35. Tygh Creek / by Matt Reeder

Distance: 4 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet
Trailhead elevation: 2,580 feet
Trail high point: 4,252 feet
Season: April - October
Best: April - May
Map: Flag Point (Green Trails #463)
Pass: none needed
Drivetime from Portland: 135 minutes

• Drive Interstate 84 east of Portland 78 miles to The Dalles.
• Leave the highway at exit 87 and follow signs to US 197, heading south out of The Dalles.
• Drive US 197 south 27 miles to a junction with Shadybrook Road, just north of Tygh Valley.
• Turn right on Shadybrook Road and drive 1.1 miles to a junction with Fairgrounds Road, where you turn left.
• After just 0.7 mile, turn right on the Badger Creek Road and drive this gravel road 6.6 miles to a junction with Ball Point Road, FR 27.
• Turn right and drive 3.5 paved miles to the unsigned Tygh Creek Trailhead, located at the crossing of Tygh Creek. There is room for 2 – 3 cars in the pulloff to the right. The trail departs from the left side of the road.

Hike: The Badger Creek Wilderness is a paradise for the solitude-seeker. With mile after mile of uncrowded trails and spectacular scenery that straddles the transition zone between lush western Oregon and arid eastern Oregon, there are many fantastic hikes to be discovered here. One of the best is the steep climb up to the ridge above Tygh Creek on the eastern edge of the wilderness. Here you will see an almost sublime melding of west and east and be treated with views from Mount Hood to the Three Sisters. The price for this awesomeness is steep though – or rather, the middle third of the hike is one of the steepest stretches of trail in this book. Bring trekking poles!

Flowers and oak trees along the Tygh Creek Trail.

Begin by following Tygh Creek for the first half-mile. Given the name of the trail, you would expect to continue following the stream – instead, reach a vague trail junction at 0.5 mile. Here you should bend to the right uphill (going straight will lead you to a dead end at the creek) and begin climbing. The uphill begins gradually but soon intensifies into some of the steepest, dustiest trail in the Badger Creek Wilderness. In the summer this dry, south-facing slope can be quite hot, so be sure to pack lots of water and rest when needed. On the flip side, this slope also hosts an impressive variety of flowers, among them balsamroot, lupine, paintbrush, larkspur and yellow fawn lilies. Be on the lookout for juniper trees here, at the far western edge of their habitat in Oregon, as well as several impressive groves of ponderosa pines. After 1.4 miles and 1,450 feet of ascent, reach the top of the ridge. Behind you, central Oregon stretches out
into the horizon. To the south, Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters loom in the distance over nearby Ball Point. This is an impressive spot!

The helispot viewpoint just off the Tygh Creek Trail.

Rather than stopping, however, crest a small ridge and reach a junction with a user trail on the left. Turn here and 100 feet later reach a large, rocky meadow that is sometimes used as a helispot. Ahead of you looms Mount Hood over the crest of the Badger Creek Wilderness. This is the most logical stopping point for this hike., as the trail beyond here becomes faint. If you wish to continue, you will reach a junction with the seldom-used Jordan Butte Trail in just 0.2 mile. From here, the trail becomes faint but is still relatively
easy to follow as it passes through a park-like grove of Ponderosa pines. As there is almost no undergrowth, staying in a straight line should keep you on track most of the time. That being said, I cannot recommend this stretch of trail to hikers unfamiliar or uncomfortable with following faint and abandoned trails. After another 0.7 miles, look for a spur trail darting off to your left – hike this out 100 feet to a rock garden with a view up to Mount Hood. As this is the last viewpoint for many miles, you should return the way you came. The Tygh Creek Trail continues another 3.5 miles to the Flag Point Road, about 0.5 mile
below the lookout (see Hike 34).

The Tygh Creek Trail is faint in some spots - this is a trail that could use some more boots!