Location of Hike: Elk Lake Creek - Welcome Lakes - Geronimo - Motherlode Trails
Trail Number: 559, 554, 557, 558
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Carly and Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 9:15 AM End Time: 6:45 PM
Hike Distance: 14.5 miles
I was a little worried about the distance, coupled with the heat that was forecast for the day. We tried to get an early start, and got to the trailhead at about 9:15 and started off. I’ve had not been on the upper section of Elk Lake creek and it was beautiful, just as the rest of the trail is. We got up to the climbing section of Welcome Lakes and I thought we were going to have to turn around because my daughter wasn’t feeling well and had a headache. A short stop with water and some food and she felt better and we continued on.
When we got to the lower (larger) Welcome Lake turnoff, we went down to the lake and hiked around the backside where you can actually see the lake. I had not gone that far around the lake before, and it is very pretty, although the lake is rather brushed in and it is hard to get to the water.
The other big item of the day was hiking the old abandoned Geronimo trail. Quite honestly, based on the descriptions of the trail, I didn’t think I would like it all.
I only wanted to say that I had hiked that trail. I was actually very pleasantly surprised! Although the trail itself is in rather rough shape (lots of downed trees, very brushy and difficult to follow in places), it is a really nice trail.
The comments about the trail make one think it is exceedingly steep, however I found most of the trail to be pretty reasonable. It was only the last 1/2-3/4 mile of the trail that was rather steep, and I’ve been on trails in other areas of the Clackamas district that were easily that steep. (at least according to my rusty memory). The trail starts out walking a ridge, then descends through a nice meadow where the trail is a little difficult to follow, but is very pretty. It then descends down the hill at a reasonable grade until the last bit, which drops much quicker. The trail does have little mini switchbacks to make it a little easier. The biggest challenge we had on this particular trail was keeping on the trail. There were several sections that required us to find the trail. Downed trees, brush and general lack of use are allowing this trail to disappear in places. It is pretty well blazed which helped a lot.
Once we got back down to Elk Lake trail, the two creek crossings were relatively easy, and the cold water felt good on tired feet.
We ended up getting back to the truck about 6:45, so it was about 9 1/2 hours of hiking! I was very surprised at the temperature all day. Even though it was 93+ in town, it never felt that hot on this trail. Most of the day we had a nice breeze blowing and most of the trail was in the trees, so it really helped keep things tolerable.
All in all a wonderful trip! My muscles are going to complain tomorrow, though….