Central Oregon Hiking Lakeview Oregon Trip report

Flook Lake and Hart Mountain Hot Springs – 07/21/2020

Tuesday marked the start of a short stretch of possible showers and thunder storms but not until Tuesday night so we had decided the night before to start the day at Flook Lake in the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. Originally we had planned on doing hikes at Flook Lake, Petroglyph Lake, and Hart Mountain Hot Springs all in the same day, but that plan had changed. We wanted to do Flook Lake before any possible showers because Flook Lake road can become dangerously muddy when wet. We had also moved a side trip to Warner Peak, the high point in the refuge, to our Hart Mountain Hot Springs stop instead of tacking it onto our DeGarmo Canyon hike. The reason for that move was to avoid being exposed at an elevation over 7000′ if a thunder storm rolled in which looked possible both Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Finally we believed that the road to Petroglyph Lake had been closed adding at least 3 miles to that hike which would have been a little too much distance for one day. If that road turned out to be open we were still planning on doing it along with Flook Lake and the hot springs, but if it was indeed closed we planned on doing it first thing Wednesday morning before DeGarmo Canyon.

We left Lakeview at 5am and headed northeast to Plush stopping along county road 3-13 to admire the sunrise.
IMG_0804Hart Mountain in the morning.

After passing through plush we continued on county road 3-12 (Hart Mountain Road) climbing past the rim of Hart Mountain where we spotted our first pronghorn.



We continued on past Petroglyph Lake Road which was, as we suspected, closed to cars.
IMG_1483(photo from the next day)

A mile past Petroglyph Lake Road (24 miles from Plush) we came to the refuge headquarters which was closed to visitors due to COVID-19. There were numerous pronghorn antelope near the headquarters.
IMG_0822Just a few of the many pronghorn.

At the far end of the headquarters we veered left following pointers for Frenchglen for 6.7 miles to Flook Lake Road. We turned right onto this rocky dirt track for 1.8 miles (the final 6 on Flook Lake’s former lake bed, now an alkali flat) parking next to a dry reservoir.
IMG_0825Flook Lake Road continuing on with Beatys Butte in the distance.

IMG_0824The reservoir

IMG_0828Steens Mountain on the horizon to the east through smoky skies.

It was going to be another 90 degree day and even with our early start it was already warm as we set off toward a canyon SW of where we had parked. We expected to have to walk cross country for nearly a mile to reach the mouth of the canyon but well worn tire tracks allowed for a little easier walking. (I’m not sure if the road was official or the result of illegal off-road driving which would be very disappointing.)
IMG_0829The canyon we were aiming for from near our car.

IMG_0830Zoomed in a bit.

The track we were following eventually faded out along an outwash channel.

After a short stint walking through sagebrush we picked up another track that went right past a closed to motor vehicles sign.

This track didn’t appear to enter the canyon though and it was cross country through the canyon which was busy with wildlife.


IMG_0843Rabbit #1

IMG_0851Rabbit #2

IMG_0855Rabbit #3

IMG_0857A lone juniper in the canyon.

IMG_0860Rabbit #4

Near the end of this half mile canyon there are some Petroglyphs which are currently being guarded by a yellow bellied marmot.




After looking at (and NOT TOUCHING) the petroglyphs we continued to the canyon’s end at Antelope Spring.


IMG_0892Horned lark near the spring.

We returned the way we’d come commenting on how far way our car still looked from the mouth of the canyon.

IMG_0906Rabbit #5, this one was a jack rabbit.

After returning to our car we drove back through the refuge headquarters staying straight following pointers for the hot springs. Keeping right for 4.5 miles brought us to a parking area next to the hot springs.



We saved the soak in the 102 degree hot spring for after our hike and set off from the parking lot along a gated road toward the Hot Springs Campground.


This road passed another hot spring before arriving at Barnhardi Road in half a mile near the campground.

IMG_0927Hawk hanging out near the hot springs.

IMG_0930Butterfly on dusty maiden.

IMG_0942Barnhardi Road

IMG_0943Campground across Rock Creek.

We turned right on Barnhardi Road for .3 miles to a gate.
IMG_0944Becker’s white


IMG_0950Sagebrush mariposa lily


We walked past the gate continuing on the road for almost two miles ignoring a road on the right at the 1 mile mark atop a crest.
IMG_0957Hawk overhead

IMG_0973Balsamroot in the sagebrush.

IMG_0983Wild roses in a quaking aspen stand.

