Location of Hike: Alder Flat and Riverside Trails
Trail Number: 574, 723
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:15 AM End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 6 miles
When I got to Ripplebrook, where Alder Flat is, I was surprised at how much snow was there. Not a ton, but the parking area had 4-6″ in it, and since the road is plowed there, getting into the parking lot you had to break through the berm of snow that the plow created.
We started hiking down the Alder Flat trail, looking for the site of the photo. Stupid me – I printed out the photo to refer to, but I left it sitting on my desk at home. Oh well, I just had to do it from memory. I figured I could take a bunch of photos and compare when I got home. I didn’t see anything that looked too familiar, but I did snap a couple of photos that might fit what I remembered:
We got to the river, looked around a bit and then headed back to the truck to go up to the Riverside trailhead parking lot. As we got closer to riverside, the snow kept getting deeper and deeper and the road become unplowed and single track travel. By the time we got to the Riverside trailhead, the snow was 8-10″ deep. Interestingly enough, there was a couple at the trailhead that had started a fire. I think they were just enjoying being out in the snow.
First good look at the Clackamas River from the Riverside trail:
Here is the shot that matches the one that was posted (the “challenge”):
Nice shot looking south up the Clackamas from the Riverside trail:
Here is what a lot of the Riverside trail looked like:
One sad note – there used to be a bridge over Tag Creek that was a Boy Scout Eagle Project. I was always quite impressed with the bridge – it must have been quite a job to put that bridge in – surely a challenge for a boy under 18! The sad news is that it has been replaced with a new bridge. I’m guessing that the old bridge succumbed to the elements, and it needed to be replaced. The last time I hiked this trail (in 2008), the bridge was still there, but the railings were falling off. The bridge itself looked in good shape, so i don’t really know what happened. Nature taking back what is hers I guess.
Although there was nothing really noteworthy on this hike, it was a beautiful day to get out into the woods in the winter. I needed to stretch my legs a bit.
Location of Hike: Up old 2209-330 spur road (kind of a trail)
Weather during Hike: Foggy in the morning and partly Sunny in the afternoon
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 11:00 AM End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 6.3 Miles
Got going a little late, so didn’t start hiking until 11:00 – it was almost a 2 hour drive to the trailhead (Opal Creek trail), but the good news is that there were only two cars there today! Unlike the weekends, where you might have 100 or more. Anyway, we started out on the hike, crossed Gold Creek on the big tall bridge and soon came to the junction of the old 330 spur road, which would take us up Gold Creek to the site of the old mines.
As we started our way up the old road and past the wilderness boundary sign, the old road seemed more like a creek than an old road:
We got a few glimpses of the surrounding terrain through the trees:
We missed the turn to continue up the old road. I had thought the Gold Creek trail would take off to the right, however what really happens is the Gold Creek trail continues on straight, and this road takes off to the left, through a bunch of brush. We saw the junction, but it looked rather overgrown and figured it was just some sort of side trail. After a bit on the Gold Creek trail, I realized we were not heading in the right direction. We were still headed up quite a bit and heading away from the creek. So, we turned around and found the junction and soon found the rest of the old road (what is remaining of the old road bed).
The road was rather overgrown with LOTS Of downed trees over it – It was tiring to keep going over or under all the big trees:
After hiking for a while, we came to an old bridge, which has kind of turned into a logjam. Only one of the original logs is still intact – the one we crossed on:
After crossing the creek and heading uphill some more, we finally found the first evidence of old mining activity (other than the “road” bed) – This was some sort of bridge over a collapsed mine shaft. You could see the remains of the wooden supports down in the bottom of the cave in.
A little farther up the road was a flat area
And an old blacksmith forge blower:
Downhill from that flat area was some more remnants. Roofing from an old building
An old mine car
And a woodstove (maybe? Or Maybe a blacksmith furnace?)
Knowing there might be more up the road, but also seeing what time it was, and how tired we already were, I decided it was time to turn around. I really didn’t want to be hiking in the dark, and we still had a ways to go back down the road/trail to get to the truck. I was also a little nervous about getting back over the creek on that log (with the dog). We were getting tired, and I didn’t want either of us slipping on that log on the way back. So, it was better to call it a day and head back. Going back was much easier than going in – I think we made it back down in about an hour and a half. So, we didn’t have to hike in the dark (or drive in the dark).
