I’m still pretty new to Oregon, and until this past weekend I hadn’t been out hiking in any of the countless beautiful and scenic areas in this amazing state. A friend suggested a hike at Cone Peak, which is east of Iron Mountain in the old Cascades. It’s about a 2 hour drive from south Salem where I live, but believe me, it’s worth the drive.  I learned that a Northwest Forest Pass is necessary in order to utilize many of these hiking areas, and it costs only $30.00 for the whole season.  If you don’t have one in your car you will get a ticket. I think the tickets are in the range of $77.00, and being a parking ticket magnet historically, I think I’d like to avoid that.

We took off from the Tombstone trail head and we had to cross Hwy 20 after a little more than 1/2 mile. That’s a little disconcerting, but I found I was able to live with it after I saw what was on the other side. W did not hike Cone Peak itself, (I needed a bit more hiking practice before taking on something that daunting), but we did hike the trails around it, which were spectacular, particularly when we got to the wildflower meadow. I was amazed at how dry, dusty and cracky the clay soil was despite the fact that there were endless colorful wildflowers, verdant greens and grasses and an array of other summery and beautiful flowers and plants to marvel at.  At the left of the meadow is Iron Mountain, and standing there made me feel like I was surrounded by a painting and it reminded me of the movie Vanilla Sky.

We did not take the trail split up to Iron Mountain; rather, we stayed on the trail to the right. We marveled at the various butterflies including scads of baby monarchs, bees of all sizes and all of the living, breathing, growing things along the way. The air smelled sweet and the thick forests kept us cool. I learned that huckleberries grow in the area, and that if you find the bushes you should not tell anyone so that there will be berries to harvest when you return to fetch them in October or November. Sneaky, but smart. I saw several huckleberry bush gems and I’m going to remember where they are and go back for the fruit in a few months. Shhhhh.

This was probably the best way I could think of to be introduced to the hiking culture in Oregon. Despite the fact that I didn’t have the right shoes and I shouldn’t have gone as far or as high as I did (because I can barely walk today and my feet are killing me), I will do this again and again. After I go shopping, which totally does not suck. J And the next time I hike Iron Mountain, I’m actually going to get to the summit so I can sit on the benches I hear of and enjoy the 360 degree panoramic view and get a great view of the North, Middle and South Sister, the Husband, and Mt. Bachelor and Mt. Jefferson.

Happy hiking, and be sure to let me know if you find any good hikes or special spots you want to share with others.