While we completed our goal of hiking portions of all 100 featured hikes in William L. Sullivan’s 4th edition of “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Cascades” in 2020 (post) there remain a few “loose ends” that we’d like to take care of. We have established some guidelines for considering a featured hike “done” allowing us some wiggle room. For instance we might start at a different trailhead than Sullivan’s description but still visit the main attraction(s) he describes. It might also mean starting at the trailhead described but due to closures might cut the hike short. The two most common dilemmas we faced though were featured hikes with a short and long option and featured hikes that included multiple stops/destinations. Regarding the short vs long options we’ve tended to opt for the longer option assuming the distance is reasonable, under 16 miles (maybe not reasonable to all), but when the longer options are close to or more than 20 miles we’ve settled for the shorter.
For the featured hikes where there are multiple stops/destinations we allow the hike to be checked off once we have completed either the longest option, and/or visited the hike’s namesake. A perfect example is Featured Hike 23 in the Central Cascades book (4th edition). The hike is titled “Pamelia Lake & Hunts Cove” with three options given, all beginning at the Pamelia Lake Trailhead. The shortest is a 4.4 mile out-and-back to Pamelia Lake while the longest is a 12.4 out-and-back to Hunts Cove. Sandwiched in between is a 10 mile out-and-back hike up Grizzly Peak. We had been to Hunts Cove once (post) and Pamelia Lake twice (once on the way to Hunts Cove and the other on an attempt to reach Goat Peak (post)) so going by our self-imposed rules we checked the hike off, but we had yet to visit Grizzly Peak. To put a ribbon on the featured hike we obtained a pair of Central Cascade Wilderness Permits (required at this trailhead) and once again set off for Pamelia Lake.
This was at least the third posted notice so there is no claiming you weren’t aware that a permit is needed.
The roughly two mile hike to Pamelia Lake never disappoints.
Fireweed along the creek.
We turned right onto the Grizzly Peak Trail at its junction a short distance from the lake.
The trail crossed the dry outlet creek and then began the nearly 2000′ climb to Grizzly Peak.
Pamelia Creek only flows underground here much of the year.
The trail climbs for two and three quarters of a mile to a former lookout site through a nice forest with limited view for the first two miles.
A glimpse of Mt. Jefferson.
That might be Woodpecker Hill, it was hard to tell exactly which ridge we could see with nothing else visible to help orient.
This looked like it might be a nice little waterfall with enough water.
That’s not enough water.
Heather below one of several switchbacks.
Just over two miles from the junction the Grizzly Peak Trail we came to a viewpoint on a ridge. Here the trail made a sharp right and followed the ridge SE. There were multiple views along this ridge, the one issue we had though was it was still fairly early and the angle of the Sun was catching all the haze in the air.
Turning up the ridge.
The haze was probably a combination of morning cloud/fog and smoke from the Cedar Creek Fire near Waldo Lake.
We were too late for most of the flowers but there were a few pearly everlasting going.
There’s that pesky Sun again.
After following the ridge for 0.4 miles the trail veered to the right leaving it and traversing up a forested hillside with views north towards the Bull of The Woods Wilderness where we got our first good look at the fire scars from the 2020 Labor Day fires.
A quarter mile after leaving the ridge the trail came to another ridge and made a hard right following this ridge up to the summit. This section provided views south to Three Fingered Jack, the Three Sisters, and Broken Top.
Broken Top to the far left blending into the haze and Three Fingered Jack to the right with the Three Sisters in between.
Just below the summit.
Pamelia Lake below Mt. Jefferson.
We spent a little over half an hour at the summit checking out different views and watching several butterflies and some large black flying insects.
Hunts Creek flowing into Pamelia Lake.
Had to hunt for a view of Three Fingered Jack.
A hard to make out Mt. Hood beyond the far ridge which consists of Bear Point to the left (post) and Dinah-mo Peak to the right.
A fritillary butterfly.
We returned the way we’d come opting not to visit the lake on this trip since we have permits to return next month for a second attempt at Goat Peak.
Goat Peak is to the right of Mt. Jefferson.
Mt. Jefferson and Pamelia Lake from one of the viewpoints along the ridge.
One more of Pamelia Creek.
One other hiker had arrived at the summit a bit before we headed down and that was the only other person we saw until we were headed back down. We encountered one couple coming up the Grizzly Peak Trail and a number more on the Pamelia Lake Trail. It was a little surprising because the trailhead parking lot had looked nearly full when we had arrived that morning. The hike was nice and the well graded trail kept the 2700′ of elevation gain from ever feeling steep. It also allowed us to be home before 2pm which gave us time to unpack and clean up before heading of to a friends house for their annual margarita (and dinner) party. Happy Trails!
We were hoping to get a backpacking trip in over the holiday weekend but the forecast called for rain/snow in the mountains starting Saturday night through the rest of the weekend so we opted instead for a day hike instead. The good news was that the forecast for Saturday was for partly to mostly sunny skies so we were hoping for some nice views. We’d chosen a hike to Round and Square Lakes near Three Fingered Jack and the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness which was the shortest of the drives (a little over 1 1/2 hours from Salem) that we had been considering. While we hadn’t been to Round Lake yet we had passed by Square Lake on a loop hike in 2012 (post). Earlier this year on our hike to Santiam Lake (post) we had retraced some the beginning of that loop. For this hike we would also be starting at the Pacific Crest Trailhead at Santiam Pass but would be retracing the final 4.5 miles of the 2012 loop between Booth Lake and the trailhead.
Both Reeder and Sullivan describe hikes to Round and Square Lakes but each of their descriptions are for out and back hikes starting at the Round Lake Trailhead which is closer to the Sisters/Bend area. Starting at Santiam Pass cut off some driving but it did add approximately 5 miles of hiking to our days total. We arrived at the trailhead just in time to catch a bit of color from the sunrise.
After 0.2 miles we turned right at the junction with the Old Summit Trail.
The Old Summit Trail traverses a hillside above Highway 20 through snags left over from the 2003 B & B Complex (Bear and Booth Fires). The lack of larger trees provides plenty of views south to Black Crater, Broken Top, the Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, Hayrick Butte and Hoodoo Butte. The over night clouds were quickly breaking up as we hiked revealing more and more of the mountains.
Black Crater and North Sister
Black Crater, the top of Broken Top, some of the Sisters, and part of Mt. Washington.
Hayrick and Hoodoo
Between Mt. Washington and Hayrick Butte is Scott Mountain (post).
Cache Mountain is the high point furthest to the left.
Broken Top and the Three Sisters
The Three Sisters. The summit of South Sister is between North and Middle Sister behind 9321′ Prouty Point.
Near the 2 mile mark we entered the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. The wilderness sign provided a good reference for comparing how much taller the trees were this time versus in 2012.
A different angle from 2012.
Shortly after entering the wilderness we began descending toward Square Lake. Three Fingered Jack was somewhat hidden behind a cloud further to the north.
The only deer we spotted during the hike popped out of some brush below the trail for just a moment before disappearing back into it. As has been the case more often than not this year I did not have my camera at the ready so all I got was one of their white rumps.
One white rump with a black tail amid the ferns near the center of the photo (good luck).
The trail wrapped around the lake past a large campsite to a junction with the Round Lake trail approximately 2.5 miles from the trailhead.
The only paintbrush we would see all day.
The top of Mt. Washington is just visible on the other side of Square Lake.
