Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Lost, Spruce Run, and Bloom Lakes – 09/26/2020

The tragic wildfires that claimed lives and wreaked havoc on several towns and communities had kept us home since Labor Day. Several forests and parks still remain closed but things have been slowly reopening and some much needed rain arrived to help slow the fires and clear the air. One of the forests that had reopened was the Clatsop State Forest between Portland and Seaside. Hike #12 in William L. Sullivan’s 4th edition “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” consists of three short hikes to lakes in that forest. We had visited Soapstone Lake on a previous outing (post) With many forests and parks still closed due to the tragic wildfires that claimed lives and wreaked havoc on several towns it seemed like a perfect time to check out the other two lakes, Lost and Spruce Run. We also added nearby Bloom Lake whose trailhead along Highway 26 we’d driven by a number of times.

We began our morning at the Spruce Run Creek Trailhead at Henry Rierson Campground.
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The winds that had caused the fires to explode throughout Labor Day night had also toppled thousands of trees across the forests of Oregon so we we weren’t sure what conditions we might encounter. Nearly immediately after setting off on the trail we were met with a jumble of recently downed limbs.
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They were passable with care due to the slick condition of the wood which was damp from passing showers. Encountering this so early in the hike made us even more concerned about the conditions further on but as it turned out this would be the biggest obstacle of the day. There were a couple of downed trees which we simply stepped over and the rest was just smaller debris.

The Spruce Run Creek Trail began with a series of ups and downs, sometimes surprisingly steep, as it followed along Spruce Run Creek.
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It was a fairly dark morning as passing showers kept the Sun behind clouds but none of the showers lasted long nor were very heavy and the clouds breaking up made for some nice views.
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A little over a mile along the trail we were surprised to enter a recently logged area.
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The trail was in relatively good shape and easy to follow through this area.
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Another small surprise came near the 2 mile mark where we expected to find a short spur trail on the left leading to Lost Lake Road. Instead we arrived at a newer logging road.
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We momentarily wondered if we had somehow taken the spur trail without realizing it but after consulting the map it was clear that this was a new road and we were still on the Spruce Run Creek Trail. We turned right onto the road and spotted the continuation of the trail at a 3-way junction after 100 yards or so.
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We had actually planned on taking the spur trail to Lost Lake Road and hiking up that road 1.1 miles to Lost Lake instead of driving to the Lost Lake Trailhead after finishing our hike to Spruce Run Lake so at the 3-way junction we turned left. We followed this road downhill approximately .2 miles past a gate to Lost Lake Road where we turned right.
IMG_6215The open gate and Lost Lake Road from a logging road.

As we climbed up the road the alternating showers and blue sky created a nice rainbow behind us.
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From the parking lot of Lost Lake we headed clockwise around the lake on a nice trail.
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There were several opportunities for views of the little lake along the 1 mile loop.
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IMG_6253Hardhack

After completing the loop we returned on the roads to the continuation of the Spruce Run Creek Trail.
IMG_6255Spruce Run Creek Trail on the left.

The trail descended through logged forest for the next half mile before passing the timber sale boundary.
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IMG_6264Leaving the logged area.

In another quarter mile we arrived at a pair of benches near the end of Spruce Run Lake.
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20200926_094603Rough skinned newt near Spruce Run Lake.

The lake was created by a landslide that backed up Spruce Run Creek. The water level fluctuates with the season and was little more than a pond at this point of the year.
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The rest of the lake bed was a marshy green meadow with Spruce Run Creek flowing through.
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IMG_6280One of many damp spider webs in the meadow.

IMG_6283The meadow from the bank of Spruce Run Creek

After exploring the meadow for a bit we headed back to our car under increasingly blue skies.
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IMG_6296Bleeding heart

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When we had passed through the logged area we got a better look at the forest along the first part of the trail now that it was lighter. It looked and felt like Autumn.
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Combining these two hikes was a little over 9 miles with 1600′ of elevation gain. We drove back to Highway 26 and headed toward Portland stopping at the Bloom Lake Trailhead just west of the Quartz Creek Bridge for a final quick hike.
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The blue skies that we had enjoyed on the earlier hike were nowhere to be found at this trailhead even though it was only 3 miles from Spruce Run Lake as the crow flies. The heaviest shower of the day passed overhead as we crossed South Fork Quartz Creek on a footbridge.
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Fortunately this shower was like all the rest had been, brief. The Bloom Lake Trail climbed along an old road cut for a mile to the start of a loop around little Bloom Lake. We stayed left at the fork and in another .3 miles crossed an inlet creek on a slick looking piece of wood.
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IMG_6340Fall means mushrooms start replacing wildflowers.

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Beyond the creek crossing we turned right another another old road bed then right again on August Fire Road (on which one can drive to Bloom Lake).
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We turned right off of this road at another old road bed that was blocked by cut tree trunks.
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This led us down to Bloom Lake.
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IMG_6356Snail near Bloom Lake.

