Veda Lake Trail – ~2.4 miles
On July 1st to escape the heat and get our float on one visiting Jimbo, Mary, and I headed up to hike the Veda Lake trail on Mt. Hood. The drive up to the trailhead includes ~3 miles of super bumpy road – high clearance vehicle is absolutely necessary. If it’s a clear day you get a fantastic view of Mt. Jefferson about half way up. There seem to be quite a number of trails off this road, and a large number of former campsites with fire rings and some picnic tables. Seems like a great place for a first primitive camping or backpacking overnighter not being too far from Government Camp but still feeling plenty “out there”.
One of the highlights of the trail, besides being blissfully short, are the incredible views of Mt. Hood. We lucked out with an SCUV day (severe clear unlimited visibility), the kinda day that always reminds me of 9/11, and from the top of Veda Peak enjoyed the vista above with our first peek of Veda Lake. From this vantage point the lake looked like a long slog downhill, but the trail has very gradual switchbacks and it didn’t take nearly as long to get down as expected. In fact the only “tough” section is right at the beginning with a 1/4 mile pretty steep uphill, but the overall trail is rated as “easy” and I think that’s a fair grading.
Once down to the lake it didn’t take long for us to get in the water. It felt wonderfully cool after the hike in, and we floated around for a good 1/2-1 hour. This summer has been unusually and incredibly hot, and even escaping to the mountains hasn’t been much of an escape from the heat. Having a lake to swim in (and not being too cold) mid-hike was perfect. We passed a couple backpackers with their kids on the hike down, but there was no one there when we arrived. Another couple of backpackers with kids arrived while we were swimming, and we passed another couple on the way up – so it seems like a pretty popular place to take kids and people for a first backpacking adventure. There are a number of level campgrounds located around the lake, but sound travels, so if there were a lot of kids/people there it might be loud on busy weekends.
I read that there were crawfish in the lake, and there was a trap left on the “beach” but I didn’t see any until I finished my float. Then two decided to crawl right up to the shoreline and I managed to get a good shot in. Funny to see them in the lake, and I imagine that their population gets pretty scarce by the end of the summer.
The locally known Mt. Hood lily, actual name Washington lily (Lilium washingtonianum Kellogg), has a colorful and interesting story. Wonderfully fragrant and varying in color and speckled texture they livened the switchbacks down to the lake, picking up where the rhodie and bear grass blooms were fading.
It was great getting out of town for the day, visiting with Jimbo for another PNW hike, and getting our float on! Can’t wait to come back for a little backpacking adventure some time. It’s a toss up between Bear Lake and Veda Lake now…
Critter watch: Crawfish, chippies, insects, birds