At the junction we followed the pointer for the Round Lake Trail and continued along Square Lake.
Mt. Washington’s spire again.
A rainbow was trying to form to the west.
We soon left Square Lake and continued through the recovering forest.
Lodgepole pine seeds require fire in order to be released from their tight cones.
The Round Lake Trail is just about 2 miles long running between the junction and the Round Lake Trailhead to the east. Several maps show the trail passing near Long Lake Lake along the way. It does not but rather veers away form that lake. It may have been an older pre-fire alignment but Reeder mentions this discrepancy in the map and warns “don’t even bother trying to find it unless you’ve got lots of time and patience”. I’ll be honest and say this sounded like a little bit of a challenge so when we were able to spot the western end of Long Lake we decided to make an attempt for it.
Our first sighting of Long Lake (zoomed in).
Using our GPS and a paper map as backup we angled cross country toward the lake which quickly was hidden from sight. There were plenty of downed trees to climb over or around and one line of snowbrush to push through but we also were able to follow some game trails which helped us find ways through the obstacles. It was also evident that the area around the lake can be pretty wet and probably muddy meaning getting as close as we did probably wouldn’t be possible at other times.
We reached the western end of the lake after three tenths of a mile. It took less than 15 minutes but without a map and some route finding skills we wouldn’t advise it.
Ducks taking off from Long Lake.
Any thoughts of walking around the north side of the lake quickly vanished when we saw how dense the vegetation and downed trees were.
We did however return to the Round Lake Trail by bearing NE. It took a little over 21 minutes to find the trail just over a half mile from the lake.
This is one of the areas that we could see getting pretty muddy/wet.
The Round Lake Trail just on the other side of the downed tree.
Long Lake is back down that way somewhere.
We turned right and continued east on the Round Lake Trail.
Back on the Round Lake Trail.
Black Butte shedding the morning clouds.
The top of Three Fingered Jack behind some thin clouds.
Green Ridge (post) in the distance with a little smoke rising from the Metolious Basin where the Forest Service had ignited a prescribed burn over the preceding two days.
We’d seen some maps showing a trail around the north side of the lake through the retreat to some camp sites on the eastern end but we weren’t sure if the retreat was private property or if it was okay to hike through so we opted to follow Forest Road 600 from the trailhead around the south side of the lake.
When we spotted a path heading down off the road we took it and made our way down to the lake shore.
The partial rainbow returned as we took a break at the lake.
We eventually pulled ourselves away from Round Lake and headed back toward Square Lake. We were feeling a little moisture in the air and based on the clouds ahead we were expecting to find ourselves in some misty fog at best by the time we made it back to the Old Summit Trail.
Starting to look kind of grey.
A mountain bluebird adding a splash of blue to the green backdrop.
Clouds over Square Lake.
A few scarlet gilia blossoms.
Instead of heading straight back onto the Old Summit Trail we turned right in order to revisit Booth Lake. From Square Lake the Old Summit Trail switchbacked uphill gaining 400′ in the next mile to a gap between a rock outcrop and a rocky hill. We remembered seeing a small lake amid the rocks over on the opposite hill and as we climbed this time we began thinking that it might be possible to get to the unnamed lake.
The unnamed lake is about halfway up the far hillside.
Black Butte and Long Lake from the trail.
Heading toward Three Fingered Jack we got back under blue skies.
Square Lake still under a clouds,
The unnamed lake that drew our attention.
Similar view from 2012.
We stopped momentarily at the gap discussing what route we would take if we did try and reach the lake. I was pretty certain I wanted to give it a shot but I decided to wait until we were headed back in case I changed my mind after reaching Booth Lake.
The trail at the gap. It was grey and cloudy to the west.
Still at the gap, it was blue skies to the east.
Beyond the gap the trail climbed just a bit arriving at its high point above Booth Lake in 0.3 miles.
There is Three Fingered Jack.
A good look at Green Ridge.
A lupine that was late to the party.
Heather opted to stay at the high point instead of visiting the lake which was roughly 0.4 miles away and 150′ below. I shuffled down the trail and made my way to the familiar sandy lake shore.
It didn’t look that much different than it had in 2012.
I returned to Heather and we started back toward the gap. I was still planning on trying to reach the off trail lake but Heather was not. She had decided that she would only attempt it if the Three Sisters had been uncovered from the clouds. I went ahead of her and left the trail at the gap working my way up around rocks and over downed trees while climbing up a semi-steep slope. I trusted the deer tracks that I was trying to follow and sure enough made it to the little lake.
The trail cut on the far hillside.
The rock cliffs holding the water on the eastern side made for some easy walking and great views down to Square Lake.
Black Butte, Long Lake, and part of Square Lake.
Square Lake along with Broken Top and the Three Sisters (Mt. Washington was hiding in the clouds still).
Part of the rock ledge.
Three Fingered Jack had once again disappeared.
As I was admiring the view I thought was hearing things but as I was making my way back along the ledge I spotted Heather on a small hill on the opposite side of the lake. The Three Sisters had been visible so she stuck to her word and had followed me up.
After satisfying our desire for adventure we returned to the trail and headed back to Square Lake where we made a quick stop at the campsite.
We spent the return hike watching the clouds almost clear from Mt. Washington just to reform over around its top.
View climbing away from Square Lake.
Similar view in 2012.
Hayrick Butte and Hoodo as we neared the trailhead.
This hike was a lot of fun with some new sights and some familiar but different sights. I wound up doing 14.8 miles according to the GPS and although no climbs were particularly long the up and down nature of the hike provided approximately 2000′ of cumulative elevation gain.
After a week of hiking in the John Day area we had stopped in Bend on our way home Friday to visit Heather’s parents. Saturday morning we headed to Salem but stopped first for a short hike to Pika and Fir Lakes in the Willamette National Forest. The hike starts at the Pika-Fir Trailhead which is currently one of the trailheads in the Central Cascades that does not require any Central Cascades Wilderness Permits as the trail and lakes are outside of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. (You would however need an overnight permit if you were try continue off trail into the wilderness to stay overnight.)
We picked this trail because it was on our way back to Salem, we hadn’t been here before, and it was nice and short. The trail itself is about a mile long passing Pika Lake and ending at Fir Lake and after averaging just over 12 miles a hike for the previous five days a short hike sounded nice. We were also in a bit of a hurry to get home to see our cat Hazel who we were going to have to say goodbye to soon (post).
The trail passed through a nice green forest with some bigger trees, a very different sight than the hikes we’d taken in Central Oregon that week.
A little bit of up and down brought us to Pika Lake in just half a mile.
We walked a short way around the SE side of the little lake before returning to the trail and continuing to Fir Lake which was just 0.4 miles away.
Unnamed lakelet/pond between Pika and Fir Lakes.
We again explored a little of the lake shore before turning around and returning to the car.
This was a quick hike which we managed to make 2.5 miles by exploring some of the lake shores. There were several camp sites at the lakes which would be good options for folks with young kids for some early backpacking trips.
With our hikes now completed we drove home to spend the rest of the weekend with Hazelnut before having to say our final goodbyes. It was a bitter sweet ending to what was otherwise a good vacation. Happy Trails!
