Whatum Lake to Chinidere Mountain
Chinidere Mountain is one of the great low-elevation summits to visit in Northwest Oregon. It boasts a magnificent 360-degree viewpoint from its bald, talus-covered summit and sits in the epicenter of great hiking destinations. To the west is Tanner Butte. The Eagle and Herman Creek drainages (culminating in the Columbia River Gorge) lay like fingers pointing to the north. A crystal blue Wahtum Lake is situated directly below the summit. The sheer cliffs of Table Mountain in the Gorge are visible to the north. And, best of all, exceptional views are provided for all the major Cascade peaks from Mount Rainier to Mount Jefferson.
The story goes that Chinidere and nearby Tomlike Mountains were named for tribal leaders from the Wasco Indian tribe, a father and his son. Both mountains were my destination a few years ago in the middle of July. To my delight, the roads were paved the entire distance to the trailhead located above Wahtum Lake.
While beating off the mosquitoes and black flies, I loaded the daypack and took the 252 steps down to the pretty Lake dotted with campsites. That was the beginning of the pleasant two-mile hike to the 4,673 foot-summit of Chinidere. At 1 1/2 miles I left the well-maintained Pacific Crest Trail to take a steep access trail to the summit. The wildflowers were amazing in their variety and abundance.
Colombine, Larkspurs and Harsh Paintbrush
Tomlike Mountain Summit
After soaking in the sunshine and views I returned to the PCT, took a north turn on the Herman Creek Trail and hiked one mile through an old growth mountain hemlock forest. There I turned onto a climbers’ trail leading to the summit of 4,555-foot Tomlike Mountain. The trail was rough, poorly marked and very steep toward the end. After reaching the summit I was joined by an energetic group of hikers from Hood River.
The views were just as amazing as those on Chinidere. Situated just six miles south of the Columbia River in the Mark Hatfield Wilderness, the vistas took in Mt. Defiance, Green Point Mountain, Nick Eaton Ridge and the Benson Plateau. The summit also afforded a unique view directly down into Cedar Swamp on the Herman Creek Trail.
Mariposa Copper Butterfly and Cliff Penstemons
The Wrap up
All in all the hike was eight miles in length with 1,900 feet of elevation gain. It was such a fun hike that I kicked myself for not doing it before.