Friday, July 31, 2015

Salmon River Trail

Where does one hike when it's midday, and temps are predicted to top 90 degrees?  Answer - you find yourself a lush old-growth forest beside a clear, rushing river.

And one of the best places is none other than lovely Salmon River Trail, at the base of Mt. Hood.

Thick, cool, mossy forest

It was the first Sunday of June, and my son was departing for his summer assignment in Montana.  The day was predicted to be a hot one.  Normally I'd rise early and get my hike in while the air was relatively cool.  But my son wasn't planning on leaving until noon.  Being the good mommy I am, I waited around to see him off.


Then, with the AC on high, I drove towards Mt. Hood and the crystal clear Salmon River.  My car's outside thermometer read a sweltering 92 degrees as I pulled into the trailhead.  The hot blast that hit me as I opened the door felt like the inside of an oven.

Salmon River's rocky beach

Ugh!  Not a fan of hot weather, I briefly questioned my sanity for hiking in such heat.  But I'd driven all the way here.  Telling myself to at least give it a try, I shouldered my backpack and headed towards the trail.

Stonecrop flower

Located south of the tiny village of Zigzag, the Salmon River Trail is a popular place on hot summer weekends.  There's a lower trail, that follows the river for 2.5 miles before reaching Green Canyon Campground.  From this campground, the trail continues upriver for another 14 miles.  Hikers can explore as far as their feet can take them, be it 2 mile out-and-back, or long backpacking trip.

Large fallen tree

Although the lower trail is pretty, I much prefer the greener, wilder upper portion, my path of choice for today. 


The trail began by climbing a steep bank, until I was high above the river's rushing waters.  A dense forest of mossy Douglas firs and cedars provided ample shade (for which I was most thankful!)

Lovely green ferns

About a half mile later, the path descended until it was nearly level with the rocky riverbank.  Many groups of people were congregated here, some splashing in the Salmon River's frigid waters, while others sat on shore dangling their feet in the current.  I passed by a large group of teenagers gathered around a half-finshed case of beer.  Their loud shouts rudely interrupted the serene forest environment, and I quickly hustled by.

Hairy moss

Beyond the river's beach, I entered a spectacular old growth forest, complete with huge, mossy trees.  Moss hung from branches like wispy old men's beards.  Enormous fallen trees lay across the forest floor, their massive roots outstretched like a giant's hand.

Columbine close-up

And the wildflowers!  I saw cheery orange Columbine, a lovely patch of purple Larkspur, and some bright yellow Stonecrop unfurling from a rocky ledge.

Mossy nurse log

Some of the fallen logs had laid on the forest floor so long, they now had plants growing on them.  Called "nurse logs" the wood of these trees had decayed enough to form soil that nourished small ferns and moss.  I even spotted one log with a small tree growing out of it's top!

Clear, cool river

The trail passed closely by the river once again, and I stopped and marveled the water's clarity.  I could see clearly all the way to the very bottom.  Fed by snowmelt, this river was as clean and pure as they get.

Pretty in pink

But the sun was hot here on the bank, and I was more than happy to dive back in the forest's cool shade.

Lots of shade here!

At the two mile mark, I passed several backpacking campsites, some complete with fire rings and fancy logs to sit upon.  A popular place for weekend campers, by Sunday afternoon the place was deserted.


I ventured a short distance further until I came upon a sturdy bridge crossing a side creek.  Beyond this point, I knew the old growth forest ended, and the creek turned away from the river's edge.  Since the day was getting late, I decided to make this my turn-around point.

Bridge selfie

Before heading back, however, I had some fun with my camera's timer, trying to capture a selfie crossing the bridge.  It was harder than it looked - the camera kept focusing on my feet, or the bridge.  After several botched shots, the only keeper was this one of my lower half (complete with dirty photographer's knees!)

Wild rose with friends

The hike out was fast and uneventful, save for a garter snake sighting as I passed by the drunk teenagers.  I pointed the reptile out to one wobbly young girl and instead of the expected freak-out, she chased after it, telling me that she liked snakes.

