Wanting a good conditioning hike on a foggy and rainy day, we got a little more adventure than we anticipated when it got pitch dark for the last two miles of our hike.
10.6 miles 3,450 ft gain
The Boulder Ridge Trail begins at the Wildwood Recreation Site in Welches, Oregon (Northwest Forest Pass required). As soon as you park, you can hear the rushing water of the Salmon River. The trail begins with a bridge over the river, then goes through a flat section of super green forest. At a second sign board for the Boulder Ridge hike, the trail heads up the ridge via switchbacks. In the winter, there’s a seasonal waterfall that you have to walk through (see my post from January 2018), but on this day it was a small trickle of water next to the trail.
After 1.75 miles, the trail enters the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. Beargrass, rhododendrons and Oregon grape line the trail in places.
On the way up, we stopped at the viewpoint for a snack. There were views to the east of Hunchback Mountain and surrounding ridges, but Mount Hood was hiding in the clouds on this day.
As you get closer to the top, the terrain changes as the trail passes through several small meadows. A tiny campsite with room for one tent is situated in the trees just before the open saddle on Huckleberry Mountain.
At the saddle, it was windy and foggy so we didn’t linger for long.
We headed back down to find a spot out of the wind for a lunch break.
As we hiked out, the fog got thicker and made it look like we were floating above an abyss. There were no views this time when we reached the viewpoint we had stopped at on the way up.
It quickly got dark but we still had two more miles to hike out. We put on our headlamps and continued in pitch black conditions for the rest of the hike. Thankfully, it wasn’t difficult to find our way on the trail, but it’s a good idea to always be prepared, especially when the days are colder, wetter and shorter. We had plenty of layers, wore rain gear from head to toe, and carried essentials just in case we got stuck overnight.
When we drove in, we noticed a sign about a gate that closes at 4:00 pm. Obviously we were well past that when we arrived back at the car, and sure enough, the gate was closed when we got back to the entrance. We sat there for a minute thinking about what to do when the gate began to open automatically. Whew!! A great ending to a bit more adventure than we planned for!