Monday, July 31, 2017

Boulder Ridge

After checking Kings Mountain off my list, I set my sights on another challenge.  It had been many, many years since I'd ventured up Huckleberry Mountain via the Boulder Ridge Trail.  It's steep, grueling path was one of the reasons I'd stayed away.  But my successful conquest of Kings Mtn gave me enough confidence for a second try.

Salmon River near the trailhead

Could I find a hiking companion crazy enough to join me?  My buddy Young was game.  She's the perfect partner in crime - tough as nails, and never complains (even when her loony friend suggests climbing a steep trail on a hot summer day)

Fern-filled green wonderland

We had a genuine challenge ahead of us - 11 miles round trip and 3100 feet elevation gain.  With afternoon temps predicted in the high 80s.

Nurse log

The trailhead was located at the Wildwood Recreation area, a lovely park managed by the BLM, right off US Hwy 26.  After using their wonderfully clean restroom, complete with hot water, soap, and flushing toilets, we decided that alone was worth the $5 entrance fee.  (Best trailhead bathroom ever!)


Our early arrival meant we had the park almost to ourselves.  The only other people were a group of women, all armed with expensive photography equipment.  Striking up a conversation, Young and I learned they were from eastern Oregon, touring around Mt Hood taking photos of the scenery.  One lady lamented that they'd arrived too late for the rhododendron bloom.  I mentioned that I'd heard the rhodies were still blooming at higher elevations, but the group didn't seem interested in doing any climbing (I know.....not everyone is as crazy as Young and I!)


After crossing over the Salmon River on an impressive wooden footbridge, we bid the photo ladies goodbye.  Winding through a lovely, green, fern-filled forest for half a mile, Young and I located the Boulder Ridge trailhead sign.  Things were about to get real!

Rhodie sighting!

The climb started immediately.  Steeply switchbacking up the the side of Boulder Ridge, Young and I slowly sweated and gasped our way higher. 

Wild iris

At first we didn't see many flowers.  Only thick woods of Douglas fir lined our trail.  Then I glimpsed a few orange honeysuckle blooms and some salal.  Then a scattering of lovely wild iris flowers.  They were lovely, but I really hoped we hadn't missed the rhodies.

Young admires the green forest

After about a mile of climbing, Young noticed a scattering of pink petals on the ground.  Looking up, we saw a few bedraggled rhododendron blooms still clinging to the bushes.  At least we hadn't totally missed out!

The forest changes as we climb higher

Lucky for us, things just kept getting better.  The higher we climbed, the more frilly pink rhodie flowers we saw in bloom.  Young and I wished there was a way to tell those photography ladies what they were missing.

More rhodie bushes

Our path led through dense woods, with no views whatsoever.  But about 2 1/2 miles up, the forest cleared to provide a rare viewpoint.  Although the adjacent green foothills and ridges were visible, morning clouds kept Mt Hood hidden from sight.

Detour around a slide area

Time to move on!  We had many more miles to cover and elevation to climb.  As Young and I ascended, the forest changed.  We wandered through one thickly wooded area with virtually no plants growing on the forest floor.

Unusual colored leaves

A landslide caused by a fallen tree forced us to detour around the unstable slope.  But that was the only obstacle encountered the entire day.

Finally a viewpoint

About halfway, a second viewpoint atop a rocky ridge made for a good break spot.  Not only were there great views of the adjacent forested hills, the trailside was also full of lovely wildflowers.


Purple penstemon carpeted one area.

Nice rhodie bush

While an adjacent bush sported some huge pink rhodie blooms (if only the camera ladies could see us now!)

Photo op

Good excuse for some photo ops!

The forest floor was bright green

Then our trail dived back into another thick, mysterious forest, carpeted with bright green leafy vegetation.

Trail junction

My guidebook said when we reached a junction with the Plaza Trail, there was only one mile to go.  I was never so happy to see this weathered sign - slowly being consumed by an old, mossy tree.

Enjoying our reward atop Huckleberry Mountain

After struggling up one last steep, rocky slope, Young and finally emerged on top of a bare ridge.  We'd made it!  Time for lunch and some relaxation.

Avalanche lilies on top

Although Young made herself comfortable and was content taking in the tremendous views, I spotted a huge patch of avalanche lilies, and couldn't resist a few photos.

Our gourmet lunch - all that was missing was wine!

