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Hiking

Progress Report – Oregon Wilderness Areas (Completed)

Several years back we set several hiking goals, one of which being to hike in all of Oregon’s federally designated wilderness areas. At that time there were 47 such areas in the State with two of those being off-limits to visitors (Three Arch Rocks & Oregon Islands are also National Wildlife Refuges that provide nesting habitat for sea birds as well as serving as pupping sites for marine mammals. To prevent disturbances public entry to any of the rocks/islands is prohibited and waters within 500 feet of the refuge are closed to all watercraft from May 1 through September 15.) In 2019 Congress added the Devils Staircase Wilderness to the list giving us a total of 46 designated wilderness areas to visit in order to complete this goal. Staring in 2019 we began posting annual updates on our progress (2020 & 2021) and we are excited to report that, unless any new wilderness areas are established in the future, this will be our last update. We managed to make it to the final four wilderness areas on our list, the North Fork Umatilla, Devils Staircase, Black Canyon, and Monument Rock, in 2021. We have to give credit to Bruce (Van Marmot) over at Boots on the Trail for not only getting to all 46 first but also providing inspiration and a lot of helpful information.

A little over 2.5 million acres are designated as wilderness throughout the State and range in size from 15 acres (Three Arch Rocks) to 355,548 acres (Eagle Cap). Oregon shares a wilderness with three of its bordering states. The Wenaha-Tuccanon is shared with Washington, Hells Canyon with Idaho, and Red Buttes with California. The areas are managed by three different federal agencies. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) manages the Oregon Islands and Three Arch Rocks areas while the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages nine and the Forest Service manages forty-one. If you do the math those numbers add up to fifty-two. The reason for that is four of the areas, the Devils Staircase, Lower White River, Hells Canyon, and Wild Rogue are managed jointly by the Forest Service and BLM. Seven of the areas have no official trails, the two off-limit areas, and the Devils Staircase, Rock Creek, Lower White River, Bridge Creek, and Spring Basin wildernesses. Although irregularly shaped (except for the exactly 6 square mile Mountain Lakes Wilderness) the majority of the areas are a single unit. In addition to the Oregon Islands and Three Arch Rocks the Mount Hood (4), Mark O. Hatfield (2), Badger Creek (2),Salmon-Huckleberry (3), Clackamas (5), Soda Mountain (2), North Fork John Day (4), and Steens Mountain (2) consist of multiple separate areas.

We visited our first Oregon Wilderness in 2009 when we visited Henline Falls in the Opal Creek Wilderness. Since then we have spent parts of 215 days in these special places. For sixteen of the areas it was only a single day while we’ve spent part of 30 days in the Three Sisters Wilderness. Below are some of our best memories from each of the wilderness areas. We hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed visiting them.

Badger Creek: 28,915 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-6
Divide Trail entering the Badger Creek Wilderness

Badger Creek

Mt. Hood from the helispot

Black Canyon: 13.088 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Black Canyon Wilderness sign

Black Canyon Trail

Black Canyon Trail crossing Black Canyon Creek

Boulder Creek: 19,911 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Boulder Creek Wilderness sign

View from the Boulder Creek Trail</a

Boulder Creek

Bridge Creek: 5,337 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Bridge Creek Wilderness sign

Bridge Creek Wilderness

View to the north from the Bridge Creek Wilderness

Bull of the Woods: 36,869 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-6
Bull of the Woods Wilderness sign

Lake Lenore

Emerald Pool

Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack

Mt. Hood and Big Slide Lake from the Bull of the Woods Lookout

Clackamas: 9.465 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-2
Clackamas Wilderness sign

Memaloose Lake

Big Bottom

Copper-Salmon: 13,724 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Barklow Mountain Trail entering the Copper-Salmon Wilderness

View from the summit of Barklow Mountain

Cummins Creek: 9,026 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Wilderness sign at the upper trailhead

Cummins Ridge Trail

Devils Staircase: 30,787 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Informational sign for the Devil's Staircase Wilderness

Devil's Staircase Wilderness

Devil's Staircase Wilderness

Devil's Staircase

Diamond Peak: 52,477 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-7
Trapper Creek Trail entering the Diamond Peak Wilderness

