Hike Distance: 7.9 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 1163.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1734 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 149474 feet
We haven’t been to this trail in like seven years, and we missed this Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness area. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day, so we headed out to this less traveled trail.
The road to this trailhead (Douglas Trail) wasn’t bad but I didn’t remember so many homes along the way. When we arrived at the TH there was only one vehicle there, and the family was from Canada, and into geocaching. They said there was an old geocache in this area and they wanted to find it. Definitely an out-of-the-way area, but what the heck.
The day started out a bit cool but this would work in our favor as it got much warmer when not under the canopy. It turned out that the canopy lowered the temp. by at least 5-10 degrees, which was welcome due to this being a higher exertion trail!
Initially, the trail goes past an old abandoned quarry, which looks horrible. However, there is a spectacular view of the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness from the cliff area. You’ll reach a trail intersection that leads either east (downhill and away from Wilderness) or west into the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. Continue west, past the quarry (and amazing view) and head into the forest.
It won’t be long before you’ll skirt past some outcroppings, and another set of great views! The forest in this area looks pretty bad, with no under story. I suspect the replanted area just didn’t provide something needed (light or nutrients) for healthy growth?
As you continue you’ll pass by an obvious intersection, which is the McIntyre Ridge trail. This is a fantastic trail with some exceptional views, but wasn’t on our itinerary today. Just past this intersection is a damaged bulletin board that is leaning against a post. This is the only thing letting you know you’re going into the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, and a covered sheet indicated that. We lifted another sheet off the one indicating the wilderness, and took a picture. The gunshot through the sign is typical for most signs in the forest, and always pisses me off, but what can be done.
There’s not much to describe about the remainder of the trail, except that it is mostly in the forest, under the canopy. We continued up and down the trail until we finally reached the Plaza Trail, which is about 3.7 miles from the trailhead. It was a sharp left turn, and ascent, onto this trail. There is a wooden sign on a tree but it is weathered badly, and difficult to read. If you go a short distance up the initial slope of the Plaza Trail there is a spectacular view of Mt. Hood, and the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, at this drop-off area. Mt. Hood was obscured by haze but I took many pictures to try and get a good photo. We love this spot, and it was a turn-around point for us.
A couple notes about this hike. The first is that you will not get a better Wilderness experience than this trail! The trail was in decent shape but is very narrow in places. There were NO hikers or backpackers seen during our entire hike. Despite the huge population growth in OR/WA this will never be crowded due to lack of a waterfall or popular viewpoint. We love this trail, and there are many trails that spawn from it. This is a fantastic backpacking opportunity if you love wilderness, and we do!
Second, the Huckleberries were ripe and very tasty. We ate some but there were plenty remaining. The plants aren’t everywhere, but where they were it was plentiful!
Third, the parking area is interesting. I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be parking overnight as we’ve seen plenty of people shooting along the road, and it’s not allowed in most places on this road. We have seen the Sheriff’s vehicles checking the area but who knows how many incidences occur. You take your chances when parking in the forest, and we’re willing to do it to get our Wilderness hiking fix.
A fantastic day and we hope to come back here on a more frequent basis!