In early November I drove to 4,500-foot Cachebox Meadows near Graham Pass in the Mt. Hood National Forest. With fresh snow from the night before, temperatures in the high 20’s and bright sunshine, it was like a winter wonderland. Much of the area had been logged in the past, providing open, sunny areas for the growth of huckleberry bushes, vine maple and food for wild animals. In previous visits to the area, I had noticed many tracks of deer and elk, and lots of bear sign near the huckleberries.
The Rho Ridge Trail climbed through an old clearcut for the first three-quarter mile. There would have been unobstructed views of Mt. Jefferson only 12 miles to the southeast, but clouds hid the mountain from view. The bright reds of some remaining huckleberry leaves lined the path in places. The Trail then entered a mature hemlock forest for the next mile. Upon reaching a nice meadow, the Hawk Mountain Trailhead was reached. From there it was a short one-half mile to reach the 5,300-foot top of the Mountain.
There is an old historical lookout cabin still standing at the summit. I enjoyed a nice lunch, saturated myself with the vistas and sunshine, and took some photos. After leaving the summit I took a slow hike back to the Trailhead. All in all the hike was a truly delightful five miles with 1,200 feet of elevation gain. Sometimes the short, easy hikes are the most fun. On an odd note, no fresh sign of deer, elk or bear were spotted. The only fresh tracks in the snow were pine squirrels, small birds (likely varied thrushes) and several coyotes.