The weather was great for December and it was an interesting day of hiking, seeing some old relics in the woods, and being able to see some giant old trees. I would love to know how old some of the trees in that area are. Some of them are HUGE!
Location of Hike: Bedford Point Lookout and Wanderers Peak Weather Station
Weather during Hike: Cool and overcast
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:30 AM End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: 4.5 miles
So the first stop was to the old Bedford Point Lookout location. According to the maps, there is a road that goes right to the lookout. Well, that was a while ago…..I started down the narrow road (although I’ve been on worse FS roads), until I got to the Whisky Creek crossing – it is hard to see in the photo, but the road was washed out on either side of the culvert, so the “road” was probably only 4′ wide. In order to drive over the creek, I would have had to drive on the culvert, which I didn’t really want to do:
That looked a little too dicey for me, so I decided to turn around and find a wide spot in the road (just in case someone came down the road and was crazy enough to cross that creek). We started hiking a little ways from the creek crossing where there was a spot just wide enough to fit two vehicles. After the creek crossing, the road wasn’t too bad for a while. It went through the corner of a privately owned piece of land that had recently been clearcut. After the clearcut, the road continued in reasonably good shape until it came to another un-named creek that had washed out the road and there were dirt berms on either side of the creek:
After crossing this small creek, we continued up the road, finding another dirt berm in the road a little farther up:
After getting around that, it was evident that the land north of the road had recently been thinned. When we got to the end of the thinning, we found this on a tree:
It appears the thinning was done in the spring of 2008. Continuing up the road, we found the old road up to the lookout site and started hiking up that road. It wasn’t in very good shape, and was definitely not driveable:
Once at the top, it was a little bit anti-climactic, since there was absolutely no view from the top (it is all grown up now), and there wasn’t a whole lot to see. We did find evidence of the old footings for the lookout:
And something else interesting – We found what I think is one of the rock piles shown in the photo from 1934:
What we saw:
What was taken in 1934 (there were lots of rock piles – we saw several, but this was the largest one):
WOW – A lot has changed in 78 years!!! We also found some old tin – not sure what it was for, but guessing it was from a roof of something:
After looking around for a while, trying to find more artifacts, we decided to head back to the truck. We easily made it back to the truck and on the way out, we saw a fenced off area to the west of the road. This looks very similar to other areas I’ve seen. The other areas were “study areas” that the Forest Service used for various purposes. I guess the fences were to try and control the experiments the best they could. I’m sure this area hadn’t been studied in years. The gate was off the fence, so anyone could go in.
The next stop on the agenda was to go to Wanderers Peak and see if we could find the weather station located there. I found out (I think) that the station is part of the RAWS network. Here is more info on that. After driving up the road, I wasn’t sure how far we could drive to. Fortunately, we were able to drive very close to the station. After a short walk (up an abandoned road), we found the weather station:
You could see the remains of the old “shack” that used to be there. I’m pretty sure the big pile of wood was the old shack. It looks like this station has recently been upgraded.
It was a shame the clouds were so low – on a clear day the view would be tremendous. After a bit of walking around exploring, we hiked back to the truck and made our way home.
All in all, a good day in the woods, and the bonus was that we didn’t get rained on!
Location of Hike: Weather Station exploration and Oak Grove Butte Area
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Don
Start Time: 9:15 AM End Time: 4:15 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles
This was an end of the higher elevation year hike to try and find a couple of weather stations as well as hike to the top of Oak Grove Butte and also hike an old abandoned trail that was recently found. The goal for the day was just to have fun and hopefully stay out of the snow. I think those goals were achieved!
First off was trying to find the Peavine Ridge Snotel site. I had rough coordinates for it, but wasn’t sure exactly where it was. We drove up the road as far as possible, until it got too rough (even with a 4WD and high ground clearance) and narrow. From there, we continued walking up the road until we found what looked like an old skid road to the south. We followed this “road” which led us directly to the snotel site. It was interesting to see in person.
It had obvious old and new equipment – the “pillows” on the ground that measured snow depth were interesting to see (although we were careful not to get too near them). After looking around for a bit, we headed back out. Right after the site on the “road” we happened to notice a couple of signs:
OOPS!! In our defense, we were very careful around the equipment….
