Categories
High Cascades Hiking Mt. Jefferson Area Oregon Trip report

Berley and Santiam Lakes- 07/03/2021

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.
IMG_9238

IMG_9237

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.
IMG_9239

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.
Pacific Crest TrailTrail sign at the junction on 10/13/2012.

IMG_9248Trail 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 on the Pacific Crest TrailEntering the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness in 2012 (0.3 miles from the TH).

IMG_9255Entering 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.
IMG_9275Cache Mountain, Black Crater (post), Tam McArthur Rim & Broken Top (post), North & Middle Sister, Mt. Washington, and Hayrick Butte (flat top on the right).

IMG_9278

To the north the top of Three Fingered Jack was occasionally visible.
IMG_9286

There were a few more flowers in bloom now than there had been in October.
IMG_9258A thistle

IMG_9273Penstemon

IMG_9274Bleeding heart

IMG_9281Pussytoes

IMG_9285California stickseed

IMG_9293Another penstemon

Shortly after passing a small unnamed lake we arrived at the junction.
IMG_9287

IMG_9295Mountain bluebird by the lake.

IMG_9300

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.
IMG_9303

IMG_9304There was a good amount of scarlet gilia blooming along this section of trail.

IMG_9307

IMG_9310Three Fingered Jack

IMG_9313One of the ponds.

IMG_9315Queen’s cup

IMG_9316Another pond with Maxwell Butte (post) behind to the right.

IMG_9319Unnamed lake along the trail with Maxwell Butte behind.

IMG_9327

IMG_9333Lupine

IMG_9340Dark-eyed junco

20210703_075615Sub-alpine mariposa lilies

IMG_9348Woodpecker

IMG_9357The view south.

IMG_9357Seasonal pond

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.
IMG_9544

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.
IMG_9360

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.
IMG_9361

IMG_9363

IMG_9364

IMG_9373

IMG_9374Beargrass

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.
IMG_9377

IMG_9381Recent snow melt is another recipe for mosquitos.

IMG_9382Another creek crossing.

IMG_9383Shooting star

IMG_9386Mountain 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.
IMG_9390

IMG_9391

IMG_9396A sulphur

IMG_9397Alpine false dandelion

IMG_9406One of several snow patches at the tree line.

IMG_9401Nearing the end of the opening.

IMG_9412More snow in the trees.

IMG_9415A checkerspot

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.
IMG_9417

IMG_9419Trees & melting snow = more mosquitos.

IMG_9422Not Santiam Lake but a very pretty unnamed lake just to the left of the trail approximately 0.4 miles from Santiam Lake.

IMG_9424

IMG_9426Not 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.
IMG_9429

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).

IMG_9430Mt. Jefferson behind Red Butte

IMG_9437

IMG_9438Duffy Butte on the left.

IMG_9440Three Fingered Jack

IMG_9442Paintbrush, 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.
IMG_9452

IMG_9451Just 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.
IMG_9467

IMG_9459

IMG_9470

IMG_9471The “topographic feature” ahead on the right where we planned on turning for Lower Berley Lake.

IMG_9473Mountain heather along the trail, it was warm and sunny enough that the mosquitos weren’t as bad this time by.

IMG_9475Threeleaf lewisia

IMG_9478Getting closer to the hill where we planned on turning.

IMG_9479California 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.
IMG_9480

IMG_9482

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.
IMG_9483

IMG_9485

IMG_9484Three 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.
IMG_9487

IMG_9488

IMG_9493More tortoiseshells

IMG_9495A butterfly photo bomb

IMG_9498

Once we were back above the lake we came across what looked like another user trail leading away from it.
IMG_9503

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.
IMG_9504

IMG_9505The 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.
IMG_9508Cross 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.

IMG_9510Upper 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.
IMG_9514We wound up finding the same “user trail” and followed it down to the lower lake.

IMG_9516

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.
IMG_9518California tortoiseshell butterflies along Lower Berley Lake.

IMG_9520Three 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.
IMG_9524The hillside on the right was rocky.

IMG_9525The 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.
IMG_9527

IMG_9528

IMG_9531

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.
IMG_9533

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.
IMG_9534Found it!

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.
IMG_9535

IMG_9536

IMG_9539

IMG_9541

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.
IMG_9571Yellow beetle on lupine.

IMG_9572Orange agoseris

IMG_9584Back at the PCT.

IMG_9588Bumble bees on penstemon.

IMG_9589Cicada in the grass.

IMG_9594Black Crater, Broken Top, North & Middle Sister, Mt. Washington, Hayrick Butte, and Hoodoo Butte from the viewpoint.

Three Fingered Jack from the viewpoint.

Track for our 12.9 mile, 1300′ elevation gain hike

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!