Small waterfall on Trapper Creek

Diamond Peak from Karen Lake at sunset

Diamond Lake from an unnamed lake along the Crater Butte Trail

Climbers trail to Diamond Peak

Drift Creek: 5,792 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-2
Drift Creek Wilderness sign

Drift Creek

Eagle Cap: 355,548 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-5
Eagle Cap Wilderness sign

Ice Falls

Ice Lake

Basin between the Matterhorn and Sacajawea

Mountain goats

Eagle Cap from the Matterhorn

Glacier Lake

Eagle Cap from Mirror Lake

The Matterhorn and Moccasin Lake from Eagle Cap

Horseshoe Lake

Gearhart Mountain: 22,587 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Gearhart Mountain Wilderness sign

The Palisades in the Gearhart Mountain Wilderness

Gearhart Mountain Wilderness

View from Gearhart Mountain

Grassy Knob: 17,176 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Grassy Knob Wilderness sign

View from Grassy Knob

Hells Canyon: 131,337 acres in OR (217,613 in ID) Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Trail sign at a junction with Marks Cabin Trail along the Summit Ridge Trail at the Hells Canyon Wilderness Boundary

Looking into Hells Canyon from Freezeout Saddle

Kalmiopsis: 179,550 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Kalmiopsis Wilderness sign

Ridge to the south of the Vulcan Peak Trail

Vulcan Lake

California pitcher plant (Darlingtonia californica) at Little Vulcan Lake

Lower White River: 2,871 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Lower White River Wilderness Sign

White River

Mark O. Hatfield: 65,420 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-12
Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness sign

Triple Falls

View from Chindrie Mountain

Twister Falls

Mt. Hood from Green Point Mountain

Menagerie: 4,952 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-2
Menagerie Wilderness sign

Rooster Rock from the Trout Creek Trail

Rooster Rock from a viewpoint in the Menagerie Wilderness

Middle Santiam: 8,845 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-2
Middle Santiam Wilderness sign

Overgrown trail

Donaca Lake

Mill Creek: 17,173 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Mill Creek Wilderness sign

Twin Pillars Trail

Monument Rock: 20,210 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Wilderness sign for the Monument Rock Wilderness

Monument Rock Wilderness

Cairn on Monument Rock

Little Malheur River

Monument Rock Wilderness

Mountain Lakes: 23,036 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-2
Mountain Lakes Wilderness sign

Eb Lake

Aspen Butte

Mt. McLoughlin, Whiteface Peak, Pelican Butte, and Mount Harriman from Aspen Butte

Mount Hood: 64,742 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-22
Mt. Hood Wilderness sign

Mt. Hood from the Paradise Park Loop Trail

Mt. Hood from the Timberline Trail

Mt. Hood from the Timberline Trail near Elk Cove

Mt. Hood and Burnt Lake from East Zig Zag Mountain

Mt. Hood from Paradise Park

Morning from Paradise Park

Mt. Hood from Yocum Ridge

Mt. Hood from the Newton Creek crossing of the Timberline Trail

Hawk flying over the wildflowers in Paradise Park below Mt. Hood

Langille Crags, Compass Creek, Mt. Hood and Barret Spur

Ramona Falls

Mt. Hood and Barret Spur from Elk Cove

Mt. Hood

Cooper Spur Shelter

Mount Jefferson: 108,909 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-27
Enterng the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

Mt. Jefferson, Russel Lake, and Sprauge Lake from Park Ridge

The trail ahead

You can still see the purple lupine in the upper meadow

Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake

Mt. Jefferson from Boca Cave

Marion and Gatch Falls

Mt. Jefferson from Jefferson Park

Park Butte from Bays Lake

Mt. Jefferson and Hunts Cove from the Hunts Creek Trail

Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson beyond the Eight Lakes Basin

Mt. Jefferson from Bear Point

Mt. Jefferson and Goat Peak

North Cinder Peak from the Cabot Lake Trail

Mt. Jefferson from Table Lake

Goat Peak and Mt. Jefferson

Carl Lake

Three Fingered Jack from Lower Berley Lake

Three Fingered Jack and Square Lake

Mount Thielsen: 55,151 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-5
Mt. Thielsen Wilderness sign

