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Hiking Old Cascades Oregon Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trip report

National Creek Falls and Takelma Gorge – 10/15/2020

As the strangest hiking season we’ve experienced winds down we took our final long distance (over 3 hours away) trip of the year for a long weekend of hiking around Union Creek, OR. Recent rains had knocked down the wildfires for the most part but those rains had given way to a sunny forecast which made for promising hiking conditions. We kicked off our hikes with a stop at the National Creek Falls Trailhead.
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Located just west of Crater Lake National Park National Creek Falls is spring fed from water absorbed by the Park’s pumice plain. A short .4 mile trail descends from the trailhead to the creek just below the falls.
IMG_6881There was just a little bit of blowdown to navigate on the way down.

IMG_6884National Creek Falls

On a warmer day we would have loved to stay for a bit and possibly wade across the creek to get a full view of these impressive falls but it was in the mid 30’s this morning and with the moisture generated by the falls we quickly became uncomfortably cold. We settled for the view we could get from the creek side and retreated back up to our car and turned the heat on full blast.
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When enough feeling had returned to my hands to grip the steering wheel we returned to Highway 230 following it south to its end at Highway 62 then continued south on that highway past Union Creek to Woodruff Meadows Road (between mileposts 51 and 52). We turned right onto this paved road for one and three quarters of a mile to a small pullout just past the Woodruff Bridge Day Use Area and a bridge over the Rogue River (parking is also available in the day use area).
IMG_6895Signboard at the pullout.

We were here to do Sullivan’s Takelma Gorge hike (#32 in the 4th edition “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California”). In his book he suggests a quick detour to a small fall beneath the bridge so we crossed the road and made our way down to the river bank to view the cascade.
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We then recrossed Woodruff Meadows Road and headed south along the river on the Upper Rogue River Trail.
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The mile and a half to Takelma Gorge had many river views with lots of fall colors lining the banks. There was also a varied thrush sighting that actually resulted in a few decent pictures (these birds are my nemesis when it comes to getting photos).
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As we neared the gorge the river began to be squeezed through channels created by lava flows.
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IMG_6962Rogue River emerging from a channel.

Takelma Gorge is also the result of a lava flow where the Rogue turns a sharp corner and blasts down the gorge.
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The trail follows along the rim of the gorge passing a couple of viewpoints over the next .9 miles.
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IMG_7029Rogue River emerging from Takelma Gorge.

Either end of the gorge could have been turn around points but the Upper Rogue River Trail continues and so did we. From the southern end of Takelma Gorge it was just over two miles to the River Bridge Campground which we planned on making our turn around point. The nearly level trail remained close enough to the river to provide plenty of views.
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Just under a mile from the gorge we passed the Rogue Baptist Camp.
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We turned around at the campground and headed back.
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It was a beautiful day and somehow the colors and the gorge were even more impressive on the return hike.
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When we got back to Woodruff Bridge we noticed some flagging and signage along the trail that had not been there earlier. Apparently there was a 50k race scheduled for Saturday (10/17). The race was an out and back starting and ending in Union Creek. The fact that the race would be happening Saturday helped us decide that Friday we would be doing the Natural Bridge hike since that would have us on trail following part of the race course.

We drove to Union Creek where we checked into the Union Creek Resort then after getting settled we walked across Highway 62 to get dinner from Beckie’s Cafe. After a thoroughly enjoyable dinner we decided to check out the area behind the cafe which was actually part of our next day’s hike. We managed to get ourselves turned around in the Union Creek Campground and our little after dinner stroll turned into a nearly mile out and back along Union Creek. It had been a nice start to the long weekend and we were looking forward to what the next day had to bring. Happy Trails!

Flickr: National Creek Falls and Takelma Gorge

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Crater Lake Area High Cascades Hiking Mt. Theilsen/Mt. Bailey Area Throwback Thursday Trip report

Throwback Thursday – Mt. Bailey and The Watchman

Today’s Throwback Thursday hike took place on 8/11/2012 and featured our first summit of one of the Cascade Mountains – Mt. Bailey. The 8368′ summit would also mark the highest elevation we’d reached surpassing that of Paulina Peak.

