Wildcat Creek Road is the western most and the easiest way to access to the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness directly from Highway 26 (Mt Hood Highway), compared to the Boulder Trail farther east which is moderate difficulty, and the Hunchback Mountain Trail even farther east which is very difficult.

This is a four mile and about 2,000 vertical foot hike up the road to the McIntyre Ridge trailhead. Here are some pictures and notes from the trip.

wildcat creek road

This road was originally used for harvesting timber, now this area is part of a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) reforestation project. This area was also used as a Mt Hood Recreation area for trail biking etc. but is now permanently gated, closed to motorized usage, and under surveillance due to trash dumping and other recent illegal activities there. Some people, like mushroom hunters, may be upset about this new vehicle restriction but it’s great for hikers and wilderness explorers as now we can hike this road as if it was just another hiking trail that takes us to the McIntyre Ridge trailhead and into the wilderness. The red line on the map shows the approximate location of the gate just past some residential properties.

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About twenty minutes from the highway, just past the gate, it starts raining. The rain varies from drizzle to seriously hard downpour, but does not stop until I am on the shuttle back to town about four hours later 8-O

As the rain started I managed to get an awesome picture of both heavy rain and sunshine coming though the trees. The slight blur at the top left is from my hand shielding the camera lens from the rain as I had to point the camera up hill to get the shot.
Is this what they mean by “raining sunshine”?

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I wait under cover of some fir “umbrella” trees for a few minutes to see if the rain is just a quick shower, it doesn’t ease up so I continue up the road.

100 1070Then we have the heaviest downpour of rain I’ve seen in a while, so I find this tree to hide under, notice the tree’s trunk is bone dry and likely stays that way year round no matter how much it rains. It didn’t seem like the rain was going to let up at all so I considered setting camp with the minimal emergency gear I carry even on short and day hikes.

100 1072About half an hour later the rain finally turns back to drizzle so I quickly head out, huffing up the road trying to make up for lost time. Around 2,500 feet altitude I rise above the rain and into the clouds, finally a chance to dry off a bit and keep my camera handy instead of packed away.

100 1078Holy crap what was that?! Something big moving and snapping twigs just over this little “side ridge”! I quickly took a picture in that direction which came out a little blurry in my haste and can’t see any definite sign of land mammal in the image, can you? What was it? A bear? A mountain lion? A Sasquatch?

100 1080The top portion of the road follows the western rim of the Boulder Canyon. The canyon is on the left side when looking at this picture. The clouds prevent me from seeing very far into the canyon.

100 1083Looking east off the rim into the canyon I was able to catch a brief glimpse through the clouds of the east ridge on the other side of the canyon, but can’t really make it out in this picture with so much glare off the clouds.

100 1084So close to the end of the road and the trailhead, I ran out of time and had to turn around or risk missing my shuttle back to town. If I hadn’t stopped to take shelter from the rain I would have easily made the trailhead with plenty of time to explore and make my shuttle, sigh. I actually had to move with some quickness to make it to the highway in time, almost stepping on this cute little bugger who was also making his/her way down the road, had to stop and get a quick shot.

Yeap, I had to go back and finish what I started, this time in fair weather and a 6.5 hour “window” to complete the hike. It was cool, sunny, and very clear, so I got some awesome views and pictures to share. I won’t bother with the details of the hike that I already covered in the story from the first trip.

Ok let’s get to the pics. Here are various pics mostly from the top portion of the road before reaching the trailhead.

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100 1143Some of these “older” growth trees are huge. This one is not by far the biggest, but close enough to the road for me to get next to it after setting up my camera (and new tiny tripod) on the road. I was so busy with the camera work and making it to the tree before the self timer ran out that my usual fear of heights didn’t kick in even though my heal was hanging off the edge of a 60 foot “almost” sheer drop!

100 1157Top of the ridge, 2800ft, close to the end of the road that was previously used for clear-cut logging, what I call a “christmas tree farm” is left over from the last time they did clear cutting in this area approximately twenty years ago judging by the size of the “christmas” trees? This area is protected now and being re-forested so there won’t be any further clear cutting here, but for now this section of road “feels” like hiking in the high desert rather than forest.

100 1160The end of the road! It actually continues past the blockage for 100 yards or so, but is “impassibly” overgrown with underbrush and christmas trees, so we take a left and follow a little trail that connects the road to what (where) I would call the actual trailhead at the point where the clear-cut turns back into wilderness. Before the road was gated down below, people used to park, camp, tailgate party, hunt, etc, at this widened spot at the end of the road, so unfortunately there is some litter and broken glass here in the gravel / grass.

Now for the prize. This trail takes me south along the western rim of the Boulder Canyon, I’ve got plenty of time to explore and get some very scenic views of the canyon and surrounding mountains with the Mt Hood volcano as backdrop.

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