After going back to the truck, we headed to the other weather station site, which was nearby. It is called the “Red Box” site. Not sure why – none of the equipment there was red:
We spent a little while looking around there, and then went back to the truck. The next two destinations were to the top of Oak Grove Butte (where there used to be a lookout long ago), and an old abandoned trail. We decided to go to the top of Oak Grove Butte first, but on the way, Don showed us an old 4 way trail junction:
It was interesting to see the blazes on the tress going through the woods in 4 directions. After exploring in that area a bit, and talking with a hunter who showed us a big fresh bear track, we headed to Oak Grove Butte. There is a road almost to the top, but that last part is pretty iffy – more of a jeep road than anything. We parked downhill a ways and walked up to the top:
And to the old lookout site, which now has some antennas on it:
We then went down to the “reflector” (not sure what else to call it) that is on the hillside. I think it is actually what is called a “Passive Repeater” wikipedia.
We took a look at it and then Don showed us the remains of the old outhouse for the lookout:
After looking around for a while, we headed back to the truck for our final destination of the day – the old “Oak Grove Butte” trail. On the way down, Don also showed us an old phone line insulator that still had the phone line in it!:
Interesting thing was that the phone line had ice all over it. It is amazing it is still hanging after all these years.
We headed back to the truck and then to the beginning of the trail. It starts at the end of an old spur road – it starts on a decommissioned section, then a normal spur road, and finally devolving into a treed nightmare for a bit before eventually opening up onto the actual trail (It appears the road was built right over the trail). We spent quite a big of time working on brushing out the trail (past the old road portion). It started snowing partway through, but never got very hard. It was an interesting trail, and it had a couple of really nice viewpoints – my favorite was this shot of Burnt Granite and Granite Peaks:
We got to the other end, which is near an old clearcut and a small, swampy lake. We attempted to find the trail from the ridge, but were unable to find anything definitive. After a bit of searching, we turned around and headed back to the truck. A little more cleanup on the way out, and we were back at the truck shortly before it got dark. We headed back and had our normal ritual of stopping at Fearless Brewing in Estacada for a beer and some dinner.
A great day with some great friends exploring some great country!
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
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.
Location of Hike: Old Baldy Trail
Trail Number: 502
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 9:40 AM End Time: 2:45 PM
Hike Distance: 8 miles
OK, on to the hike description. Originally, I had intended to start at Twin Springs and hike west, but after thinking about it, I realized I could start from the point where Old Baldy hits the 4614 road and it would be much closer to town and I wouldn’t have to drive that awful Abbot road! So, the revised plan was to start there, very near where the Eagle Creek cutoff trail intersects, and go east to the end of the trail.
This was to be a relatively easy hike for me, as my knee was still recovering from the Eagle Cap backpacking trip with my daughter. I didn’t want to push my knee too much, but knew it would be good to exercise it a bit. This didn’t look like too much elevation or mileage so it seemed like a good hike for that. If my knee felt OK, I planned to go up to Squaw/Tumala Mountain and down to Squaw/Tumala Meadows as well.
I was a little concerned early in the trip – my knee was bothering me quite a bit. I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to complete the trip, but after about a mile or so, my knee loosened up and felt fine. I decided to go straight thru to the end first, not doing the potential side trips, just in case my knee got sore. If things went well, I could do the side trips on the way back. The beginning of the trip was pretty non eventful – this trail is very much “old school” – not a lot of switchbacks. Many areas go straight uphill and straight downhill.
We passed the confusing junction to Squaw/Tumala mountain (the trail takes a hard left turn – straight takes you to the old lookout), and continued down the switchbacks and east on the trail. A little farther down the trail we met a hunter who had just come down from on the ridge and was looking for the trail down to Tumala/Squaw meadows. I told him that I hadn’t been on the trail before, but there was supposed to be a side trail down to the meadows, and I hadn’t seen it yet, so I assumed it must be farther down the trail. Turns out I was correct – a little farther down the trail was a rough side trail which went downhill and went down to the meadows. A side note – I hadn’t realized that this day was the opening day of (deer?) hunting season – there were LOTS of hunters around, and I hadn’t worn bright colored anything – all I had was my red bandanna. OOPS!
Shortly after we passed the side trail down to the meadows, we came to a rockslide which had a great view of the basin.
We stopped there for a while, took a break, had some water and food and I looked at maps, etc to see what peaks were around. It is a GREAT viewpoint and interesting to see all the little meadows and lakes.
