Eric and I headed to Oregon for the long Memorial Day Weekend. Our main objective was to climb the South Side Route of Oregon’s highest peak: Mount Hood… but first we needed a warmup hike to stretch our legs after being int he car for 6 hours! Eric and I left Friday morning at 8:30am avoiding most traffic except for a accident holdup in Olympia. We were approaching Mt Hood on Route 26 around 2:00pm with plans to hike the short Castle Canyon Trail on the west side of the town of Rhododendron. Our guidebook indicated that we should turn left of Airlie Mitchell Road. We drove through the town without seeing anything remotely resembling the road name. Double backing we noticed a road labeled Arlie Mitchell Road… only the street sign was on the other side of the road barrier. Again we made a U-turn and then turned left on the Little Brook Lane which turns into Arlie Mitchell as it bears left. The confusion was not over though. We were supposed to turn left after.25 miles on FS 1819… alas we only saw a road called FS 19 so we didn’t turn. We pulled over in the residential area and asked for directions only to discover that the Trail head was down FS 19! Another U-turn and we finally arrived at Castle Canyon Trailhead. There are about three shoulder pullouts to park in. Do not park in the driveway of the secluded homes.

Eric and I began to hike the trail happy to be able to do something other than sit in my car. It follows a ridge through the forest passing rock towers that would make great climbing routes if someone came out to clean the moss. The trail was steep and after about 1/2 mile we discovered that there was a network of intertwining trails. Our guidebook said that in .9 miles we would reach a knife edge ridge that led to a lookout. Beyond was unmaintained trail. We passed beneath rocky ridges staying on what appeared to be the main trail. I did not have my GPS so I am not sure how far we traveled before be deducted that we had gone further than the .9 miles. We turned back and took a social trail to up to one of the ridges just for fun. As it turned out we ended up on the ridge top we’d been trying to get to all along. The ridge leading to the lookout was indeed narrow. There are good foot and handhold and the climbing is not difficult. I would only rate in a class 3 scramble due to the exposure. Falling would mean tumbling down 100ft.

We returned to the trail head and continued our journey to the base of Mt Hood with legs tat no longer felt wretched.

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