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Hiking Middle Santiam Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Coffin Mountain, Bachelor Mountain, and Bugaboo Ridge

For the 4th of July we spent our day off revisiting Coffin and Bachelor Mountains and discovering the Bugaboo Ridge Trail. Our previous hike up Coffin and Bachelor Mountains was on a cloudy day in early August, 2013. We hadn’t experienced any mountain views that day and it was past peak for the wildflowers so we had added it to the list of hikes to redo. In addition to revisiting the two mountains we also planned on checking out the Bugaboo Ridge Trail which intersects the Bachelor Mountain Trail.

A recent presentation by Matt Reeder at Salem Summit Company had prompted us to pick up a copy of his book “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region” which provided some additional details on the Bugaboo Ridge Trail. After reading his description it seemed well worth the additional mileage to check it out.

We parked at the Coffin Mountain Trailhead which is accessed via Straight Creek Road found 2.9 miles south of Marion Forks.
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On our previous visit we had parked here and started by walking 1.2 miles further along forest roads to the Bachelor Mountain Trailhead and hiking to that summit before returning and heading up Coffin Mountain. To change things up this time we headed up Coffin Mountain first. Most of the Coffin Mountain Trail passes through open wildflower meadows.
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Our timing was much closer to peak for the wildflowers and there was a wide variety in various stages of bloom.
Chaparral false bindweed
chaparral false bindweed

Aster
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Thistle
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Fireweed
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Cat’s ear lily
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Yellow leaf iris
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False sunflower and blue gilia
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Scarlet gilia and paintbrush
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Tall bluebell
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False sunflower
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Catchfly
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Mountain owl’s clover
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As the trail climbs views of the Cascades get increasingly better.
Mt. Jefferson
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Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, Broken Top, The Three Sisters, The Husband and Diamond Peak
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Diamond Peak
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Mt. Washington, Broken Top, The Three Sisters and The Husband
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Three Fingered Jack
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The number of flowers increased the higher we got in the meadows.
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Red, White, and blue for the 4th
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Beargrass
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The trail enters a short section with trees where the Coffin Mountain Lookout is visible on the cliffs above.
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A final push uphill leads to the staffed lookout tower and helipad.
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It was a little different view than we’d had in 2013.
Coffin Mountain lookout

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We returned to the trailhead then set off on the road toward the Bachelor Mountain Trailhead. Although it’s possible to drive the 1.2miles we’d rather enjoy the scenery along the way.
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Coffin Mountain Lookout from the road to the Bachelor Mountain TH.
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The unsigned trail begins at the end of Road 430.
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The trail climbs fairly steeply through a forest in two long switchbacks before losing the trees and gaining views as it rounds a ridge end.
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The wildflowers on Bachelor Mountain rivaled those on Coffin although Bachelor Mountain is drier and rockier.
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Washington lily
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After the initial climb the trail leveled out along a plateau with views.
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The trail then reentered the forest shortly before arriving at a junction with the Bugaboo Ridge Trail.
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We kept to the Bachelor Mountain Trail and headed uphill toward the summit. This section of trail passed though a forest of small tightly packed trees, many of which were bent by the weight of winter snows.
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Once we were above the trees the wildflowers and views returned.
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Phlox
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Wallflower
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Another lookout used to sit atop Bachelor Mountain but it was burnt by the Forest Service years ago just leaving the views. To the north Mt. Adams was visible over Mt. Hoods shoulder.
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Mt. Jefferson loomed to the east.
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A little further south was Three Fingered Jack and the scars of the B & B Fire.
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Then came a clump of Cascade Mountains, Washington, Broken Top and the Three Sisters.
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Because Bachelor Mountain is taller than its neighbor there was also a nice view of Coffin Mountain.
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We headed back down the Bugaboo Ridge Trail junction and unlike our last visit this time we turned onto that trail and headed east through the forest.
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The Bugaboo Ridge Trail is a longer approach to Bachelor Mountain and it was evident that it sees much lighter usage based on the narrower tread and encroaching vegetation in places. We found it to be a great trail though. The trail left the trees and entered a series of rock gardens and meadows filled with wildflowers.
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The views were pretty darn good too.
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Heather spotted an interestingly colored larkspur along the trail, it was the only one we could find.
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The meadows and gardens began to give way to forest as the trail descended to the Bruno Meadows Trail junction.
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The Bruno Meadows Trail is yet another option to reach Bachelor Mountain, but we ignored that trail and continued to descend on the Bugaboo Ridge Trail. The descent was gentle except for a short section above the Bruno Meadows junction although there was a fair amount of blowdown to navigate. We decided to turn around at a logging road that the trail crossed in an old clear cut.
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The detour along the Bugaboo Ridge Trail to the road was just under 2.5 miles adding nearly 5 miles to the days hike but it had been worth the extra effort. This visit had been a vastly different experience from our visit in 2013. It was fun to be able to see what we had not been able to on that first trip, and it was a great way to spend the 4th. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157670004507771

