The Magic of Bird Creek Meadows

A few weekends ago David and I enjoyed a local adventure on the southeast shoulder of Mt. Adams in Washington state across the Columbia River from Hood River, Oregon.

We were aiming for a good ol' Cascade Mountain hike. A kindly forest ranger in Trout Lake recommended the Bird Creek Meadows loop. So up we drove through burned forest land, through the Yakama Nation reservation on the worst road I have ever been on to the best wildflower hike I have ever experienced. 

I'll save you the butt-numbing trip details and share some images instead.
Here's some of the burned forest land on the way. Don't take it as an omen of things to come. Of course, with burned areas, the loss of trees means grasses and native shrubs thrive.

Native Penstemon, not sure which variety.

Bear Grass or Xerophyllum tenax (I have three in my garden - new this year, lovely grassy foliage, purchased at Portland Nursery) - they were EVERYWHERE...I went crazy with happiness! We drove and drove and parked at the end of the road. About 30 minutes into the hike up the gentle trail we encountered our first wildflowers. Little did we know the beauty that lay ahead.

Native Lupine and Aster and Indian Paintbrush flowers. Everywhere.

Our favorite color is green!

The wildflower season must be short up there. We visited the first weekend in August. 

I think this is native Spiraea and an unknown to me variety of Arctostaphylos.

Had we not carried water with us, these little creeks and seeps looked pretty tasty.

Higher up the creek, a field of gray green colored Lupines, beautiful!

Dagger leaf rush or Juncus ensifolius- I have this in my garden, purchased at Bosky Dell Natives. Lovely.

Anyone know what this lovely is? 


This is Hellroaring Canyon. It is deep, kind of spooky and the apex of the climb. We plan to visit it again and perhaps climb Little Mt Adams in 2014.

Lovely combination!  Nature...she is amazing.


Lovely moss-covered brambles.


As you can imagine, birds own all of these meadows. We spied bluebirds, chickadees (yay!), a western tanager (WOW!), juncos, bluejays, mystery black and white birds the size of seagulls, black-backed woodpecker and many others which we can't remember.

Combination of Lupines, Aster and Indian Paint Brush (not sure of the plant in the foreground...anyone?)

Gorgeous moss-covered streambank.

Some might think this the perfect place for a blanket and a nap. A picture perfect place, it looked landscaped, almost surreal.

Indian Paint Brush or Castilleja miniata.

A field of dreams and a boulder.

Several trails loop around this area. Some come up from Mirror Lake and one from Bird Lake itself. We met few hikers; each was very friendly and in great spirits.

We will return to Bird Creek Meadows but David plans to put on the rough-road tires next time. That mountain road is just too darn tough! What a hike, highly recommended with the right tires. Enjoy! -Tamara and David


  1. Your unknown plant in the foreground might be false Hellebore/Veratrum viride. Aren't the Indian paintbrush beautiful? My favorite wildflower. Looks like a great hike!

    1. Aaah, thank you Alison. Of course! I thought it might be....There were fields of them, really something to see. The Indian Paintbrush are gorgeous, especially in masses as we saw them. They are something to behold!

  2. I was going to say Veratrum californicum for your unknown big leaf plant so Alison and I are in pretty close agreement.

    It's for outings like those I wish we had a tough car, both of ours are city mobiles...

    1. Thanks Danger Garden. Say, anyone know the smaller plant a few more pics down with the soft pinkish flowers? That's another mystery.

      Yes, if you are ever in a big truck with excellent shock absorbers, do go - an epic flower hike unlike any I've seen.

  3. Anonymous11:48 PM PDT

    Depending on the elevation, the mystery black and white birds maybe Clark's Nutcracker.

    1. Wow, I think this is it! Thank you very much for letting me know...we had never seen them before. We were a stone's throw to Mt. Adams overlooking a valley below...I will find out how high we were. Thank you again, we were wondering!


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