A beautiful visit to Paradise Park


It was a late May day with a hot, sunny forecast for Portland. What better 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.

The Trail began slowly climbing the north ridge of the Zigzag River Canyon into the Mt. Hood Wilderness. 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. Along the Trail in places where the sun could break through were rhododendrons, beargrass and huckleberry bushes.

After reaching the Pacific Crest Trail it was a steep one-half mile ascent to Paradise Park. As expected, there were only a few scattered early wildflowers in bloom (red paintbrush and white pasqueflowers) but also very little snow remained in the meadows. In a typical year, there would still be many feet of snow covering Paradise Park.

The scene was made complete by the majestic summit of snow-covered Mt. Hood towering above.

Even though it’s a relatively tough hike, 13 miles in length with 3,000 feet of elevation gain, the vistas from Paradise Park make it all worthwhile.

Mt. Hood Summit

Illumination Rock below the summit of Mt. Hood

Pasqueflower

Pasqueflower

Mt. Hood behind Paradise Park

Mt. Hood behind Paradise Park

Avalanche Lily

Avalanche Lily

Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain from viewpoint along the trail

Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain from viewpoint along the trail

Mt. Hood rising above Mississippi Head

Mt. Hood rising above Mississippi Head

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

Mt. Hood Summit

Mt. Hood Summit

Beargrass

Beargrass

Witch's Hair Lichen hanging on the limbs of an Alpine Fir

Witch’s Hair Lichen hanging on the limbs of an Alpine Fir

Mt. Hood Summit

Mt. Hood Summit

 

Categories: Oregon Cascades HikesTags: , , ,

2 comments

  1. Great pictures John. Thinking about doing this hike in two weeks.

    Tom

    >

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    • Thanks Tom. It ought to be a good hiking adventure in a couple of weeks. By that time the rhodies and beargrass should be in bloom the first few miles of the trail. And, some more alpine wildflowers should by popping up in Paradise Park.

      Like

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