palisades, a group of andesite formations of different shapes and sizes.
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It took us quite a while to get through this section of the trail. I’m not sure what we had expected but The Palisades really blew us away and we could have spent quite a bit more time exploring the area. Beyond The Palisades the trail lost a bit of elevation as it began a forested stretch.
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Approximately 2 miles in on the trail we came to a spring in a small meadow.
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We began to see a few more flowers beyond the spring as the trail gradually climbed for .4 miles to a switchback that was not shown on our GPS maps.
IMG_1724Mountain coyote mint and paintbrush along the trail.

IMG_1734Starting the switchback.

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IMG_1744Scarlet gilia

The switchback brought us beneath another interesting rock formation.
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As we walked below the rocks we came to a small stream that was home to some other types of flowers and flowed past a good sized meadow.
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IMG_1763Monkshood and California corn lily

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20200723_075220Orange agoseris

IMG_1772More rocks above the trail.

The trail continued to climb beyond the meadow along more open hillsides where pink mountain coyote mint and white Nuttall’s linanthus were abundant. Other flowers included paintbrush and a few balsamroot blossoms.
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After 4.5 miles we arrived at a saddle where we faced a choice.
IMG_1800Just about to the saddle.

To reach the summit of Gearhart Mountain we would need to strike out cross-country to the east for approximately 1.5 miles. The trail headed NE from the saddle dropping down to a series of meadow before climbing steeply to “The Notch” below the summit and continuing to Blue Lake in 4 miles and it’s end at FR 015 in 6.8. We were hoping to reach the summit and then would decide if we felt up to continuing to the meadows and The Notch. Sullivan’s description of the hike to the summit mentions a “scramble to the left 0.2 mile to the mountain’s long Ridgecrest”. He also says to “look for a break in the cliffs”. From the saddle it was easy to see the cliffs he was referring to.
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IMG_1806Gearhart Mountain from the saddle.

IMG_1807Gearhart Mountain, The Notch to the right, and meadows below.

IMG_1813Penstemon in the rocks at the saddle.

We took a brief break and studied the cliffs before setting off through the white bark pines to find a break in the cliffs.
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We found a reasonable break where the manzanita was our biggest obstacle and climbed up through the rocks.
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Above the rocks the terrain leveled out a bit.
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We made a slight miscalculation here as we veered uphill thinking that we had gotten past the cliffs and were on the long Ridgecrest portion of the mountain.
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IMG_1821A fire pit also made us think we were on the right course.

We were following a ridge but the ridge kept getting narrower and rockier and after .4 miles (from where we had come up through the cliffs) we found ourselves on top of more cliffs. Luckily we only had to backtrack 150′ to find a spot where we were able to scramble down the east side of the rocks to a much easier walk through open forest.
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We began to notice a snowy mountain to the east which after some debate we determined to be Mt. McLoughlin (post).
IMG_1822You can’t make the mountain out in the picture but it was out there.

IMG_1824Now you can sort of see it.

IMG_1823A little blurry but there is Mt. McLoughlin

We startled a few grouse along the way (and they startled us right back) and our presence seemed to also be annoying a pair of raptors. They were noisily circling overhead and we assumed that they must have had a nest somewhere on the cliffs.
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We did our best to stay as far away from the rocks as possible to lessen the disturbance.

The last couple hundred feet to the summit was very easy walking on a the fairly flat top of the mountain.
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IMG_1846The final little uphill on the left.

IMG_1850Summit of Gearhart Mountain

IMG_1853Survey marker

IMG_1869Summit register

It was a nice day with blue skies overhead but smoke from fires in California and some remaining clouds and haze along the skyline limited the views of the surrounding area. On a clearer day we would have had a good view of Mt. Shatsa and been able to see all the way to Mt. Jefferson to the NW. As it was with the help of binoculars we could just make out some snowy features on the horizon but other than Mt. McLoughlin we couldn’t be sure which of the Cascade peaks we were seeing.
IMG_1854The Notch is below to the right hidden by the cliffs.

IMG_1865West toward Mt. McLoughlin which is still hard to make out.

IMG_1876If you squint really hard you can make out a couple of snowy peaks on the horizon.

IMG_1879NNE view.

IMG_1882South back along the ridge.

IMG_1885East down to the meadows below and a second survey marker.

After our summit break we headed back. This time we stayed below the rocky Ridgecrest remaining in the easier to navigate trees.
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The key with this was not swinging out too wide and getting too far below where we had come up from the saddle. Numerous GPS checks kept us from getting to far astray and led us back to the spot where we had come up between the cliffs.
IMG_1895Getting ready to drop down toward the saddle.

