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Bird Creek Meadows Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View of Mount Adams from Hellroaring Viewpoint. (romann)
Typical terrain (romann)
There are a lot of flowers in season (romann)
Staircase Falls near trail #105 (romann)
  • Start point: Bird Lake Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Bird Lake Trailhead
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Distance: 6.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1000 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Open July through September per treaty with Yakama Indians, but is snowed in until about mid-August
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

NOTE: The area of this hike was severely affected by the extensive Cougar Complex Fire of 2015. Check on current conditions before attempting this hike.

Bird Creek Meadows is a beautiful subalpine area with small flower-packed meadows, numerous glacial streams, waterfalls (3 on this hike) and lakes. Getting there requires enduring one of the roughest roads around, but once on the trail you'll enjoy nice scenery almost from the beginning. This hike is comparatively easy at just 1,000 feet elevation gain, and leads to a great viewpoint of Mount Adams over a wide Hellroaring Canyon. As an added bonus, this area rarely gets crowded.

Begin hiking down the road to camp host's "administrative" area (according to the sign at trailhead), so that Bird Lake is on your right. Once you get to a Y-turn in about 50 yards, look for a sign for Trail #100 on your left, away from the lake. Unlike the approach road, the trail receives good maintenance and is very easy to follow.

Shortly, the trail crosses a small stream and alternates between trees and open meadows. After about 1.3 miles from the trailhead and a couple more bridged stream crossings, you will see a 50-feet high Crooked Creek Falls. A side trail climbs steeply to the base of the falls. Cross a creek and head up to the Round-the-Mountain-Bird Lake Trail Junction.

Turn right and hike through more meadows and occasional views of Mount Adams over the trees and a distant Mount Hood. In late summer, the meadows are packed with wildflowers. If you come too late to see the flowers, you will get treated with huckleberries. Cross several mossy brooks and then traverse the slope. Cross a footbridge and pass a human-created waterhole in a meadow. About 0.7 miles from the previous junction, reach the picnic area at the center of Bird Creek Meadows and go left at the Round-the-Mountain Trail-Trail of the Flowers Junction. A weathered sign will inform you that it's the beginning of the three-quarter mile Trail of the Flowers. It's a loop trail that reconnects with Round-the-Mountain trail. The gentians bloom in profusion up here at the end of summer. Rise and cross a brook and then a footbridge over a creek. In another 0.3 miles, keep left at the Trail of the Flowers-Hellroaring Viewpoint Trail Junction. The trail switchbacks up to a viewpoint over the meadows area and Simcoe Butte in the distance. In places, the route is marked with cairns. You'll know when you come to Hellroaring Viewpoint. Before this, you only saw glimpses of Mt. Adams over the trees, but now the mountain opens over a wide canyon in all its glory, with expansive Hellroaring Meadows below. There are numerous creeks running off the cliffs below the mountain, and it's possible to see several waterfalls on the near side of the canyon.

A sometimes indistinct footpath continues to climb above the viewpoint all the way to Sunrise Camp at 8,300 feet (see the Sunrise Camp Hike).

From the viewpoint, go back down 0.8 miles to the junction with the Trail of the Flowers. Here, instead of turning right (the way you came from), keep left to make a loop. Soon you'll see a picnic area in the trees, complete with toilets, picnic tables, and even running water! Hike down to the intersection with Round-the-Mountain Trail #9, and briefly turn right.

Go about 0.1 mile on Trail #9, and look for an intersection with Bluff Lake trail #105 (if that broken sign is still there), just after picnic area ends. The sign says 3/4 mile to Bluff Lake, and 1.5 miles to Bird Lake. For the purpose of this hike, turn left onto this trail. You may also keep straight on trail #9 to the junction with #100 you hiked up, to make it a little longer and see the meadows again.

Trail #105 is mostly forested and goes down pretty steeply. In about a minute below the junction, you will see Staircase Falls - this waterfall is not tall but quite nice, running down a series of mossy stairs. Soon, you'll pass another small waterfall on your right, and then will come to a forest-rimmed Bluff Lake and another trail junction.

Keep right at the junction and hike along the shore of Bluff Lake (the lake will be on your left). You'll pass another tiny lake on your left, climb a hill, and then come down a steep and rocky section of the trail. Before you know it, you'll see picnic tables and fire pits again - it is Bird Creek Campground. Here, you may hike on the road to the junction and turn right at the sign to "administrative area" and to a trailhead parking, but it's nicer to hike straight to Bird Lake and continue along the lake shore on a faint trail to your car.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $5 Yakama Nation 5-day pass must be purchased at either Mirror Lake campground (1 mile from the trailhead), or a the trailhead.

Maps

  • Click on the map below to enlarge

Also see:

Map of the route


Weather

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks

  • Day Hiking Mount Adams and Goat Rocks by Tami Asars
  • 95 Virtual Hikes of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument by Northwest Hiker


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.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.