Memaloose Wildflower Hike


Springtime around GreenWorks means the annual wildflower hike. This year we headed for Memaloose State Park along the Columbia River, just past Mosier. Sometimes the hike gets scheduled a bit too late and we miss ‘peak bloom’. We got it right this year.

Memaloose State Park gets its name from Memaloose Island, just a short swim from the park, in the middle of the Columbia River. According to the Oregon State Parks:

The park is named for a nearby island in the Columbia River which was a traditional Indian burial ground. In Chinook language, the word "memaloose" is associated with burial ritual. 

Plant ID’s from the hike by Jennifer D'Avanzo

Plant ID’s from the hike by Jennifer D'Avanzo

The trail left Memaloose Rest Area, along I-84, and gradually climbed past a beautiful old wooden water tower and some interesting rock formations known as the Memaloose Pinnacles before it reached Highway 30 and an alternate trail head.

Once we crossed the old highway, we entered a long stretch of alternating tree stands and meadows. We identified Indian Paitbrush, Blue-eyed Mary, Death Camas, Calypso Orchid, Arrowleaf Balsamroot, and a prodigious amount of poison oak.

We saw a few bald eagles and maybe an osprey when we left the stands of trees and entered a grazing meadow made by a nearby rancher. Huge Oregon White Oaks dappled the trail with sunlight from the perfectly clear day as we skirted the fence line, past a bramble covered spring, and then started a steep climb thought thick trees.

When the trees broke all we saw were flowers. Arrowleaf Balsamroot was in full bloom and completely covered the hillside. We picked our way through it and continued climbing to the top for full views of Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and up and down the Columbia River Gorge. 

As is the tradition, we hold a photo contest for shots taken on the hike. Each of us submit two photos to be judged separately. Conditions made the photos all good and voting was close. Third place was a tie between five photos: one each by Andrew Holder, Katie Schneider, and Kelly Stoecklein, and two by Judith Edwards.

Second place (right) was shot on an iPhone by Wes Shoger. He credits the ‘f-stop range slider’ feature for the beautiful bokeh in his photo.

Andrew Holder, who also shot it on his phone, but with no help from depth of field sliders, won this year (left). “Hold on a second while I win the photo contest,” he claims he told Kelly, mid-sentence while they were hiking, as he snapped the winner.

Take a look at the rest and judge for yourself.