Flickr: Berley & Santiam Lakes

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Ochoco Mountains Oregon Trip report

Walton Lake & Round Mountain – 06/18/2021

After spending three nights in Pendleton and two John Day it was time for us to head back to Salem on Friday. We planned on stopping at Walton Lake in the Ochoco National Forest along the way to visit the man made lake where I had spent some time in my childhood. We also planned to hike from the lake to the summit of Round Mountain which we had done from the opposite side back in 2017 (post). After our hike we were meeting Heather’s parents for a late lunch/early dinner in Redmond at Madeline’s before continuing home to Salem.

We left John Day a little before 5am and arrived at Walton Lake shortly after 6:30am. There were already several folks our fishing and we were met by the camp greeters.
IMG_8615

IMG_8617

IMG_8621

IMG_8635

A paved/gravel 0.8 mile trail encircles the lake with the Walton Lake Trail splitting off on the south side of Walton Lake. We decided to hike around the lake clockwise passing the small dam that created the lake and a number of campsites before arriving at the unsigned Walton Lake Trail after 0.6 miles. Along with the people fishing there were a number of ducks (including ducklings), geese and coots around the lake.
IMG_8625American coot and a duck family.

IMG_8627

IMG_8638Spotted sandpiper

IMG_8640

IMG_8645Pied billed grebe

IMG_8647

IMG_8648

IMG_8652

IMG_8654Mountain bluebird

IMG_8656The spur of the Walton Lake Trail that leads to the Round Mountain Trail.

We turned up the spur trail which climbed through a meadow where several families of geese were hanging out.
IMG_8661

After 0.2 miles the spur trail crosses the campground road.
IMG_8665

It was about this time that we realized that we hadn’t put our NW Forest Pass out. We headed back down to the lake and completed to the 0.8 mile loop to put our pass out. We later realized that it wasn’t good at Walton Lake anyway and paid the $5 day use fee.
IMG_8672

IMG_8674

IMG_8677

20210618_072716

IMG_8676A saxifrage.

This is also a good time mention that a 0.3 mile segment of the spur trail between Forest Road 2220 and Forest Road 22 is by Forest Order 06-07-01-21-02 closed from 5/18/21 to 10/31/21 (or until rescinded). There were no signs present at the start of the spur trail nor at the crossing of FR 2220, the notice was however posted at the FR 22 crossing (along with a warning about sheep dogs).
IMG_8696The order also states that the closure area will be signed along with pink flagging along all boundaries on the ground (we didn’t see any pink flagging at FR 2220).

Fortunately the Round Mountain North Trailhead is just on the other side of FR 22 from the Walton Lake entrance if you don’t want to road walk around the closure. Assuming you are coming from the FR 22 crossing though the Walton Lake Trail continues 1/2 mile to its end at the Round Mountain Trail (0.2 miles from the North Trailhead).
IMG_8698

IMG_8700

IMG_8702Larkspur

Approximately 0.4 miles from FR 22 the trail passes a snow survey site in a small meadow where we spotted several does.
IMG_8727

IMG_8726

IMG_8728

A short distance beyond the meadow we arrived at the Round Mountain Trail where we turned left. (Ignore the sign, it was the only one present and it was facing the wrong way.)
IMG_8733

The trail climbed to a dry, rocky plateau but not before first passing a nice display of lupine.
IMG_8734

IMG_8741

IMG_8746

20210618_080749Chocolate lily

IMG_8749The rocky plateau with Round Mountain to the right.

IMG_8750Death camas

IMG_8752A wild onion

IMG_8757Yarrow

The trail dipped off the plateau and lost a little elevation on its way to a saddle below Round Mountain. Just over 2 miles from the Walton Lake Trail we passed Scissors Spring in a meadow on our right.
IMG_8762Paintbrush

IMG_8768Valerian along the trail.

IMG_8767California tortoiseshell on valerian.

IMG_8772Mt. Jefferson from the trail.

IMG_8777

20210618_083047Maybe a miterwort?

IMG_8779Milbert’s tortoiseshell

IMG_8786

IMG_8790Scissors Spring

IMG_8791A fleabane

20210618_085307Geranium

Beyond the spring the trail began to climb through a series of hellebore filled meadows.
IMG_8797

IMG_8808

IMG_8813Woodpecker

IMG_8817

IMG_8818Another doe

IMG_8823A comma butterfly of some sort.

IMG_8831Possibly some sort of phlox?

IMG_8834

IMG_8836Another wild onion

IMG_8837Mountain bluebells

IMG_8841

Threeleaf lewisiaThreeleaf lewisia

IMG_8859

IMG_8854Butterfly on Jessica stickseed

IMG_8865A larkspur, Jessica stickseed, and hyssop

IMG_8867Robin

IMG_8863Mountain view from a meadow.

