After spending three nights in Pendleton and two John Day it was time for us to head back to Salem on Friday. We planned on stopping at Walton Lake in the Ochoco National Forest along the way to visit the man made lake where I had spent some time in my childhood. We also planned to hike from the lake to the summit of Round Mountain which we had done from the opposite side back in 2017 (post). After our hike we were meeting Heather’s parents for a late lunch/early dinner in Redmond at Madeline’s before continuing home to Salem.
We left John Day a little before 5am and arrived at Walton Lake shortly after 6:30am. There were already several folks our fishing and we were met by the camp greeters.
A paved/gravel 0.8 mile trail encircles the lake with the Walton Lake Trail splitting off on the south side of Walton Lake. We decided to hike around the lake clockwise passing the small dam that created the lake and a number of campsites before arriving at the unsigned Walton Lake Trail after 0.6 miles. Along with the people fishing there were a number of ducks (including ducklings), geese and coots around the lake.
American coot and a duck family.
Pied billed grebe
The spur of the Walton Lake Trail that leads to the Round Mountain Trail.
We turned up the spur trail which climbed through a meadow where several families of geese were hanging out.
After 0.2 miles the spur trail crosses the campground road.
It was about this time that we realized that we hadn’t put our NW Forest Pass out. We headed back down to the lake and completed to the 0.8 mile loop to put our pass out. We later realized that it wasn’t good at Walton Lake anyway and paid the $5 day use fee.
This is also a good time mention that a 0.3 mile segment of the spur trail between Forest Road 2220 and Forest Road 22 is by Forest Order 06-07-01-21-02 closed from 5/18/21 to 10/31/21 (or until rescinded). There were no signs present at the start of the spur trail nor at the crossing of FR 2220, the notice was however posted at the FR 22 crossing (along with a warning about sheep dogs).
The order also states that the closure area will be signed along with pink flagging along all boundaries on the ground (we didn’t see any pink flagging at FR 2220).
Fortunately the Round Mountain North Trailhead is just on the other side of FR 22 from the Walton Lake entrance if you don’t want to road walk around the closure. Assuming you are coming from the FR 22 crossing though the Walton Lake Trail continues 1/2 mile to its end at the Round Mountain Trail (0.2 miles from the North Trailhead).
Approximately 0.4 miles from FR 22 the trail passes a snow survey site in a small meadow where we spotted several does.
A short distance beyond the meadow we arrived at the Round Mountain Trail where we turned left. (Ignore the sign, it was the only one present and it was facing the wrong way.)
The trail climbed to a dry, rocky plateau but not before first passing a nice display of lupine.
The rocky plateau with Round Mountain to the right.
A wild onion
The trail dipped off the plateau and lost a little elevation on its way to a saddle below Round Mountain. Just over 2 miles from the Walton Lake Trail we passed Scissors Spring in a meadow on our right.
Valerian along the trail.
California tortoiseshell on valerian.
Mt. Jefferson from the trail.
Maybe a miterwort?
Beyond the spring the trail began to climb through a series of hellebore filled meadows.
A comma butterfly of some sort.
Possibly some sort of phlox?
Another wild onion
Butterfly on Jessica stickseed
A larkspur, Jessica stickseed, and hyssop
Mountain view from a meadow.
Just over a mile from the spring the trail made a switchback at which point it steepened noticeably. The next 1/3 of a mile consisted of steep switchbacks through a hellebore meadow to Round Mountain Road 0.2 miles from the summit.
Viewpoint at one of the switchbacks. Cascade Mountains from Diamond Peak to Mt. Jefferson.
Ball Butte and Broken Top
Three Fingered Jack
The trail sign along Round Mountain Road up the hill.
Butterfly on an onion
Ladybug on lupine
Round Mountain summit
We sat on the cool concrete in the shade cast by the radio tower while we watched butterflies swirl through the air.
And occasionally land.
Big Summit Prairie
Lookout Mountain (post)
After the break we returned the way we’d come with a slight delay caused by a Sara’s orangetip butterfly that refused to land despite repeatedly looking like it was going to as it flew in the same loop over and over again.
Not too horrible of a photo of the orangetip on one of its many passes.
We retrieved our car from the now packed Walton Lake but not before checking out some of the wildlife one more time.
A coot, a spotted sandpiper and ducks.
Osprey with a recently caught fish (we got to see the dive)
From Walton Lake we drove to Redmond where we were a bit early so we stopped at the Spud Bowl and watched some dogs playing in the sprinklers before meeting up with Heather’s parents at Madelines. We had a great meal then continued home to Salem. When a section of the trail isn’t closed (and you don’t have to go back to your car to after starting your hike) this would be about a 12 mile hike with approximately 1900′ of elevation gain while the 0.8 mile loop around Walton Lake would be great for kids. Happy Trails!
Flickr: Walton Lake and Round Mountian