The characteristics of a great day hike are solitude, a variety of things to see, a good workout and maybe the opportunity to do some bushwhacking.
The current trail to 5,100-foot Fish Creek Mountain meets all the criteria. It begins at an unmarked trailhead off of a rough dirt road southeast of Estacada, Oregon.
Leaving the trailhead, one gets the challenge of hiking a hard-to-follow access trail built by volunteers. The trail is very steep in places.
The only downside of the hike, compared to 20 years ago, is the old fire lookout site on the mountain’s summit is now overgrown with noble firs and mountain hemlocks standing well over my head. Still, there continues to be views extending to Mt. Jefferson. Although, about a mile down the trail from the summit is a much better viewpoint of Mt. Jefferson and Olallie Butte.
An extra treat of the outing was a 500-foot descent below the summit on another rough trail to a very pretty cirque lake (High Lake) formed by a receding glacier long ago.
Wildflowers and colorful butterflies added to the beauty of the 8 1/2-mile outing with about 2,700 feet of elevation gain.