In honor of this year’s first snow fall I am throwing it back to a snowy hike from last year. It was after our trip to Mirror Lake, and many of the roads were still coated in ice. We had a few trails in mind but first had to see what areas were accessible. After discovering that most roads would still require chains, our options were limited. We read in our 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles book about a trail in Welches and the road was clear enough for Goatzer, our little Civic. It was in this way that we found ourselves at the Salmon River Trail for the first of what would be many times to come.
About the Trail
The Salmon River is a National Wild and Scenic River in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. It’s a sizeable river that weaves its way down through the forest from Mt. Hood.
The trail follows its namesake river for a few miles, before branching off and heading into the surrounding hills. The length varies by the section of trail that you complete.
Following the River
We stopped at the first parking lot not wishing to chance continuing down the icy road. It was well worn, and there were a few cars so clearly there were others on the trail. After taking in the increasingly foggy weather, we decided that this would be a short outing. We would keep an eye on the sky and turn back when it felt right.
We layered up and headed down the slushy trail towards the river. I still hadn’t purchased proper boots which meant I was again wearing my Keens. Not exactly made for snow, but my feet stayed dry and I didn’t slip once! The trail had clearly been used all morning, there were prints from numerous people and their furry companions. I felt a little silly clothed in my winter gear with my pack on, as people in shorts out for a jog ran past. I prefer to be overly cautious, but sometimes I feel self conscious about it!
This part of the trail is more of a walk than a hike. The terrain doesn’t vary too much and mostly sticks to the side of the river. Occasionally the sun would break through the clouds and we’d catch the melting snow dripping off of the moss coated trees.
There were many places where you could access the river so we ventured down a few times. The water was almost completely clear, and if not for the frigid temperatures might seem inviting.
There is a lot of old growth in this forest, some of the trees inspiring awe with their height and circumference. It felt comforting gazing up into the treetops high above. It was almost as though I was a child looking up into the face of my elders.
At this point, roughly a mile down the trail, we noticed the heavier fog beginning to roll in. We stopped here for a while to rest, eat, and just examine the area before making our way back.
We headed back the way that we came, stopping every now and then to admire the scenery. Once we reached our car we knew we had made the right choice. We were the only people left on the trail or in the parking lot. The temperature was dropping and the fog continued to descend down the mountain on us.
We were already making plans for our next visit as we drove away, enamored by this trail. We came back twice more over the winter and it quickly became one of my favorite trails. I feel you can’t go wrong here, you can walk a short distance or turn it into a more intense hike. It is accessible for any age or ability level, and it is just beautiful. We have only walked the 2 miles along the river so far, making for a relaxing 4 mile round trip. I can’t wait to explore it in its entirety.