IMG_0985Biggest bumble bee either of us had ever seen.

IMG_0997Coming up on the crest at the 1 mile mark.

IMG_0998_stitchView after the crest heading down to Barnhardi Basin.

IMG_1010Sheep moth

Almost two miles from the gate we arrived at a post marking a trail to the collapsing Barnhardi Cabin.

We followed the faint path through a wet meadow filled with mosquitoes to the cabin.
IMG_1016Lewis flax blooming in the meadow.

IMG_1020Barnhardi Cabin

Our plan was to hike up to Warner Peak from the cabin following a route described by Sullivan. Our first misstep was not going back a bit from the cabin and getting well away from the marshy area behind the cabin. Instead we simply angled away from the cabin. This led us through the marshy area where there were some nice flowers but also a ton of mosquitoes.


We took a hard right following game trails through the wet area and out a grassy area where a faint path was visible.

Sullivan’s directions were to follow a little creek up through aspen groves to DeGarmo Notch but after fighting through the vegetation and mosquitoes along the creek behind the cabin we decided to try and skirt the aspen groves in the sagebrush. Growing up in the Bend/Redmond area I was used to walking through sagebrush but here the sagebrush was much taller and thicker than I was used to.

20200721_101324Another sheep moth

It was tough going but we were making progress and came to a spring with yellow monkeyflowers. Near the spring we both thought we heard a rattle although neither of us saw a snake or were 100% sure that it was really what we’d heard.
IMG_1035The spring.

IMG_1038White triteleia

We headed away form the spring loudly just in case there were snakes about and decided to cross the creek in a gap between aspen groves. Sullivan’s map showed the route crossing to the other side at some point and we felt this was as good a time as any.

The next obstacle was a rocky knoll to the left of the creek and more aspen. We veered between a bit of a gap in the aspen and sidehilled around the knoll.

IMG_1045Barnhardi Basin from the side of the knoll.

IMG_1046View across the creek.

IMG_1047The knoll was steeper and brushier than it had appeared from below but we managed to make it around.

IMG_1056Hawk flying around above us.

From the other side of the knoll we got a good look at the next leg of our uphill bushwhack.
IMG_1059High Point is the peak ahead.

We were being watched from the hillside above as we tried to figure out are next move.


Looking at the map in the guidebook and checking the elevation on our GPS units showed that we were actually above DeGarmo Notch which was shown on the map with an elevation of 6970′ and we were around 7150′ which was fine with us because we would have had to climb up eventually. To get to the notch as shown on the map we would have needed to continue to follow the aspen to their end. From where we were we could see the spot and it would have added needless distance and climbing.
IMG_1198DeGarmo Notch

We were now heading south west toward High Point as we traversed across the hillside above Barnhardi Basin.

IMG_1084We had to drop under this.

IMG_1088Warner Peak is straight ahead with a tower on top beyond the line of trees in the distance.

IMG_1090Barnhardi Basin getting further away.

IMG_1092Looking back toward DeGarmo Notch.

When we could see beyond High Point we could see that the terrain did some up and down on it’s way to Warner Peak. Our plan was to climb as gradually as possible to avoid having to lose elevation and make it back up later.
IMG_1095We first aimed for the the small rock outcrop beyond High Point then bent to the right to pass the larger rock outcrop before climbing up to the trees in the distance.

IMG_1101Passing another canyon coming up from the west.

IMG_1106Made it past the first outcrop and heading for the right side of the second.

IMG_1107At the second outcrop.

It was a fairly steep climb from the second outcrop to the trees. I arrived first and was greeted by a doe.


I waited for Heather here to plot the final climb to Warner Peak which was now fully revealed.

It was a fairly level walk from the trees to the start of the final steep climb that brought us to Hart Mountain’s highest point.

From Warner Peak we could see the parking area by the Hot Springs and much of the route we’d taken to get to the summit.
IMG_1143The white patch in the distance to the right just beyond the shadow is the parking area.

IMG_1147Our car was still there.

IMG_1137View south over Hart Mountain.

IMG_1158SW to Drake Peak with part of Hart Lake visible below the cliffs.

IMG_1134Looking north toward Juniper Mountain.

