Archer Mountain, St. Cloud Point and Archer Falls Viewpoint

Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
Warren
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Archer Mountain, St. Cloud Point and Archer Falls Viewpoint

Post by Warren » April 27th, 2014, 9:32 am

Archer Mountain is one of the closest hikes to Portland, on the Washington side, about 30 minutes from I-205. There are 2 hikes with spectacular views. Here is the current beta.
Trailhead at the end of Smith-Cripe Rd at milepost 29.5 on Highway 14. About 2 miles of paved road to the end, ample parking. The hikes are on state-owned land, user-maintained, a bit brushy in places, and have a few steep sections.
Walk past the gate up the gravel road into a large former pasture. At the road fork, there are 2 routes.

1. St. Cloud Point and Archer Falls cirque viewpoint
From the pasture above the trailhead, follow the main road left, to connect to a hike up to the peak on the left and beyond to a cliff-edge viewpoint of Archer Falls. (3 hour RT). Follow the road a quarter mile to the old home site, and find the old trail above and to the left of the big rock wall. Follow it to the left, switchbacks up to the ridge, then along it, some switchbacks then a steep section up to and through a steep meadow. The trail passes the rock buttress on the left then ascends steeply and tops out on the open summit of cliff-faced St. Cloud Point (45 minutes from TH). This is a spacious, sunny meadow with great views. An expansive display of Camas Lilies were beginning to come into bloom in late April. Larkspur in late May.
The trail continues up the ridge then follows an old logging road northward along the ridge. In about a mile when the old road cuts left and gets overgrown, there’s a flagged path to the right which continues on the Archer Mtn side of the ridge, trending NE. After a level mossy spot, it traverses left across a steep slope then descends steeply and connects to a path coming from the north. Switch back and traverse to the right to reach an impressive cliff-edge viewpoint of Archer Falls and its very wild cirque. Do not descend into the cirque which is a protected natural area. The Falls are dry from mid-summer until fall rains.

2. Archer Mountain
From the pasture above the trailhead, the Archer Mountain trail is to the right. (2.5 to 3 hour RT) At the road sign “159” go right across the pasture to a forest road that descends to Archer Creek. Parallel the creek about a quarter mile, then the trail takes off to the left, and crosses the creek on a little bridge. From here it’s 1450 feet gain to the summit of Archer and an awesome Gorge overlook. The trail is flagged and easy to follow.
A quarter mile past the creek, stay left at a trail fork. (To the right connects to a utility service road that accesses the front of Archer, big talus fields under cliffs; this is the return route if you find the north side descent from the SE spur)
Halfway up it ascends a steep meadow where you get the first views (careful for poison oak). Continuing on, the trail ascends northward, around Archer’s west side. (Alternative unmarked boot path at the level of the hanging meadow traverses right across the hanging meadow and to the SW spur viewpoint). When the grade flattens out you reach a 4-way trail intersection. The path down the old road to the left goes to the West Bluff viewpoint; straight ahead follows an old road north to the Powerline road TH; the path up to the right goes to the summit. Go up to the right, follow an old forest road that soon enters large timber. After a particularly large moss covered Doug Fir tree, there’s a trail fork. The main trail goes to the right and traverses the summit basin to the southeastern spur. The path to the left goes directly to the summit in a quarter mile, then follows the south ridge down, over a hump and past an opening with views to the east. It then intersects the trail which was the right-hand option. From here follow the ridge out to its narrow, precipitous end to enjoy a spectacular view up and down the Columbia Gorge, directly across from Horsetail Falls and Multnomah Falls.
Last edited by Warren on May 28th, 2014, 7:06 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Peder
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Re: Archer Mountain, St. Cloud Point and Archer Falls Viewpo

Post by Peder » April 28th, 2014, 8:38 am

Welcome Warren! There is a very good map on SummitPost by Don Nelsen.
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

Warren
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Re: Archer Mountain, St. Cloud Point and Archer Falls Viewpo

Post by Warren » April 28th, 2014, 9:24 am

Thanks for the link to the map. The trail on Archer is a bit different now - where the original trail zigs right to cross the steep hanging meadow (and reach the western viewpoint then thrash dense brush to the summit), there's a better trail to the left. The maze of logging roads up there has been clarified by flags and pruning.