For the Fourth of July weekend we had originally planned on a trip to Central Oregon but the drought conditions that were exasperated by the recent heat wave had us reconsidering not being home to guard against rogue illegal fireworks (a house in our neighborhood lost a fence and tree last year on the 4th). Our decision was made final when, following the heat wave, mostly dry thunder storms passed over the Ochoco Mountains where some of our hikes were planned. Lighting caused fires have kept firefighters busy since then as the race to contain the fires that are still cropping up from that storm system. We turned to Plan B, which was in part a modified Plan A, and spent the weekend hiking in the Central Cascades. On Saturday we stuck to our originally planned hike to Berley and Santiam Lakes but instead of continuing on to Bend afterward we drove back home.
This hike is covered in Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region” and provided us an opportunity to revisit some places as well as discover some new ones. The hike starts at the Pacific Crest Trailhead along Highway 20 at Santiam Pass.
For now this is one of the trailheads where a Central Cascade Wilderness Day Use Permit is not required but a NW Forest Pass ($5/day or $30/annual) is, as well as completing a free self-issue permit. Note that for overnight trips a Central Cascade Wilderness Permit is needed for any visits to the Mt. Jefferson, Three Sisters or Mt. Washington Wilderness areas.
We had started another hike here in October of 2012 when we hiked to the base of Three Fingered Jack then returned on a loop past Martin, Booth, and Square Lakes (post). We were interested to not only see the area during a different season but also to see what had changed in nearly 9 years. This was particularly interesting to us due to the area having been burned badly in the 2003 B&B Complex and this would give us an idea of how the forest was recovering. Given the huge swaths that were burned in the September 2020 wildfires this might give us a small frame of reference for what to expect for some of the areas. The first thing that we noticed was that post fire trees seemed larger than we remembered which was confirmed by comparing some pictures of the Pacific Crest Trail junction with the Old Summit Trail 0.2 miles from the trailhead.
Trail sign at the junction on 10/13/2012.
Trail sign at the junction on 07/03/2021.
What we didn’t really notice though was just how many of the snags were now missing.
Entering the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness in 2012 (0.3 miles from the TH).
Entering the wilderness in 2021.
We followed the PCT a total of 1.2 miles to a junction with the Santiam Lake Trail. The view to the south was as spectacular as we had remembered with several Cascade Mountains in view along with several distinctive lesser peaks.
Cache Mountain, Black Crater (post), Tam McArthur Rim & Broken Top (post), North & Middle Sister, Mt. Washington, and Hayrick Butte (flat top on the right).
To the north the top of Three Fingered Jack was occasionally visible.
There were a few more flowers in bloom now than there had been in October.
Shortly after passing a small unnamed lake we arrived at the junction.
Mountain bluebird by the lake.
We turned left onto the Santiam Lake Trail at the junction striking off on new to us trail. The Santiam Lake Trail headed slightly downhill to the north passing a series of small ponds/lakes before making a sweeping turn to the west then meeting up with the now abandoned Santiam Lodge Trail (coming uphill on the left) one mile from the PCT.
There was a good amount of scarlet gilia blooming along this section of trail.
Three Fingered Jack
One of the ponds.
Another pond with Maxwell Butte (post) behind to the right.
Unnamed lake along the trail with Maxwell Butte behind.
Sub-alpine mariposa lilies
The view south.
A half mile beyond the abandoned trail (there was part of a sign still hanging, partially hidden on a tree) we came to an unsigned fork.
We admittedly hadn’t read Matt’s hike description recently and had conveniently forgotten that there were no maintained trails to the Berley Lakes and this unmarked fork was where he would have had us turn. It wasn’t shown on the GPS map and since we hadn’t bothered to re-familiarize ourselves with the hike we continued on the Santiam Lake Trail but were still looking for the trail to Berley Lakes.
We crossed the nearly dry bed of Lost Lake Creek (There was enough water around to host a healthy population of mosquitos though.) and continued through a meadow filled with lupine into some unburned forest.
The combined presence of the trees and more water in Lost Lake Creek (which the trail was now following) was a perfect recipe for even more mosquitos. We hustled along as quickly a possible to try and keep as much of our own blood as possible.
Recent snow melt is another recipe for mosquitos.
Another creek crossing.
Mountain heather. Typically if we see this blooming we expect there to be mosquitos.
Fortunately the creek soon faded out in an open rocky landscape where the heat of the sun kept the buggers away and we were able to slow down a bit.
Alpine false dandelion
One of several snow patches at the tree line.
Nearing the end of the opening.
More snow in the trees.
By the time we’d reached the open area it was obvious we had missed our turn and should have taken the fork we’d seen since we were now past the Berley Lakes. That was fine though as the original plan had been to visit those lakes first and hook up with the Santiam Lake Trail beyond Lower Berley Lake then continue on to Santiam Lake and return via the Santiam Lake Trail. Our new plan was to visit Santiam Lake then find the route to Lower Berley Lake, visit it, then check out Upper Berley Lake and return to the Santiam Lake Trail at the fork. Beyond the open plain the trail began a 250′ descent through more unburned forest to Santiam Lake.
Trees & melting snow = more mosquitos.
Not Santiam Lake but a very pretty unnamed lake just to the left of the trail approximately 0.4 miles from Santiam Lake.
Not sure what type this is but the orange on the wing was pretty.
We turned off the Santiam Lake Trail at a “No Campfires” sign and followed a familiar path down to the lake.
It had been almost 11 years since we visited this lake. On our previous visit we had come up the Santiam Lake Trail from the Duffy Lake Trail (post).
Mt. Jefferson behind Red Butte
Duffy Butte on the left.
Three Fingered Jack
Paintbrush, shooting stars, and buttercups.
We set off to hike around the west side of the lake but we encountered quite a bit of recent blowdown and decided it was a little more trouble than it was worth.
Just one of several large uprooted trees along the shore.
Taking a break along the shore and enjoying the view would have been nice but the mosquitos weren’t interested in letting us sit peacefully so when we came to the third bunch of downed trees we called it good and headed back for the Santiam Lake Trail. We followed it back to the open plain where the mosquitos hadn’t been bad and stopped to study the map in Reeder’s book (still weren’t smart enough to take the time to re-read it though) and we could see that from this end his track showed him heading for Lower Berley Lake just before a topographic feature. We made our way across the plain where butterflies were busy flying from plant to plant.
The “topographic feature” ahead on the right where we planned on turning for Lower Berley Lake.
Mountain heather along the trail, it was warm and sunny enough that the mosquitos weren’t as bad this time by.
Getting closer to the hill where we planned on turning.
California tortoiseshell butterflies in the bed of Lost Lake Creek.
Later when we finally did read the hike description Reeder mentioned a cairn marking a user trail but we didn’t notice any cairn (and admittedly may have turned too soon) but we spotted what appeared to be faint tread along a hillside above a dry stream bed and took a right onto it.
The track on the map showed the route on the south side of the lake but this trail was leading to the south side of Lower Berley Lake. It led past a couple of campsites to some rocks above the lake.
Three Fingered Jack from the rocks.
We picked our way down through the rocks to the lake shore and followed a user trail west until more downed tress forced us to climb back up above the rocks.
A butterfly photo bomb
Once we were back above the lake we came across what looked like another user trail leading away from it.
We thought it might be a side trail to Upper Berley Lake so we turned right on it but soon realized that we were following a dry bed instead of a trail.
The bed was popular with the butterflies.
A GPS check showed we were heading too much to the NNE and needed to be NNW so we left the bed and used the GPS units to find Upper Berley Lake, but not before startling a doe.
Cross country to Upper Berley Lake, the doe was in this meadow and headed in the direction of the patch of snow at the far end.