After spending a while on the rockslide, we continued east on the trail to the end at Twin Springs. We saw some VW campers there (Bob?), but were in a hurry to get back, so just turned around and headed back up the trail. When we got to the side trail down to the meadows, my knees were feeling pretty good, so decided to head down the trail to the meadows, and explore what was down there. The trail heading down is good in places, and rather faint in others. We had to pay close attention so we didn’t lose the trail on the way down. (We did end up losing the trail a couple of times on the way back up – it was easier to follow down than up).
Once down the hill, we went out into the meadow, however it was still rather soft, even with all the dry weather. I can’t imagine trying to go through these meadows in the spring!
Since the meadows were so soft, we decided to go back to a flat spot a little higher up in the trees to have lunch. We ate and then decided to see if we could see any remnants of the road that showed up on the south side of the meadow. We went towards where the road shows on the maps, however the brush was just too thick. I didn’t want to risk messing up my knee, so we turned around. I’m not sure how they got a road in there, seeing how soft that soil is. Maybe on the other side it was firmer. So, we turned around and headed back up the hill, and back to the main trail. When we got to the junction up to the old lookout site, my knee was still feeling OK, so we took that side route and went up to the old lookout site. One surprising thing we found – a “new” (relatively) radio antenna of some sort below the lookout site – right in front of what looks like used to be a garage for the lookout. I’m guessing it must be for the forest service radios or something. It was quite a project to get that into place! Looks like they might have brought a truck up the old road to get the building there.
We spent a little time at the lookout site, enjoying the view, however the mountains were hiding behind the clouds. The rest of the view was pretty good, though – not too much smoke.
After a short break at the old lookout site, we headed back down the trail and back to the truck. The mileage total for the day was more than I had expected. It ended up being over 8 miles! My knees did OK, and I was able to complete this milestone! The hike was pretty peaceful, except for the few gunshots that I heard in the distance (from the hunters), saw no one else except for the lone hunter, and the weather was just about perfect – not too hot, not too cold. What a great day to be in the woods!
Location of Hike: Eagle Cap Wilderness - Wallowa Mountains
Weather during Hike: Sunny and cold at night (below freezing)
Hiking Buddies: Carly
Hike Distance: 30 miles
This was intended to be our annual backpacking trip with my daughter last year, however due to unforeseen issues it had to be cancelled. I was very excited when she asked me if we could do this trip this summer. It certainly was a memorable trip. The trip started with some drama – we drove down the 7 mile gravel road to the trailhead, which wasn’t that bad (there are a LOT worse roads in the Clackamas district). We parked at the trailhead, got out of the truck, and heard a “sssssss” sound and looked down and the front drivers side tire was almost flat. Changed to the spare (which luckily still had air in it), and we went on our way down the trail. In over 10 years of hiking, I’ve never popped a tire on a gravel road. I guess there is a first time for everything. We debated on whether to drive all the way home on the spare (350 miles), but ended up deciding to stop on the way home at Les Schwab in Enterprise. Good thing – the tire was unrepairable due to the size of the slice, and we found out the spare was a little smaller than the tires, so driving a long distance would not have been a good thing. Long story short – ended up buying new tires there – the existing tires were almost down to the wear indicators anyway and ended up getting 6 ply tires (instead of 4 ply), which should help with any punctures down the road. They (Les Schwab) said they get a lot of punctures from gravel roads in that area. When we were walking back the road, saw lots of REALLY sharp rocks. On the way out the trip was a LOT slower to hopefully make sure we didn’t pop another tire since we didn’t have a spare. It was a rather “exciting” start for the trip….
Once we got underway on the trip, we headed down the trail – day 1 was a challenging day – 11+ miles and 3000’+ of elevation gain, getting up to 8600′. We were trying to get most of the mileage done on day 1 and 2 so that day 3 would be a shorter day – we had to drive home after we got off the trail, so we wanted to make it a shorter hiking day. So, day 1 – we started around 9:30am – the first challenge was the first trail junction – a little confusing, but a couple of minutes of reviewing the map and we were on our way – across a concrete bridge over the east fork of the Lostine River. It then followed the west fork of the Lostine River up the valley. Since we had 3000′ of elevation to gain, we were climbing pretty much most of the day – until we hit the high point, where we quickly descended about 1200′ to our destination for the night – Steamboat lake. I’m getting ahead of myself here – the first couple of miles were rather non-eventful, although we did see icicles hanging from a tree in the river on the way up!
