Multnomah County High Point Trip Report

Buck Peak (4,751 ft)

Date: June 10, 2003
Author: Bob Bolton

I drove to Wahtum Lake per Ken Jones' report, except that I accessed the Hood River Highway through the town of Hood River instead of using SR35. As Ken explains, the road turns to gravel right after Wahtum Lake, and according to one book it changes from FR1310 to FR660 at that point. On this road I turned right at all three forks. The third right turn was down off the ridge on a narrow spur that might cause problems for some passenger vehicles. If desired you could park at the fork and walk the road. If you drive, you can park at a campsite, maybe a quarter mile down from the junction, where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses this spur road. This is where my approach varied from Ken's report. He drove the main road until it ends with a huge berm, then hiked the road until the PCT crosses it. Last November when I was up there, I walked down that road past the berm and it wasn't much fun because the entire road had been filled with big mounds of dirt, making walking rather difficult. Also, that parking spot is higher than my starting point, making the return elevation gain greater than mine. My approach was probably a bit longer, but that seemed negligible given the flatter trail.

I hiked the PCT southbound on what is mostly a flat or very low-grade "freeway". After climbing a bit out of the campsite, it was mostly slightly downhill until reaching the Buck Peak area, with minor ups and downs. Just south of Buck Peak, where the PCT gains the south ridge, there is a sign for the Buck Peak Trail No. 615. The trail is overgrown but easy to follow. It was a windy and foggy day, and the brush was very wet, so I put on some rain pants to keep the stuff from soaking me to the bone. This trail is also very nicely graded.

The summit would have had an awesome view of Mt. Hood, but alas I only saw the tiptop of the peak on two occasions as the clouds poured over the ridge and dissipated a few miles to the east. It was a fine demonstration of the Cascade rain shadow. Off in the east I could see the perfectly clear blue sky, with the blonde earth bathed in brilliant sunshine.

This hike was made special by some enjoyable bird sightings. I often hear the Hermit Thrush and Varied Thrush on hikes in Northwest forests, but I infrequently see either one. Today I got great looks at both species, the best view of a Hermit Thrush that I've ever had. It seemed to be posing and displaying for me in perfect light only about 60 feet away. I was very glad that I had decided to carry the binoculars! Then a little bit later I heard a Hermit Warbler singing, and spotted it high in a tree just above the trail, providing another great view. I've never seen both "Hermit" birds on the same outing, although I've heard both many times - great fun!

About 11.5 miles round-trip.

summit GPS-derived coordinates (45.49899° N, 121.85841° W) - NAD27 CONUS datum