Upper Berley Lake
Reeder mentions a view of Three Fingered Jack from this lake as well but we were on the wrong side of it for that. The lake shore where we were was pretty thick with small trees so we would have needed to back track to make our way around for a view but we decided to save that for another time. We took a slightly more direct route back toward Lower Berley Lake and found what seemed to us a bit of a random Day Use Only sign.
We wound up finding the same “user trail” and followed it down to the lower lake.
What we could see was a clear trail heading south past the lake. We went down to the lake shore to see if we could pick something up since the track in the book showed it at the SW edge of the lake. We couldn’t make out any clear trail but that could have been because it was covered in butterflies.
California tortoiseshell butterflies along Lower Berley Lake.
Three Fingered Jack and about a half dozen butterflies.
We did another comparison of the track in the guidebook and the topographic map on our GPS units and came to the conclusion that we were in the right spot and just needed to hike over a saddle between two hillsides. As we made our way up we found an obvious trail.
The hillside on the right was rocky.
The trail dropping down from the saddle with Mt. Washington and the North Sister ahead.
This trail was at times easy to follow and at others non-existent.
Just under three quarters of a mile from Lower Berley Lake we ran into three hikers heading for the lake which we took as a good sign. Just a short distance later we came to the dry channel of Lost Lake Creek.
It was hard to tell where the “trail” crossed or where it was on the far side. Reeder’s track showed the alignment converging with the Santiam Lake Trail at an gradual angle but we could see that we were only about a tenth of a mile from that trail as the crow flies so we abandoned all attempts at following the user trail. We headed straight for the Santiam Lake Trail and found it without much difficulty.
We were a tenth or two of a mile from the actual junction which wound up working in our favor. We had rejoined the Santiam Lake Trail just north of the seasonal pond where there were now dozens of butterflies hanging out and this time they weren’t all the same types.
We made our way back to the PCT then followed it south back to the trailhead but not before stopping at a viewpoint for one last look at the mountains.
Yellow beetle on lupine.
Back at the PCT.
Bumble bees on penstemon.
Cicada in the grass.
Black Crater, Broken Top, North & Middle Sister, Mt. Washington, Hayrick Butte, and Hoodoo Butte from the viewpoint.
Three Fingered Jack from the viewpoint.
After a great day of hiking we spent the evening with my Grandma and parents. It was a great start to the holiday weekend. Happy Trails!
After three nice days the weather turned on us again and what had been a pleasant forecast for Saturday turned to rain everywhere I looked on the west side of the Cascades so we swapped a planned hike in Washington’s Trapper Creek Wilderness for a trip over Santiam Pass to Green Ridge where there was just the slightest chance of showers.
The Green Ridge escarpment sits at the eastern edge of the High Cascades graben along the Green Ridge Fault. With the ridge being the transition zone between the High Cascades and the High Desert the area is an interesting mix of trees and vegetation. The trail is popular with equestrians and mountain bikers as it connects with various longer loop options.
To reach the trailhead that we began at we drove Highway 20 to FR 11 also known as Green Ridge Road (2 miles east of Black Butte Ranch or 5.8 miles west of Sisters). We turned north onto FR 11 at a pointer for Indian Ford Campground and followed this paved road for 4.3 miles to an unmarked junction with FR 1120 at a curve. We turned left on the red cinder FR 1120 for 0.9 of washboard road to the trailhead on the left.
The Green Ridge Trail began on the far side of FR 1120 at a sign.
The trail passed through a forest of mostly ponderosa pine and a few scattered flowers.
A phacelia, Oregon sunshine, and a little pink diamond clarkia.
I couldn’t get a good shot of this western tanager but he was really colorful.
Bird with breakfast
The trail soon began climbing gradually up the ridge via a long switchback. As we climbed we began to get views of the nearby Cascade peaks.
Three Fingered Jack
We also began to notice 3-inch long Pandora moth larva crawling across the trail.
The larva spent spring feeding on ponderosa pines and are now burrowing into the ground where they will transform into pupae. They will then emerge next summer as adult moths. Based on studies of ponderosa pine tree rings up to 22 Pandora moth outbreaks have occurred in the last 600 years. When I was at Redmond High School in the late 80s/early 90s one of the outbreaks occurred and the number of the large moths was amazing.
Many of the larva we saw would not be making it to adulthood as they seemed to be of particular interest to the resident ants of the area.
Three Fingered Jack was clear of clouds but the same couldn’t be said for Mt. Washington when it came into view over the shoulder of Black Butte (post).
While it was still climbing the trail began to level out as it followed the ridge south.
As I was watching the drama at my fleet playing out between the larva and the ants I spotted something in a hole in the middle of the trail.
We shared a moment then the lizard scurried off into the sagebrush and we continued on. Mt. Jefferson soon joined the view and it too was relatively free of clouds for the time being.
We spotted another familiar prominent feature along the Cascade crest as well.
South Cinder Peak (post)
As we continued along the ridge the forest transitioned from the ponderosa pines to higher elevation furs and pines.
The flowers transitioned too and we were soon seeing a lot of purple larkspur red scarlet gilia, and white California stickseed as well as a few other flowers.
A moth but not a Pandora moth. 🙂
Around the 5.25 mile mark we came to a bend in an old roadbed that the trail had been following since the 4 mile mark. Past the bend the road headed downhill a bit to dip around a knoll and continue on another 4.3 miles to the Green Ridge Lookout.
This knoll was our goal for the day. We were using Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region” guidebook and he described a faint trail leading up past a campsite to a viewpoint. We couldn’t identify the faint trail so we simply set off cross-country up the knoll. We did pass a fire pit which we assumed was the campsite and then noticed what might have been a faint trail.
Just .2 miles from the trail/roadbed we arrived at the rocky viewpoint where we found a lot of penstemon.
There was also a view of several mountains from the North Sister north to Mt. Hood.
Black Butte and the North Sister
We could also make out just the slightest bit of the Metolius River (post) below the ridge.
After a nice break we headed back along the ridge. We took one side trip on the way back down just over 2.25 miles from the knoll to check out what looked to be quite a bit of balsamroot to the east of the trail. It turned out to be a wide open area that had a high desert feel in the center with lots of buckwheat while balsamroot surrounded it near the tree line.
Buckwheat in the center.
Balsamroot near the trees.
After the brief side trip we continued down the trail which was now quite a bit busier with several mountain bikers and a couple of hikers making their way up the trail. Going in this direction there were times where we were looking straight at Black Butte and in so doing we noticed that Broken Top was visible over the left shoulder of the butte.
There was a moment when a bit of blue sky opened above the cascades giving us a good look at Mt. Washington and Three Fingered Jack.
A sliver of blue sky over Black Butte and Mt. Washington.
Three Fingered Jack with some blue sky.
The blue sky quickly disappeared and it sprinkled ever so briefly before we arrived back at the trailhead. Our hike came in at 11.2 miles with approximately 1200′ of elevation gain which was spread out fairly well along the trail so that it never felt very steep at all. Given all the rain forecast for the west side of the cascades we felt fortunate to have gotten the mountain views we did. The best part of the hike for us though was the different vegetation and scenery along the ridge. The mix of high cascades and high desert made it a truly interesting place. Happy Trails!
