Tire Mountain - June 25, 2011
Coordinator Diane Rannow, narration by Diane Rannow and pictures by Diane Rannow and Katchan Terasawa
Located about 12 miles northwest of Oakridge, the trail to Tire Mountain is a fabulous hike in early summer when a rainbow of wildflowers carpet the sunny meadows and the forest is full of shy woodland blooms. Over a dozen hikers made the 3 hour drive from Roseburg to the trailhead (we actually start our hike from the Alpine trailhead). Tire Mountain is part of a ridgeline trail system that was spared from the logger's saws. As soon as our feet hit the trail we started finding flowers.
First were numerous wild ginger blossoms growing along the trail. You have to look to find them as they are brown and hairy and are hidden close to the ground under the leaves. After a few hundred yards though a young regrowth forest that was previously logged, you enter an old-growth forest filled with woodland blooms... pink bleeding heart, yellow violets, dainty Calypso orchids, and fawn lilies to name a few.
For 2 miles the trail alternates between old-growth forests and traverses several steep, sunny meadows. After only 1/2 mile, the trail curves around a rocky outcrop and opens up to a steep, rocky meadow filled with yellow monkey flowers, purple larkspur and red paintbrush. Most of the our group are far ahead by now as, camera in hand, Nettie & I revel in the abundance and variety of the flowers carpeting the meadows. We counted over 35 varieties in full bloom (woodlands & meadows) and there were many others that were just starting to bud. The next meadow adds masses of pink sea blush to the rainbow of color. Views open up across the valleys to the snow capped peaks of the Cascades. Diamond Peak dominates the skyline to the right while Mt. Bachelor and two of the Three Sisters cluster to the left. Below are Hills Creek Reservoir and the oak-dotted ridges of Oakridge, surrounded by clearcuts.
We continue to alternate between woods and meadows, each of which is different and has it's own beauty. Some of them have wonderful rocky outcroppings and add more varieties of wildflowers... popcorn flowers, wild onions, blue camas and blue-eyed Marys. Sunflower like balsamroot line the trail as we arrive at the final and largest meadow. Everyone finds the ridgeline irresistible and leave the trail to have lunch up on top. Again we find more varieties of flowers... cats ears, bluefield gilia, and lavender phlox. A rare treat was seeing a Sun Dog (a 'rainbow' around the sun) while we ate lunch.
After lunch most of the group continued on as the trail left the wildflower meadows behind and returned to a denser forest carpeted with oxalis and Solomon seal for a fairly level mile then switchbacked another half-mile up to the summit of Tire Mountain, a former lookout site. Unfortunately, the lookout has been torn down and left to its own devices, the summit is overgrown and there is no view at all. Warned ahead of time about the viewless summit, they weren't surprised. This is one of those hikes that is all about getting there and not about the destination.
Returning as we came, we enjoyed the wildflower meadows and views across the valleys to the snowy mountain peaks all over again. Even though the trail goes up and down a bit, it is an easy 7.6 mile hike with only 800 feet elevation gain. A totally delightful day.
Roseburg Oregon Hiking Club