Categories
Columbia Gorge North Hiking Washington

Hardy Ridge Loop

For the third hike in a row we found ourselves headed to Washington. Our destination this time was Beacon Rock State Park for a hike to Hardy Ridge. We’d been to the park twice before with Hamilton Mountain being our goal each time (on our second visit we also hiked up Beacon Rock (post)). For each of our hikes to Hamilton Mountain we had started at the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead but for today’s hike we parked at the Equestrian Trailhead.
IMG_3820

There is a gated road and a trail that begin at the far end of the parking area which meet after a few hundred feet.
IMG_3514Equestrian Trail at the trailhead.

IMG_3528On the old roadbed/Equestrian Trail.

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

IMG_3522Fairy bells

IMG_3529Violets

IMG_3530Star-flowered false solomon seal

IMG_3533Youth-on-age

IMG_3537Possibly a cinquefoil

IMG_3542Thimbleberry

IMG_3545Fringecup

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

We turned left on the West Hardy Trail which followed an overgrown road bed along the west flank of Hardy Ridge. A brief appearance of blue sky gave us a moment of hope that the mostly cloudy forecast might have been wrong but the blue was quickly replaced with gray clouds.
IMG_3550

IMG_3551

IMG_3556Salmonberry

IMG_3559False solomon seal

IMG_3560Bleeding heart

IMG_3563Here come the clouds.

After 1.3 miles on the West Hardy Trail we turned right onto the Hardy Ridge Trail.
IMG_3571

This hiker only trail climbed approximately 800′ in 0.8 miles to a junction at a saddle on Hardy Ridge.
IMG_3578

IMG_3575Baneberry

IMG_3585Trillium

IMG_3590Paintbrush

IMG_3592Red flowering currant

IMG_3598Chocolate lily

IMG_3616

IMG_3621

IMG_3624Anemones

IMG_3626Looking across the Columbia River into Oregon.

IMG_3627Horsetail Falls (post) in Oregon.

IMG_3629Field chickweed and Oregon grape

IMG_3631Junction at the saddle.

At the junction we turned left onto a well worn trail (not shown on maps) that led north along Hardy Ridge. This trail followed the spine of the ridge 0.8 miles to the ridge’s highest point at an elevation a little under 3000′. On a clear day Mt. Hood and the tops of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier would have been visible from the high point, but on this day the sights were limited to the various flowers blooming along the ridge. As we approached the high point we were greeted with a few snowflakes.
IMG_3640

IMG_3637Glacier lily

IMG_3644

IMG_3651Trilliums

IMG_3665Glacier lilies along the trail.

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

IMG_3669

IMG_3671Phlox

IMG_3676Paintbrush and glacier lilies.

IMG_3678The high point.

IMG_3684Glacier lilies at the high point.

We didn’t stay long at the top, while we were fortunate to not be dealing with any of the winds the Columbia Gorge is known for it was chilly (as evidenced by the snowflakes) so we headed back down. Along the way we met a spotted towhee that wasn’t the least bit bothered by the weather.
IMG_3690

As we made our way down the clouds began to lift a bit and by the time we were approaching the junction we were under them which gave us a nice view of Hamilton Mountain.
IMG_3697

IMG_3701Hamilton Mountain (high point to the right) and the Columbia River.

IMG_3706Bonneville Dam and the Hamilton Mountain Trail crossing The Saddle.

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

The only snowy peak we could see though was Larch Mountain (post) to the SW.
IMG_3711

When we reached the junction we turned left onto the East Hardy Trail and began a mile long descent to another junction.
IMG_3715

IMG_3721Squirrel

IMG_3727Snail

IMG_3730

At this 3-way junction we faced a choice. Most descriptions of the Hardy Ridge Loop (including Sullivan’s) would have sent us straight on the East Hardy Trail for 0.8 miles to the Equestrian Trail then right on that trail 1.7 miles back to the trailhead for an 8.5 mile hike. We opted to extend our hike by turning left instead on the Bridge Trail.
IMG_3732

IMG_3738Bleeding heart along a little stream.

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

IMG_3743Possibly a Dictyoptera aurora (Golden net-winged beetle)

A little over three quarters of a mile we arrived at the trail’s namesake bridge over Hardy Creek.
IMG_3745

IMG_3746

IMG_3749

After crossing the creek the trail climbed for a tenth of a mile to the Upper Hardy Trail (another old roadbed).
IMG_3755

Here again we could have shortened our hike by turning right following a pointer for the Equestrian Trail but we wanted to revisit The Saddle north of Hamilton Mountain. We turned left on the Upper Hardy Trail climbing approximately 300′ in 0.6 miles to yet another junction.
IMG_3757

IMG_3759Hardy Ridge from the Upper Hardy Trail.

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

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

IMG_3768Coltsfoot

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

The Upper Hardy Trail then descended for .2 miles to The Saddle and a junction with the Hamilton Mountain Trail.
IMG_3770

IMG_3771Hikers coming down from Hamilton Mountain.

For the first time on this hike were at a familiar spot. We turned right onto the Equestrian Trail following it for 150 yards to a sign for Dons Cutoff Trail.
IMG_3778

On both of our previous visits we had stayed on the Equestrian Trail following it downhill for a mile to a 3-way junction at Hardy Creek. This time we took Dons Cutoff which would bring us to the same junction in just a tenth of a mile more. Dons Cutoff headed steeply downhill arriving at the Upper Hardy Trail after half a mile.
IMG_3779

IMG_3781Dons Cutoff Trail nearing the Upper Hardy Trail.

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

IMG_3786

IMG_3787Equestrian Trail

IMG_3789Hardy Creek

IMG_3791

We crossed Hardy Creek on the Equestrian Trail following it for a half mile to the 4-way junction.
IMG_3796

Had we opted for the described hike we would have arrived at this junction on the East Hardy Trail. We faced another choice here, keep on the Equestrian Trail for 1.7 miles or turn left onto the Lower Loop Trail and add approximately 0.4 miles to the hike. You guessed it we turned left and took the Lower Loop Trail which popped us out onto the Equestrian Trail at the 4-way junction where we had turned up the West Hardy Trail that morning.
IMG_3798

IMG_3803

IMG_3804

We turned left and followed the Equestrian Trail downhill for the final 1.2 miles of what turned out to be 13 mile hike that gained approximately 2700′ of elevation. Slugs were out in force along the final stretch including a number of small black specimens.
IMG_3806

IMG_3808Spotted this guy while I was photographing the slug above. Not sure if it’s a crane fly or ?

IMG_3813

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

Our track for the day.

Flickr: Hardy Ridge Loop

Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Washington

Grayback Mountain, WA – 05/01/2021

We kicked off our official 2021 hiking season with a bit of an obscure hike from Matt Reeder’s “Off the Beaten Trail” (2nd edition) guidebook. The hike to the summit of Grayback Mountain is a gated dirt road walk through mostly private lands to a view of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks. Because the road to the summit passes through private land it is important to respect the landowners rights, Leave No Trace and be aware that access could be closed at anytime. The hike starts on Washington Department of Natural Resources Land (A Discover Pass is required to park) at a parking area at a gate.
IMG_3118

To reach the trailhead we took Washington Highway 142 north from Lyle, WA 23.3 miles to a junction with the Glenwood-Goldendale Road where we turned left for an additional 5.6 miles to an unmarked junction with Grayback Road on the right. (The road crests just beyond this junction and begins to descend into the Klickitat River Canyon.) We followed Grayback Road for 0.6 miles to the parking area at the end of a meadow.
IMG_3124Looking back toward the meadow.

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

IMG_3134Showy phlox

IMG_3136Larkspur

20210501_074234Mahala Mat (Prostrate ceanothus)

IMG_3140

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

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

IMG_3146Serviceberry

IMG_3151Sparrow

IMG_3153Oregon grape

IMG_3156Strawberry

20210501_075157Arnica

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

IMG_3171Large head clover

IMG_3176Camas, much of which had yet to bloom.

IMG_3179Ponderosa pines along the road.

IMG_3180Western buttercups

Small flower woodland star and slender phloxWoodland star and slender phlox

IMG_3184Pussytoes and camas

IMG_3193A cryptantha

IMG_3196Oaks and ponderosas

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

IMG_3201Lupine

IMG_3214Robin

IMG_3217Dark eyed junco

IMG_3218Bumble bee

IMG_3220A more forested section of the road.

IMG_3223Ball-head waterleaf

IMG_3224Largeleaf sandwort

20210501_085644American vetch

IMG_3233Dandelions in Mahala Mat

IMG_3235Bitter cherry

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

IMG_3241Sagebrush false dandelion

IMG_3246Climbing up Grayback Mountain

IMG_3258Red breasted nuthatch

IMG_3265First view of Mt. Hood since the trailhead.

IMG_3267Mt. Hood

IMG_3281Buckwheat

IMG_3289Mt. Hood beyond the Klickitat River Canyon

IMG_3294Turkey vulture

IMG_3292Entering the meadows on Grayback Mountain.

IMG_3301Approaching the first view of Mt. Adams.

IMG_3304Mt. Adams

IMG_3306Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks

IMG_3307Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks

IMG_3313In the meadows.

IMG_3314A balsamroot surrounded by parsley.

IMG_3321Indra swallowtail

IMG_3326Western meadowlark in a patch of Columbia desert parsley.

IMG_3342

IMG_3367Radio equipment atop Grayback Mountain with Mt. Adams beyond.

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

IMG_3361The Klickitat River

IMG_3351Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks

IMG_3353Mt. Adams

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

IMG_3369Daggerpod

IMG_3371Obligatory survey marker photo.

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

IMG_3376A few gold stars still had petals.

IMG_3394A hairstreak but I’m not sure which type.

IMG_3400At least 4 ants on a large head clover.

IMG_3404Looking back south down Grayback Mountain.