We continued around the lake on a trail which crossed the outlet creek on an old log.
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We completed the loop around the lake then headed back downhill to our car.
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This hike was 3.2 miles with 675′ of elevation gain making our days tally 12.4 miles and 2275′. It was nice to get back out and this had turned out to be a good choice. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Lost, Spruce Run, and Bloom Lakes

Categories
Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon

Gorton Creek Falls, Punchbowl Falls Park, and Lost Lake

After striking out on a view of Mt. Hood during our previous hike on the Boulder Ridge Trail (post) we planned on trying again during our next outing by visiting Lost Lake. The hikes around Lost Lake and up Lost Lake Butte had been on our schedule in both of the previous years but changes in those plans had bumped it back to this year.

A featured hike in Sullivan’s NW Oregon book (hike #74 in the 4th edition) it presented an issue with our rule to not have our driving time be longer than our hiking time. At a little under 8 miles for both trails we figured the hike would wind up taking us around 4 hours based on our typical pace leaving us an hour short of the 5 hour round trip driving time. Our solution was to add a pair of stops along the way where we could do a couple of short hikes which would bring the times closer in line with each other.

Our route to Lost Lake would be via Interstate 84 through the Columbia River Gorge to Hood River so for our first stop of the day we chose the less than a mile and a half round trip to Gorton Creek Falls. This hike began at the same trailhead (at Wyeth Campground) that we had used in 2016 for the Wyeth Trail (post) which REMAINS CLOSED after the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire.
Wyeth Trailhead

In fact with closures still in place over numerous parts of the gorge we stopped to consult the closure map both at the trailhead and then at the fence erected blocking access to the Wyeth Trail at its junction with the Gorge Trail.
Eagle Creek Fire closure map

With Gorton Creek outside of the closure area and no visible signs of closure we followed the unofficial trail along Gorton Creek from the junction.
Trail along Gorton Creek

A nice path follows the creek for about a half mile where it ends near Emerald Falls, a small 10′ cascade.
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Emerald Falls

The much taller Gorton Creek Falls is another 100 yards up the creek and requires a bit of scrambling along the left side of the creek over boulders and through trees.
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Gorton CreekLooking down the scramble route.

Obstacles along Gorton CreekSome of the obstacles

Gorton Creek below Gorton FallsFirst sight of Gorton Creek Falls through the trees.

Gorton Falls

It is a nice two tiered waterfall but the upper tier is only visible from certain angles.
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Gorton Falls

After admiring the falls we headed back down to the trailhead completing the very nice 1.3 mile hike. We then continued driving east on I-84 to Hood River where we took exit 62 and followed our GPS to the Punchbowl Falls Park Trailhead. Not to be confused with the more famous Punch Bowl Falls which is located on Eagle Creek (also CLOSED due to the Eagle Creek Fire) this Punchbowl Falls is located on the West Fork Hood River in a county park established in 2016 after the land was purchased by the Western Rivers Conservancy. Trailkeepers of Oregon have since constructed trails (with a new one set to open this year) allowing for a short loop hike through oak woodlands and past a pair of waterfalls.

The trail starts at a gated service road.
Punchbowl Falls Park

Just beyond the gate are a signs for the park and trails.
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Trail sign in Punchbowl Falls Park

We took the West Fork Trail which led to an open hillside with a few lingering ookow in bloom overlooking the West Fork Hood River.
West Fork Hood River

Ookow

The path followed the river gorge through the oak woodland where there had been a nice lupine display by the looks of it.
West Fork Trail

Lupine

As we neared Punchbowl Falls we could see the crumbling remains of a staircase that had led down to a fish ladder along the river.
Old staircase to a fish ladder

Old staircase to a fish ladder

A very short side trail led to a viewpoint overlooking the falls and the wide bowl at the base.
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Pool below Punchbowl Falls

We could also see the top of Mt. Hood rising up above the trees up river. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen near the mountain which was a great sign for our hike up Lost Lake Butte later.
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Mt. Hood

From the viewpoint we continued on the West Fork Trail toward Dead Point Falls.
Trail sign in Punchbowl Falls Park

Another viewpoint along the way looked back up river to Punchbowl Falls and Mt. Hood as well as across the gorge to Dead Point Falls.
Punchbowl Falls

Dead Point Falls

Dead Point Falls

Just a little further along was a signed spur trail to another viewpoint of Dead Point Falls and the confluence of Dead Point Creek and the West Fork Hood River.
Sign for Dead Point Falls

Dead Point Falls

Beyond the Dead Point Falls viewpoint we came to a junction with the Dogwood Trail which could be used to make a short loop back to the trailhead. We stuck to the West Fork Trail which descended slightly to another viewpoint, this time of the confluence of the West and East Forks of Hood River.
Trail junction in Punchbowl Falls Park

