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Sedum Ridge Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

This page is marked as a Lost Hike. The "trail" may be dangerous and hard to follow and is not recommended for beginning hikers without an experienced leader. Beginning hikers should check out our Basic Hiking Information page.
Mt. Adams from Mowich Butte (bobcat)
Footbridge on the Sedum Ridge Trail (bobcat)
Small waterfall on the North Fork Rock Creek, Pacific Crest Trail (bobcat)
Rock Creek from Red Bluff Road (bobcat)
The loop described: trails in red; road walks traced in orange (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Sedum Ridge TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Mowich Butte
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop with spur
  • Distance: 12.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3535 feet
  • High point: 3,513 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Late spring into fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

The Sedum Ridge Trail climbs up to Mowich Ridge, moving from Washington’s Yacolt Burn State Forest into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and connecting with the Pacific Crest Trail. This loop takes in these two trails, part of abandoned FR 41, plus a segment of the CG 2000 (Red Bluff) Road. The rewards at the top of Mowich Butte are views of the Washington Cascades and closer volcanic features, such as Trout Creek Hill. Note that the Sedum Ridge Trail does not see systematic maintenance and the worst blowdown, as of 2014, is in the first quarter mile. The trail tread is becoming overgrown with Oregon grape, red huckleberry, thimbleberry, and vine maple. Many years’ worth of debris covers the trail as well.

A very indistinct tread, concealed in the buildup of leaf debris, begins across the road from the trailhead. The tread becomes more obvious a few yards in, but there will probably be some blowdown to negotiate. In a few yards, you will need to bypass a collapsed footbridge over a creek in lush woods of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, salal, and sword fern. Heading up a slope, make a switchback at a pile of blowdown and traverse before making two more switchbacks. The trail rises gently above a steep-sided ravine and switchbacks among massive snags from the 1902 Yacolt Burn. Ascend gradually in an understory of vine maple, sword fern, Oregon grape, and salal. The trail switchbacks and wends up gradually on an accumulation of debris. Switchback twice and make a long traverse. In places, thimbleberry and alder overgrow the trail. Pass an eight-foot thick snag and make a long traverse before dropping to a low ridge between two headwater bowls.

Traverse up, crossing a couple of small streams, one with a footbridge. Pass a spring in a carpet of Oregon grape and cross two footbridges, the first one rather lengthy. Cross a rocky gully and a small creek before rounding the nose of the ridge on a level traverse. Notice some mossy, dripping rock overhangs above. On your left, see one of the DNR signs explaining how timber dollars are spent. Numerous red huckleberry bushes overhang the trail in this area. Rise gently as bear-grass appears in the understory. Head along a short ridge crest and reach the unsigned Pacific Crest-Sedum Ridge Trail Junction. Continue straight here a few yards and reach abandoned FR 41 (Sunset Hemlock Road), which runs along the ridge crest.

Go left on the road bed and rise gradually, passing long the north side of a knoll. The road then drops under a rock face (Look down the south slope to see the Pacific Crest Trail running about 15 yards below you: you will return to this point to complete the loop). The road bed rises gently from this point for about half a mile until you reach the Sunset Hemlock-Mowich Butte Road Junction, the latter being the spur that leads up to Mowich Butte. Head up through some “partial cuts” as the road switchbacks. There are more views through the trees of Three Corner Rock, Birkenfeld Mountain, Table Mountain, and Mount Hood. Switchback again and head through uncut forest towards the summit. The path bypasses a thicket of Sitka alder and reaches the site of the old lookout. There are great views down to the Trout Creek valley and to Mount Saint Helens (hiding behind Soda Peaks), Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams.

Return to FR 41 and go left for about half a mile to the rock face, from which you can do the short, steep bushwhack down to the Pacific Crest Trail. This is a 100-year Douglas-fir/hemlock forest, post Yacolt Burn, with lots of snags. The undergrowth is bear-grass, salal, and huckleberry. Make a traverse and get views of Three Corner Rock. The trail drops and crosses a ravine before rising into a steep-sided alder gully. Traverse gently down and switchback at a gully. The trail switchbacks again below a spring and crosses a small creek. Make two more switchbacks, cross a small creek, and then a bigger creek with a 15-foot waterfall plunging below the trail. The PCT heads down above a tributary of the North Fork Rock Creek. Below, look for two 15-foot waterfalls, easier to see when the leaves have fallen in late fall. Pass below rocky ramparts and then hike below basalt cliffs with big-leaf maples growing on the talus. Walk below a mossy talus slope and into an alder gully to cross a creek. The trail heads out above the alder bottomlands of the North Fork Rock Creek. There are huge snags in the woods. Rise into lusher woods with some ancient Douglas-firs that somehow survived the fire. One is at least six feet in diameter. The creek runs below to the left. Cross a small stream in a lush bottom of red-cedar, hemlock, maple, alder and big Douglas-firs. Cross another small creek and undulate along the trail in the valley bottom. The PCT heads into a gully and out, then rises away from the creek in lush Douglas-fir woods with hemlock, Oregon grape and salal. The trail then reaches the CG 2070 road at the Snag Creek Trailhead.

Walk down the road and see a maple-shaded campsite on the left at the North Fork Rock Creek. Cross a bridge over Rock Creek just west of its confluence with the North Fork and head up to the road junction with CG 2000. Go left here and hike along the road. To the left, you can get glimpses through the lush woods to beautiful, bouldery Rock Creek. To the right is scrappy plantation forest. Recross Rock Creek on a road bridge and go right at a junction. Walk along the road paralleling Rock Creek, cross a bridge over a tributary, and reach your car at the Sedum Ridge Trailhead.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Wind River, WA #397 and Lookout Mtn, WA #396
  • Washington State Department of Natural Resources: The Yacolt Burn State Forest Map
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument & Administrative Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Discover Pass required at trailhead
  • $2 toll each way at the Bridge of the Gods
  • Sedum Ridge Trail not regularly maintained

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Skamania 231: A Scrambler's Guide by Kelly Wagner
  • Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Washington by Tami Asars (PCT section)

More Links


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.