IMG_8862Mt. Jefferson

IMG_8864Mt. Hood

Just over a mile from the spring the trail made a switchback at which point it steepened noticeably. The next 1/3 of a mile consisted of steep switchbacks through a hellebore meadow to Round Mountain Road 0.2 miles from the summit.
IMG_8875

IMG_8882Viewpoint at one of the switchbacks. Cascade Mountains from Diamond Peak to Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_8884Diamond Peak

IMG_8886Mt. Bachelor

IMG_8887Ball Butte and Broken Top

IMG_8888Three Sisters

IMG_8889Mt. Washington

IMG_8890Three Fingered Jack

IMG_8891Mt. Jefferson

IMG_8893The trail sign along Round Mountain Road up the hill.

IMG_8896Fritillary butterfly

IMG_8899

IMG_8901Silky phacelia

IMG_8904Prairie smoke

IMG_8915

IMG_8917Balsamroot

IMG_8924Butterfly on an onion

20210618_100034Ladybug on lupine

IMG_8925Round Mountain summit

We sat on the cool concrete in the shade cast by the radio tower while we watched butterflies swirl through the air.
IMG_8945

IMG_8948And occasionally land.

IMG_8950Big Summit Prairie

IMG_8929Lookout Mountain (post)

IMG_8959Mt. Hood

IMG_8961Mt. Adams

After the break we returned the way we’d come with a slight delay caused by a Sara’s orangetip butterfly that refused to land despite repeatedly looking like it was going to as it flew in the same loop over and over again.
IMG_8976

IMG_8971Not too horrible of a photo of the orangetip on one of its many passes.

We retrieved our car from the now packed Walton Lake but not before checking out some of the wildlife one more time.
IMG_8997

IMG_9003

IMG_9005A coot, a spotted sandpiper and ducks.

IMG_9001Osprey with a recently caught fish (we got to see the dive)

IMG_9010Ducklings

From Walton Lake we drove to Redmond where we were a bit early so we stopped at the Spud Bowl and watched some dogs playing in the sprinklers before meeting up with Heather’s parents at Madelines. We had a great meal then continued home to Salem. When a section of the trail isn’t closed (and you don’t have to go back to your car to after starting your hike) this would be about a 12 mile hike with approximately 1900′ of elevation gain while the 0.8 mile loop around Walton Lake would be great for kids. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Walton Lake and Round Mountian

Categories
High Cascades Hiking Mt. Jefferson Area Oregon Trip report

Maxwell Butte – 8/12/2019

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.
IMG_5582

IMG_5585

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.
IMG_5589

First wilderness sign we'd seen that looked like thisThe 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.
IMG_5598

There was significantly more water in the lakes this time around (and better visibility too).
IMG_5599

Low water levels at Twin Lakes2015

IMG_5601

Low water at Twin Lakes2015

Our presence raised a ruckus from a Stellar’s jay.
IMG_5604

IMG_5616

Twin Lakes2015

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.
IMG_5790

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.
IMG_5619Penstemon

IMG_5621

IMG_5626Lousewort

IMG_5631Scarlet gilia

IMG_5623

IMG_5625A 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.
IMG_5634

IMG_5643

IMG_5647This looked like prime pika habitat to us.

IMG_5648

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).
IMG_5649

IMG_5651

The trail steepened a bit as it made its way up the south side of Maxwell Butte via a series of switchbacks.
IMG_5658

IMG_5659

IMG_5668

Butterflies and increasingly better views helped keep our minds off the climb.
IMG_5661

IMG_5663

IMG_5665Hogg 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.
IMG_5673

The view now included Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood to the north.
IMG_5674

IMG_5676Mt. 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.
IMG_5697

IMG_5721

IMG_5699Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack with Santiam Lake in the forest below.

IMG_5706The view south.

IMG_5728Broken Top, Mt. Washington, and the Three Sisters with Hayrick Butte in the forefront.IMG_5701Santiam Lake

IMG_5702Duffy Lake (post)

IMG_5703Mowich 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.
IMG_5740

IMG_5742Paintbrush 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.
IMG_5743

IMG_5764

IMG_5784

20190812_114406

IMG_5778Pika

IMG_5767Golden-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!

Flickr: Maxwell Butte 2019

Categories
Clackamas Hiking Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Baty Butte, Skookum Lake, and Thunder Mountain – 7/26/2019

Sticking with our Matt Reeder inspired vacation, on Thursday we selected a hike featured in both his “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region” and “Off the Beaten Trail” second edition. In the latter he doesn’t describe the extended hike to Baty Butte. We started our hike at the Thunder Mountain Trailhead where, just as at the Pine Ridge Trailhead, we were greeted by mosquitoes.
IMG_4576Spur road leading to the trail from the pullout.

IMG_4580Signage at the end of the closed spur.

The trail began climbing almost immediately via a switchback that passed us through a thimbleberry and devil’s club covered hillside.
IMG_4581Thimbleberry crowding the trail.

IMG_4582Devil’s club along the trail. We each had our hands brush against some and it doesn’t feel pleasant.

IMG_4587Lupine and paintbrush in the thimbleberries as the trail enters the forest.

After the initial battle with the brush the trail entered the forest where some old growth was present and the trail much clearer.
IMG_4590

IMG_4602

IMG_4600It looked like these two trees fell out of the same hole but in different directions.

