Adventures in Oregon: Browder Ridge
I am officially a hiking addict. Two weeks passed since our last hike and I found myself huddled in a corner, rocking back and forth, murmuring ‘mustgooutside mustgooutside mustgooutside.’
Not really. But something crazy happens once you get into the habit of seeking out incredible mountain views, colorful wildflowers and ancient trees … you want to see more and more of them!
So, that’s what we did. Our destination: Browder Ridge. Tucked into the central Cascades, this spot is often overlooked for the more popular and nearby Iron Mountain. Since we haven’t hiked Iron Mountain yet, I can’t compare the two but let me just say that Browder Ridge sets the bar pretty high.
We started from the Gate Creek trailhead and were thrilled to see only two cars when we parked. That never happens! We set off down a woody trail and quickly found ourselves ascending on some fairly aggressive switchbacks – an elevation gain of over 1100 feet in less than two miles is no joke. We spotted some bear grass blooming here and there – such a unique plant!
After about a mile and a half, we came to the first lookout which offered up beautiful views of Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters. We paused for a break and the dogs tested out their new handy dandy collapsible bowl (thanks Grandma!), before continuing on up the trail.
Traversing through dense meadows and forest, the path became difficult to follow at times … if you didn’t have a hound in front of you, expertly sniffing out the way. At certain points, clearings in the trees showcased our final destination: the summit of Browder Ridge.
When walking through the tall meadows, it was certainly tempting to gaze out at the mountainous view but the random deep holes waiting to sprain our ankles ensured we kept our eyes focused on the path.
As the trail climbed, it transitioned to a narrow, rocky path. If loose rocks on somewhat steep inclines aren’t your thing, then tackling the summit might not be your cup of tea. But the payoff is definitely worth it. When we reached the top, a beautiful meadow greeted us along with an astounding view: the Three Sisters , Mount Washington, Three-Fingered Jack, Mount Jefferson and even Mount Hood were all visible.
We rested here for awhile, soaking up the incredible views. Quite a few wildflowers were blooming, decorating the landscape with their vivid colors.
After enjoying a snack and plenty of water, we headed back down the trail, picking our way over the loose rock carefully lest we take an undesirable shortcut down the ridge 🙂
Rounding out at 8.4 miles and 2100 feet elevation gain, this hike is certainly one that lets you feel you’ve earned the view and the hounds give it four paws. Gorgeous mountain peaks, colorful wildflowers and no crowds … a perfect hike!