Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lookout Mountain Trail

The trail up Lookout Mountain in the Ochocos climbs through a coniferous forest of western larch, Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine and subalpine fir to an exposed and rocky summit. The loop trail from the Independence Mine trailhead is roughly 7.0 miles and gains over 1000 feet. Even in late summer there are wildflowers and berry-laden plants like baneberry and blue elderberry. Although the fruits of baneberry are toxic, the red or white berries add some color along the trail.

The Independent Mine processed ore from the volcanic rocks of the Clarno Formation. Mercury and gold were extracted, but the mine closed in the 1950s. Remnants of the operation still stand.
Nowadays the area is frequented by hikers, horse riders, mountain bikers and wildlife. Deer and elk and small mammals occur in the area, and warning signs for cougars are posted at the trailhead. On my last visit I watched a small herd of elk moving across a small ridge before disappearing into the far woods.


Columbia River Basalts outcrop near the summit of Lookout Mountain

Signs of elk abound along the trail
Remnant of the mining operation

Historic structure near the Independence Mine

The snow shelter built in 1989

Wildflowers and butterflies of late summer