IMG_4609Anemone and queen’s cup

IMG_4612Beargrass and huckleberry bushes.

After climbing for a mile we reached a viewpoint at a switchback with a view of Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_4616

IMG_4618Schreiner Peak in front of Mt. Jefferson.

Another .2 miles of climbing along a wildflower dotted ridge brought us to a junction just below the summit of Thunder Mountain.
IMG_4621

IMG_4626Small sign on the tree marking the trail to Thunder Mountain’s summit.

We decided to save Thunder Mountain for the return trip due to the position of the Sun and the presence of quite a bit of haze. We followed the pointers on a temporary sign for Skookum Lake and Baty Butte.
IMG_4628

The Skookum Lake Trail began to descend along a steep hillside that looked to have had an excellent wildflower display just a week or two earlier. As it was there were still a decent number of flowers in bloom.
IMG_4631Columbine

IMG_4635Washington lilies

IMG_4647Penstemon

IMG_4648Assorted flowers

20190726_075502Washington lilies

IMG_4650Oregon sunshine

20190726_075546Scouler’s bluebells

IMG_4653Columbine and a couple different types of penstemon.

IMG_4663Cat’s ear lily

IMG_4666Lupine

20190726_080627Pyrola

The trail left the wildflowers as it made a horseshoe shaped turn into thicker trees.
IMG_4671Skookum Lake Trail below coming out of the horseshoe turn.

Approximately a mile from the Thunder Mountain junction we passed a rocky viewpoint where large basalt boulders were jumbled along the hillside.
IMG_4934

IMG_4935

We didn’t stop to check out the view until our way back by, but there was a decent view of Mt. Hood and through the trees we could make out Mt. Rainier.
IMG_4931

IMG_4933Mt. Hood

IMG_4938Mt. Rainier

The trail descended another half mile beyond the rocks before leveling out along a meadow.
IMG_4675The trail skirts a talus slope above the meadow.

IMG_4681Finally leveling out by the meadow after losing approximately 700′.

The meadow is also the site of the junction with the abandoned Baty Butte Trail which was marked by a sad little rock cairn and tattered flagging along with an easy to miss temporary sign.
IMG_4685

IMG_4889I missed the sign until we had come back and started down the Skookum Lake Trail.

There were a few mosquitoes patrolling the meadow so we didn’t linger long but we did stick around long enough to notice several types of flowers still blooming.
IMG_4686Tall bluebells

IMG_4687The yellow might be a groundsel.

IMG_4689Aster

The tread of the trail was difficult to make out but there was some flagging on the far side and a faint path to it.
IMG_4684

Beyond the meadow the trail became a bit more obvious as it passed through the trees. Occasional flagging assisted in keeping us on track.
IMG_4691

IMG_4693

The trail climbed a bit before arriving at an old roadbed .4 miles from the meadow.
IMG_4695

The road was a casualty of the 1996 storms that caused flooding in Oregon and washed out much of the Fish Creek road network. The roadbed is now more of a wildflower garden. We turned right onto the road following a faint path through the flowers.
IMG_4697

Shortly after setting off on the road there was a nice view of Mt. Hood to the north.
IMG_4698

IMG_4700

This was by far the most enjoyable stretch of old roadbed we’ve been on. The wildflowers were profuse and there were dozens of butterflies flying about. It was the tail end of the flowers but they were still very impressive.
IMG_4705Paintbrush, penstemon and lupine

IMG_4710

IMG_4711

IMG_4717

IMG_4721Mostly past lupine

IMG_4722

IMG_4723

IMG_4725

IMG_4732Several butterflies on Oregon sunshine.

IMG_4735

IMG_4742Scarlet gilia

IMG_4745Fireweed

IMG_4753

IMG_4757

At about the .4 mile mark another old road joined from the right which wasn’t a problem on the way to Baty Butte but it is worth noting because coming from the other direction it looked like it might be easy to continue straight on the wrong roadbed.
IMG_4840Left is the wrong way on the return, the correct route is to the right through the brush.

IMG_4841Flagging marking the correct path.

Near the three quarter mile mark on the road we passed some rock out crops and a talus slope where we spotted a pika and some golden-mantled ground squirrels.
IMG_4778

IMG_4768

IMG_4772

IMG_4773

Shortly after passing along a narrow ridge the road arrived at the base of Baty Butte.
IMG_4784

IMG_4787

The road continued around the butte to the left but the Baty Butte Trail headed uphill amid some small trees.
IMG_4790Baty Butte Trail to the right.

The trail climbed around the side of the butte and showed some signs of recent trail maintenance.
IMG_4793

IMG_4795

After .4 miles on the trail, as it began to curve around a ridge, we turned uphill on a scramble trail.
IMG_4797Baty Butte Trail starting to curve around the ridge.

IMG_4798Scramble route up the ridge.

