A fun adventure through burnt forest to a peak with a view of Mt Jefferson in Mount Hood National Forest.
Peak Name: Hawk Mountain
Peak Coordinates: 44.856843, -121.944766
Peak Elevation: 5277'
Distance: 4.45 miles (roundtrip)
Elevation Range: 4567' to 5277'
Ascent/Descent: +846 ft / -851 ft
Trail Type: In and out
Trails: Rhododendron Ridge Trail #564 & Hawk Mountain Trail #564 A
Note: This trail is mostly through a burnt area which means there are different hazards to be aware of. Some sections were difficult to follow.
I wasn't sure if I'd be able to reach the trailhead for this hike, let alone be able to do this hike safely since the road to access it and the trail/peak itself were in a burned area from the 2020 fires. The area is open to public use with warnings in place about the hazards. So it was legal to hike in this area.
I had no issues with driving the road to the trailhead. The trailhead was well marked and I just parked on the side of the road a ways back from the trailhead where there was a wider shoulder. I had brought my dog with me since he always enjoys riding in the truck and I thought I'd try hiking with him again since I haven't in years. It's a pretty deserted area so I didn't anticipate we'd run into any people (which I was right about, I saw no one.)
I decided I'd try hiking the trail and see how far I could safely go. The first half mile the trail was pretty faint and I lost it twice but was easily able to find my way back. After that the trail was pretty easy to follow overall. Most of the trail went through burned woods, but some sections were untouched with huckleberry bushes covering the forest floor. Jac (my dog) did real well on the hike.
There were two very tiny creeks with barely any water and it was pretty stagnant. The trail climbed gradually uphill the first half mile. Then it went into a very heavily burned area. It was very pretty in a unique sort of way. The trail dropped down into a dip between the plateau and peak where the forest was less burned and there were huckleberry bushes (sadly no berries). I saw traces of coyote but didn't see or hear any. The trail continued on and crossed some dried creek beds until I came across beautiful meadow alongside the trail. The trail came to an intersection and I started up the Hawk Mountain Trail #564 A. It was more heavily burned up to the peak with large trees. There were some switch backs and steeper sections of trail. The last section of trail was just a steeper hike up to the summit.
The summit was actually rather pretty. There was a lookout cabin that was in good condition. It was untouched by the fires. It smelled heavily of smoke, and I just looked at it from the outside, didn't really want to go in. I could Mt Jefferson and the Olallie Basin as well as Olallie Butte from the peak. It was very pretty. I could hear something that sounded like someone was using an axe. I was really baffled because I hadn't seen or heard anyone. I listened for a while and realized it was multiple woodpeckers in trees nearby. It made me laugh. A weather front was starting to move in and limit the visibility of Mt Jefferson. I had planned on eating a snack at the summit, but there were flying bugs (not mosquitos or flies) I'm not quite sure what they were but they were annoying. I took pictures and then tried to get Jac to take some picture with me which was quite the challenge. Some dark clouds were building up and there wasn't a strong enough breeze for me to be able to determine which direction it was headed. I didn't want to get stuck in the lower elevation areas if it started to rain so I started by hike back eating an energy bar while I went. I found some pretty purple/pink hued pinecones along the way and the forest floor looked very fall like covered in red, orange, and green pineneedles.
About half way back it started to rain. I was able to make it through the areas with the tall burnt trees before it started to rain heavier. I felt a whole lot more confident in navigating the smaller and shorter burnt trees in the rain than the tall ones. Jac and I got pretty wet. It was actually rather beautiful hiking in the rain. I know I know... I obviously was raised in the PNW. My muscles had started to flare with the weather change, especially my hands. The rain made all the green and colorful ground covering pop. The part Jac and I got the most wet was the last half mile to the truck where there were sections of overgrown grass lining the trail that made my pants get really went and just showered Jac in water. He wasn't a fan and was shaking off every time we went through a section like that. It was pretty funny to watch. Sometimes it appeared as thought he was trying to find a way to avoid it.
We made it back to the truck in one piece. I lost my trekking pole which I only realized on my drive home :( It must have fallen out of my backpack at some point after it had started raining because I had put it way at that point. It was a rather enjoyable hike. I enjoyed the quiet, lack of people, and Jac's company. There was a lot of beauty in the burned areas and the peak a nice views. Jac and I were both worn out and he slept most of the drive home. I enjoyed some yummy food once I got back to the car. Honestly food just tastes better after a good hike.
Turn off from Rhododendron Ridge Trail #564 to Hawk Mountain Trail #564 A @ mile 1.79 (55 minutes)
Summited peak @ mile 2.2 (1hr 15 min)
Started back toward trailhead @ mile 2.26
Finished hike @ mile 4.45
Where I parked: 44.83991, -121.94664
Trailhead: 44.84068, -121.94725
Start of more intensely burned area: 44.84645, -121.94714
Very small creek beside trail: 44.85560, -121.94946
Dried creek bed: 44.85634, -121.95009
Meadow beside trail: 44.85752, -121.95045
Rhododendron Ridge Trail #564 and Hawk Mountain Trail #564 A intersection: 44.85861, -121.95088
Cabin: 44.85687, -121.94476
Hawk Mountain: 44.856843, -121.944766
View of Mt Jefferson: 44.85648, -121.94451
How to get there (from Estacada, OR)
Take Hwy 224 (turns into FS 46) out of Estacada for 53.8 miles. Turn right on FS 6350 and proceed for 4.9 miles. Turn left on FS 6355 and continue for 0.2 miles. The trailhead is on the right side of the road, marked with a sign, and is where FS 6355 intersects with FS 150.
Peak Coordinates: 44.856843, -121.944766
Clackamas River Ranger District map location: T8S R7E S27
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