After some recommendations in the recommendations forum, I decided to pound around Hardesty Mountain on Sunday.
I originally planned at hiking up Eula ridge as suggested, but then when looking at maps, I saw I could make a loop up Hardesty and down Eula and then over on a connecting trail. As a fan of loops rather than there-and-backs, I wanted to go for this option.
I pulled into the Hardesty Trailhead at about 11 am. There were 2 other cars parked but no signs of people. It had snowed and rained on my drive down from Corvallis, so I was expecting slightly cruddy weather. Nothing was sticking at the TH though, so I wasn't too concerned.
The first 2ish miles were uphill with a mudslick down the trail itself with scattered fallen logs (5 or 6), but none of them seemed to be a problem to get over or around. It had stopped raining, so I took my rain shell off.
About a mile? further, you reach an old road that the trail follows for about 200 yards. Here is where it started getting snowy on the ground, and I started taking pictures. No offense to anyone, but it looked like just about any of a thousand forested hillsides with rhodi's and swordferns.
After this, the winding trail just progressively got more snowy, and harder to follow.
Lots of beautiful somewhat obscured views, brief breaks in cloud cover / precipitation. Lots of uphill slogging.
I wasn't cold, but the amount of snow there was, was just a pain to hike through.
At some point my phone said I had hiked 5.8 miles, and I hadn't seen anything that looked like another trail, and it was time for a snack, so I sat down on a rock, munched on a poptart, and decided to hike back down rather than trekking further up (though there probably wasn't much up left, but I decided I didn't care).
Hiking down went pretty smooth until I got to the muddy trail section, every step my feet would try to slide out from under me and the mud definitely won a few times.
Got back to my car about 3:30 and headed home.
Take aways - lots of snow, not many people. Steep climb, but not 2000 feet of switchbacks bad. Scattered views obscured by the clouds and snow and trees, but the clouds snow and trees ended up being the view instead.