July 26, 2008
The Echo Basin trail seems to be a little-known and seldom-visited hike near Santiam Pass. It’s not very long but passes through a beautiful wildflower meadow. Greg and I did this after the Cone Peak hike earlier in the day. Here’s his wildflower report.
The hike starts out climbing up an old overgrown logging road that is so steep that it seems hard to believe a logging truck – or any other vehicle, for that matter – could have handled the grade. Thick clumps of alder grow alongside the road/path, growing in weird arcs as seen below. Why they don’t just grow straight up is beyond me. Maybe it has something to do with snow? (We saw several patches of snow alongside the trail on this hot July day. Seemed incredible that any could still be lingering!)
The trail reaches a junction where you can either go right or left to complete the loop. We went right, climbing still more up through the trees. There is old growth here and the forest is very pretty.
The trail then passes through a big field chock full of False Hellebore. There was A LOT of it.
Finally we reached beautiful Echo Basin. What a lovely spot! It was full of wildflowers with several gurgling streams flowing down from above. It was a pretty and peaceful spot. Some of the wildflowers we saw:
Echo Basin does indeed have an echo, although not a very significant one. We had fun testing it out. The view below shows part of the basin. I didn’t have a wide enough lens to capture it all.
Hiking back down on the other side of the loop, I got a shot of Greg in front of one of the huge Alaska Cedars for perspective. This area is unique because Alaska Cedars don’t usually grow this far south.
And back at the junction we made the knee-aching descent back down the old road to the car. The hike is only about 2.5 miles in total, with an elevation gain of about 600 feet. Very much worth it for the cool old growth and beautiful wildflowers.