Badger Creek Trail #479 to Badger Lake & Back – Backpacking Trip Review

First thing’s first. Here are two websites that we used for guidance during this trip:
1. Badger Creek Trail according to the government
2. Badger Creek Trail according to OregonHikers.org 

Photos: To skip to the photos scroll to the end of this post. Click a photo to enlarge it!

Newbie Note: We chose this hike for our first backpacking trip for a few reasons, but, one important one being that the final destination, Badger Lake, is accessible by car and often hosts car campers. We thought it would be safer to go someplace somewhat populated and with a road on our first ever backpacking trip just in case something happened and we needed help.

Location: Badger Creek Wilderness, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon
Length: 22 miles total to Badger Lake and back (11 miles one way) We made it a 3 day/2 night trip.
Date: August 9-11, 2014 (Sat-Mon)
Average gal rating (1-10, easy-brutal): I rate this hike a 5. There was some climbing on both days that was intense enough that I had to stop to rest every once in a while but, otherwise, it wasn’t too bad. Hiking out 11-ish miles the last day was annoying but not really too difficult… just long.
Trail Head info: The trail head is right next to Badger Creek and you can filter nice cold water right there so no need to bring extra water for the car for the ride home after your hike. There are no facilities at this trail head other than a sign with some bullet holes in it and ample space for a hand full of cars. Watch out for poison oak near the creek here.
Wildlife Report: Some grouse popped up on the second day and scared us! 🙂 Other than that we saw very few critters. I did see a yellow warbler and some other random song birds at the Lake, though, and flowers galore.
Other info: There were very few bugs out this trip! It was great! We wore bug spray for a hand full of mosquitoes both nights but I don’t remember getting one bite. Not buggy! Watch out for poison oak, though, around the trail head and here and there along Badger creek the whole way. It wasn’t hard to avoid but just keep your eyes peeled.
Group Size: Most of the campsites I remember were big enough for 2 or 3 tents…  I didn’t see any huge camp sites but I also didn’t walk all of the way around the lake, though, so there may be some bigger ones there. I’d keep the group to 4 or 5 max to be safe.

Day 1: 
We started late due to work schedules but got onto the trail by about 6pm. We hiked a lot more than we thought that first day, covering more than half of the entire hike before it got too dark to continue. The hike was up and down and up and down. We stayed mostly next to the creek, but, a few times climbed above it for a while before heading back down toward it. There were beautiful outcroppings of rock and sometimes narrow trails. We camped a bit before the junction of Post Camp trail #467 at appx 6.5 miles. There were a hand full of campsites along the trail before this junction. There were also a couple about 3 miles into the hike. All of the campsites were along the creek so getting water was easy! We were under tree cover the whole way, and, at our camp sites. Not great star gazing, but being next to the creek is nice.

Tip: It was a little difficult to pinpoint where the trail head was because the roads closest to it weren’t really marked too well. This trail head is along Badger Creek so head DOWNHILL when you get the chance along the road toward the creek and you will finally cross the creek and see a clearly marked trail head and parking area.
Tip: Most camp sites were a little walk off of the trail that first night. Keep your eye out for little side trails and don’t be afraid to follow them for a bit to find beautiful camp sites along the creek.

Day 2:
Today we got going relatively early so that we could get to the lake in time to relax. The hike was mildly uphill the rest of the way to the lake, but, it wasn’t terrible. Today rocked because there were huckleberries, thimble berries, and oval leaf blueberries at waist height along what seemed like the entire day’s hike! Yum! We got to the lake around 1pm and, although we weren’t the only ones there we found a great secluded campsite and went for a swim!
Tip: Make sure you know what you are eating! Here is a little online guide to edible Oregon berries: http://northernbushcraft.com/berries/
Tip: Remember! This lake is accessible by car, so, if you are planning on being there on a Friday or Saturday night be sure to try to get there early to ensure you get a camp site. There are many sites, but, better safe than sorry!

Day 3:
Today we packed up and hiked all of the way back to the trail head (appx 11 miles). It was mostly a gradual downhill hike, but, it felt very long to me. We stopped at our 1st night’s campsite for a break and lunch and then continued on. I wouldn’t say that it was very difficult, just long. I was definitely tired by the end of the hike and happy to see our car safe and sound.
Tip: Don’t forget about the poison oak that is near the water all around near this trail head.

Overall: This was a great first trip! (my first ever backpacking trip!). I’d totally recommend it for any average gal as long as you are ok with the mileage. It would have been fine (and maybe more relaxing) as a 4 day/ 3 night trip as well which would make the last day into a 2 day hike instead of 11 miles in one day 🙂 There were lots of camping options along the way (follow the little trails that sneak off of the main trail to find the gems) and you are never out of ear shot of the creek. There is some climbing but it is manageable if you take it at your own pace. You may have company at the Lake due to it being accessible by dirt road, but, we didn’t have any annoying neighbors and our camp site was pretty secluded even though we weren’t the only ones enjoying the lake. I loved this and would totally do it again.

Take a hike!

Badger Creek Trail Head
Badger Creek Trail Head
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Majestic rocky outcroppings during the first few miles.
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Our campsite on Day 1. Could have fit another tent or two here. Note my husband in the tent haha. Not pictured is a beautiful little waterfall off to the left. My name for this camp: Surprise Waterfall Camp.
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We made it to the lake! Yay!
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Beautiful Badger Lake
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Our campsite at badger lake on day 2. My name for it: Camp Log Jam
backpacking pic yay
Post swimming drying rack at Badger Lake.
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Audubon field guide to the North West! A must.
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You will see lots of pix of my husband’s back on this blog.
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We still love each other after backpacking for the first time!
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The view into the woods from our campsite on Day 2 at the lake.
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Hiking selfie #sorrynotsorry
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AMAZING BEAUTIFUL WONDERFUL LAKE selfie. haha
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Obligatory “average gal” picture! Proof!
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I’m starting to learn a lot about mushrooms. Thanks Audubon guide.
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Another view of Badger Lake.
Lots of water options along the creek all day.
Lots of water options along the creek all of the way.
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