Mt. Bailey

August 27, 2005

Mt. Bailey is not often climbed by the Obsidians, but it is an interesting hike though a variety of Eastern Oregon forests. It has all the excitement and scenery of a big peak, but only 2300 feet of elevation gain in five miles (round trip).

Wayne and I made a long day of it, driving from Eugene and back on Saturday. It was a three hour drive each way. Take Hwy 138 past Diamond Lake to Hwy 230. Go west about three miles to gravel road NFD 3703 on right. After two miles turn right onto dirt road NFD 300. After less than a quarter mile, turn left onto a very rutted dirt road. It is about only 1.5 miles (and up 300 feet) to the upper trail head, so you could hike if your car doesn’t want to negotiate the ruts and rocks. There is a lower trail head near Diamond Lake. However, I noted the disappointment on the faces of hikers who started at the lower trailhead and had hiked two miles and up 800 feet. . . only to find cars parked at the upper trail head.

We started at the upper trail head (about 6060 feet). The trail is good, well marked and frequently used. We met about 20 other hikers. The trail starts in lodge pole pines then shifts to true firs and tall mountain hemlocks with some sugar pines mixed in. At higher levels the mountain hemlocks are dwarfed and joined by white bark pines almost to the summit.

There are tantalizing views of Diamond Lake and Mt. Thielsen, 7.2 miles away, through the varied forest. Half a mile from the summit there is a small, young crater. The trail around the crater meanders through some consolidated scree. Above the crater there is a lava dike wall 10–20 feet high and several hundred feet long. Half way along the dike there is a “picture window” through the wall, right at the base. It is a “must take” photo opportunity with Diamond Lake and Mt. Thielsen in the background

Above the dike there is a steep drop-off to toward Diamond Lake into a deep ravine. About 25 years ago there was a huge avalanche that leveled a large section of forest at the base of the ravine. The forest is slowly coming back, but it made me realize how old the surrounding forest giants are. They grow slow at high elevations, but they do grow.

There is a little exposure as you traverse the summit ridge to the top, but the summit is a broad, rounded top, spotted with several types of flowers. There are only remnants of the former lookout tower. There is a summit log (a tribute to ”no vandalism”).

From the “Top of the World” at 8363 feet, the views of Diamond Lake, Thielsen and the Saw Tooth Ridge are stunning. To the south it was hazy, but we could still pick out Shasta, McLoughlin, and the rim of Crater Lake with Mt. Scott and Union Peak. To the north, we had good views of a “snowless” Diamond Peak, all Three Sisters, the Husband?, Broken Top, Mt. Bachelor, and Cowhorn.

Yes, we had a great hike on Mt. Bailey. The assent took Wayne Deeter 2:10. . . pushing me. The descent only took 1:35. So the drive took longer than the climb. On the way home, there is a string of beautiful waterfalls on tributaries of the North Umpqua. Of course, the North Umpqua is a fantastic treat all by itself.

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