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Hiking Middle Santiam Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Iron Mountain and the Meadows of Cone Peak

July means wildflowers in the Old Cascades, the eroded peaks that are now the western foothills of the Cascade Mountains. We were headed over to Bend, OR for the 4th of July weekend so we seized the opportunity to check out a couple of the hikes on the way over and back. On the way over to Bend we decided to revisit Iron Mountain, a hike we had done in 2010 during the final week of July. We missed the wildflower peak that year by a couple of weeks so we hoped we would be hitting the area at a better time this visit.

On our previous visit we did the loop clockwise by starting at the trailhead located on road 15 and heading up Iron Mountain first then through the meadows on Cone Peak. This time around we parked at Tombstone Pass and headed counter-clockwise in order to hopefully have the meadows to ourselves before the trail got crowded.
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We took a short detour on the Tombstone Nature Trail that circled around a meadow with flowers and a view of Iron Mountain.
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After finishing the nature trail we crossed Highway 20 and started climbing up the Cone Peak Trail. We started seeing flowers almost immediately. It seemed every open area had an assortment of different flowers.
Lupine, Columbine & Thimbleberry
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Wild Rose
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Columbine
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Larkspur
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Penstemon & Blue Gilia
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Cat’s Ear Lily
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Woolly Sunflower
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Flower variety
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Columbia Windflower
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Wallflower
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Paintbrush & Larkspur
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More variety packs
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We’d already lost count of the number of different flower types we’d seen by the time we got to the main meadow 1.2 miles from the highway crossing. In the meadow we found even more types of flowers as well as views of Cone Peak and Iron Mountain.
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Cone Peak
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Cone Flower
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Giant Blue-eyed Mary
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Iron Mountain
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Scarlet Gilia
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We’d been hearing some elk off and on while we were in the meadow and as we were exploring a rocky outcrop Dominique noticed some brown spots in a meadow up on Iron Mountain. There were 7 elk moving through the brush grazing on the vegetation as they went.
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We left the meadow and reentered the forest as we wound our way around Iron Mountain to the junction with the Iron Mountain Lookout Trail. There were still flowers everywhere and now we were starting to get views of the snowy Cascade Mountains.
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Mt. Hood
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Mt. Jefferson
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The Three Sisters
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At the site of the former lookout is a railed observation deck and bench which allowed for a relaxing rest as we took in the 360 degree view which spanned from Mt. Adams to Diamond Peak.
Mt. Adams & Mt. Hood
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Mt. Jefferson beyond Cone Peak and the top of Three Fingered Jack behind Crescent Mountain
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Mt. Washington
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The Three Sisters, Mt. Bachelor & The Husband
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Diamond Peak
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The view was so good even a hummingbird took a break from the penstemon to take it in.
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We headed back down to the trail junction and continued on our loop passing more flowers, recrossing Highway 20, and returning to Tombstone Pass on the Old Santiam Wagon Road.
Beargrass
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Bunchberry & Queens Cup
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The flowers had certainly been better than on our previous visit and it looked like they would be pristine for another week or two. It was a great way to start a holiday weekend. Happy Trails!

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Hiking Oakridge Area Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Tire Mountain

June wildflowers and a “possible” waterfall were are goal for our recent trip to Tire Mountain near Oakridge, OR. Our guidebook showed a 7.6 mile hike starting from the Alpine Trailhead, linking up to the Tire Mountain trail, and turning around after reaching the summit of Tire Mountain. Looking at the forest service maps of the area I noticed that the Tire Mountain trail continued west beyond the junction with the summit trail to a trailhead on road 5824. Along that portion of the trail was a creek crossing where it appeared there might be a waterfall. Thinking that a 7.6 mile hike was a little short for a 2 1/2 hour drive I thought we could investigate the possible waterfall for a little extra exercise.