Howlock Mountain and Mt. Thielsen

Tipsoo Peak from Maidu Lake

Mt. Thielsen

Thielsen Creek

Howlock Mountain and Mt. Thielsen from Howlock Meadows

Mt. Thielsen and Cottonwood Creek Falls

Mt. Thielsen from a spring feeding Cottonwood Creek

Mount Washington: 54,410 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-7
Wt. Washington Wilderness sign

Belknap Crater

Mt. Washington and Mt. Jefferson from the Pacific Crest Trail

The largest of the Tenas Lakes

Benson Lake

Patjens Lake Trail

Mt. Washington from Mt. Washington Meadows

North Fork John Day: acres Days Spent in Wilderness-8
North Fork John Day River

North Fork John Day River Trail

Blue Mountain Trail

Elk on the Baldy Creek Trail

Mt. Ireland from Baldy Lake

Tower Mountain Trail

North Fork Umatilla: 20,225 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-3
North Fork Umatilla wilderness sign

Ninemile Ridge

Ninemile Ridge

North Fork Umatilla River

Opal Creek: 20,774 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-6
Whetstone Mountain Trail

Opal Lake

Larkspur and paintbrush

Battle Ax Creek

One of the Marten Buttes

Henline Falls

Bull-of-the Woods and Whetstone Mountain from the lookout site

Oregon Badlands: 28,182 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-2
Oregon Badlands Wilderness sign
Ancient Juniper Trail - Oregon Badlands Wilderness

View from Flatiron Rock

Badlands Rock

Another canyon in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness

Oregon Islands: 925 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-0
Signboard for the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

Bandon Islands

Simpson Reef

Sea lions on Shell Island

Gull Rock

Red Buttes: 3,777 acres in OR (20,133 in CA) Days Spent in Wilderness-2 in OR, (4 in CA)
Red Buttes Wilderness sign

Swan Mountain

Figurehead Mountain and Red ButtesThis photo is from CA but it actually shows the namesake Red Buttes

Roaring River: 36,548 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Entering the Roaring River Wilderness

Middle Rock Lake

Unnamed pond

Serene Lake

Rock Creek: 7,273 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Rock Creek Campground sign along Highway 101Closest thing to a “wilderness sign” we saw for this one.

Rock Creek

Frosty meadow in the Rock Creek Wilderness

Rogue-Umpqua: 35,749 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-6
Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness sign

Hummingbird Meadows

View from the Buck Canyon Trail

View from the old road to Abbott Butte

Pup Prairie from the Acker Divide Trail

Rattlesnake Mountain from the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail

Salmon-Huckleberry: 62,061 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-11
Entering the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness on the Eagle Creek trail

Rhododendron in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness

Eagle Creek Trail in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness

Mt. Hood

Plectritis and larkspur

Boulder Ridge Trail

Mt. Hood

Devil's Peak Lookout

Cliffs along the Salmon River Canyon

Frustration Falls

Hunchback Trail

Sky Lakes: 113,687 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-3
Sky Lakes Wilderness sign

Mt. McLoughlin from Fourmile Lake

Meadow with a lily pad pond across the Badger Lake Trail from Badger Lake

Island Lake

Mt. McLoughlin

Fourmile Lake from Mt. McLoughlin

Soda Mountain: 24,707 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-2
Soda Mountain Wilderness sign

PCT entering the Soda Mountain Wilderness

Boccard Point and Mt. Shasta in the distance

Looking west from Boccard Point

Larkspur

Pilot Rock

Spring Basin: 6,404 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-1
Spring Basin Wilderness

Spring Basin Wilderness

John Day River from the Spring Basin Wilderness

Horse Mountain in the Spring Basin Wilderness

Hedgehog cactus

Steens Mountain: 170,202 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-5
Entering the Steens Mountain Wilderness

Registration box at the Pike Creek Trail

View from the Pike Creek Trail

Big Indian Gorge

Wildhorse Lake

Wildhorse Lake Trail

Kiger Gorge

View from the Little Blitzen Trail

Little Blitzen Gorge

Little Blitzen Trail

Little Blitzen River

Strawberry Mountain: 69,350 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-5
Strawberry Mountain Wilderness sign

Indian Creek Butte

Strawberry Mountain

Volcanic ash along the Pine Creek Traii

Strawberry Basin Trail

Strawberry Mountain

Strawberry Lake

Slide Lake

Skyline Trail

High Lake

Mountain Goats above High Lake

Canyon Mountain Trail

High Lake

Table Rock: 5,784 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-3
Old Table Rock Wilderness signboard

High Ridge Trail

Table Rock

Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters from Table Rock

Trail to the Rooster Rock viewpoint.

