July 30, 2012

Extensive views on the ridgeline between Mt. Hood and Badger Creek Wilderness

Little stands between you and the east side of Mt. Hood when hiking along this ridge top trail, which offers views of the Cascades from Three Sisters to Mt. Rainier. In fact, the only thing obscuring your view along this trail are trees that occasionally give way to scattered rock outcroppings, which afford grand views of a broad spectrum of Cascade peaks.

The path along this ridge top is called Gunsight Butte Trail, and it parallels the western border of the Badger Creek Wilderness. Much of the trail traverses the east side of the ridge, never dropping far from the ridge's spine. A couple of boulder strew slopes are crossed along this path's 5.1 miles, lying between the trailhead, located at the intersection of road 3550 and 4891, and the trail's intersection with the Gumjuwac Trail.
First boulder strewn slope to traverse

Second rocky slope

The trail begins in a hemlock and fir forest, where the trees are fairly thick. The first boulder slope is not far from the trailhead, and it allows the hiker to look east toward Badger Butte and down to road 3550, which is never far from the trail. As the trail climbs, the forest becomes more sparse. Here, you begin to make out the outline of Mt. Hood through the trees.

A short climb off the trail, up the first open, rocky butte, allows a view of nearby Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson to the South. Further along the trail, the ridge top opens to a cluster of jagged boulders. Here,views are much more expansive than the first view, extending along the Cascades from Central Oregon to Central Washington.
First viewpoint south to Mt. Jefferson
Before Gunsight Butte can be summitted from the South, the trail actually joins road 3550 for what a sign says is 400 feet, but the distance is likely twice that long. Here, where the trail again leaves the road and meanders back into the forest, a look over the east edge of the rough road affords a view of Badger Lake. Further east, the arid flatlands below the foot of the Cascades can be seen.

Looking south and Badger Lake
The summit of Gunsight Butte, in my opinion, was a bit disappointing, not seeming to be any more than the southern high point to Gumjuwac Saddle. Any view from the butte's crest was limited by trees. Here I decided to head back after hiking 3.7 miles.

Gunsight Butte through the trees
Having read somewhere that Jean Lake could be viewed from the trail, I looked for it on my return trip but never saw it.
Looking North from second viewpoint toward the
Hood River Valley, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier

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