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Clackamas Hiking Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Old Baldy and Tumala Mountain – 8/15/2019

Hike number four of our vacation week was chosen in an attempt to avoid the sound of gunfire which seems to be extremely prevalent along the Forest Service roads near Estacada. We figured our best chance to minimize that unpleasant noise would be a mid-week early morning hike so when the forecast for the area called for sunny skies Thursday we jumped on the chance and headed to the Old Baldy West Trailhead. Our plan for the day was to start by hiking up to the summit of Old Baldy then returning past the Trailhead and heading SE to the summit of Tumala Mountain, a rare double out-and-back.

A bonus for this hike are the paved roads to the trailhead which is a small pullout near some boulders.
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Reminders of the penchant for shooting guns in the area were everywhere.
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Just beyond the trailhead we met the Old Baldy Trail where we went left toward Old Baldy. The trail briefly follows the Forest Road before they veer away from one another.
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The Old Baldy Trail runs right along the border of the Salmon-Hucklberry Wilderness through a nice quiet (on this day) old growth forest. It was too late for the Rhododendron bloom which happens in early summer but there was a great variety of mushrooms to look at as we climbed up and down for nearly 3 miles to a cliff top viewpoint.
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IMG_6547Wildcat Mountain (post) and Mt. Hood

The sunny forecast appeared to be being threatened by some encroaching clouds as we continued on from the viewpoint.
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More varieties of mushrooms followed as we made our way toward Old Baldy.
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The final pitch up Old Baldy was a steep one as the trail launched straight uphill to the site of a former lookout tower.
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A thin layer of fog had moved in over the mountain, but that didn’t matter here because there are no longer any views except for back down through the trees.
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After catching our breath at the summit we headed back the 3.8 miles to the trailhead, stopping again at the viewpoint to note the creeping clouds as they moved east over the Eagle Creek Valley (post).
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We walked past the spur to the trailhead and ignored the unmarked Eagle Creek Cutoff Trail that descended to the left.
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The Old Blady Trail quickly launched uphill briefly entering the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness.
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After a short but extremely steep climb the trail leveled out for a bit. That was both good and bad news because it was only 1.7 miles from the trailhead to the top of Tumala Mountain but we needed to gain nearly 800′ so every step that wasn’t going uphill meant that the ones that did would need to be that much steeper. Just for kicks the trail dropped about 80′ to a saddle before starting abit of a more gradual climb to a junction with the Fanton Trail.
IMG_6617Huge mushroom along the downhill.

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IMG_6624Fanton Trail coming up from the right.

The trail did give back a little as we began finding ripe huckleberries to snack on.
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Approximately 1.3 miles from the trailhead we ignored a semi-signed trail to the left that went to Twin Springs Campground.
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We stayed right climbing briefly along a narrow rocky ridge then beneath a rock outcrop to a rocky road bed where we turned uphill.
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There were a few flowers clinging to the cliffs along the road.
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A short road walk brought us to a tower just below the summit.
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From the summit we had a pretty good view of Mt. Hood although the clouds had begun to get in the way.
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To the south though we had a clear view of the more distant Mt. Jefferson.
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IMG_6671Three Fingered Jack and the Three Sisters even further south.

IMG_6673Looking west into the cloud covered Willamette Valley.

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We joined a chipmunk and took a snack break before exploring the old lookout site.
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IMG_6698Stairs to the former lookout.

IMG_6702Mt. Hood from the former lookout site.

By the time we began our descent Mt. Hood had vanished behind the clouds. Our timing had been pretty good, not only for the views but we made it back to our car without seeing another person or hearing a single gunshot.

The hike was 10.6 miles and approximately 2200′ of cumulative elevation gain. Skipping the viewless summit of Old Baldy would shed 1.8 miles and a couple hundred feet of elevation and only going to one viewpoint instead of both would lower the numbers even further. It was a really nice hike so hopefully the reputation of the area doesn’t scare hikers off. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Old Baldy & Tumala Mountain

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High Cascades Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon Trip report

Wildcat Mountain

Greetings, I’m back again with another trip report from the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. We were making a second attempt at Wildcat Mountain; which we had tried to do in May but had run into fresh snow on the road to the trail head. I’d seen a trip report on portlandhikers.org from 6/09/13 saying that the trail head was open and that in a couple of weeks the flower show should be going strong.

We were aware that there have been issues in this area with illegal shooting & off highway vehicle operation but the forest service and volunteers have been attempting to limit access and discourage the bad behavior. Evidence of this battle was everywhere on the drive to the trail head. Numerous “No Shooting” signs lined the road and almost every spur road was barricaded to block access. Unfortunately litter (mostly beer cans and empty shell casings) was visible in many areas as well. When we reached the new McIntyer Ridge trail head the parking area was covered in more of the same. It was a shame because the surrounding forest was beautiful.

We had a little difficulty finding the correct path due to our not noticing the small temporary trail sign at first. The OHV use was obvious given the width and condition of the trail. We followed this wide path for a mile to an opening which provided the first view of Mt. Hood. Shortly after the opening the tail narrowed leaving the OHV damage behind.

Rhododendrons bloomed in mass along the trail and we spotted several patches of avalanche lilies proving that snow had melted not too long before.

Avalanche lilies
Avalanche lilies

Next the trail entered a meadow of beargrass which was still, for the most part, not in bloom. I hoped that this would not be the case when we reached the next viewpoint in a meadow with a memorial bench.

The bench meadow did not disappoint. A good number of beargrass plumes rose up while paintbrush and penstemon added red and purple to the ground. The view of Mt. Hood was great and a pair of hummingbirds zoomed about visiting the flowers. One of them even landed long enough for me to get a couple of pictures.

Mt. Hood from the bench meadow
Mt. Hood from the bench meadow

Continuing along the path we reached a junction with the Douglas Trail and turned SE along it toward Wildcat Mountain. A short side trail led up to the summit where an old lookout tower once stood. In order to get a decent view we had to follow a very faint trail through rhododendrons toward Mt. Hood. When we reached an opening not only did we have a view of Mt. Hood but Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier now appeared to the NW. After returning to the Douglas trail we continued SE to another viewpoint on a rocky section of the ridge. More wildflowers covered this area and Mt. St. Helens and the top of Mt. Jefferson now joined the views.

Mt. Jefferson from the rock garden
Mt. Jefferson from the rock garden

We continued on the Douglas trail to it’s end at the Plaza trail and turned around. Clouds had begun forming around the mountains changing the views on the way back. We stopped again at the bench (I don’t think you could not stop here) where I took a few more pictures.
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We heard a few gunshots on the way back which sounded like they may have been coming from the Douglas trail head, and learned from a couple of hikers that they had run into a pair of OHVs (illegally) on the trail. We hadn’t heard them, but the presence was easy to see. The trail had been torn up and fresh damage done to several trees and plants along the path.

It’s hard to understand why some people just can’t follow the rules or how they could possibly leave such a mess without regard to anyone or anything else. If you were able to bring it in you can certainly pack it back out. That’s enough of a rant from me 🙂 Despite the depressing state of the trail head and OHV damage it was a great hike with wonderful views. The best thing that could happen to this area is to have more responsible/legal users. Maybe that would discourage the bad seeds and give the area a chance to recover from their damage. Happy (clean) Trails