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

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

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

IMG_3494Another Erynnis propertius

Juba skipper - Hesperia jubaJuba skippers caught in the act.

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

IMG_3493Alligator lizard on a log.

IMG_3497Western fence lizard

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

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

Flickr: Grayback Mountain

Categories
Columbia Gorge North Hiking Washington

Columbia Hills State Park – 4/17/2021

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

We followed the trail .3 miles to a junction where, unlike the first visit, we went right first following the trail around to the south side of Horsethief Butte where a fence announced the area beyond was closed.
IMG_2487

IMG_2491

IMG_2502

IMG_2496Death camas

IMG_2575Western stoneseed

20210417_065844Fiddleneck

IMG_2522Large-flower tritelia

IMG_2528Mt. Hood beyond Horsethief Lake

IMG_2534Standing at the fence looking east.

IMG_2531Wren

IMG_2535Horsethief Butte

IMG_2544Lupine

We then walked back about a quarter of a mile to a sign at an opening in the rock formation.
IMG_2510

Here we turned and headed up into the rocks.
IMG_2551

IMG_2560

IMG_2563

There is an optional side trail to a viewpoint inside the formation but we wanted to save the time and get to our second stop sooner rather than later. We had been the only car at the trailhead but half an hour later there were another half dozen cars (mostly rock climbers) with more arriving.
IMG_2571

We descended from Horsethief Butte and after a short detour due to a wrong turn at a junction we arrived back at our and drove east on SR 14 for 0.7 miles to the Crawford Oaks Trailhead. While the trailhead opened in May of 2014 my parents I had not parked here opting instead to park at the Dalles Mountain Ranch making this a primarily new hike for me too.
IMG_2580

There was a small handful of cars here but not bad (it was a different story later). We followed the Entry (Access) Road Trail uphill form the parking lot past the Ice Aged Floods Viewpoint.
IMG_2587Horsethief Butte and Mt. Hood from the viewpoint.

IMG_2588

After a 180 degree turn the Entry Road approached Eightmile Creek near Eightmile Creek Falls.
IMG_2602

IMG_2605Purple cushion fleabane

IMG_2608Balsamroot

The road turned uphill along the creek where several Lewis’s woodpeckers were flying from oak to oak.
IMG_2612

IMG_2614

IMG_2624

IMG_2627

IMG_2630Western bluebird

We followed the road down and across Eightmile Creek to an interpretive sign at a junction.
IMG_2643

IMG_2642Ground squirrel

IMG_2648

This was the start of a couple different loop options. We chose to take the left fork which was the Military Road Trail. Going this direction is the shortest route to the Crawford Ranch Complex plus it would mean that we would be heading toward Mt. Hood as we looped around on the Vista Loop Trail (the right hand fork here). The Military Road Trail climbed away from the creek reaching another junction after .3 miles. Here we forked left again leaving the Military Road for the Eightmile Trail. (Sticking to the Military Road would have led us to the Vista Loop Trail in .4 miles.)
IMG_2649

IMG_2656

IMG_2666Lupine, balsamroot and parsley

IMG_2668The Crawford Ranch Complex ahead to the left.

IMG_2674Phlox

IMG_2677

The Eightmile trail dropped to cross a smaller stream before finally returning to Eightmile Creek near a fence line.
IMG_2681

IMG_2701

IMG_2702

IMG_2707

IMG_2709

IMG_2718

IMG_2730

IMG_2744Approaching the fence line.

While there was a bit of a break in the flowers at this fence line there was no shortage of birds.
IMG_2747

IMG_2751Yellow-rumped warbler

IMG_2753Back of a scrub jay

IMG_2761

The trail then veered away from the creek and came to another junction after passing through a fence. The flowers here were spectacular and both Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson were visible.
IMG_2767

IMG_2768

IMG_2770

IMG_2778

IMG_2779Mt. Hood

IMG_2764Mt. Jefferson

At the junction we went right on the Ranch Route Trail eschewing a visit to what looked like a very busy Crawford Ranch Complex. The Ranch Route meandered for 1.4 miles through the flowered covered hillsides before arriving at a junction with the Vista Loop and Military Road Trails.
IMG_2790

IMG_2796

IMG_2800

IMG_2801

IMG_2809

IMG_2823Yakima milk-vetch

IMG_2827

IMG_2828

IMG_2845

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

IMG_2863Death camas

IMG_2872Large head clover

IMG_2893Approaching the junction.

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

IMG_2898A different hawk? watching the goings on.

IMG_2908Western fence lizard watching everything.

IMG_2899Poppy, manroot, and red-stemmed storksbill

IMG_2913The crowded trailhead

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

We opened up a spot here and drove west on SR-14 to Dalles Mountain Road where we turned north (right) and drove 3.5 miles to a fork near the Crawford Ranch Complex. Here we turned left heading uphill for another 1.4 miles (passing a number of hikers walking up along the road) to the Stacker Butte Trailhead. There were a fair number of cars but a few spots were open.
IMG_2916

IMG_2915While both were part of the Crawford Ranch, Stacker Butte is not part of the Columbia Hills State Park but is part of the Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve.

The hike here is pretty straight forward following the gravel road approximately 2.6 miles to some towers on the 3220′ summit of the butte. The flowers were thickest along the lower section of the hike with some that we had not seen down lower including paintbrush, daggerpod and some sicklepod rockcress.
IMG_2928

IMG_3116Yakima milk-vetch

IMG_2935Paintbrush amid the balsamroot.

IMG_2939

IMG_2951Phlox

IMG_2960

IMG_2961Big-seed biscuitroot

IMG_2977Sicklepod rockcress

20210417_122704

IMG_2990Sagebrush false dandelions

20210417_121519Daggerpod

IMG_3044Daggerpod

IMG_3021Slender toothwort?

IMG_3022Shooting stars in front of a little blue-eyed Mary

20210417_122308Large head clover

IMG_3031Popcorn flower

IMG_3024Larkspur

20210417_131353Woodland stars

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

IMG_3000Mt. Adams

IMG_3004Mt. Rainier

IMG_3011Goat Rocks

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

IMG_3058Western fence lizards

IMG_3111White crowned sparrow

IMG_3113Another sparrow

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

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

All three tracks for the day.
Categories
Columbia Gorge North Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Trip report

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

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

Before we got to those wildflower hikes we planned a quick stop at the Mitchell Point Trailhead to make the 1.1 mile climb up to the top of the point. We had actually stopped here in 2018 (after our Memaloose Hills hike) to take the Wygant Trail up to a viewpoint. Originally my plan had been to do these three hikes in a different order starting at the Lyle Cherry Orchard and ending with Mitchell Point but after looking at the plan a little more I realized that it had two flaws. First the exit to the Mitchell Point Trail is only accessible from the eastbound lanes of I-84 and there is no westbound access to I-84 from the trailhead either. (I had made this mistake with the outing in 2018 leading to some extra driving.) The second issue had to do with crowds and our never ending attempt to avoid them. Leaving Mitchell Point as the last hike might have meant dealing with some crowds whereas we didn’t expect Sevenmile Hill to be busy. Our plan seemed to be working pretty well as we were the first car at the Mitchell Point Trailhead.
IMG_0881

We headed to the left of the signboard to the Mitchell Point Trail which began climbing almost immediately.
IMG_0998

IMG_0887

The trail switchbacked up a forested hillside with a few blooming toothworts.
IMG_0890Bench at a switchback.

20210327_080649

We then crossed a talus slope beneath Mitchell Point where lots of tiny blue-eyed Mary grew amid the rocks.
IMG_0907

IMG_0914Reroute below Mitchell Point

IMG_0916

IMG_0919Mushrooms’ and some sedums.

Views to the west along the Columbia River opened up as we climbed.
IMG_0915

The trail briefly reentered the forest and climbed to a set of power lines and an accompanying road.
IMG_0921

The trail never quite reached the road instead turning east then north as it headed out toward Mitchell Point.
IMG_0923

IMG_0927Houndstongue

We followed the trail out onto Mitchell Points Ridge which was dotted with wildflowers including a lot of bright grass widows.
IMG_0939

IMG_0934Grass Widows

IMG_0961Woodland stars

IMG_0955

IMG_0931Yellow bell lily

IMG_0938Desert parsley and woodland stars

IMG_0954A saxifrage

IMG_0965Gold stars and woodland stars

IMG_0977

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

IMG_0966North across the Columbia River into Washington

IMG_0964East

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

We returned the way we’d come arriving back at the trailhead to find we were still the only people there, but we weren’t alone.
IMG_0995

IMG_1001Turkeys on the Wygant Trail

At just over 2 miles round trip the hike to Mitchell Point made for a nice short hike but it comes at a price gaining over a thousand feet on the way up. From this trailhead we continued east to Hood River where we paid the $2 toll to cross the bridge into Washington. We continued east on SR 14 through the town of Lyle then parked at a gravel pullout on the left hand side of the road just beyond a tunnel. This was the unsigned trailhead for the Lyle Cherry Orchard Hike. There were maybe a half dozen or so cars here already which we were pleased with given the large number of cars we already passed by at the Coyote Wall and Catherine Creek Trailheads (and it wasn’t even 8:45 yet). The unsigned trail starts near the eastern end of the parking area and passing along a rock wall through oak trees with lots of poison oak.
IMG_1003

IMG_1008

IMG_1015Red leaves of poison oak behind a death camas

IMG_1017More poison oak behind a waterleaf

IMG_1012Poison oak around some balsamroot

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

IMG_1027

IMG_1028

From the signboard the trail continues to climb through the rock and oaks to a plateau where the poison oak is briefly left behind.
IMG_1032

IMG_1033

IMG_1037Fiddleneck

IMG_1040Desert parsley

IMG_1045Manroot

IMG_1056

IMG_1057Lots of death camas blooming on the plateau.

We followed the trail as it headed gradually uphill toward a second plateau.
IMG_1062

IMG_1064Looking up at the cliffs above.