Punchbowl Falls Park

The East Fork Hood River was noticeably siltier having the clouded color indicitive of glacier runoff.
Confluence of the West and East Fork Hood Rivers

At a junction just beyond the viewpoint we turned right at a point for the East Fork Trail opting not to continue down to the river which was only a tenth of a mile or two away but we didn’t really feel like climbing back up.
East Fork Trail sign

By the end of this year the East Fork Trail will extend out along the East Fork Hood River but for now this path brought us to the gated serviced road which we turned right onto and followed back toward the trailhead.
Punchbowl Falls Park

After about 150 yards we came to the Dogwood Trail as it crossed the road where we turned uphill to the left.
Dogwood Trail

A lone pink pyrola was blooming along this trail which we followed through the wood for two tenths of a mile to signboards and completing a .9 mile loop.
Pink pyrola

Dogwood Trail

From Punchbowl Falls Park we drove back the way we’d come a mile to Lost Lake Road were we took a right and followed a car with Florida license plates nearly the entire 13.5 paved miles to the entrance to the Lost Lake Campground. I bring this up to ask that if people aren’t comfortable driving on the narrow curvy forest roads that’s fine but when you have cars following you and are going 20 mph below the speed limit and have multiple chances to pull over, please do it (end mini-rant).
Lost Lake Campground entrance

There is currently a $9 day-use fee charged to enter the Lost Lake area but the OregonHkers Field Guide mentioned a possible starting point along gated Jones Creek Road just before the campground entrance. We parked at a small pullout here (room for a couple of cars).
Pullout near Lost Lake Campground

The precursor to the Pacific Crest Trail, the Oregon Skyline Trail (now the Old Skyline Trail) could be accessed here and followed up to the Lost Lake Butte Trail. The only problem was we didn’t read the field guide closely enough. It states that there is a sign for the Old Skyline Trail at the road junction, but the GPS map showed the trail leaving the road a little beyond the gate. Having missed that detail we headed up the road watching for the trail which didn’t materialize. Just under a quarter mile from the gate the road forked and we followed the left hand fork which led toward the location of the trail on the map. Approximately 100 yards later we found the unsigned Old Skyline Trail crossing the road.
Old Skyline Trail

We turned right onto the trail and followed it through the forest looking for a four way junction where we would turn onto the Lost Lake Butte Trail. That trail was also not where the map on the Garmin indicated it would be. The junction was about a tenth of a mile further south than shown on the map but it was obvious and well signed.
Lost Lake Butte and Old Skyline Trail junction

Old Skyline Trail junction with the Lost Lake Butte Trail

At the junction we took the Lost Lake Butte Trail and began the 1000 plus foot climb to the summit. A Forest Service Crew had just come through the weekend before to do maintenance, so it was in great shape.
Lost Lake Butte Trail

Lost Lake Butte Trail

The forested route offered no views to speak of and there was as an unusual lack of flowers along the route but it wasn’t a bad climb and in 45 minutes we were passing the remains of the Lost Lake Butte lookout tower.
Foundation from the old lookout on Lost Lake Butte

Although much of the former 360 degree view is now blocked by trees the view south to Mt. Hood remains and is spectacular.
Mt. Hood from Lost Lake Butte

Mt. Hood from Lost Lake Butte

Mt. Hood from Lost Lake Butte

To the right of Mt. Hood we also had a pretty good view of the upper portion of Mt. Jefferson.
Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson from Lost Lake Butte

Mt. Jefferson from Lost Lake Butte

It was also possible to look north across the Columbia River and see Mt. Adams.
Mt. Adams from Lost Lake Butte

Mt. Adams from Lost Lake Butte

After spending some time enjoying the view and talking with a couple form Astoria who were staying at the Lost Lake Lodge we headed down. When we arrived back at the four way junction we crossed over the Old Skyline Trail and followed the trail down to a paved road crossing.
Trail crossing of the Lost Lake Camground road

Google has this marked as the Old Growth Trailhead but the sign here called this the Rhododendron Trail which led to the Old Growth Trail.
Rhododendron Trail to the Old Growth Trail

Rhododendron Trail

We followed this trail through the forest to a junction where we turned left onto the Old Growth Trail.
Rhododendron Trail

Trail sign at Lost Lake

The Old Growth Trail is an interpretive trail with a number of informational signboards along the way. It joined the Shrader Old Growth Trail (post) as one of our favorite interpretive trails. Much of the trail was boardwalk and there were a few pullouts with benches where one could sit and enjoy the forest.
Interpretive sign along the Old Growth Trail

Old Growth Trail

Old Growth Trail

Bench along the Old Gowth Trailone of the pullouts

Interpretive sign along the Old Growth Trail

Interpretive sign along the Old Growth Trail

The Old Growth Trail ended at another paved road crossing (it was a mile one-way in between the two roads).
Connector trail between the Old Growth and Lakeshore Trails

