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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
Blue Mountains - South Hiking Oregon Trip report

Monument Rock and Little Malheur River – 07/21/2021

We were finally down to our last Oregon Wilderness area to visit, the Monument Rock Wilderness (post). The 20,210 acre wilderness is located in the southern Blue Mountains a little over an hour east of John Day. We’d spent the night in John Day and woke to find that it had rained overnight but we hadn’t heard any thunder so we were optimistic that no new lighting caused fires would be springing up. We had two hikes in the wilderness planned for the day with the first being a hike to the wilderness’s namesake, Monument Rock.

Our starting point for the hike to Monument Rock was the Table Rock Trailhead. The final 3.8 miles to this trailhead require slow driving and a high clearance vehicle.
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IMG_0553The trailhead is at this hairpin curve below Table Rock. The road continues another 0.8 miles to the staffed Table Rock Lookout but reportedly worsens which is hard to imagine is possible.

The trail quickly crossed the wilderness boundary on an old roadbed completing our goal of hiking in all of Oregon’s 46 wilderness areas open to human visitors.
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IMG_0556First time seeing a wilderness sign quite like this.

There was quite a bit of smoke in the sky this morning even though we still weren’t really smelling it.
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IMG_0562A red Sun behind the smoke, presumably mostly from the 400,000 plus acre Bootleg Fire east of Klamath Falls in south central Oregon.

We followed the old road bed through sagebrush and occasional stand of trees for a total of 1.7 miles to a post. There was a nice amount of red paintbrush blooming amid the sage and lots of interesting rock formations along the way.
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IMG_0563Clark’s nutcracker

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IMG_0572Monument Rock in the distance.

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IMG_0578Paintbrush in the sagebrush.

IMG_0583Ground squirrel

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IMG_0586There was a fair amount of this green paintbrush too.

IMG_0589We believe this post (not the 1.7 mile post) marked a side trail to Rock Spring but we didn’t see any tread in the area to know for sure.

IMG_0593Bullrun Rock dead ahead.

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IMG_0595Table Rock in the distance.

IMG_0596The Table Rock Lookout.

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IMG_0604Two kinds of paint.

IMG_0601Bullrun Rock below the Sun.

IMG_0602Monument Rock again.

IMG_0607Old man’s whiskers

IMG_0611A checkermallow

IMG_0614We passed this sign for the Amelia Trail along the way but again didn’t see any trace of tread for it.

IMG_0618Grazing cattle near the post.

IMG_0624The post with Monument Rock in the background.

We made a sharp left turn following an old jeep track uphill toward Bullrun Rock.
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In a little under a half mile we were at the base of the rock near a fence.
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IMG_0633I believe that is Ironside Mountain.

We then scramble up the side of Bullrun Rock to the 7873′ summit.
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IMG_0637The jeep track and Monument Rock.

IMG_0641Table Rock

IMG_0642Looking down into the Monument Rock Wilderness

After enjoying the view we climbed down and returned to the post which we then continued past through an old fence and onward toward Monument Rock.
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IMG_0651Woodpecker

IMG_0654Mountain bluebird

The old road bed wasn’t much more than a cattle trail now but we followed it for approximately 0.2 miles to what was shown on our GPS units as a sharp turn to the right. Sullivan indicated that there was a small cairn in this area marking the start of the route to Monument Rock. We didn’t notice any cairns but comparing the map on our GPS to the one in his guidebook led us to believe this was the correct spot so we followed an elk/cow path to the left but it was leading us too much to the east so we struck off cross country toward the flank of Monument Rock.
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IMG_0656Looking back toward Bullrun Rock.

The initial climb up was a little steeper than we’d expected which led us to believe we may have not been quite where Sullivan would have had us go up, but we managed to make it up to a broad ridge where we then headed uphill through sagebrush.
IMG_0658Table Rock from where we gained the ridge.

IMG_0660Heading up.

Soon the large rock cairn atop Monument Rock was visible (the cairn was likely constructed by Basque shepherds or possibly gold miners long ago).
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We made our way over to the andesite outcrop and climbed up to the cairn and took a break.
20210721_085946Me making my way up to the cairn.

IMG_0668Bullrun Rock from the cairn.

