Tumala Mountain (aka Squaw Mountain)

I unexpectedly found myself flying solo this weekend when Greg decided to stay home and rest (still sore after hitting a pothole while riding his bike in Portland a few weeks ago). So I opted for something short with views and headed out to do Tumala Mountain, which used to be known as Squaw Mountain.

Thanks to directions in Sullivan’s book (this is one of his back-of-the-book hikes) I had no trouble finding the trailhead, which is totally unsigned. Mine was the only car there when I set out at 11am.

I quickly reached the junction, which is supposed to be a four-way junction according to the map. But this was just a three-way junction with the trail forking in two directions instead of three.

The left fork had a relatively new sign that said Eagle Creek Cutoff Tr. No. 504 and the right fork had a sign that said Old Baldy Tr. No. 502.

But where was the continuation of the Old Baldy Trail that led north to Old Baldy? I found it on the way back and it’s VERY easy to miss. It is not at the junction with the other two trails. At the trailhead you immediately turn left on this trail instead of going straight. The trail closely parallels the road for a bit. I didn’t see a sign.

Also there is a Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness sign at the junction that is VERY high. What the heck? Did they come nail that up when there was still a bunch of snow on the ground?

So anyway, the trail to Tumala Mountain launched straight up the hill very steeply but fortunately leveled off in a bit.

The trail took a steep dive and soon I reached the junction with the Fanton Trail, which was completely unsigned. This is looking back from the way I just came (the trail on the right) and the Fanton Trail is heading downhill on the left.

The Old Baldy Trail that I was on did have a very old mossy sign which was very easy to miss because it faced the trail instead of the junction.

This used to be…..something. No idea.

There were mushrooms EVERYWHERE. I wonder if last week’s rain had anything to do with it or if they would have been busting up all over the place anyway? In any case they were pretty cool. The larger orange ones were especially prolific.

I reached the junction where the spur trail headed to the summit. Another very old sign.

The trail dumps you out on the old lookout access road and then it’s just a short jaunt up to the summit. On the map this road is gated at the bottom but I know that people have driven up here so the map must be wrong.

The road would also be used for maintenance access for whatever this thing is. Some kind of radio tower, I assume.

Good thing I got to the summit when I did. Some clouds were in the process of slowly covering up Mt. Hood. If I had started a few hours later I wouldn’t have been able to see much of it.

A series of fire lookouts once stood here. Here is the one that was built in 1916.

All that remains now are the concrete steps, which are perfectly situated for sitting on to admire the view of Mt. Hood.

To the south I could see Mt. Jefferson.

Looking southeast out over the forest. Not sure, but I think that bump left of center might be Wolf Peak.

Looking west:

Wildcat Mountain to the north:

Not sure if this is Githens Mountain or Old Baldy:

Old foundation from a garage or shed from the lookout days:

I hung out on the summit for more than an hour, enjoying the views and reading my book. I had the place to myself the whole time. What a very lovely spot! I can’t believe I had never heard of this hike until this summer! The only downside was the annoying and persistent target shooting that I could hear south of me. It started about half an hour after I got to the summit so fortunately I didn’t have to put up with it the whole time. But that kind of noise sure has a way of ruining the ambience.

Heading back through the sun-dappled forest:

I ran into a guy at the trailhead who had just come back from Old Baldy. He said the summit of that particular peak is totally forested with no views at all. Also he accidentally encountered a yellow jacket nest and got stung five or six times. Ouch!