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On a cool and sunny morning, I parked at the recently relocated 3,500-foot Douglas Trailhead on the west side of the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. Thanks to some volunteers, a one-half mile connector trail has been cut that bypasses an old rock quarry.
As I began ascending to the the top of a ridge, the views across the Eagle Creek drainage were magnificent. And, to my delight, almost every step of the way rhododendrons and bear-grass crowded the trail. The large white plumes of of bear-grass were at their peak, and the rhodies were not far behind. Their pink, complex blossoms are one of the treats of hiking on the west side of the Cascade Mountains.
After another three-quarters mile, a short path led to the top of 4,500-foot Wildcat Mountain, an old fire lookout site. I felt a little disappointed due how overgrown the area has become. When I first started hiking to the summit, there were still great views to the east.
After leaving the old lookout, I continued on the Douglas Trail another three-quarters mile to a spectacular rocky viewpoint. Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Jefferson and the entire expanse of the Wilderness area was laid out on a 360° palette of beauty before me.
I turned around and hiked to the north about two miles to a bear-grass meadow with a bench. It’s a well-known spot with one of the best up-front views of Mt. Hood from the southwest.
Soon, after chatting with several backpackers, I returned to the trailhead. A very pleasant eight mile, 1,700-foot gain hike.
California Tortoiseshell and Hydaspe Fritillary Butterflies
Wild Lilies (Bead, Cat’s-ear, and Cascade)