Sawtooth Rock and Mt. June

July 4, 2011

On the 4th of July, and day 4 of our trip, we headed up to the Mt. June Trailhead to hike the Sawtooth Trail, which promised to take us to both wildflowers and views on yet another gorgeous day.

From the trailhead the first 3/4 mile is through the forest before you reach the junction with the Sawtooth Trail. Going right will take you to Mt. June. Going left will take you to Sawtooth Rock and eventually Hardesty Mountain. We turned left.

The trail followed the ridgeline, which meant lots of up and down. It was a bit disheartening knowing we’d have uphill on the way back, but fortunately it wasn’t too much. The forest has a very healthy understory of rhododendron. We were too early for it, but there was TONS of it.

Just before reaching the big meadow at Sawtooth Rock, we spotted a patch of fairy slippers. There were more than 20 of them, which is about five times the amount I’ve ever seen growing in one place before. No picture; the light was too poor.

And then we reached the meadow. POW! It was bursting with wildflowers. Greg would end up counting more than 40 different kinds. Awesome!

From the meadow we had a nice view over to Mt. June, where we would be heading after lunch:

The meadow was long and we kept stopping to marvel at all the flowers and to take pictures. Although there weren’t any showy balsamroot like there are on Dog Mountain, this was one of the coolest wildflower meadows I had ever seen. We eventually reached the end of the meadow, where the trail headed into the trees to Hardesty Mountain. Sawtooth Rock, for which this trail is named, made a fine place to stop and eat lunch:

After lunch we hiked back across the meadow and retraced our steps to the junction so we could climb up Mt. June.

The trail up to Mt. June is very steep and very not fun. By now it was mid afternoon and very warm. It was a hard trudge up to the top. But oh man, was it ever worth it! The views were pretty freakin’ incredible. We could see snowy peaks from one end of the state to the other: the tippy top of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, the Three Sisters, Broken Top, Mt. Bachelor, Diamond Peak, and the snowy mountain we saw yesterday from moon Point that could be either Mt. Scott or Mt. McLoughlin. This panorama photo doesn’t even do it justice:

See the green meadow on the hill in the foreground? That’s the meadow we just came from:

We could see a little east towards Eugene too.

There used to be a fire lookout tower up here. All that’s left of it is the foundation:

It was such a nice day and such a nice view, it was hard to leave, but we had to go to Corvallis to get Greg’s car and then on to Portland, so we had many miles to go before day’s end. Still, this was a mighty fine end to a beautiful weekend!