For a hot, sunny day when driving long distances just does not seem like the right thing … Hardesty Mountain right west of the Willamette National Forest boundary can be a good idea. Recent years, Hardesty was a good conditioning hike, but with mountain bikers finding it a great ride down … it can be busy, and this was the first time in 2022 (last time). The trail showed its ware but was surprisingly better than feared. Bikes dig deep ruts.
I originally intended to go Hardesty to Sawtooth to June, but came up short even after starting very early.
The trail is completely within the shade and even the top of Hardesty (where there was an old fire tower decades ago) is just rocks.
Once at Sawtooth, however, open views reminded of the near-by fire (Cedar Creek).
Summary: I do like this hike. If one can pay attention to the subtle changes in forest type and ecosystems, then its even more entertaining. The weather was perfect for a ‘shade hike’ with a decent elevation gain. The entire trip encountered 0 other humans. Trail condition was better than expected even after the heavy bike traffic. There is absolutely 0 water in this segment and it’s a work out.