We’re entering the time of year where the weather can be a real wildcard. A week earlier there was snow down to the mountain passes. There wasn’t any snow in the forecast but a continuously changing threat of cloudy conditions and rain showers kept us from deciding exactly where we’d be heading until the night before. A mostly cloudy but precipitation free forecast led us to our third hike of the year in the Olallie Lake Scenic Area for a lake filled hike where the presence of clouds would have minimal affect on the scenery.
Our plan was to follow a route suggested by Matt Reeder in his “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region” starting at the Olallie Meadows Campground and taking the Lodgepole Trail to the Red Lake Trail which we would then take east to the Pacific Crest Trail. Heading north on the PCT would bring us to the Russ Lake Trail. After a side trip to Russ and Jude Lakes we would take the Russ Lake Trail west to the Lodgepole Trail and return to Olallie Meadows. That was our plan anyway but it isn’t quite how things played out.
We parked at a trail sign at the end of the Olallie Meadows Campground and checked out the meadows while we waited for a little more light. The sky was fairly cloud free which was encouraging but it also meant that the overnight low of 35 that had been in the forecast was actually 27 (according to the car).
We didn’t have to wait long and soon we were crunching along the trail. There was a lot of frozen moisture so every step sounded like we were crushing a bag of potato chips, it wasn’t a good sign for seeing any morning wildlife. A quarter mile from the trailhead we passed the Russ Lake Trail junction where we would be coming from on our return.
For now we stayed straight enjoying the fall colors and traces of snow along the trail while we tried to keep some feeling in our fingers.
After a short climb the view ahead opened up to Olallie Butte which we’d climbed earlier in the year.(post)
Three quarters of a mile from the Russ Lake Trail we arrived at another signed junction.
We turned right here onto what turned out to be the Pacific Crest Trail (we didn’t notice the marker on a nearby tree on this first pass) following a pointer for Olallie Lake.
Shortly afterward we began to realize something was amiss. Prior to setting off we had taken a last look at Reeder’s map and remembered that there was a short section of trail that we would not be hiking on if we did the loop the way we’d planned. What we didn’t remember was where that section was, but if we were already on the PCT it didn’t seem possible for there to be such a section so we differed to the book and realized that somewhere between the Russ Lake Trail and the PCT the Lodgepole Trail should have forked to the right and crossed Skyline Road near the Triangle Lake Horsecamp. Neither one of us remembered seeing anything that looked like a trail. We contemplated going back to look for it, but decided to just continue on in the opposite direction as planned.
We followed the PCT south passing a large dry lake then a small frozen one before crossing under a set of power lines and passing the Olallie Butte Trail in just under a mile.
Another 2.2 miles on the PCT brought us more colorful foliage, another frozen pond, and a glimpse of Mt. Jefferson before arriving at Skyline Road just north of Olallie Lake (post).
We crossed the road sticking to the PCT and stopped to take a look at Head Lake.
Beyond Head Lake the PCT climbs for approximately a mile and a half to the Red Lake Trail junction. We had been on this section of the trail before (post) but on that day the clouds had restricted the views to the forest and ponds along the trail. In addition to the great fall colors on this trip we had some excellent views of Mt. Jefferson.
We even had a rather obscured view of Mt. Hood for a moment.
At the junction with the Red Lake Trail we turned right onto that trail.
This trail was also familiar to us as including the unnamed lake below Twin Peaks.
Beyond the lake the trail began a rocky descent to a junction with the Lodgepole Trail just over a mile from the PCT.
Potato Butte ahead.
Lodgepole Trail junction.
Here we turned right back onto the Lodgepole Trail. We were back on new-to-us trail and in less than a quarter mile came to an unnamed lake on the left.
One of the causes of the noisy steps.
Just over a quarter mile from the junction was Middle Lake on the right.
Twin Peaks on the other side of Middle Lake.
Colors along Middle Lake.
Next up was supposed to be a short out and back to Gifford Lakes on a trail located somewhere between Middle and Lower Lakes. We missed the unmarked trail on our first pass, but realized it fairly quickly when a GPS check showed we were closer to Lower Lake than we should have been. (For the record it’s about a quarter mile from Middle Lake.) We turned around and headed back the way we’d come looking for yet another trail we’d missed. I had an idea of where we’d missed it having noticed some logs and branches that looked like it could have been over an old trail. Sure enough that turned out to be the spot, but between the wood and snow it had been really easy to miss.
A .2 mile detour brought us to the larger of the two Gifford Lakes. We had heard that this was probably the prettiest lake in the area and we wouldn’t argue that.
Twin Peaks from Gifford Lake.
A trail to the left around the lake led to a ridge between the two Gifford Lakes. The smaller lake didn’t have the views that its larger neighbor enjoyed but it was scenic nonetheless.
After exploring the lakes and a snack break we returned to the Lodgepole Trail and turned right to continue on our loop. We came to another junction about .4 miles from the trail to Gifford Lakes.
Here the Lodgepole Trail continued straight crossing the Fish Lake Trail. We turned briefly down the Fish Lake Trail to take a quick look at Lower Lake before continuing on.
Sign for the Fish Lake Trail.
Sign for the Lodgepole Trail.
The trail dropped to a meadow then reentered the forest and climbed to a ridge top .8 miles from the junction.
The trail was actually the fainter track to the left leading to the bridge, but that wasn’t obvious until we reached the trees.
A lone yarrow.
After cresting the ridge the trail dropped to a dry crossing of the Clackamas River.
Approximately two miles from the Fish Lake Trail we found ourselves passing back under the power lines.
Another mile of fairly level trail brought us to Triangle Lake.
After passing the lake and horse camp we quickly found ourselves crossing Skyline Road again.
We were really interested in seeing where we were going to meet up with the trail from that morning. Our answer came in less than 100 yards when the clear trail we were on arrived at a junction. A small tree was lying across the trail but the tread was rather obvious. We decided we must have been focused on the hill that was just beyond the junction and not looking at that side of the trail because it was hard to miss.
Approaching the junction.
Quite the camouflage isn’t it?
We turned right climbing the little hill, for the second time that day, and in a tenth of a mile were back at the Pacific Crest Trail. This time we turned left following the Jude Lake pointer.
The PCT entered the Warm Springs Reservation before arriving at the Russ Lake Trail in a third of a mile.
Here we turned right on the Russ Lake Trail (which was not signed).
The trail passed a small pond after a tenth of a mile and the southern end of Jude Lake after two tenths before arriving at Russ Lake a little of a third of a mile from the junction. (Please note that fishing is not allowed on the Reservation without a permit.)
We watched the ducks on Russ Lake for a bit before heading back. It wasn’t until we were passing Jude Lake again that we actually realized that it was Jude Lake which allowed us to skip a short out and back north on the PCT to see the other side of that lake. Having seen Jude Lake we stayed on the Russ Lake Trail when we got back to the PCT junction and in a tenth of a mile turned right on a short unsiged spur trail to Brook Lake.
From Book Lake it was another .2 miles to the Lodgepole Trail and about the same back to Olallie Meadows.
We were anticipating a 13.2 mile loop (per Reeder) but a little extra exploring, missing the Gifford Lakes Trail, and screwing up the route to begin with we ended our day just over 14 miles. It turned out to be a really nice day (after our hands warmed up) with a lot of nice scenery. We only ran into a single pair of backpackers during the hike although there were a number of vehicles on Skyline Road both in the morning and on our drive out. The Olallie Lake Scenic Area is definately a great place for late Summer/Fall hiking. Happy Trails!
