12 Mar

13. Rho Creek and Big Bottom

Distance: 8.2 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 2,400 feet
Trailhead elevation: 2,624 feet
Trail high point: 4,529 feet
Season: May – November
Best: June

Download map of the Rho Creek area
Download map of Big Bottom
GPS Track of the Rho Creek Hike

This lovely and little-known hike traces a cascading stream through a mossy and magical forest just south of Big Bottom. The trail is at times very faint but it is well-marked, and generally easy to follow. Best of all, because this is a trail that is very much off the beaten trail, the chances are that you will have it all to yourself. Because of this, I do not recommend hiking it alone – this place is very, very remote – but also very, very beautiful.

Matt’s note: This hike is not easy to follow in some places. I highly recommend downloading both my maps above and my GPS track and following it if you plan on coming here. Here a link to my GPS track.

Rho Creek's mossy canyon

Rho Creek’s mossy canyon

Hiking into Big Bottom's ancient forest

Hiking into Big Bottom’s ancient forest

12 Mar

6. Whetstone Mountain

Distance: 4.2 miles out & back
Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 3,974 feet
Trail High Point: 4,970 feet
Season: June – October
Best: June – July
Map: Opal Creek Wilderness (Imus)

Download a map of this hike
Download a GPS Track of this hike (to Whetstone Mountain summit only)

From the summit of Whetstone Mountain, you can see out over the entire Bull of the Woods Wilderness and southeast to Mount Jefferson. To get there, you have two choices – an easy hike but a long drive into the heart of Upper Clackamas country, or a long hike with a short drive from Salem. This hike describes the short hike from the northern trailhead (if you want to hike the long version, see Hike 24). If this is not enough hiking for you, try extending your hike east towards the Bagby Trail and Silver King Mountain.

Whetstone Mountain's old-growth forest

Whetstone Mountain’s old-growth forest

12 Mar

5. Thunder Mountain, Skookum Lake and Baty Butte

Distance: 6.2 miles out & back
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
TH Elevation: 4,227 feet
High Point: 5,164 feet
Season: June – October
Best: June – October

Download a map of this hike
Download a GPS Track of this hike

Most people have never heard of Thunder Mountain or Skookum Lake, and they are among the most remote destinations in the western Cascades. After you visit this area, however, you’ll be happy you made the effort. The hike to the summit of Thunder Mountain climbs through a lovely old-growth forest to a good viewpoint at a former lookout site,
while the trail to Skookum Lake drops to the lake, hidden in a dark and mysterious forest. With more time and energy, you can set off to the west towards a great viewtop at Baty Butte. If you like adventure, you will love this hike.

Fresh snow on Thunder Mountain

Fresh snow on Thunder Mountain