IMG_1133East toward Steens Mountain

After a nice long break we started back down. It was easier going since we weren’t climbing anymore and we knew that we could follow our track up to get back down. The more relaxed walk back allowed us to better enjoy the flowers that were around.
IMG_1162Prairie smoke

20200721_124500Balloon pod milk vetch



IMG_1190Mountain coyote mint

IMG_1200Police car moth on hyssop

We avoided the marshy area around the cabin this time and didn’t hear anything that sounded like a rattle. We did however get a good look at an American kestral.

We had considered doing a loop from the cabin that Sullivan describes by following Rock Creek back to the Hot Springs Campground. It was only .3 miles longer but much of it was trailless and we were hot and tired of bushwhacking so we opted to just walk back on Barnhardi Road. As we got back to that road the clouds were moving in quickly.

We shuffled along the road in the heat looking forward to soaking in the Hot Springs before leaving but we still stopped occassionally for photos.

IMG_1233Butterflies on rabbitbrush

IMG_1238Sagebrush mariposa lily


As we neared the gate on Barnhardi Road two things happened. First we were passed by a mountain biker, the first person we’d encountered since Daly Lake three days earlier and second we finished off our all our water. We were only about a half mile from the car where we had more but we were thankful when we got to the gate and the biker offered us a cold water bottle. We finished that off on our way back to the car and then had our soak before heading back to Lakeview. We never heard any thunder or saw any lightening but a few raindrops hit our windshield on the way back and the wind had picked up so much that there were white caps on Hart Lake as we drove by.

It was another tough day in the heat (although we did get a little chilly on Warner Peak just before heading down). We did 2.7 miles at Flook Lake and another 10.8 to Warner Peak with a combined elevation gain of roughly 2500′.

That night we decided to amend our plan for the next day even further and do the Petroglyph Lake hike followed by the short Warner Valley Overlook Loop that we had passed on our drive to and from the refuge that day. We then would end the day with the shortest option that Sullivan described for DeGarmo Canyon. It would be a shorter day giving us a little more time to rest and an excuse to swing by the Burger Queen in Lakeview and get milk shakes. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Flook Lake and Hart Mountain Hot Springs

Year-end wrap up

The Hikes of 2017 – A Look Back

Once again it’s time for our year end review post. Each year has a bit of a different feel to it, but this year was especially so. This was by far the most challenging year we’ve faced in terms of being able to visit the trails we’d planned on. A heavy winter snow pack lingered delaying access to many areas. Then an unusually bad fire season closed much of the Mt. Jefferson and Three Sisters Wilderness areas as well as parts of the Columbia Gorge. Snow returned in mid-September causing more changes to our plans. In the end plans for 39 of our originally scheduled 63 days of hiking were pushed out to future years as well as 2 additional short hikes that were part of multi stop days. Plans for another 12 of those days were shifted around on the schedule which meant that only 10 of our originally planned days occurred as we had envisioned them in January. We had also planned on spending 18 nights backpacking but wound up with a measly 3 nights in the tent. Despite all the issues we actually managed to end the year having hiked on 64 days and covered 751.6 miles.

Here is a look at where we wound up. The blue hiker symbols denote trailheads and the two yellow houses are the approximate location of our two backpacking campsites.
2017 Trailheads

Due to the issues with access to so many locations the mix of hikes this year was very different. An example of this is the average high point of our hikes:

                     2013-2016                2017
Jan.-Apr.    1444′                        1776′
May             2718′                        2355′
June            4900′                        3690′
July             5553′                        6530′
August       6419′                        3048′
Sept.           6400′                        4175′
Oct.             4886′                        3484′
Nov.-Dec.   2042′                        750′

Another example is our mileage distribution:

                     2013-2016                2017
Jan.-Apr.    9.19%                       9.74%
May             13.57%                     14.14%
June            13.75%                      13.50%
July             13.75%                      19.15%
August       19.33%                      6.07%
Sept.           14.13%                      23.28%
Oct.             12.17%                      10.36%
Nov.-Dec.   4.11%                        3.75%

As you can see August was way off the norm with many of those miles coming in September this year. Several wildfires were burning by then and we also changed some plans due to work and family commitments. Finally we chose to stick close to home the weekend of the solar eclipse .

On many occasions we visited multiple trailheads in a single day. We had been slowly increasing the frequency of doing so but this year 25 of our 64 days included more than one stop. In fact we stopped at a total of 106 trailheads this last year.

None of that made it a bad year, it just felt very different. The 64 hiking days was the most we’ve managed in a single year and the 751.6 miles was second only to 2016s 792.8 We managed to make decent headway on our quest to visit all of Oregon’s 45 visit-able wilderness areas by checking 8 more off the list. Rock Creek (post), Spring Basin (post), Wild Rogue (post), Grassy Knob (post), Bridge Creek (post), Clackamas (post), North Fork John Day (post), and Cummins Creek (post).