Then I settled down beside my friend to enjoy lunch.  Between the two of us, we had quite a spread!  Young brought a thermos of hot tea and gourmet trail mix.  I contributed fresh raspberries, salami, cheese and crackers, and for dessert a few of my favorite Trader Joe's gingerbread men.  We joked all that was missing was a bottle of wine.  Next hike!

Mt Hood is trying to show herself

The panorama of peaks and valleys one could see from Huckleberry Mountain was impressive.  A fitting reward for such a strenuous climb.

Green ridges

Although clouds still hid Mt Hood from view, the bank started to lift during our lunch break.  By the time Young and I were ready to leave, we began to make out the mountain's base slowly emerging.

Path through the green

Although it would've been nice to stick around and watch the mountain show herself, we had nearly 6 miles and lots of elevation to descend.  Not wanting to get home too late, it was time to head back (besides, a cold beer was calling our names!)

Finally we see Mt Hood!

Although climbing is much harder work, descending is tough on my knees and feet.  After a couple of miles of brutal downhill, my calves and toes were starting to complain.  But another stop at the morning's first viewpoint momentarily made me forget my achy body.  After being skunked on the way up, our return trip rewarded us with the view we were after - Mt Hood finally making an appearance.

One last rhodie (just because)

Then it was an endless trek downhill, through the last of the rhodie bushes.  Although Young and I had seen only a handful of hikers all day, suddenly the woods were full of people.  Who starts out on a hike at 3:30 in the afternoon?

Beautifully carved benches

The trailhead and it's lovely bathroom were a sight for sore eyes.  Not only a good place to clean up after a long sweaty hike, there was even a drinking fountain with ice cold water (so appreciated since our bottles left in the car were as warm as bathwater).  And tired hikers could rest their aching bodies on some beautifully carved benches.

I survived my second steep hike in as many weeks.  Beautiful forests, amazing views and rhodies galore, the Boulder Ridge Trail delivered.  Now.....time for that beer!


  1. I do envy the views and sightings of all the wild flowers you come across. Gorgeous photos as always.

  2. Wonderful captures, so lush and green.. and the views from above are incredible!
    Great post!

  3. ...the hiking may have been rough, but the flower garden was beautiful.

  4. Hello, WOW! Another beautiful hike. I love the forest and all the gorgeous wildflowers. The rhodies are lovely. Great views of the mountains and Mt Hood. 11 miles round trip, I am glad I tagged along virtually. Your photos are beautiful. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day!

  5. Wonderful - I have just come back from Switzerland, which I suspect you would enjoy!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  6. You had some amazing views from up there so well worth the effort of climbing

  7. That's steep! How fun you caught the last of the rhodie bloom.

  8. Your theme on this hike was wild flowers. You found many examples. In my later years of back packing, I found I had to train...walk hills for example.

  9. Oof, way to show your had me at 3100 feet elevation gain!

  10. What a beautiful hike - well worth the effort from my computer chair :)

  11. Linda, the views and details are spectacular! I could spend hours at this place! Beautiful photos, dear friend.

  12. Well that lunch break looks good, as does the linch! More power to you for that 3100 foot accomplishment!

  13. Oh man what a good hike for this time of year. Good for you!

  14. A very stunning place. So much beautiful greenery.

  15. I'm envious of your trail lunch. Also, I see so many people starting out hiking late in the afternoon. I don't really get it.

  16. Beautiful scenery! That slide looks alarming though.

  17. It sounds wonderful! The pictures show that it was a very fine day with flowers galore! Thanks for sharing this with me. :-)

  18. Hard work but it was definitely rewarded!

  19. What a hike you had, Linda! So glad you were rewarded with wildflowers (love those wild iris!), and finally got your mountain views.

  20. So much blooming still, way up there! Looks like a rewarding hike. Love the views!

  21. Tough walk but good flower and mountain shots as a reward.

  22. That was quite the hike but well worth it for all those views and the pretty wild flowers including the Rhodie's. Yep those ladies missed out.

  23. Uma montanha fantásticas com paisagens espectaculares e uma bela flora.
    Um abraço e bom Domingo.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa

  24. So lush and green, and then the colorful rhododendrons and beautiful views! The best reward for a hike!

  25. Linda that is nothing like the lush greens of the Pacific northwest!

  26. Wonderful hike. Your local mountains are so incredibly verdant and colourful. Finishing with a Beer is definitely the way to do it


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