Alpine meadows are found in the mountains at about 6,000 feet of elevation, and are usually free of snow beginning in mid-July.
From then to late September is the prime time to visit them in the Pacific Northwest. Given the short window of time, it’s important to plan ahead for the “best” Alpine hikes.
My favorite are Paradise Park in the Mt. Hood Wilderness, Ingalls Lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Mt. Aix in the William O. Douglas Wilderness (Tumac Mountain is a close second), Warm Lake in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, Killen Meadows/High Camp in the Mt. Adams Wilderness, Jefferson Park in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, Second Burroughs Mountain in Mt. Rainier National Park and McNeil Point in the Mt. Hood Wilderness.
On a hot summer day I made my 25th trek to McNeil Point.
Beginning at the 4,000-foot Top Spur Trailhead, I munched on ripe huckleberries while steeply ascending to the Timberline Trail and soon entered the Mt. Hood Wilderness. There was not a cloud in the sky, providing spectacular views of Mt. Hood from the steep slopes of Bald Mountain.
After leaving Bald Mountain the trail began a 2 1/2 mile climb up a ridgecrest. There were several spots providing jaw-dropping views of the summit of Mt. Hood, the Muddy Fork Valley and Yocum Ridge.
After reaching several tarns underneath 6,100-foot McNeil Point, I took a long break and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. The bright white plumes of beargrass covered the open areas. It was certainly a treat because beargrass doesn’t bloom every year.
The next 1 1/2 miles, mostly on a rough climbers’ trail, gained 800 feet before reaching the shelter on McNeil Point. On the way wildflowers of almost every color decorated the open meadows drawing dancing butterflies and hummingbirds to their petals.
Another grand day in the Pacific Northwest.