Sunday, July 10, 2016

Hot Time on Devils Peak

What does an avid hiker do when weekend temps are predicted to edge near 100 degrees?  Does she bag her weekend hiking plans and stay home huddled next to the fan?

Of course not!

This way to the lookout!

Nope - if you're me, you simply find a shady trail high on Mt. Hood.  And bonus points if you can convince two friends to join you.

Rhodies abloom

That's why me, and my buddies John and Young rose early one hot June morning for a quick trudge up to the Devils Peak Lookout via the Cool Creek Trail.  Although a hefty climb of 3200 feet in 4.5 miles, the trail wound through thick woods.  I hoped this shady forest would be enough to ward off the sun's blazing rays.


It had been a few years since I'd visited this trail.  But the memories of slogging up a steep incline came roaring back from step one.  This hike is no joke.  The relentless climbing started right from the trailhead.

Pretty in pink

My friends and I slogged through the thick forest, puffing and sweating.  In the first quarter mile, both Young and I had already shed our long sleeve shirts.  Then, Young zipped off her pant legs.  Barely eight o'clock in the morning and things were already heating up.

Thick forest means lots of shade

From previous trips, I knew rhododenrons bloomed thick and furious in these woods.  I kept hoping we'd find a bit of pink beauty for our cameras.

Roots from a huge fir tree

And - boy did we!  After climbing the first mile with nothing much to see, the rhodie show began in a big way.

Trailside beauty

The forest was full of tall rhodie bushes - all sporting huge pink blossoms.

Lots to photograph

Poor John - all forward progress ground to a screeching halt, as Young and I grabbed for our cameras.  He joked that Young and I were so alike in our photography interests that we must've been secret sisters separated at birth. 

Two-tone flowers

Oh yeah - the rhodie show was as grand as I remembered.  The colorful blooms brightened up the dense, green forest.  It made our steep uphill slog so much nicer.

A few blowdowns to scramble under

As we trekked towards the top, my friends and I encountered a few blowdown trees across the trail.  Always a challenge to traverse, we climbed over some, hiked around others, and once and a great while, had to do the limbo and crawl under.


As we neared the top, a few other wildflowers added color to the forest.  These bright purple phlox were a welcome surprise.

Devils Peak Lookout

Boy, the climbing seemed to go on forever!  Young and I, hot and sweaty, slowly inched upward.  I kept thinking the summit couldn't be much further....but then we'd see the trail leading up another steep grade.  The last mile was truly the longest I'd hiked in a long time.

Finding a shady lunch spot

But happily we finally leveled out onto an old road.  A short side trail led to the summit and it's famous fire lookout tower.  I was never so happy to see it!

Can you spot Mt. Jefferson?

But first things first.  Before any tower exploration, my friends and I needed some rest and refueling.  Time for lunch!  John found a nice shady spot on a nearby ridge.  We relaxed and took in marvelous views of the adjacent hills and mountains.   

Front row Mt. Hood view

Mt. Hood put on the best show of all.  Our lunch spot provided a fine in-your-face view of my favorite mountain.

Back to the lookout

After a nice break, Young and I climbed back up the rocky ridge to check out Devils Peak Lookout Tower.

Survey benchmark

The tower has been decommissioned for some time.  Now maintained by volunteers it's open for overnight stays, first come first serve.

Young explores the tower

Young and I peeked inside.  The tower is fully furnished with a bed, stove, and bookshelf.  Over the  years, people have left various items for other visitors.  We spotted a lantern, lots of propane canisters, bottles of drinking water, a good selection of books, maps, and even two sleeping bags!  Best of all there's a killer view of Mt. Hood from the tower's front door.

I even got John in a photo!

From the front porch, I shot copious photos of surrounding scenery.  Then Young posed at the railing, so I snuck John into the frame too (he hates being in photos, tee-hee).

Soaking in the view

After spending a quality hour high on Devils Peak, the promise of a cold beer lured us back down.  It was noon, and temps were soaring, so we welcomed the downhill trip through a cool forested trail.  Despite the shade, it was still a hot trek.  We encountered at least a dozen hikers struggling uphill in the heat.  My friends and I were very thankful for the early start and doubly glad we weren't climbing right now.

Classic mountain and rhodie pic

A frosty beer tastes even better after climbing a mountain in blazing hot temperatures.  My friends and I agreed we'd definitely earned it today!