IMG_1068Balsamroot blooming below the rim.

At a fork in the trail we detoured left for a view of the Columbia River.
IMG_1076

20210327_091929

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

IMG_1085Woodland stars with some lupine leaves

IMG_1090Columbia desert parsley

IMG_1096A biscuitroot

IMG_1104Balsamroot

20210327_092349Balsamroot

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

IMG_1130

Amid the oaks were some additional types of flowers.
IMG_1125Larkspur

IMG_1131Buttercups

IMG_1138Glacier lilies

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

20210327_104840Yellow bell lilies

20210327_104217

IMG_1162Toothwort

IMG_1163Sagebrush false dandelions

IMG_1164

IMG_1167Tortoiseshell butterfly

Just under 2.5 miles from the trailhead we came to a junction which is the start of a short loop. We stayed left arriving at an old road bed a short distance later where we turned right and soon entered the site of the old orchard. Nearly all the cherry trees are gone and the few that remain only have a few branches that continue to bloom and we were too early for those.
IMG_1171

The trail looped through the now open meadow with views east of the Columbia River.
IMG_1174

IMG_1176

A short spur trail on the SW part of the loop led to a viewpoint to the west.
IMG_1180

IMG_1183Tom McCall Point and the Rowena Plateau with Mt. Defiance in the distance.

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

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

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

We weren’t sure how popular this hike is given that there are no official trails. That question, at least for this time of the year, was answered when we pulled into the empty gravel pullout.
IMG_1222

Our plan was to follow the entry in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide (description). The area consists of Forest Service land surrounded by private holdings (note the no trespassing sign across the road in the photo above).
We headed uphill and left, away from the blocked road passing a gravel pit on our left.
IMG_1224

We were supposed to reach a knoll with a small windbreak made out of erratics (rocks from the Rocky Mountains deposited by the Missoula Floods). The first knoll we climbed had some erratics but no windbreak.
IMG_1231Mt. Hood and Columbia desert parsley from the first knoll we tried.

IMG_1234Top of knoll #1.

IMG_1232A lone balsamroot blossom.

We weren’t sure if this was the right knoll or not but we did know from the map in the field guide that we should continue uphill and to the left. We kept climbing up the grassy hillside and reached the top of another knoll where we did indeed find a small windbreak.
IMG_1240

IMG_1241

From the knoll we followed a faint grassy track past a spring to a stand of oak trees.
IMG_1243The path leading past the spring to the oaks.

IMG_1246The spring

There was a fence on the hillside at the oak trees. We got a bit confused here reading the hike description. It reads “Head up gradually to your left, reaching a draw. Walk across the broken fence line here and cross a small bench. Continue hiking up to your left. At some point, you should see the southwest boundary corner of the property and a fence line ahead.” We had not noticed another fence line and this fence was broken here with no signs so we continued on the faint path. That was a mistake and the fence we passed through was the boundary. When we reached a small crest where we could see everything ahead of us there was no other fence in sight.
IMG_1252

We quickly turned and began heading uphill to the NE to relocate the fence line and get ourselves on the correct side (Our apologies to whomever that land belongs too).
IMG_1262Back on the right side

Now we were back on course and followed the fence line uphill. While the wildflowers here would have been better from mid to late April there were a few splashes of color here and there.
IMG_1263

IMG_1249Balsamroot surrounded by some little white flowers.

IMG_1251Lupine thinking about blooming.

IMG_1254Larkspur

IMG_1259Yellow bell lilies

We deviated from the description as we neared the top of the hill electing not to follow the fence through a stand of oak trees, where the guide indicates there is a profusion of poison oak, opting instead to pass through the oaks lower on the hillside.
IMG_1268

IMG_1269We didn’t notice any poison oak here.

On the far side of the oaks we turned almost directly uphill reaching a viewpoint where Mt. Adams rose to the north beyond the Columbia River.
IMG_1270

IMG_1277A grass widow at the viewpoint.

IMG_1286Mt. Adams

IMG_1288Mt. Hood over the oak stand.

IMG_1290

We turned right along the rim following deer and elk trails through the oaks and past more viewpoints.
IMG_1291

IMG_1292

From a grassy rise along the ridge we could see a faint path leading into another stand of trees where we could also make out the fence line marking the eastern boundary of the Forest Service Land.
IMG_1302

We headed downhill and followed the path to the fence line and then followed it down.
IMG_1310The Dalles beyond the fence line.

IMG_1318Heading down the fence line.

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

IMG_1319

IMG_1323

IMG_1325A lupine with blossoms.

IMG_1329Hillside covered in Columbia desert parsley

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

IMG_1341Gooseberry Creek

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

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

Flickr: Mitchell Point, Lyle Cherry Orchard & Sevenmile Hill

Categories
Hiking Indian Heaven Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Junction and Cultus Lakes – Indian Heaven Wilderness – 10/03 & 10/04/2020

With a September backpacking trip to the Sky Lakes Wilderness having been canceled due to the wide spread wildfires on the West Coast it seemed like our Labor Day trip (post) may have been the last nights in our tent. Fortunately the weather and smoke both cooperated over the first weekend in October and we spent one final night in our tent in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. It appeared that nearly everyone else had that same idea making this trip by far the busiest over night trip we’ve experienced.

We had visited this wilderness on two previous occasions – a 2015 day hike starting at the Thomas Lake Trailhead, and a 2018 day hike to Indian Racetrack via the Pacific Crest Trail. We began this trip on the eastern side of the wilderness at the East Crater Trailhead.
IMG_6371

Our plan was to take the East Crater Trail 2.5 miles to Junction Lake and set up camp then make a big loop (with a few side trips) around Bird Mountain using the Pacific Crest Trail, Cultus Creek Trail, Indian Heaven Trail, and finally the Lemi Lake Trail. We started up the East Crater Trail through a mountain hemlock forest with splashes of Fall colors.
IMG_6376

The trail climbed gradually entering the Indian Heaven Wilderness.
IMG_6380

A little less than a mile and a half from the trailhead we passed the first of several small ponds and the scar of the 2017 East Crater Fire.
IMG_6385

IMG_6392Still some fireweed blooming in the fire scar.

IMG_6396East Crater beyond a pond.

IMG_6397

Just before the 2.5 miles we arrived at the Pacific Crest Trail and the end of the East Crater Trail near Junction Lake.
IMG_6404

IMG_6406Junction Lake

We didn’t want to set up our tent on the vegetation in the meadows around the lake so we looked to the opposite side of the PCT where we found a nice little spot tucked back in the trees.
IMG_6411

IMG_6407This crab spider offered to watch our tent for us while we were away.

After getting everything set up we headed north along the PCT past Junction Lake to a junction with the Lemi Lake Trail.
IMG_6413

We stayed left on the PCT and reentered the trees on a forested hillside.
IMG_6418

A mile from the Lemi Lake Trail junction we came to another junction with the Elk Lake Trail near Bear Lake.
IMG_6423

This was our first detour as we turned left and descended to the shore of Bear Lake where numerous tents were set up.
IMG_6424

The Indian Heaven Wilderness is famous for its huckleberries but this late in the year most of them were well past edible but along the lake shore there were a few left which had caught the attention of the locals.
IMG_6433

We opted not to go the third of a mile further to Elk Lake and after a short break we returned to the PCT and continued north another .4 miles before making another short side trip downhill to Deer Lake.
IMG_6442

We continued past Deer Lake meeting the Indian Heaven Trail on the far side where a right turn onto it would have allowed for a shorter loop. We had done that loop on our first visit to the wilderness though so we stuck to the PCT this time. We could hear pikas “meeping” from a talus slope near the junction so when we got closer to the rocks we started scanning for the little guys. We were quickly rewarded as one darted in and out of the rocks pausing long enough for a couple of photos.
IMG_6452

IMG_6455

The PCT continued to climb gradually along the western side of Bird Mountain passing the Placid Lake Trail approximately a mile from the Indian Heaven Trail before arriving at a 4-way junction after another mile.
IMG_6466Placid Lake Trail on the left.

IMG_6481No pikas in these rocks, that we saw.

At the junction the PCT continued straight while the Wood Lake Trail headed downhill to the left.
IMG_6485

IMG_6486PCT at the 4-way junction.

We took the right had path, the Cultus Creek Trail which crossed over a pass.
IMG_6483Cultus Creek Trail heading uphill to the right.

On the far side of the pass we took a use trail out to a rocky viewpoint with a great view of Mt. Adams.
IMG_6488

IMG_6491

In front of Mt. Adams we recognized Sleeping Beauty which we had hiked up earlier in the year (post).
IMG_6496

We took another break on some rocks here and soaked in the view. The forecast for the weekend had been for widespread haze so the blue sky and clear view was a nice surprise. After the break we returned to the Cultus Creek Trail which headed steeply downhill. We were starting to see more and more hikers as it seemed a lot of people had the same idea that we’d had as far as it being a good weekend for a visit. As the trail dropped to the east we briefly got a glimpse of the Goat Rocks and Mt. Rainier beyond Sawtooth Mountain.
IMG_6516

IMG_6509Goat Rocks with Mt. Adams hiding behind trees.

IMG_6511Mt. Rainier behind Sawtooth Mountain (and Steamboat Mountain to the right)

IMG_6513Mt. Rainier

After a mile and a half on the Cultus Creek Trail we arrived at the Cultus Creek Forest Camp.
IMG_6528

IMG_6530

IMG_6533

We walked to the right through the camp following signs to the Indian Heaven Trailhead.
IMG_6538

We followed this relatively steep trail back into the wilderness and up to an even better viewpoint just over a mile from the trailhead.
IMG_6547

IMG_6551_stitch

Mt. Rainier had swapped sides with Sawtooth Mountain and was fully visible as were the Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams.
IMG_6560

IMG_6561

IMG_6563

Beyond the viewpoint the trail continued to climb but much more gradually arriving at a junction with the Deep Lake Trail after 1.2 miles.
IMG_6576The Labor Day wind storm had knocked a number of trees down but the trails we took had mostly been cleared already.