Once we got to the next trail junction (there are a lot of trails in Eagle cap!!!), we passed a horse camp and then got to our first “ford” – I was able to rock hop across, but Carly had to put her sandals on, but the water wasn’t much more than ankle deep – earlier in the year it would be calf to knee deep. Either way, the water was still COLD. We then proceeded to do two more fords, but both of them were rock hops at this time of year. We were prepared for deeper crossings, but the water level was down considerably at all the water crossings.
After the first ford, we continued up (the direction for most of the day) to another plateau where we had some nice viewpoints and was at the base of a large rockslide. A little farther up the trail, we came to another crossing of the creek and we decided to have lunch there. It was a great place to fill up with water and rest a bit before we continued our climb.
After the creek crossing, we crossed a rather large meadow and then proceeded up another series of switchbacks, climbing above the meadow. After climbing for a while, and passing a small waterfall (Elkhorn creek I think), we got to yet another meadow with a meandering creek. We stopped in this meadow for a rest and saw a cute little family of chipmunks next to the creek. They had quite an underground lair of tunnels!
After a short rest we continued through the meadow and then started up again. This continued until we came to yet another meadow at the top of that hill. We crossed that meadow (which is probably pretty wet in the spring, although it was dry when we went through), and then continued up a little farther to our highest point of the trip – 8600′. There was still snow in spots at this elevation, but the trail was clear. It gave us a great view of swamp lake and we got a preview of the switchbacks we would soon be travelling down in order to get to swamp lake.
Once we rested a bit after that LONG climb, we started down the long switchbacks down to Swamp Lake. There were some interesting “tufts” in the swampy areas in the south part of the Swamp Lakes basin. The trail had a path built over this swampy area, and then passed along the east side of the lake in the rocky areas. We stopped here to admire the lake for a bit and rest, and the proceeded past the lake and down another series of switchbacks. Just past the lake, we saw a pair of deer grazing. As soon as they saw us they took off, but it was neat to see them. After the deer we went around a small peak and then went down another series of switchbacks down to Steamboat Lake. The Steamboat Lakes basin is similar to Swamp Lake, but the lake is a little larger and there were better campsites. We were at about 7400′ in elevation. There was no one else at the lake, and we walked around to find a good campsite. We settled on one a little ways from the lake, near a couple of large granite outcroppings – one which had been used as a fire ring at some point. Fires were prohibited in this area, so not sure why people were using it for a fire ring. Maybe the prohibition is relatively new. After making dinner and getting things cleaned up, it was starting to get dark – we were tired so we turned in early – about 7:30. We both slept (more or less) until the sun came up the next morning – about 6am. It was COLD. It had frozen overnight – there were ice crystals in places were there was moisture, so I’m sure it got below freezing that night. We both stayed warm in our sleeping bags.
Once the sun came up, we made breakfast, cleaned up and got our our way to our next destination – about 11.5 miles, 2400′ of elevation gain – a campsite in Brownie Basin next to Bowman Creek. Our plan was to have the first two days be harder so we could get done earlier on the third day since we had to make the 6+ hour drive home after hiking out – we wanted to get as early a start as we could. The beginning of day 2 was pretty much all downhill, although we did have a short bit of uphill right past the lake. The rest of the downhill was pretty consistent and well graded, but it was unrelenting. We did have to lose over 2000′ of elevation though. We weaved our way through various different forests, ranging from the scraggly pine, to smaller fir, to some sections that looked very similar to forests in the Willamette valley (very dense, big trees). We switchbacked down the hills, crossing water quite a few times. One “creek” we must have crossed 4 or 5 times on the way down as we switchbacked down. When we finally got down to the bottom, it was a nice forest where the trail pretty much followed a nice creek. We followed the creek for a bit and decided to have lunch and water/rest up for the upcoming uphill sprint. We also met a lone hiker with her dog and asked about trail conditions up the way. We would need to gain about 2400′ before our destination for the day. After lunch, we saw the North Minam Meadows. They are HUGE! Although you can’t really appreciate the size of them until you start climbing out of the valley. The trail followed the east side of the meadow, but kind of hid part of it. Once you get to almost the north of the meadow, a trail junction takes you east, switchbacking up the valley wall, sometimes rather steeply. As you ascend, you can really see how big the meadow is. When you get higher, you get a GREAT view of the North Minam River valley.
