July 12, 1998
The trail begins at the Upper Iron Mountain trailhead and winds around the west slope
through thin woods and numerous rock gardens, then across the north side of Iron Mountain
through deep silver fir forest.
At the northeast flank of the mountain, the trail breaks out into the open with a clear view
of Cone Peak.
Winding down through patches of mixed coniferous woods, with pockets of Alaska yellow cedar,
the trail moves through a saddle and begins to climb the southwest flank of Cone Peak.
Just past a severe washout (somewhat treacherous to get around), it is possible to leave
the main trail and “scramble” (very carefully) up the southwest ridge of Cone Peak.
We climbed slowly up to the top, “botanizing” as we went along.
From the top were clear views of mountains in all directions: the Three Sisters, Diamond Peak,
Jefferson, Washington, ThreeFingered Jack, North Peak, South Peak, Echo Mountain, Browder Ridge,
Three Pyramids and numerous other middle Cascade mountains.
Following a leisurely lunch at the summit, we descended down the south face to the spectacular
meadows on the Cone Peak Bench.
We did not actually count the number of species we saw that day, but it must have been nearly
In the open-to-shady woods we saw false Solomon’s Seal,
star-flowered false Solomon’s Seal, western anemone, queen cup, youth-on-age, fringe cup,
coolwort, spiderwort, trillium, fairy bells, twisted stalk, wild ginger, twinflower, elderberry,
creeping snowberry, spotted coral root, Oregon boxwood, trail plant, leafy aster, Canada thistle,
arrowleaf groundsel, bunchberry, prince’s pine, sticky currant, bleeding heart, violets,
serviceberry, Jacob’s ladder, spring beauty, starflower, baneberry, dwarf bramble,
goat’s beard, wild strawberry, parrot beak, sweet cicily,
and the uncommon Pedicularis bracteosa.
Deeper woods provided habitat for valerian, vanilla leaf, mountain arnica, western twayblade
and rattlesnake plantain.
In the rock gardens we saw stonecrop (four species), sandwort, wall-flower, flax, larkspur,
Penstemon (three species), chickweed, lace fern, parsley fern, Douglas’ silene, yarrow,
mountain dandelion, phacelia, hairy cat’s ear, greasewood, red sorrel, cinquefoil, wild rose,
paintbrush, owl clover and lomatium species.
In the moist meadows were found thimbleberry, wormwood, columbine, lupine, bluebells, blue stickweed,
coneflower, mountain huckleberry, waterleaf, false hellebore, cow parsnip and bracken fern.
Seepy south-facing swales contained monkey flower in abundance (again, three species), mosses,
and the only-recently-described annual Romanzoffia thompsonii, barely two inches tall
and easily overlooked.
An abundance of Ivesia gordonii grows on the higher slopes, as well as scarlet Gilia,
blue field Gilia, northern buckwheat, sulfur flower, wild onion (two species), elongated clover,
Nevada deervetch and the unusual mountain monardella.
In the meadows of the south bench were blue-eyed Mary, small-flowered penstemon,
the parasitic bastard toadflax, many of the ubiquitous species already mentioned,
and the widespread woolly sunflower.
As we completed our loop and backtracked to the trailhead, we reviewed what we had seen in
the form of a “quiz”.
All the hikers did quite well: Dana Furgerson, Kurt Cyrus, Ann McLucas, George Baitinger
and Herm Fitz (leader).