A dark and dreary day in the wilderness

After parking at the 3,600-foot Douglas Trailhead on the west side of the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, a white Suburban parked behind me in the long-abandoned rock quarry. Two Sheriff deputies quickly got out of their vehicle. The first one cleared his coat and came up to my car window. The second one took a defensive posture behind my Merc. Needless to say, I was wondering what in the world was going on. But, the story had a happy ending. They were checking for people abandoning cars. After deciding I was going for a hike to Wildcat Mountain, they relaxed and began sharing stories about the area. The truth is I was grateful they were checking trailheads. It’s amazing how often cars are broken into while folks are hiking.

After the officers left, I began the hike by climbing to the top of a ridge. Almost every step of the way rhododendrons and beargrass crowded the Trail. After another three-quarters mile, a short path led to the top of 4,500-foot Wildcat Mountain, an old fire lookout site. I felt a little disappointed due to the visibility being limited to a few hundred yards due to low-lying rain clouds. After leaving the old lookout, I continued on the Douglas Trail another three-quarters mile to what usually is a spectacular rocky viewpoint. On a clear day Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Jefferson and the entire expanse of the Wilderness area would have been laid out on a 360° palette of beauty before me. As a consolation prize, the red, white, lavender, purple and scarlet wildflowers made for colorful rock gardens along the crest of the Eagle Creek Canyon.

I hiked to the north about two miles to a beargrass meadow with a bench. It’s a well-known spot with one of the best up-front views of Mt. Hood, if the cloud cover had lifted. But I enjoyed the area anyway, wading in some snow and revelling in the solitude. Soon, being well drenched, I returned to the trailhead. A very pleasant seven mile, 1,400-foot gain hike.

Daypack and hiking poles on beargrass meadow bench


Cliff penstemons

Avalanche lily

Rhodies and beargrass along the trail


Huckleberry flowers

Categories: Oregon Cascades HikesTags: , , , , ,


  1. Looks like a beautiful hike which you’ve shown with all of your great photos. It always amazes me how beautiful nature is all around the world. Just another place I’ll have to put on my to do list. Keep on hiking and stay safe.

  2. These are beautiful images. Thank you for posting them.

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