Showing posts from August, 2014

Mount Washington Wilderness: Little Belknap Crater Trail

Dramatic views of the High Cascades over massive lava flows characterize the Mount Washington Section of the Pacific Crest Trail. With the exception of a small spur trail up to Little Belknap Crater this hike is entirely on the PCT. One can start this at the official PCT trailhead about 1 mile west of the Dee Wright Observatory.

Besides the incredible views of the Three Sisters and Mount Washington, you have the pleasure of walking through two very unique 'islands of forest'. It seems safe to assume that these areas were spared from the last lava flow that occurred 2,600 years ago.  The trees near the edges of the lava flow can be very old, but appear to be mere saplings due to a combination of poor soil and harsh winters.

After passing through the second 'island of forest' you will make your way across a long section of uninterrupted lava flow. Upon reaching the spur trail, turn right and begin the short accent to the top. There is a small bench within a hiker const…

Southern Three Sisters Wilderness: Erma Bell and Williams Lake Loop

Continuing on my quest to hike in 50 Wilderness Areas, I set out to hike in both the Three Sisters Wilderness and the Waldo Lake Wilderness. This post will focus on the section of the hike through the Erma Bell Lakes region of the Three Sisters Wilderness. After car camping at Skookum Campground/Trailhead my friend and I set out to hike a 10 mile loop around Erma Bell, Williams, and Otter Lakes. The trail exits the campground over Skookum Creek and is nearly flat until reaching lower Erma Bell Lake.
Oddly enough this is the only wheelchair accessible trail within a Wilderness Area that I have ever been on. The area is uniquely suited for this, because it is incredibly flat and has very few obstructions. Upon reaching Lower Erma Lake we could hear several families playing along the side of the lake. There are campsites near the lake shore, but the Forest Service asks that you only use the sites marked with a post.

 Middle Erma Bell Lake was more beautiful and didn't have anyone …

Bull of the Woods High Point: Battle Ax Mountain

Oregon Wild has issued a simple challenge; hike in 50 Oregon Wilderness Areas between May 1 and October 31. After a slow start to hiking this summer and learning about the challenge somewhat late I have decided to attempt it anyways! Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek share a boundary, so I thought they would make a good start. Battle Ax Mountain is the highest point in Bull of the Woods Wilderness at 5,566 feet. The trail to the top of Battle Ax Mountain is straightforward once you reach Beachie Saddle look to your right and follow the trail to the top.

Driving into Elk Lake Campground I was surprised to see so many cars. The road in is incredibly rocky and riddled with large holes. A truck or high clearance car is suggested. I made the mistake of driving to the start of the hike where Forest Road 4697 turns into a trail. Parking is no longer allowed here, so save your time and tires; park near the campground. There is a longer (15.5 miles)  loop option that will take you to past Twi…