Monday, August 19, 2019

In Search of the White Iris

With so many fantastic hiking trails within a 2-hour drive of Portland, people may wonder how I choose my weekend destinations.  Throughout the week, I monitor several hiking websites and Facebook pages.  When these sites point out flowers that are blooming or other unique happenings, that's where I go.

Such was the case on the final weekend of May.  Memorial Day weekend meant three days of hiking.  After getting skunked on Dog Mountain (heavy clouds, rain and wind drove me from the summit) on Friday, and scaling Nick Eaton Ridge on the other side of the Gorge Saturday, I was ready for a short, mellow trek on Sunday.

Glowing green forest

Someone on the Oregon wildflowers Facebook page posted photos of white irises, growing wild along the Clackamas River.  Having come across lots of purple irises over the years, I'd never before encountered one that was white.  Totally intrigued, I had to check it out.  So I recruited my friends Debbie and Barry to join me for a Sunday romp along the Riverside Trail.

First iris found - within five minutes!

Although skies threatened rain that morning, by the time my friends and I located our trailhead parking area, things had dried out.  Donning boots and backpacks, we tromped around looking for the actual trail beginning.  Finding it on the far side of the lot, we quickly descended into a fairy-tale, glowing green forest.

Gigantic old-growth tree

A short quarter mile brought us to the trail sign proper.  As I was snapping some pics of  Debbie and Barry posing by the sign, I spotted a few white shapes in the green vegetation below.  Irises!  Well, that didn't take long.

Trying to keep up with my friends

Debbie joked now that I'd located my coveted flower, it was time to go home.  But a stunning, mossy old growth forest awaited, full of huge trees, ferns and more wildflowers.  There was no way we were turning around!

More tall trees

Down through the forest our hiking party traveled.  We passed a grove of gigantic fir and cedar trees. 

Lovely moss covered everything

We then wound through an extremely mossy forest, covered head to toe (or treetop to forest floor) with bright green, fuzzy moss and wispy lichen.

Sturdy bridge

Crossing a sturdy wooden bridge that spanned a side creek, I got so busy taking photos I had to hurry to keep up with my friends.

First rhodie blooms

Further up the trail, I spotted the first rhododendron bloom of the season.

Passing by another large grove

We passed by another area of enormous fir trees, these even larger than the ones near our trailhead.

Even the trail sign had greenery!

Even the trail sign had lichen growing on it!

Fern-lined trail

Near the trail's midpoint, my friends discovered another large patch of white irises.  Much photography ensued (mostly by me).

More white iris!

Then it was onward, through more amazing forest scenery.  Although I'd hiked this very trail several years ago, I had forgotten how beautiful these old growth forests could be.

Nearing a river view

Although the Clackamas River was never far away, thick vegetation and tall trees prevented any glimpses of the water.  That is until we neared the Rainbow Campground, the day's turn around point. 

Clackamas River sighting

Several gaps in the forest provided our first peek-a-boo river views.

An unused campsite makes a perfect lunch spot

Finding the perfect spot to sit and have lunch is always challenging on a hike.  Lucky for my friends and I once we made it to the Rainbow Campground, not only were there fantastic river views, we also scored a picnic table at an unused campsite.  Excellent!

Waters of the Clackamas were crystal clear

The mighty Clackamas River was flowing swiftly, right next to our picnic table.  I couldn't resist capturing its crystal-clear waters and colorful rocky bottom.

Huge, mossy nurse log

Tummies full, it was time to retrace our steps back through this wild, green wonderland.

Huge, mossy live tree!

The trail was so gorgeous, none of us minded seeing it twice.

Wooden boardwalk through a swampy area

Passing through a swampy area, the trail builders had constructed a nice wooden boardwalk to keep hikers from getting muddy feet.  I loved the prolific ferns lining the walkway.

My friends pose on the bridge

A pic of my friends posing on the bridge.  And nearing the end of our day's journey, I snapped a few more photos of the same white iris as we passed back by the trail sign.  Knowing how rare these flowers were, I wanted to get as many images as possible.

Final white iris of the day

Whatever the reason, whether it's to see unusual flowers, take in the grandeur of huge old-growth trees, or lose yourself in a green, mossy wonderland, there's nothing better than a spring day spent in the forest.  My friends and I managed to escape the rain (just in time!) and headed back to Portland for dinner and brews at a local pub.

Thanks Debbie and Barry for a fantastic day!

(Hike 22 done!  #52hikechallenge)


  1. Looks like a deep rainforest woods; forest primeval!

  2. Hello, You are lucky to have such great places to go hiking. I love the trees and moss, the rhodo's and irises are beautiful. It is a green wonderland, wonderful hike and photos. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy new week!

  3. ...a gorgeous forest like this make you feel small and humble. Such beauty!

  4. So pretty! Those mossy, moist green forests are completely different from our forests in northern AZ.

  5. That forest is truly amazing, nothing quite like it anywhere in the UK. If I was there with my camera then you'd be having to wait for me.

  6. What an incredible forest. I've never seen white iris before.

  7. I loved this walk. How I would have enjoyed tagging along behind you.

  8. It looks such an ancient land. How wonderful to hike through.

  9. beautiful hike! The Iris is so pretty what a great find!

  10. These are gorgeous photos, Linda. They even have jeweled raindrops on them! I love the old growth forests. So green!


Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.