Sunday, August 7, 2016

Coffin Mountain

In my last post, I neglected to mention that while in Helena, MT, I got to meet one of my blogging buddies - Sherry from MT Waggin Blog.  She's a photographer too and posts lovely photos from all over Montana.  Sherry and I had a great conversation over coffee one morning, and even discovered we're from the same hometown and graduated from high school one year apart (different high schools, though).  It truly is a small world!

Coffin Mtn from the road

On to my latest hike.....Home from the Montana trip, I was itching to check out a "new to me" trail.  Coffin Mountain, near Santiam Pass had been boasting some terrific wildflower displays, and I was jonesing to visit before they all faded away.

Beargrass sighting!

The only drawback....the trailhead was a long drive from Portland - over 2 hours.  But I wanted to hike this trail bad enough that I rose early one Sunday morning and traveled the distance.  Pulling into the (very small) parking area I was surprised to see another person already there.  Turns out it was Richard, a hiking blogger from Southern Oregon. 

Sunny yellow flowers

It was fun to meet another Oregon blogger, especially someone who also hikes!  Richard and I exchanged hiking info and blogging websites.  He blogs at Richard Hikes and I encourage my readers to check out his humorous hiking tales.

Then, heading out on the trail first, I warned him I'd be slow because I stopped and took lots of photos. 

An entire hillside of yellow

The trail to Coffin Mountain's summit was short.  A mere 1.5 miles to the lookout tower on top, but a hefty 1000 feet of elevation gain. 

Cascade lilies

The flower show started almost immediately.  After leaving an old bulldozer track, the trail plunged into a lovely meadow sporting all varieties of flowers.  Paintbrush, Oregon sunshine, lupine, larkspur, penstemon, columbine, and beargrass.  Forward progress ground to a screeching halt.

Beargrass jackpot

After being passed by Richard (as predicted) and another couple, I decided I'd better get a move on.  The path wound steeply up Coffin Mountain's steep slopes, a rocky volcanic plug beckoning (which I incorrectly thought was the summit).

Scenic trail

After the first big climb, I began switchbacking through a fabulous meadow of tall beargrass stalks.  The views opened up, and I could look back on the road I traveled to the trailhead.  A parade of Cascade peaks rose along the skyline - including Mt Washington and the Three Sisters.

Mountains line the skyline

Mt Jefferson, the closest peak, anchored the northern views.  However, that morning it was partially shrouded in clouds, offering only fleeting teaser views.

Looking back down the trail

Although I'd caught up to both Richard and the hiking couple here in the meadow, the wide range of photo subjects soon slowed me down once again.


But the flowers and views were so fantastic!  How could you not want to photograph it all?

Lotsa lupine!

Not only beargrass, lupine and orange paintbrush also dominated the meadows.

A most wonderful meadow

As I trekked through the flower fields, Mt Jefferson decided to come out of the clouds.

Killer Mt Jefferson view

Oh, beargrass stalks with a Mt. Jefferson backdrop - views don't get any better!

Lookout tower in sight

After taking an extremely long time to travel through the beargrass meadows, I finally followed the trail as it began contouring around the mountain, through a forest.  Breaking out through the trees, I spotted a tall cliff and the fire lookout tower.


What a great place to site a fire lookout!  The tower was perched on top of a steep cliff.  Views spanned 360 degrees - from Detroit Lake to the west, Three Sisters and Mt. Washington to the east.  And front and center, was a killer view of Mt. Jefferson.  The place even had it's own helipad.

Wonderful place for a fire lookout cabin

Sadly, no one was manning the tower.  It was locked up tight.  Even the porch area was closed off.  So I had to settle for sitting on a nearby summit adjacent to the helipad for my lunch break (yeah, it was terrible, ha-ha!)  A handful of people were scattered along the summit enjoying a snack and the scenery.

Huge beargrass poofs

Heading back down the trail, I encountered a flood of people trudging up the switchbacks.  The rest of the world had finally woke up!  There were several large groups and many families complete with kids and dogs.  Boy was I glad I'd arose at the crack of dawn.

Friendly butterfly

I normally love loop hikes, because it's fun to see different scenery on the return trip.  But this trail was so great, I didn't mind traveling the same path twice.  I took more photos of flowers and things I may have missed (or thought I missed) the first time through.  And near the end, this lovely butterfly posed on a flower just for me.

Final Mt Jefferson view

A successful hike!  Tons of wonderful flowers, killer mountain views, and a cool lookout tower.  As I drove the windy gravel road back to civilization, I had to pull over and capture this amazing view of Mt. Jefferson against a dazzling blue sky.  A great way to end this lovely summer's day.

Sharing with:  Through My Lens


  1. Que maravilha estas fotografias desta magnifica montanha.
    Um abraço e boa semana.

  2. Hello, Linda! I always enjoy following your hikes. If I am ever out that way again hubby and I will have a lot of choices after reading your blog. The wildflowers and the view of Mt Jefferson are just beautiful. Gorgeous collection of photos. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

  3. OMG the beargrass! I love the lilies though and you are right, the Mt Jefferson views with the flowers in them are to die for! Was great to meet you and hope we can connect again some time - off to read some of Richard's blog too!

  4. WOW! The views are magnificent as wel as those wonderful wild flowers

  5. Beargrass is really cool - it doesn't grow around here, so I enjoyed these photos immensely.
    I hope you'll come share your pix at this week's photo linky party at image-in-ing:

  6. The meadows and views are just breathtaking.

  7. As they say 'The early bird catches the worm". What a simply amazing hike! Nature at its sunny best and you definitely have to keep stopping to record this beauty for us.

  8. Gorgeous area. You have such beautiful places to explore!

  9. On top of the world in God's country!

  10. That beargrass looks amazing and reminds me of pink candyfloss we used to get at circus shows as a kid. Great photos of the surrounding mountains as well.

  11. Your photos are fantastic, Linda, what a beautiful place!

  12. That's a beautiful hike - so many gorgeous flowers!

  13. A long time ago I climbed Plinche (I'm not sure of the spelling)peak in that area. It is a beautiful area,

  14. Wonderful shots in your post. It was gift for the eyes to see all the pics.

  15. Gorgeous! You really lucked out with the flowers this year!

  16. Beautiful photos! So glad you got to meet Sherry, she is a great photographer just like you! The views are awesome all along your hike! :)

  17. I love fire lookouts (if you didn't know already!) Nice helipad!

  18. Lovely flowers, spectacular views! I don't run into other bloggers very often, as far as I know.

  19. Wow - great pictures. And those kind of 'small world' discoveries are always fun.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  20. Most of our hikes are out-and-back ones, but I also really enjoy loop hikes. Your pictures are incredible, as usual, and I'm so glad you took me along on this one. Truly stunning. :-)

  21. The flowers this year have really been soectacular.

  22. Nice picture of the helipad with an incredibly handsome hiker on it! Looking at your pictures, I got to enjoy the hike all over again. It was a superb day and a superb hike and it was nice to acquire some more hiking friends. Happy Trails!

  23. fabulous images Linda. Love, love image 13

  24. I love that beargrass! I have never seen it on my CO hikes. What views you had from the top! Nice butterfly capture, too.

  25. Gorgeous views! I love the flowers. My family always complains that I'm too slow because I have to take photos of all the flowers.

  26. I'm at the coffeehouse this morning trying to get some "work" done and started with catching up on your blog before I started writing about our adventure. Clicked on the tab for Richard Hikes, I'll give him a look!


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