A series of wet storms passed through Oregon just in time for an extended weekend of hiking. With a sunny forecast for Thursday we headed back up to the Olallie Lake Scenic Area to check off another one of Sullivan’s featured hikes (Monon Lake) and to revisit Ruddy Hill since our first time up this peak was viewless (post). With the addition of Ruddy Hill to the Monon Lake hike we used Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mt. Jefferson Region” for additional inspiration and came up with our own hike mashup.
In addition to Monon Lake and the view from Ruddy Hill we also wanted to see Timber and Horseshoe Lakes for the first time. Our plan was to start our hike at Monon Lake and do a clockwise loop with side trips up Ruddy Hill and to Timber Lake. This meant driving past the Olallie Lake Resort on the infamous Skyline Road to the northern Monon Lake Trailhead. The road was passable in our Outback and the recent rains helped clearly identify the numerous potholes along the way.
There was a nearly immediate view across part of the lake to Olallie Butte which we had recently climbed (post).
The trail began to curve around the northern end of the lake passing through a section of forest before reaching some boardwalks and bridges in a meadow between Monon Lake and a smaller unnamed lake to the north.
A few gentians still holding their blue color.
Olallie Butte and the unnamed lake.
There were plenty of views across Monon Lake as the trail entered a fire scar. More and more of Mt. Jefferson was revealed as we continued east.
The tip of Mt. Jefferson sticking up above the high point on the ridge.
More of the mountain (Ruddy Hill is the round butte to the right.)
Dusting of new snow on Mt. Jefferson
Duck on the lake.
A little more of Mt. Jefferson showing.
The trail climbed atop a small rocky hill above the lake which happened to be where a trial junction was hidden.
View from atop the rocks.
The Monon Lake Trail continues to the right around the lake while the Mon-Olallie Trail forked left for .3 miles to the Olallie Lake Trail. We completely missed the Monon Trail and the small rock cairn marking the junction.
The small rock cairn coming from the opposite direction on the Monon Lake Trail later in the day.
Having missed the junction where we had planned to go right we wound up on the Mon-Olallie Trail which passed Mangriff Lake on the left.
Just beyond Mangriff Lake was Nep-te-pa Lake on the right.
By the time we realized that we had missed our junction we were nearing Olallie Lake so we decided that we would just do our loop in the opposite direction of what we had planned. The Mon-Olallie Trail ended at an obvious and signed junction near Olallie Lake.
We turned right and after a nice view of the lake entered a stand of green trees.
Approximately .4 miles from the Mon-Olallie Trail junction we arrived at another junction with the Long Lake Trail at the border of the Warm Springs Reservation. Unlike the trail up Olallie Butte this trail was clearly marked as closed to the public.
We continued around Olallie Lake passing numerous spectacular views of Mt. Jefferson.
A brief road walk brought us to the Olallie Lake Resort where we followed a trail between the lake and some cabins.
The views of Mt. Jefferson from the resort were great and we stopped at the dock and the picnic area for photos.
We passed through the picnic area and popped onto Skyline Road where we turned left for three tenths of a mile to the Red Lake Trail.
We had come down this trail to visit Olallie Lake during our previous Ruddy Hill hike. That had been a 17.9 mile day so we had skipped the side trail to Timber Lake. After a .7 mile gradual climb past several small ponds we arrived at the junction with the Timber Lake Trail.
We turned down this trail and followed it .6 mostly level miles (there were two short but steep climbs over ridges) to Timber Lake.
We followed a path along the northern shore of the lake until we had a decent view of the top section of Mt. Jefferson.
After getting our view of the mountain we returned to the Red Lake Trail. We turned left and continued the gradual climb to the Pacific Crest Trail. In a little over a quarter mile we arrived at Top Lake.
At the NW end of the lake the Red Lake Trail forked right but we turned left passing a nice view of Olallie Butte.
This connector trail climbed steeply via a series of switchbacks to an unsigned junction with the Pacific Crest Trail near Cigar Lake where we turned left (south).
Rock cairn along the PCT marking the connector trail.
Golden-mantled ground squirrels at Cigar Lake.
The southern end of Cigar Lake is the location of the Double Peaks Trail. We had taken this trail twice hoping for nice views to no avail. (One was the 17.9mi hike including Ruddy Hill, the other was in 2013.) It would have likely been a great view now, but the .7 mile trail is frustratingly steep and we just didn’t feel like tackling it again. On the other hand the PCT remained fairly level over the next mile as it passed Upper Lake then a meadow with a view of Mt. Jefferson.
Double Peaks from Upper Lake
At the meadow the PCT turned left and began a brief climb up a butte. A third of a mile into the climb we passed the Many Lake Viewpoint. Here we had a nice view of Mt. Hood (and many lakes).
Company at the viewpoint.
We continued south from the viewpoint and were soon descending along a forested hillside when we heard an elk bugle. We guessed that it was a bow hunter but hoped it was an actual elk. Our guess was right though and we stopped to briefly talk to the hunter before continuing on.
Approximate location when we heard the “elk” bugle.
Just over a mile from the Many Lakes Viewpoint we arrived at the Ruddy Hill Trail where we turned right leaving the PCT.
The nearly half mile trail was quite a bit steeper than we’d remembered but we soon found ourselves on the red topped summit looking at the view of Mt. Jefferson that we had missed on our previous visit.
Although there was no view north, the view to the west was good with the peaks of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness.
Flat topped Battle Ax Mountain to the left to the fire scarred summit of Schreiner Peak to the right.
After resting at the summit we headed back down the PCT and continued south another .2 miles where we turned left on the “Rondy Trail”.
This trail descended a drainage before leveling out and arriving at Horseshoe Lake in three quarters of a mile. There was a nice variety of mushrooms along the way.
We followed the trail along the lake shore to the Horseshoe Lake Campground located right on Skyline Road.
For second time on this hike we went the wrong way and turned right on Skyline Road thinking it was an entrance road to the campground. We had only gone a tenth of a mile before realizing our mistake and turning around. We followed Skyline Road north for a mile. We were eager to get a firsthand look at what many consider one of the worst trailhead roads in NW Oregon. It was certainly a bad looking road but the section we hiked wasn’t quite as bad as some we’d seen in eastern and southeastern Oregon. It may well be worse beyond Horseshoe Lake though.
When we arrived at the southern end of Monon Lake we were just .3 miles from our car, but we turned onto the Monon Lake Trail to finish that trail. The views of Olallie Butte from this end of the lake were spectacular.
More boardwalks were present as we passed through the forest along this end of the lake.
We soon found ourselves back in the fire scar which just provided more views of the lake and Olallie Butte.
A little over a mile from the road the trail began to curve around to the west where we once again had views of Mt. Jefferson across the lake.
One and a quarter miles from the road we were back on top the rocks above the lake and heading for the junction we’d missed that morning.
We then followed our route from the morning back to our car. We had hopped that the Sun would have coaxed some of the gentians to open, but it appeared to be too late in their life cycle for that to happen.
Our loop with side trips came in at 13.6 miles with approximately 1500′ of elevation gain. It was a beautiful day and so nice to have been able to get that view from Ruddy Hill. Happy Trails!
At the beginning of the year we had requested the Friday before Labor Day Weekend off in hopes of backpacking around Diamond Peak (With a side trip up to the summit) but with our backpacking plans on hold while we care for our elderly cats we switched our plans to day hikes instead. For our first hike we chose Olallie Butte.