Mt. Jefferson and Rooster Rock

Meadow below Rooster Rock

Three Arch Rocks: 15 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-0
Three Arch Rocks Wilderness

Three Sisters: 283,619 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-30
Broken Top near Crater Ditch

Black Crater Trail

Middle and South Sister from Linton Meadows

Middle and South Sister from Eileen Lake

Duncan Falls

Upper portion of Upper Linton Falls

Falls on Fall Creek

The Wife

Linton Springs

Middle Sister and a Chambers Lake

South Sister from Camp Lake

Phoenix Falls

Lower Linton Falls

Upper Linton Falls

Mt. Washington's spire, Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Jefferson

Indian Holes Falls

French Pete Creek

Middle and North Sister beyond Golden Lake

Broken Top, a tarn, and some Lupine

Thayer Glacial Lake

Monkeyflower along Soap Creek

No Name Lake

The third Green Lake

North Sister

Pacific Crest Trail

Old cabin at Muskrat Lake

Meadow along the Olallie Mountain Trail

View from Subsitute Point

The Chambers Lakes and Cascade Peaks from South Sister

Broken Top and Moraine Lake

South Sister from Morraine Lake

South Sister from Denude Lake

Proxy Falls

The Three Sisters from a wildflower meadow along the Rebel Rock Trail

Broken Top

The Three Sisters

Waldo Lake: 36,868 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-6
Waldo Lake Wilderness sign

Rigdon Butte

Lillian Falls

Fuji Mountain from Black Meadows

Diamond Peak and Fuji Mountain from Waldo Lake

Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, The Husband, Middle & South Sister, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor

Upper Salmon Lake

Wenaha-Tuccanon: 65,266 acres in OR (176,737 in WA) Days Spent in Wilderness-2
Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness sign

Wenaha River Trail

Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness

Wenaha River Trail

Milk Creek and South Fork Wenaha River confluence

Wild Rogue: 35,221 acres Days Spent in Wilderness-2
Wild Rogue wilderness sign

Hanging Rock

Flora del Falls

Rogue River Trail

Rogue River

Categories
High Cascades Hiking Mt. Jefferson Area Oregon Throwback Thursday Trip report

Throwback Thursday – Jefferson Park Ridge

This week’s Throwback Thursday hike features our second hike to Jefferson Park. Jefferson Park had been the one destination that we had visited each year starting in 2011. Unfortunately that streak ended in 2017 due to the area being closed by the Whitewater Fire. That fire started along the Whitewater Trail which we used in 2011, 2014, and 2015 and also swept over the Woodpecker Ridge Trail which we took in 2016. There are two other approaches for day hikes to Jefferson Park which appear to have escaped the Whitewater Fire for the most part, the South Breitenbush Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail from Forest Road 4220. In 2013 we used the South Breitenbush Trail and on October 7th, 2012 we completed the hike featured in the post.

Of the four approaches we’ve done this was the most scenic in large part due to the dramatic view from Park Ridge. It is also the approach with the worst (by far) drive to the trailhead. Forest Road 4220 aka Oregon Skyline Road can be accessed via Forest Road 46 from the north (Portland) by turning left off of FR 46 21.8 miles beyond Ripplebrook onto FR 4690 for 8.1 miles then turning right onto FR 4220 at a stop sign. As FR 4220 passes the Olallie Lake Resort and Horseshoe Lake Campground it deteriorates. Beyond the Horseshoe Lake Campground the final two miles may be impassable to passenger cars. From the south (Salem or Bend) the trailhead is accessed from the other end of FR 4220. From Detroit, OR we took FR 46 north for 16.9 miles to a junction where we turned right onto FR 4220. The 6.5 mile drive to the trailhead was narrow and rough and can be impassable when wet or snowy. The drive was bad enough that we have no plans to repeat it despite this being a very good hike.

