June 8, 2010
Marys Peak, at just over 4000 ft., is the highest point in the Coast Range. There are at least three different trails that lead to the top. Since a paved road goes to within ½ mile of the summit, access is easy for those who are not seeking a more strenuous hike. This North Trail hike, however, requires a climb of four miles, with an elevation gain of 2000 ft., in order to reach the summit. I used to do this hike around the first of May. But the snow was typically substantial and the weather always inclement so I moved it into June. Even then, I had to postpone the hike five days in order to wait for a dry day.
The trail tread is excellent, with no standing water and very little mud, despite the recent heavy rains. The switchbacks have been designed in a way that makes the elevation gain seem much less than it is. The trail climbs through a beautiful hemlock forest with a dense canopy. Lots of wildflowers were visible including snow queen, blue-eyed mary, glacier and fawn lilies, trilliums, a magnificent display of fairy lanterns, irises, columbine, phlox and one in-bloom delphinium. One high mountain meadow still contained a display of daffodils.
The trail emerges onto the parking lot at the 3½ mile mark. So the last ½ mile is in the open, unless you elect to take the alternative trail through a beautiful Noble Fir forest (recommended at least one way). As one passed through the locked gate and proceeds up the service road, there usually is a magnificent display of wild flowers along the south slope. But those appear to be delayed this year due to our long stretch of inclement weather. The view from the summit is fantastic. You can see all the way from Diamond Peak to Hood and Adams and to the Coast in the West. On the very rare clear day, you would be able to see the ocean. We had very good visibility despite a high cloud cover, but we couldn’t quite see the waves rolling up on the beach. While eating lunch on the summit, we were visited by a nearly tame chukar. Seemed no more concerned about the presence of humans than a chicken would.
Having come up the road, we proceeded down through the Noble Forest and returned to our cars a couple of hours later. If you leave Eugene by 8 a.m., you should be able to return by 4:30 or so. A highly recommended hike for those who are interested in doing a little work in order to be rewarded with a great view at the top.
Hikers were members Dan Christensen (leader), Janet Jacobsen and Lana Lindstrom; and nonmember Leslie Graymer.