We crossed the road and followed a pointer for the Lakeshore Trail.
Connector trail between the Old Growth and Lakeshore Trails

The Lakeshore Trail, as it’s name suggests, loops around the shore of Lost Lake. We turned left when we reached the trail and started our way clockwise around the lake.
Lost Lake

We passed the Huckleberry Mountain Trail which connects up with the Pacific Crest Trail on the ridge above Lost Lake. We had passed the upper end of the trail on our visit to Buck Peak in 2016. (post)

Lakeshore Trail junction with the Huckleberry Mountain Trail

The trail looped around to the west side of Lost Lake where the hillside was much steeper than that of the opposite side where Lost Lake Butte rose up from the forest.
Forest along Lost Lake

Lost Lake Butte from Lost Lake

There was one short section where the trail was under water and a brief but steep detour led up the hillside and back down. Other than that the trail was in good shape. Flowers including rhododendron, anemones, bleeding heart and wild bugbane were in bloom.
Lakeshore Trail

Rhododendron blossoms

Anemone

Bleeding heart

Wild bugbane

The trail briefly becomes a boardwalk as it passes over the lake’s inlet creeks where small fish and rough skinned newts could be seen swimming.
Lakeshore Trail

There were some little fish swimming here

Rough skinned newt

As we made our way around the lake Mt. Hood finally began to come into view.
Mt. Hood across Lost Lake

Numerous side trails led down to the shore between the boardwalk and the Lost Lake Resort providing excellent views of Mt. Hood and lots of newts to watch in the clear water.
Mt. Hood from the Lakeshore Trail

Rough skinned newts

Rough skinned newt

Bench along the Lakeshore Trail

Mt. Hood from the bench

Things were pretty hectic as we neared the day-use area and only got busier as we neared the lodge.
Sign for the Lost Lake General Store

We left the Lakeshore Trail near the lodge and cut up through the resort toward the entrance road in hopes of following it back to our car. We had just popped out of some trees onto that road when a pickup passed us and we heard someone call out my name. We turned to look as the truck stopped and realized it was my cousin Lance and his family. They were visiting the lake for the first time too and were planning on doing some kayaking. It was quite the random encounter. After saying hi we went our separate ways and returned to our car and headed home. We wound up taking Highway 35 to Highway 26 around Mt. Hood instead of returning via I-84 after pulling up Google traffic and seeing that there were at least two accidents holding up traffic on the Interstates.

Our route on the trails at Lost Lake added up to 7.7 miles giving us 9.9 miles combined. It turned out to be a nice combination of hikes with varying scenery and different types of trails and best of all we got to see Mt. Hood this time around. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Gorton Creek Falls, Punchbowl Falls Park, and Lost Lake

Categories
Blue Mountains - South Hiking Oregon Trip report

Elkhorn Crest Trail Day 4

After we spent our third day in the Elkhorns basically retracing our steps from the second day nearly two thirds of our fourth day would be spent on new trails. Our plan was to leave Summit Lake and return to the trailhead along the jeep track near Cracker Saddle then follow that jeep track down to the Lost Lake Trail which would lead us past Meadow and Lost Lakes before climbing back up to the Elkhorn Crest Trail to the north of Mt. Ruth. From there we would follow the Elkhorn Crest Trail north just under two miles to Dutch Flat Saddle where we would take the Dutch Flat Trail down to Dutch Flat Lake for the night.