This year we made use of guidebooks by four different authors as well as a few websites. Most of our destinations can be found in William L. Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Oregon guidebooks (information) but we also made use of Scott Cook’s “Bend, Overall“, Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region“, and Bubba Suess’s “Hiking in Northern California“.

A special thanks goes out to Bubba Suess and his Hike Mt. Shasta website for his suggestions and input on our visit to the Mt. Shasta area in July. On that trip we visited four of California’s wilderness areas: Russian (post), Castle Crags (post), Trinity Alps (post), and Mt. Shasta (post). Our visit the the Trinity Alps brought us to the most southerly point while hiking to date. We also reached our highest elevation on that trip when we hiked to the top of Mt. Eddy (post) and saw our first rattle snake along the PCT (post).

We also set a new mark for the western most point reached on a hike when we visited Cape Blanco in May (post).

One way that this year was no different than previous years was that we once again saw and experienced many things for the first time during our hikes. It’s not surprising that we saw new things given that 57 out of our 64 days were comprised of entirely new sections of trail and none of the other 7 were exact repeats. In fact only about 17.2 miles retraced steps from previous hikes which works out to less than 2.5% of our total mileage for the year.

Some new flowers for us included:
Butter and eggsButter and eggs – Yontocket

Possibly tomcat cloverTomcat clover – Rough and Ready Botanical Wayside

dalmatian toadflax along the John Day RiverDalmation toadflax – Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Heart-leafed milkweedHeart-leafed milkweed – Applegate Lake

California groundconeCalifornia groundcones – Jacksonville

GeraniumGeranium – Lost Creek Lake

GeraniumGeranium – Round Mountain

rockfringe willowherbRockfringe willowherb – Mt. Eddy

Leopard lilyLeopard Lily – Trinity Alps Wilderness

There were a few new critters too:
Bullock's OrioleBullock’s Oriole – Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Big Horn SheepBig horn sheep – Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Sheep mothSheep moth – Grasshopper Meadow

Pigeon guillemotPigeon guillemot – Yaquina Bay

EgretEgret – Cape Disappointment State Park

CaterpillarCaterpillar – Cape Disappointment State Park

As is often the case we started and ended our hikes at the coast.
Berry Creek flowing toward the PacificBaker Beach in January

Exposed rocks on Ona BeachOna Beach in December

In between we visited some pretty amazing places. Here are just a few of the highlights:
Clarno Unit - John Day Fossil BedsPalisades – Clarno Unit, John Day Fossil Beds, April

Hedgehog cactusHedgehog Cactus – Spring Basin Wilderness, April

Fern CanyonFern Canyon – Prairie Creek State Park, May

Tall Trees GroveTall Trees Grove – Redwoods National Park, May

Crack in the GroundCrack in the Ground, Christmas Valley, May

Wildflowers on Lower Table RockWildflowers on Lower Table Rock, Medford, June

View to the north from the Bridge Creek WildernessNorth Point – Bridge Creek Wilderness, June

Upper Linton FallsUpper Linton Falls – Three Sisters Wilderness, July

Deadfall Lakes from Mt. EddyView from the Summit of Mt. Eddy, July

Caribou LakeCaribou Lake – Trinity Alps Wilderness, July

Vista Ridge TrailFireweed along the Vista Ridge Trail – Mt. Hood Wilderness, August

Grey back whale seen from Yaquina HeadWhale – Yaquina Head, August

Mt. Adams from Horseshoe MeadowHorseshoe Meadow – Mt. Adams Wilderness, September

Bull elk at Clatsop SpitBull elk – Clatsop Spit, September

View from the Blue Basin Overlook TrailBlue Basin – John Day Fossil Beds, September

Mt. Ireland from Baldy LakeBaldy Lake – North Fork John Day Wilderness, September

Dead Mountain TrailDead Mountain Trail – Willamette National Forest – October

Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mirror LakeMt. Hood from Tom Dick and Harry Mountain – Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, October

Cummins Ridge TrailCummins Creek Wilderness, November

It is only a small sample of the amazing diversity that we are blessed with here in the Pacific Northwest. We are looking forward to discovering more new places next year, hopefully with less disruptions to our plans (including not tossing my camera into any rivers). Happy Trails!