Looking back the way we came.
Photo by Zoë Symon
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A Ridgeline Day Hike

With this heavy snow year in the Northwest, we haven't been able to get back out on some of our favorite trails yet. Instead, I'm reminiscing about this day hike from the Summer Solstice 2018.

Zoë Symon       Trip Report       06/21/2019
Zoë Symon
Trip Report
06/21/2019

There are a multitude of trails in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, and for this hike Evan and I decided to hike a section of one of our favorite trails that we had never walked before. At the Buck Creek Trailhead, one of the trails leads towards China Cap and Burger Pass, and the other fork leads the opposite direction towards Meadow Mountain, eventually connecting to the trail that runs the ridge to China Cap.

We decided to turn the hike into a long loop hike, starting and ending at Buck Creek Trailhead.

An empty gravel parking lot surrounded by evergreen trees.
At the deserted trailhead parking area.
Photo by Zoë Symon

It was a warm summer day, already well into the dry season here in Eastern Oregon. Evan and I arrived early at the trailhead to find it mostly deserted, boding well for a solitary weekend hike. We grabbed a wilderness permit and started our trek.

We followed the trail along Squaw Creek, ascending to the ridgeline. It was a beautifully forested section with the constant sounds of moving water and wildlife. We paused once on the way up and filled our water bottles since we knew there would not be another opportunity once we reached the ridge.

On our way up, we encountered a couple folks with a small pack train working on maintaining the trail. We thanked them and continued on our way.

Upon reaching the ridge, we were treated to expansive views of the surrounding area. Blue skies, distant and near mountains, and green valleys were all a part of the panorama.

A view overlooking an evergreen valley surrounded by rocky mountain peaks.
The view after reaching the ridge. Photo by Zoë Symon
A view overlooking an evergreen forest surrounded by rocky mountain peaks.
More views from the ridge.
Photo by Zoë Symon
A faint trail ascends over a meadow towards a hill and an evergreen forest.
Looking towards Meadow Mountain.
Photo by Zoë Symon

We traversed the ridge for a while, drinking in all the beautiful views that the hike offered. As we neared China Cap, the trail dipped down to skirt a rocky outcropping. On the opposite side was a large snowfield that completely obscured the trail. I could see where the trail most likely reappeared on the other side, so I decided to carefully make my way across it.

As I crossed the snow, it became obvious that the warm summer weather was taking a toll on the structure of the snowfield. I postholed up to my thigh multiple times before I decided that it was probably wise to seek a different route. Evan had taken the high route, scrambling over and around the rocky outcropping. I joined him and we made our way carefully down to the pass where our trail back to the parking area joined the ridge.

We descended back towards the parking area, marking a couple nice campsites along our way so that we could visit them again. We made it back to the truck and treated ourselves to snacks and cold sodas before making our way back to town.

Overall, the day was beautiful and the hike was perfect—a great combination of steep climbs, breathtaking views, and casual ridge walking.

A view looking down a green valley covered in a grassy meadow and evergreen forest.
Looking back towards the valley and the trailhead. Photo by Zoë Symon
A view from the ridge shows an evergreen forest, distant mountains, and lingering snow.
One of many stunning views.
Photo by Zoë Symon
A view across a green grassy clearing towards an evergreen forest and a distant valley beyond.
Looking back towards the valley.
Photo by Zoë Symon
A view from a rocky ledge shows distant mountain ranges under a blue sky.
Views of distant mountains. Photo by Zoë Symon

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About the Author
A smiling woman wearing a rain jacket and a backpack stands next to a tree.

Zoë Symon

Zoë grew up in North Carolina and first heard of the Appalachian Trail during her time in college. In 2016, she took a leave of absence from her job and thru-hiked the trail. This adventure fostered her love for the outdoors and for hiking. Currently, she explores the public lands of Oregon. In 2017 she joined the team at Atlas Guides as Creative Director. She spends her days improving experiences for all our users.