Wild Orchids and Blowdowns

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In July I returned to the Paradise Park Trailhead at the base of Mt. Hood, several miles east of the small town of Rhododendron.

Paradise Park is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most popular hiking destinations in July and August when the alpine meadows are covered with wildflowers.

The last two times I attempted to hike the six-mile trail I was turned back about two miles from Paradise Park due to fallen trees.

On this sunny morning the trail began slowly climbing the north ridge of the Zigzag River Canyon into the Mt. Hood Wilderness. For the first four miles the trail stayed under the canopy of an old-growth forest, mainly mountain hemlock.

To my surprise, the US Forest Service had cleared the trail somewhat, but there were many more fallen trees over the trail due to last winter’s snowfall. I made it about one-half mile more than before, but the trail was virtually impassable from there on. The last thing I needed was a broken leg in a wilderness area far from the nearest road.

I sadly turned back to the trailhead.

Spotted Coral Root Orchid

Sign at Trailhead that I should have heeded

Passable portion of the Trail (it’s an endless task keeping it clear, complicated by the fact that power tools aren’t allowed in Wilderness areas)


Where I turned around

Merten’s Coral Root Orchid

Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain above Mirror Lake

Cascade Lily

Not much sunlight gets through the canopy

Into the Wilderness


Categories: Mt. Hood Wilderness Hikes, Oregon Cascades HikesTags: ,


  1. Love the orchids – beautifully spotted – and the lily! The canopied path is one of my favorites – in my line of work, I’ve used similar pictures as artwork on my wall and sometimes it became a good icebreaker as people discussed their own obscured “paths.” Also, you learn something new every day – I did not realize that workers could not use power tools in the wilderness areas to help clear areas – but that does make sense on so many levels.

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