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Lookout mountain-gumjuwac creek loop hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. Hood behind the pointy rock, High Prairie Loop (bobcat)
Hoary false yarrow (Chaenactis douglasii), Lookout Mountain (bobcat)
Badger Creek valley from Palisade Point, Divide Trail (bobcat)
Police car moths (Gnophaela vermiculata) on goldenrod, Badger Creek Cutoff (bobcat)
View to Badger Lake from a wormwood meadow, Divide Trail (bobcat)
Loop route shown in red (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: High Prairie TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Gumjuwac Creek
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 14.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3,835 feet
  • High Point: 6,525 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

This loop takes in some of the more interesting features of the Badger Creek Wilderness, beginning with a high meadow, then hiking a ridge with expansive views and amazing rock features before descending to the Badger Creek valley on a little-traveled slope. From the valley, the loop rises through dry forest and meadows to Gumjuwac Saddle before incurring more stiff elevation gain to Lookout Mountain.

Cross Road 4410 and take the High Prairie Trail #493. This is a short loop trail to the summit of Lookout Mountain and you will pass the closing side of the loop after you pass the trailhead sign. The wide trail, an old road bed that accessed the former guard station and lookout site, heads across the lush High Prairie meadow. Pass into a band of conifers (noble fir, silver fir, mountain hemlock, western white pine) and enter a meadow dominated by false hellebore. After you pass the Badger Creek Wilderness sign, note the old telephone pole on the left. Hike through another band of forest and then reach a third meadow. The trail rises after you reenter the woods and the road bed turns to red cinders at a sharp curve.

The road continues to the lookout site, but for the best morning views, go right at the curve. The short tie trail reach the other side of the High Prairie Loop. Go left here and pass a viewpoint to Mount Hood and Elk Mountain. Pass a pointed rock outcrop which also offers excellent views west. The trail turns up the ridge in a matted carpet of pinemat manzanita and you will get your first views of Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters. Reach the Divide-High Prairie West Trail Junction, and go left.

Pass a campsite on Lookout Mountain’s west summit with a view back to the volcanoes of the Washington Cascades. Keep up the ridge on the viewpoint trail as the Divide Trail runs parallel below you to your left. At a saddle, reach the Divide-High Prairie East Trail Junction where the old lookout access road comes up the slope. Head up through scattered whitebark pines to the lookout site to get more expansive views in every direction.

Now head southeast along the ridge, dropping into a lupine meadow. Before entering mountain hemlock ridge forest, look to the left for the short, indistinct trail leading down to Senecal Spring, the former lookout’s water source. Continue along the ridge below a rock outcrop. Various paths lead to the rim for more views. Soon, the trail drops to the north side of the ridge in silver fir/mountain hemlock forest with a huckleberry understory. Rise to the Fret Creek-Divide Trail Junction and continue up more steeply to the ridge at Palisade Point. The weathered outcroppings in the Palisades area are worth exploring if you have the time. To the right is the highest point. Clamber around here and you will find an interesting rock arch. Continuing along the Divide Trail, there are a couple more Palisade viewpoints over the Badger Creek Wilderness. Badger Lake gleams in the distance. Look down below the cliffs for some spectacular needles. From here, the trail drops through woodland and manzanita-carpeted meadows. Ponderosa pines enter the forest mix. From a saddle, rise in dry woods and then drop again among fragrant snowbrush and more parklands. The trail reaches dusty FR 2730-200, which access the Flag Point Lookout tower, at a meadow and the Sunset Spring Trailhead, where four trails meet. From here, if you wish, you can hike about half a mile up the road to the Flag Point lookout tower, which is staffed in the summer.

To continue the loop, don’t cross the road, but take the Badger Creek Cutoff Trail #477 heading down to your right. Traverse down through a corridor of boxwood under ponderosa and lodgepole pines, noble fir, silver fir, mountain hemlock, Douglas-fir and grand fir. Reenter the Badger Creek Wilderness at a couple of large Douglas-firs. Pass a big grand fir and then reach a spring. After this, pass through a grove of ponderosa pines and round the nose of the ridge. From this point, you get get a view of Mount Hood and up to Palisade Point. In a lush Sitka alder thicket, cross a string of streams gushing from year-round springs shaded by red-cedar and Douglas-fir. Break into recovering forest carpeted by fireweed and bracken among the deadfall of diseased trees. Cross a small brook and then drop to cross Tolo Creek. The trail heads down the creek and then traverses in Douglas-fir/ponderosa/grand fir forest before switchbacking down to the Badger Creek-Badger Creek Cutoff Trail Junction (Note that Trail #477A, a shortcut to Badger Creek that shows on some maps, has been completely decommissioned by the Forest Service).

Go right here. Badger Creek runs to your left, but you won’t see it on this hike unless you want to clamber over a lot of deadfall. Chinquapin and huckleberry form the understory here. There are some large cedars along the trail and Engelmann spruce is common here. Cross two small streams and then drop to a wide footbridge over a third stream. Enter a clearing and reach the Badger Creek-Gumjuwac Trail Junction. Just beyond the junction is the footbridge over shaded Gumjuwac Creek, a good spot to take a break. It's about 2.2 miles from here up the Badger Creek Trail to Badger Lake, where there is a campground, if you are on an extended pack.

Hike up the Gumjuwac Trail #480 through lupine meadows. Cross a creek into an area of recovering forest and cross a dry gully. Wade up through a thimbleberry thicket , make two switchbacks, and traverse up above Gumjuwac Creek. Cross the creek, and then pass through a meadow dominated by wormwood, goldenrod, and horsemint. Walk across a stony meadow dotted with clumps of creamy stonecrop and head up through more open spaces. Pass into a shady woodland of Engelmann spruce, silver fir, and grand fir. Cross three boggy skunk-cabbage brooks, switchback, and head up a steep slope. Cross a talus slope with a spring gushing from the rocks and reach the five-way trail junction at the Gumjuwac Saddle Trailhead on the Bennett Pass Road.

Find the Divide Trail continuing the Lookout Mountain on your right. Walk on the level through dry forest with some dense copses of young trees. Cross an open wormwood-cloaked slope which also blooms with penstemon, skyrocket, false yarrow, and rainier in the summer. There's a view across the valley to Badger Butte. Soon traverse a slope dotted with noble firs and carpeted by a lush growth of horsemint, paintbrush, and skyrocket. Reach the spring that is the source of Gumjuwac Creek and then switchback up in a small burn. Reenter shady woods of noble fir, silver fir, mountain hemlock, and Engelmann spruce around the nose of a ridge and switchback at a talus slope. Get a view of Mount Hood from here before rising to switchback three times to the Divide-High Prairie West Trail Junction.

Go left and retrace a short section of the your approach to Lookout Mountain before keeping left at the unsigned junction for the short tie that leads to the lookout road. Wind gently down in mountain hemlock forest carpeted in patches by lupine, grouseberry, and woodrush. The trail swings right at a decommissioned spur to an old trailhead on the Bennett Pass Road. From here on, it’s a saunter back to the trailhead through High Prairie’s lush meadows of arrow-leaf groundsel, heliotrope, lupine, arnica, and subalpine daisy.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • 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 that cover this destination

  • A Guide to the Trails of Badger Creek by Ken and Ruth Love (Trails described individually)

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.

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