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Badger Creek Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Waterfall on Badger Creek (bobcat)
Red columbine (Aquilegia formosa), Badger Creek Trail (bobcat)
The trail is an easy, wide path with a gentle upgrade (Jerry Adams)
Footbridge over Gumjuwac Creek, Badger Creek Trail (bobcat)
Campsite at Badger Lake (bobcat)
Ponderosa pines, Badger Creek Trail (bobcat)
Some hikers have been attacked by a very protective goshawk mother about 3 or 4 miles from the trailhead (Ty Walters)
Trail Map
  • Start point: Badger Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Badger Lake
  • Trail Log:
  • Distance: 23.0 miles round-trip
  • Elevation gain: 2420 feet
  • High Point: 4,520 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Mid-spring through fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No
Snakes
Ticks

Contents

Description

The hike up the Badger Creek Trail #479 is a popular late spring hike. It's on the east side of the Cascades, so it's drier than in Portland, and it's at fairly low elevation so the snow melts off earlier in the season. You can probably get to the trailhead by late April from Wamic (FR 48 from Highway 35 can still have snow on its shaded sections), and the route is usually snow-free to Badger Lake by mid-May. The path follows Badger Creek for its entire length and intersects with other trails coming down from the ridges above. There are picturesque falls in the middle section of the route and, as you get closer to Badger Lake, lush spring-fed creeks cross the path. There are numerous campsites along the route, at least one for every mile. This is a good non-strenuous backpack trip for families: hike as far as you want, and then set up camp. Early in the season, there may be some windfall across the trail, but these will have been cleared out by June.

About 500 feet south of the Badger Creek Trailhead is Bonney Crossing Campground. There are about a dozen campsites and an outhouse. They're spread out enough that several groups could camp here without seeing each other. There's a picnic table at each campsite. The campground is open year-round although there are no services in the winter. In the summer there's a fee to camp. There is no drinking water.

If you're day hiking and not going all the way to Badger Lake, there are a couple of good turnaround points:

  • Pine Creek Camp: 3.2 miles from the trailhead
  • Post Camp Trail Junction: 7.5 miles from the trailhead


To begin your hike, pass the signboard is at the trailhead. Oaks, ponderosas, grand fir, and Douglas-fir shade the trail, which runs along the north side of the creek. In a few yards, come to the wilderness sign. The creek itself, which is fringed here by willow, red osier dogwood, and young alders, supports a canopy of western red-cedar. You'll pass andesite scree slopes to the right. Lady’s slipper orchids bloom along the trail in late May. Columbine, arnica, lupine, larkspur, groundsel, and microseris also flower here in late spring, and the oak hillsides come alive with blooming balsamroot. Pass through a shady Douglas-fir grove and a skunk-cabbage patch. You'll notice a large campsite to the left. The trail heads away from the creek on occasion, but not more than 100 yards in this first section. Cross a steep hillside of lupine, ponderosa and oak before coming down to the creek bank where two big boulders act as guardians on either side of the stream. Some stately cedars grow here. Then walk along under an overhang of platy andesite topped by oaks and manzanita. You'll see a small chute to the left where the creek is constricted; there's another campsite here. At about 3.2 miles from the trailhead, this is a good place to turn around if you're out for a shorter hike.

As you keep walking up the creek, take note of the strawberry flowers carpeting the forest floor among the bracken. In years past, a northern goshawk has attacked hikers in this area. She is only protecting her nest, but she has caused a couple of bloody scalps! Pass a spacious campsite to the left shaded by rustling cottonwoods. Then the trail switchbacks up into Douglas-fir, grand fir and ponderosa slope forest. From here, get views of the ridge between Threemile Creek and Badger Creek. Some of the Douglas-firs have huge witch’s broom deformities. Now you are high above the creek and can see the tip of Mount Hood above the ridgeline. Pass along open open slopes blooming with kinnikinnick, balsamroot, luina, and lupine. Cross a creek, and continue up. Head over an oak/pine/manzanita ridge, and descend to a forested flat. Then rise again to a second, cottonwood-lined creek. In spring, you may see violet star cups (Sarcosphaera coronaria) exploding all along the trail. Enter an area of blowdown. Continue up, and then descend into Douglas-fir, grand fir and ponderosa woods. Twin flower carpets the trail verge, and chinquapin and snow brush are the common shrubs. Suddenly, a few mountain hemlocks and western white pines appear in the forest mix. You can see the creek to the left, and in a few more yards you'll descend to Pine Creek Camp. Pine Creek gushes into Badger Creek on the opposite bank. Look for dippers bobbing on the rocks. From here, the trail follows the creek quite closely for another mile before arriving at the the Badger Creek-Post Camp Trail Junction.

As a diversion, you can take the Post Camp Trail down to the footbridge over Pine Creek. There are a couple of good campsites here, and a wide pool under the bridge is a great swimming hole on warm days. Back on the Badger Creek Trail, pass above an area of campsites in a dry woodland of Douglas-fir, red-cedar, larch, and ponderosa pine. Badger Creek can be seen to your left, and this section provides a scenic tonic of small waterfalls and burbling cascades. Early in the season, there may some windfall to step over. Cross a small creek, and soon you’ll see the highest waterfall in these parts, a 15-footer for which you’ll need to venture off-trail to get an unimpeded view. Cross Tolo Creek, and pass by the Badger Creek-Badger Creek Cutoff Trail Junction.

Keep left, and in short order find yourself hiking across a shady cedar flat. Step over a couple of small creeks to emerge into more open forest with Palisade Point visible high above. Cross an unnamed creek on a footbridge, and walk through a huckleberry understory to a clearing and the Badger Creek-Gumjuwac Trail Junction. Stay left to cross Gumjuwac Creek on a pedestrian bridge. Badger Creek again becomes visible to the left for a short distance. Soon you're in shady woods with bigger trees and salmonberry/thimbleberry thickets overhanging the trail. Cross numerous small creeks and springs in a vanilla leaf/Solomon plume carpet. Pass a large noble fir as more springs run onto the trail. Exit this lush area, and hike through a drier forest carpeted with huckleberry bushes. An unsigned trail leads left: this is the connector trail to the Badger Lake Campground. Continue on the Badger Creek Trail, which is again soft in places where more small creeks run onto and along it. Eventually arrive at a junction where going left leads you a short steep distance down to the shore of Badger Lake.

For further excursions, you can attempt the lakeside loop trail (Badger Lake Trail #479A), which is only partially maintained and is very brushy at the south end of the lake where several creeks come in. The Badger Creek Trail continues above Badger Lake, passing the junction with the Divide Trail, and finally arriving at the Badger Creek Upper Trailhead near Camp Windy.

There are campsites along the lake and also a regular campground off the access road, which you can reach by crossing the dam wall. Vehicles don't usually begin arriving at Badger Lake before June, when the snow drifts on the road become negotiable.

Facilities, etc.

  • Campground at the trailhead and also at Badger Lake
  • Share trail with horses

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Badger Creek Trail #479 (USFS)
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt. Hood, OR #462 and Flag Point, OR #463
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Columbia Wilderness and Badger Creek Wilderness
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Barlow Ranger District
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • Adventure Maps: Hood River, Oregon, Trail Map

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks

  • Hiking Oregon's Mount Hood & Badger Creek Wilderness by Fred Barstad
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • A Guide to the Trails of Badger Creek by Ken and Ruth Love
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon's Wilderness Areas by George Wuerthner
  • A Walking Guide to Oregon's Ancient Forests by Wendell Wood
  • Best Hikes With Dogs: Oregon by Ellen Morris Bishop

Links


Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

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