A Rainbow of Colors at Cone Peak and Iron Mountain

The Cone Peak meadows at peak bloom. What else can you say but “Wow!”?

The ivesia (Ivesia gordonii) was in perfect bloom on the side ridge of Cone Peak. It’s also on the top of the peak, but there are no records of it anywhere else on the west side of the Cascades.

Sabine Dutoit had a hankering to go to Cone Peak and Iron Mountain, so last Thursday, June 13, Sheila Klest and I joined her for an excellent day out in the Cascades. It was a gorgeous day, and the flowers were outstanding. We walked the 6.6-mile loop trail up through the Cone Peak meadows, over to Iron Mountain (passing just a few last patches of snow on the north side), and up to the Iron Mountain summit before returning to the road. It was great to be out with good friends, enjoying the flowers and views, and not working too hard. And there weren’t the usual crowds at Iron Mountain—undoubtedly the most popular wildflower site in the Western Cascades. Although that’s much longer than I usually hike, it seemed so relaxing not studying, surveying, or collecting seeds, and not bushwhacking. I’ll have to try that more often! It was hard to choose just a few photos to post. You’ll just have to imagine the rest—or go yourself!

My favorite red (paintbrush: Castilleja hispida), white (death camas: Toxicoscordion venenosum and field chickweed: Cerastium arvense), and blue (larkspur: Delphinium menziesii) scene.

I’d seen my favorite tiny-flowered Thompson’s mistmaiden on the top of Cone Peak before, but I didn’t realize it was also in the meadows. I was thrilled to see it still in bloom along with another slightly larger, early blooming flower, threeleaf lewisia (Lewisia triphylla).

We saw two of these beautiful green hairstreaks in areas with a lot of northern buckwheat (Eriogonum compositum), one of their host food plants.

On Iron Mountain, we saw this gorgeous tiger beetle. I believe it is a dispirited tiger beetle (Cicindela depressula). I can’t imagine why it would be dispirited being so beautiful and living in such a lovely spot!

A western tailed blue nectaring on wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

Wonderful to see so much snow still on the Three Sisters, looking east from the top of Iron Mountain.

The one Merriam’s alumroot (Heuchera merriamii) that I had seen just below the deck on top of Iron Mountain was still there and in bud. It’s the most northerly site I’ve ever seen it. I imagine there’s more on the inaccessible cliffs all over the area, but I’ll never know… unless I get a drone.

Sheila and I never tired of taking photos of the stunning displays of Menzies’ larkspur.

5 Responses to “A Rainbow of Colors at Cone Peak and Iron Mountain”

  • Wilbur Bluhm:

    Thanks, Tanya, for the information and excellent photos. The Heuchera merriamii really caught my eye. I’ve not seen it, nor been aware of it on Iron Mtn. or anywhere else, a new to me species. After your photos and information, had to check out H. merriamii in Oregon Flora Atlas and on the web.
    Thanks, Tanya, for including me in your reports! – Wilbur Bluhm

  • I hiked Iron Mountain about two years ago at this time. My fear of heights got the best of me and I couldn’t stomach that last switchback. The flowers are incredible. If you ever lack for blog material, please post more of the photos you took.

  • Kimberly McMahan:

    Outstanding Tanya!

  • Tanya, thank you for another wonderful report! Also, thank you for the specifics about the Ivesia gordonii and Heuchera merriamii. :)

  • Kenton Chambers:

    Hi Tanya,

    I reported the Heuchera to the Flora of Oregon project website back when Bob Ross had sent me a photo he’d taken on the chimney-like rocks on Iron Mtn., and I identified it as the northernmost known locality. We have no OSU collections of it from Iron because it’s not in Bob’s and Henny’s book. It will be in my Saxifrageae treatment in Vol. 3 of the Flora.


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