IMG_6574

IMG_6596

There was a bit of a traffic jam at the Deep Lake Trail junction and we wound up on that trail even though we had not planned on this side trip.
IMG_6580Cultus Lake from the Deep Lake Trail.

IMG_6582

It was only about a quarter mile to Deep Lake and well worth the trip as it turned out. The top of Mt. Adams was visible across the lake.
IMG_6583

We took another break along the shore of this lake (which was also very busy with hikers and backpackers).
IMG_6587

We returned to the Indian Heaven Trail and followed it to the far side of Cultus Lake where we turned left on the Lemi Trail.
IMG_6598Lemi Rock beyond Cultus Lake

IMG_6601Cultus Lake from the Lemi Trail.

Beyond Cultus Lake the Lemi Trail passed through a series of meadows with bright red and yellow huckleberry leaves.
IMG_6610

IMG_6613

After a mile of fairly level hiking the Lemi Trail steepened gaining a little over 200′ in .3 miles.
IMG_6621The climb was up a forested hillside.

The climb offered us the only view of the day of Mt. St. Helens.
IMG_6622Mt. St. Helens

IMG_6624

The trail leveled out again on the east side of Lemi Rock at a junction with what appeared to be possibly be a climbers trail on the right.
IMG_6637

We continued on the Lemi Trail another quarter mile to a viewpoint above Lake Wapiki where we now had a view of Mt. Hood (and a little more haze).
IMG_6642Mt. Adams as we approached the viewpoint.

IMG_6644Lake Wapiki

IMG_6665Mt. Hood

IMG_6654_stitch

The Lemi Trail continued another 1.1 miles down to the lake but the climb up to the viewpoint from Cultus Lake was enough to convince us that we weren’t up for the 400′ climb back up from Lake Wapiki so after resting at the viewpoint we started back. Curiosity got the best of us at the trail near Lemi Rock though as it appeared fairly level so we turned left onto it and began following it to see where it might lead.
IMG_6667

We followed this trail past more spectacular Fall colors for .2 miles where it suddenly disappeared in some small trees.
IMG_6674

20201003_145455_HDR

IMG_6675

We maneuvered our way through the trees picking up another mylar balloon (we have come to hate these).

IMG_6676

We popped out at a small meadow where we declared victory at headed back toward Lemi Rock.
IMG_6677

IMG_6683

As we passed a small pool with a clear reflection Heather spotted the second pika of the day.
IMG_6684

IMG_6685

IMG_6687

After watching the pika for a moment returned to the Lemi Trail and took it back to Cultus Lake and the Indian Heaven Trail.
IMG_6696

We turned left onto the Indian Heaven Trail and followed it for another .3 miles to a junction with the Lemi Lake Trail.
IMG_6699

We turned left onto this trail passing through a series of meadows before arriving at Lemi Lake after a little over half a mile.
IMG_6705

IMG_6707

IMG_6711Lemi Lake

We had brought our camp stove and dinner and stopped at the lake to get water and eat.
IMG_6713

IMG_6715

After dinner we followed the Lemi Lake Trail for another 1.5 miles back to Junction Lake and the Pacific Crest Trail.
IMG_6719

IMG_6721Pearly everlasting

IMG_6737Lemi Rock from the Lemi Lake Trail.

IMG_6745

IMG_6746

IMG_6747Junction Lake

IMG_6748Back to the PCT.

IMG_6751Junction Lake from the PCT/Lemi Lake Trail junction.

Things had gotten very crowded at Junction Lake and there were tents all over the grass around the lake shore. We retreated to our little spot in the trees away from the madness and took our camp chairs in the opposite direction and sat for awhile at the edge of a meadow.
IMG_6753

We decided that we’d get up no later than 5am and beat the crowds by hiking out in the dark the next morning. We’ve been spoiled with nearly none of our backpacking trips involving many other people at all so this was a bit of an adjustment for us. We wound up waking up at 4:30am and set off under a full moon toward our car.
IMG_6759

We had only hiked in the dark one other time, when we thought there might be a fire in the Three Sisters Wilderness, but it was actually 40 miles away (post). That had been quite the adventure as it seemed like we were constantly seeing eyes in the forest or toads in the trail. We were hoping we might have a similar experience here but the 2.5 mile hike back to the car was quick and uneventful. We were back home in Salem a little after 9am though which gave us plenty of time to unpack, do laundry and watch the Seahawks game. Aside from not being used to that many people on an overnighter it had been a good trip. The weather was great as were the views and the Fall colors. Somehow we managed to turn what we expected to be a 14.6 mile hike into 18.2 miles (those side trips will get you every time) but it was worth every step. Happy Trails (and Go Hawks)!

Flickr: Junction and Cultus Lakes

Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Foggy Flat Backpack Day 2 – 08/02/2020

Normally when we are just hiking back to a trailhead the same way we got to a campsite it wouldn’t warrant a separate trip report, but our hike from Foggy Flat back to the Killen Creek Trailhead did. After spending the night at Foggy Flat(post) we woke just after 5am to find clear skies and a nice sunrise.
IMG_3076Goat Rocks in the morning

Even before the Sun was up it was light enough to get a good look at Mt. Adams.
IMG_3081Mt. Adams

IMG_3087

IMG_3083

Morning had brought out the mosquitoes so we decided to pack up and stop for breakfast somewhere along the return hike hoping for a less buggy spot. After a mile we stopped at the Muddy Meadows Trail junction where a log made for a prefect bench to have breakfast on.
IMG_3100Looking down the Muddy Meadows Trail from the log.

After breakfast we continued on the Highline Trail which offered good views of Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks in this direction. When we weren’t looking at the mountains or the flowers various birds caught our attention.
IMG_3091Small hawk

IMG_3120Gray jay

Going in this direction gave us some good looks ahead toward Mt. Rainier.
IMG_3110Mt. Rainier and some of the Goat Rocks.

IMG_3116

IMG_3128Northern flicker

The unnamed lake near the Pacific Crest Trail had an excellent reflection of the forest and Mt. Adams.
IMG_3137

IMG_3141

IMG_3145Little bird near the PCT junction.

When we reached Killen Creek (.2 miles beyond the PCT junction) we crossed on the footbridge then removed our packs to take the steep use trail down below the waterfall as we’d planned the day before.
IMG_3154

IMG_3158Killen Creek below the waterfall.

IMG_3167

IMG_3171Mt. Adams from the waterfall.

After exploring the area below the falls we climbed back up and continued through Killen Creek Meadows, stopping to check on the pollywogs along the way.
IMG_3174_stitch

IMG_3181

The blue sky made for a different look than we’d had the day before and we kept pausing along the way to marvel at the scenery.
IMG_3195Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks from the PCT.

IMG_3204

IMG_3207

IMG_3209Breakfast time (possibly second breakfast)

IMG_3210

IMG_3214Zooming in on Mt. Rainier

IMG_3215

IMG_3221

We were almost surprised when we arrived at the junction with the Killen Creek Trail. The miles go by pretty quick when you’re distracted. We turned down that trail putting Mt. Adams to our backs.
IMG_3225

IMG_3231Killen Creek Trail heading away from Mt. Adams.

We turned to look back several times seeing less and less of the mountain before we lost sight of it for good.
IMG_3233

IMG_3236

It had been wonderful trip. The Mt. Adams Wilderness has yet to let us down and we’re already looking forward to our next visit down the road. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Foggy Flat Backpack Day 2

 

Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Sleeping Beauty & Foggy Flat Backpack Day One- 08/01/2020

Our first backpacking trip of the year was over Memorial Day weekend (post) but since then we hadn’t had an opportunity to break out our tent. Sleeping Beauty, a 3 mile featured hike in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” (4th edition), gave us a reason to put the tent to use again.

It wasn’t because the hike to the top of Sleeping Beauty was backpackable, but rather the 2:45 drive time to the trailhead was too long for this to be a stand alone hike for us. To make the trip worth the drive we decided to continued to nearby Mt. Adams and do a hike to Foggy Flat from Matt Reeder’s “PDX Hiking 365” guidebook.

We began our trip by driving to Trout Lake, WA then continued on to the Sleeping Beauty Trailhead.
IMG_2359

The trail climbed steeply up through a green forest for a mile to a forested saddle. Most of the flowers had passed but a few lingered and the pearly everlasting was getting started. Thimbleberries weren’t quite ripe but we did find a few strawberries to snack on.
IMG_2374

IMG_2376Beardstongue

IMG_2377Pearly everlasting next to thimbleberry bushes.

IMG_2371Not quite ready yet.

IMG_2381

Near the saddle we got our first look at the rock feature that is Sleeping Beauty from the trail (it is visible on the drive).
IMG_2392

The trail bends to the right (ignore a fainter trail heading left) at the saddle continuing through the trees.
IMG_2394

Another bit of climbing brought us beneath the rocks.
IMG_2411

The trail switchbacked its way up amid the rocks up stonework ramps gaining views of the surrounding Cascade mountains along the way.
IMG_2414Mt. Adams

IMG_2415Goat Rocks (post) to the left beyond Mt. Adams

IMG_2417Looking down at some of the switchbacks.

IMG_2419Mt. St. Helens in the distance.

IMG_2424The top of Mt. Rainier.

IMG_2426Mt. Hood to the South.

IMG_2431_stitchMt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams.

IMG_2448Indian Heaven Wilderness

It was fairly windy up on the rocks, just windy enough to make us a little nervous when we got to the saddle near the top as we had to push back a bit against it. Luckily the top is fairly wide and there was a least one place behind a rock where the wind was non-existent.
IMG_2430Looking east over the top of Sleeping Beauty.

20200801_084405_HDRLooking west to the true summit where a lookout once stood.