As we continued up the trail (UP the trail), we got to another small creek crossing and another meadow. This made for a good watering up and rest spot. At this point, we were most of the way to the top, but we still had almost two miles to go – and boy did those two miles feel really long. When we were almost to the top, we passed the second person we would see on our trip – a guy with a pack train of animals (4 or 5) coming down the hill – he apparently was going to camp at the meadow. There was a big horse camp there that looked popular.
Once we finally got to Wilson Pass (the high point for the day), we admired the views for a bit and then started down the trail into Brownie basin, which would be our camp for night 2.
From Wilson Pass, you could see the red spires of Twin Peaks, as well as most of the basin. After some photo taking, we continued down the trail, uneventfully until we got to Brownie Basin and a nice camp spot next to Bowman Creek. Night two was mostly the same as night 1 – setup camp, cook dinner, clean up and then go to bed. It got REALLY cold on night 2, much colder than the first night, but we did OK. It warmed up pretty quickly in the morning once the sun came up.
Day 3 was a much shorter day, although it started just like the previous day, except it was much colder (strange, since it was a little lower than the previous night, and the temperatures were supposed to be higher as the week progressed). Getting up with the sun, making breakfast, cleaning up and then breaking down camp. We got all packed up by 8:30 and were on the trail back down the mountain. On the way, there were quite a few really nice viewpoints to see the Lostine River Canyon. The trail was well graded, although continued to be very rocky all the way down the mountain. We tried to enjoy our last views of Eagle Cap as we descended back into the Lostine River Canyon.
When we finally reached forest service road 8210, and the Bowman trailhead, our adventure was not quite over – we still had to hike 3.3 miles south to where we parked the truck – and to see if the rest of the tires had held air for 3 days! The hike down the road was uneventful, although in order to make better time, and since we were going to be driving right past that point, we ditched our packs in the trees. We got to the truck, and all the tires were still inflated! Since we had no spare, the trip back down the road was very slow. We got back to the place we ditched our packs and put them back in the truck and then proceeded to Les Schwab in Enterprise for that adventure (ended up buying new tires and spending 2 1/2 hours there). After that experience we still had the long 6+ hour drive home. We were both eager to get home and take a shower, so we only stopped twice – once for lunch/dinner and once for gas. We finally got back home about 8:30pm. Truly an adventure to remember!
Location of Hike: Pacific Crest Trail
Trail Number: 2000
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 10:40 AM End Time: 5:30 PM
Hike Distance: 10.5 miles
We started out down the REALLY bumpy 4220 road to Breitenbush. It is about 6 miles of gravel road ranging from pretty normal gravel to REALLY rough areas with big gulleys, rocks and potholes. When we got to the parking area at Breitenbush, we were surprised to only see a few cars. Since it was the end of the Labor Day weekend, we expected to see quite a few people. We headed down the trail, passing the side trail for Pyramid Butte which we did last year (a cool trail with GREAT views), and passing several hillside meadows which were blooming with wildflowers.
The wildflower season has to be pretty short there due to elevation – they take full advantage of their short season!
There was nothing significant on the trail until we started getting near the treeline, where the trail gets really rocky, and we started encountering snow fields.
The trail gets a little indistinct in places since it isn’t visible most of the year – some places we followed tracks across the snow fields, some places we just took our best guess. We made our way up the steep rocky hillside up to Park Ridge, where there is an iron post marking the top of the ridge. A little farther down the trail (down the ridge), there is a very old sign marking the entrance to the Willamette National Forest, and on the other side it announced the entrance into the Mt Hood National forest. The sign still says the Skyline Trail (not the PCT), showing how old it is. It is amazing the sign is still standing.
The view from Park Ridge are absolutely amazing – Mt Jefferson is right in your face, and you can see Jefferson Park below you.
Looking north, you can see all the peaks and hills clearly, and looking east, we could see (mostly) eastern Oregon. The only area that was obscured was the direction of the waterfalls2 fire, which was still burning. We occasionally saw flames from a couple areas of the fire, but they were in the middle of the containment area, so I’m assuming they are going to let that just burn itself out. It was interesting to look at the extent of the fire.
