Badger Creek Wilderness
The Badger Creek Wilderness on the far east edges of Mt Hood highlights the transition from the western forests of the cascades to the drier climate of the east.
I planned this 36-mile loop to cover the expanse of the Wilderness. I headed up the freshly graded, narrow and incredibly dusty road towards Flag Point, parking at the trail confluence of the Divide Trail, Tygh Creek Trail, Badger Creek Cutoff, and Little Badger Trail ahead of the Lookout. I started down the Little Badger Creek Trail, moving east as the forest transitions into pines, enjoying the morning chorus of songbirds in the early morning.
After about 3.7 miles the trail opens up on an area overlooking the Badger Creek drainage, with a flat helicopter landing site. Just further down is a garden of interestingly shaped rocks, the “Gnome Rocks.” After exploring the rocks, I returned to the trail and continued on the Little Badger Trail down to the creek. Just near where the trail reaches the creek, there is an old mine entrance and then the remains of cabin, part of the Old Kinzel Mine.
From there the trail follows the direction of the creek drainage to the road. I followed the road east and cut down to the Little Badger Creek Campground, crossing the creek and heading up the hill behind. A path follows through a section of White Rive Wildlife Area and back into the Hood National Forest, heading southeast and passing by a stock tank to return to the road and then the Badger Creek Trailhead.
The trail follows the creek up, and after almost 7 miles I took the Post Camp Trail uphill, passing over several small creeks rushing over the trail. The Post Camp Trail ends near and old road by the wilderness boundary, and the Three Mile Trail continues east. This section of trail becomes increasingly unmaintained, and once back in the Wilderness Area is so grown over in parts that only old end cuts of logs give indication of where the corridor was in the past, and I gave up trying to follow for just navigating in the direction of the road that was my next leg. I got to Forest Road 4860 and followed it to the Badger Lake Trail. The trail descends, cutting through a small section of burn where hummingbirds were darting about feasting on wildflowers. I stopped by the lake for a second before returning the trail and following the creek until the cutoff that climbed out of the Badger Creek basin and returned me to the Flag Point road.