The Alpine trail started off uphill on a forested ridge where the path was lined with small rocks. The usual woodland flowers were present including vanilla leaf, solomonseal, candyflower, and bunchberry. We also spotted some wild ginger.
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Just a bit over half a mile in the trail entered the first of the meadows. The flowers did not disappoint and as an added bonus several cascade peaks were visible from this meadow.
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Diamond Peak
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Mt. Bachelor
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Broken Top
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The flower show continued as we passed through more meadows on the way to the junction with the Tire Mountain trail. Along the way The Three Sisters joined the view.
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At the 1.2 mile mark we found the Tire Mountain trail and turned right. We passed through several smaller meadows which were home to a variety of different flowers, some of which were unknown to us.
Columbine
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Plectritis & Larkspur
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Plectritis & Yellow Monkeyflower
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Camas
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Paintbrush
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Coastal Manroot & ?
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Cat’s Ear Lily
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Another unknown
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Possibly Oregon Sunshine
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Giant Blue-Eyed Mary, Plectritis & unknown
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Buttercups
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Wild Iris
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We were amazed at the number of flowers and we could see that there were even more higher up on the hillsides.
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After the series of smaller meadows the trail entered the largest meadow of the day. Here balsamroot joined the flower bonanza.
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Ookow
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Wallflower
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Unknown
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Blue Gilia
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When we left the meadow I remarked that we hadn’t seen any lupine at all. As soon as we hit the next small meadow that was no longer the case.
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From this meadow we also got a good view of Tire Mountain and Diamond Peak again.
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The trail then entered the forest before splitting. To the left was the 1/2mi path to the summit while the right fork headed down toward road 5824. We headed up to the summit to check out the former lookout site. The trail was nice despite there being a few downed trees to maneuver around.
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When we reached the brushy summit we found a number of additional flower types.
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Unknown
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Fawn Lily
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Unknown
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Wild onion
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Phlox
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Buscuitroot
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Despite being a former lookout site there was no view from the summit. In fact the lookout had been placed up in a tree in order to have a view of the surrounding area. We explored a bit before heading back down to the trail split and starting our search for the waterfall.

From the split, the Tire Mountain trail descended fairly quickly through a series of switchbacks. Several bridges crossed seasonal streams amid the large trees.
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It was a lot further down to the creek I was looking for than I had anticipated and we were all dreading the climb back up. We finally rounded a ridge end and spotted the bridge that crossed the creek I was looking for. There was indeed a waterfall but after seeing it we knew why the guidebook doesn’t mention continuing on to it. It was a pretty sad display lol.
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After soaking in the torrent we started our climb. We did our best to focus on the ever present bird song as we trudged along. Grey jays, varied thrushes, and at least one woodpecker flew from tree to tree. The woodpecker was the only one that stayed still long enough for me to get a picture.
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The meadows were just as impressive on the return trip. The only real bummer for the day was seeing a layer of smoke over the Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor. Alas the fire season started early this year with the Two Bulls Fire burning near Bend, OR. 😦
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Hopefully it isn’t a sign of things to come. Happy (and fire free) trails!

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Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Mary’s Peak, Beazell Memorial Forest & Ft. Hoskins County Park

Every once in a while it can be fun to change things up a bit. For our latest day of hiking we did just that. Instead of one longer hike we decided to knock a few shorter hikes off our to-do list. We had a graduation open-house that we wanted to stop in at that afternoon in Dallas, OR so we headed down to the central coast range for a trail triple header.

We started at Mary’s Peak, the highest peak in the Oregon coast range. We had visited the peak in 2009 when we were just starting to get into hiking. That day we had taken a 2.5 mile route from Conner’s Camp to the 4097′ summit. It was the most challenging hike we’d done up to that point and we felt every bit of the 1530′ climb. Our plan was to redo that hike (at least on the way up) to see how we would fare now that we’ve been hiking for several years.

There are several ways to get to the summit varying in length from just over a mile to almost 11 miles round trip. The East Ridge trail would be our route up from Conner’s Camp. The trail sets off from the parking area in a forest of old-growth Douglas Fir which tower overhead. The forest is very open despite the giant trees due to the lack of lower branches which allows for an abundance of green undergrowth. Vine maple, salal, fern, and many other plants contribute to a lush green understory. Low clouds were hanging in the tree tops while many white woodland flowers dotted the forest floor.

