Hike 101
The Mt. Hood National Forest
Ball Point Hike
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Map of the Ball Point and School Canyon Helispot Hike

Length: 7.2 mi RT
Elevation Change: 1400' gain
Season: Summer thru Fall
Difficulty:    Challenging
Permit: NW Forest Pass Not Required
GPS:   N45 17.922, W121 21.882
Latitude:   45.2987
Longitude:   -121.3647


 Click for PDF Topo Map of this Hike 

Here is another great hike located on the dry side of the Cascade Mountains in the eastern portion of the Badger Creek Wilderness Area. Only a few miles west of Tygh Valley, this enjoyable hike takes you up a ridge, behind Ball Point (yeh, that is actually the mountain's name), and on toward Felt Tip (I'm not making this up!).

Actually, there is a mountain named Felt Tip, but this hike doesn't go to it. Somebody from Office Depot must have named the peaks in this area, because there is another mountain just north of there named Pen Point. Anyway, there are several reasons to drive the 100 miles or so to check out this hike. The first reason refers to my comment about being on the dry side of the mountains. Even if it is raining in the Willamette Valley, it might be sunny here. Another reason to come here is the terrific spring floral display. May through June are the best months, but even in the summer the upper end of the hike is high enough, that there are many beautiful flowers to enjoy.

I hiked this Trail #468 in the first part of July on a hot clear day, and yet found a lot of wildflowers still blooming, especially in the shaded areas. The trail starts out fairly level, then at about a half mile it begins a rather vigorous ascent to the eastern shoulder of Ball Point. This provides you with an outstanding panoramic view of eastern Oregon from north of Tygh Valley, Rock Creek Reservoir, and south to the Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson with Olallie Butte also clearly in view.

The trail then climbs more gently along the steep northern flank of Ball Point, which provides considerable shade, more floral displays, and great views of the canyon and ridges to the north. Even as you begin this hike, you will notice the charred remains of trees that were burned in the Ball Point forest fire of July 2007. That fire burned about 700 acres and as you hike along this trail, you will walk through a large portion of the burn. As time goes by, the burned trees begin to fall, and thus you will have the challenge of negotiating several fallen trees, especially while still close to Ball Point.

The further west you hike, the less fire damage you will encounter. There are many occasions where you can catch views of the valleys below or the ridges around you, but most of the hike is within forested areas. At about three and a half miles you will come to the junction with Trail #469, which comes from Little Badger Creek below you. Actually, Trail #468 ends here, and Trail #469 continues on to Flag Point. To reach the heliport viewpoint, just continue on westward, following Trail #469 for about a fifth of a mile, and you will see a distinct trail taking off to your left. Follow this for a few hundred feet and you will find the heliport.

This is a great place to rest, snack, and take some great photos. According to other sources, there is a spring a few hundred feet west of this area, just off the main trail. I did not go there, nor did I see it, but it may be a source of water if you need it.

There are a number of unusual rock formations just below you and the one to the east side can be fun to explore. Always use mature caution as you climb off trail. Anyway, this is a great hike and I hope you find it so.

Oh, by the way, I did come across a lot of dried cow pies, so I assume this is part of an open range area. So, watch where you step!

Looking southeast into the valley below Ball Point
How to get there:

 Click for PDF Directions Map of this Hike 

There are a number of ways to reach the trailhead to this hike. I choose to approach the area from the north, by heading south from Hood River on Hwy 35. Then taking Forest Road 44 east toward Dufur until I reached the junction with Forest Road 4420, which takes you south toward Fifteen Mile Camp and Flag Point. However, FR 4420, cuts off to the west, and you need to then follow Forest Road #2730 which takes you past Fifteen Mile Camp, and past FR 200 to Flag Point, and east toward Tygh Valley. Up to this point the road is paved, but when you leave the Mt. Hood National Forest land, the road becomes gravel. It will remain gravel until you come to the junction with Forest Road 27.

At this point, you will need to make a very sharp right turn, onto FR 27 which will then lead you to the School Canyon Trail #468. This is the trail to Ball Point and the School Canyon heliport.

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