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Did you know that more than a million people live within an hour’s drive of Mt. Hood National Forest? It’s is also one of the top ten national forests for carbon storage, provides drinking water for more than a million residents, and receives more than 2,600,000 visits annually. There are a lot of obvious reasons that Mt. Hood is special but we thought before summer ends, we’d share some of our favorite, less conspicuous places that might not be on your trail map.
1. We’re a bit partial to places we recently protected. Did you hear the exciting news? Bark got the public engaged and stopped logging at Lemiti Butte. Read more about the nearly 900 acres in the Upper Clackamas watershed that were protected thanks to public engagement.
2. Bonney Butte is the largest fall concentration of migrating raptors in Oregon. HawkWatch International started a banding program here 20 years ago, and now hawk counters and banders are on-site every September and October to track thousands of raptors. (You might even spot a Bark volunteer helping the effort!) A word of caution: the roads leading to Bonney Butte are not well maintained.
3. Word around the Bark office is that Little Crater Lake is filled with magic. It’s also a favorite destination for high-summer birding. The wet meadows near the campground boast nesting Lincoln's Sparrows, Common Yellowthroats, warblers and various flycatchers, as well as foraging nighthawks and the occasional Sandhill Crane.
4. Check out the lesser known swimming holes along Dickey Creek Trail in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness. Cross the Collawash River on Road 6340, and you’ll see units of the Jazz Timber Sale, where Bark volunteers continue to monitor activity after tenaciously fighting to stop logging.
5. A great spot to see elk is Black Wolf Meadows, along the Anvil Lake Trail. Or visit this kid-friendly swimming hole at nearby Buck Lake (bonus points if you pick up trash while you’re there). Between the two, you’ll pass the Grove Timber Sale, another logging project Bark mobilized the public to protect—and got acres protected.
6. Did you know that you can rent a Lookout in Mt. Hood National Forest? Clear Lake Butte is located in the Clackamas, the Fivemile Butte Lookout is a great spot to see wildlife, and you can backpack to the Flag Point Lookout in the Badger Creek Wilderness. Devil’s Peak Lookout in the Sandy River basin is also open to the public. Each of these rustic cabins have amazing views of the mountain and our unique forests.
7. Nearly one million people get their drinking water from the Bull Run watershed. The watershed has been strictly protected; however, other sources of municipal drinking water in the national forest lack the same stewardship. You can take a low-cost tour of Bull Run with the Portland Water Bureau and consider why we want to increase protections for all of our watersheds. Read more here: Protecting Freshwater Resources on Mt. Hood National Forest: Recommendations for Policy Change, a White Paper produced by Bark and Pacific Rivers Council.
8. The Horseshoe Ridge Trail is a time travel experience as you walk through mud flows from Mt. Hood’s last volcanic eruption (you’re essentially walking on an ancient buried forest). The trail transitions to an old growth forest, and as you cross the little bridge into the canceled Horseshoe Timber Sale (another Bark success!), listen for the barking Pacific Giant Salamanders. If you are feeling adventurous, loop back on the decommissioned road (where Barkers planted trees in 2013) and you’ll find your way to the Riley Horse Camp.
9. The Lost Creek area has wheelchair- and stroller-accessible loop trails with picnic areas, interpretive trails, and decks overlooking the creek. In the fall, you can view salmon spawning.
10. When we head to the forest, we like to support our favorite local businesses: the new Thunder Island Brewery in Cascade Locks is an ideal stop between Portland and Hood River; get french fries at Wraptitude in Welches; in Sandy, try Ivy Bear Pizzeria for some of the best peanut butter cookies anywhere or grab donuts at Joe’s; and maintain your caffeine intake at Mt. Hood Coffee Roasters in Rhododendron.
Don’t want to hike alone? Since our start 16 years ago, Bark has led thousands of people on free monthly hikes in Mt. Hood National Forest. Join us the second Sunday of every month for a Bark-About and get first-hand experience of the places we fight to protect. Or study up with our Ecology Club the second Monday of every month in our new meeting space.
For many of us, a glimpse of Mt. Hood is a reminder of our connection to the wildlands just beyond our homes. What’s your favorite view of the mountain? What makes it special? Post a picture on social media and tag it with #mthoodperspective. Or email it back to me and we’ll add it to our growing Flickr collection.
Have a great time out there, and thank you for caring about the future of our beautiful backyard.
With warm regards,
P.S. Mt. Hood National Forest is one of the most visited national forests in the country. Many people recreate in the forests and rivers around Mt. Hood, but don’t know about the hard work to protect it. Do you value having an advocacy group focused on our forests? Of course you do! Support Bark today.