We were hoping to see a mountain goat as they do live here but alas we only saw some fur on a rock and a couple of bushes. The views would have to do and they did just fine. I scrambled over to the former lookout site after deciding it looked safe enough while Heather waited at the saddle.
IMG_2443

IMG_2455Mt. Hood from the foundation of the former lookout.

After a good long time exploring the area and enjoying the views we headed back down. We passed several groups of hikers heading up (just about everyone had a mask) so we were once again glad we’d gotten the early start to have the top to ourselves.

From the trailhead we drove back to Trout Lake and turned left onto Mount Adams Road aka Forest Road 23. (Google would have had us continue on the forest road we had been on to reach the Killen Creek Trailhead, but Google doesn’t always know the condition of the Forest Roads and I don’t either so we played it safe.)

We then followed Reeder’s direction to the Killen Creek Trailhead stopping along the way when Heather spotted a nice waterfall on Big Spring Creek.
IMG_2469Sign at a pullout along FR 23.

IMG_2471These were huge yellow monkeyflowers.

IMG_2476Big Spring Creek

After the brief stop we drove on. The final 9 miles on FR 23 was gravel but wide and not too bad. We turned off of the gravel onto the narrow, paved FR 2329 which was a nice break, but beyond the turn for Takhalakh Lake Campground this road also turned to gravel. It was not in the best condition and was fairly narrow and busy which made for a bit of a tedious final 6 miles to the Killen Creek Trailhead.
IMG_2479

IMG_2478

After attempting some gear repair (a hole in some clothing) we set off and quickly entered the Mt. Adams Wilderness.
IMG_2485

This was only our third visit to the wilderness with our first having been a hike from the South Climb Trailhead to Iceberg Lake in 2014 (post) and the second an overnight stay at Horseshoe Meadows in 2017 (post). (Apparently this is an every three year thing.)

The Killen Creek Trail climbed through the forest where we were pleased to find quite a few flowers were blooming. Little did we know what was coming.
IMG_2493Lupine along the trail.

IMG_2500

IMG_2501Arnica

IMG_2504Lousewort

IMG_2505More lupine along the trail.

IMG_2506Partridge foot and lupine.

IMG_2514Lupine, paintbrush and valerian.

IMG_2523Lupine along the trail which sees a good amount of equestrian use.

IMG_2526Mountain heather.

IMG_2529

As we continued to climb the number and types of flowers we were seeing kept increasing.
IMG_2536Yellow buttercups mixed in with the lupine, paintbrush and valerian.

IMG_2542Beardstongue, arnica and lupine.

IMG_2544Beargrass

Approximately 2.5 miles up the trail the flowers really started to explode as the trail began to level out a bit.
IMG_2553

IMG_2555

Over the next mile we gained views of Mt. Adams and crossed a small alpine stream all while being mesmerized by the flowers.
IMG_2563

IMG_2571

IMG_2582Lousewort

IMG_2586

IMG_2591

IMG_2595Elephants head near the stream.

IMG_2604Elephants head and a shooting star.

IMG_2601

IMG_2608

IMG_2612

20200801_125034Mountain heather

IMG_2620Phlox

As we gained elevation we also began to get glimpses of Mt. Rainier to the NW.
IMG_2626

IMG_2631

The views and flowers just kept getting better as we went.
IMG_2646

IMG_2652False hellebore amid the lupine.

20200801_130422

IMG_2665Paintbrush framed by trees.

IMG_2675Woolly pussytoes

After a little over 3.25 miles the Killen Creek Trail ended at the Pacific Crest Trail.
IMG_2685

We had been to this junction in 2017 when we had hiked the PCT north from Horseshoe Meadows. We had continued a few hundred feet before realizing that Killen Creek was still almost a mile away. This time we would be hiking beyond Killen Creek and so we turned left on the PCT and continued on.
IMG_2689

Where the Killen Creek Trail was heading for Mt. Adams the PCT was bending around the mountain. This made for more up and down hiking as opposed to steady climbing. Mt. Adams occasionally made an appearance over our right shoulders and the flowers continued to be amazing.
IMG_2692

IMG_2696

20200801_131817Cinquefoil

IMG_2702White and pink mountain heather, paintbrush and lupine above the PCT.

IMG_2706Shooting star

IMG_2733Violets

IMG_2737Coming in for a landing on groundsel.

IMG_2731

IMG_2739Aster

The Goat Rocks was soon fully visible between us and Mt. Rainier.
IMG_2744

IMG_2746_stitchGoat Rocks

A little under a mile from the Killen Creek Trail junction the PCT began a descent to Killen Creek Meadows.
IMG_2756

IMG_2761Aster and white seed heads

There were a couple of small ponds still holding water in the meadows and we noticed a lot of ripples in the water as we approached.
IMG_2764

It turned out to be pollywogs, and a lot of them.
IMG_2768

IMG_2772

IMG_2775Spirea

The PCT crossed Killen Creek on a footbridge just above a waterfall.
IMG_2781

IMG_2782Killen Creek and Mt. Adams.

There was a steep path down on this side of the falls but it looked like the PCT might have a good view of it on the other side of the creek so we opted not to head down. We figured the worst case scenario was that there wouldn’t be a view and we could just go down on the way back out.
IMG_2780

As we started to cross the bridge we noticed something in the creek nearby, it was an ouzel.
IMG_2785

There wasn’t a great view of the waterfall on the other side.
IMG_2791The waterfall from the PCT.

The PCT descended to a lower meadow where a trail led out to a campsite and another possible vantage point for the waterfall but the view was obscured so we put it on the to do list for the next day.
IMG_2792

From Killen Creek it was .2 flower filled miles to a junction with the Highline Trail.
IMG_2800Highline Trail ahead.

IMG_2801

Here we left the PCT as it continued on its way to Goat Rocks and beyond and turned up the Highline Trail. Not far from the junction we arrived at an unnamed lake with a reflection of Mt. Adams.
IMG_2804

IMG_2805

The wildflowers had been impressive thus far but the Highline Trail took it up a notch.
IMG_2809

IMG_2812Yellow arnica along the trail.

IMG_2813Beargrass in full bloom.

IMG_2818

IMG_2830

IMG_2836Subalpine mariposa lily

After a total of 1.7 miles on this trail we arrived at another junction. This time it was the Muddy Meadows Trail.
IMG_2838

IMG_2840Look more lupine that way.

We continued on the Highline Trail another mile before reaching Foggy Flat, a wet meadow near an unnamed creek.
IMG_2844Still tons of flowers.

IMG_2856Frog near Foggy Flat

IMG_2862Mt. Adams from Foggy Flat

IMG_2869Frog in a little stream at Foggy Flat.

IMG_2868Zoomed in

We walked along the meadow to the far end where the creek was located looking for tent sites. There was one occuppied site along the trail across from the meadow but that was about all we saw at first.
IMG_2874

The Highline Trail crossed the creek on a footbridge but then launched steeply uphill so we turned around and decided to check around the meadow more thoroughly for a suitable site.
IMG_2875

IMG_2881

IMG_2878Gentian

IMG_2884Elephants Head

We are fairly picky about our campsites. We do not like to camp on any vegetation, especially in meadows and we do our best to maintain a proper distance from water and trails. Unfortunately we are in the minority and it was obvious from the fire rings and smashed grasses that many others aren’t as selective (not to mention the TP – come on people). We finally managed to find an acceptable spot tucked into some trees.
IMG_2889

With camp established we took our daypacks out put our essentials plus dinner and the stove into them and set off across the creek on the Highline Trail. Reeder described the trail beyond Foggy Flat as having “incredible views” but also “difficult creek crossings”. Our plan was to go as far as the Muddy Fork crossing and unless it looked really easy turn back there.
IMG_2897Monkeyflower and willowherb along the creek.

The climb up from the creek was indeed steep and we were happy to just have our daypacks on.
IMG_2902Mt. Rainier behind us.

20200801_161001_HDR

IMG_2911The trail dropping steeply behind us on one of the steeper sections.

We passed several nice campsites as the terrain became more level at the edge of a lava flow. A couple of the sites were occupied. Despite the rockier conditions due to the lava flow the flower show continued.
IMG_2914Can you spot the yellow paintbrush?

Shortly after crossing another little creek we found ourselves in the lava field with an excellent view of Mt. Adams. We had been waiting for the clouds to break up all day and now they were starting to oblige.
IMG_2923

IMG_2926

IMG_2933

IMG_2934Buckwheat

We continued to follow the Highline Trail through the lava and past snow fields.
IMG_2942

IMG_2946

The lava also provided great views of Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks.
IMG_2944

IMG_2949Goat Creek falling from Goat Lake.

IMG_2955_stitchRed Butte and Mt. Adams

IMG_2961Red Butte, a neat looking cinder cone.

IMG_2959Flower amid the rocks.

We did indeed stop at Muddy Fork. It was a little more of a crossing than we wanted to tackle at that point.
IMG_2969

IMG_2970

IMG_2978

We backed track a bit to rise where we had seen a great looking spot for dinner (or a tent). We cooked our dinner there and then explored a bit on the ridge above the spot where we found a few flowers amid the rocks and more amazing views.
IMG_2984Paintbrush

IMG_2993Cutleaf daisy

IMG_2999Dwarf alpinegold

IMG_2992?

IMG_3003_stitch

20200801_175828

We eventually headed back to Foggy Flat under the watchful eyes of the locals.
IMG_3024

We were momentarily distracted below one of the snow fields as we watched a stream forming in front of our eyes.
IMG_3028Water in the upper portions of the snowmelt stream.

IMG_3030The same stream 3 minutes later.

When the water reached a large hole that would take some time to fill we managed to pull ourselves away and continue back to our campsite. We stopped at the creek to get water for the next day and turned in fairly quickly. There were just enough mosquitoes about to be a nuisance making the confines of the tent that much more appealing.

