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Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Oregon Trip report

Memaloose Hills, Mosier Plateau, and Hood River Pipeline Trails – 5/01/22

We welcomed the month of May by kicking off our official hiking season. We took advantage of a one day window of dry weather and headed toward the eastern end of the Columbia River for a pair of short wildflower hikes near Mosier, OR followed by a third short stroll in Hood River along an old pipeline. During wildflower season sunny weekend days mean crowds so we got an extra early start and headed out the door a little before 5am hoping for a little solitude at least to start with.

We chose to start our morning at Memaloose Hills, the furthest east of our three stops and the most popular. We had visited the area in April of 2018 (post) when you could park at a rest area along Interstate 84. That is no longer allowed so we parked at the Memaloose Overlook along Highway 30 which is now the de-facto trailhead for the unofficial trails here.
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IMG_8826Looking west down the Columbia River from the overlook.

After a brief visit to the overlook we crossed the highway to pick up the well defined trail.
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From the highway it was just under three quarters of a mile to a junction where the trail splits with the left hand fork climbing to the top of Marsh Hill and the right fork to Chatfield Hill. There are a few ups and downs along this stretch as the trail passes through oak woodlands before crossing a small creek just before the junction. We took our time admiring the wildflowers and to watch a pair of deer.
IMG_8831Naked broomrape and poison oak

IMG_8835Woodland stars

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IMG_8837Lupine

IMG_8848Paintbrush

IMG_8855Larkspur and parsley

IMG_8862Balsamroot

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IMG_8897Chocolate lilies

20220501_070033Giant blue-eyed Mary

IMG_8918Coming up on the creek crossing.

On our previous hike we had only taken the left-hand fork to Marsh Hill so today we went right first and headed for Chatfield Hill.
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This section of trail passes through a grassland as it wraps around a small pond then passes a fence before turning up Chatfield Hill after a third of a mile.
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IMG_8928Ground squirrel on the other side of the fence.

IMG_8930Looking back at the pond surrounded by trees.

IMG_8933Heading up Chatfield Hill.

The trail gained a little over 250′ in 0.3 miles as it climbed through wildflowers to the top of the hill. The cooperative weather provided us with some great views of Mt. Hood.
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IMG_8947Fiddleneck and other wildflowers in front of Mt. Hood.

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Near the top of the hill Mt. Adams came into view to the north.
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IMG_8984The Hood River Bridge spanning the Columbia River.

IMG_8985Lupine, balsamroot, and paintbrush

IMG_8986Balsamroot

IMG_8988Large-head clover

20220501_074950Large-flower Triteleia

We took a short break before heading back down and then made our way back to the junction and turned right to head up Marsh Hill.
IMG_9005Hummingbird

IMG_9009Balsamroot on Marsh Hill

The climb up Marsh Hill was more gradual and in a third of a mile we found ourselves at the top looking at Mt. Hood and Chatfield Hill.
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IMG_9029Lupine and balsamroot

IMG_9032I think this is longhorn plectritis

After another short break we returned the way we’d come and at the junction began finally running into other hikers. Our early start had paid off again having had both hill tops to ourselves. Once we got back to the car we drove west on Highway 30 into Mosier for our next hike on the Mosier Plateau Trail. We parked in a signed parking area along the highway just west of a one lane bridge spanning Mosier Creek.
IMG_9041Sign for the parking area (If this small lot is full there are other options nearby.)

To reach the trail we had to walk across the bridge then turned uphill at a bench.
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The trail climbed a tenth of a mile to a viewpoint bench just beyond the historic Mosier Cemetery.
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A better viewpoint was just 150 yards further along at a railing overlooking Mosier Creek Falls.
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We continued on detouring to visit the rocks above the falls.
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Shortly beyond the falls the trail began a steep climb via a series of switchbacks and stairs to reach the plateau.
IMG_9089Looking up the hillside.

IMG_9091Red-stem storksbill

IMG_9099Vetch and balsamroot

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IMG_9108Silver-leaf phacelia

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We followed the trail as it wound along the plateau gradually descending to the start of a signed loop.
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IMG_9129Coyote Wall (post) across the Columbia River

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We went clockwise around the loop which brought us to the edge of the plateau above I-84 and Highway 30.
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20220501_093608Gold star

20220501_093624Fiddleneck

20220501_093631Balsamroot

IMG_9158View east.

IMG_9159Mosier to the west.

It was warming up nicely on our way back and the pollinators were starting to come out.
IMG_9165Gray hairstreak

IMG_9167Busy bumblebee

IMG_9172A duskywing (propertius?) on vetch.

IMG_9175Propertius duskywing

IMG_9177Poppies opening up to the Sun.

20220501_102516Bachelor button

We passed quite a few groups heading to the plateau on our way down and more were on there way as we loaded back into the car. From Mosier we returned to I-84 and drove west to Hood River where we took exit 64 and made our way to the Powerdale Powerhouse Trailhead. The hike starting here is described in Matt Reeder’s “PDX Hiking 365”. (The Mosier Plateau hike is also featured in that book.) While we have been focused on completing William L. Sullivan’s series of hiking guidebooks (post) we have been working in Reeder’s hikes more and more. While many of the hikes show up in each author’s books Matt throws some unique and more obscure hikes into his books which we appreciate.
IMG_9185The old powerhouse.

The hike here may not exactly be well known to hikers. The many access points to Hood River attract fishermen and in the Summer folks looking to escape the heat. The trail starts on a gated road then quickly crosses ACTIVE railroad tracks.
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IMG_9194Stellar’s jay near the tracks.

We crossed the tracks and turned left walking along them for about a tenth of mile before the trail jogged slightly to the right to follow the route of the former penstock which led from the decommissioned 1923 Powerdale Dam on the Hood River to the powerhouse.
IMG_9195The trail ahead to the right.

We followed this dirt path for a little over half a mile before arriving at the pipeline bridge spanning the Hood River where we crossed on the catwalk atop the pipe.
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For the next 0.6 miles we followed the catwalk along the pipeline which ends abruptly at a 2006 washout that also led to the removal of the dam up river.
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IMG_9221Monkeyflower

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IMG_9229Looking back from the turnaround point.

We headed back passing a few hikers along the way. We were also under the watchful eye of the area wildlife.
IMG_9234Lizard

IMG_9241Mallard

IMG_9243Scrub jay

IMG_9247Starlings

IMG_9251Osprey

The three hikes came in at 3.3, 3.2 and 3 miles respectively for a 9.5 mile day with a little over 1400′ of cumulative elevation gain. The short distances and convenient locations make any of these hikes nice for a quick stop and we saw several younger kids at both Mosier Plateau and the Hood River Pipeline (watch for poison oak). The combo of hikes made for a nice variety of scenery with waterfalls, snowy mountains, wildflowers, and wildlife along with the unique experience of hiking along the pipeline. (FYI – The grate on the catwalk might be hard on puppy paws.)

While we aren’t quite finished with all of our home improvement projects it was great to get our hiking season off to a good start. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Memaloose Hills, Mosier Plateau, and Hood River Pipeline Trails

Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Washington

Grayback Mountain, WA – 05/01/2021

UPDATE: AS OF MARCH 2022 ACCESS TO GRAYBACK MOUNTAIN HAS BEEN CLOSED BY THE PRIVATE LANDOWNERS. PLEASE RESPECT THEIR DESCION.

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.
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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)

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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&#8221; 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.

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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