No, that other Badger Creek. Yes there are many creeks and rivers in the United States with that name. In researching our hike this summer I had to remember to insert "Oregon" or Mt Hood National Forest" in my query or I would get some po-dunk creek in the south or something. Actually most of the time I was taken to the beautiful Badger Creek basin in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. Must go there sometime.
Before we got to the trailhead, which was on the east side of the Cascades in the dry high desert, we found this cool pioneer cemetery. Drive down highway 397 from the Dalles toward Dufer and you might see it on a bare hill. It's still being used, as we saw some new additions. But it was the old additions that were really cool. Check the photo at left.
The Badger Creek basin is in a designated wilderness on the east side of the Mt. Hood National Forest. Which means it's on the far side from Portland. Which means less people. Well, I thought that anyway. We were alone for most of the first day. I took this trip a bit differently than most, I suspect, because my plan was to start from the east side, walk up the creek to the lake which is it's source, Badger Lake. We saw no one on the trail all day. I was all set to enjoy some pristine lake tucked nicely inside a wilderness. All alone. Well, except for all the local yokels who know that there's a road easement into the lake. Yes, there were lots of people. People staying up for all hours cackling at some joke that was lost on us. Because we were trying to sleep.
So here's the lake at the right. Very nice. I'm sure there's some nice fishing. I enjoyed its refreshing coolness before we left on the 2nd day. It was brisk, but the footing was sandy instead of that muck you get in many alpine lakes. Turns out this lake isn't quite natural. Earthen dam keeps most of it in.
The object of the 2nd day was to climb to Lookout Peak (lots of imagination was wasted on naming features in this area). By far the highest peak east of Mt. Hood in this area, on a good day you'll get fantastic views of Mt. Hood, the high desert, and if the air is clear you'll get Mt. Jefferson and the Sisters to the south, Mt Adams and Mt. Rainier to the north.
To the left is the view of Mt. Hood from the top of Lookout Peak. It looks much bigger in person.
Just in front of Mt. Hood you can see a ridge running left to right. It looks a bit brown, and indeed was the site of a big fire more than a year ago. Perhaps two, I don't recall. I do recall that we didn't know that when we set out to hike that ridge and the valley behind it last September. It's hard to find your way sometimes when you're stepping through 6 inches of ash.
Let's forget about last year now, shall we.
To the right is a view back down to our campsite, Badger Lake. Again from Lookout.
There were so many wonderful views, and these fantastic spires on the ridgeline that we got to walk along and then underneath. Needless to say I didn't get any really good shots of them.
I'll just leave you with a shot I took of Badger creek and a tributary joining it near where we camped on the 2nd and final night in this lesser known area on the far side of Mt. Hood. Well worth the effort, though.
Coda: You can drive pretty close to Lookout Mountain's peak and then hike in a short 2 or 3 mile road to the top. Consult your Forest Service map or Green Trails map (Mt. Hood and Flag Point maps should do ya).
Check out some of the other wildernesses I've posted on. Indian Heaven in Washington. Columbia (Hatfield) Wilderness, Bull of the Woods Wilderness, Mt Hood Wilderness.