Location of Hike: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: Cool - started kind of sunny but changed to rain
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 9:40 AM End Time: 1:15 PM
Hike Distance: 4.7 miles
The weather forecast for the weekend was changing wildly, but I decided I was going to go regardless of the weather. It got even weirder when we started having SNOW (at the end of March) very close to home. I was hopeful I would be able to get to the trailhead since 224 is plowed and the pipeline road is also plowed – PGE uses it to service the big pipeline from Timothy Lake to Three Lynx.
I asked if anyone else wanted to come, but all were busy, so Thor and I headed out at the “usual time”. We saw a little bit of snow just after we left home, and as we left Estacada and started climbing over the hill into the Clackamas Canyon, the snow got deeper – but the roads were clear. I knew it was going to be a good day when we crested the hill:
We headed out 224 thru the snow and soon arrived in the little town of Three Lynx and headed up the Pipeline Road to the trailhead. We were the first ones to drive the road since the snow:
As the road heads uphill, the snow continued to get deeper, but it wasn’t too bad. By the time we got to the trailhead, the snow was probably 3-4″ deep on the road:
I got suited up and we headed up the trail – there were only a few spots of bare trail on the way up:
Soon we got to the first rockslides where we got a decent view. This is the view looking south – to un-named hills – Bull of the Woods is to the right a bit but is kind of hidden in the clouds:
We continued up the trail (it gains elevation pretty quickly) – just before rounding a corner, The sun started beaming thru the trees – it was really beautiful and I tried to capture it in a photo, but it doesn’t even begin to capture the beauty of it:
We continued up and soon got to “the grotto”, which was covered in snow:
And soon after that is the unique hillside meadow, which was covered in probably 6-8″ of fresh snow. Thor decided he wanted to play in the deep snow::
And here is a photo of the hillside meadow looking back to Whalehead – it is back in the distance hiding in the clouds:
After leaving the hillside meadow, we continued up the hill. Shortly, after crossing a very old spur road (it is almost unrecognizable as a road anymore), you get to one of my favorite spots on this trail – walking up thru a grove in a saddle – I’m not sure why I like this spot so much – it just has a neat feeling to it:
Shortly after we got into this saddle, you cross the spur road again – although this part of the road is still recognizeable as a road. There is a small camp at the crossing point, so we stopped for a few minutes to eat a bit and drink some water. The snow on the road was about 2 feet deep and Thor did some of his “frapping”. He was having a good time! Here is a short video of him having fun in the snow:
After sitting there not exerting myself, it wasn’t too long before I started getting cold – so we packed up and continued up the hill. Shortly after crossing the road, we got to another one of the rockslides. I took a picture looking up this rockslide – the snow is getting much deeper now:
We continued up the trail, with the snow getting deeper and deeper – even in the trees. I was thinking we could turn around at the last clearcut before the 4635 road crossing, but soon we ran into a very large tree across the trail and since the snow was getting pretty deep for not having snowshoes, we decided to make that our turnaround point.
On the way back down, I happened to notice how all the cut logs help to define the trail in the snow – making knowing where to go a lot easier:
And here is an old trail sign that is still hanging in there – not sure what the tuna can is about though:
We made very good time coming back down – not really stopping at all. As we descended, you could tell that things were melting – the trail was bare in spots and as we got closer to the truck, it started raining on us (both real rain, and melting snow from the trees). By the time we got back to the truck, the pipeline road had several people come up it, and it too was melting with bare pavement in spots. When we got back to 224, all the snow we had seen in the morning was all gone. That is fine with me – it IS the end of March, after all!
A great day, hiking a venerable old trail that was decked out in a beautiful new coat of snow. It doesn’t get much better than that….