Despite the heat, it was good to be outside enjoying the amazing Pacific NW.

Sharing with:  Through My Lens


  1. What an Awesome walk to go on, the flora alone is worth the effort and the view from the top makes it all worth while. Love the benchmark, I go round our country looking for them

  2. Oh Linda, that was a grueling hike but well worth it for the views and the beautiful flowers you saw on the way. I am sure you fell into a warm bath when you got home to ease your limbs.

  3. Linda, I love your view from the top of the world.

  4. Hello, the rhodos are gorgeous. Sounds like a exhausting hike with the climb and heat. I am so glad you did this hike and are sharing the photos. Lovely views of the mountain peaks. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

  5. Thank goodness for shade and early starts. You guys are troopers for sure! Love all the shots and what lovely clear view of the The Hood!

  6. That's some serious altitude gain. But Rhodies! And endless views! And a good workout! ;-)

  7. Linda, what a gorgeous place, and such remarkable views! Those pink flowers are stunning! Thanks so much for sharing your walk!

  8. I applaud that you could hike in very hot weather, Linda, as i would have been the one hunkered down by a fan. We hit 100 degrees yesterday on the front range in Colorado and the smoke from some fires made the air quality horrible. I really am a cool/cold weather person. Your views from Devil's Peak made your climb well worth it! Mt Hood looked magnificent!

  9. The rhodies rewarded you magnificently. Congratulations on persevering in that heat!

  10. Oh, I'd love to stay overnight in that lookout tower. Awesome!

  11. Hikes like that are why I have so few friends, lol.

  12. What a gorgeous hike. And the trail name is perfect for a hot day!

  13. Well, the shady walk, the Rhodies, the spectacular view and the cold beer all sound great, but 3200 feet uphill is a bit much for me!

  14. Gorgeous place! Looks like lots of matter the hot weather.

  15. Que maravilha de fotografias minha amiga de mais uma bela caminhada pela montanha.
    Um abraço e boa semana.

  16. All beautiful, but my favorite is that first big view of Mt. Hood.

  17. Well done in that heat. I usually switch to cycling in really hot weather nowadays as we have increasing levels of sheep ticks here which means covering up arms and legs when you most want to strip off to prevent getting infected. Cycling creates its own breeze and I can do that in T -shirt and shorts. Great photos. 3000 plus feet is our normal hill day for Munros with a sea level start... which is why I'm glad I don't climb them anymore :o)

  18. Hi! Mt hood is always beautiful. Ultimately you and your friends like hiking very very much!Isn't it? The pink blossoms look like a kind of rhodondron for me. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Wow, what a view! And really magical wilds you hiked through to get there. I would not make a 4500 ft elevation change, and especially on a 100 degree day!

  20. Looks like you picked a good hike- and got some very pretty pictures

  21. What a beautiful hike! I loved seeing the huge Rhododendrons! :)

  22. Amazing view from way up there. And those Rhododendrons are just stunning. I have never seen them growing in the wild before.

  23. Some beautiful shots!!! Mt. Hood is a beautiful mountain!

  24. You must have had a good experience walking inside a thick forest. Flowers looks beautiful. Devils peak looks good. It has a good view from that point.

  25. Love love LOVE that last shot. The lookout is similar to one on top of Winchester Mountain here. The trip up is much less strenuous, though. That is a lot of elevation in a short distance. Whew! :-)

  26. Wow, you must have been pretty high up, rhododendron season here on the coast was almost three months ago.

  27. "stay home huddled next to the fan?"

    Of course, not. You stay home naked in between air conditioners and count down the days until the first freeze.

    Me and chocolate, we both melt above 70.

    Nice hike, though.

  28. Cool Creek sounds OK, but Devil's Peak - definitely hot! However, you rewarded with great blooms and gorgeous vistas. How do your feet hold up to the heat and miles since your surgery, Linda? I've been pondering about getting mine fixed - but keep chickening out. I'm afraid it will halt my hiking days forever!

  29. Great images of the forests, those Pacific NW mountains like Mount Hood look magnificent

  30. This lookout is the same style as the one that will be my "home" for four days in September, Suntop, with an equally stunning view of sister mountain, Mt. Rainier. Seeing a lookout up close is always worth the hike!

  31. great place to hike even if its 100 degrees

  32. Gorgeous views! I've spent way too many weekends on the couch reading lately. :-)


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