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Dry Ridge Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View over the Clackamas River Canyon, Dry Ridge Trail (bobcat)
The Roaring River at the beginning of the Dry Ridge Trail (bobcat)
Clackamas white iris (Iris tenuis), Dry Ridge Trail (bobcat)
Tall trees, Dry Ridge Trail (bobcat)
The hike to Grouse Point (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Dry Ridge TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Grouse Point
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 14.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3415 feet
  • High Point: 4,488 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

This hike stays under a forest canopy for most of its length and offers only partial views. The route cuts into the heart of the Roaring River Wilderness, and therein lies its attraction. Not many venture up here, and adventurous hikers will share the woods with coyote, cougar, and elk. Clackamas white iris (Iris tenuis), an endemic species, blooms here in late June and, at the same time of year, migrating newts will force you to watch your step! The area is remote and little traveled, but the trails are well-marked even though it is true wilderness.

The Dry Ridge Trail #518 heads up behind Campsite #7 of the Roaring River Campground. There is also access to the Roaring River shore here where the river tumbles into a large pool. Head up in Douglas-fir, big-leaf maple, red-cedar woods. Rosy plectritis and little-leaf montia bloom on the rock faces in early summer. The trail rises to the right where a use trail leads left along the river. Find yourself on a ridge crest overlooking the campground. Keep up and make a traverse in the scrubby area of a powerline corridor. Then the trail enters Douglas-fir forest and you see the sign for the Roaring River Wilderness. Make eight switchbacks heading up a steep, forested slope with some larger Douglas-firs. Western hemlock also grows tall here. If you are here in late June/early July, watch your step: rough-skinned newts are crawling all over the trail! At the same time of year, you will see Clackamas white iris in bloom: this is a species endemic to only a couple of Oregon counties. The trail winds up and makes a short traverse on the west side of the ridge. Then it switchbacks twice up to a steep, grassy viewpoint of the Clackamas River Canyon blooming with cryptantha, blue-eyed Mary, desert parsley and paintbrush. Make a long traverse, passing below a small spring. The trail drops a little and then rises in Douglas-fir/western hemlock forest. Cross a mossy talus slope where the irises are in full bloom and reach the Grouse Creek Crossing. The creek here braids into three rushing torrents, so you have to navigate carefully to make it across. The trail heads up towards a talus slope and switchbacks three times. Come to a rock face and switchback, then switchback again. The path passes below another rock face, makes two short switchbacks, and then leads into a talus slope, where it switchbacks at the Dry Ridge-Road 4635 Tie Trail Junction.

The trail right leads to Road 4635 in ¼ mile. Go left above a talus slope and then the trail drops in mossy hemlock/Douglas-fir woods with rhododendrons. Reach a wide shallow creek crossing. Here you can take take a large mossy log. The trail rises. The trail here appears to be a major cat, meaning cougar, highway, judging by all the scat. The path levels and then heads gradually upward. The trail levels again among younger trees - this area was the site of a large burn. Low clouds make the woods a little eerie. In the forest mix now are a few western white pines and cedars. Soon we grade into noble fir and silver fir. Bear-grass appears sparsely. There’s a long level stretch before the trail drops along a forested rim to the Dry Ridge-Grouse Point Trail Junction.

Go right here. The trail rises in silver fir, noble fir, Douglas-fir, western hemlock forest. Again, these are young trees. Enter a rhododendron thicket and note the appearance of mountain hemlock. The trail levels and then rises past a mountain hemlock with a #4 on it. There are even a couple of lodgepole pines. Continue through the rhododendrons, and where the trial begins to drop, look for a scratch of a tread leading off to the left to Grouse Point. From here you can get a decent view down a talus slope and across the South Fork Roaring River valley to Indian Ridge and, on a balmy day, Mount Hood.

The trail continues along the wooded rim to the Grouse Point-Serene Lake Trail Junction. Go left there to find a campsite next to Serene Lake. Go right to explore mosquito-infested, but botanically fascinating Cache Meadows.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Poison oak on lower sections of the trail

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Dry Ridge Trail #518 (USFS)
  • Grouse Point Trail #517 (USFS)
  • Green Trails Maps: Fish Creek Mtn, OR #492
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Clackamas River 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

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 62 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe

More 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.

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.