Hike 107
The Mt. Hood National Forest
Little Badger Creek Hike
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THE FOLLOWING MAP IS NOT TO BE USED FOR NAVIGATIONAL PURPOSES.
Map of the Little Badger Creek Hike

Length: 8.5 mi RT
Elevation Change: 1300' gain
Season: Summer thru Fall
Difficulty:    Challenging
Permit: NW Forest Pass Not Required

Features: There are several creek hikes available in the Badger Creek Wilderness area, but this hike comes with its own historic log cabin (although it is not in the best of shape) and an old abandoned mine. So, I chose to include this creek hike to add variety to your hiking options and another dry place to hike, just in case it is raining on the west side of the Hood.

This hike is just a few miles from the Ball Point / School Canyon Trail hike, and the trail actually connects to the School Canyon Trail. I haven't learned why they call it the School Canyon Trail, seeing that the vast majority of the trail is not in any canyon but mostly along a ridge top. Anyway, the Little Badger Creek trail takes you four miles up the creek that gives it its name, and then connects to the School Canyon trail, which climbs steeply out of the Badger Creek Canyon and actually goes all the way to Flag Point.

There is ample parking across the road from the trailhead, and the trail is well-signed. For the first mile and a half the trail keeps pretty close to the creek, and on a hot summer day this is a very refreshing quality. However, then the trail climbs away from the creek up the north side of the canyon and out of the deep forest and shade of the valley below. It is my understanding that the trail used to follow pretty closely to the creek, and even crossed back and forth from one side to the other as it made its way upstream. Not anymore. After about a mile and a half the trail climbs away from the creek and never actually gets next to it again.

There has been a forest fire in recent years so from time to time you will hike through a burn area which of course distracts from the beauty of the surroundings. However, there are plenty of beautiful delicious smelling Ponderosa Pines along the way. These unusual trees start life out as any normal dark barked conifer, but after they reach the age of 110 to 120 years, they shed their dark bark and reveal the yellow-orange colored bark beneath. Also, if you get up close and personal with one of these mature Ponderosa, and put your nose near one of the surface cracks, you will enjoy the pleasant smell of butterscotch or vanilla. Scientists do not know why this species does this, but we get the joy of walking amongst these beautiful trees and on a warm summer day we get to enjoy the wonderful fragrance they emit.

The trail climbs in and out of side gullies and through open grassy areas as well as Oregon White Oak forests. In season there are plenty of wildflowers to enjoy and birds to identify. Near the end of the four miles, the trail drops down near the creek and you arrive at the broken down remains of some person's dream. The name is Kinzel. It seems as though they hoped to find wealth in the earth by digging copper out of it. Even though the mine tunnel is only about eighty feet long, it must have been pretty hard work searching for the treasure they didn't seem to find. The photo shows how narrow the tunnel is and its unusual color. The mine tunnel is "J" shaped. It appears to be safe to enter, but I must be safe too, and I do not recommend that you enter this mine tunnel for any reason whatsoever, unless it is to satisfy your curiosity. (sorry, I couldn't help myself)

The mine is located just a short distance beyond the old cabin via the trail that takes you to the School Canyon Trail. I didn't see any sign to indicate that you had arrived at that trail, but it breaks off the trail to the mine and climbs steeply up out of the canyon. To see the mine, just continue on straight ahead a few more feet and it is plainly visible.

Oh, I did run into a herd of cattle on this hike, so I am assuming that there is open range here. Watch where you step!




Looking out from within the Kinzel Mine
How to get there:

There are a number of ways to reach the trailhead to this hike. I choose to approach the area from the north, by heading south from Hood River on Hwy 35. Then taking the paved Forest Road 44 east 8 miles toward Dufur until you reach the junction with the paved Forest Road 4420. Turn south on FR 4420, and follow it toward Fifteen Mile Camp and Flag Point. However, FR 4420, cuts off to the west, and you need to then follow the paved Forest Road #2730 which takes you past Fifteen Mile Camp, and past FR 200 to Flag Point, and east toward Tygh Valley. Up to this point the road is paved, but when you leave the Mt. Hood National Forest land, the road becomes gravel. It will remain gravel until you come to the junction with Forest Road 27, which is 12 miles from the junction on FR 44.

At this point, you will need to make a very sharp right turn, onto the paved FR 27 which will then lead you another 7 miles and pass the School Canyon Trail #468. Continue on FR 27 another 2 miles, where you will intersect FR 2210. Turn right onto the graveled FR 2210 and continue another 2 miles to Little Badger Creek. Cross over the creek and find the parking area on the left side of the road. The trailhead was on your right just before you crossed over the creek.

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