Springtime on Phlox Point

You can pardon me for thinking it was a spring day above the 45th Parallel. There was plenty of sunshine, a slight skiff of snow at 3,000 feet and little wind. But in truth it was the first Friday of the New Year and a good day to return to the northern side of the Columbia River Gorge.

The Hardy Ridge Trail in the Beacon Rock State Park began at an equestrian trailhead. After 2 ½ miles of relatively easy hiking, mostly on old logging roads on the east side of the mountain, the Trail began sharply climbing to the spine of the Ridge. I was rewarded with some excellent views. The fog-covered Columbia River stretched for miles in both directions and the snow-covered beacons of the Cascades were sparkling in the bright sunlight like diamonds on a necklace.

From the ridge top it was mainly a one-mile bushwhacking adventure to the north to reach the 3,000-foot summit, sometimes called Phlox Point. It took me quite awhile to push through the area before I popped out onto the bare ridge top for the reminder of the summit hike. With the presence of sunshine coupled with the 360-degree vistas, I literally basked in the glory of the moment. It had been awhile since I had enjoyed such a beautiful day. To vary the scenery, I took a west-side trail down the Ridge. After dropping about 700 feet in elevation, the route followed a series of old logging roads for several miles before rejoining the main Trail and returning to the Trailhead. One minor disappointment was little wildlife was spotted other than a bald eagle floating in the thermals and some black-capped chickadees. All in all the hike was 8.5 miles in length with 2,400 feet of elevation gain. It made for a great outing on a beautiful winter day.

Trek Tip 1: While on the trail always carry a camera and be ready to instantly use it. The timeframe afforded to take quality photos of animals, reptiles, insects and birds is typically very short, a lesson all hunters have learned the hard way.

Mt. Hood behind Tanner Butte

Lower Hardy Ridge Trail (second-growth Doug Firs on left and Red Alders on right)

Hiking poles and daypack at Phlox Point (summit of Hardy Ridge)

Fog over the Columbia River stretching to the Portland area

Transition Zone ( Doug Fir on left and Noble Fir on right)

Fog lifting off the Columbia River

Mt. Adams

Categories: Columbia River Gorge HikesTags: , , , ,

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