Tire Mountain is one of the best wildflower hikes in Oregon. It is a relatively easy six mile round trip out-and-back hike that has a wide variety of wildflowers. Most of the trail is shaded woodland, but there also are open hillside gardens and rocky bluffs, each with their own collection of flowers. The only drawbacks are that it is a bit tricky to find the trailhead, and the trail can be heavily used. If you are in the Eugene area in June, I highly recommend hiking here.
Here’s a sample of a few of my favorites from this hike.
Sometimes it is easy to miss Fairy Lantern. The flowers are suspended under the leaves, obscured from view. Fortunately, when the hike goes along the side of a hill, some of the plants are on the higher side of the trail, so they are easier to spot.
Even more obscure, though, is Long-tailed ginger. Look for their broad, ovate leaves close to the ground, and then pull them back to look at the base of the plant. We almost missed them, finding the flowers near the trailhead but only on our way out of the trail.
There are two hillside meadows on this hike, each with a different selection of flowers. Common Camas was one of my favorites from the first meadow.
At the second, larger meadow there was a robust stand of Deltoid balsamroot.
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This trail is open to hikers, bikers, motorcycles and equestrian. That is a lot of traffic! We hiked this on a weekday in early June and only had to deal with hikers (very few) and bikers (more, but very polite). The problem is that the trail is narrow, often traversing along the side of the mountain with steep slopes on either side, and it sometimes was difficult to get off the trail enough to allow bikes past. Particularly since the flowers are right along the trail and I was often kneeling on the trail taking lots of pictures.
We didn’t have any problems, though, because we were watchful, and the bikers were also being watchful. I will note, however, that this seems to be a popular place (with good reason!) so it could be busy on weekends.
The trail is shaded for the most part, which made it a nice hike but sometimes a bit difficult to take pictures. There isn’t a huge amount of elevation change, and the trail is generally in good condition. Note that there is one junction, and you want to take the right hand option on your way out. My Alltrails app was very helpful in making that decision.
After the junction you will come to a meadow, which is more of an open, flowery hillside. Lots of flowers here! If you continue on there is another, larger meadow that had a different selection of flowers. Lots of Deltoid balsamroot here, so you know that you’ve reached this meadow. This was our endpoint. If you continue on the trail gets rougher, and it climbs to the top of the mountain. I’m told that the view from the top is not very good due to the trees.
Here’s the track that we followed:
Click the track to see an elevation graph. Move your mouse along the elevation graph to show the location on the map. The Refresh icon will re-center the map.
Note that there are no bathroom facilities at this trailhead.
To reach Tire Mountain you will need to traverse several forest service roads. The first sections are paved, but then they turn into gravel roads. When I visited this location in June 2018 these roads were in good repair, a 4-wheel drive vehicle was not necessary. However, there are many junctions in these forest service roads, so it can be hard to find the right place.
I recommend using something like Google Maps to find the trailhead. This works very well as long as you have the correct destination. Searching for “Tire Mountain” or “Tire Mountain Trailhead” will not get you to the right place. The coordinates you should use are 43°50’14.129″ N 122°28’59.219″ W
From I5 take Hwy 58 east. Just before the town of Oakridge take Westfir Rd to the left. Cross the river, turn left at the stop sign. Continue for approximately 4.7 miles on NF-19 and turn left, over the river, onto FSR 1912. Follow that for approximately 7 miles. At the junction go straight onto FSR 1911 for about 0.3 miles. You will find a small “parking lot” (a wide space on the road, possibly with other cars). One your left you may find a inconspicuous sign for Alpine Trail #3450. On my visit there was a trailhead sign but no trail number, and the sign was set back in the trees. If you miss this, the road branches. One portion goes downhill fast, the other was getting overgrown and wasn’t well maintained. Turn around…
Timing is Everything
We had wonderful weather in early June, and the trail is mostly shaded. Temperatures were in the upper 60’s to low 70’s. Be prepared for rain, though, as just a few days after we left this area a nice rainstorm came through.
Some flowers were already finished, but there were some that were just coming out. Late May to mid June should work well in most years.
See the Oregon Wildflowers website for dated reports on the bloom, as well as a plant list.
Here are a couple of links that have useful information on this hike:
Tire Mountain Wildflower Listing
Here’s a listing of the native plants that we found on this visit.
- Bluefield gilia, Gilia capitata
- Broadleaf stonecrop, Sedum spathulifolium
- Bunchberry, Cornus unalaschkensis
- Cascade Oregon grape, Berberis nervosa
- Coast Manroot, Marah oreganus
- Common cryptantha, Cryptantha intermedia
- Common Camas, Camassia quamash
- Deltoid balsamroot, Balsamorhiza deltoidea
- Fairy lantern, Prosartes smithii
- Fairy slipper, Calypso bulbosa
- Feathery false solomon’s seal, Maianthemum racemosum
- Fringecup, Tellima grandiflora
- Harsh paintbrush, Castilleja hispida
- Hendorson’s shooting star, Primula hendersonii
- Large flowered blue eyed mary, Collinsia grandiflora
- Long-Tailed Ginger, Asarum caudatum
- Menzies’ larkspur, Delphinium menziesii
- Mission bells, Fritillaria affinis
- Olympic Onion, Allium crenulatum
- Oregon fawn lily, Erythronium oregonum
- Oregon wood sorrel, Oxalis oregana
- Pacific rhododendron, Rhododendron macrophyllum
- Pacific starflower, Lysimachia latifolia
- Pussy ears, Calochortus tolmiei
- Sea blush, Plectritis congesta
- Seep monkey flower, Erythranthe guttata
- Sierra pea, Lathyrus nevadensis
- Small flowered blue eyed mary, Collinsia parviflora
- Spotted coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata
- Spring gold, Lomatium utriculatum
- Starry false Solomon’s seal, Maianthemum stellatum
- Sticky cinquefoil, Drymocallis glandulosa
- Stream violet, Viola glabella
- Valley tassels, Castilleja attenuata
- Vanilla leaf, Achlys triphylla
- Western bleeding heart, Dicentra formosa
- Western buttercup, Ranunculus occidentalis
- Western columbine, Aquilegia formosa
- Western meadowrue, Thalictrum occidentale
- Western red baneberry, Actaea rubra
- Western Spring Beauty, Claytonia lanceolata
- Western trillium, Trillium ovatum
- Woodland star, Lithophragma parviflorum
- Woods strawberry, Fragaria vesca
- Yellowleaf iris, Iris chrysophylla
The following are non-native plants that we found on the hike as well:
- Speedwell, Veronica arvensis