We arrived at the large parking area relieved to be done with the drive.
Big parking lot at the Pacific Crest Trail

The large parking area was fairly empty due to it being fairly late in the year so we had the trail to ourselves as we headed south on the PCT.
Pacific Crest Trail

Not far from the trailhead we passed some talus where we spotted a pika for the first time.
Pacific Crest Trail

Pika

We then passed through a short section of forest burned in the 2010 Pyramid Butte Fire.
Huckleberry bushes

Pyramid Butte

We had planned on taking a side trail to Pyramid Butte as there had been a trail to the top of the butte but the fire had made the area confusing so we decided to stick to the PCT. We were soon out of the burned area and passing through forest colored with red huckleberry leaves.
Pacific Crest Trail

From the trailhead the PCT gained 1400′ in 3.7 miles to its crest on Park Ridge but much of the gain was gradual especially early on. The elevation gain provided for some excellent views to the north where Mt. Hood was visible beyond Pyramid Butte.
Ruddy Hill, Pyramid Butte, Mt. Hood and Olallie Butte

Pyramid Butte and Mt. Hood

To the south though the much closer Mt. Jefferson merely peaked over the top of Park Ridge.
Mt. Jefferson

Mt. Jefferson behind Park Ridge

Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

It was a little chilly and got chillier as we approached Park Ridge. Snow patches and partially frozen ponds lined the trail as we began to leave the trees and climb up the ridges northern flank.
Frozen pond along the Pacific Crest Trail

Frost around the pond

Park Butte

Pacific Crest Trail

Rock cairns and posts helped mark the way through the rocks which had replaced the meadows and we followed existing footprints through patches of snow.
Pacific Crest Trail

The view north to Mt. Hood from the open ridge was spectacular.
Mt. Hood and Olallie Butte

That view was quickly trumped though as we crested the ridge and finally had a full view of Mt. Jefferson with Jefferson Park below.
Mt. Jefferson, Russel Lake, and Sprauge Lake from Park Ridge

The ridge marks the boundary of the Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forests.
Sign marking the border between the Willamtte and Mt. Hood National Forests

Sign marking the border between the Willamtte and Mt. Hood National Forests

We took a nice long break on top of the ridge enjoying the views. As we rested a couple on horseback rode by stopping momentarily to discuss the beauty of the area. After resting up we headed down toward Jefferson Park.
Mt. Jefferson and Jefferson Park

It was just under 2 miles down to Russell Lake. The PCT was a little steeper on this side of Park Ridge as it traversed downhill past springs, red huckleberry bushes and meadows with wildflowers still in bloom.
Pacific Crest Trail

Huckleberry bushes along the Pacific Crest Trail

Lupine

Mt. Jefferson from the Pacific Crest Trail

Behind us Park Butte rose from the end of Park Ridge.
Park Butte

We eventually got a good look at Russell Lake.
Russell Lake

Before we made it down there though we ran into a small buck.
Small buck along the Pacific Crest Trail

After crossing the dry bed of the South Breitenbush River we turned off the PCT to visit Russell Lake.
Wildflowers along the South Breitenbush River

Mt. Jefferson from Russel Lake

After visiting that lake we returned to the PCT and continued south another three quarter miles to Scout Lake.
Mt. Jefferson

Scout Lake

After another short rest we returned the way we’d come. On the way back the remaining gentians were opening up to the sunlight.
Gentians

We followed the PCT back up Park Ridge where the views were no less impressive.
Pacific Crest Trail

Mt. Hood and Olallie Butte

Mt. Hood, Olallie Butte and Sara Jane Lake

We cruised back past the now thawed ponds and more blooming gentians to the trailhead where we would once again need to brave FR 4220 in order to get home.
Pond along the Pacific Crest Trail

Gentians

Pyramid Butte, Mt. Hood and Olallie Butte

Ruddy HillFR 4220 visible below the rocky slope.

We obviously survived the drive back. We hope to get back to Park Ridge someday. We have considered heading up the PCT from Jefferson Park on subsequent visits but have wound up balking at prospect of the 1000′ of elevation gain necessary to get to the top. It will likely be part of a backpacking trip the next time we are up there, until then we have the memories. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Jefferson Park Ridge

Categories
High Cascades Hiking Mt. Jefferson Area Oregon Trip report

Jefferson Park via South Breitenbush Trail

Our hike this week brought us back to what is my personal favorite destination – Jefferson Park. I can’t really say what it is about the area that makes it my favorite, but I think it is a case where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Jefferson Park is home to several lakes, wildflower meadows, berry patches, snow melt ponds, creeks, and the beginnings of the South Fork Breitenbush River. Oh yeah, the back drop to all of this is Mt. Jefferson, Oregon’s 2nd tallest peak at 10,497′. Our first visit came late in September 2011 when we took the Whitewater Trail and entered the park from the south. In October 2012 we took the Pacific Crest Trail from the north up Park Ridge and down into Jefferson Park. This year we would be coming from the west on the South Breitenbush Trail.

