Storm-Watching on McIntyre Ridge

The McIntyre Ridge Trail has a “musical chairs” history when it comes to access. The original trailhead at the end of Road 110 (on BLM land) was closed, and an unofficial trailhead was established at the end of Road 108. Once Trailkeepers of Oregon helped build the new Douglas Trailhead the Forest Service claimed to close off access to Road 108.

Greg and I visited on June 29 and it didn’t look like access had ever been closed to Road 108. The road itself is a bit of a mess with enormous potholes. But it is open, so this is just a quick report to let you know you can still access McIntyre Ridge this way (here’s the hike description).

The boulders at the end of the road are no deterrent for the OHV crowd. They just drive around:

The first mile is not so much a trail as a road, due to the OHV use (even though this is inside the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness):

At the first viewpoint Mt. Hood was only partially visible:

It was not a banner beargrass year here:

But the rhododendrons were in bloom and looking nice:

And the wildflowers near the bench looked great:

McIntyre Ridge Hike

We even saw a hummingbird:

McIntyre Ridge Hike

You can still sit on the bench, but it has really reclined over the years:

McIntyre Ridge Hike

We watched (and listened to) a crazy thunderstorm moving from south to north, engulfing Mt. Hood (and dumping a bunch of hail, from what we heard):

McIntyre Ridge Hike

On the way back we spotted this shot-up handle on a tree branch. Maybe it was once part of a growler? We removed it and packed it out.

The last view of the mountain before heading back into the trees for good was a stormy one:

McIntyre Ridge Hike

Greg was about ten minutes behind me and when he got to that spot there was a cool rainbow!

McIntyre Ridge Hike

We stopped at the Douglas Trailhead on the drive out. Ever wondered what one of those new plastic-like trailhead signs looks like after being used for target practice? Wonder no more:

Bald Butte

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Greg and I hiked up Bald Butte today, which is south of Hood River. We started at the Oak Ridge Trailhead. One of several nice things about this hike is that you get views right away:

Bald Butte Hike

About a mile into the hike the trail zig-zags up a slope that is dotted with wildflowers this time of year. And of course there are more views:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Back in the woods, we saw some nice fairy slipper wildflowers:

Bald Butte Hike

And some trillium

Bald Butte Hike

We got our first peek at our destination:

Bald Butte Hike

We reached the junction with the Surveyor’s Ridge Trail and turned left:

Bald Butte Hike

Flowering currant:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

We crossed under the power lines and started the final steep push:

Bald Butte Hike

Mt. Hood:

Bald Butte Hike

The views and the wildflowers continued as we hiked up:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

OHVs are not allowed up here, but there is nothing to stop them. We saw signs of their presence:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

The views from the summit are pretty great. Mt. St. Helens to the north:

Bald Butte Hike

Mt. Hood:

Bald Butte Hike

Lookout Mountain to the south:

Bald Butte Hike

The tip of Mt. Jefferson off in the distance:

Bald Butte Hike

Dirt bikes are not allowed up here, but two of them came up from the other direction and stopped for a break:

Bald Butte Hike

After enjoying the view for awhile we headed back down:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

On our way down the Oak Ridge Trail some hikers came uphill and said that a hiker had injured themselves on the trail and the rescue crew was bringing them out this way. So we moved off to the side of the trail and sure enough a few minutes later a crew of guys were wheeling a stretcher up the trail on one of those big two-wheeled contraptions. The guy had injured his leg somehow, but was going to be ok.

It was a very warm day so we were pretty hot by the time we got back to the car. Our bodies are not yet adjusted to warm weather!

Fall Larch Hike in the Badger Creek Wilderness

Sunday, October 21, 2018

In the fall larch trees turn a brilliant golden color and it’s quite a sight. Unfortunately larches aren’t common in the Oregon Cascades. There are some, however, on the east side of the Mt. Hood National Forest in and around the Badger Creek Wilderness. So on this gorgeous fall day Greg and I drove over there do a hike along the Fret Creek Trail and Divide Trail with Flag Point as our destination. It was a spectacular drive with beautiful fall color along the road including the larches we had come to see:

Larches

We parked on road 2730 near the Fifteenmile Campground and started up the Fret Creek Trail:

Fret Creek Trail

Many of the huckleberries had already dropped their leaves, but not all:

Fall color
After a steep 2.1 mile climb we hit the Divide Trail and turned left heading east. We got a view of Lookout Mountain to the west (if we had turned right on the Divide Trail we would eventually end up there):

Lookout Mountain

Soon we got our first view of Flag Point and its 41′ lookout tower:

Flag Point

We continued on the Divide Trail:

Meadow

The larches against the blue sky looked beautiful:

Larches

Larches

The trail began descending:

Larches

After 3.7 miles the trail reached Road 200, the access road for the lookout, and turned right. Yes, you can drive this road, which we have done before, but it’s very rough. Much nicer to hike. We reached the gate that keeps people from driving all the way to the lookout and hiked past:

Flag Point gate

More beautiful larches:

Larches

Sunlit larches

At 12:45, after 4.4 miles, we reached the lookout:

Flag Point Lookout

Flag Point Lookout

The lookout was unstaffed which meant that the hatch to access the catwalk was locked. But we were able to sit on the stairs below the catwalk and enjoy the spectacular view of Mt. Hood with the golden larches peppered throughout the forest below us:

Mt. Hood View

Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood

We could also see Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, although haze prevented a clear view of them:

View from Flag Point

And we could see east to the dry side of the mountains:

View from Flag Point

View from Flag Point

We had the place almost entirely to ourselves. A man and woman hiked up from some point down the road where they had parked. Some cyclists also stopped by and said that friends had come here yesterday and reported that the lookout was staffed and the guy fed them pancakes! It must have been his last day.

The temperature was perfect with just the right amount of warmth. The view was amazing. After spending nearly two hours sitting there soaking it all up we finally tore ourselves away at 2:30 and started heading back. After climbing up the Divide Trail regaining the elevation we had lost, we stopped and turned around for a last view of the lookout:

Flag Point

Our total for the day: 8.8 miles, 1700′ elevation gain. This is definitely now one of my all-time favorite autumn hikes. Even though there is some road-hiking involved and even though there is elevation to gain in both directions, the larches in their fall splendor is a sight to behold. Getting views from the lookout on a clear day is icing on the cake. Gorgeous!

FlagPointTrack