Deception Butte Trail
Iris and I decided to spend the day in nature before the air got too cold and wet. We had a handful of day hikes picked out but ended up choosing Deception Butte, east of Eugene, as our top choice. It was said to be a steep trail with big rewards. Neither of us had been to that part of the cascades, so we were both excited and curious about the area.
The trail guide we were using was from the late 80s, I believe, so our adventure began with a bit of confusion. The trailhead and mile marker that were listed in the trail book had since been replaced by a large mobile park.
After driving in circles through the quiet park, we finally saw a resident and asked them about the location of the trail head for Deception Butte. As she puffed on her cigarette, she was pretty surprised that anyone would even consider hiking around that area, even worse, into the woods. She knew that there was once a trail opening from the mobile park that some of the park members would use as a fitness trail, but the public access point had since moved up the road a half mile or so.
So, the trailhead had changed from a small pull off on hwy 58 (thank god) to Forest Road 5850, just east of the trailer park and just before the ranger station. The trail has also evolved a bit, starting at the south side of deception creek.
We were soon in the forest, surrounded by moss and wet leaves. You can hear the creek running swiftly nearby but you don’t see the water right away, which is a lovely experience of the senses.
Nearly right off the bat, about 3/4 the way in, you approach a very large boulder that you have to climb. If we had gone a bit earlier in the season, I don’t think it would have been so difficult and slippery. I was doing the crab walk for a short bit, inching myself up the slippery rock. Iris seemed to have no complaints. I wish I would have gotten photos of the rock. After that we saw nearly a mile of forested trails, walking along the creek which includes a small foot bridge. From here, the trail takes you on a steep climb to the top.
Turned to snow dustings after two miles in. The path starts to narrow quite a bit. At points it disappears, which takes you through a bit of evergreen and bramble. Lots of zip zags and sharp climbs. My calves and bum were burnin’!
Each time we would see the sun shining down, I thought we were close to the summit. I was never right though. The trail book mentioned that once you hit the rhododendron forest, you were nearly at the summit. Well, the rhodies went on and on, leading us up the trail but never really to our destination. I guess I just need not take the guide book so literally and just enjoy the experience…
Finally, we see a clearing! It was bright and sunny and the snow was getting a lot deeper and more powdery. We nearly ran to the top at this point, not only excited to reach the summit, but excited to rest our bums and eat some delicious food! The summit was snow covered with manzanita // Arctostaphylos columbiana // I later found out from Tanya Harvey, botanist, gardener and author of the amazing westerncasades.com website, that it was actually hairy manzanita in it’s final stage, hence the pink leaves. It was so beautiful no matter!
The view was amazing. So amazing. I was in awe of the pink manzanitas and the plant life on the snowy butte. You could see forever into the distance and it was a sea of snow covered evergreen. Tanya also told me that if we would have worked our way around the rim of the peak, we would have seen another, completely different view that isn’t really talked about. I guess the trail continues, very faintly, towards the west where you reach a beautiful sloping meadow with views of the west, including Diamond Peak.
I am really looking forward to hiking Deception again, especially now that I know what I’m in for. I’m hoping to go this spring to catch some different views, and then maybe again in the summer time.
Iris and I spent about a half hour on the peak before packing up and starting our trek back down. It was going on 4 p.m. and we both started to worry about our remaining sunlight. It was really steep and really slippery, and our light was growing really dim. Actually, we were running for a good part of it. This made for an exciting, exhilarating trek down the mountain. We hit flat ground in record time, and still had an ounce of sunlight to get us back to the car.