Long ago I enjoyed fishing for summer steelhead on the Collowash River in the upper drainages of the Clackamas River. After setting up camp below Tom’s Meadow, I would hike up the river to a large waterfall. Over the years I caught many of the magnificent fish, enjoying solitude and wilderness beauty at the same time. Sad to say, the steelhead fishery is long gone. It was sacrificed at the altar of Columbia River Chinook Salmon.
But, as an interesting replacement, I happened upon a unique hiking area nearby. In fact, a trailhead was accessible from the end of the Collowash River Road. Several years later I drove to the trailhead. It was a gorgeous day with no clouds, little wind and lots of sun. I put on a daypack and began the hike into the Bull of the Woods Wilderness. I saw no other people on the Trail. The hike was about 14 miles in distance with roughly 3,400 feet of elevation gain.
The Trail began by following a tributary of the Collowash River along a deep canyon. It was old growth forest with large hemlock and Douglas Fir trees along the Trail. After two miles the Trail turned uphill through a series of steep switchbacks before reaching picturesque Lower Welcome Lake. After that it was a short hike to Upper Welcome Lake covered with lily pads.
The next two miles were very scenic. After reaching the headwall overlooking Pansy Basin, the Trail began steeply climbing Big Slide Mountain. At an overlook of Lake Lenore, it was time to go off trail and scramble up through rocks about 100 vertical feet to the summit. The views of the Mt. Jefferson and the Bull of the Woods Wilderness were well worth the price of admission.
I sat back, ate my lunch and thought to myself that life doesn’t get much better.