IMG_1897Heading down

At the summit we had debated on whether or not to go to the meadows and on to The Notch. Heather was concerned about mosquitoes around the meadows and from the summit it didn’t appear that there was much in the way of flowers down there. Going all the way to the Notch would have added almost 2.5 miles to the days hike which was already going to be around 13 miles if we went straight back to the trailhead. By the time we reached the saddle though we decided to at least check out the meadows, Heather could stop and turn around if the bugs got bad and we didn’t know when we might find ourselves back here. It also helped that the trail shown on the GPS unit didn’t appear to lose much elevation remaining at the 7900′ elevation except for a slight dip to 7800′ near The Notch. We had talked ourselves into it and down the trail we went.
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We quickly discovered that this was one of those cases where the actual trail was not really anywhere near where it was shown on the map and we had fairly quickly lost almost 200′. It appeared that perhaps most people stop at the saddle as there was noticeably more blowdown along this portion of the trail and it was faint at some points even when it wasn’t passing through the edge of a meadow.
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The good news was that it wasn’t long before we encountered the first strip of lush green along the trail and there were in fact a good number of wildflowers (and not many mosquitoes).
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IMG_1924Paintbrush, monkshood, lupine and California corn lily

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20200723_113954The remnants of a shooting star.

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IMG_1934Gearhart Mountain from the trail below.

We were pleased to find that even near the largest meadow where water was visible we didn’t have much of an issue with mosquitoes.
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IMG_1945Bistort

IMG_1947Mountain heather next to the stream.

IMG_1948The last of an elephant’s head.

IMG_1950Bog orchids

IMG_1956California corn lilies below Gearhart Mountain.

We followed the trail to the end of the big meadow which was near the start of the climb to The Notch and sat on some rock beneath Gearhart Mountain.
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We decided that this would be as far as we would go. We didn’t see the point in climbing 200′ in the next tenth or two miles for a view that was simply lower than the one that we’d had at the summit. We had a snack and located a small patch of lingering snow beneath the cliffs before heading back.
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The hike back up to the saddle wasn’t as bad as we’d feared and soon we were heading down the other side. Going in this direction we got a better look at The Dome, another rock feature roughly 1.75 miles from the saddle.
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The Dome from the trail.

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We spent more time admiring the Palisades on the way back and met a couple of sagebrush lizards in the process.
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Despite a couple of tents set up along the road to the trailhead we saw no one all day on the trail. My Garmin put the hike at 15.7 miles. (Heather had less on hers but she also didn’t wander around like a fool while off trail like someone else may have.) It was a good hike to cap off our stay in Lakeview although we were planning on a couple of stops on the way home the next day so it wasn’t the last hike of our vacation. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Gearhart Mountain

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Lakeview Oregon Trip report

Petroglyph Lake, Warner Valley Overlook, and DeGarmo Canyon – 07/22/2020

We took our second outing to the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in three short hikes. The temperatures were still expected to be high and Wednesday also provided the best chance for afternoon thunderstorms so we wanted to be done early for the day.

Our first hike for the day was Petroglyph Lake. As I mentioned in our previous post the Petroglyph Lake Road was closed so we had to decide how we wanted to get there. The easiest choice would have been to walk the closed road for 1.6 miles to visit the lake but Sullivan described a 5 mile off trail loop that not only visited the lake but also a viewpoint along Poker Jim Ridge. We picked the loop and parked along Hart Mountain Road near the signed Hill Top Reservoir Road.
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Looking across Hart Mountain Road we could see the small juniper covered knoll along Poker Jim Ridge that we were going to be aiming for.
IMG_1258The knoll is the lower rise to the left.

There was a lone pronghorn grazing in the morning light.
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We set off across through the sagebrush angling for the rim.
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IMG_1268From left to right: Flagstaff Lake, Upper Campbell Lake, and Campbell Lake.

IMG_1271Hart Mountain Road climbing up to the plateau.

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IMG_1273Campbell Lake

We followed the rim north toward the knoll.
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IMG_1282An Orobanche

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Petroglyph Lake was not visible at first but it lay to the east and we could make out the basin that it was in.
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As we gained elevation the further north that we got we finally could see the lake in the basin.
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We arrived at the knoll a little over 2 miles from where we’d parked.
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IMG_1301White pelicans and seagulls on Campbell Lake.

IMG_1305Looking south along Poker Jim Ridge

IMG_1307Looking north along Poker Jim Ridge

IMG_1308Junipers on the knoll

We made our way to the north end of the knoll to get a better view in that direction.
IMG_1312Bluejoint Lake below the ridge.

IMG_1313Stone Corral Lake

To reach Petroglyph Lake we had to backtrack to the south on the knoll to avoid a rocky descent.
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When we found a suitable spot to descend we could see the lake clearly but we knew that we would lose sight of it again once we were down off the knoll so we picked out some other features to use as reference points. When we were able to see the lake again we aimed for the left side knowing that a rock ledge rimmed its right side.
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IMG_1345Pronghorn above the lake.

