by Steve Jones
Last Saturday on 1/16/21 Rod Hooker from Washington Trails Association and myself hiked on the Bluff Mountain Trail. The Forest Road 41 is in terrible shape and regular passenger cars will bottom out in the plethora of potholes on the way to the Bluff Mountain Trailhead. There was no snow on the road until almost to the trailhead where there were shallow ruts in the snow.
This trailhead is lightly used due to the horrible road conditions. The parking lot has a couple of places where pallets have been burned for a campfire and the nails left in the parking lot. We had a nice day for the hike and the view from the parking lot is stunning.
The first part of the trail is an old Forest Service Road which was once blocked off but people have moved the boulders out of the road and are again driving down the old road. The ruts are quite deep for the first mile but then the ground gets very rocky and the trail looks like an old gravel road. Even in the first mile there are some spectacular ridgeline views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens. Mt Jefferson can be seen in the distance and we spotted Saddle Mountain 45 miles to the west.
After about 2.25 miles the trail leaves the old road to the right. You have to know where to look for the trail and it looks like a little gully. Missing this turnoff causes you to go over the top of the next hill and scramble through the brush back down to the trail.
The trail is getting pretty brushy and is Washington Trails Association and the Chinook Trail Association are tentatively planning to brush this trail this summer.
The Chinook Trail Association has also been in contact with the Forest Service about vehicles again using this old forest road.