February 28, 2015.
Coffin and Bachelor Mtn Trails | 9.4 miles | 2225′ ele. gain
Photos from the trip on Google+
It’s been a strange winter. The weather has been drier and milder than the past several winters here, and snowfall has been much below average. Instead of lament the lack of snow, we decided to take advantage of the early season access to summer trailheads. Today, we set our sights on Bachelor and Coffin Mountains.
Our hike began at the Coffin Mountain trailhead. There was a light dusting of snow there, at an elevation of 4750′. We left the snowshoes in the car and began hiking up the trail.
Coffin Mountain is a short, steep affair, and begins climbing immediately. This is one of the biggest bang-for-your-buck hikes I’ve found in Oregon, though. There are views of expansive meadows and the surrounding Cascades right from the start. In spring, the meadows blossom with fragrant beargrass. Today, we walked through last year’s beargrass stalks, which were coated in a layer of ice. It was a very unique landscape.
In just a mile and a half, we reached the summit. A Forest Service lookout building sat there, adjacent to a helicopter landing pad. Both were blanketed with gleaming, white snow. The lookout is staffed in summertime, but was abandoned when we arrived today. It was a good place for a snack and some photo ops. Mt. Jefferson was bathed in sunlight and was practically right in our faces. Mt. Bachelor stood out like a tall person in a movie theater, just big enough to be noticeable but not take too much away from the view.
We glided back down to the trailhead and began the 1.2 mile roadwalk to the Bachelor Mountain trailhead. I’d never hiked up to Bachelor, so this would be a fun new adventure. The road walk was quick and offered up several views back to the steep cliffs on the east side of Coffn Mountain.
The trail up to Bachelor mountain was a bit more snowy and forested. It provided a charm all of its own. We enjoyed the occasional break in the forest canopy that let some of the bright sunshine hit our faces. It sure was a beautiful weather day.
In just a few places, the snowbanks deepened and the trail became a little obscured, but navigation was pretty straightforward. The view from the top of Bachelor mountain was even better than that from the summit of Coffin. We sat here and had an extended lunch break while exploring the best place to take panoramic photos. We could see the Three Sisters, Mt Hood, and the faint tops of other snow-capped Cascades from our magnificent perch.
Wandering back to the parking area, we soaked up the remaining afternoon sunlight and had entertaining conversations. The hard work was over, and it was time to just put one foot after the other all the way back to the car.
I was glad to have the chance to experience both mountains in spring-like conditions. The meadows are certainly gorgeous in peak wildflower bloom, but they had a very different kind of beauty covered in ice and snow. I’d recommend visiting this place any time the trail head is accessible, whether it’s spring, summer, fall, or as we experienced this year, even winter.