It was early summer and time to drive to the Paradise Park Trailhead at the base of Mt. Hood, several miles east of the small town of Rhododendron.
Paradise Park is a series of large alpine meadows on the west shoulder of Mt. Hood around 6,000 feet in elevation. It’s one of the Pacific Northwest’s most popular hiking destinations in late July and August when the alpine meadows are covered with wildflowers.
For the first five to six miles the Trail stayed under the canopy of an old-growth forest, but the trees (mainly mountain hemlocks) were smallish and well spaced.
After reaching the Pacific Crest Trail it was a steep one-half mile ascent to Paradise Park. Sad to say the view was not that of the famous wildflower display, but of deep snow covering much of the meadows.
Climbing another one-quarter mile brought me to a snow-free ridge with cloudy views of Mt. Hood and the ridge above Big Zigzag Canyon.
I ate a snack and reveled in the stark beauty of the wilderness area. In another month I’ll be back, doing a loop hike from Timberline Lodge over the top of Mississippi Head.