10/8/2012 – Eagle Creek Cutoff and east end of Eagle Creek – 504, 501

Date of Hike: 10/8/2012
Location of Hike: Eagle Creek Cutoff and east end of Eagle Creek
Trail Number: 504, 501
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 9:45 AM
End Time: 2:15 PM
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


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Description of Hike:
I wanted to take advantage of what may have been my last chance to experience the extended summer this year. We have had an unseasonably long stretch of nice, warm, dry weather – in fact, it is supposed to be the longest stretch of dry weather on record (from July-September). The weather reports were calling for rain the following weekend, and it looked like that might be the start of the rainy season. So, with my Monday holiday (Columbus Day), I decided to complete the Eagle Creek to Old Baldy trail connection – the Eagle Creek Connector trail (504).

I have hiked the Eagle Creek trail several times, and even backpacked there with the scouts a couple of times, but never got up the trail all the way to where it crosses the creek. This is the point where the Eagle Creek connector trail starts, and then heads uphill to the Old Baldy trail. I had ventured a short distance down that trail when I had hiked the Old Baldy trail earlier, but since it is a 2.2 mile trip down to the river, I didn’t go very far. Originally, I had thought I could do this trail when I completed the east end of Old Baldy, but when I started looking at details, the length of the trail made it obvious that it would need to be a separate trip. Since I hadn’t hiked all the way to the end of the Eagle Creek trail, I decided to include that in the hike as well. Turns out it was a bit farther than I thought to the end of the trail!

The day started out rather cool, but we quickly got on the trail and proceeded down, then up and went down and up for a bit – I had anticipated essentially going downhill, but the start of the trail is a bit up and down. The trails in this area seem to be “older” and as a result, do more “direct” routes (read: straight up and straight down). Shortly, we came to a nice viewpoint, overlooking the Eagle Creek drainage.

After stopping for a bit to emjoy the views, we continued on – at this point, we started downhill. The beginning of the downhill was not too bad, but the farther down the hill we got, the steeper it got. With my knees still recovering from our Eagle Cap trip, the trip downhill was a little challenging (for my knees). We made it downhill (finally), and got to the creek crossing. My hope had been that the creek would be low at this time of year to make it easy to cross. The creek was pretty low, which made for an easy crossing, just an easy rock hop.

After the creek crossing, we were now on the Eagle Creek trail. This was a portion of the trail I had not been on before. At this point, the trail was right next to the creek. Very quickly, we came to a “narrows” area, where there was some rock ledge and where the creek got very narrow and deep. It was very similar to a section on the Clackamas river that you can see from highway 224, although it was much smaller (obviously).

We proceeded down the trail, heading downstream. At one of the side creek crossings, I had an experience I’ve never had before – I lost my footing completely and ended up falling in the water. It had to have been a very comical sight. The good news was that I didn’t hurt anything, except a few scrapes and scratches. It will teach me to be more careful, even at small water crossings. After my big fall, we continue down the trail until we got to the place where we had to turn back in April (with the scouts). On the way back, I noticed a really pretty section of maple that was really “popping” with the fall colors – green, yellow, orange and red. The photo didn’t do it justice:

A little farther down the the trail, we found a nice place along the creek to stop, sit and have lunch. While we were sitting there, I saw the most unusual bird. It would sit on rocks and constantly bob up and down. It would then “swim” through the water to the next rock. It was a grayish black color. It would repeat these behaviors over and over down the creek. I tried to get a video of it, but was unable to get something that was clear. When I got home I looked up the bird, and it is called an “American Dipper”. I guess the dipper name comes from its behavior. It was a very interesting way to spend my lunchtime.

After lunch, we continued back down the trail to re-cross the creek and head back up the hill. One thing I was amazed at – how moist and green this area still was, even with our extended dry period. Side creeks were still flowing and everything was still very green.

After crossing the creek it was time to head back up the hill. Wow, was that hard – the “switchbacks” were not very wide, they were more like “S”s, so it wasn’t much better than walking straight uphill. And it was STEEP. It took me a while, but I finally made it back up the hill. Tired, but happy that we were able to experience this new piece of trail on a beautiful fall day. The Eagle Creek canyon is an absolutely beautiful place with lots of old growth trees. It is also a very quiet forest – different than many. It was a good day.

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