The daughter convinced me she wanted another hike, but the early wake up call didn't go so well, so I headed out alone. It was crystal clear in Pendleton, but I could see increasing clouds as I headed west.I chose to try something new at the east end of the gorge by checking out the Lyle Cherry Orchard hike. It was a great morning drive with bald eagle pairs, and geese and all these not so subtle signs of impending spring. Since all the sites guide you from PDX, I had to guess when I was getting close. I saw an empty parking area that looked like it might be the one with a trail heading upslope. I entered the tunnel at the east end of Lyle and knew that must have been it, turned around, and there were now two cars with a fairly large group of people breaking out there poles. I quickly loaded my cameras and scurried up slope. Going up I had the trail to myself, and was pleased and a little surprised to see some grass widows, and a couple other flowers already making a go of things. It had been a long time since I had done a solo, and forgot how nice it is to be your own time keeper, especially with three cameras on hand. The trail is beautiful and exceeded my expectations, great views, some wildlife, flowers and my first time journeying through Oregon oak. This is truly a special place from that standpoint. I would love to do this hike in the fall when the leaves are changing. The only downside was being a generally open slope for a good part of it which meant you got views, but I-84 was a constant companion. Once you get in the Oregon oak groves, it turns down quite a bit though.
There are a couple ponds, the first I don't believe is natural, and is essentially dammed by the trail. The second is larger, and as I stood there, it was actually quite silent except for the sound of a lot of frogs which appeared to be coming from quite a ways north of the trail which made me suspect there was another larger pond out there? I also encountered a western skink sunning himself. He was a little afraid of me, but was swayed by the warm sun to let me get a shot.
I finally started to run into folks about half way back down, and enjoyed some nice views to the west. Before returning to the highway and starting the beautiful trip back out Highway 14.
This is definitely one of my new favorite early season hikes, and I will be back. Early flowers and early warmth are always a good combination in February.
This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
3 posts • Page 1 of 1
Nice report and photos! I look forward to getting out there sometime.
"Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?" Peter Pan
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Thanks very much for the report!