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The trail climbs steadily for 1.1 miles to a junction where the East Ridge Tie trail continues on to the North ridge trail making a loop possible. We would be retuning from that direction but in order to recreate our 2009 climb we turned left to continue up the East Ridge trail. The trail steepens after the junction and it was this section that seemed to go on forever the first time we hiked it. It proved to be a stiff climb but we quickly reached a second junction, this time with the North Ridge trail. Forking to the left we continued up a short distance to the lower meadow and blue(ish) skies. 🙂

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The trail wraps around a hillside through the meadow, which was yet to really start blooming, before reaching a gravel service road in a saddle. The clouds were lapping up over the hillside from the north creating what can only be described as a “fog rainbow”.

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The gravel road winds up to the summit around the south side of Mary’s Peak, but a more direct (and steeper) trail leads up to the upper meadow from the far side of the road. Since that was the way we had gone before we crossed the road and headed up again (and again wondered why). When we emerged from the narrow swath of trees that divides the two meadows we found that the upper meadow was also yet to bloom. Clumps of lupine had yet to even begin to bud and only a few scattered flowers dotted the slope.

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The sky was blue though and we had the peak to ourselves so we climbed through the meadow to a picnic table at the summit. We were above the clouds but it appeared that Mary’s Peak was the only peak which had managed to rise above them. Even the 10,000′ Cascade peaks to the east were hidden. To the west the Pacific Ocean blended in so well with the layer of clouds and blue sky that it was difficult to make out where one ended an another began.

The view west:
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After setting our stuff down at the table we began exploring the summit. To the west where the road came up from below we began to find flowers. Purple larkspur and yellow biscuit root covered the ground.
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We started to head down the road following the flowers and as we rounded a bend we were greeted with a color explosion. We’d found the flowers. They were all on the south side of the peak. Phlox, larkspur, paint, and various yellow wildflowers covered the slopes on this side.
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After taking a few pictures (okay lots) we went back to the table to gather our packs and headed back down the road. As we made our way down we found some blooming lupine and penstemon as well.
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To get back to the car we took the 1 mile section of the North Ridge trail from the upper junction to the East Ridge Tie trail and turned right on it for 1.2 miles back to the first junction and finally back to Conner’s Camp.

From there we drove back to U.S. Highway 20 and headed west to the Kings Valley Highway Junction. Turning right we continued 4.8 miles on Highway 223 to the Beazell Memorial Forest. The forest consists of 586 acres gifted to Benton County by the former owner, Fred Beazell, as a memorial to his late wife Dolores. Our plan here was to hike a 3.2 mile loop using the South Ridge trail.

The trail begins at a footbridge behind a restored barn which was being readied for a wedding reception on this day. After crossing Plunkett Creek on the bridge the trail joins an old road for half a mile. The forest is dense and scenic in a narrow valley. At the .5 mile mark the trail splits off to the right and recrosses the creek twice before rejoining the road at a junction in another half a mile.

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Here the South Ridge trail leads to the right up the side of the valley. A sign was posted warning of a logging operation and trail closure from October 2013 through April 2014. Being that it was June we continued on. The trial switchbacked up 350′ through increasingly open forest with wild iris and some flowers we had not seen before.
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At the top of the hill a short spur trail leads to a small meadow with a nice view across the valley.
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After leaving the meadow the trail drops down over the west side of the hill where signs of the logging operations could be seen. After joining a logging road for a bit the trail again split off to the right, passing an old cistern before returning us to the barn and our car.
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We had one more hike planned for the day so we hopped back into the car and continued another mile and a half north on Hwy 223 to Hoskins Rd. Following signs to the left for Fort Hoskins County Park we drove another 1.8 miles to the park entrance on the right. The park is at the site of an 1856 outpost.
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We started our hike here by taking the half mile interpretive loop past the old fort site and historic buildings. This path looped around a lovely meadow where daisies and foxglove bloomed and a few apple trees remained from an old orchard.
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While we were inspecting the Commander’s House a Bald Eagle flew past and began circling overhead.
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The path then passed the foundation of the Hoskins School before climbing back to the parking area where a longer loop began on the far side of the road.
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The longer 1.3 mile loop climbed over 300′ through a hillside meadow filled with wildflowers.
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The day turned out better than I had expected. We managed to get 12.3 miles of hiking in while visiting some interesting places and still made it to the graduation party on time. Happy Trails!

