Hood River's Bald Butte
I arrived at the Oak Ridge Trailhead off of Highway 35 south of Hood River before dawn and headed up the hillside to catch some warm morning glow on Mount Hood as I hiked through the oak savanna hillsides scattered with blooming balsam root, lupines, and paintbrush. The trail connects with the Surveyors Ridge Trail which runs north-south for miles along the ridge for over 14 miles, with trails continuing beyond its southern sections to High Prairie and beyond. Last time I was here I had headed south, for a long trek to Bennet Pass.
This time I headed north, climbing up and under the powerlines and the open ridgeline to Bald Butte with views overlooking the vastness of the Hood River Valley. From there I continued on north through forest, ridgeline, and regrowing clear-cuts on trails more frequented by bikers and motorized users until near the Pinemont Staging area. From there I took a series of Hood County forest roads south and down the west side of the ridge to make my way back to start, a loop of almost 13 miles. The roads were quiet and took me through open areas filled with blooming Oregon Grape and sparrows darting about in the morning sun. I got some great views over at the Parkland Lava flow on the other side of the valley.