Buck Creek-Morrison Creek-Wicky Creek Loop Fall Colors | Mt. Adams, WA

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ElementalFX
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Buck Creek-Morrison Creek-Wicky Creek Loop Fall Colors | Mt. Adams, WA

Post by ElementalFX » October 16th, 2018, 2:01 pm

This is an old trip report from last year, October 8th, but I forgot to post it here. It may or may not look exactly like this at this time of year, but at least it's an option to consider if you're heavily craving that vine maple and quaking aspen fall colors. Later in season, there's tons of mature golden Western Larches here–one of the few deciduous conifer tree species in our area. Perhaps they're peaking about now?




Opening Photos:
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Yellow vine maples growing amid a grove of Quaking Aspens.

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Vine maples and quaking aspen along the Buck Creek-Morrison Creek-Wicky Creek Loop.





Trip Report:
We hiked an 8.8 mile loop using the Buck Creek Trail, Morrison Creek Trail, and Wicky Creek Trail on the gently rolling grades at the southern base of Mount Adams.

The hike featured many impressive examples of old growth ponderosa pine and Quaking Aspen. Cross several creeks, such as Morrison, Buck, and Wicky.

Most of the latter hike can be quite dry, save for the bridged Morrison Creek crossing. The old growth forest is quite beautiful–especially in fall, when the quaking aspens turn bright yellow and the vine maples turn a fiery orange and red. The latter half of the loop also travels through selective cutting (logging) zones, so the forest is more open here. (This is also the main reason why the vine maples here turn bright red, I believe; as in the shade, vine maple turns yellow).

Note that the only "view" that you will get is of the White River canyon, near the start of the hike. The rest of the hike works its way through gently sloping, forested terrain.

There are several spots along the loop that might get confusing. The trail crosses various paved and gravel roads throughout the hike, yet it never feels all that "developed." Most roads are lightly traveled, aside from Forest Roads 80 and 8040.

At some road crossings, users have painted white arrows on the pavement to help you re-join the trail. I would advise following a GPS track for your convenience, although it is not necessary to do so.





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Buck Creek East Trailhead


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You soon pass a junction with the lower Buck Creek loop, marked with this sign.


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The Buck Creek Trail crosses a few creeks, the largest one being Morrison Creek.


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The views into the White Salmon River canyon were impressive. Assuming there are larches down in the canyon, I bet it is quite beautiful down there when the larches on this side of Mt. Adams put on a show.



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The trail skirts the canyon for a while, passing under several large, old growth Ponderosa pines.


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Along the Buck Creek Trail, vine maples smother the forest floor. Here, they're just starting to put on a yellow color.



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After crossing the last creek along the Buck Creek Trail, the trail starts to ascend at a somewhat steeper grade, and the forest begins to look drier. It also appears to get much less use than the lower section.



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Vine maples smother the faint path as you near the upper Buck Creek West Trailhead and the junction with the continuation of the Buck Creek Trail. Continuing straight leads to an alternate trailhead, but the Buck Creek Trail continues beyond this point to meet up with the Morrison Creek Trail.



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Junction with the Buck Creek "east trailhead spur" Trail, straight ahead; and the second half of the Buck Creek Trail, angling at a sharp right.



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Once on the Buck Creek Trail, some larger vine maples began to put on a show. The Morrison Creek Trail largely passes through old, overgrown clear cut areas, and follows old logging roadbeds in some places. Nevertheless, there is excellent fall color here, as well as quite a few old and young larches.



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Backlit vine maples.



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Cross a road or two, (one of them paved), and then join up with another old logging roadbed. Some of the most fantastic displays of vine maple, larch, and quaking aspen line the trail.



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One of the highlights of this trail is the section that passes right through the middle of a quaking aspen grove.



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Many of these aspens are giant–nearly a foot in diameter at the base, and very tall. The trail guides you between huge, seemingly-impenetrable walls of aspens.


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Below the aspens, bright, yellow vine maples show off their color.



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Quaking aspen and vine maples



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Surrounded by quaking aspen



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After walking through the aspen grove, pass by another lone aspen.



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A western larch, which still hasn't shown its fall colors yet.



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Reaching the junction with the Morrison Creek Trail, we turned right.



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A few conifers had the parasitic Mistletoe growing on them.



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The Morrison Creek Trail had the best fall color show of the whole hike, as long as you don't count that one particular spot along the Buck Creek Trail, shown in the opening photo.



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Massive vine maple shrub.



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Bright red vine maple reaching out towards the sun



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We crossed a few gravel roads, then crossed Morrison Creek again.


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We turned right, onto the Wicky Creek Trail. Another possible extended loop option can be made with the Big Tree Trail, but the Wicky Creek Trail makes for a shorter hike.



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It also passed through many vine maples, although the trail is very dry.



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It can get tricky in places when it crosses various gravel and paved roads, but just look for arrows painted into the road, or small signs for "trail."



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Fall color along the Wicky Creek Trail



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Near the end of the Wicky Creek Trail, there's several junctions. It can theoretically get confusing here, too. A gps or good directions would help a lot. Take the Big Creek Trail (#54) to the right (west-ward) towards the Horse Camp.



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Dappled sunlight amid vine maple and conifers.



GPS Track (Download it on MyHikes)
Last edited by ElementalFX on October 18th, 2018, 9:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Water
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Re: Buck Creek-Morrison Creek-Wicky Creek Loop Fall Colors | Mt. Adams, WA

Post by Water » October 17th, 2018, 3:14 pm

thanks for posting. I'm trying to think of different fall color hikes to do with 18 month old and wife and dog this weekend, and this might be a relaxed option of a good length. One note, it doesn't seem the GPS track can be downloaded from the site you linked, any tips?
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ElementalFX
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Re: Buck Creek-Morrison Creek-Wicky Creek Loop Fall Colors | Mt. Adams, WA

Post by ElementalFX » October 18th, 2018, 8:24 am

Water wrote:
October 17th, 2018, 3:14 pm
thanks for posting. I'm trying to think of different fall color hikes to do with 18 month old and wife and dog this weekend, and this might be a relaxed option of a good length. One note, it doesn't seem the GPS track can be downloaded from the site you linked, any tips?
Ah, sorry. It appears you need to make an account on the site to download it. I already have an account there, so the download button shows up for me. I would have posted a link to the track that was uploaded on GPSFly, but that site went down, sadly.

It's a great fall colors hike. Easy, rolling terrain. Never gets too steep. The Mt. Adams Horse Camp has a really good map of the trails in the area, too.

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I also wrote up a trip report a few years ago that gives more detailed mile-by-mile instructions, here: viewtopic.php?t=24031

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ElementalFX
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Re: Buck Creek-Morrison Creek-Wicky Creek Loop Fall Colors | Mt. Adams, WA

Post by ElementalFX » October 19th, 2018, 9:56 pm

Actually, turns out I had the GPS track uploaded on the other trip report I linked right above, from a few years back.


Here's the same track, but recorded in fall.

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romann
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Re: Buck Creek-Morrison Creek-Wicky Creek Loop Fall Colors | Mt. Adams, WA

Post by romann » October 22nd, 2018, 11:17 pm

Really nice colors! I was driving through similarly colourful woods from Trout Lake en route to Mt. Adams ~10 days ago, wondered if there's any good trails on lower south slopes. Lots of larches mixed in there, too (they were just starting to turn, but maples and cottonwoods were really bright). Maybe we'll check it there next year! Thanks for the GPS track.

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