There was still a little haze in the air but the smoke didnt’t seem any worse than the day before.
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We could see the haze but never really smelled anything and depending on the angle of the sun and where you looked there were still blue patches of sky to be seen as we left the lake.
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After a mile and a half we arrived at the trailhead signboard and turned right down the jeep track.
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It was a rough, steep road and neither of us would have even considered attempting to drive it.
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It did eventually level out some and was not without some charm as it passed several meadows and through some nice forested sections.
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It also crossed a few wildflower lined streams.
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After one and a quarter miles along the road we came to a signed junction with the Lost Lake Trail.
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Here we turned left on another double track and headed toward Meadow Lake.
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Meadow Lake lay off the Lost Lake Trail to the west just over half a mile from the junction. Both the GPS and the topographic map showed a spur trail/road leading to the lake but we were unable to locate it as we passed by. We used the Garmin to bushwack through some young lodgepole pine trees in the area where the road was supposed to be. After a tenth of a mile picking our way through we came to Meadow Lake.
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It was a nicer lake than we had expected and was home to many frogs.
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There had also been quite an insect hatch (or alien invasion) at some point.
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We walked north along the lake and found a sign near a fire pit.
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A faint trail appeared to lead away from this area back toward the Lost Lake Trail so we tried following it back. It was only marginally better as it too became lost amid the small lodgepoles. Once we were back on the double track we continued north climbing above Meadow Lake to a saddle.
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The old road bed then launched seemingly straight downhill. To make matters worse it was covered with fairly good sized rocks.
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This lasted for about a quarter mile before the trail leveled out in a basin near a nice meadow with a view of Mt. Ruth.
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The trail crossed a stream flowing from the meadow and then began to climb in an equally absurd rocky and steep manner.
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The climb up this side lasted a little over half a mile before leveling off a bit on a forested ridge.
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After passing over the ridge a short and less steep descent brought us to a signed junction for Lost Lake.
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The sign said it was a quarter mile to the lake but it was really only about a tenth of a mile down (steeply again) to the shore.
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We broke out our camp chairs and rested for about an hour. After eating a bit of food and recovering from the earlier climb we continued on. It was another steep, rocky climb for the first three tenths of a mile from Lost Lake.
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The trail then leveled out as it passed a series of meadows below Lost Lake Saddle.
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Gentians were abundant in the green meadows.
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Roughly three quarters of a mile from Lost Lake we passed a rocky ledge where a short side trip brought us to a view of the lake below.
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The trail then passed a couple more meadows before entering an old fire zone where some silver snags still stood.
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A couple of switchbacks brought us back up to the Elkhorn Crest Trail a total of 1.3 miles from Lost Lake.
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We turned right (north) and promptly passed through Nip & Tuck Pass where the trail now traversed along the western side of the crest above Cunningham Cove.
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Just over a mile later we crossed over Cunningham Saddle to a view of Crawfish Basin.
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Three quarters of a mile away we could see Dutch Flat Saddle along the ridge ahead.
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At that saddle we turned right onto the Dutch Flat Trail.
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A short distance down the trail we got our first good look at Dutch Flat Lake.
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For a mile the trail switchbacked down past rocky cliffs and wildflower meadows to a junction.
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Another quarter mile brought us to the meadow lined lake.
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We went about setting up camp then started to explore a bit. I noticed a young bird along the shore so we declared that area off-limits.
IMG_0786I used the 30x zoom for the picture and didn’t get close to the little one.

It was an interesting little lake with a tiny island and lots of jumping fish.
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We found the outlet creek to be particularly unique as it squeezed through a narrow channel between rocks.
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We did find a nice pool along the creek to get water from and as we were doing that we started to feel rain drops. I raced back to the tent and threw on the rain fly just before a decent little shower passed overhead.
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After the rain shower we ate dinner and then walked around the lake which came to a little under half a mile.
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The SW end of the lake was particularly marshy with several inlets forcing us to swing out fairly wide.
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All the wet meadows in the area provided good habitat for huckleberries.
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It also appeared to be an area that would have a lot of mosquitoes but we only noticed a couple and neither of us wound up with any bites. It was the only time during the entire trip that either of us even saw any.

With the hike around the lake our days mileage came to just 10.6 which was the least so far with the following day expected to be even less. We were starting to feel a little worn down but knowing the final day was mostly downhill helped lift our spirits.

As the evening progressed I began to wonder about the possibility of thunderstorms, something that we have yet to encounter while backpacking. Heather is not a fan of thunder and lighting at all and I am not in any hurry to have our first experience with it either. It did shower off and on all night but that was the extent of it and never in any significant amounts. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Elkhorn Crest Trail Day 4

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Newberry Crater Oregon Throwback Thursday Trip report

Throwback Thursday – Paulina Peak

With the frequency of our hikes down during our off-season we’ve decided to go back and write up some of our outings from before we started this blog. We’re hoping to have Throwback Thursday posts during those weeks that we don’t have a new trip report to write. We’ll start with hikes that we haven’t repeated since starting the blog and, at least to begin with, are not in our plans to be hiked again in the foreseeable future. That is not to say that they are not worthwhile hikes, they all are. In our attempt to take as many different trails as possible we rarely repeat hikes, and when we do it has typically been because we missed something the first time such as a view or blooming wildflowers.

Please keep in mind that we completed all of the throwback hikes at least 4 years ago so before visiting any of the trails be sure to check with the managing agency on their current condition and availability.

With that disclaimer we’d like to start off with one of the most diverse hikes in terms of scenery that we’ve taken – Paulina Peak in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. This hike was done on 8/6/2011 during a week long vacation in Central Oregon.

There are a number of hiking options in the monument and our visit consisted of a loop using several different trails allowing us to visit several different worthwhile goals. We began our hike by parking at the Big Obsidian Flow Trailhead.
Big Obsidian Flow

Big Obsidian Flow Amphitheater sign at the trailhead

We started with the .8 mile interpretive Big Obsidian Trail which took us into the obsidian flow passing numerous information signs along the way.
Interpretive sign at the Big Obsidian Flow

Obsidian

Big Obsidian Flow

In addition to the interpretive signs and cool rock formations the trail offers views of Paulina Peak, Paulina Lake, and Lost Lake.
Paulina Peak from the Big Obsidian Flow Trail

Paulina Lake
Paulina Lake with Mt. Bachelor and the South Sister beyond.