Combining this hike with our previous two visits we’ve managed to cover quite a bit of the trails that wrap around the mountain. The east side of Mt. Adams is on part of the Yakima Indian Reservation and is largely trail less. Special permits are required to enter the Reservation with the exception of Bird Creek Meadows on the SE side of the mountain.
Mt. Adams Tracks

From every angle that we’ve seen it Mt. Adams continues to impress us. It’s truly a special place. Happy Trails!
20200801_191051_HDR

Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Trip report Washington Cascades

Monte Carlo – Monte Cristo Loop – 6/27/2020

After ending a five day stretch of hiking with a 13 mile, nearly 4000′ elevation gain hike we chose a longer hike with even more elevation gain for our next outing. I found the the Monte Carlo – Monte Cristo Loop while working on our future hiking plans in the off season. A recent trip report indicated that the wildflowers were near peak and a mostly sunny forecast for Saturday made it seem like a good time to check it out. In addition this hike is not particularly popular so social distancing most likely wouldn’t be a problem.

There are numerous potential starting points for this loop (or shorter hikes to one or both of the peaks) we chose to start at the Monte Carlo Trailhead. The reason was twofold. First this was the starting point for the hike described in the Oregonhikers.org field guide and secondly the drive was almost entirely paved.

We missed the parking area for the trailhead which was directly across FR 18 from the start of the trail mistaking it for part of the Oklahoma Campground. We wound up turning up the next little forest road (I believe it was 752) on the right and parking at a pullout along it and walked down FR 18 to the trail. This really didn’t add any extra distance as the loop ended by walking approximately 2 miles along FR 18 between the Lower Monte Cristo Trailhead and the Monte Carlo Trailhead.
IMG_7930

We followed the field guide entry closely for this hike due to numerous logging road crossings, a couple of road walks and a few odd junctions. The field guide was spot on (despite being a bit off on total distance which we’ll get to later) so I won’t reinvent the wheel here and try and describe every twist and turn of the route. A tenth of a mile up the trail we came to a forest road which was the same one that we parked along. There was no signage at this junction but we knew from the field guide (and our GPS) to turn right. After our hike some hikers came by our car having turned left at the junction. After following the road for approximately 450′ we came to a trail on the left which quickly began climbing.
20200627_072718

The designer of the trail apparently had little use for switchbacks as the trail went just about straight uphill. A little over three quarters of a mile in we came to an old logging road which the trail followed to the right where it leveled off a bit.
IMG_7950

This road ended at FR 1840 where a sign pointed to the left for the Monte Carlo Trail.
IMG_7952

At another road junction after just 500′ on FR 1840 another segment of trail launched uphill. In the forest here we found a large number of phantom orchids.
IMG_7960

20200627_075240

IMG_7966

IMG_7967One of the phantom orchids to the right of the trail.

IMG_7970

Just over a quarter mile after leaving FR 1840 we came to another logging road which we turned right on briefly to pick up the continuation of the Monte Carlo Trail.
IMG_7974

Another .3 mile climb was followed by another short walk to the right on a road followed by yet more climbing.
IMG_7983A rare level section of trail.

IMG_7995There were thimbleberry bushes along the roads/trails all day long.

Just over 2 miles into the hike we came to a small hillside meadow.
IMG_8010Bumble bee working on some clover.

IMG_8004Penstemon

IMG_8018A few wildflowers.

IMG_8020Yarrow

IMG_8022Popcorn flower and strawberry plants.

After rounding a corner we came to a bigger meadow with more wildflowers and some views.
IMG_8059Timberhead Mountain

IMG_8062Little Huckleberry Mountain

IMG_8067Nightblooming false bindweed

The trail managed to steepen as it headed uphill and entered the upper portion of the meadow.
IMG_8077Wallflower

IMG_8081

The meadow was full of Oregon sunshine and a few other flowers.
IMG_8085Tall buckwheat

Tall buckwheatCloser look at the tall buckwheat.

IMG_8091Oregon sunshine

IMG_8078Yarrow, lupine and penstemon

At the top of the meadow the trail leveled out a bit and entered some trees before arriving at a trail junction.
IMG_8099Many of the signs along the route were no longer in the ground so it was important to make sure they really were pointing in the correct directions.

IMG_8104Honeysuckle

The junction consisted of the Monte Carlo Trail which we were on and the Buck Creek Trail which is managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources whose land we were now on. We kept left on what was now a combination of the Monte Carlo and Buck Creek Trails which crossed and old logging road then arrived at the Buck Creek No. 2 Trailhead. We picked up the Monte Carlo – Buck Creek Trail here at a sign for the Middle Fork Grove and Monte Carlo Viewpoint.
IMG_8105

IMG_8107

The Monte Carlo-Buck Creek Trail dropped to a crossing of Buck Creek before climbing for almost a mile (crossing one logging road) to a 90-degree right hand turn. Much of the time was in previously logged forests.
IMG_8119A few trees that were spared.

IMG_8125

IMG_8120Bunchberry

IMG_8131Footbridge over Buck Creek.

IMG_8135Salsify

IMG_8139Streambank globemallow

IMG_8141Silverleaf phacelia

IMG_8153Logging road crossing.

IMG_8156

The trail had reentered forest a bit before the 90-degree turn. After turning the trail dropped just over 200′ to Road B-1500 where we encountered the first other hikers of the day. A couple had parked along this road and were getting ready to head up to Monte Carlo for the wildflowers.
IMG_8161Starting the descent.

The trail set off from B-1500 amid a lot of lupine.
IMG_8165

The trail climbed steeply gaining over 600′ in the next three quarters of a mile to a junction atop Monte Carlo. A bit below the summit the trail enters an open hillside with wildflowers and some actual switchbacks. There is also reportedly an excellent view of Mt. Hood but there were enough clouds present that we could not verify that.
IMG_8179Entering the meadow.

IMG_8189

IMG_8194Pollinator on wallflower

IMG_8197Bee heading for some penstemon.

IMG_8203Clouds to the south.

IMG_8204Penstemon

IMG_8208

IMG_8209

IMG_8211Lots of Oregon sunshine again.

IMG_8216Taper tip onions

20200627_101109Penstemon and lomatium seedheads.

IMG_8218Warning for mountain bikers going down the trail.

After briefly reentering the woods (and leveling out for a bit) the trail reached the summit junction.
IMG_8219

IMG_8220

At this point the trail is back in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest. A jeep track to the right heads down Eton Ridge while the Buck Creek Trail also drops to the right down Penny Ridge. The Monte Carlo Trail turned left and began a mile long traverse of the Monte Carlo Ridge.
IMG_8221

The ridge walk was a delight. First it was relatively level and better yet it was covered in wildflowers.
IMG_8231

IMG_8242

IMG_8238

IMG_8239

IMG_8277

IMG_8278Balsamroot

IMG_8260Ladybug on a flower.

20200627_103428Cat’s ear lily

IMG_8280Lupine

IMG_8283Phlox and Oregon sunshine

IMG_8297Buckwheat

IMG_8301Paintbrush

20200627_104543Sunflowers

20200627_104416

IMG_8334Grouse in the flowers.

20200627_104926Columbine

Despite the clouds having hidden Mt. Hood from the meadow below there were plenty of views from the ridge.
IMG_8378Little Huckleberry Mountain to the left and Lemi Rock to the right.

IMG_8233Lemi Rock in the Indian Heaven Wilderness

IMG_8255Looking SE into Eastern Oregon.

By far the best view was of Mt. Adams.
IMG_8352

IMG_8362

There were various penstemons in the area with the view of Mt. Adams.
IMG_8366

IMG_8369

IMG_8370

IMG_8375

The level trail ended at the ridge end where the Monte Carlo Trail dove down toward a saddle and FR 1840. The trail dropped nearly 800′ in .7 miles before reaching the road. Worse than the steepness of the descent was knowing that we would need to gain all of the lost elevation back to visit Monte Cristo.
IMG_8397Starting the drop.

IMG_8409There were huge amounts of Arnica in the forest.

IMG_8419Monte Cristo from the trail as we dropped….further, and further.

The trail arrives at the Monte Carlo Upper Trailhead on FR 1840.
IMG_8426

To complete our loop we would eventually need to start down FR 1840 to the left but to reach Monte Cristo we needed to head uphill to the right on FR 1840-100 following pointers for the Monte Cristo Trail 53.
IMG_8427

IMG_8428FR 1840-100.

IMG_8431Shiny beetles

After .6 miles of gradual climbing the road ended at the an old trailhead.
IMG_8443

IMG_8445

It was time to gain that elevation back and the Monte Cristo Trail did it with gusto. Despite the presence of actual switchbacks the concept seemed to escape the designer and instead of tight turns and gradual grades the trail went from a moderate grade to nearly straight uphill before turning back along the hillside at a moderate grade. We gained over 800′ in the next .8 miles.
IMG_8447A “switchback” turning directly uphill.

About a tenth of a mile below the summit the trail entered a spectacular wildflower meadow.
IMG_8456Sunflowers at the edge of the meadow.

IMG_8468Approaching the meadow.

IMG_8474Sunflowers

IMG_8479Scarlet gilia

IMG_8496

After having missed out the view of Mt. Hood earlier there was just enough of a break in the clouds to see the mountain from Monte Cristo.
IMG_8498

IMG_8502

IMG_8504

A lookout tower once sat atop the peak.
IMG_8513

A much shorter ridge than on Monte Carlo ran north from the summit where the Monte Cristo Trail continued eventually reaching the Monte Cristo Upper Trailhead. Our second encounter with hikers came along this ridge when a group of three people were coming up from this upper trailhead.

