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Larch Mountain

September 2005: A loop hike from the top of Larch Mountain

Larch Mountain Forest
Larch Mountain is the remenant of a long-extinct volcanic dome in the south part of the Columbia River Gorge. A paved road leads to the top of this popular destination, and a short hike takes visitors to a lookout point with a panoramic view of 5 volcanic peaks (weather permitting). Here, an early morning fog lifts off some of the surrounding forest.
Black Mushroom
The trails near the top of Larch Mountain connect with the rest of those in the gorge. Some really pleasant hikes are possible from the top of the mountain at just over 4000ft all the way down hill to the Columbia River, 6 miles away at around 100ft elevation.
An early state of decay turned this mushroom a pitch black.
There are a few really nice stands of old growth forest just below the top of Larch Mtn. Ancient Western Hemlock, Noble Fir, and Douglass Fir (but no Larch) have grown to tremendous sizes. The forest is also full of small wonders, no less impressive on a different scale.
Nurse Log
An old tree fell in the forest, and has become a "nurse log", supporting a crop of young Western Hemlock. Nurse logs are rather common, but this example was quite striking.
Late Morning Dew
Some fronds from a Deer Fern poke through the wet forest undergrowth.
Last Berry of the Bunch
It's the last gasp of summer - as the berrys give way to empty branches

Where is it?

Larch Mountain is located in the south part of the Columbia River Gorge. The main trailhead can be reached by paved Larch Mountain Road, which starts near Corbett, OR. Alternately, the nearest trailheads along the Columbia River are at Multnomah Falls, and Oneanta Gorge / Horsetail Falls.

Before you go...
You'll need a NW forest pass to park at the trailhead on top of the mountain. Note that the s~6 mile loop trail nearest the summit of Larch Mountain is open to mountain bikers. Though, about a mile of it would be rather difficult on a bike, so that probably keeps the masses out.

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