Lost Lake

A great option for kids this proved to be perfect warm up for the longer loop we had planned. After returning to the parking area we followed the Silica Trail for 100 yards to a junction with the Newberry Crater Trail where we turned right.
Newberry Crater Trail sign

We followed this trail for another half mile to the Lost Lake Trail where we once again turned right following a pointer for the Crater Rim Trail.
Lost Lake Trail sign

The Lost Lake Trail passed near Lost Lake but not close enough to get a look although occasional hints of sulfur in the air gave it’s presence away. After passing Lost Lake the trail began switching back uphill alongside the Big Obsidian Flow. The open forest sported a number of blooming lupine plants.
Forest along the Lost Lake Trail

Lupine

Snow along the Lost Lake Trail

As we climbed we gained views of both of the large lakes in the Newberry Caldera.
Paulina Lake
Paulina Lake

East Lake
East Lake

After nearly 3 miles on the Lost Lake Trail the trail leveled out after cresting a knoll. Here the trail forked. The left fork led a quarter mile to the Pumice Flat and then on to the Crater Rim in another 3/4 of a mile while the right hand fork reached the Crater Rim Trail in only a half mile (and at a much closer point to Paulina Peak).
Trail signs along the Lost Lake Trail

Before taking the right hand fork we visited the Pumice Flat which was dotted with purple dwarf lupine blossoms.
Lupine near the Pumice Flat

Pumice Flat

Pumice Flat

From the junction near the Pumice Flat the trail climbed almost 350′ to the rim of the caldera and the Crater Rim Trail. This section of trail offered a nice view of our goal, Paulina Peak, as well as a look down on the Pumice Flat from above.
Paulina Peak

Pumice Flat near the Crater Rim Trail junction

Junction with the Crater Rim Trail

We turned right on the Crater Rim Trail and headed toward Paulina Peak. Although it was a little hazy out due to smoke form a couple of forest fires the views along this section extended from Mt. Jefferson in the north to Mt. Thielsen in the South.
Mt. Jefferson
Mt. Jefferson

Mt. Thielsen
Mt. Thielsen

The views back down into the caldera where less affected by the haze.
Pumice Flat and the Big Obsidian Flow from the Crater Rim Trail
Pumice Flat

East Lake and the Big Obsidian Flow
East Lake

Paulina Lake
Paulina Lake

The trail traversed around the south side of Paulina Peak meeting up with Road 500 two and a half miles from where we had turned onto the Crater Rim Trail.
Crater Rim Trail

Crater Rim Trail

Road 500 allows people to drive up to the 7984′ summit of Paulina Peak which makes it accessible to anyone. The Crater Rim Trail picked up on the far side of Road 500 at a trail sign after a 100′ jog to the left.
Crater Rim Trail

Crater Rim Trail

We followed the Crater Rim Trail for an additional .9 miles where we arrived at a junction with the Paulina Peak Trail.
Paulina Peak Trail

We followed this trail to the parking area atop Paulina Peak at the end of Road 500.
Paulina Peak summit sign

Despite the haze the 360 degree view was spectacular.
Diamond Peak
Diamond Peak to the SW

View from Paulina Peak
Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, and The Three Sisters to the NW

Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top and the Three Sisters
Closer look at the mountains

Paulina Lake
Paulina Lake to the north.

East Lake
East Lake and the Big Obsidian Flow to the NE

Big Obsidian Flow and the Pumice Flat from Paulina Peak
Pumice Flat to the East

After a nice break at the summit we returned to the Crater Rim Trail and continued on our loop. The trail headed down into the forest passing a view back to Paulina Peaks cliffy north face before recrossing Road 500 after 1.8 miles.
Crater Rim Trail

Paulina Peak

After another mile we reached a junction near Road 21 and the Paulina Visitor Center. Here we faced a choice. We could have turned right on a horse path for 3 miles back to the Big Obsidian Trailhead or we could cross Road 21 and take a slightly longer route along the shore of Paulina Lake. Of course we chose option C which was to take the lake shore trail but only after detouring to visit Paulina Falls.
Trail sign along the Crater Rim Trail

We followed the Crater Rim Trail across Road 21 and briefly along the entrance road to the Paulina Lake Lodge then turned left on the Paulina Falls Trail which followed Pualina Creek .3 miles to a picnic area at the falls viewpoint.
Paulina Creek

Paulina Creek

The twin falls were beautiful and quite a change from the other scenery we had encountered so far during the hike.
Paulina Falls

After a taking advantage of the cooler air by the falls to recharge we set off on the final leg our our hike. We crossed the lodge entrance road where we picked up the Paulina Lake Shore Loop Trail.
Trail sign for the Paulina Lake Shore Loop Trail

This 7.5 mile trail loops around Paulina Lake and is on our schedule for this year along with the upper portion of the Peter Skene Ogden Trail.  To complete our loop for this trip we would follow the lake shore for roughly 2.5 miles to the Silica Trail.

