A Tough but Rewarding Hike in the Wild and Scenic Fifteenmile Creek Area


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Fifteenmile Creek Outing

The pungent scent of pine needles, open meadows, views extending far to the east, 60 degrees and sunny weather. In early 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.

Ferns picking up their autumn colors

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 beginning to 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 knowing it was a 1,700-foot elevation gain. I was beginning to dread the ascent because, for some reason, my strength was ebbing. Maybe it was due to the unseasonal heat.

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. It was a slow, tough climb. After taking a break, I got a little bit of a second wind. The return hike to the trailhead was much more like “work” than “fun”, but I was sure glad to see the Jeep at the trailhead.

Classic old-growth Ponderosa Pine (smaller Tamarack growing right next to it)

Massive fuel loading on canyon floor (an answer to the question of why we have been facing such huge forest fires)

More fuel loading on the forest floor

Early morning light on Mt. Hood on way to trailhead

Takes a lot of work to keep the trail open

Open stretches of the trail on ridge tops

One of many pillowy rock formations along the trail

Vine Maple with their autumn colors

 

Categories: Oregon Cascades Hikes, UncategorizedTags: ,

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