Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hardy Ridge Friday

I love it when John sends a hike invitation that coincides with my Friday off.

The gang's all here!

Wanting to take advantage of this sunny April day, John chose a trail that promised big views - Hardy Ridge, on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge.

Tunnel of green

I'd hiked Hardy Ridge for the first time last June and was pleasantly surprised by the sheer number and variety of wildflowers blooming.  Although cloudy skies foiled the ridgeline views that day, the amazing floral display more than made up for it.  But, thinking it was too early for flowers, today would be an opportunity to catch those views I'd missed.

Bleeding Heart

It was a "hardy" group of six that gathered at the trailhead.  Our fearless leader John led us down an abandoned road for a mile where we then turned down an old trail that he described as "undulating."  (We gave John high grammar points for using such a big word!)


This trail was quite lovely.  The surrounding forest had exploded into a dazzling display of neon-green new leaves.  We felt as if we were hiking in a tunnel of green.  Pale pink Bleeding Heart flowers bloomed in the underbrush.

John gets up close and personal with a flower

Leaving the "undulating" trail, our climb began in earnest.  We switchbacked through a dense forest, it's floor decked out in with white trillium blooms.

UPF (unidentified purple flower)

There were other flowers blooming, equally as pretty, but we had no idea of their names. 

Another UPF

In the end, my friends and I dubbed these lovely blossoms "UPF" - an acronym for "unidentified purple flower."

Our first major viewpoint

After climbing for an eternity (well, it seemed that way!) we were rewarded with our first big view of the Columbia River.

Young capturing some Glacier lilies

A short, steep jaunt got us to the top of Hardy Ridge proper.  And what was waiting for my friends and I?

Glacier Lilies all in a row

More flowers!  This time cheery yellow Glacier Lilies were the main attraction.  I'd never seen these varieties blooming in the Gorge.  And they were everywhere!

Bonneville Dam waaay far down!

Contouring along the ridgeline, the forest opened up and we began to enjoy the first of many fabulous vistas.  The Columbia River shone a bright blue as it wound through the Gorge.  Bonneville Dam looked like a tiny children's toy from way up here.

Following the ridge

Our goal was to make it to the very end of Hardy Ridge.  John assured us we'd have a wonderful lunch spot there.

Amazing lunch spot...

And, boy was he right!  At ridge's end were front-row views of Table Mountain.  Our panorama stretched far down the Columbia River Gorge.  We couldn't have chosen a better day to enjoy it all.  The sky was as clear as a bell.

With a Mt. Hood view!

And looking towards the south, Mt. Hood towered over the horizon.  How perfect was that?


Yes, it was an amazing lunch spot.  My friends and I perched on the slope's edge and took in all these marvelous views.

And more Glacier lilies!

Finishing up my lunch ahead of everyone else, I got a head start on the return trip.  I'd glimpsed a huge patch of Phlox and Glacier Lilies nearby that I really wanted to photograph.  Leaving ahead of the group I could take my time and get some good shots without worrying about being left behind.

Here comes the group

Of course it didn't take long for everyone to catch up!

And there they go!

And then pass me by.

Fabulous Hood view

But it was a great opportunity to get some action shots of my friends.  Mt. Hood provided quite a stunning backdrop.

Back down the ridge

Then it was all downhill.  Descending the ridge we were treated to one last view of the fabulous panorama of wooded hills, nearby mountains, and shining river.

Here come John and Dorene!

Then it was back through the thick forest, along more roads, until the trailhead, and our vehicles, came into view.

Trees springing back to life

Everyone agreed we'd hit the weather jackpot today.  The clear skies made for incredible views.  Although not expecting any wildflowers, I was pleasantly surprised by such a wide variety so early in the season.  Once again, Hardy Ridge Trail had delivered.

Enjoying our reward!

We capped this perfect day with a visit to one of the Gorge's famous brewpubs.  A cold brew is always the best reward.  Cheers everyone - thanks for such a great hike!

Stats:  9 miles, 2500 feet elevation gain.......and one pint of delicious cherry stout.


  1. Hi! Your hiking looks very fun. The wild flowers are very beautiful. I think one of the flowers name is Liverleaf. Thanks for sharing.

  2. A Friday off! Lucky you! Such wonderful flower images, well just beautiful images I must say. Tom The Backroads Traveller

  3. Great post.. Looks like you had a wonderful hike.
    Thanks for sharing it!

  4. looks like a great hike - very nice flowers- I saw my first trillium yesterday on first hike in awhile

  5. Hello Linda, another fabulous hike. The views are stunning, especially the shots of Mt Hood. And I love all the gorgeous wildflowers.. Beautiful images.. Thanks for taking me along.. have a great day!

  6. Great series of pictures. The country out there is gorgreous. Do have to take the hike to enjoy the brews at the end?? :)

  7. What spectacular places you have to hike! Great views. Never seen a Glacier Lily, but they look very similar to our Trout Lilies.

  8. This looks so similar to our Thursday hikes in the spring and summer. I still haven't seen any glacier lilies, but in the past I've seen fields of them. I love your wonderful pictures, and it's just about the same distance and elevation gain we have for my favorite hikes. :-)

  9. What a beautiful hike! Here are your UPF' the best of my knowledge. The first one with four petals is Lunaria annua sometimes called Moonwort, the second with five petals is a Western Wood Anemone we have an Anemone just like it in MN but with a white flower (same foliage). I enjoyed all your flower photos! :)

  10. I need a group of hiking buddies to hang out with me on the weekdays. *sigh* More of the Columbia River Gorge. I really need to make it there this summer. Gorgeous shots, I especially love the two UPFs.

  11. Breathtaking views and captures, Linda!

  12. What a lovely hike! I'd like to see a sunny day soon.

  13. What a wonderful time and what spectacular views!

  14. What a fun group to be out with. Looked like a perfect day.

  15. Glad I could come along through the photos...would love to do this myself sometime. Love your flower shots!

  16. Again you have proven how beautiful the Pacific Northwest is! Keep posting those wildflowers! I LOVE them.

  17. Beautiful wildflowers! I am in awe just how many kinds we have here in our area. What a wonderful hike to go on -- especially on such a sunny day:)
    Blessings, Aimee

  18. Looks like a fabulous early season hike with great blooms and views. I've never seen a glacier lily in the wild. They're beautiful. Enjoy your weekend, Linda.

  19. I think you have just trumped my special day. What a glorious day. I just love your shots of your friends hiking and Mt Hood in the close background. Stunning.

  20. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous!

  21. Looks like a great hike... amazing views and wildflowers!

  22. What a great day for a hike. I love all the flowers and the gorgeous views.

  23. Wow and wow! I love mountain hiking too and taking pictures along the trail. So wonderful to see your moubtsin hike and the pictures+

  24. The "undulating trail" was surely rewarding. Those magnificent views and those wild flowers both identified and not are just few of nature's wonders. How great it is that you can enjoy them.

  25. Beautiful set of images! I love the wildflowers.

  26. What an amazing hike and beautiful views. I was especially loving the photos with the columbia river in the background, and remembering my paddleboat trip down that river last year. What an amazing place you live in!

  27. I,m learning a lot about the walking opportunities in Oregon. Looks a fine state for outdoor activities.

  28. the glacier lilies are so beautiful.


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