As we neared the lake we got below the rim rock and turned right to explore along it as this is where the petroglyphs are.
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It was approximately a half mile to Petroglyph Lake Road at the far end of the lake and most of that distance was along the cliffs looking at the petroglyphs.
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IMG_1390Dragon fly

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IMG_1410Yellow bellied marmot

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When the cliffs began to fade we followed a clear path along the lake to the road where we encountered the first other hikers since the previous Saturday (we’d been passed by a single mountain biker the day before).
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After a brief (6 foot) conversation with them we were ready to continue on but we faced a choice. Sullivan’s loop would have had us setting of cross country for 1.5 miles back to the hill top where our car was parked. We could also walk Petroglyph Lake Road to Hart Mountain Road and then walk up that road back to the car. This second option doubled the mileage but it also took us to within a mile of the refuge headquarters where we’d seen the bulk of the pronghorn the day before and it was road walking and not bushwhacking which we were both about done with for a while. The road it was.
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The road walk was fine, there were several flowers, a plethora of butterflies, and we did see a few more pronghorn, albeit at a distance.
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IMG_1433Some type of primrose I think.

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IMG_1460There were dozens of butterflies and other pollinators on this rabbitbrush.

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IMG_1483The gate at Petroglyph Lake Road

IMG_1485Hart Mountain Road

IMG_1489The juniper knoll along Poker Jim Ridge and yes there are a few pronghorn out there.

IMG_1498Pronghorn keeping their distance from us.

After making it back to our car we drove just under 2 miles back down Hart Mountain Road to a small pullout with a Warner Mountain Overlook sign and a short (.4 mile) loop trail. We weren’t aware of this little interpretive loop until we drove past it the day before but it looked interesting so we added it to this days itinerary.
IMG_1505Sign for the overlook.

IMG_1506View from the pullout back up toward Hart Mountain.

IMG_1509The start of the loop trail.

Since we had already been up to the juniper knoll which looked this same direction the views from the overlook were not much different from those, but the half dozen interpretive signs along the route were interesting and worth the quick stop.
IMG_1511We like interpretive signs like this where we can see with our own eyes what is being described.

IMG_1518This one helped with identifying the different lakes plus provided the history.

IMG_1524Another of our favorites are the ones that identify the various hills and peaks.

IMG_1527We worked really hard on spotting some big horn sheep on this trip to no avail. There was so much space that they could be in it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

After completing the loop we continued our drive back toward Lakeview on Hart Mountain Road. We turned off once more at a small pointer for DeGarmo Canyon (4.5 miles after pavement resumed in this direction or 9.4 miles from Plush). Sullivan described the half mile dirt road as very rough and requiring a high clearance vehicle, otherwise he suggested parking along Hart Mountain Road and walking to the trailhead. Typically we heed these warning from him but for some reason I decided to test the road with our Outback. It wasn’t pretty but we did make it to the parking area and I vowed not to make that mistake again.
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Sullivan lists three possible hikes with with some additional optional side trips. He has a 1.4 mile out and back to a 35′ waterfall, a 2.6 mile loop, and a 9.4 mile hike to DeGarmo Notch. If you make it to DeGarmo Notch it’s only 2 more miles (4 round trip) to Warner Peak. When our vacation started my plan had been the 9.4 mile hike with the optional trek up Warner Peak. As the week progressed we wound up hiking to Warner Peak the day before from Barnhardi Basin (post) so we didn’t need to do that anymore. We had toyed with the idea of still hiking up to DeGarmo Notch but we had seen that feature the day before as well and we were hot, tired, and a little sick of bushwacking which the 9.4 mile hike had some more of. That left us with the 1.4 mile out and back or 2.6 mile loop, both of which visited the waterfall.

Before we decided which option we would be doing we needed to get across DeGarmo Creek. Sullivan had warned of a dangerous crossing just above a 10′ waterfall and recommended following a rock ledge 50′ upstream to an easier crossing. Given the time of year the creek wasn’t flowing very strongly and vegetation was crowding the rock ledge so we opted to cross above the 10′ waterfall despite the warning.
IMG_1533It’s not visible in this photo but there were dry rocks close enough on the far side to simply step over the water onto. The wet rock would have been very slippery and certainly dangerous.

We followed a path upstream and found the location of Sullivan’s recommended crossing.
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A steep trail led up around the vegetation along the creek into a wider canyon that had some very interesting rock formations. It was also extremely warm as it was directly in the sun and there was no breeze.
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We had our eyes out for snakes but only saw a couple of lizards.
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The 35′ waterfall was just .7 miles up the canyon and it came into view well before we arrived at it.
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The temperature at the falls was much more pleasant and was a popular spot with the local butterflies.
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We took a relaxing break at the falls surrounded by the butterflies. When it was time to continue our hike we both agreed that neither one of us was up for what it would take to do any of the options other than the 1.4 mile out and back. In order to do any of the longer hikes, even the 2.6 mile loop, we would have needed to follow a steep scramble route 200′ before the falls up around some cliffs. We had both spied the route on our way to the falls and both thought “not today”.
IMG_1619The scramble route is at the base of the cliff to the right.

IMG_1620Looking up from the trail at where the scramble route was heading.