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Categories
Columbia Gorge North Hiking Trip report Washington

Dog Mountain

Oh those pesky clouds. We had been moving this hike all over the calendar in hopes of catching the wildflowers that this hike is famous for at the optimal time. After checking in on portlandhikers.com and seeing some encouraging trip reports we decided it was now or never. The forecast was iffy but there was a chance of some sunshine and little chance of rain and this hike fit our schedules here better than it would again while the flowers were still in bloom. A more flexible schedule would have allowed us to head up earlier in the week when the sky was clear and the sun shining, but that won’t happen for some time yet. For now we are at the mercy of the weather.

Dog Mountain is on the Washington side of the Columbia River just east of Carson. This is a very popular hike, especially during flower season, so we were sure to leave extra early to beat the crowds. We were car number 4 at the trailhead when we arrived shortly before 7am. We were beneath the clouds and could see their edge to the east where clear sky taunted us just a bit further up the gorge. As we began the 3 mile climb to the summit we could see that Mt. Defiance was cloud covered on the Oregon side of the river.
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There were some nice flowers along the early part of the trail but I had a hard time getting decent pictures due to the cloud cover and dim light of the more forested lower parts of Dog Mountain.
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At the half mile mark (which seems much further given the almost 700′ the trail has already climbed) the trail splits offering two routes to the upper meadow. The right hand spur is the recommended spur both for scenery and ease. For once we took the “less difficult” route and opted for the scenery of the lower meadow.
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Just about a mile form the split we came to our first view of the lower meadow which was filled with a large variety of flowers, but dominated by yellow balsamroot.
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The wind was really blowing on the exposed hillside and the clear skies to the east were still teasing us but the beauty of the flowers trumped all.
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We could see the lower portion of the upper meadows from here and it was obvious that the clouds were passing right over the summit area. We held out hope that by the time we climbed the final 1.6 miles the conditions would improve.
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After leaving the lower meadow the trail reentered the forest.
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As the trail emerged from the trees we passed through a short stretch of thimbleberry bushes before entering a hillside filled with balsamroot.
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There were many other wildflowers mixed into the balsamroot too. We were doing our best to spot all the different varieties.
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There is a viewpoint that was the site of a lookout in this lower portion of the meadow but on this day we didn’t have a view.
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Except for that of the meadow.
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The viewpoint as we continued up.
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The flower display continued as we kept climbing. It was pretty cold due to the moist air and steady wind and even climbing couldn’t keep our hands from being a bit numb. The flowers that were in bloom changed as we got closer to the summit showing that there would still be time to get up there and enjoy them in the next couple of weeks.
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A trail junction announces the final .1mi to the summit where a little balsamroot was outnumbered by some smaller yellow flowers.
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On a clear day Mt. Hood would have been peaking over the shoulder of Mt. Defiance and the Columbia River would be snaking along below but with no sign of the clouds ending we took a short break and began our return. For the return trip we turned right at the junction and headed for the Augspurger Mt. trail. This trail passed through even more wildflower meadows before reaching the Augspurger Trail in just over a mile.
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The Ausgsuprger Mt. trail headed down a narrow ridge and then wound around Dog Mt. back to the parking area.
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Along the way were many woodland flowers in the forest and the occasional view once we had descended below the clouds.
Wind Mountain:
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As we got closer to the trailhead small patches of wildflowers began to be more frequent. In places where there the hillsides were free of trees flowers reigned.
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The parking lot had filled when we made it back just before 10:30. We’d seen a handful of hikers coming up the Augspurger trail but the majority of them obviously went up the way we had. We had joked about doing the loop again if the sky had cleared by the time we got back to the car. It hadn’t and seeing the number of cars in the lot all I could picture was a conga line going up the trail so even if it had I think I would have passed and saved the view for another visit. The wildflowers had certainly lived up to their hype even with the poor visibility. We plan on putting this hike back on the to do list in coming years, and this time we’ll look for a sunny day on which to tackle it. Happy trails!

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