July 17, 2011
About 50 miles south of Portland lies the Table Rock Wilderness
, over 6000 acres that were designated by the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1984. It’s a good thing too because the surrounding mountains in this part of the Old Cascades
are private industrial forest land and clearcutting is widespread. Most of the old growth trees were wiped out in the 1880’s fires but pockets of 400 to 600 year old forest still remain in the TRW.
The formations from the lava flows that created this area have been carbon dated to about 15 million years ago. The area is characterized by basalt cliffs and rock outcroppings. Table Rock is the highest point in this wilderness. Nearby Rooster Rock (one of many formations in Oregon with this name- click here and here to see others) appears as a arched fin to the south. Table Rock Wilderness is home to several species of endangered flora and fauna such as Gorman’s aster, Oregon sullivantia and the northern spotted owl.
There are two trails that can get you to the summit. The normal one is the 3.6 mile Table Rock Trail that starts along an old forest road but then criss-crosses below cliffs and then up to a saddle to the final trail to the summit. You can also get there from Rooster Rock along the Saddle Trail from there. It’s a popular trail, especially on the weekends, so please pack out what you pack in and if you can, pack out any trash left by others.
The hike is pretty tame but the views are extraordinary with 10 Cascade volcanoes able to be seen from Rainier to South Sister and everything between. The Coast Range can be seen to the west.
From Portland, you can get there one of two ways, either from the west (Woodburn) or the north (Oregon City). From Oregon City, take exit 10 off I-205 south to Molalla on Highway 213 and turn left towards Estacada on Highway 211. Go a half mile and turn right onto S. Mathias Road. Go .3 mi and turn left on S. Feyrer Park Road. Go 1.6 mi and turn right onto S. Dickey Prairie Road. Take this 5.3 miles to S. Molalla Forest Road (it’s not marked will but it is the bridge to the right that crosses the Molalla River). Take this road, nice and paved, for 12.3 miles to a point where the paved road forks right and a gravel road goes left. Guess what? You’re taking the gravel road left. (There is a sign here that identifies it as the way to the Table Rock Trail) From here, basically follow the signs 7 miles to the trailhead. There are two more forks in the road with signs to get you there. Park at road’s end at the trailhead.
If you want to access this from the west, take the Woodburn exit off I-5 where the Woodburn Outlet Stores are and head east on Highway 211 to the junction in downtown Molalla with Highway 213 and follow the same directions from there.
Jenn’s View: The hike itself is not all that inspiring…kinda boring. It’s 4 miles to get to the top. So, 8 miles round trip. There were a few “ah-ha” moments. I think the best part of this hike was running back down. You run so fast down hill that if you miss your turn — you’re a goner! Down the cliff you go! he he…I would rate the difficulty as 2 not a 3 like my book says. There were a few parts that I had to stop and catch my breath and the boulders were slippery AND an area where it was so narrow and slippery that it kinda made me wonder if I was on the right path. But otherwise, pretty flat. You get a break in the tree line to see the views. When you reach the top though, you get the whole story! I will go back on a clear day and HOPE to catch all the mountain ranges that it states at the beginning of the trail. Wore my Merrill hiking shoes – NOT recommended when running! Should have brought my new Salomon’s but didn’t 😦 ENJOY!
So I parked and met a few hikers that had just finished the trail and asked if I was in the right area. Sure enough. The first thing you see is all the information. Best time to go is on a clear day. Go figure, I picked a pretty cloudy, crappy day.
My first break in the tree line and was absolutely amazed.
The trail looked mostly like this — BORING!
|Same old same old…Well, it’s still nice to be out.
On the way up, you do have to cross two streams. I don’t have waterproof shoes but stepping on the rocks helped.
Another break in the trees…
We finally hit a “forested” area and was actually reminded me of Little Red Riding Hood or another fairy tale. Hanzel and Gretel? Most of this trail can be ran but you have to be super careful. Very slippery and the quite a few switchbacks that if you miss….down you go.
The first cliff rocks you come to. The picture was pretty dark but it looked like I could have climbed that. 🙂
Climbing anyone? I did make it to the top…There is actually a small trail to the top but you had to do just a little climbing… 🙂
|You can’t see the trail, but there is one
Here is the view from the top of the first rock I climbed.
|I look like a tired, wet puppy dog!
|Over the cliff, looking down.
So, off the cliff and back on the path… Oh go figure, I hit snow!
Not too bad. It was pretty concentrated in this area alone. The next neat thing I came up was the rock formations…Pretty cool stuff.
Finally made it to the top. Breathed really heavy and enjoyed whatever I can see. It was pretty cloudy and foggy and really wished I waited to do this hike on a clear day. Just imagine how many different mountains you would have been able to see.
|Yes, you have to climb all the way up to get to the VERY VERY top
Poor dog was all tuckered out when we got back to the car. We ran most of the trail down. I will say, this wasn’t that hard of a hike. I bet kids can do this one.