We were happy with our choice and ready to get out of the heat so we retraced our steps back to the 10′ water fall.
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The smaller waterfall had been invaded by butterflies too.
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After carefully driving the wretched half mile to Hart Mountain Road we headed back to Lakeview to treat ourselves to burgers and milkshakes from the Burger Queen drive thru. It was our shortest day so far of the vaction at 8.7 miles (6.8 at Petroglyph Lake, 0.4 at the overlook, and 1.5 at DeGarmo Canyon) but that was plenty. Thursday’s hike had the potential of being the longest of our trip as we were set to visit one of the six remaining wilderness areas in Oregon that we had yet to hike in, the Gearhart Mountain Wilderness. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Petroglyph Lake, Warner Valley Overlook, and DeGarmo Canyon

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Lakeview Oregon Trip report

Flook Lake and Hart Mountain Hot Springs – 07/21/2020

Tuesday marked the start of a short stretch of possible showers and thunder storms but not until Tuesday night so we had decided the night before to start the day at Flook Lake in the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. Originally we had planned on doing hikes at Flook Lake, Petroglyph Lake, and Hart Mountain Hot Springs all in the same day, but that plan had changed. We wanted to do Flook Lake before any possible showers because Flook Lake road can become dangerously muddy when wet. We had also moved a side trip to Warner Peak, the high point in the refuge, to our Hart Mountain Hot Springs stop instead of tacking it onto our DeGarmo Canyon hike. The reason for that move was to avoid being exposed at an elevation over 7000′ if a thunder storm rolled in which looked possible both Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Finally we believed that the road to Petroglyph Lake had been closed adding at least 3 miles to that hike which would have been a little too much distance for one day. If that road turned out to be open we were still planning on doing it along with Flook Lake and the hot springs, but if it was indeed closed we planned on doing it first thing Wednesday morning before DeGarmo Canyon.

We left Lakeview at 5am and headed northeast to Plush stopping along county road 3-13 to admire the sunrise.
IMG_0804Hart Mountain in the morning.

After passing through plush we continued on county road 3-12 (Hart Mountain Road) climbing past the rim of Hart Mountain where we spotted our first pronghorn.
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We continued on past Petroglyph Lake Road which was, as we suspected, closed to cars.
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A mile past Petroglyph Lake Road (24 miles from Plush) we came to the refuge headquarters which was closed to visitors due to COVID-19. There were numerous pronghorn antelope near the headquarters.
IMG_0822Just a few of the many pronghorn.

At the far end of the headquarters we veered left following pointers for Frenchglen for 6.7 miles to Flook Lake Road. We turned right onto this rocky dirt track for 1.8 miles (the final 6 on Flook Lake’s former lake bed, now an alkali flat) parking next to a dry reservoir.
IMG_0825Flook Lake Road continuing on with Beatys Butte in the distance.

IMG_0824The reservoir

IMG_0828Steens Mountain on the horizon to the east through smoky skies.

It was going to be another 90 degree day and even with our early start it was already warm as we set off toward a canyon SW of where we had parked. We expected to have to walk cross country for nearly a mile to reach the mouth of the canyon but well worn tire tracks allowed for a little easier walking. (I’m not sure if the road was official or the result of illegal off-road driving which would be very disappointing.)
IMG_0829The canyon we were aiming for from near our car.

IMG_0830Zoomed in a bit.

The track we were following eventually faded out along an outwash channel.
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After a short stint walking through sagebrush we picked up another track that went right past a closed to motor vehicles sign.
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This track didn’t appear to enter the canyon though and it was cross country through the canyon which was busy with wildlife.
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IMG_0843Rabbit #1

IMG_0851Rabbit #2

IMG_0855Rabbit #3

IMG_0857A lone juniper in the canyon.

IMG_0860Rabbit #4

Near the end of this half mile canyon there are some Petroglyphs which are currently being guarded by a yellow bellied marmot.
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After looking at (and NOT TOUCHING) the petroglyphs we continued to the canyon’s end at Antelope Spring.
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IMG_0892Horned lark near the spring.

We returned the way we’d come commenting on how far way our car still looked from the mouth of the canyon.
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IMG_0906Rabbit #5, this one was a jack rabbit.

After returning to our car we drove back through the refuge headquarters staying straight following pointers for the hot springs. Keeping right for 4.5 miles brought us to a parking area next to the hot springs.
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We saved the soak in the 102 degree hot spring for after our hike and set off from the parking lot along a gated road toward the Hot Springs Campground.
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This road passed another hot spring before arriving at Barnhardi Road in half a mile near the campground.
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IMG_0927Hawk hanging out near the hot springs.

IMG_0930Butterfly on dusty maiden.

IMG_0942Barnhardi Road

IMG_0943Campground across Rock Creek.

We turned right on Barnhardi Road for .3 miles to a gate.
IMG_0944Becker’s white

IMG_0947Paintbrush

IMG_0950Sagebrush mariposa lily

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We walked past the gate continuing on the road for almost two miles ignoring a road on the right at the 1 mile mark atop a crest.
IMG_0957Hawk overhead

IMG_0973Balsamroot in the sagebrush.

IMG_0983Wild roses in a quaking aspen stand.

IMG_0985Biggest bumble bee either of us had ever seen.

IMG_0997Coming up on the crest at the 1 mile mark.

IMG_0998_stitchView after the crest heading down to Barnhardi Basin.