This wasn’t our first time on the South Breitenbush Trail. Earlier this year we had hiked a lower portion of the trail along the South Breitenbush Gorge. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/south-breitenbush-gorge-trail/ For this hike we drove past that portion of trail to the third trail head 5 miles up road 4685. We set off from the large parking area just as the Sun was beginning to shine on the top of the ridge across the South Fork Breitenbush River’s valley. The forest was dense and quite dark as the Sun was hidden behind the ridge we were climbing. The trail climbed steadily far enough from the river to hide it’s existence. The trees also hid Mt. Jefferson as we crossed several small streams before the forest began thinning as it became drier. I noticed what appeared to be a brushy clearing that might offer a view so I started looking for a side trail. Sure enough I spotted a pair of rocks oddly placed on a small log which signaled a faint path out through the manzanita. A short distance later Mt. Jefferson came into view giving us our first good view of the mountain.077

Onward and upward we trudged as the forest became sparser offering more frequent views of the mountain. We started noticing more and more ripe huckleberries as we entered the areas that got more sunlight and made sure we took a good sampling. The trail finally flattened out on a plateau where we encountered our first snow melt pond.
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It seemed to belong in Jefferson Park which made us feel like we must be close which turned out to not exactly be the case. We passed through heather meadows that must have been quite a display when they were in bloom and also found some nice patches of wild blueberry bushes where the ripe berries in the sun smelled just like a freshly baked pie. We finally switchbacked down along the edge of a rock slide and followed a flower lined creek toward the South Fork Breitenbush River.

I had begun to think that we might have missed out on most of the wildflowers despite the fact we had come much earlier than in previous years. As usual I was worrying for nothing. Beginning with the creek the number of flowers began to increase and by the time we had traveled a short distance along the river we found the bank was ablaze in yellow and orange.
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On the other side of the trail was a field of purple and white below the rock summit of Park Butte.
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We had managed to come at a great time when many of the earlier flowers were still in bloom, but there were also later flowers such as gentians on display. To top it off the mosquitoes were no longer a nuisance.

We crossed the river and climbed a small ridge to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail and turned north (left) toward Russell Lake. The outlet of Russell Lake is one of the sources of the river and its location between Park Butte and Mt. Jefferson makes it an ideal lunch spot. We ate our lunch (and a few more berries) while we watched a plethora of fish jumping in the lake. It seemed like there was one jumping everywhere you looked, and I even managed to get a picture of one.
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After lunch we headed south along the PCT through the meadows of Jefferson Park eventually taking one of the many side trails toward the other lakes of the park. We started at Scout Lake and worked our way around the shore so we were across from Mt. Jefferson.
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We then headed west over a small hill and down to blue Bays Lake with its rocky peninsulas.

Bays Lake
Bays Lake

From Bays Lake we made our way north past small Rock Lake to Park Lake and another great view.

Park Lake
Park Lake

A trail following the outlet of Park Lake led us back to the South Breitenbush Trail near the river crossing.

The wildflowers were even more impressive on the way out as the Sun was now overhead and many of the flowers such as the gentians were opening.

Gentians
Gentians

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Butterflies had also come out to play.
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After having taken all three of the main approaches to Jefferson Park my favorite would be coming in from the north on the PCT over Park Ridge. The view from the ridge is second to none, but the awful road to the trail head also has few rivals. The Whitewater trail was the easiest and offered nice views, but the entrance to Jefferson Park is not as impressive as the others. The South Breitenbush Trail was the longest (6.2miles one way compared to 5.6 & 5.1 respectively) and gained the most elevation but it offered a great variety of scenery and is the least visited of the trails. In reality you can’t go wrong by picking any of these trails as Jefferson Park is well worth the trip. Happy Trails.

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201909424804437.1073741850.1448521051&type=1
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157635134756828/