It was a steep quarter mile climb up the ridge which devolved into a narrow rocky spine toward the top.
IMG_4800Looking down from the start of the spine.

IMG_4826

IMG_4804

It required the use of our hands to navigate this and we stopped at a wide (for the ridge) spot. From here it appeared that the number of trees increased to a point that would make continuing even more difficult.
IMG_4809

From this viewpoint we had a view of Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters.
IMG_4815

IMG_4820Mt. Jefferson

IMG_4821Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, and the Three Sisters.

There was also an excellent view of Table Rock and Rooster Rock in the Table Rock Wilderness (post).
IMG_4810

IMG_4813Rooster Rock is the formation to the far left.

IMG_4823Looking down from Baty Butte.

After a brief rest we headed back eager to see more of the butterflies and flowers along the road.
20190726_104423

20190726_104410

IMG_4854

20190726_105330Orange agoseris

IMG_4856

IMG_4860Pearly everlasting

IMG_4861Penstemon

We also got to sample a few ripe strawberries.
20190726_104630

The trail heading off of the road was easier to spot than it had been at the meadow.
IMG_4873

Back through the meadow we went to the Skookum Lake Trail.
IMG_4877Monkeyflower along the trail.

IMG_4887Crab spider on aster.

We turned left following the pointer for Skookum Lake.
IMG_4890

The Skookum Lake Trail descended for three tenths of a mile to Skookum Lake.
IMG_4891

IMG_4893Rhododendron along the Skookum Lake Trail.

IMG_4901

The little lake was full of activity with butterflies flying along the shore and rough skinned newts floating lazily in the water. Trout were also visible swimming in the shallows.
IMG_4904

IMG_4907

We followed the trail along the lake shore to the Skookum Lake Campground.
IMG_4910

IMG_4912

IMG_4915

A forest road used to provide access to the primitive campground. It still sees some use though as the litter left in a bucket near the picnic table showed.
IMG_4916

As we headed back along the lake Heather spotted a crawdad on a log.
IMG_4921

IMG_4923

IMG_4925

After watching the crawdad for a bit we climbed back up to the junction with the Baty Butte Trail and then made the steep climb back up to the Thunder Mountain spur trail where we turend left.
IMG_4939Small sign on a tree marking the trail to the summit of Thunder Mountain.

It was just a tenth of a mile climb to the site of the former lookout tower at the summit.
IMG_4941

IMG_4942

From the summit we could again see Mt. Jefferson but now we also had a view north to Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams.
IMG_4945The view north.

IMG_4947Mt. St. Helens

IMG_4949Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams beyond Fish Creek Mountain (post).

IMG_4967Mt. Hood

IMG_4966Mt. Jefferson

From the summit we headed back down to the car stopping at the lower viewpoint which had a better view of Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_4970

Shortly before reaching the brushy section we passed a group of backpackers headed up the trail, the only people we saw all day. This was a really nice hike with a variety of scenery. Even if the scramble up Baty Butte is a little too much for some with the exposure the road walk to the butte was well worth a visit during wildflower season. The hike came in at just over 10 miles with a little over 3000′ of elevation gain making it a bit of a challenge but nothing too crazy. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Baty Butte, Skookum Lake, and Thunder Mountain

Categories
Hiking Oregon SE Oregon

Myrtle Creek – SE Oregon Vacation Day 7

With our SE Oregon vacation winding down we started our 7th day in Burns, OR. As I mentioned in a previous post our guidebooks didn’t show a lot of hiking options in the immediate area but Sullivan’s 3rd edition Easter Oregon hiking guide did have the Myrtle Creek Trail listed in the additional hikes. The trailhead was a 32 mile drive north of Burns in the Malheur National Forest near the edge of the high desert. The paved roads allowed for a roughly 35 minute drive along Highway 395 to Forest Road 31 1.1 miles north of the Idlewild Campground. The short road to the trailhead was approximately 13.1 miles up FR 31 on the left.
IMG_6916

A quick check on the trail status on the Forest Service website showed that the trail was open but receives light use and had not been maintained. It didn’t say how long it had been since the last trail maintenance but being that it passed through a ponderosa forest we weren’t too concerned because those types of forests typically don’t have much underbrush and suffer less blowdown than forests with other types of conifers.

At the trailhead Myrtle Creek lazily meandered through a meadow.
IMG_6920

A barbed wire fence separated the creek and the trail as we set off but near the end of the meadow the fence also ended.
IMG_6918

Here the trail made the first of several climbs away from the creek as it passed above some exposed rocks.
IMG_6926

There were quite a few flowers along this first stretch of trail which was just a sample of what was to follow.
IMG_7121Old man’s whiskers and a chocolate lily

IMG_7122Penstemon

IMG_7107Death camas

IMG_7101A clover

IMG_7105Lupine

IMG_7112Arnica

IMG_7099Large-flower triteleia

As we neared the mile and a half mark the trail descended back down to the creek to a crossing. There was a footbridge there but it looked as though it came out of a Dr. Seuss book.
IMG_6940

