A Wonderful Early Autumn Day on the East Side of the Cascades

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Fifteenmile Creek Outing

The pungent scent of pine needles, open meadows, views extending far to the east, 42 degrees and sunny weather. On the first weekend of Fall I was on the eastern slopes of the Cascades.

The trailhead was the parking area for the Fifteenmile Forest Camp in the Mt. Hood National Forest, roughly 60 air-miles east of home at an elevation level of 4,600 feet. 

The trail descended alongside Fifteenmile Creek, designated as a Wild & Scenic River in 2009, before meeting the Cedar Creek Trail at a bridge crossing.

This trail slowly dropped down the nose of the ridge, providing views all the way to the irrigated farmlands of Central Oregon. Mature Ponderosa pines dominated the landscape, interspersed with pillow-shaped basalt rock formations and tall tamarack trees with autumn needles which will soon turn golden.

The trail began losing altitude quickly with the dominant trees becoming Douglas fir, a few junipers and white oak.

Crossing a foot bridge, the original trail was rejoined and I turned uphill with a tinge of sadness knowing it was a 1,700-foot elevation gain.

For the next two miles the path stayed in an old-growth cedar-tree habitat along the Creek. To my pleasant surprise, the vine maple leaves were turning their autumn prettiest with bright reds, oranges and yellows.

Then the work began with the trail quickly gaining elevation to reach the top of the ridge north of Fifteenmile Creek. The great views returned and it was an enjoyable return hike to the trailhead.

Mature Ponderosa Pine reaching to the skies

Vine Maple leaves with their autumn colors

Pleasant stretch of trail

Old-growth forest near creek bottom (a wildfire ready to happen)

Huge burl on a Ponderosa Pine

Early morning light on Mt. Hood on the drive to the trailhead (those with a sharp eye can spot the top of Cooper Spur)

Vine Maple leaves turning their autumn colors

Old Juniper tree

White Oak Tree along lower trail


Basalt formations near the upper trail

Stretch of upper trail





Categories: Oregon Cascades HikesTags: , , ,


  1. Fantastic hike here on Fifteen Mile Creek Trail, John. Enjoyed seeing the different habitats and elevations as you made your way along. I have never seen a white oak, so I appreciated that. Great lighting and photos; especially Mt. Hood and the vine maple leaves. And how wonderful it must’ve been to see all the way to central Oregon from the top. Thanks for taking us along.

  2. Love the beginning of the autumn colors!

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