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Mount Beachie via French Creek Ridge Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Andesite fin on French Creek Ridge (bobcat)
Mountain boykinia (Boykinia major) below Marten Buttes (bobcat)
Battle Ax from Mt. Beachie (bobcat)
The route to Mt. Beachie along French Creek Ridge (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: French Creek Ridge TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Mount Beachie
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 8.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,115 feet
  • High Point: 5,190 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer through Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes: can be extended east or west
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

French Creek Ridge separates the Little North Santiam and North Santiam drainages. It is a rugged remnant of the Old Cascades: domes of columnar basalt, outcroppings of platy andesite, and lots of scree. Because the ridge runs from west to east, there are extensive views from various high points: north to Mount Hood and summits in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness, such as Whetstone Mountain and Big Slide Mountain, and south to Coffin Mountain and an expanse of the high Cascades from Olallie Butte to the Three Sisters. The entire ridge, with its outcroppings of platy andesite, is a trove of what archeologists call "lithic scatter sites," where aboriginal Americans came to prospect and shape stone tools.

After completing a self-issued wilderness permit at the trailhead, hike east along a road bed hemmed in by Sitka alder, Alaska yellow-cedar, mountain hemlock, and Scouler’s willow. You will soon enter the Opal Creek Wilderness. The trail then drops as rhododendron, bear-grass, huckleberry, Douglas-fir, and noble fir enter the mix. The trail rises again and traverses up a slope. The basalt columns of the north sibling of the two Marten Buttes appears ahead: these prominences were so-called because trappers often remarked on the abundance of pine martens in the area. There are open views of ridges in the Opal Creek and Bull of the Woods Wilderness areas as you pass above a talus slope capped by lush thimbleberry and goat’s beard thickets.

The path becomes rougher heading through huckleberry thickets and then reaches an open slope with some views south to Detroit Lake and the central Cascades. The tread crosses more talus squeaking with the alarm calls of pikas. You will see an old road bed below and then cross over the ridge crest below an outcropping of platy andesite. The trail rises to another ridge carpeted with pinemat manzanita and common juniper. Andesite fins stand like gendarmes among the Alaska yellow-cedar along this section; this is a good turnaround point for those wanting a shorter hike.

The trail continues to where you make a sharp left on the Beachie Trail at the signed French Creek Ridge-Beachie Trail Junction; you may not even notice the junction as the continuation of the French Creek Ridge Trail is initially concealed by a jumble of windfall before it heads along and descends the Byars Peak ridge. Continuing on the Beachie Trail, plunge down on a rarely-maintained, flagged track through dense brush - mostly white rhododendron and huckleberry. Pass a couple of small ponds and head up to the ridge crest once more. Cross a couple of small meadows, the remnants of ridge-top tarns, and pass along a scree slope offering views from Olallie Butte to the Three Sisters. In summer, the perfume of the big Washington lilies pervades these slopes. The trail keeps close to the crest, heading up the slopes of Mount Beachie among bear-grass, common juniper, pinemat manzanita, mountain hemlock, western white pine, and noble fir. Where the trail drops of the ridge on Mount Beachie’s north side, you can make a short bushwhack to the summit area, which provides decent views east to Battle Ax and Elk Lake as well as south down to Geibeler Lake and the central Cascade peaks. After enjoying Mount Beachie’s views, head back the way you came.

Notes:

1. The section beyond the Byars Peak Trail is very brushy and rarely maintained: long pants will keep your skin pristine as you bulldoze through here.

2. You can extend your hiking day by heading west from the trailhead to do the Phantom Natural Bridge Hike and/or heading down FR 2207 for the Opal Lake Hike.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Self-issued Wilderness Permit

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Battle Ax, OR #524
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, Bull of the Woods Wilderness, Opal Creek Wilderness, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area
  • Geo-Graphics: Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek Wilderness Map
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Willamette National Forest: Detroit Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Willamette National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Trip Reports

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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.