Before getting into the trip report we wanted to point out that this hike is in part located on the Warm Springs Reservation. It wasn’t entirely clear whether or not non-tribal members are allowed on the trail. We did some research before heading out and discovered that this uncertainty has existed for some time. We decided to go ahead and start the hike but were prepared to turn around if there were any signs posted letting us know that the trail was off-limits. There were several other nearby hikes that are still on our to do list so we had plenty of alternate options if that did happen.
The hike starts at a nondescript pullout under some power lines. We were a little apprehensive upon arriving at the trailhead, not because we were worried the trail would be closed, but rather due to the clouds that were overhead. The forecast had called for sunny skies on the butte so we hoped that either the clouds would be burning off or we would be climbing above them. We had tried for a similar view two other times by climbing nearby Double Peaks (post) and Ruddy Hill (post), but had been foiled by clouds on both of the trips.
The actual trail was marked by some pink flagging off a dirt road across from the parking area.
After just a tenth of a mile we arrived at the Pacific Crest Trail where there was what appeared to be a newer sign for the Olallie Butte Trail.
Trail sign with the PCT heading north behind it.
We crossed the PCT and headed uphill through the forest which was very typical for the Olallie Lake Scenic Area.
After approximately a mile and a half of gradual climbing we came to a sign announcing the start of the Warm Springs Reservation.
There were no signs of restricted access so we continued on making sure that we remained on the trail and respected the area.
We did indeed emerge from the clouds not long after entering the reservation which allowed for occasional views of nearby Sisi Butte and Mt. Hood.
Lookout tower on Sisi Butte
It was too late in the year for most of the flowers but there was a little color left on a few of them.
Just beyond the three mile mark the trail leaves the forest and traverses a cinder slope beneath the summit.
The view south to Mt. Hood is unobstructed here.
Shortly before starting a series of swtichbacks we got our first look at Mt. Jefferson through some trees.
The view of Mt. Jefferson improved as we climbed and soon Olallie and Monon Lakes joined the scenery along with several more Cascade peaks further to the south.
Monon Lake just beyond Olallie Lake (Timber Lake is the smaller lake in the trees to the west.
Broken Top and The Three Sisters
There were also some familiar features from earlier this year.
Dinah-mo Peak and Bear Point (post)
After completing the switchbacks the trail arrived at a saddle atop the broad summit of Olallie Butte. To the north were the remains of a former lookout tower while a close up view of Mt. Jefferson awaited to the south.
Lookout tower remains
We started by visiting the southern end of the summit to get that close up view of Mt. Jefferson and the many lakes between that mountain and the butte.
Starting from the left – Trout Lake with Boulder Lake beyond, Island Lake, Dark Lake, Long Lake. The three smaller lakes are Lake Mary (closest), Lake Marie (middle), and Lake Alice (furthest). Lake Hazel is the small lake up and to the right of those three. All of these lakes are part of the Warm Springs Reservation and off-limits unless a permit to visit has been obtained.
Monon, Olallie, and Timber Lakes in the Mt. Hood National Forest to the west.
An interesting feature on this end of the butte is a natural rock arch.
We eventually pulled ourselves away from this view to head over to the former lookout.
We found a pair of Clark’s nutcrackers enjoying breakfast.
The clouds were receding to the north which revealed Mt. Adams behind the right shoulder of Mt. Hood and further to the west we could just make out Mt. St. Helens above the clouds.
Mt. St. Helens as a dark spot on the horizon.
Mt. Adams beyond Mt. Hood
Mt. Jefferson from the lookout site.
There were more rock fins on the NE side of the butte but no rock arches.
We visited the south end of the summit once more before heading back down the trail. The view was a little different on the return trip as the clouds had departed creating several additional views of Mt. Hood along the lower portions.
We had planned to pack out any litter we found on the reservation as one of the things that could easily lead to the explicit closure of the trail would be damage to the area but we didn’t see any other than the remains of the old lookout while on the reservation. On the other hand closer to the trailhead we removed a shoe sole, a couple of crushed cans, and a pile of apparently discarded clothing and a tent fly.
Other than the trash this was a spectacular hike. The views were great and we didn’t see any other hikers. For us this was roughly an 8 mile hike gaining 2700′ of elevation. Despite that number the climb was never particularly steep making it feel a little easier than might be expected. Happy Trails!
After a week back at work it was time to hit the trails again. We once again turned to Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region” for inspiration choosing the Bingham Ridge Trail as our destination.
The Bingham Ridge Trailhead is located 5 miles up Forest Road 2253 aka Minto Road. That road is just 17 miles east of Detroit, OR and was in great shape except for some water damage in the first quarter of a mile. Beyond that short stretch it was a good gravel road all the way to the parking area just before the road was gated.
The trail began opposite the little parking area where we had parked along side two other vehicles.
The trail climbed through a green forest along the dry bed of Willis Creek before briefly passing through the edge of a clear-cut.
Huckleberry bushes and beargrass in the clear-cut.
Sleeping bees on some thistle.
The trail soon reentered the trees and then passed into the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.
The bees on the thistle may have been asleep but a western toad was out and about.
After entering the wilderness the trail continued to climb very gradually as it passed through alternating sections of green trees and forest scarred by the 2006 Puzzle Creek Fire.
Mt. Jefferson through the burned trees.
Back in the green.
Three Fingered Jack through the burned trees.
The longest stretch through burned forest occurred as the trail passed to the right of a rocky rise along the ridge.
Three Fingered Jack
The rock covered rise.
South Cinder Peak (post) to the left and Three Fingered Jack to the right.
Still passing the rocks.
We heard a couple of “meeps” from pikas in the rocks but we only managed to spot a golden-mantled ground squirrel.
As the trail passed around the rocky rise we reentered green forest and quickly came to the end of the Bingham Ridge Trail at a junction with the Lake of the Woods Trail 3.7 miles from the trailhead.
The Lake of the Woods Trail runs north-south between the Pamelia Limited Entry Area and Marion Lake (post). We turned left (north) onto this trail which promptly crossed over the ridge at a low saddle and began to traverse a forested hillside.
The low saddle.
The trail wound around the basin arriving at a ridge end viewpoint where we had hoped to get a view of Mt. Jefferson but soon realized that we hadn’t come far enough around yet and we were looking west not north.
Coffin and Bachelor Mountains (post).
We continued along the hillside finally coming far enough around to get a look at Mt. Jefferson.
Just a little further along we arrived at Reeder’s turn around point for the 8.8 mile hike described in his book. A cinder viewpoint of Mt. Jefferson across the Bingham Basin.
There was a strange group of clouds hanging out on the top of the mountain. We could see them moving in what appeared to be a SE direction but despite seeing the movement it never really appeared that they were going anywhere.
As we stood at this rocky viewpoint we could hear more pikas and then Heather spotted one sitting on top of some rocks, maybe enjoying the same view we were.
Even though Reeder calls this viewpoint “the most logical stopping point for dayhikers” he does provide information for those wishing to continue. Since logic sometimes goes out the window with regards to hiking we continued on. The trail dropped just a bit to a fairly level bench where it passed through a couple of meadows before arriving at an unnamed lake with a view of Mt. Jefferson on the left.
Spirea with a beetle.
Unnamed lake with Mt. Jefferson (and those pesky clouds).
From the opposite side of the lake.
A half mile later (or just under 2 miles from the Bingham Ridge Trail junction) we arrived a Papoose Lake.
