Cairn Basin from Mazama Trailhead

• Distance: 6.8 miles round-trip; Driving: 120 RT
• Elevation gain: 2260 feet
• High Point: 5,920 feet
• Difficulty: Steep climb on first part, but done at a moderate pace - poles recommended


The well-maintained Mazama trail climbs 3 miles in and out of forest to the Timerberline Trail where we'll go through through lovely meadows of lupine, paintbrush, monkey flower, arnica and other alpine wildflowers to reach delightful Cairn Basin. According to Tom Kloster, Cairn Basin was one of the basins "named by a Mazama Club expedition in the early 1900s, helping lead to the construction of the Timberline Trail." (This field trip was originally going from Vista Ridge Trailhead, but will leave instead from Mazama Trailhead (formerly Cathedral Ridge) because it is far easier to access from Portland.)

We'll take the time to soak in the scenery which has been called some of the finest on the mountain. Plan to photograph lush wildflower displays and impressive views of Mt. Hood as well as distant views of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and the Hood River Valley.

As is common on my hikes, share your knowledge of local natural or cultural history--so do some homework--e.g., find a plant list and look up some plants ahead of time; better yet, find an insect list for the area. I'll share mine too, so this trip will go at a moderate pace with stops for interpretation and photos.

Dogs are not allowed--except for service dogs. PLEASE READ About Mary's Trips in this Meetup's Files under "More" BEFORE you sign up. Please call Mary at[masked] (land line) with questions. Do NOT email if you have a burning question.

Dress in quick-drying layers--no jeans or other cotton. Bring lunch, water, rain gear, polar fleece or other warm clothes (folks were cold at Chinidere) and the

Updated Ten Essential "Systems" for safe hiking.

  1. Navigation (map and compass)
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter

Consider bringing binoculars for bird-watching. Bring money for drivers (suggested $.10 mile/person), $2-3 voluntary donation for Sierra Club's Leader Training program and money for an optional stop on the way home.

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  • John M.

    Beautiful hike

    July 22, 2012

  • Yehudah W.

    Finally figured out how to download your "instructions" and we're in agreement. Do want to get back into Portland at 5ish as Joanie is performing a wedding near our NE house at 7. We can give you a ride, but you'll have to get to our house. Just left you a phone message with my number, etc. Previous post didn't post!?! Sounds like a beautiful spot!

    July 19, 2012

  • Yehudah W.

    Hey, Mary, can you take the #8 bus from downtown to our house? We can drive you from there. 5707 NE 15th Ave. [masked]-8737. We never leave early enough to get to Gateway before 8 so this would be the way to do it. Also, we need to get back to Portland by 5 at the latest. Will this be possible?

    July 19, 2012

  • Mary V.

    If anyone is coming in along Hwy 26 from the west-side, I would deeply appreciate a ride. I could meet you at SW 13th & Market for easy on to I-405.

    July 16, 2012

  • Mary V.

    I changed the date from Sunday to Saturday because the SW Sunday Parkways is Sunday, July 22. Sorry you have to choose between two great trips. . .

    July 6, 2012

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