Since it was such a nice day today (Sunday), we decided to go for a hike up to Squaw Mountain, which was recently renamed to Tumala Mountain. (You’ll find I use them interchangably through this blog post, because I don’t know (care?) what is the official or not name for anything at this moment) Anyway, it was rumored to be a nice, moderate trail with a decent view of Mt. Hood at the top, with the ruins of an old fire lookout tower at the summit. So we loaded up and headed out to the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness looking for adventure.
Fortunately, prior to leaving, I checked out Portland Hikers’ forum for any recent trail reports, and I found one that reported that the Forest Service apparently mixed up the trailheads to the Eagle Creek Cutoff Trail and the Squaw Mountain Trail. We scouted around prior to starting the hike, and located the trailhead for the trail up to Old Baldy, but never definitively located the Eagle Creek Cutoff. The post I read said the Eagle Creek Cutoff trail goes down and the Squaw Mountain Trail goes up, and this one looked like up, so away we went! Imagine the confusion if we hadn’t known about this mix-up!
The trail wasted no time in getting steep. Right out of the chute, we’re on a steep, but steady climb up the hill. The forest was very quiet and full of Hemlocks and Doug Firs. There were some neat old snags along the trail. The trail wasn’t as steep, but it changed to a steady climb.
We hit some patches of melty snow as we neared the top of the ridge. Here I am building a snowman along the trail.
Tumala Mountain showed us patches of blue sky through the tall trees, tricking us into thinking we were nearing the top, but when we rounded the corner, the trail kept climbing steadily up. We finally broke through to the ridgeline and got a glimpse of Mt. Hood!
As we climbed higher up the mountain, we saw different kinds of wildflowers along the trail.
Finally, we made it to the top of the ridge. Check out the zoomed in picture of Mt. Hood. We noticed there appears to be a mountain goat pattern in the rocks and snow just right of center. Never noticed that before!!
Once we arrived at the top, Paula and I explored to see what we could spot from here. We found an epic view of Mount Hood at the edge of this tall cliff. This is looking northeast from Tumala Mountain.
It’s a long way down!
Next, we wandered to a viewpoint facing North/Northwest. In the picture above, you can see some white on the horizon, which is Mt. St. Helens, some white on the right, which is Mt. Adams, and then almost exactly in the center of them, there is maybe one or two pixels that are white or light blue, but that is the base of Mt. Rainier–it didn’t come out very well on either camera.
We found another little viewpoint looking Northeast with another view of Hood.
We then went around to the Southern viewpoint, where we spotted Mt. Jefferson peeking through the trees.
We also caught fleeting glimpses of Broken Top, and the Three Sisters, although it was a little hazy, so we lost sight of them before we thought to try to take photos.
Lastly, we searched out (and pretty easily) found the ruins of the old Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout. These lookout towers are located all around the Pacific Northwest’s timberland so the Forest Service can keep an eye out for forest fires. If you remember, we saw the foundations of one on South Fork Mountain just the other day.
In the middle of where the Fire Lookout used to be, we found this little marker memorializing the lookout station. I’m amazed that the picture turned out!
So Tumala Mountain turned out to be a really nice hike, and blasted by our expectations! We were thinking at the summit, we’d get a decent view of just Hood, but instead, we were surprised by some amazing panoramic views of our favorite Cascade Range volcanoes–what a great spot for a lookout station! We also got to see all sorts of different wildflowers in bloom. And then, after we hiked back down, we drove back down to Estacada and got ice cream! Now, how can you beat THAT?
Now for a fun game: In our last photo, see if you can find:
- The Squaw Mountain marker
- Mt. Hood
- At least 4 diferent kinds of wildflower
- and the state of Washington
- (the butterfly didn’t want to cooperate and stayed out of the picture!)