McIntyre Ridge, Wildcat Mountain, and a Secret Spot
The easiest way I know to get to elevation in Northwest Oregon is to drive to Timberline Lodge. The second easiest way is to hike to McIntyre Ridge or Wildcat Mountain from the west. The access road is paved until the very end, and you get a three thousand foot elevation headstart on most trails in the area. The area used to be more popular with dirt bikers and target shooters, but access and the rules have changed. It is less noisy than fifteen years ago, but target shooters still find spots to practice their skills. The start of the trail winds around an old quarry-like area, the far side of which drops off into a canyon for great views.
The trail climbs briefly, then levels off at a spectacular promontory with views over the Eagle Creek drainage–unrelated to the more famous Eagle Creek in the Columbia Gorge. After a mile of casual uphill walking, there is an unsigned junction. Most people head left here, the way to the unassuming but beautiful high point along McIntyre Ridge. I found a few other hikers out there taking in the pretty forest and the view so the always dramatic Mount Hood. A man sat on the bench installed there years ago as a tribute to two men who loved the area. I wandered around the ridge for a while, then turned back. I had more destinations in mind. At the junction, I headed left, or the other way, on the Douglas trail. The trail soon heads up through some switchbacks. At the high point, there is another unsigned trail to Wildcat Mountain itself. This is another modest peak with almost no views, but I scaled it anyway.
The peak is anticlimactic. Views can only be had by peering through trees. The best part of the hike, however, was yet to come. I remember continuing east on the trail more than a decade earlier in connecting to Huckleberry Mountain. There is a spot on the narrow ridge I wanted to find. I dropped back down to the Douglas Trail, and fifteen minutes later, I emerged on the open rocky ridge. Clouds had started to move in, but I could still see Mounts Hood, Adams, and Jefferson as well as many foothill peaks and the Eagle Creek and Boulder Creek valleys. It’s a gorgeous green spot in all directions, and not a soul in sight. Just my kind of place. I sat there for a while contemplating the state of the natural world and then hiked back to my car, more than satisfied.
Posted on June 4, 2015, in Adventure, Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, Outdoors and tagged Easy Mount Hood Hikes, McIntyre Ridge, Northwest Oregon hikes, Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.