It would have been easy enough to splash across the creek but sometimes you just want to keep your feet dry so we accepted the challenge of the twisted bridge and made our way across it. More flowers awaited on the far side.
IMG_6942Oregon sunshine

IMG_6943Sticky geranium

IMG_6948Woodland star

IMG_6951Columbine

IMG_6956Larkspur

A quarter mile after crossing Myrtle Creek we came to a sign for Crane Creek which was nearly dry (it was dry when we returned later in the day).
IMG_6957

There were some nice scarlet gilia flowers in this area.
IMG_6960

After another quarter mile we passed a sign for the West Myrtle Creek Trail which must be invisible because we couldn’t see any trace of it.
IMG_6963

A short distance later we crossed West Myrtle Creek.
IMG_6964

More flowers appeared along the creek including some yellow paint.
IMG_6974

IMG_6976

A little over a mile from West Myrtle Creek the trail climbed uphill via a couple of switchbacks not shown on the map. A doe and small fawn ran off into the forest as we approached a green grassy area amid the ponderosa. Around the same area we saw a squirrel and a noisy woodpecker.
IMG_6985

IMG_6992

A short while later we noticed a sign on a tree in the middle of grassy area. Upon closer inspection it was a sign for Arden Glade.
IMG_6997

IMG_6999

IMG_6996

IMG_7000

IMG_7001

Beyond Arden Glade the trail returned to the meadows along the creek and continued to alternate between the meadows and the trees. Climbing up and down at least a bit each time. The further we went the fainter the trail got especially in the meadows where we often lost it completely only to rediscover it when it reentered the trees.
IMG_7005

IMG_7025

Just beyond the six mile mark we passed a post and what appeared to be a trail descending on the far side of the creek. We believe that was the FL Spring Trail.
IMG_7045

The miles had been marked by small plaques on trees through mile six.
IMG_6988

IMG_7008

IMG_7016

We had set a turn around time of no later than 9am for the hike. The trail was 8 miles one way and ended at private land. We had been averaging about 25 minutes a mile when we passed mile 6 and it was just after 8:15 at that point so we decided to try and reach the marker for mile 7 (assuming there was one). Just under a mile from the FL Spring Trail junction we lost the trail once again in a meadow only this time we coudn’t find a continuation of the trail amid the downed logs.
IMG_7033

IMG_7034

A glance at the time showed that it had been about half an hour since we’d passed mile 6 so we figured that we most likely had passed the 7 mile mark and either missed the markers or perhaps there weren’t any. After a short break and quick snack, we decided to head back. It was about ten till 9 anyway. It had been a chilly morning but it was warming up quickly on our way back and the rising temperatures brought out the butterflies.
IMG_7047

IMG_7049

IMG_7059

IMG_7066

IMG_7071

IMG_7083

IMG_7085

IMG_7090

When we were finished our GPS had us at 14.2 miles so we may well have made the 7 mile mark after all. Although the trail was faint in places it was a nice hike with a lot of solitude. It was a little strange to be hiking in a true forest again after a week in the sagebrush and junipers though.

We drove back to Burns then returned to Bend for another visit with Heather’s parents where we had some excellent pizza at Olde Town Pizza. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Myrtle Creek

Categories
Hiking Oakridge Area Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Blair Lake Trail

On Fathers day we headed to Blair Lake outside of Oakridge, OR hoping to see some wildflowers. My parents had done this hike two years before on June 11th. In 2013 there were still patches of snow in the area and the majority of flowers were still a few weeks away. With the low snow pack we had this year we were hoping that we weren’t going to be too late. As it turned out the beargrass was spectacular and there were quite a few other flowers along the way. We encountered a few mosquitoes (most of them found Heather), but they were not too bad. There were a few people camped at Blair Lake Campground and another group set near the meadow at Spring Prairie but we didn’t see any other hikers on the trail.

We parked at the campground and took the short trail to Blair Lake first then walked back .4 miles along roads to the start of the Blair Lake Trail.
IMG_4434

IMG_4418

IMG_4419

IMG_4427

The trail starts in a damp meadow where we spotted a large variety of flowers.
IMG_4454

IMG_4451

IMG_4458

IMG_4459

IMG_4469

IMG_4479

IMG_4476

IMG_4487

IMG_4484

IMG_4494

IMG_4495

IMG_4497

IMG_4853

IMG_4856

IMG_4850

IMG_4833

IMG_4859

Additional flowers appeared as we left the meadow and entered the forest.
IMG_4500

IMG_4505

IMG_4510

IMG_4523

IMG_4826

After climbing for about a mile and a half we arrived at a rocky viewpoint and our first good look at Diamond Peak for the day.
IMG_4532

IMG_4533

IMG_4819

IMG_4529

IMG_4537

IMG_4820

Just after the rocky viewpoint the trail entered one of the best beargrass meadows we’d seen. Beargrass blooms in cycles so it could be several years before the meadow looks like this again, but we seemed to have chosen the right year and right time as most of the stalks were either in full bloom or nearly there.
IMG_4545