The short ridge was covered with wildflowers including quite a bit of white-stemmed frasera which we haven’t often encountered.
IMG_8543

IMG_8521Pussytoes

IMG_8525White-stemmed frasera

IMG_8544Phlox

IMG_8550

IMG_8563Taper tip onions

20200627_122010White-stemmed frasera

IMG_8569

IMG_8572

IMG_8584Wallflower and paintbrush

IMG_8581A white lupine

IMG_8580Paintbrush and phlox

We took a short break at the summit which was just long enough for Mt. Hood to sort of reemerge from clouds that had hidden it. This happened at the same time a hawk decided to ride an updraft straight up in the sky.
IMG_8586

After admiring the hawks flight abilities we started back down through the meadow.
20200627_123542

The trail was just as steep going down as it had been coming up and our knees were starting to protest this whole adventure. We made our way back to FR 1840-10 and followed it back to the Monte Carlo Upper Trailhead, pausing briefly to watch some swallowtail butterflies.
IMG_8596

IMG_8601

We followed FR 1840-100 a few yards downhill to it’s junction with FR 1840 and turned left for 20 yards to the signed Monte Cristo Trail on the right.
IMG_8609

Our knees would not be getting a break just yet as the Monte Cristo Trail descended over 1000′ in just over a mile to the Monte Cristo Lower Trailhead along FR 18.
IMG_8612Presumably letting you know that you’re a mile from the road. (It could also be that this tree is “Number 1”.)

IMG_8618Twinflower in the forest.

IMG_8622Our first blooming prince’s pine of the year.

20200627_134001_HDRNot nearly the steepest section.

IMG_8626FR 18 finally!

We turned left on FR 18 the nearly 2 mile road walk back to our car. The good news was that the road surface wasn’t too hard and better yet it was nearly level the whole way!
IMG_8630

The field guide lists the hike as 11.8 miles but a trip report from 6/20 that I’d seen said that the hike came in closer to 14 miles for him. My Garmin came in at 13.6 miles so keep that in mind if you’re considering this hike. It was certainly challenging but the wildflowers and the views made it a worthwhile endeavor. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Monte Carlo-Monte Cristo Loop

Categories
Hiking Mt. Rainier Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground (Mt. Rainier National Park) – 9/21/2019

We spent most of the Summer doing day hikes from home so that we could be back in time to give our elderly cats their daily medicines which put a limit on how far away we could go, but we had purchased tickets to the Seattle Seahawks/New Orleans Saints game prior to Buddy getting ill so my parents graciously took over for a day. We took the opportunity to drive up the day before the game and stop for a hike in Mt. Rainier National Park.

This would be our second visit to the park having hiked the Northern Loop on a 4-day backpack in 2015 (post). For this visit we were looking for something on the SW side of the mountain that would be a good late Summer/early Fall hike. A little research led us to Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground from Longmire.

We arrived at Longmire just after 8am and prepared to set off on the Trail of Shadows.
IMG_9580

IMG_9579

Our trail was located across the park entrance road from the National Park Inn.
IMG_9587

Also across the road was the shear cliffs of Rampart Ridge and the snow capped summit of Mt. Rainier.
IMG_9589

We were excited to see the mountain as it had been raining for several days and more rain was forecast for the next few, but a partly sunny forecast had at least given us some hope.
IMG_9590

The Trail of Shadows is a .7 mile interpretative loop around Longmire Meadow. We followed this trail clockwise for a quarter mile where we arrived at a junction with the Rampart Ridge Trail.
IMG_9592

IMG_9599

IMG_9601

IMG_9602

IMG_9604

We turned left on the Rampart Ridge Trail which promptly began climbing via a series of switchbacks to the top of the ridge. The trail climbed through an old growth forest with lots of mushrooms this time of year and a bit of fall color showing on the maples.
IMG_9606

IMG_9607

IMG_9609

IMG_9611

IMG_9613

IMG_9618

IMG_9619

IMG_9623

The trail gained the ridge after a little under 1.5 miles and began to follow it to the NE. One and three quarters of a mile from the junction we forked right to a signed viewpoint overlooking Longmire.
IMG_9627

IMG_9629

IMG_9632

The position of the Sun wasn’t ideal, even with some clouds around, but Eagle Peak was also visible (albeit through some trees) rising above Longmire.
IMG_9628

Less then a quarter mile from the viewpoint we came to a turn where the trail began to descend, but before we started down we followed a short path to a rocky viewpoint where we got a better look at Mt. Rainier.
IMG_9687

IMG_9673_stitch

IMG_9684

Mt. Rainier was the main attraction but to the NW behind the clouds was another interesting and colorful peak, Mt. Wow.
IMG_9690

We spent quite a while at the viewpoint before starting down on the Rampart Ridge Trail which we found turned back toward the mountain and provided another spectacular view.
IMG_9692

IMG_9694

We were soon back in the mushroom filled forest grateful for having gotten such a nice view of the mountain already. We figured if the clouds moved in, at least we’d gotten to see that .
IMG_9706

IMG_9702

IMG_9707

After 2.9 miles on the Rampart Ridge Trail we came to a signed junction with the Wonderland Trail.
IMG_9709

Here we turned left following the pointer for Indian Henry’s (Hunting Ground)
IMG_9710

We had gained over 1400′ climbing up to Rampart Ridge and now we began to lose 400 of those feet as the Wonderland Trail dropped to Kautz Creek in 3/4 of a mile. Mushrooms remained a main theme of the hike as we descended through more green forest.
IMG_9713

IMG_9712

IMG_9714

IMG_9719

As we neared Kautz Creek the mountain once again came into view.
IMG_9722

IMG_9723

We dropped into the washed out canyon of Kautz Creek where, you guessed it, there were some more interesting mushrooms amid the rubble.
IMG_9725

IMG_9731Satuick Mountain

IMG_9730

IMG_9734

The crossing of Kautz Creek was fairly easy as far as glacier fed streams go. The creek was split into three channels which were small enough to rock hop across dry footed.
IMG_9735First crossing

IMG_9736Second crossing

IMG_9737The third channel was the largest but still relatively small.

IMG_9740Mt. Rainier from the far side of Kautz Creek.

The trail then reentered the forest and shortly arrived at Pyramid Camp.
IMG_9743

IMG_9745

IMG_9746Yet another big mushroom.

IMG_9748

After a brief stint in the trees we emerged at another washed out creek bed. According to the map this was Pearl Creek (which later becomes Pyramid Creek after merging with a couple of other streams).
IMG_9749

This creek would have been a little trickier to cross had it not been for the presence of a pair of footbridges.
IMG_9750

IMG_9753

IMG_9755

After crossing the creek we popped back into the forest and almost immediately came to a clear spring.
IMG_9758

Beyond the spring the trail began to climb steeply gaining over 400′ in a half mile before becoming a bit more gradual as it traversed up the hillside crossing a few creek beds along the way.
IMG_9760

IMG_9763There were quite a few coral fungi present as well.

IMG_9766Fishers Hornpipe Creek

IMG_9769The mushrooms in the back had exploded.

IMG_9770

IMG_9773

IMG_9774A few red huckleberries left to eat.

IMG_9776

IMG_9778

Approximately one and three quarters of a mile from the Pearl Creek crossing we arrived at Devil’s Dream Creek.
IMG_9787

This creek flowed through a narrow slot canyon that looked (and sounded) really interesting.
IMG_9789

Although the trail briefly climbed uphill along side the canyon there were no views to speak of save one look down to the water below. From that spot it sounded like there was some sort of waterfall just upstream but there was no angle available to see anything so we settled for more colorful mushrooms.
IMG_9790

IMG_9792

A half mile after crossing Devil’s Dream Creek we did spot a waterfall downhill to the right of the trail just before arriving at Devil’s Dream Camp. A path led down to the creek here. There wasn’t a lot of water flowing but it looked like it might be a pretty good waterfall when there was more flow.
IMG_9796

IMG_9798

After the side trip we passed through the 8-site Devil’s Dream Camp.
IMG_9802

IMG_9803

IMG_9804Bear pole

IMG_9805

It was uphill through the camp but not longer after passing the group site the trail leveled out a bit and entered the first meadow as we neared Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground.
IMG_9806

IMG_9807

A larger meadow followed with a view of Mt. Rainier hiding behind Iron Mountain.
IMG_9819

IMG_9811

IMG_9825Gentians

IMG_9826Mushrooms in the meadow.

IMG_9827

IMG_9828Gray jay in the huckleberries.

A quarter mile from the camp we arrived at Squaw Lake.
IMG_9832Iron Mountain from the lake.

We crossed Devil’s Dream Creek again as we passed around the lake.
IMG_9834

I don’t know where the actual boundary of the hunting ground is but beyond Squaw Lake the meadows kept opening up more as we neared a backcountry patrol cabin.
IMG_9836

IMG_9839

IMG_9840

IMG_9850

IMG_9853Western pasque flower

Finally Mt. Rainier came back into view.
IMG_9855_stitch

IMG_9866_stitch

We spotted the patrol cabin approximately 8 miles (according to my GPS) into the hike. The cabin was set back in some trees overlooking the meadow with Mt. Rainier in the background. It couldn’t have been a more picturesque setting.
IMG_9870

IMG_9871

IMG_9874_stitch

IMG_9879

IMG_9880

We had been playing leap frog with another pair of day hikers who had planned on turning back at the cabin. We had also considered that given the distance and elevation gain to get there, but the mountain was so visible we decided to push on to Mirror Lakes which was just under a mile away. From a junction with the Kautz Creek Trail near the cabin we followed a pointer for the Mirror Lakes Trail .3 miles down the Wonderland Trail.
IMG_9877

The Wonderland Trail lost a little elevation before arriving at the Mirror Lakes Trail junction. Views of Mt. Rainier were plentiful along the .3 mile stretch.
IMG_9895

IMG_9898

IMG_9899

We turned onto the Mirror Lakes Trail which was pretty wet in spots from the recent rains, as were the meadows alongside the trail.
IMG_9905

IMG_9907

IMG_9908

IMG_9909

IMG_9910

There were a number of frogs in the meadow and they seemed to be enjoying the extra water.
IMG_9914

IMG_9964

IMG_9968

IMG_9975

IMG_9976

IMG_9977

Most of the flowers were long since past but a few stragglers were hanging on.
IMG_9919Paintbrush

IMG_9920Butterfly on the remains of an aster.