The scenery along this section of the lake shore varied quite a bit changing from grassy marsh to forest to rocky shore line and back.
Paulina Lake

Forest along the Paulina Lake Shore Loop Trail

Paulina Lake

Paulina Lake

Paulina Peak

BIg Obsidian Flow from Paulina Lake

After all the different views and scenery the hiked had provided up to the point when we arrived at the Silica Trail the final half mile paled in comparison.
Trial sign for the Silica Trail

The Silica Trail led away from Paulina Lake through a mostly viewless, dusty lodgepole pine forest before crossing Road 21 and bringing us back to the Big Obsidian Flow Trailhead.
Big Obsidian Flow sign

Our hike was somewhere around 15 miles (pre GPS) with approx 2500′ of elevation gain so it’s not for everyone, but everyone of the highlights of this hike are accessible via shorter options. This and the availability of numerous other recreational activities make the Newberry National Volcanic Monument a great place to visit. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157632954961759

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High Cascades Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon Trip report

Buck Peak

A week out from our somewhat cloudy visit to the Mount Margaret Backcountry we found ourselves heading back into the clouds on the Pacific Crest Trail. Our goal for the day was the viewpoint atop Buck Peak which is just off the PCT to the NW of Lost Lake in the Mt. Hood National Forest. We began our hike at the Pacific Crest Trailhead at Lolo Pass.
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We headed north on the PCT which quickly passed under some power lines where we met our first clouds.
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Looking back toward Mt. Hood from the power lines it looked like blue skies around the mountain.
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The PCT climbed gently up a ridge where we had a few views between the clouds that were passing over.
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A decent variety of flowers could be found along the more open portions of the trail.
Rhododendron
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Pink pyrola
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Tiger lilies
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Bees on goldenrod
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Columbine
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Larkspur
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Catchfly
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Oregon sunshine
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Lupine
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Penstemon
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The trail soon entered the trees where it remained for the majority of remainder of the hike to Buck Peak. The forest was full of huckleberries and some salmonberries.
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It was increasingly foggy as we gained elevation.
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Approximately 4.5 miles from Lolo Pass we arrived at a junction with the Huckleberry Mountain Trail which led down to Lost Lake.
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We continued on the PCT passing a spur trail to Salvation Spring and heading further into the clouds. There were a number of downed trees across the trail after the Huckleberry Mountain junction but nothing impassable. With the forest and the clouds, views were few but we did get a couple of glimpses of Lost Lake along the way. The majority of the time we were just looking at the different flowers along the way.
Beargrass
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Monkeyflower
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Parrot’s beak lousewort
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False hellbore
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Coralroot
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The trail to Buck Peak was unsigned but easy to spot as it split up and to the right from the PCT.
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The trail was a little brushy and the clouds had left the plants rather damp which in turned soaked us pretty quickly.
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After a half-mile on the Buck Peak Trail we arrived at the signed summit.
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The panoramic viewpoint of several Cascade Mountains was on the fritz and we were lucky to get a couple of looks at Lost Lake below.
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We sat on the rocky viewpoint for awhile watching the clouds pass over hoping to wait them out but finally decided it could be hours before the view cleared and headed back down. Things had already cleared up some along the PCT and the views were starting to open up as we made our return trip.
Lost Lake Butte above Lost Lake
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Buck Peak still in a cloud.
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Eventually the sky had cleared enough to provide some great views of Lost Lake, Mt. Hood, and even Mt. Adams in Washington.
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The butterflies had come out in the afternoon and as we passed the rockier section of trail they were busy pollinating the flowers.
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Mt. Hood loomed large as we passed under the power lines and finished up our hike.
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The hike was over 15 miles round trip but really didn’t feel that long. The approximately 1500′ of elevation gain was gradual and spread out nicely. One item to note is that this section of the PCT and the Buck Peak Trail are in the Bull Run Watershed Management Area which is the primary source of drinking water for Portland and is closed to the public. Hikers are required to remain on the trails within the area’s boundary. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157671458188065

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High Cascades Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon Trip report

Yocum Ridge

Yesterday we completed what turned out to be our longest hike to date – Yocum Ridge. According to our 100 hikes guidebook the distance of the trail is 8.7 miles one way to a viewpoint of Mt. Hood’s Sandy Galcier. With that in mind we were anticipating a total distance around 17.5 miles, but by the time we were done exploring Yocum Ridge our garmin showed a total distance of 19.7 miles. :O Our original plan was to meet my parents at the trail head and hike together to Ramona Falls, but they were unfortunately unable to make it so Heather and I were off on our own just before 7am.

It was a cloudy morning as we crossed the Sandy River and made our way along Ramona Creek toward the falls.

Crossing the Sandy River
Crossing the Sandy River

Ramona Creek is one of the prettiest creeks we’ve hiked along, but the dense forest always seems too dark to get any pictures to really do it justice.

