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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.
Emerald Falls

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.
Gorton Creek

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.
Gorton Falls

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.
Punchbowl Falls Park

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.
Punchbowl Falls

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.
Mt. Hood above the trees

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
Corvallis Hiking Oregon Trip report Willamette Valley

Peavy Arboretum – McDonald Forest

We are in the middle of an extremely mild winter. Aside from some freezing rain on Christmas Weekend we’ve experienced no other snow or icy conditions. That of course changed when we decided that we would take our February hike on Presidents Day. After making that decision the weather forecast immediately called for a snow event that same weekend with Sunday night expected to be the worst of it. After double checking the forecast Saturday afternoon we moved our hike up by one day and changed destinations to something closer to Salem, the McDonald Forest. The forest has become our go to destination in inclement weather having visited McCulloch (post) Peak in October 2016 and Dimple Hill (post) in December of that same year.

For this visit we chose the trails around the Peavy Arboretum. The arboretum is located at the northwestern end of the forest and can be reached by driving Highway 99W north of Corvallis 5 miles and turning left on Arboretum Road for .8 miles to the Peavy Arboretum entrance sign on the right. There are several potential parking areas to choose from and we stayed to the left at forks for .3 miles to a trailhead sign where the road ahead was gated.
Peavy Arboretum Trailhead

John H. Beuter Road

After picking up a trail map we headed up John H. Beuter Road for .3 miles to the OSU Forestry Club Cabin.
OSU Forestry Club Cabin

We turned left onto the Section 36 Loop Trail at the start of the lawn and crossed a small stream on a footbridge.
Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

We had woken up to a small amount of snow and as we gained a little elevation on the trail, we began to encounter some on the vegetation. It was a strange mix of Winter and Spring as some of plants were starting to blossom.
Spring blossoms with a dusting of snow on the leaves behind

The trail continued to climb through a foggy forest and past benches to more and more snow covered ground.
Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

Snowy hillside

Snow along the Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

We stuck to the Section 36 Loop ignoring side trails for 1.4 miles. Then we came to a T-shaped junction with the Powder House Trail where we turned left.
Powder House Trail

About a quarter mile from the junction the Powder House Trail crossed a series of three gravel roads. We had been planning to turn left on the first road (Road 500) and follow it to the Vineyard Mountain Trail and down to a trailhead at Lewisburg Saddle where we would then take a different series of trails and one of the other roads (Road 580) back up to the Powder House Trail. On the far side of Road 500 was a cougar sighting warning.
Cougar warning along the Powder House Trail

We were so distracted by the sign and our conversation that we forgot to turn onto the road. It wasn’t until we were about to cross the third road and we were looking at the map that it dawned on us that we should have turned left back on the first road.
Powder House Trail

Fortunately we had only passed Road 500 by a tenth of a mile so we backtracked and turned right onto the road.
Road 500

We didn’t see any cougars but we did see a whole bunch of juncos.
Junco invasion

We followed Road 500 for just over a mile and a half to a junction at a saddle.
Road 500

Here the Vineyard Mountain Trail began at a signpost.
Vineyard Mountain Trail

This trail climbed for .4 miles to a point near the some towers at the summit of Vineyard Mountain.
Radio tower on Vineyard Mountain

Vineyard Mountain

The trail then began descending along the southern ridge of Vineyard Mountain.
Vineyard Mountain Trail

Vineyard Mountain Trail

Just under a mile and a half from the summit we arrived at the Lewisburg Saddle Trailhead.

Here we briefly followed William A. Davies Road aka Road 580 before turning left onto the unsigned New Growth Trail.
New Growth Trail

An interpretive sign a little ways down the trail let us know that we were on the right path.
New Growth Trail Sign

The New Growth Trail lost enough elevation that we were soon on a snow free trail. Although snow melting from the tops of the trees made the stretch somewhat wet.
New Growth Trail

New Growth Trail

After a half mile we arrived at a junction. Here the half mile Old Growth Trail lay straight ahead or for a short loop back to the Lewisburg Saddle TH the right fork led back uphill to Road 580.
Old Growth Trail junction with the New Growth Trail

We took the Old Growth Trail which led us back into the snow.
Footbridge along the Old Growth Trail

The Old Growth Trail ended further up along Road 580 where we turned left and continued uphill.
Road 580

And into a decent snow flurry.
Snowing on Road 580

There had been a couple of quick breaks in the clouds earlier in the day but after this snow flurry passed the largest patch of blue sky yet appeared.
View from Road 580

View from Road 580

It just so happened that the section of Road 580 that we were on at the time passed by a clearcut which allowed us a nice view across the valley to peaks on the other side of the McDonald Forest.
View from Road 580

View from Road 580

The road then passed through a brief stand of remaining trees before entering another clearcut where the views had mostly disappeared.
View from Road 580

Approximately 2.5 miles from the end of the Old Growth Trail we arrived back at the Powder House Trail where we turned left.
Powder House Trail

This time we crossed the third road and headed uphill through a clearcut to a bench where we imagined the views would be pretty good on a clearer day.
Powder House Trail

Snow covered bench along the Powder House Trail

View from the snowy bench

The trail then curved back downhill to the Cap House where the Civilian Conservation Corps had once stored blasting caps.
Cap House

Interpretive sign at the Cap House

The trail continued to the right of the Cap House and descended a short distance to rejoin the Section 36 Loop Trail. Along the way we encountered several snow queen plants in bloom.
Snowy snow queen

Powder House Trail

We turned left onto the Section 36 Loop.
Powder House Trail junction with the Section 36 Loop Trail

The trail gradually descended as it passed through the forest for almost a mile to Cronemiller Lake.
Section 36 Loop Trail

Signs for the George W. Brown Sports Arena

Cronemiller Lake

Cronemiller Lake

We followed the lake shore all the way around to the right until we reached the signed Calloway Creek Trail.
Calloway Creek Trail

Closed from April to November to bike traffic we followed the Calloway Creek Trail a total of 2.5 miles staying left at most junctions except for the signed trail to Road 547 where we stayed right.
Calloway Creek Trail

Calloway Creek Trail

The trail crossed Calloway Creek twice and passed a small meadow with a bench.
Calloway Creek

Calloway Creek Trail

After the 2.5 miles we turned left onto the Intensive Management Trail.
Calloway Creek Trail junction with the Intesive Management Trail

At the next junction was a signboard map which could have been a little more descriptive.
Trail sign along the Intesive Management Trail

We stuck to this trail following pointers for the Arboretum Parking to a different parking lot a tenth of a mile from where we had started.
Intesive Management Trail

From here we took the .1 mile Firefighters Memorial Trail past a nice shelter and back to our car.
Firefighter Memorial Trail

Shelter along the Firefighter Memorial Trail

The hike turned out to be an approximately 14 mile loop with around 2000′ of elevation gain. A little more than we had planned for the day but a nice hike none the less. Alternating between being above and below the snow line added to the variety of the hike. It had turned out to be a good choice and another fun hike in the McDonald Forest. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Peavy Arboretum