IMG_1010Sheep moth

Almost two miles from the gate we arrived at a post marking a trail to the collapsing Barnhardi Cabin.
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We followed the faint path through a wet meadow filled with mosquitoes to the cabin.
IMG_1016Lewis flax blooming in the meadow.

IMG_1020Barnhardi Cabin

Our plan was to hike up to Warner Peak from the cabin following a route described by Sullivan. Our first misstep was not going back a bit from the cabin and getting well away from the marshy area behind the cabin. Instead we simply angled away from the cabin. This led us through the marshy area where there were some nice flowers but also a ton of mosquitoes.
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We took a hard right following game trails through the wet area and out a grassy area where a faint path was visible.
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Sullivan’s directions were to follow a little creek up through aspen groves to DeGarmo Notch but after fighting through the vegetation and mosquitoes along the creek behind the cabin we decided to try and skirt the aspen groves in the sagebrush. Growing up in the Bend/Redmond area I was used to walking through sagebrush but here the sagebrush was much taller and thicker than I was used to.
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20200721_101324Another sheep moth

It was tough going but we were making progress and came to a spring with yellow monkeyflowers. Near the spring we both thought we heard a rattle although neither of us saw a snake or were 100% sure that it was really what we’d heard.
IMG_1035The spring.

IMG_1038White triteleia

We headed away form the spring loudly just in case there were snakes about and decided to cross the creek in a gap between aspen groves. Sullivan’s map showed the route crossing to the other side at some point and we felt this was as good a time as any.
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The next obstacle was a rocky knoll to the left of the creek and more aspen. We veered between a bit of a gap in the aspen and sidehilled around the knoll.
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IMG_1045Barnhardi Basin from the side of the knoll.

IMG_1046View across the creek.

IMG_1047The knoll was steeper and brushier than it had appeared from below but we managed to make it around.

IMG_1056Hawk flying around above us.

From the other side of the knoll we got a good look at the next leg of our uphill bushwhack.
IMG_1059High Point is the peak ahead.

We were being watched from the hillside above as we tried to figure out are next move.
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Looking at the map in the guidebook and checking the elevation on our GPS units showed that we were actually above DeGarmo Notch which was shown on the map with an elevation of 6970′ and we were around 7150′ which was fine with us because we would have had to climb up eventually. To get to the notch as shown on the map we would have needed to continue to follow the aspen to their end. From where we were we could see the spot and it would have added needless distance and climbing.
IMG_1198DeGarmo Notch

We were now heading south west toward High Point as we traversed across the hillside above Barnhardi Basin.
IMG_1080Paintbrush

IMG_1084We had to drop under this.

IMG_1088Warner Peak is straight ahead with a tower on top beyond the line of trees in the distance.

IMG_1090Barnhardi Basin getting further away.

IMG_1092Looking back toward DeGarmo Notch.

When we could see beyond High Point we could see that the terrain did some up and down on it’s way to Warner Peak. Our plan was to climb as gradually as possible to avoid having to lose elevation and make it back up later.
IMG_1095We first aimed for the the small rock outcrop beyond High Point then bent to the right to pass the larger rock outcrop before climbing up to the trees in the distance.

IMG_1101Passing another canyon coming up from the west.

IMG_1106Made it past the first outcrop and heading for the right side of the second.

IMG_1107At the second outcrop.

It was a fairly steep climb from the second outcrop to the trees. I arrived first and was greeted by a doe.
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I waited for Heather here to plot the final climb to Warner Peak which was now fully revealed.
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It was a fairly level walk from the trees to the start of the final steep climb that brought us to Hart Mountain’s highest point.
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From Warner Peak we could see the parking area by the Hot Springs and much of the route we’d taken to get to the summit.
IMG_1143The white patch in the distance to the right just beyond the shadow is the parking area.

IMG_1147Our car was still there.

IMG_1137View south over Hart Mountain.

IMG_1158SW to Drake Peak with part of Hart Lake visible below the cliffs.

IMG_1134Looking north toward Juniper Mountain.

IMG_1133East toward Steens Mountain

After a nice long break we started back down. It was easier going since we weren’t climbing anymore and we knew that we could follow our track up to get back down. The more relaxed walk back allowed us to better enjoy the flowers that were around.
IMG_1162Prairie smoke

20200721_124500Balloon pod milk vetch

IMG_1167Paintbrush

IMG_1171Lupine

IMG_1190Mountain coyote mint

IMG_1200Police car moth on hyssop

We avoided the marshy area around the cabin this time and didn’t hear anything that sounded like a rattle. We did however get a good look at an American kestral.
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We had considered doing a loop from the cabin that Sullivan describes by following Rock Creek back to the Hot Springs Campground. It was only .3 miles longer but much of it was trailless and we were hot and tired of bushwhacking so we opted to just walk back on Barnhardi Road. As we got back to that road the clouds were moving in quickly.
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We shuffled along the road in the heat looking forward to soaking in the Hot Springs before leaving but we still stopped occassionally for photos.
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IMG_1233Butterflies on rabbitbrush

IMG_1238Sagebrush mariposa lily

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As we neared the gate on Barnhardi Road two things happened. First we were passed by a mountain biker, the first person we’d encountered since Daly Lake three days earlier and second we finished off our all our water. We were only about a half mile from the car where we had more but we were thankful when we got to the gate and the biker offered us a cold water bottle. We finished that off on our way back to the car and then had our soak before heading back to Lakeview. We never heard any thunder or saw any lightening but a few raindrops hit our windshield on the way back and the wind had picked up so much that there were white caps on Hart Lake as we drove by.

