OverviewThis trail is a pleasant one with a steep, switchbacked start followed by a long ridgewalk. You'll walk through a wetland, past some short cliffs, through old growth forest onto a ridge with abuot half a dozen viewpoints from Mount Hood to Marys Peak. You will gain 3100 feet in the approximate 5 and 1/2 mile hike to the summit. The summit is actually off trail but easy to find although viewless. The many other viewpoints nearby more than make up for the treed summit. It's a great workout hike with views that is less than an hour from Portland.
The trailhead is at the Wildwood Recreation Site which is a great little park in itself and has picnic areas, a wetlands trail and a unique underwater viewing window built in to the stream to view fish and habitat.
Map of the site
Getting ThereFrom Portland, take Highway 26 east to a point about 15 miles past the town of Sandy. Look for a large brown sign on the right denoting the Wildwood Recreation Site. Turn right her and stay left until you come to the parking area by a restroom. The trailhead for the Boulder Ridge Trail is on the left of the restrooms.
Route DescriptionThe path is paved at the restroom and crosses a long 300' footbridge over the Salmon River. Turn right at the fork and go .3 miles along the paved trail to the actual start of the Boulder Ridge Trail. (The path you were just on after the bridge is actually a loop and if you want, you can take the other way on the way back to walk through a wetlands area on a boardwalk.)
Hike up the narrow rocky trail for a short bit and then the switchbacks begin. Hike up through huckleberries and rhodies a mile or so until you come to a flat spot that has been used for campfires. The trail switches back left there and is relatively flat for a distance through a more weedy area of the trail. The weeds die out quickly and at the 2.3 mile mark, you come to a viewpoint on a cliff looking out to Zig Zag Mountain and Mount Hood.
This is the viewpoint
The next two miles are mostly a ridge walk/traverse on steep hillsides through tall trees. You will go through areas where there are just tall Douglas firs with no ground cover as well as some areas filled with rhodies and beargrass, it's interesting to see the distinct sections of the trail. You will eventually come to a flat area amid cedars and firs where the Boulder Ridge Trail ends and you come to a sign for the Plaza Trail.
At this sign, you will take a right. It will look like the only option but there used to be a trail to the left you might be able to still see a bit of. Anyway, take the right turn and follow the ridge back the other way. It is flat for a short distance and you go through areas such as this:
Over the next mile, there will come several small viewpoints to the left towards Hood. At the 1 mile mark from the point you took the Plaza Trail, you will come to the "summit" viewpoint at GPS 45.30815 by -122.0040833. It is not the actual summit but you are now pretty close. This area is the largest viewpoint you will have and views are in both directions from the ridge. There is a large rocky knob here and here is how it looks:
To continue on to the true summit, go to the right of the rocky knob in the photo and angle down into the trees following an old path that is now overgrown with rhodies. Push your way through the rhodies and you can see the old trail that appears to not have been maintained for a while. You will follow this trail that goes along the ridgecrest for the most part. You will pass through 3 more open areas in the next 1/4 to 1/2 mile. After the third open area, look left for a mound slightly ahead. At the point the trail begins to descend down and to the right, head off trail for the top of the mound on your left. The actual summit is maybe 30 yards from the trail on top of the mound where there is a fir tree with rocks around its base. The GPS point is 45.3023166 by -122.00375 at 4378 feet.
Return the same way unless you have a shuttle at the Bonanza Trailhead. If that is where you are going, continue down the trail to the right until you come to a junction where you take a left to get on the Bonanza Trail.