Wild flowers blooming

May 31, 2006 11:00 pm
Balsamroot at the foot of a Ponderosa pine, a sign of spring and early summer in Baker County. (Baker City Herald file photo/S. John Collins).
Balsamroot at the foot of a Ponderosa pine, a sign of spring and early summer in Baker County. (Baker City Herald file photo/S. John Collins).

THE HIKE: Take an easy, flat, half-mile hike along the shores of Phillips Reservoir and you'll see plenty of flowers. The flowers were blooming in force as of Monday.

You just need to choose the reservoir's south shore or the north. But wildflowers grow profusely on both sides.

TO GET THERE: To access either trail, drive south on Ore. Highway 7 toward Sumpter.

If you want to hike the south shore, turn left on Black Mountain Road, a gravel road marked by a sign. The turnoff is about 14 miles from Baker City, and about halfway up the grade that climbs past Mason Dam.

Drive the road across the top of the dam. There's a parking area on the left side of the road, just beyond the dam. The trail starts on the right side of the road.

To get to the north shore trail, continue past the Black Mountain Road junction about half a mile. At the top of the grade, turn left at a sign for a boat ramp. Follow the paved road down toward the water. The trail starts near a vault toilet.

The shoreline trails pass through each of the Forest Service campgrounds along the reservoir — Union Creek, Southwest Shore and Millers Lane — so you can camp with the trail nearby.

WATER: As an added bonus, the Shoreline Trail is actually on the shore of the reservoir this year, not hundreds of feet above it, thanks to winter snowpack and spring rains refilling the reservoir.

DON'T PICK: Take only photographs. Picking wildflowers is discouraged because it robs others of the opportunity to view them — and may reduce the number of flowers next year.

TICKS: The bloodsucking pests are a possible threat at Phillips Reservoir. Check pets and yourself thoroughly during and after the hike. Wear light colors to provide contrast with dark tick bodies. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to keep ticks off your skin.