Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lookout Mountain - Viewing Mt. Hood

Lookout Mountain

Here is a hike with truly unique views. This is the second tallest mountain in the Mt Hood Wilderness area (the first being, Mt Hood) and it lies to the south east of Hood giving spectacular views of the east side of the mountain, along with views of Adams, Jefferson, Sisters, and the dry-lands of East Oregon.

View Larger Map

The trailhead for this place takes a while to get to (2 hours from Portland) and it is harder to find than other hikes. I recommend you have a map of the Mt. Hood Wilderness area. With that, the Google Maps directions will make more sense and you should be OK. It is paved road all the way to the trailhead at Fret Creek.

This trail is a bit steep. Perhaps comparable to Saddle Mountain. 3.5 miles one way with about 2000 feet of altitude gain. Of course, we start at 4K feet. So perhaps the air is thinner? Or was that just me because I was up late last night watching “Lie to Me” episodes on

The trail starts steep right off the road. I hate that. I want a mile to warmup. Shut up and hike. A very nice pine forest, with lots of lupine and other flowers. Seems like everything up here was running way late in the season, I think the snow is just recently gone up here and we are seeing spring flowers. So strange. A couple of little creeks (one is Fret. The other is probably Badger or Fifteen Mile) run through this area and the trail crosses them several times. At one rest stop our guide (Russ) pointed out the moss on the Trees. He had been told by a Lichen expert that the moss level showed where the snow usually was in the winter.


See the Moss/Snow line?

And that is as high as the moss eating cave bears can reach

A little more climbing and we get a respite at Oval Lake. Oval lake is a quaint little spot. A lake the size of a football field (only oval), only a couple of feet deep at least on this side, but with a tall rock pinnacle looming over the far side. We stayed for a couple of photos and then continued on back up the trail.


5 minutes and we get to another trail crossing, a right turn and we start a run along the mountain getting ready for our climb up to the ridge.

A push to the ridge, and right away there is a little side path that takes us out to our first view.

Bryan Sighting


I am getting good at these shots


a little Paint

Now we start a more dedicated climb. We trade the pin needle trail for dust and rock. Harder footing, but some tantalizing views of looming rock formations, dead trees, and small flowers. We reach the next section of the ridge. Somebody was having fun with rocks.



Just Hiking the Ridge

Here we ran into some snow patches, still hanging on here at the tail end of July. And there, perhaps right at the edge of last weeks melt, is that my old friend the Glacier Lilly? I thought they only bloomed in early spring, right after the first melt. Perhaps that is what time it is up here at 6,000 feet.



Continue along the ridge and we exit a stand of trees and there we see our destination. Yeah, that looks like a lookout to me.



A few more minutes and we are on the summit. Wow. What a view. Just like I promissed. There is Mt. Adams. Mt. Jefferson. But where is Hood? (joke). We even have a little glimpse of Rainier and The Sisters. St. Helens must be hidden behind Hood.

I also didn't expect that large spread of brown and …... desert? Spreading out to the east. Russ points out that if we look to where the hills rise out of the gorge in the north east, we can see clusters of many many giant windmills. The power source of the future.

Oh, there is Mount Hood.
Rainier on the left in the clouds. Adams on the Right

Oh, isn't that big


Is that Desert?

What a wonderful singular place to be. Where else are you going to get these particular views? You can see where there had been a lookout tower built here at one time. Makes sense. Explains the name too.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ramona Falls

Ramona Falls

Here is something a little different from my usual hikes up the Gorge. Ramona Falls is on the west face of Mt. Hood, underneath the Sandy Glacier. It is a bit of a drive to get their, but if the day is clear the scenery can be nice.
This trip turned out to be cool and cloudy (in the middle of July?) with not a sign of Mt. Hood anywhere to be seen. And when we made the turn off near Zig Zag and drove along the Sandy River for a ways I could see that the river was running much higher than usual for this time of year.
This is a popular hike and there can be 50 or 60 cars in the parking lot when you get to the trailhead. But it is a big lot and you will probably find a place. Don't forget to get your NW Forest Pass before you get there, they do check them and you can't get them anywhere near to the Trail Head.
The first part of the hike is nice and flat and winds its way up a very sparse forest (I suspect lava flow just under the service) and along next to the Sandy River. This part of the trail is just about getting to where the Sandy river crossing happens to be this year. They take the little bridge out every fall before the snow and floods and then put it back in again the next year. But it can move around a bit with the river channel.

After you cross the river, you hit a little rise and find yourself in the center of the Sandy River flood zone. If they day is clear, this is where you get really fantastic views of Mt. Hood. Take your pictures here. There is a lot more scenery to come, but this is the best view of Hood. (well, we will pass this same spot on the return loop, I guess you can wait till then).

What it looks like on a clear Day.

Now on the North side of the river, we hike up to the start of the 5 mile loop. I usually like to do the loop counter clockwise. This has you doing the shorter, steeper, section uphill. Gets it out of the way and lets you enjoy the slightly longer, but very green and pleasant downhill section. Of course, you could do the long nice section both ways.... if you were that kind of a person.


This section goes by the Sandy River and has many parts that are steep too on the right side sloping down 50 or 100 feet to the Sandy. Nothing scary, but it is still a ways down there. You will also be passing through a number of fir forests and a lot of Rhododendron.
We also saw some Scrophages. (?)

After a while you get to the junction of the PCT (Pacific Coast Trail). Hmm, a sign says that this part may not be hikable. But we are turning left and that is wide open. Just another half mile to hike from the Sandy river over to the Rawanda Creek valley. And there is the falls.
You can hear them before you get there.
Such a nice little micro climate. The tree's give shade and the falls put enough coldness into the air that it is always pleasant even on a hot summer day. Today it was dang chilly.


Looks like something you would see at a hotel in Vegas.

Chip love his Hiking Hammock

this guy is everywhere

Stop Slouching. Suck in the Gut. Who IS THIS GUY???

The rest of the hike is a pretty little creek valley. Lots of little falls and rapids. And then you get to follow this huge cliff way. Looks like a great place to rock climb, but since there is never anyone doing that, I am probably just WRONG.


The View from the Bridge


This creek is so lovely

You make a left turn just before the Muddy Branch of the Sandy and cut back across to where the loop started. Then down on across the river and back to the car. What a nice little hike.

On the way back, Hood peaked through for a moment.

There is Mt Hood. Chip is so Tall.

Don't forget to stop in the Town of Sandy for some dinner. Calamity Jane's is nice, especially if you like hamburgers the size of your head.