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| 03/31/2020 | Summer

7 Great Hikes For Wildflowers

Late spring and summer are ideal times to hit the hiking trails if you love wildflowers. We curated a list of seven great hikes that will help add a little color to your life, as you hike in Mt. Hood Territory. The first five hikes are featured in our Trails Guide, which you can download for free to get maps, distances and more tips. 

1. Wildwood Recreation Site

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has created an immensely popular recreation site with easy walking paths filled with interpretive signage teaching visitors about the plants and animals that call this thriving ecosystem home. On the northern banks of the Wild & Scenic Salmon River is the Cascade Streamwatch Trail. If you cross a bridge over the river, you'll find the Wildwood Wetland Trail and Boardwalk that hosts all sorts of wildflowers, not to mention lesser-seen water flowers, such as lilies. This is a thriving and delicate ecosystem, home to numerous sensitive plants and animals, not to mention plenty of beauty.

2. Cool Creek Trail to Devil's Peak

This is a challenging hike with a lot of elevation gain in a short amount of time, but once you reach the highest part of the trail, you'll be rewarded with not only views of Flag Mountain, Zigzag Mountain and Mt. Hood on clear days, but also a wealth of wildflowers, including the ever popular rhododendron. The best times to catch the blooms on this hike are in late spring and early summer. Be sure to know your capabilities, as you'll be gaining more than 3,200 feet in half of the 7.6-mile hike. Bonus tip: Check out the view from the Devil's Peak Lookout. It once served as a fire watch station, but now you can actually spend a night here as you take in the epic Mt. Hood views. It's first come, first served, so you won't be able to make any reservations.  

3. Camassia Nature Preserve

Camassia Nature Preserve is a gem hidden in plain sight, just a stone's throw from I-205 in West Linn. Don't actually throw any stones though; you'll cause some traffic issues. Instead, enjoy the explosion of color that happens each April into early May. Most of that color comes from the namesake camas flower, but you'll find other blooms here as you stroll along the trails that wind through more than 22 acres. The entire preserve is a sanctuary for rare plants, and it's also known for having some great bird watching. Best of all, you're only minutes from downtown West Linn, where you'll find all sorts of great dining options. 

4. Horseshoe Ridge Trail

This is another challenging hike that gains more than 2,700 feet over the course of the nearly 11-mile hike. A good portion of your trip will be in the shade, as you explore old-growth forest. Once you get near the top, the views open up to Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood on a clear, "three mountain day." The photo ops only get better when you hike during wildflower season, adding a colorful foreground to the mix. 

5. Clackamas River Trail

Better known for being the route to magnificent Pup Creek Falls, the Clakamas River Trail also has some great flower action during the early summer months. Kick off your trip via the Indian Henry Campground trailhead for quicker access to the blooms. If you come back later in the season, the flowers will have been replaced with all sorts of wild berries. 

6. Table Rock Wilderness

The Table Rock Wilderness Area is nearly 6,000 acres of pristine Oregon scenery southwest of the Mt. Hood National Forest, and there's a good chance you don't even know about it. Table Rock is a well-kept secret, and true treasure at that. There are some great trails here, from the relatively easy 3.3-mile Table Rock Trail and Summit Trail, to the High Ridge Trail which is the most difficult hike in the area. It's worth it if you're able, however, as an abundance of rhododendron explode with color in June and July. You'll find flowers along the other trails as well, if you're looking for something a bit less taxing. This area is a pristine wilderness and as such, much more sensitive; it's important to remember leave no trace principles to keep the area unharmed. Learn more at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website, and know before you go

7. Timberline Trail

Perhaps the best known trail in the list, the Timberline Trail gives hikers a 360-degree viewing experience seeing all faces of Mt. Hood. During the summer months you'll be surrounded by various wildflowers blooming all around you. You have multiple options here; you can do the multi-day 40 mile hike, or take shorter day hikes based out of Timberline Lodge. If you go west, you'll actually be on a section of the famed Pacific Crest Trail. Going east will be just as memorable. Whatever your choice, know your limits and prepare accordingly. 

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