It was another tough day in the heat (although we did get a little chilly on Warner Peak just before heading down). We did 2.7 miles at Flook Lake and another 10.8 to Warner Peak with a combined elevation gain of roughly 2500′.

That night we decided to amend our plan for the next day even further and do the Petroglyph Lake hike followed by the short Warner Valley Overlook Loop that we had passed on our drive to and from the refuge that day. We then would end the day with the shortest option that Sullivan described for DeGarmo Canyon. It would be a shorter day giving us a little more time to rest and an excuse to swing by the Burger Queen in Lakeview and get milk shakes. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Flook Lake and Hart Mountain Hot Springs

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Lakeview Oregon Trip report

Crooked Creek – 07/20/2020

We knew which hikes we wanted to do during our stay in Lakeview but the order of the hikes was up in the air due to the chance of some mid-week thunderstorms. Our hikes were somewhat spread out which allowed us to keep an eye on the forecasts for each one and attempt to optimize our experience. Based on what we had seen Sunday night after arriving in Lakeview we decided to make Crooked Creek our outing for Monday. This was the closest hike to Lakeview so it gave us a bit of a break on driving too.

For the hike we started at the Mill Trailhead.
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Like our previous hike at Winter Ridge this hike followed the Fremont National Recreation Trail. We had expected to have to find some rocks or a downed tree to get across Crooked Creek at the trailhead. The trailhead used to be another 2.5 miles further along the road but floods washed it out. We were happy to find a footbridge in place across the creek.
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Beyond this initial crossing the map in our guidebook showed the trail following the old roadbed on the left side of the creek to the original trailhead so we were surprised when we came to a second crossing just .2 miles from the trailhead.
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In another .2 miles we were once again forced to find rocks to hop across the creek on.
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Once we had made it across the creek again we noticed a trail joining on the left.
IMG_0799The trail joining the road after the 3rd creek crossing (picture is from the afternoon).

As it turned out we had walked past a side trail to the left just before reaching the second creek crossing without noticing it. We discovered this when we followed the trail on the way back to the trailhead.
IMG_0801Downed post marking the trail to avoid the creek crossings.

We continued on the road arriving in another .2 miles at a large sign announcing the site of a former sawmill.
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We continued on noting the vast stark difference in the trees and vegetation on either side of Crooked Creek. The hills on the north side of the creek were mostly juniper trees and sagebrush while pine and fir trees grew on the south side.
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IMG_0394A short stretch where both sides looked similar.

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IMG_0406Dry waterfall

IMG_0405Smooth stemmed blazing star

As we gained some elevation we started seeing more wildflowers.
IMG_0410Oregon sunshine

IMG_0413Fireweed

IMG_0417Butterfly sleeping on yarrow

IMG_0419Sticky purple geranium

IMG_0434A mallow

IMG_0438Balsamroot

IMG_0442Rough eyelashweed

IMG_0454Various wildflowers along the road bed.

IMG_0460Monkeyflower

IMG_0463White triteleia

Things got a bit confusing again when we arrived at the old trailhead. Our guidebook showed the Fremont Trail beginning here on the left side of Crooked Creek but the only thing that looked at all like a trail was this.
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We tried following it and wound up next to a pile of tree clippings from what appeared to be recent thinning operations.
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We did some searching along the hillside above the creek thinking that we might have missed the trail heading further up the hillside.
IMG_0488Piles from thinning while we were searching for the trail.

After almost a quarter mile along the hillside we found the trail coming steeply uphill from Crooked Creek. To add to the confusion here there were National Recreation Trail markers on a number of trees in the area, some of which were no where near the trail.
IMG_0493Marker on a juniper heading away from Crooked Creek.

IMG_0490Markers on seemingly random trees.

In any event we had found the trail again. On our return trip we would follow the trail down to Crooked Creek which we crossed to reach a road bed. We then turned right on that roadbed, crossed Big Cove Creek and then Crooked Creek again to arrive at the old trailhead.
IMG_0769Big Cove Creek crossing.

IMG_0770Crooked Creek crossing near the old trailhead.

The Fremont Trail passed through a series of open hillsides which were pretty dry at first but became greener as we climbed up the canyon.
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IMG_0507Sagebrush mariposa lily

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IMG_0518Checker mallows

IMG_0534A wetter meadow

IMG_0535Bog orchids

The trail also spent some time in the forest finally leaving the juniper and sagebrush behind.
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IMG_0541Blurry doe through the trees.