IMG_4546

IMG_4559

IMG_4565

IMG_4567

IMG_4576

We came out of the meadow with a light coating of pollen.
IMG_4590

IMG_4591

After the amazing beargrass display we climbed another mile to road 730 at Spring Prairie and the old Mule Mountain Shelter. We could have driven here just like the group camping had, but then we wouldn’t have passed through either wildflower meadow.
IMG_4600

IMG_4602

The views from Spring Prairie included a string of Cascade peaks from Diamond Peak to Mt. Jefferson and more beargrass.
IMG_4608

IMG_4612

IMG_4614

Mt. Bachelor
IMG_4615

Broken Top
IMG_4616

The Three Sisters
IMG_4617

Mt. Washington
IMG_4618

Three Fingered Jack
IMG_4619

Mt. Jefferson
IMG_4620

There were a few more flowers here and as we were looking around I spotted a lizard that scurried into a clump of beargrass. It was one we had not seen before, a northwestern alligator lizard. He was hiding in the grass which made it difficult to get a decent picture but still a neat find.
IMG_4636

IMG_4640

Northwestern Alligator Lizard

We continued past Spring Prairie on Road 730 to the continuation of the Blair Lake Trail then at a fork headed right to visit the site of the former lookout which was .6 miles away.
IMG_4754

We found some different flowers along this path including bleeding heart and yellowleaf iris, but the views were inferior to those at Spring Prairie.
IMG_4648

IMG_4649

IMG_4650

IMG_4660

IMG_4652

When we got back to the fork we decided to continue on the Blair Lake Trail for another couple of miles just to see what it was like. The trail itself continues all the way into the Waldo Lake Wilderness and connects with trails near the Eddeeleo Lakes. The trail lost quite a bit of elevation in the first 3/4mi before leveling out somewhat. We were now in a rhododendron filled forest.
IMG_4667

IMG_4669

IMG_4672

IMG_4674

IMG_4677

IMG_4676

IMG_4679

IMG_4685

We went about 2 miles along this portion of trail before deciding to turn around. The trail was beginning to descend a bit to another road crossing and we didn’t want to have anymore elevation to gain. The highlight of the 2 mile extension was another beargrass meadow. This one was much smaller but still very nice.
IMG_4692

IMG_4693

On our way back the butterflies and other insects were out giving us something new to look for as we returned to the trailhead.
IMG_4727

IMG_4736

IMG_4746

IMG_4750

IMG_4757

IMG_4758

IMG_4760

IMG_4784

IMG_4800

IMG_4804

IMG_4809

IMG_4858

IMG_4844

We wound up covering 12.6 miles but shorter hikes would still yield plenty of flowers and longer hikes could lead to backpacking trips into the Waldo Lake Wilderness. The variety of flowers in the first meadow make this a worthy wildflower hike and if you happen to hit a beargrass year as we did then it’s like hitting the jackpot. Happy Trails!

Categories
Hiking Middle Santiam Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Crescent Mountain

Our wildflower adventure in the Old Cascades continued on our way home from Bend on July 6th. The hike we’d chosen was Crescent Mountain which is less than five miles from Iron Mountain as the crow flies. A 4.5 mile trail climbs up the SE ridge of this crescent shaped mountain through a series of meadows to another former lookout site.

The first 2.5 miles climbed through a nice forest with a crossing of Maude Creek at the 1.3 mile mark.
DSC00434

The trail then entered the first meadow which was full of bracken fern and some wildflowers.
DSC00480
DSC00496
DSC00498
DSC00502
DSC00504

The ferns gave way to more wildflowers as the trail continued to climb. Then we spotted a field of beargrass ahead. It turned out to be the most densely packed we’d ever seen.
DSC00539
DSC00719
DSC00720

Butterflies and birds could be seen flying about in all directions. Behind us a view of Mt. Washington and The Three Sisters opened up across the open hillside.
DSC00551
DSC00555
DSC00557
DSC00560
DSC00718
DSC00724
DSC00564
DSC00721

There was a nice variety of flowers in bloom.
DSC00727
DSC00744
DSC00741
DSC00714
DSC00694
DSC00693
DSC00559
DSC00574
DSC00579

The meadows lasted for about a mile before the trail reentered the forest and climbed a ridge to a trail junction. Taking the uphill fork to the right we quickly popped out on the rocky summit where the former lookout had stood. The view here was better than Iron Mountain with Three Fingered Jack unobstructed and Crescent Lake below nestled in the curve of the mountain.
Mt. Jefferson
DSC00591
Mt. Washington and The Three Sisters
DSC00592
Three Fingered Jack and Black Butte
DSC00593
Diamond Peak
DSC00594
Mt. Hood & Mt. Adams
DSC00619
Crescent Lake
DSC00634

