Surveyors Ridge North to South
Probably more popular with mountain bikers than hikers, the Surveyors Ridge Trail runs north to south on the ridge east of highway 35 in Mt. Hood National Forest.
While there are many points of access, I wanted to completely avoid retracing my steps and decided to turn this into a foot/bike adventure. So pre-dawn, I stashed my bike in the forest around Bennet Pass Sno-Park and continued driving north to the Oak Ridge Trailhead east of Parkdale. The trail here climbs 2000 feet through the oaks to meet the Surveyors Ridge trail after two and half miles. From there is south, a journey through forests, open slopes with spectacular views of the east side of Mount Hood, and wildflower lined rocky ridges.
Just after crossing the Dog River (important water source for the trip) I left the Surveyors Ridge Trail for the Cook Meadows trail, continuing south and uphill, passing some great overlooks on the way to High Prairie Trailhead, which I followed to connect with the Divide Trail heading south to Gumjuwac Saddle. I was grateful to find the trickling beginnings of Gumjuwac Creek crossing the trail in the sun baked, ashy slopes of otherwise dry Lookout Mountain.
From the Saddle I transitioned to the Gunsight Trail which follows the ridge above Badger Lakes drainage south to the trailhead. From here it was just about 4 miles on the Bennet Pass Road downhill back to the sno-park.
There are some great views along the road too, and I encountered my first Mt. Hood area Black Bear on the road. Now, with a bit more than 33 miles and 6300 feet of elevation gained on my feet, I hopped on my bike and pedaled a couple of times (it’s a 3000 foot drop in elevation) the 18 miles on Highway 35 back to where I started the journey.