Just over 5 miles along we reached an easy crossing of the North Fork Crooked Creek.
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The trail then rounded a ridge end and followed the South Fork Crooked Creek for .6 miles before crossing it just below a series of meadows.
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White water buttercupsWhite water buttercups

The trail skirted the meadows for the next mile and a half which would have been nice if not for the mosquitoes that the meadows were home to. They weren’t anywhere near the worst we’ve seen but we couldn’t stop for long. We eventually were forced to break out the spray but not before Heather had collected a good number of bites (I think I only got one, they like her WAY better).
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Just under a mile along this stretch the trail crossed an old road bed that functions as the Crane Mountain Trail (and a mosquito hatching ground).
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We did stop for a moment at a second crossing of the creek to admire some pink monkeyflower.
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At the end of the meadows we arrived at FR 3615 and the South Fork Crooked Creek Trailhead
IMG_0609FR 3615

IMG_0612The trailhead.

IMG_0614Trailhead host

We stopped at the trailhead to decide our next course of action. It was already warm and a break sounded good, but there wasn’t really a spot for one at the trailhead. Heading back down the trail meant going through the mosquito gauntlet again and taking a break along that stretch was out. A third option was to continue uphill .7 miles from the trailhead following a roadbed to Fence Pass at an elevation of 7440′. Sullivan described it as a sagebrush covered hillside with some of the best views of the Drake Peak area. We figured that there wouldn’t be any mosquitoes up there so we headed up a dirt road arriving at a split that wasn’t shown on the guidebook map.
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After consulting our Garmins we discovered that the checkermallow covered roadbed to the right ended shortly near a spring feeding the South Fork Crooked Creek.
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We turned left to stay on the correct roadbed which headed steeply uphill past the continuation of the Fremont Trail.
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IMG_0625Fremont Trail on the left.

The road headed for Twelvemile Peak before veering to the south of that peak to the pass. The hillside was mostly sagebrush as described with a fair number of wildflowers mixed in.
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IMG_0695Oregon sunshine

IMG_0691Grand collomia

IMG_0682Yarrow

IMG_0651A paintbrush

IMG_0635Checkermallow and paintbrush

IMG_0634What had been a Brown’s peony

The views were also as described with Twelvemile Peak on our left (north), Light Peak and Drake Peak on our right and our route up behind us. We made it to Fence Pass where a gentle breeze helped cool us off and the lack of mosquitoes allowed us to take a nice break.
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IMG_0666Light Peak from Fence Pass

IMG_0656_stitchDrake Peak and Light Peak

IMG_0658The Drake Peak Lookout which is on Light Peak

IMG_0677Twelvemile Peak

IMG_0653Looking back over our route up.

IMG_0661Mt. Shasta off to the SW

IMG_0664Hart Mountain to the SE.

After a nice break we headed back. The mosquitoes weren’t as noticeable on the return trip but the butterflies (and police car moths) were. In addition the sagebrush mariposa lilies had opened up allowing us to see them better.
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It was another 90+ degree day back at the trailhead and after 15.5 miles and a little over 2500′ of elevation gain it didn’t feel all that great, but the hike had been enjoyable. We headed back to Lakeview and checked the weather again to see what had changed. Based on the ever shifting forecasts we decided to tweak our plans a bit which turned out to be for the best in the long run. For Tuesday we decided to do Flook Lake and Hart Mountain Hot Springs to Warner Peak with an option to also do Petroglyph Lake if the road was open. If it was closed as we suspected we would do that one with DeGarmo Canyon later in the week. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Crooked Creek

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Lakeview Oregon Trip report

Winter Ridge – 07/19/2020

After a night in Bend we continued on our way to Lakeview making a stop along the way to hike the Fremont Trail at Winter Ridge to do the first of seven planned featured hikes from Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Eastern Oregon” book.

The Fremont Trail traverses the Fremont National Forest at a distance of almost 150 miles. We had hiked a short section of the Fremont Trail on our visits to Hager Mountain (2013, 2014). For this hike we drove Highway 31 south from Highway 97 for 87 miles turning right on Forest Road 29 at milepost 87. FR 29 climbed from Summer Lake 9.5 miles to Government Harvey Pass. Our excitement started when a bobcat ran across the road right in front of the car. This was one of the animals left on our “yet to see” list. Granted it was from the car but it was on the way to a hike so we still sort of count it. When the road leveled out on Winter ridge at the pass we turned right at a “T” junction onto FR 2901. We parked along the shoulder of this road after a tenth of a mile near a sign on the right marking the crossing of the Fremont Trail.
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Some cows up the road were watching us closely as we prepared to set off on the trail.
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There was a bit of blowdown along the early portion of the trail but nothing too difficult to navigate.
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Sullivan indicates that the wildflowers are best here in June but that is also when the mosquitos are at their worst. We were pleasantly surprised to find a number of wildflowers blooming and mosquitos were not an issue.
IMG_0028Prairie smoke (old man’s whiskers)

IMG_0031Yarrow and Oregon sunshine

IMG_0037Pussytoes starting to go to seed.