There were more flowers, butterflies and birds up at the summit and despite a brief encounter with mosquitoes when we left the meadows we were left alone to enjoy the scenery.
DSC00651
DSC00645
DSC00653
Hummingbird enjoying the paint
DSC00672
DSC00642
DSC00652
DSC00658

Coming down we ran into a pair of hikers passing through the meadow who were equally impressed with the flowers. We agreed that we’d probably timed it as well as could be hoped. It was a great way to end the holiday weekend. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157645550800815/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204403365071385.1073741892.1448521051&type=1

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Ochoco Mountains Oregon Trip report

Lookout Mountain – Ochoco National Forest

We recently returned from a long weekend in Central Oregon. We had a few hikes that we were wanting to try in June in that area starting with Lookout Mountain in the Ochoco National Forest. Roughly 26 miles east of Prineville, OR the summit of Lookout Mountain is the 2nd highest point in the Ochoco Mountains. The summit is part of a broad plateau of sagebrush and wildflowers which also offers a 360 degree view.

There are a couple of options for reaching the plateau. For our visit we decided to start at the Round Mountain Trailhead on road 4205 just after turning off of road 42. We could have shaved nearly 2 miles form the hike by continuing up road 4205 to the Independent Mine Trailhead but the road is quite rough and I would rather be hiking than bouncing around in a car. The 0.9 mile path between the trailheads was pleasant enough with a number of wildflowers and a deer sighting.
DSC07761
DSC07763
DSC07774

We accidently left the trail and wound up on road 4205 across from signs for the Independent Mine and the Baneberry Trailhead.
DSC07784
Our version (2008, 2nd edition) of 100 Hikes in Eastern Oregon didn’t give any information about this trail but a sign at the Round Mountain Trailhead made mention of extensive trail work and renaming starting in 2010. Our book did show an old road leading down to the mine though so we decided to check it out. We reached the Baneberry Trail before getting to the mine and saw that it was an interpretive nature loop. Thinking it would loop us around to the mine we turned on the trail and began the loop. It was evident why the trail was named Baneberry as the forest was full of the plant.
DSC07804
Many benches and interpretive signs were located around the trail telling of the mining activity, forest, and wildlife.
DSC07805
As we continued on the loop it became evident that we were not going to loop to the mine site but instead were heading around in the opposite direction. When we had almost completed the loop a trail shot off uphill to the left which we took thinking it might take us up to the Independent Mine Trailhead. We lost the tread in a small meadow but we could tell the trailhead was just on the other side so we followed what looked like it might be the trail through the meadow and popped out at the trailhead.
DSC07806

From the trailhead we had more options. Straight ahead up the shorter steeper trail 808A, right on what was now named trail 804 or left on trail 808. We chose 808 based on the suggested route in the book. The trail passed through several meadows full of hellbore with views nice views to the north with Mt. Jefferson visible on the horizon.
DSC07814
DSC07817

The trail then turned south and we climbed up onto the sloped plateau. From here the trail climbed through open ground covered with wildflowers and sagebrush and the occasional stand of trees.
DSC07837
Big-headed Clover
DSC07841
Brown’s Peony
DSC07860
Looking ahead from the lower plateau
DSC07884

We crossed Brush Creek
DSC07920
and found some leftover of snow
DSC07940

There were some small lilies in this area as well as a few shooting star and mountain bluebells.
DSC07934
DSC07937
DSC07925
DSC07948

We came out of a clump of trees into another sagebrush covered meadow where we could see the summit of Lookout Mountain.
DSC07963
There were more flowers as we climbed through the sagebrush toward the summit. Balsamroot, paint, larkspur, and columbine dotted the landscape. There were other flowers both known and unknown to us as well.
DSC07984
Old Man’s Whiskers
DSC07996
DSC07995
The lupine was yet to bloom.
DSC08022

A sign stood at a trail crossroads giving directions.
DSC08024

From the summit we could see Cascade Peaks from Diamond Peak in the south to Mt. Hood in the North.
Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters in the distance:
DSC08023

We also spotted a very strange plant on the summit which thanks to some detective work form the folks at portlandhikers we identified as balloon-pod milk-vetch.
DSC08036

On our way down we stopped by a snow shelter built by the Oregon National Guard and U.S. Forest Service in 1989.
DSC08040
DSC08042

We spotted another deer on the way down and the butterflies started coming out as the day wore on.
DSC08051
DSC08067
DSC08070
DSC08074
DSC08082

Just before reaching the Independent Mine Trailhead on trail 804 we passed a left over mining building and an abandoned mine shaft.
DSC08088
DSC08097

We saw what must have been the same doe on the way down as we saw on the way up. She came out of the exact same group of trees and we wondered if she might not have a young fawn bedded down in them. We didn’t want to disturb it if there was so we continued on back to the Round Mountain Trailhead and our car. Day one had provided a great 10.3 mile hike and we had three more days to go. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157644735166968/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204236394617228.1073741883.1448521051&type=1