IMG_0669Table Rock from the cairn.

IMG_0673The Monument Rock Wilderness.

The haze had cleared up somewhat by this point giving us blue sky at least overhead as we began our hike back.
IMG_0675The cairn on Monument Rock from below.

We decided to try a slightly different route back down hoping that we could follow the ridge further down and pick up what was showing on our GPS units as a trail below following South Bullrun Creek. Sullivan’s map showed the first part of the trail from the turn where we’d left the road bed extending 0.3 miles to a spring but the Garmins showed the trail then continuing south. Our thought was that if a trail had at one time been down there it was likely built on a less steep grade than the side we’d scrambled up.
IMG_0680Heading downhill.

20210721_092712Heather spotted this sheep moth.

When we came to what appeared to be an old jeep track or path of some sort we turned right (north) and followed it down a short but still steep hill.
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IMG_0683The path leading downhill.

The trail that was shown on the GPS dropped over 150′ from where we were, presumably down to the spring, but that was about 120′ more than we needed to lose so when the hillside leveled out a bit we made a hard right turn and made our way back to the track we’d taken earlier. We arrived below the point where we’d scrambled up and then headed back to the old road bed. Once we rediscovered the road we followed it back past the post and to the trailhead.
20210721_095222Table Rock in the distance with Bullrun Rock on the right.

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IMG_0725

IMG_0728Robin

IMG_0731Quite a bit of a difference from the morning.

The hike here came in at an even 7 miles with just under 900′ of elevation gain.

Our track for Monument Rock

We had a little left in our legs after the Monument Rock hike so after navigating the rough 3.8 miles back to the Elk Flat Springs Campground we continued another 3/4 of a mile on Forest Road 1370 to the North Little Malheur Trailhead. The Little Malheur River had been one of Sullivan’s featured hikes in previous editions of his Eastern Oregon book but repeated fires and lack of maintenance have relegated it to a back of the book entry. We had decided to check it out to see what the trail condition was and to hopefully make it to the Little Malheur River which was approximately 2.2 miles from the trailhead.
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We were encouraged to find signs at the trailhead showing that the Blues Crew had done some work on the trail.
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We were less excited that a cow crew was currently present.
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In true cow fashion instead of just letting us pass by above them on the trail they ran uphill onto the trail and the for the next couple of miles we occasionally caught up to them and they would run off along the trail again kicking up dust and leaving cow pie mines along the path but I digress. Getting back to the hike, the trail was faint but flagging and a few rock cairns assisted in keeping it found (along with the cows).
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IMG_0741Yarrow and an orange agoseris.

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IMG_0745Wilderness sign marking the boundary of the Monument Rock Wilderness.

IMG_0747Table Rock from the trail.

IMG_0749Elk Flat Creek.

IMG_0752An orange flag to the right ahead.

IMG_0759The trail following Elk Flat Creek.

IMG_0760A few areas of green trees remained.

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We were entertained by a large number of hawks in the area.
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IMG_0770Unnamed stream shortly before reaching the Little Malheur River.

IMG_0774Monkshood along the stream.

IMG_0775It appeared that quite a few trees survived along the Little Malheur.

IMG_0777The trail crossing the Little Malheur River. We were especially excited to see a lot of nice pink monkeyflower along the banks.

We reached the river which wasn’t much more than a creek here, but it was a pretty setting. Wildflowers and green vegetation hosted a number of butterflies.
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IMG_0792Pearly everlasting

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After a nice relaxing break along the river we returned the way we’d come. In theory the trail extends another 5 miles to the south trailhead crossing the river 7 times along the way but we had gone far enough for today. It was nice not to be following the cattle on the way back.
IMG_0800Ground squirrel

IMG_0806Either a big ground squirrel or a small marmot.

IMG_0813Another hawk.

IMG_0824Fluffy clouds forming over the Monument Rock Wilderness.

Our hike here, which included just a bit of wandering, came in at 4.8 miles giving us 11.8 for the day.

Our track for the Little Malheur River

It had been a good ending to our quest to visit all of Oregon’s designated wilderness areas and we celebrated with an early dinner at 1188 Brewing in John day before turning in early so that we could get up in the morning and head into the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Monument Rock and Little Malheur River