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Rooster rock via high ridge trail hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Rooster Rock and Mt. Jefferson from Chicken Rock (bobcat)
Scalloped onion (Allium crenulatum), High Ridge Trail (bobcat)
Xeric meadow on the High Ridge Trail (bobcat)
Little sunflowers (Helianthella uniflora) below Chicken Rock (bobcat)
Route of the High Ridge Trail to Rooster Rock (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Old Bridge TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Chicken Rock
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 11.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3770 feet
  • High Point: 4,600 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer - Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

If you're looking for solitude on a lightly traveled trail, try this ridge hike along the southern rim of the Table Rock Wilderness. The hike rises relentlessly through coniferous forest blooming with rhododendrons in June/July until you begin to undulate along a ridge crest that offers xeric meadows and vistas south to the Three Sisters. The destination is Chicken Rock, a gravely summit just west of the volcanic plug of Rooster Rock. This is a great wildflower hike through mid-summer and it is unlikely that you will meet anyone on a trail that served Native Americans trekking to huckleberry fields and then settlers heading from the Valley to Bagby Hot Springs.

This hike could be done as a hike and bike by leaving a bicycle at the Rooster Rock Road Trailhead. After visiting Chicken Rock, continue on the High Ridge Trail to the Rooster Rock Trail and hike down to Rooster Rock Road.

The forest down at the trailhead is Douglas-fir, western hemlock, vine maple, big-leaf maple, red alder, Pacific yew and groundcover of Oregon grape and salal. Pass an information board with a trail registration box. The groundcover switches to bracken and salal. Begin some big looping switchbacks, graded for horse travel, and pass some sizeable Douglas-firs and hemlocks which tower over Oregon grape in a very open understory. Pass through some vine maple thickets in the otherwise open understory. Note a few burned snags remaining from the big fires of the 1880s. More huckleberry bushes appear. Pass through an open grassy area rimmed by oaks and manzanita. The wildflowers are spectacular in mid-summer: woolly sunflower, rosy plectritis, blue-eyed Mary, Cascades mariposa, nodding microseris, desert-parsley, paintbrush, death-camas, and blue field gilia. Then pass above another, larger grassy south-facing expanse. Reentering the forest, salal and blooming rhododendron take over under Douglas-fir and hemlock. Eventually reach an old jeep track at the High Ridge-Bull Creek-Image Creek Junction.

Keep straight here and head steeply up to a broad ridge crest where the trail levels out as it keeps below the knobs on the ridge. Traverse below an outcrop of pillared Old Cascades basalt and then make a series of short switchbacks, about 16 of them, steeply up. In open woods, starry solomon-plume takes over as groundcover, with oxalis, sword fern and trillium as accompaniment. The trail still snakes steeply up and then levels in beautiful blooming rhododendron woods of Douglas-fir and hemlock. The path drops and rises on the ridge crest. Noble fir and some young silver fir begin to appear. There are glimpses of the hillsides across the Molalla River, with their secondary growth and clearcuts. The trail drops again along a ridge and rises gently again to an opening with pinemat manzanita and common juniper followed by some Douglas-fir/hemlock/rhododendron copses. Wildflowers blooming include death-camas, mariposa, paintbrush, woolly sunflower, phlox, and Martindale’s desert-parsley. A short spur leads right to a rocky lookout over the Molalla drainage. Drop down, and note the many thatch ant nests as you rise to attain the crest again. Larkspur and groundsel bloom here. Reenter woods and then rise up to an xeric meadow on a saddle with death-camas, phlox, larkspur, parsley fern and scalloped onion. Back into the woods you go, and then come out at the open slope below Rooster Rock, which is blooms spectacularly with little sunflowers. Salmon polemonium, mountain meadow knotweed, wallflower, lupine and flax are also mid-summer blooms here. The High Ridge-Saddle Trail Junction may be rather overgrown with all of this botanical bounty.

Keep left and head up to the ridge. Just before you hit the noble and silver fir woods, a spur trail leads up to a rocky knob to the west of Rooster Rock, unofficially known as Chicken Rock. Mount Jefferson looms behind Rooster Rock. You should also be able to make out Three-fingered Jack, Mount Washington and the Three Sisters. Table Rock is across the Image Creek bowl to the north and Mount Hood's snowy peak rises behind it. On a clear day, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, and Mount Saint Helens should also be visible; BLM brochures even tout the chance to make out the tip of Mount Shasta, but summer haze usually nullifies this opportunity. Among other sightings, there is Goat Mountain with its communication tower and the Willamette Valley, backed by the Coast Range, spread behind it. Dark pink patches of blooming rock penstemon dot the weathered basalt of Rooster Rock.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Sign in at the trail register if forms are available.

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Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Oregon's Wilderness Areas by George Wuerthner

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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.

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