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Peder
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Re: Archer Mountain, St. Cloud Point and Archer Falls Viewpo

Post by Peder » April 29th, 2014, 8:36 am

Warren - I have been been across the hanging meadows twice in the past 18 months, each time without any brush issues. I love the hanging meadows, but I will look for a way straight up next time I come by; I suspect there will be fewer views. The more routes and variations, the more fun for all of us!

Image
2010 - My son coming down over the hanging meadows after a loop in the area.
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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CraigG
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Re: Archer Mountain, St. Cloud Point and Archer Falls Viewpo

Post by CraigG » April 29th, 2014, 8:53 am

Greetings Warren -

Welcome! Thank you for the report!
BTW - I took a NWW Meetup group up to Archer Mtn this past weekend on Sunday. The trail to Archer summit (Archer Creek trail) is flagged, but we took the (non-flagged) route to the SE corner - Quiver Pt. I hope to find time to post a TR today.

Such a great area.

Thanks!
CraigG

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kepPNW
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Re: Archer Mountain, St. Cloud Point and Archer Falls Viewpo

Post by kepPNW » April 29th, 2014, 9:02 am

The more maps/reports the merrier on this one! It's a place I've wanted to get to, but so far just haven't. No excuse. :)
Karl
Back on the trail, again...

(Photos · PortlandHikers)

Warren
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Joined: April 16th, 2014, 4:46 pm

Re: Archer Mountain, St. Cloud Point and Archer Falls Viewpo

Post by Warren » April 29th, 2014, 3:37 pm

The variant across the hanging meadows is very nice and should be in bloom about now. You can get to the SW viewpoint just fine. Brush is challenging when following that spur up to the summit area and over to the SE viewpoint - which is much more dramatic. The path over there is not very visible now. When you see you're across from the meadows as you zig-zag up steeply, you'll see a pink flag drawing you to the left (where there's a mossy outcropping) - that's where you switchback to traverse right to the meadows.

Warren
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Joined: April 16th, 2014, 4:46 pm

Re: Archer Mountain, St. Cloud Point and Archer Falls Viewpo

Post by Warren » April 29th, 2014, 5:09 pm

A couple photos to whet your appetite
Archer Mtn from St Cloud Point 4-25-14.jpg
Archer Mtn from St. Cloud Point, with rainbow on the hanging meadow

This is from the picnic spot 45 minutes up from the trailhead.
The route up Archer ascends the forest left of the hanging meadow that's lit by the rainbow. Hiking across that meadow is prime in May and June.
Archer Falls 4-25-2014.jpg
Archer Falls from the viewpoint, late April

Warren
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Joined: April 16th, 2014, 4:46 pm

Re: Archer Mountain, St. Cloud Point and Archer Falls Viewpo

Post by Warren » May 22nd, 2014, 1:30 pm

Archer Cirque Loop
You can easily hike a loop of the Archer Falls Cirque and Archer Mountain in about 4 hours. No bushwhacking or off-trail required! Use the trail descriptions from the first post and add this connector. Clockwise is probably best: Follow the route described above to St. Cloud Point and the Archer Falls viewpoint. After the view, backtrack 100 yards to the switchback, and go straight (north), traversing above the cirque, past another view and up a bit. Then when the trail comes in view of the power line clearing, exit the woods straight ahead and follow the power line access road to the right down to the next step. After the road enters the woods on the left, take the road fork to the right to a pair of towers. Follow the old forest road into the woods and to its end in about a mile, at a 4-way intersection of the Archer Mtn. hike. Straight ahead takes you back to your car at the Smith-Cripe TH. It’s worth seeing both the West Bluff viewpoint, with a full view of the Archer Cirque and waterfall and the Columbia River (down to the right), and the summit and SE spur viewpoint (up to the left).

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dmthomas49
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Re: Archer Mountain, St. Cloud Point and Archer Falls Viewpoint

Post by dmthomas49 » May 11th, 2018, 2:03 pm

We tried to do the Archer Mountain hike today. We follow the directions in the first post to the trail paralleling the creek. We kept following the ‘fading’ trail but never saw a trail down to the creek to cross. This part of the trail was almost like bushwhacking! Lots of small bushes, roots, and loose rocks. We decided to keep slugging through. We made it to Archer Falls and decided to make that our destination. On the way back we did a short part of the St. Cloud trail just to check it out. The trail seems much clearer and easier.

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