On a cloudy, drizzly day, I headed east to hike a trail I had never done before. The route is well-known to mountain bikers and cobbles together an 11-mile lollipop using the northern section of the Lookout Mountain Trail with part of the Fifteenmile Trail and some forest roads along the boundary of the Badger Creek Wilderness.
I began at the Lookout Mountain Trailhead on Road 44 (Dufur Road), and took a very gradual incline through a diseased forest chockablock with deadfall. Soon the trail passed along the upper reaches of Eightmile Creek, a lush and pleasant respite. Continuing on through glades blooming with lupine, the trail passed below lovely Eightmile Meadow, a boggy expanse dense with lupine, marsh-marigold, orchids, mountain knotweed, and arnica.
At the junction with the Fifteenmile Trail, I went left to ascend the rugged bouldery mass of Eightmile Point. There were views to Fivemile Butte and down the Eightmile Creek valley, but Mt. Hood was obscured by clouds. From Eightmile Point, the trail dropped to Cold Springs Road (FR 2730) about half a mile north of the Fifteenmile Creek Forest Camp.
I took a left up the 230 spur (east end of the Bennett Pass Road), which is a rugged jeep track that passes along the north boundary of the Badger Creek Wilderness. The road joins wide gravel FR 4420, but that road soon narrows to an AWD track. The only wilderness sign displayed the love and affection of some passers by. A larger sign told me I was leaving the Dufur City Watershed.
I reached the south end of this section of the Lookout Mountain Trail, and traveled the 1.3 miles down past the headwaters of Eightmile Creek to the junction.
A handful of bikers passed me in the afternoon. Otherwise, it was a rather tranquil excursion. The Lookout Mountain Trail used to be a connector between the Surveyors Ridge Trail and the Divide and Douglas Cabin Trails, as well as Gunsight, Tygh Creek, etc., thus providing a long high ridge route all along the eastern edge of the Mt. Hood National Forest. The connection to High Prairie and Lookout Mountain has been lost in The Dalles City Watershed, and these days you would have to hike a section of FR 4420 to get to Lookout Mountain itself.
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Thanks, Bobcat! Explored that area extensively in the 1980s when I worked at a summer camp over there... great to see some familiar places intact!