Mt. Bailey is located north of Crater Lake National Park on the west side of Diamond Lake across from the taller, pointier Mt. Thielsen.
Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen

Mt. Bailey to the left of Diamond Lake with Mt. Thielsen on the right as seen from Mount Scott, Crater Lake National Park

There are two trailheads to choose from. From Diamond Lake’s South Shore Picnic Area turn onto Road 4795 and drive just past Silent Creek to Road 300 and turn left. The lower trailhead is just .4 miles further and suitable for passenger vehicles. The road to the upper trailhead was reportedly rough and although starting there would cut 4.4 miles off the hike it would still be under 10 miles round trip from the lower starting point so we parked there and set off.
Mt. Bailey Trailhead

The trail climbed through a somewhat sparse forest, typical for this part of the Cascades due to the presence of a thick layer of ash and pumice which covered the area following the eruption of Mt. Mazama.
Mt. Bailey Trail

Forest along the Mt. Bailey Trail

As we neared the 1.5 mile mark a somewhat hazy view of Hillman Peak and The Watchman on the west side of Crater Lake’s rim opened up.
Hillman Peak and The Watchman

A couple of hundred yards later we came to a viewpoint of Diamond Lake and Mt. Thielsen.
Diamond Lake with Tipsoo Butte, Howlock Mountain, and Mt. Thielsen

Mt. Scott was also visible to the south on the east side of Crater Lake, but the view wasn’t great due to smoke from forest fires.
Mt. Scott

We also had a good look at our ultimate goal, the summit of Mt. Bailey.
Mt. Bailey

The trail had climbed approximately 750′ from the trailhead to the viewpoint but beyond the viewpoint it leveled off for the next .5 plus miles before reaching the upper trailhead. Along the way we kept watch for the Hemlock Butte Shelter which was off-trail on our left. When we spotted it we headed cross country to check it out.
Hemlock Butte Cabin

Inside the Hemlock Butte Cabin

Inside the Hemlock Butte Cabin

After signing the register in the shelter we made our way to the upper trailhead where the Mt. Bailey Trail began to climb again. At first the trail remained in the hemlock forest but before long we’d reached a ridge crest where the trees thinned and views opened up.
Mt. Bailey Trail

Mt. Bailey Trail

Mt. Thielsen

View from the Mt. Bailey Trail

Small meadows along the trail were homes to a few wildflowers.
Paintbrush

Penstemon

Bleeding Heart

The trail followed the ridge uphill which curved to the NW around a large glacier carved valley on the mountain’s east side. The angle of ridge provided excellent views of the mountain ahead.
Mt. Bailey Trail

Mt. Bailey

Small patches of snow lingered along the trail at higher elevations and the views opened up even more as we climbed. Unfortunately the smoke was also getting worse further limiting the visibility.
Snow along the Mt. Bailey Trail

Diamond Lake, Tipsoo Peak, Howlock Mountain, and Mt. Thielsen

The trail passed a viewpoint down into the glacial-valley and up to a window in a rock wall along the mountain’s summit ridge which we would pass later.
View from the Mt. Bailey Trail

Mt. Bailey

Beyond this viewpoint the trail passed by a 300′ snowy crater as it turned northward nearing the southern summit of the mountain.
Snow field along the Mt. Bailey Trail

Snow field along the Mt. Bailey Trail

From the lower southern summit the actual summit was a half mile away and another 220′ up.
Mt. Bailey Trail

The trail crossed a cinder saddle which wasn’t too narrow but not too wide either. Then we passed along the left side of the rock wall pausing to peep through the window we’d seen from below. The smoke had gotten so bad that Mt. Thielsen was nearly hidden on the other side of Diamond Lake now.
Mt. Bailey Trail

Rock window along the Mt. Bailey Trail

Diamond Lake and a faint Mt. Thielsen

The rock wall was also home to some flowers.
Western Pasque Flower

Arnica and partridge foot

The trail passed over the rock wall on the far end at a low point which did require the us of our hands.
Mt. Bailey Trail

