Hike 50
The Mt. Hood National Forest
Badger Lake Loop via Gunsite Butte Hike
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Map of the Gunsite Butte, Gunsite Ridge, Badger Lake Loop Hike

Length: 8.3 miles round trip from Gumjuwac Saddle
Length: 13.3 miles round trip from Gumjuwac Trail head
Elevation Change: 1600' gain from the Saddle
Elevation Change: 3200' gain from the Trail head
Season: Mid Summer thru Fall
Difficulty:   Challenging from the Saddle
Difficulty:   Difficult from the Trail head
Permit:   NW Forest Pass Required


As is obvious, there are a couple of ways to do the Gunsite Ridge - Badger Lake Loop. Because I've already covered the Gumjuwac Saddle hike on this website(see Hike 36),
I'll write this narrative from Gumjuwac Saddle.

Leave the parking area walking south on Trail #458 and follow Gunsite Ridge for nearly 3.5 miles. The trail climbs immediately in dense forest and takes you through a couple of switchbacks. Soon you come to a more open area with the ridge clearly exposed to your right. Leave the trail and climb up to the ridge at your pleasure and enjoy the fine vistas offered.

The trail along Gunsite Ridge offers several opportunities like this as you hike along. At about a mile and a half the trail comes out onto Forest Road #3550. Walk across the road and enjoy the magnificent view of Badger Lake below you and Mt Jefferson to the south. You'll have to walk the road for a few hundred feet before the trail picks up on your right. Follow the trail just a short distance and you will be treated to more fantastic views of Mt Jefferson to the south, Mt Adams and Mt Rainier to the north, and of course wonderful Mt Hood to your west.

For the next couple of miles you will wander in and out of timbered areas and mountain meadows. In season the flowers are just fine on this hike. You will begin to descend and come to the junction of Trail #458 and Trail #478. Bear left, and follow #478 down the hill until you cross Forest Road 3550. It is a bit difficult to re-find the trail and you may need to walk uphill just a bit, keeping a look off to your right. The trail is there, but not very well defined. Once you establish the trail, follow it until it once again comes out on a Forest Service road #4860. You will come out on the road right at the trail head for Badger Lake, so just locate Trail #479 and begin your descent to Badger Lake.

As you descend you will find several springs along the trail. This causes the plants to grow vigorously and you may need to claw you way through them. However, it isn't difficult and offers less challenge than the 2000 logs you'll need to crawl over as you make your way down the mountain. Did I say, 2000, I meant 20 or so.... I think.

In about a mile and a quarter you will come to the intersection of Trails #479 and #458. Bear to the right and follow #458 down to the lake. It is only about two tenths of a mile. Enjoy the lake area, then prepare for the climb back out of the valley and back up to Gumjuwac Saddle.

Just follow Trail #458 back up the mountain. You will cross a number of small streams along the way. Again, you will be in and out of timbered areas. Occasionally, you will have fine views back at Badger Lake with Mt Jefferson peaking over the ridge. At about a mile you will also get a great view of the desert flatland of eastern Oregon. It is this first mile that is by far the steepest. After regaining nearly all your altitude, you now walk along at a reasonable slope until you reach Gumjuwac.

Looking north toward Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams
from the Gunsite Ridge trail
How to get there:

Whether you approach this from on Hwy 35 going south out of Hood River, or if you are coming north from Hwy 26 near Government Camp, watch for the bridge near what was the Robin Hood Campground.

The trailhead is on the east side of the road and on the north side of the bridge.

If you desire to begin the hike at Gumjuwac Saddle, then take Hwy 35 until you come to Road 44. Turn east on Road 44 and follow it for about 3 miles to Road 4410. Turn right on 4410 and follow for about 6 miles. You will come to a junction where you need to bear right on Road 3550. This is a very primitive road, so be aware. Follow this road another 2 miles or so to the trailhead. The trail is on the west side of the road. Parking is good here.

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