IMG_9926Gentians

While the Summer flowers were mostly gone the nearby hillsides were heralding the arrival of Fall.
IMG_9928

We were glad that we’d decided to go on even before reaching the Mirror Lakes as the trail just kept getting us closer views of Mt. Rainier.
IMG_9930

IMG_9931Pyramid Peak to the right.

IMG_9935

The best was yet to come though. The largest (and first) of the little lakes that make up the Mirror Lakes had a perfect reflection of the still mostly cloud free mountain.
IMG_9936

IMG_9938

IMG_9941

IMG_9946

We lingered for awhile studying the mountains various features.
IMG_9951

IMG_9956

IMG_9959

IMG_9957

IMG_9955

IMG_9960

IMG_9952

IMG_9953

We would have loved to have stuck around longer but we still had a long hike back to Longmire and a 2 hour drive to our motel so we pulled ourselves away and started back. In the time it took to reach the patrol cabin the clouds had increased noticably.
IMG_9978

The shift in the clouds did reveal more of Emerald Ridge to the north which had some interesting features.
IMG_9980

IMG_9981

IMG_9982

We returned the way we’d come until arriving at the Wonderland Trail/Rampart Ridge Trail junction. This portion of the hike saw us spotting additional mushrooms that we hadn’t noticed earlier and a few more frogs, including one at the spring near Pearl Creek.
IMG_9984

IMG_9987This guy was tiny.

IMG_9986

IMG_9991

IMG_9995Frog on a rock at the spring.

IMG_9993

IMG_0005

The clouds had really moved in by the time we were crossing Kautz Creek and Mt. Rainier was gone.
IMG_0007

From the Wonderland/Rampart Ridge junction we stayed straight on the Wonderland Trail which, in addtion to being new trail, was at least a mile shorter route back to Longmire.
IMG_0020

The trail lost elevation pretty quickly and was fairly steep in places. The mushroom theme continued here as well.
IMG_0028

IMG_0022

IMG_0026

IMG_0034

The trail did level out some as it passed below Rampart Ridges cliffs and over a swale on a boardwalk.
IMG_0038

IMG_0042

We crossed the Paradise Road and soon after turned at a pointer for Longmire.
IMG_0044Looking back across the road.

IMG_0046

Our feet were sore and our knees tired but the 16.4 miles had been more than worth it. As we were loading up the car a gentleman asked if we would give him a ride out of the park. He had been on the Wonderland Trail but after 5 days of rain everything was wet and he hadn’t been able to cook some of his food so he was living to fight another day. His car was at Mowhich Lake though so we gave him a lift to Ashford and dropped him off at a motel/restaurant there before heading toward Seattle.

It was a great start to the weekend, if only Seattle’s play had been half as impressive as Mt. Rainier was maybe they could have pulled out a win. Ah well, we will take a beautiful hike over a single W any time. Happy Trails! (and GO Hawks!)

Flickr: Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground

Categories
Hiking Mt. St. Helens Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Cinnamon Ridge – 7/20/2019

It had been a couple of years since our hikes had taken us to the Mt. St. Helens area. We didn’t want to go a third year without making a visit so we picked the 14.1 mile Cinnamon Ridge Loop Hike described here in the Oregon Hikers field guide. A shorter loop was also described in Matt Reeder’s “Off the Beaten Trail” guidebook.

We started at the Kalama Horse Camp Trailhead and consulted the signboard map to confirm our route. (We had a paper map, a downloaded pdf track, and our GPS with us, but you can never consult too many maps.)
IMG_3607

IMG_3608

We set off on the Toutle Trail just to the right of the signboard.
IMG_3609

After a short descent the trail crossed an unnamed creek. Ripe berries were everywhere.
IMG_3610

IMG_3611

IMG_3613

IMG_3612

Two tenths of a mile from the trailhead we came to a junction with the Cinnamon Ridge Trail, our return route. We stayed left on the Toutle Trail.
IMG_3615

IMG_3619Toutle Trail

IMG_3618Candy sticks

A short distance later we stayed right at a junction with the Kalama Ski Trail.
IMG_3620

Beyond this junction the trail approached the Kalama River as it passed through the forest.
IMG_3626

IMG_3627

IMG_3630

IMG_3636

IMG_3639

Yet another junction followed about three quarters of a mile later just after climbing away from the river via a switchback. Again we stuck to the Toutle Trail.
IMG_3642

The trail was now a good distance above the river avoiding a series of slides.
IMG_3644

IMG_3646

IMG_3648Pinesap

IMG_3651Pinesap and a puffball

Just over 2 miles from the trailhead we arrived at the third and final junction signed for the Kalama Ski Trail where we also stuck to the Toutle Trail.
IMG_3653

There had been plenty of ripe huckleberries and lots of pinesap but not too many flowers. There were a few lousewort and twin flowers though along this section of trail.
IMG_3655Lousewort

IMG_3660Twin Flower

At the 2.5 mile mark we came to a Forest Service Road.
IMG_3661

Reeder’s shorter/easier loop utilizes this road which he lists as FR 8122 (our maps showed it as 8022). He also has you hike in the opposite direction so we would have been coming down the road to this junction then returning to the horse camp the way we’d come on this hike. Since we were doing the longer loop we crossed over the road and continued on the Toutle Trail which was once again closer to the Kalama River.
IMG_3665

Along this stretch we noticed a few really large mushrooms.
IMG_3666

IMG_3674

20190720_083611

Approximately 1.2 mile from the road crossing we crossed a second road bed where the trail hopped to the opposite side of the river.
IMG_3680

IMG_3687

A good sized frog jumped off the trail in front of us here.
IMG_3686

As we neared McBride Lake (now more of a wetland) we obtained our first glimpses of Mt. St. Helens.
IMG_3690

IMG_3691

IMG_3695

IMG_3706Mt. St. Helens beyond the remnants of McBride Lake.

We averted disaster when a rough skinned newt charged Heather but it was only a bluff.
IMG_3713

The trail climbed through a nice forest as it passed McBride Lake on its way to Red Rock Pass.
IMG_3717

IMG_3722Cars parked at Red Rock Pass

We didn’t go all the way down to Red Rock Pass as the Cinnamon Trail headed uphill at an unsigned junction about 100 yards above the trailhead.
IMG_3723Cinnamon Trail on the left and Toutle Trail on the right from the unsigned junction.

While the Toutle Trail had gained almost 1200′ in the 5.7 miles from the trailhead to the Cinnamon Trail junction the Cinnamon Trail gained nearly 700′ in less than a mile. Although the climb was never particularly steep it provided a good workout. It also provided some nice views of Mt. St. Helens and our first (and best) look at Mt. Adams.
IMG_3724

IMG_3730

IMG_3735_stitch

IMG_3733

Things leveled out a bit after gaining the ridge where the trail passed through a variety of scenery.
IMG_3739

IMG_3741

IMG_3743

IMG_3744

IMG_3748

IMG_3749Fungus on a stump.

After a little of two and a half miles on the Cinnamon Trail we came to a small meadow with a view south to Mt. Hood.
IMG_3755

IMG_3757

IMG_3766

IMG_3765

Just beyond the meadow the trail reached a saddle with a view NW to Goat Mountain.
IMG_3767

The trail continued to follow the ridge west and then south as it passed around a butte.
IMG_3770The butte ahead (we didn’t want to have to climb that.)

IMG_3774Trail wrapping around the south side of the butte.

On the far side of the butte we arrived at another saddle.
20190720_113203Toad near the saddle.

IMG_3780Mt. St. Helens from the saddle.

The trail stuck to the north side of the ridge for a bit allowing for some good views of Mt. St. Helens and another Mt. Adams sighting.
IMG_3781Goat Mountain

IMG_3783Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams

IMG_3796Another frog.

At the 4.5 mile mark of the Cinnamon Trail we arrived at the first of three successive road crossings (all of the same road).
IMG_3799Crossing #1

IMG_3800Crossing #2

IMG_3801Crossing #3

Approximately a quarter mile from the third road crossing the trail began to descend through a small meadow with a few cat’s ear lilies.
IMG_3804

IMG_3802

Soon we were dropping down along a narrow ridge where we were able to see the top of Mt. Rainier beyond Coldwater Peak.
IMG_3823

IMG_3809

The sun was glinting off of the equipment on top of Coldwater Peak (post).
IMG_3820

The trail continued to descend crossing over another old roadbed before reaching FR 8022 (or FR 8122 per Reeder) 6.2 miles from Red Rock Pass.
IMG_3824

IMG_3825old road crossing.

IMG_3829

IMG_3830Dropping to FR 8022(8122).

We crossed this road onto an old roadbed which we followed for four tenths of a mile.
IMG_3831Goat Mountain from the roadbed.

IMG_3835Goat Mountain and Mt. St. Helens

IMG_3838Ripening berries

IMG_3842Rock slide along the roadbed.

Shortly after passing through the rock slide the roadbed ended and we were back on a trail.
IMG_3845

IMG_3847Pinedrop

The trail descended for another mile and a half eventually coming back within earshot of the Kalama River but not close enough to provide many views until we arrived at a footbridge across it.
IMG_3849

IMG_3851

IMG_3853

IMG_3857

From the bridge it was just 100 yards to the end of our loop and .2 miles from the trailhead. The 14.1 miles combined with nearly 3000′ of elevation gain make this a challenging hike. Despite the difficulty and lack of any real big WOW moments it was a really enjoyable hike. There were plenty of positives; the ripe berries, the river, mountain views, a little wildlife (including some grouse which as always gave us a start when they flew off.), a few wildflowers, and some nice forests to keep us entertained the entire way. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Cinnamon Ridge