A final steep climb brought us to the bare, rocky summit of Mt. Bailey.
Summit of Mt. Bailey

The smoke wasn’t too bad where we were, but with fires burning to both the north and south there was little view to speak of.
Mt. Thielsen and Diamond Lake from the summit of Mt. Bailey

View from the summit of Mt. Bailey

View from the summit of Mt. Bailey

We explored the broad summit which sported some wildflowers and a snowfield.
Summit of Mt. Bailey

Summit of Mt. Bailey

Snowmelt on the summit of Mt. Bailey

View from the summit of Mt. Bailey

Partridge foot

After resting atop the mountain for a bit we returned the way we’d come. When we’d gotten back to the car we decided to drive down to Crater Lake since it was only 15 minutes away. Neither of us had been there for years so why not take advantage of being so close. We parked at a large parking area 2.2 miles after turning right onto Rim Drive from the North Entrance Road.

From here a .8 mile climb led to a lookout tower on The Watchman.
Interpretive sign

We had really been looking forward to seeing Crater Lake again but the smoke was thick over the water leaving us with a very limited view. At least we could see Wizard Island, a cinder cone that formed after the eruption of Mt. Mazama creating Crater Lake.
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Wizard Island in Crater Lake

The Watchman Trail led right along Rim Drive for .4 miles to a junction where we turned left and began the steep climb to the lookout.
Lookout at the summit of The Watchman

From the lookout Hillman Peak and Wizard Island were about the only landmarks visible. Interpretive signs at the summit showed us what we were missing.
Hillman Peak and Llao Rock

Crater Lake and Wizard Island

Interpretive sign on The Watchman

Sign near the lookout tower on The Watchman

Despite the smoke it was well worth the stop but we did feel bad for the many tourists that might not get another chance to see this amazing place. We knew we’d be back and hopefully the conditions would be better the next time. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157632957911480

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Crater Lake Area High Cascades Hiking Mt. Theilsen/Mt. Bailey Area Oregon Trip report

Mt. Scott (Crater Lake National Park) & Tipsoo Peak (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness)

After a semi-rest day (Sparks Lake) we headed to Crater Lake National Park for our third visit hoping this time to actually be able to see the lake. In 2012 smoke had made it nearly invisible and earlier this year clouds had completely blocked the view. This time we were not disappointed.

August 2012
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June 2014
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October 2014
Crater Lake in the morning

Our plan was to hike to the former lookout tower on Mt. Scott, the highest point in the park at 8938′ and then head north on Hwy 138 to the Tipsoo Peak Trail and also summit that 8034′ peak. The two hikes combined would be just over 11 miles with a combined 3000′ of elevation gain making them very doable in a single day.

The Mt. Scott Trail sets off along a broad plain at the base of the mountain giving a clear view of the entire peak as well as the lookout tower on it’s northern end.
Mt. Scott

The trail climbs around to the south side of the mountain and then up to the long ridge along Mt. Scotts summit. Not only were the skies clear above Crater Lake but we were able to see mountain peaks from Mt. Shasta in the south to Mt. Jefferson up north along the way. The views started early along the trail and just improved was we climbed.

Mt. Shasta, Mt. McLoughlin, and Union Peak to the south.
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Crater Lake
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Crater Lake from Mt. Scott

Mt. Bailey
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Mt. Thielsen and Diamond Peak
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The Three Sisters
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Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack
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While we were traversing the ridge over to the lookout tower we spotted a hawk soaring high above the park.
Hawk soaring over Crater Lake National Park

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After checking out the tower we headed back down to the car to start the drive to the Tipsoo Peak Trail. We had to make a couple of stops just to take in the beauty of Crater Lake.
Crater Lake

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We left the park and drove up to the Tipsoo Trail where we were surprised to find a much nicer forest than we had expected. Our previous trips in the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness had been through lodgepole pine forests which are not exactly eye candy.
Tipsoo Peak Trailhead