The mountain was mostly hidden by trees from this lake but there were several frogs to watch and a short scramble up a rockpile on the east side of the lake did provide another look at Mt. Jefferson.
It was actually a really impressive amount of boulders here and although we didn’t spot any, we could hear a number of resident pikas.
Looking south over the rock field.
Turning back here would have put the hike in the 11.5 mile range, but we had our sights set on a further goal – the Pacific Crest Trail. Beyond Papoose Lake the Lake of the Woods Trail passed several seasonal ponds which were now meadows where we had to watch out for tiny frogs.
One of the frogs.
Frog in the trail.
Just under three quarters of a mile from Papoose Lake (6.3ish from the trailhead) we arrived at the northern end of the Lake of the Woods Trail where it met the Hunts Creek Trail (post).
A left on this trail would lead us into the Pamelia Limited Entry Area for which we did not have a permit, but to the right the trail remained out of the limited area as it headed to the Pacific Crest Trail.
In his book Reeder describes this section of trail as “spectacular” which is what prompted us to abandon logic in the first place. We turned right and continued the theme of gradual climbs as the trail passed a hillside dotted with a few asters.
After little over a quarter of a mile we found ourselves beneath a large talus slope (by the sound of it filled with a pika army).
Here we embarked on possibly the most significant climb of the day as the trail switchbacked up through the rocks to a saddle.
Apparently the trail was rerouted at some point because we could see tread that we never used.
The Three Pyramids beyond Bingham Ridge.
As we neared the saddle we spotted what must have been the pika lookout.
There was more talus on the opposite side of the saddle, and more pikas too!
We spotted at least 4 pikas (it’s hard to keep track when they are running in and out of the rocks) and heard many more. The only thing that could tear us away from our favorite wildlife critters was the view of Mt. Jefferson looming over Hunts Cove.
(the clouds had finally vanished)
Continuing away from the saddle just a bit provided an excellent view of the mountain and Hanks Lake with a bit of Hunts Lake visible as well.
Rock fin above Hunts Cove.
Reeder hadn’t exaggerated by using spectacular to describe this section of trail. The views of Mt. Jefferson were amazing and a variety of wildflowers (past peak) lined the trail.
Penstemon and a western pasque flower.
Western pasque flower seed heads.
Paintbrush and lupine
Mt. Jefferson, Goat Peak (behind the tree) and the Cathedral Rocks.
As the trail crossed a cinder field glimpses to the south between trees reveled the Three Sisters (among others).
South Cinder Peak
The Three Sisters
Three Fingered Jack
The trail briefly lost sight of Mt. Jefferson as it passed around a butte, losing a little elevation as it did so.
Paintbrush in a meadow behind the butte.
Although the view of Mt. Jefferson was temporarily gone the view was still good. There was a large basin full of meadows just below the trail and occasional views of South Cinder Peak and Three Fingered Jack.
South Cinder Peak
Three Fingered Jack
The trail gained a little of the elevation back as it came around the butte regaining a view of Mt. Jefferson in the process.
After passing another sign for the Pamelia Limited Entry Area at a now abandoned (but still used) portion of the Hunts Creek Trail we arrived at the Pacific Crest Trail.
We sat on some rocks here and rested. We were now at least 8 miles (that is the mileage Reeder assigns but with some extra exploring we’d done a bit more) from the Bingham Ridge Trailhead and needed a good break. Up until this point we’d only run into one other person, a bow hunter along the Bingham Ridge Trail. As we rested in the shade a pair of backpackers heading south on the PCT stopped briefly to talk. After they continued on we did little bit of exploring in the immediate area since there were a few flowers about and at least one tree frog.
Mostly past lupine
We returned the way we’d come enjoying the views just as much on the way back as we had the first time by. We didn’t see anyone else the rest of the day and we didn’t see anymore pikas, but as always there were a few things we spotted on the way back that we hadn’t seen or noticed earlier.
Butterfly on an aster.
Never seen one of these looks so clean and smooth, it almost looked fake.
We don’t know if this was just a stunted wallflower or something we’d never seen before.
We ended the day nearly out of water (luckily for us the temperatures stayed below 70 so it wasn’t too warm) and with some sore feet. Our GPS devices both showed us having traveled nearly 17 miles which was further than we’d planned but all the little side trips and exploring can really add up. Depsite the distance this was a great hike with varied scenery, good wildlife, and a reasonable elevation gain made better by the trails having such gradual grades. Of course any trail where we see multiple pikas is going to be aces in our minds. Happy Trails!
We spent another vacation doing day hikes from home as we continue to take care of our elderly cats. It has created a delay in our plans to visit all of the designated wilderness areas in Oregon, but it also has given us a chance to redo some hikes that didn’t go as planned the first time around and hit a few other hikes sooner than planned.
The first hike of the week was a repeat of a cloudy September 2015 climb to the summit of Maxwell Butte (post). We’d had no views whatsoever that day so a sunny forecast gave us the green light to try again. Once again we parked in the paved Maxwell Butte Sno-Park lot instead of driving the additional .4 miles of gravel road to the actual Maxwell Butte Trailhead.
From the official trailhead the Maxwell Butte Trail climbed gradually through a nice forest entering the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness after 1.75 miles. It was sad to find that the unique wilderness sign was missing.
The wilderness sign in 2015.
A little more than two and a quarter miles from the trailhead we arrived at a junction with the Lava Lakes Trail near Twin Lakes.
There was significantly more water in the lakes this time around (and better visibility too).
Our presence raised a ruckus from a Stellar’s jay.
One the way back by later (after the Sun had moved out of the way) we stopped at the lakes to get a photo of Maxwell Butte.
We followed the Maxwell Butte Trail past the lakes as it began to climb up and around the butte. Closer to the lakes we passed a few remaining flowers and some ripe huckleberries.
A couple of short (and late) beargrass plumes.
As the trail got closer to the butte we passed through some meadows and open rocky areas where we kept on the lookout for pikas.
This looked like prime pika habitat to us.
The trail made its way to the south side of Maxwell Butte where our first good mountain view was of Diamond Peak beyond Sand Mountain which we had visited earlier in the year (post).
The trail steepened a bit as it made its way up the south side of Maxwell Butte via a series of switchbacks.
Butterflies and increasingly better views helped keep our minds off the climb.
Hogg Rock (near left), flat topped Hayrick Butte next to Hoodoo Butte, Mt. Washington with Broken Top behind left and the Three Sisters behind right.
Five and a quarter miles from the sno-park we arrived at the summit of Maxwell Butte where a fire lookout once stood.
The view now included Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood to the north.
Mt. Hood in the distance to the left of Mt. Jefferson.
Less than three miles away as the crow flies Three Fingered Jack dominated the view east.
Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack with Santiam Lake in the forest below.
The view south.
Broken Top, Mt. Washington, and the Three Sisters with Hayrick Butte in the forefront.Santiam Lake
After a nice long break taking in the views and naming as many of the lakes dotting the forest below as we could we headed back down. We took a quick detour to check out Maxwell Butte’s crater.
Paintbrush in the crater.
There were quite a few more butterflies out as we made our way back and we managed to spot a pika gathering greens in the rocky area we had thought looked like a good spot for one.
Golden-mantled ground squirrel in the same rocky area as the pika.
It had been a successful do-over getting the views we’d missed out on before. Round trip the hike was 10.6 miles with a little over 2500′ of elevation gain. It was a solid start to what we hoped would be six straight days of hiking. Happy Trails!