Monday, July 22, 2019

Weekend Hiking Two-Fer

It was nearly mid-May and I was getting a little panicked.  Due to weekend commitments and general life getting in the way, I was creeping behind on my #52hikechallenge.  Luckily, Mother's Day weekend I had absolutely nothing planned.  Time to get outside and hike!

The lovely Salmon River

Saturday of that weekend, hot temps were predicted.  That meant choosing a cool, shady place to hike - bonus points if it followed a river.  The Salmon River Trail, near Mt Hood, checked all the boxes.

Huge old growth trees

William L. Sullivan's "100 Hikes" book (aka "bible") breaks the route along the Salmon River into two separate hikes.  The Lower Salmon River is a 2.5 mile ramble that mostly hugs the river banks, passing some magnificent stands of old growth forest.  The Central segment continues along the mighty Salmon River before veering up a bluff.  One can hike anywhere from 3.5 to 6 miles or even farther up the canyon.  For today's trek, I decided to start with the Lower trail and continue about two miles up the Central trail, for a respectable 9-mile round trip total.

Fairy Bells

In order to beat the heat (and get a parking spot) I got an early start.  The other advantage of my wee morning hour arrival, hardly anyone was on the trail. 

Lots of trees growing from this nurse log

I wandered along the river, admiring the huge, mossy old growth trees.  Several decaying downed logs on the forest floor had new life sprouting forth from their crumbling wood.  Called "nurse logs" it was fascinating to see the various plant life growing out of them.  Even a high number of very large trees!

A straggler avalanche lily

I'd heard the wildflowers were in top bloom along the Salmon River and discovered the rumors were indeed true.  Trilliums were just fading, but pink-purple Corydalis was going strong.  I also noticed lots of yellow violets, chocolate lilies, a few straggler avalanche lilies.

Loved this mossy forest!

After a wonderful walk through the Lower Salmon trail's magnificent old growth forest, I passed through a car campground and crossed the road to find the Central Salmon River trailhead.

Selfie on the bridge

If I thought the Lower Salmon's forests were impressive, the Central Salmon River trail's woods were even grander.  Green moss covered everything, dangling off branches like old, gnarled hands.  The fir trees were huge - some trunks pushing 8 feet in diameter.

Striped unknown flower

Although this trail climbed high above the water, river views were never far away.  A popular place for backpacking, I passed by several nice campsites.  Surprisingly, there was only one site occupied - strange for a dry Saturday morning in May.

Corydalis was everywhere!

I traveled a little over two miles in.  My turnaround was at sturdy log bridge that spanned a side creek.  After capturing a few selfies by balancing my camera on a nearby log (much to the amusement of a passing group of young people) I grabbed a quick snack and headed back.

One more nurse log (because they're cool!)

Now early afternoon, I began to encounter large numbers of people heading up the trail.  It seemed the rest of Portland had decided a shady hike was a good idea too.  No more solitude for me!


Although there's not a large amount of elevation gain on either trail, by the time I hit the Lower Salmon Trail again, my feet and legs were beginning to tire.  But colorful wildflowers buoyed my spirits, as did the sighting of a merganser couple floating in the river's crystal-clear waters.

Yellow violets

The following day was Mother's Day.  In the past I'd commemorated the occasion by dragging my kids and husband on a hike.  But with both kids now living out-of-town that wasn't going to happen.  If asked, my hubby would've hiked with me, but the salmon were biting and I knew he was itching to be out fishing.  So I decided this year's Mother's Day hike would be a solo endeavor.

Love this sign alteration!

After driving nearly to Mt Hood and back the previous day, I wanted someplace closer to home.  Hardy Ridge, my old standby, rose to the top of the list.  A short distance from Portland on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, I knew I could be up and down it's 8-mile loop and back home in plenty of time for a Mother's Day steak dinner.

Lots of bleeding hearts on Hardy Ridge

Wildflowers were putting on a show here too.  Rose-colored bleeding hearts bloomed profusely in the woods leading up to the ridge.  Fringecup, serviceberry, fairy bells, and Oregon grape added to the colorful underbrush.

Fantastic Gorge views from atop the ridge

On top of Hardy Ridge, I marveled at the stupendous Gorge panoramas from the many overlooks.  I lucked out with clear skies to fully enjoy the views.

Phlox was blooming in full force!

The final ridge is named "Phlox Point."  On today's hike, I finally got to see how this ridge got it's name.  The entire crest was covered with tiny, purple Phlox flowers.  Oh, it was so lovely!

Mt Hood and Columbia River from the ridge

After not seeing a soul my entire climb up Hardy Ridge, I was just settling down with my lunch, when a large group came tromping across the point.  So much for peace and quiet.....

There's a reason they call this "Phlox Point"

However, the people were friendly, and asked if I'd take a their group photo.  After snapping a few images, one lady offered to take my picture.  Although I was planning to set up my small tripod and get a selfie, I took the woman up on her offer.  Turned out, I didn't like any of her shots (of course I didn't say anything).  Luckily after their photo session, the group moved down over the ridge and left me to my solitude.  It was then I set up my tripod and used my camera's timer to snap a few frames.  Much better!  I was really happy how the photo below turned out.

Enjoying the view

Mother's Day dinner (and a beer) were calling, so I packed up my stuff and headed back down to the parking lot.  Making it a loop hike, I took a different trail on the way down, and the flowers weren't nearly as prolific.  Maybe it was a good thing - less distractions for my camera! I got down in record time.  I was able to capture a nice patch of bright yellow Oregon grape flowers, which by the way, are Oregon's state flower (although I happened to be in Washington).

Oregon grape (in Washington!)

A productive weekend - Hikes No. 16 and 17 DONE!  Yeah!


  1. Hmm, I always think there are no places to backpack in May, except for Hells Canyon. But this looks like an option!

  2. Two beautiful walks. I especially like the photos from the mossy forest, I always want to take up painting again when I'm in such places! "Lover Loop" sounds good to me, rather like Bateman Street in Cambridge which is regularly transformed into Bat man Street.

  3. Uma bela caminhada que deu excelentes fotografias.
    Aquelas árvores são imponentes, aproveito para desejar uma boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

  4. Hello, you do find the most beautiful hikes. The wildflowers and views are beautiful. I like your selfies. A great Mother's Day weekend. Enjoy your day, wishing you a great week ahead.

  5. ...I was in the Adirondacks over the weekend and saw similar scenes, but our BIG tree are tiny next to yours! The Fairy Bells are fairy nice. Those Mergansers are a treat to see. Oregon grape can be tricky to grow here and in your neck of the woods it grows like a weed. Thanks for taking me along, where are we going again?

  6. I love nurse logs (and their cousin, the nurse stump). You sure found a lot of fabulous wildflowers this spring!

  7. Isn't it great to have so many beautiful shady trails to hike even when the day is hot?

    I don't believe I've ever had the opportunity to see oregon grape blooming...nice!

  8. Hi! Nice early birds hiking. I have never seen Rose-colored bleeding hearts. They are very beautiful. Have nice days.

  9. Your selfie is brilliant. The nurse log amazing and your hike rewarding in so many ways.

  10. What a stunning walk and great narrative describing it. I was with you every step of the way.

  11. You've certainly got a wide range of forest hikes in that part of the world. Lovely photos.


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