Deception Butte 12-4-23

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
Post Reply
User avatar
happilyretired
Posts: 39
Joined: March 23rd, 2023, 8:45 am

Deception Butte 12-4-23

Post by happilyretired » December 4th, 2023, 3:33 pm

All of the weather sites agreed that we were in for a break from steady rain in Eugene today, so as the sun was coming up I was driving back over to my nearest National Forest trails. Today I tackled the Deception Butte trail, an out-and-back that's about 4 1/2 miles each way. It starts at a trailhead right next to the NF maintenance yard at Middle Fork Ranger station. The first half mile or so parallels Highway 58, with all the attendant traffic noise. This chunk of the trail is shared "recreation trail" and is a very flat and well-pounded path through lush bottomland. Fortunately the noise vanishes when you get to Deception Creek and the trail takes a left to head up the watershed.

There are a bunch of side trails in this area, but the main trail is evident, sticking to the south side of the creek. After another mile and a half it crosses a bridge over Deception Creek, right at the confluence with another creek that doesn't have a name on any of my maps but has at least as much water flowing in it.
PC040017.jpg
Bridge over Deception Creek
Right after the bridge the trail starts climbing the ridge towards Deception Butte, staying broadly on the north side where this tributary creek is located. The National Forest map is accurate for the trail route, though it's otherwise out of date: the trail is open for its entire length now. Almost immediately it enters the burned out area from the 2014 fire.
PC040021.jpg
Entering the burned area
From here it's up, up, up: 2500 feet in 2 1/2 miles, or thereabouts. A good workout for this ex-Indiana senior citizen though I'm sure you spring chickens who think nothing of running laps around Mount Hood aren't impressed. The trail through here is in reasonable shape, with only a few small washouts and a couple of downed trees. Nothing to make me feel unsafe though plenty of spots where I moved cautiously because I was hiking alone and a slip would have had unpleasant consequences. The understory shrubs are coming back through here, though I haven't learned enough about Oregon plants yet to tell you what they are. The tallest firs are perhaps 4-5 feet at this point.
PC040033.jpg
Up into the clouds
At around 2500' the trail climbs back into an area that was in better shape: the trees are still all burned at the base, but about two thirds of them have survived. This is also where I got up into the cloud layer, with consequent light drizzle for most of the rest of the climb. I came back out of the cloud into clear air perhaps 200 feet below the summit, which meant the top of the butte afforded at least a few views of the surrounding hills. I'm sure if it wasn't a cloudy day there would have been more spectacular views, but it was enough to keep me happy while I paused for a few calories of trail snacks.
PC040041.jpg
View from the top of Deception Butte
The trail continues past the summit and about a third of a mile down to an upper trailhead. The Forest Service says "The upper trailhead is not recommended for use. The trail from the upper trailhead up to Deception Butte is steep, rocky and slick." I would add "practically nonexistent" to that list of adjectives. I only went a little ways down it before steep and slick rock crossed my personal limit of what I would hike on a wet day.

So I turned around and went back down. I ended up taking about 5 hours for a 9-mile round trip, which is way slower than my usual pace. But between steep mud, loose rock, sections covered with wet leaves, and washouts, I took my time on the descent. There were 3 places where I abandoned dignity and came down on my butt, which seemed preferable to falling on it by accident.
PC040056.jpg
One of several dodgy descents
All in all, it was an enjoyable walk. Even the burned-out section has its charms in that you get some nice views back down the watershed unimpeded by the usual trees. Plus on this damp weekday morning I had it all to myself.

User avatar
retired jerry
Posts: 14373
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Deception Butte 12-4-23

Post by retired jerry » December 4th, 2023, 3:45 pm

thanks for the report

nice to be retired and hike more :)

User avatar
teachpdx
Posts: 391
Joined: January 21st, 2014, 4:45 pm
Location: Hillsboro, OR

Re: Deception Butte 12-4-23

Post by teachpdx » December 5th, 2023, 8:21 am

happilyretired wrote:
December 4th, 2023, 3:33 pm
A good workout for this ex-Indiana senior citizen though I'm sure you spring chickens who think nothing of running laps around Mount Hood aren't impressed.
1000 ft/mile gain is rather impressive.

But I'm not really a spring chicken anymore. More like a summer duck...

Keep up the good work.
instagram: @remyodyssey

wnshall
Posts: 183
Joined: July 17th, 2009, 10:31 am

Re: Deception Butte 12-4-23

Post by wnshall » December 7th, 2023, 7:02 pm

happilyretired wrote:
December 4th, 2023, 3:33 pm
From here it's up, up, up: 2500 feet in 2 1/2 miles, or thereabouts. A good workout for this ex-Indiana senior citizen though I'm sure you spring chickens who think nothing of running laps around Mount Hood aren't impressed.
Yeah, 1000'/mile is a respectable workout, at least for this no-longer-spring chicken. Last summer swan?
The understory shrubs are coming back through here, though I haven't learned enough about Oregon plants yet to tell you what they are. The tallest firs are perhaps 4-5 feet at this point.
I remember the fun of learning Oregon trees and plants when I first move out here 20+ years ago. (Pro tip: if you're asked to ID a conifer, Doug Fir is a good first guess. Unless you're at higher elevation, then maybe Hemlock. On the West side at least.)

Recently I made a push to up my flower identification knowledge and found the Oregon Wildflower Search app very useful:
https://wildflowersearch.org/

The app stores its database locally, so it works even without cell connection. I also like that it's not powered by machine learning -- it recommends likely plants based on location and date, but you still have to look through candidate photos and plant descriptions to ID things. I think this leads to more robust plant ID skills. Does trees, shrubs, flowers. It's also got a website that is useful.

Thanks for the trip reports from Eugene!

User avatar
happilyretired
Posts: 39
Joined: March 23rd, 2023, 8:45 am

Re: Deception Butte 12-4-23

Post by happilyretired » December 8th, 2023, 5:51 am

Thanks for the tip on the app! I figured out Douglas Fir early because we have 7 of them on the lot of our new house. And fortunately I still remember what poison oak looks like due to some, um, unfortunate incidents with my pants down about 55 years ago.

Post Reply