IMG_0040Paintbrushes

IMG_0049Scarlet gilia

IMG_0059Lupine

IMG_0065Buckwheat

IMG_0077Orange agoseris

IMG_0089Paintbrush

20200719_073911Sticky purple geranium

Sticky sandwortSticky sandwort

IMG_0103Nuttall’s linanthus

IMG_0105Fireweed

IMG_0113Hyssop

The trail spent a good deal of time close enough to the edge of Winter Ridge to allow for short detours to check out the scenery below.
IMG_0052Golden mantled ground squirrel also enjoying the views.

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IMG_0132Looking down at Summer Lake

20200719_115435FR 29 coming up the hillside to the right.

In addition to the views and flowers there was some wildlife, but no bobcats, along the way.
IMG_0117Woodpecker

IMG_0122Swallowtail

IMG_0139Fritillary butterfly

Just under 2.5 miles from FR 2901 we arrived at junction with a side trail to Currier Springs.
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We turned down this sometimes faint trail which led slightly downhill for .3 miles to the Currier Springs Horse Camp Trailhead on FR 3221.
IMG_0150Passing through a grove of quaking aspen.

IMG_0151California corn lily

IMG_0153California corn lily

IMG_0157Chipmunk

IMG_0159More cows at the horse camp.

We walked past the large sign for the horse camp to the spring on the left side of the road.
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IMG_0172Brewer’s blackbird

Near the spring we encountered some musk thistle which as far as thistles go was pretty impressive but unfortunately not native.
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In the meadows nearby were some native wildlfowers though.
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20200719_090205White triteleia

20200719_090226A checkermallow

We returned to the Fremont Trail and continued north past more viewpoints for 1.4 more miles to a sign for another spring, Mud Springs. Here there was no obvious trail and we did not attempt to visit the spring.
IMG_0190A view north along the ridge.

IMG_0194Looking NE from Winter Ridge.

IMG_0198Grand collomia

IMG_0209Hummingbird

IMG_0211Rosy pussytoes

IMG_0212Scouler’s woollyweed (maybe)

IMG_0214Wildflowers along the Fremont Trail

IMG_0222Another viewpoint

IMG_0223Looking south along the ridge.

IMG_0230More musk thistles.

IMG_0233Fremont Trail along Winter Ridge.

IMG_0241Buck watching us through the trees.

IMG_0245The buck heading off.

IMG_0252Sign for Mud Springs.

IMG_0269Western tanager near the junction.

Here Sullivan’s description no longer matched what we were seeing. We had expected the Fremont Trail to continue faintly along the ridge to a point where Sullivan described a “Landside Viewpoint”. Our GPS maps showed the trail following this alignment but not far beyond the Mud Springs sign the trail veered away from the ridge passing through snowbrush that was covering much of the hillside below the point.
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IMG_0274Snowbrush along the trail.

We stayed on the clear trail expecting it to eventually lead us up to the point, but instead after a half mile it turned away from the point heading downhill another quarter mile before reaching the rim of Winter Ridge well below the viewpoint which was to be our turnaround point.
IMG_0279Where we wound up along the rim of the ridge.

IMG_0282Looking up toward the viewpoint.

We decided to bushwhack our way up to the viewpoint and began a hot and tedious .7 mile cross country adventure. I stayed closer to the edge of the ridge which provided some decent views but became nearly impossible to navigate.
IMG_0287I made it to this rock outcrop which wasn’t the viewpoint I was looking for.

IMG_0288A second rocky viewpoint (with the first down the ridge a bit), still not the viewpoint I was looking for.

IMG_0289Looking up the ridge from the second rock outcrop. The number of snags and thicker snowbrush caused me to abandon the ridge here and follow the line that Heather was taking just a bit in from the rim.
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We eventually managed to reach the viewpiont.
20200719_105548Looking north across the landslide to Summer Lake.

IMG_0309Looking south

IMG_0307Balsamroot near the viewpoint.

After taking a break we debated what route to take back. We weren’t keen on going back down the way we’d come up but we also weren’t certain what the conditions would be if we attempted to follow the rim back toward the Mud Springs junction. In the end we decided to use our GPS and aim for the closest point on our track from earlier when we passed below the viewpoint. This worked out well as it was only a little over a quarter of a mile back to the Fremont Trail and there were far less obstacles to navigate. We followed the Fremont Trail back to where it had veered away from the ridge and looked to see if we had missed something. There was no obvious trail tread but there may have been a cairn (or it might have just been rocks).
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Regardless we had made it to the viewpoint so the hike had been a success. We returned the way we’d come, looking as always for wildlife and things we missed on the first pass. In this case we had missed a large number of Orobanche that we hadn’t noticed earlier.
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IMG_0320Becker’s white on subalpine fleabane.

Slender cinquefoilSlender cinquefoil

It was around 90 degrees by the time we got back to the car. This hike turned out to be a little longer and more difficult than we had expected due to the bushwhacking. My GPS read 11.3 miles instead of the 9.6 we had planned on. We drove into Lakeview where the temperature nearly hit triple digits. It promised to be an interesting week of hiking and this first hike let us know that it was going to be a challenging one as well. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Winter Ridge