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We were also surprised by the number of mushrooms we spotted.
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The climb was very gradual making it fairly easy going as we approached the summit. Near the top the trail passed by the edge of pumice filled Howlock Meadows where Howlock Mountain, Mt. Thielsen, and Mt. Bailey were visible.
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Red cinder covered the top of Tipsoo Peak and the 360 degree view revealed several mountains and lakes.
View from Tipsoo Peak

Red Cone
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Howlock Mountain and Mt. Thielsen
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Diamond Peak
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The Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor
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Mt. Bailey and Diamond Lake
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Lemolo Lake
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Miller Lake
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Madieu Lake
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Lucille Lake
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These were a couple of really nice hikes if you are looking for big views without a long or steep hike. Both hikes were on the shorter end (4.6 & 6.5 miles) and both trails climbed very gradually making them very nice options. The access road for the Tipsoo Peak trail was a bit rough and would probably require a high clearance vehicle though. Happy Trails!

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Crater Lake Area High Cascades Hiking Oregon Trip report

Upper Rogue River Trail and Boundary Springs

Hike #2 on our mini-vacation was a visit to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and Crater Lake National Park. The plan was to start at the Mazama Viewpoint on Hwy 230 and first visit Boundary Springs which is where the Rogue River begins. Then we would hike down the Rogue River to Rough Rider Falls. We would have turned around there but my parents decided to come along and start at a different trail head and hike up the Rogue to the falls. They dropped us off at the Mazama Viewpoint before heading down to the lower trail head. This allowed us to continue past Rough Rider Falls and meet them at that spot.

It was a cloudy morning and we’d driven through a little rain/snow mix on the way there. An occasional light rain would continue all day long with a glimpse of blue sky thrown in every now and then. We started off on the Upper Rogue River Trail from the Mazama Viewpoint and followed the trail half a mile to a junction with the Boundary Springs Trail. Shortly after joining this trail we started getting glimpses of the Rogue flowing through the forest.
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We crossed the boundary of Crater Lake National Park and continued on toward the springs. The river was increasingly scenic as we went.
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Near Boundary Springs was a pretty waterfall:
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The river just below the springs:
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The largest of the springs:
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After poking around the springs we returned to the Upper Rogue River Trail and turned left to head down river to Rough Rider Falls. The trail started out far above the Rogue as it flowed through an interesting canyon.
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We came upon a couple of deer that were too quick for pictures and a pair of noisy woodpeckers that didn’t seem too pleased with one another.
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We also saw the best candysticks we’d come across:
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And a strange mushroom thing:
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The trail descended back down to the river which was amazingly clear where the water was calm.
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Once the trail lowered into the canyon it became a bit messy. Many downed trees created tricky obstacles and the trail was in need of some maintenance.
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It was 4.2 miles from the Boundary Springs Trail to Rough Rider Falls. A sign above the falls announced them.
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It was pretty above the falls but we couldn’t get a good feel for them until we descended below them.
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After Rough Rider Falls we passed a pretty little waterfall coming from a hillside into the river.
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A little island with whitewater on each side:
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And finally an unnamed waterfall:
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The strangest thing of the hike was the amount of climbing we felt like we did considering we were supposedly traveling downhill with the river. When we arrived at my parents car we discovered that they had just finished about 15 minutes earlier. There were some mosquitoes around the car so we quickly tossed our gear in the back and hopped in. We had hopped to stop by Crater Lake on the way home since Dominique has never seen it and it had been years since my parents had. We were there in 2012 but smoke from a fire had obscured most the views. With the weather flipping between blue sky and rain showers all day we weren’t sure if we would be able to see the lake but my parents had their National Park Pass with them so we decided why not give it a try. As we drove up to the north rim we entered the clouds and some more rain/snow mix. The visibility was worse than our previous visit so I took a couple of pictures to show we were then we turned around and headed home.
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We plan on heading back this Fall for another try and maybe then we'll be able to actually see the lake. Happy Trails!

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