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Difference between revisions of "Upper Boulder Creek Loop Hike"

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

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Revision as of 22:52, 13 April 2017

This page is marked as a Lost Hike. The "trail" may be dangerous and hard to follow and is not recommended for beginning hikers without an experienced leader. Carry detailed maps of the whole area and/or a GPS unit and compass.
Little Boulder Lake and Grasshopper Point from the Little Boulder Lake Viewpoint (bobcat)
Two-mile marker, Hidden Meadows Trail (bobcat)
Hidden Meadows, just off the Hidden Meadows Trail (bobcat)
Pond, Bonney Meadows (bobcat)
Raptor counters on Bonney Butte (bobcat)
The loop using the Hidden Meadows and Forest Creek Trails (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Boulder Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Crane Prairie Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 10.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2140 feet
  • High Point: 5,640 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No



This hike is strictly for those who wish to plumb a remote stretch of valley little visited and devoid of the obvious delights that attract the casual hiker: sparkling lakes, high viewpoints, and golden meadows. In fact, all those attractions are not far away, should you wish to indulge, and can be attained by an easy extension although in so doing, you will deprive yourself of the thrill of the chase, so to speak, in finding your way down an abandoned trail. You will leave the masses immediately, heading in the opposite direction from the day trippers and overnight campers that throng Boulder Lake on a summer weekend. You course takes you down into and out of the remote upper valley of Boulder Creek, with its impressive old growth, and returns via the dilapidated Crane Prairie Trail. And yes, if you really insist, there are those other options . . .

From the parking area, walk up the road about 50 yards to the overflow parking and find the unsigned Boulder Lake Trail leading down to the right. Immediately enter an old growth slope forest of Engelmann spruce, Douglas-fir, noble fir, and mountain hemlock. Cross a small bench and continue the descent, veering right to drop in and out of a gully and reach the footbridge over Boulder Creek. From the creek, it’s a few yards up to the multi-signed Boulder Lake-Boulder Creek Trail Junction. Some of the signs here bear the former name of the watercourse: Crane Creek.

Go left and start hiking up the valley. You will first pass along, and duck under, a huge 220-foot Douglas-fir lying on its side. There are many other large Douglas-fir and Engelmann spruce in these woods. Talus slopes below Grasshopper Point to the right are rimmed with larch trees that shine a brilliant yellow in the fall. You will also observe stands of aspen on the slope. Drop into a meadow and cross a brook issuing from a spring. In younger silver fir woods, pass through a linear meadow and step across a couple of small creeks. Wend around a large cottonwood at a third creek. Reach another meadow, part of the Crane Prairie complex of meadows, and then a boggy area. Cross a small stream and pass through a couple of gate posts remaining from the stock fence that sealed off the Crane Prairie bogs from trampling. Cross a creek at a Sitka alder thicket and come to the Boulder Creek-Crane Prairie Trail Junction.

The old sign may be lying on the ground here. Head right across a small meadow rimmed with lodgepole pines, and enter dry slope forest. Pass a large “5” nailed to a large Engelmann spruce (It’s five miles from the Boulder Creek Trailhead). The wide trail crosses a tributary of Boulder Creek and rises steeply with the creek on the right. Move away from the creek into a bear-grass carpet and hike along a ridge crest. Cross a sturdy footbridge over a bog and rise steeply again. Reach younger forest that is a regenerating burn and emerge at FR 4860. Across the way is the Badger Creek Upper Trailhead.

Leading left from the trailhead is the Camp Windy Trail. Take this as it parallels FR 4860. Hike up to the top of a rocky knoll in scrappy noble fir and mountain hemlock woodland. You can make out the glistening waters of Badger Lake below through the trees and there a clear view across to Lookout Mountain and Palisade Point. Badger Butte rises just to the east. The trail continues to rise in mountain hemlock woods and then makes a level traverse to come to FR 3550, the Bennett Pass Road, just above its junction with FR 4860. Across the road is a large spring area that displays a wonderful array of bog wildflowers in the summer.

Take the Camp Windy Trail to the left of this bog and rise to the unsigned Gunsight-Camp Windy Trail Junction at a shallow saddle. Go left here. Rise gently to an andesite knoll from which there are no views. Then drop below a rockpile and cross a large talus slope and get a view to Badger Butte and FR 3550 below. The trail descends from the talus slope, and passes a signboard to reach Gnitgnat Saddle and the Gunsight Trailhead on FR 3550 just before its junction with FR 4891.

Walk left to the junction and keep straight (right) on FR 4891. Hike above a talus slope and boulder field and ascend to where the road bends right at a pullout big enough for two cars. Ten yards back from this pullout is the unsigned Crane Prairie Trailhead.

Tell about blazes, red paint, and flagging.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Share Hidden Meadows and Forest Creek Trails with mountain bikes
  • Dogs on leash at Bonney Butte during September/October


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Hidden Meadows Trail #472 (USFS)
  • Forest Creek Trail #473 (USFS)
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt. Wilson, OR #494 and Mt. Hood, OR #462
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Barlow Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • Adventure Maps: Hood River, Oregon, Trail Map

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • A Guide to the Trails of Badger Creek by Ken & Ruth Love (old trail alignments)
  • Kissing the Trail by John Zilly

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.