Ramona Creek
Ramona Creek

When we arrived at Ramona Falls it was just as impressive as we had remembered it from our first visit the previous July.

Ramona Falls
Ramona Falls

From Ramona Falls we took the Timberline Trail north for .7 miles to the Yocum Ridge trail and began our climb. We were presently surprised by the gentle grade of the trail which climbs nearly 3000′. The lower portion of the trail was heavily forested with lots of mushrooms and red huckleberries. We spotted one pika (and heard many more) and a small frog along the trail as well. The clouds were low and a light fog filled the trees making it impossible to tell if the trail offered any views. We passed a couple of small ponds and some meadows that had been home to flowers earlier in the year.
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We were holding out hope that we would eventually climb above the clouds and into blue skies but we began to think that was just wishful thinking. We caught our break though as we approached the south side of the ridge near a rock field and wild flower meadow. When we came out of the trees in the meadow we were greeted by blue sky and sunlight. Looking up toward Mt. Hood the summit was visible above the tree tops.

Mt. Hood above the tree tops.
Mt. Hood above the tree tops.

The clouds were still all around so we decided to double time it up the trail not knowing how long the views would last. We were slowed by the increasingly scenic wildflower meadows and views to the south across Paradise Park to the distant summit of Mt. Jefferson.

Paint & aster meadow
Paint & aster meadow

 

Paradise Park & Mt. Jefferson
Paradise Park & Mt. Jefferson

As we hurried up the trail other flowers such as western pasque, bistort, fireweed, and groundsel showed up in the meadows. The trail then entered a series of spectacular meadows as it traversed around the ridge finally revealing a view of Mt. Hood.
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Small clouds were passing in front of the mountain as we approached through the meadows. From this side of the ridge we had an up close view of Illumination Rock and the Reid Glacier.

Reid Glacier & Illumination Rock
Reid Glacier & Illumination Rock

The wildflower meadows were on all sides as the trail headed straight for the mountain.
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The trail eventually came to the edge of the Sandy River canyon where melt water from the Reid Glacier feeds the Sandy River. A series of waterfalls could be seen (and heard) below.
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We explored the area and spotted another good sized water fall further down and across the canyon. This one was flowing from the Paradise Park area down into the Sandy River.

Waterfall along the Paradise Park branch of the Sandy River
Waterfall along the Paradise Park branch of the Sandy River

We finally pulled ourselves away from the spectacular views and continued on the trail toward the north side of the ridge. The trail climbed as it crossed the ridge and passed through many more wildflower meadows. When we reached the north side of the ridge we found the clouds again. There was a bank of clouds settled over the valley between Yocum Ridge and McNeil Point. Here the trail turned up the ridge at it’s steepest grade. We reached a small saddle below the rocky cliffs that top the ridge where we found a couple of camp sites and lingering snow patches. To the right of the cliffs we could see blue sky, but on the left it was all clouds. We decided to continue on what appeared to be a faint path across loose rocks and sand to see if we could once again rise above the clouds. The “faint path” completely disappeared and visabillity was all but gone when we decided to turn around and go back. We looked at some trip reports later that showed we had been headed straight for the mountain with the Sandy Glacier to our left but we’d have never known it.

Heather returning on the “faint path”.

Back at the saddle the clouds began to rise keeping the mountain hidden but giving us a better look at the flowers surrounding this area. He we found lupine, cat’s ears, and even a few avalanche lilies. While exploring the tent sites we stumbled on a small group of scotch bluebells.

Avalanche lilies
Avalanche lilies
Cat's ear
Cat’s ear

 

Scotch bluebells
Scotch bluebells

When we started our return trip the clouds had risen from the valley floor giving us views below, but when we arrived at the Reid Glacier viewpoint Mt. Hood was hidden. We found a couple of fellow hikers here that we had met near Ramona Falls and asked if they had made it in time to see the mountain and they had not. We all stuck around waiting to see if we would catch another cloud break since there was still plenty of blue sky around. While we were waiting a Red Tailed hawk circled overhead checking us and the meadow out.

Red Tailed hawk
Red Tailed hawk

While I was attempting to catch the hawk in flight Mt. Hood decided to make an encore appearance.

Red Tailed hawk over Mt. Hood
Red Tailed hawk over Mt. Hood

The clouds continued to roll in allowing us brief glimpses of the mountain before we decided it was time to start our return trip.

On the way down we were provided some new views due to the rise in the cloud levels. We spotted the bottoms of Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Adams, Lost Lake, and the large waterfall coming from Paradise Park.
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We stopped briefly at Ramona Falls where a large crowed now milled about and then continued on the final 3.4 mile leg along the Sandy River to our waiting car. It was a long hike and we only got to see half of the views, but in the end it didn’t matter. What we did see was amazing enough and now we have an excuse to return since we have unfinished business on the north side :). Happy Trails.

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