Odd colored fern

I reached the trailhead sweaty, but satisfied.  Although not ideal hiking weather, I'd made the best of things, endured the heat, and was rewarded with views of a beautiful river, forest, and wildflowers.

But now I quite was ready for my car's air conditioning - and a frosty chai frappuccino!

Sharing with:  Scenic Weekends and Friday Greens


  1. Rather you than me in that heat but I'm glad you went. The last fern was producing spores and were you to leave it on a bit of paper you get an attractive print.

  2. You ventured out in midday heat.. gold star! Great captures.. love the lush old growth, and the columbine is gorgeous
    And I love your selfie of your slightly dirt stained knees. Really cool... really!
    Speaking of cool.. hope you're staying cool in this outrageous heat.

  3. The close ups of all the flowers are exquisite and I love the cool streams and trees. Have a lovely weekend.

  4. Sounds like a great place to hike on a hot day. The river and shady forest is gorgeous. I love the pretty wildflowers and all the lovely greenery! It is so lush! Wonderful post! Have a happy weekend!

  5. So nice and cool! I could have taken all those pictures from the forests in the Mt. Baker wilderness area, they look very familiar to me. But not with such talent, I must add. Beautiful! :-)

  6. It sounds like a wonderful place, Linda, and your photos are exceptional! I especially love the river and the foxgloves!

  7. Love the dirty knees! :-)

    Thank goodness for cool(ish) shady forests and cool rivers! I cannot believe how hot it is in the PNW this summer so early. Gorgeous shots!

  8. I always look forward to the treat you allow yourself AFTER the hike! Love all the flower shots and that mossy forest landscape. The ferns are so delicate - we don't really have ferns at high altitude.

  9. What gorgeous spot for a hike. Tom The Backroads Traveller

  10. Your pictures are amazing - all the flowers and the forest. It would be so nice to visit that place. A welcome change to city life :-)

  11. At least the teenagers were drinking their beer in the forest!

  12. Can't beat a cool deep forest in a river gorge for shade. Lovely photos. Only London and the south east get into the 90s here in summer.

  13. The wildflowers are lovely. The woods look cool too! :)

  14. The mossy forest is magical! I love all the flowers as well.

  15. When in doubt, take the wilder path! Not a bad idea I have to say.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  16. Nice series with some pretty flowers

  17. Absolutely magnificent awesome nature.

  18. Beautiful shots and my favorite today is #7..


  19. I always question my sanity when hiking in the heat too. The shady forest looks like the perfect compromise though. Love the flowers, but especially the dirty knee selfie. That's exactly how I picture you: getting dirty for the best shot! :)

  20. Beautiful adventure always awaits you. No scorching sun can stop you from finding them :) That is just perfect isn't it? I love those wonderful pieces of grand nature you've shared with us.

  21. Well, Linda, 92°F at the beginning of June would have been way, WAY too hot for me. I can take it now that it's August, but not in early June. The moss is lovely and I always enjoy your wildflower photos.

  22. Reminds me of someplace out of The Lord of the Rings. Looks beautiful.

  23. What beautiful wild flowers!

  24. Another great hike to share...the flowers are so beautiful. I barely broke a sweat reading on my couch! LOL thanks for letting me tag along!

  25. Amazing clippings of beautiful colored flowers and the trees in forest...

  26. Absolutely gorgeous shots, Linda. Some of the shades of green in the forest are amazing...
    Many thanks for participating in the Friday Greens meme, it's always nice to see some of your images.

  27. Linda, these photographs are so beautiful! I just love your flower close-ups. I'll add this trail to my list of must-do hikes next summer. Thanks for sharing!

  28. So funny you said "photographer's knees" because when I saw the photo my first thought was that you'd been kneeling down somewhere to get some shots. What will we do when our knees won't tolerate that abuse anymore??


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