After eating some lunch on the ridge and resting a bit (it was a rather tough climb to the ridge), we started down the other side, into the magical world of Jefferson Park. On the way down the rocky trail, we passed many meadows of wildflowers. After a bit, we started passing through trees again-real trees, not the spindly, scrawny kind that were on the ridge. The trail improves a bit as it gets less rocky and continues its descent. We passed a really neat waterfall from an un-named creek that feeds Russell lake.
It took a 20′ drop or so – Kirk commented it would probably be a neat place to take a shower for a dirty PCT through hiker, although getting to the bottom of the waterfall would not have been easy. Continuing our trip down, we ended up at Russell Lake – it is a fair sized lake that has one side that is pretty shallow, but gets deeper in the middle. There were LOTS of little fish jumping. We stopped for a while to soak our feet in the lake and enjoy the view. Mt Jefferson rises from Jefferson Park steeply, and it was interesting to look at all the glaciers now that most of the snow has melted.
After the refreshing soak in the lake (and little to no bugs!), we started the long slog back up the hill to Park Ridge. For some reason, I had a really hard time making the ascent back up. Maybe I was tired, maybe I’m just out of shape, maybe it was the altitude. At any rate, I was huffing and puffing pretty good getting back up the hill. Once back up on the ridge, it was all downhill to the truck. We made really good time going downhill. We met one group (a family) that was headed up to camp at Russell Lake. On the way up, we met a lone PCT through hiker, and on the way back down, we met a couple who was through hiking and was anticipating completing it by Oct 1st. We didn’t find out where either group was from, though.
The trip back down was pretty uneventful, except for the encounters with the other hikers. After getting back in the truck, we made one more side trip on the way home. We stopped at the Breitenbush cascades, which is a tiered waterfall of the north fork (or the north fork of the north fork) of the Breitenbush river. I had heard about this previously, but never had enough time to stop and investigate. It was a great way to finish out a perfect day of hiking. The “cascades” are 20-30′ tiered waterfalls. We only went to the first two tiers, but you can get out on a flat rock on the second tier and get a great view of the falls. The trail was a little rough, but was easily passable to the first two tiers.
After the last little side trip, the long trip back to Estacada was capped off with a great meal at Fearless brewing.
Location of Hike: Old Skyline Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Start Time: 3:15 PM End Time: 5:30 PM
Hike Distance: 2.5 miles (mostly in circles!)
After getting a taste of locating old trails the prior weekend, (seeing the different Skyline Trail segments), I got so excited about the Skyline trail that I had to take a day off from work and go out mid week to do some more exploration. We did the Horseshoe Saddle, PCT and Gibson Lake trails in the morning and early afternoon (see separate trip report) and then headed back up to scout south from the old decommissioned road at the junction of 4690 and 4220. I’m assuming that road was the continuation of the 4690 road at some point – The old USGS map shows its continuation, but it doesn’t go too far.
We hiked up to the point where the old Skyline Trail crosses the road, and hiked south. We started looking for blazes and found a bunch. I marked waypoints right next to all the blazes we saw, top hopefully show the route of the trail more clearly. I also think there might have been two alignments of this trail – if you look at the map, there are two separate, parallel tracks at one point where there are blazes. But looking at the majority of the blazes, I think the route is pretty apparent. It is obvious more exploration needs to be done to nail down the exact route of the trail. There are some VERY messy areas in there – LOTS Of blowdown, but once you get up on the hill, the trail is VERY apparent.
We also found something REALLY interesting – an old Insulator! It was just off what appears to be the route of the trail, but very close to it.
We headed up the (by this point) very apparent tread up to a pretty level spot, which is really close to the 4220 road. We walked out to the road as you can see on the map. We were running out of time, so we didn’t continue, but we did find a good portion of this segment of he trail I think, and I’ve got a good track of it. Looking at the blaze waypoints on the map, it seems the route is very clear.
When I was processing the GPS track, I found one other interesting thing – In my Garmin map software, it has some old trails – it doesn’t list the name of the trail, but it does show a trail in this general area – it shows it hitting the 4220 road, then veering off again for a bit before it gets to Olallie Meadow. I’m thinking that may be a reference to the Skyline trail, because it was heading straight for 4220.
We didn’t have any flagging tape with us, but where we could we tried to tie the old flagging that was on the ground around a tree or at least get it off the ground so it was visible. Each subsequent visit should be easier to negotiate. Next time I go I will definitely take some flagging tape to make finding the route easier.
An absolutely amazing day in the forest, hiking the old route of a venerable trail. You could just feel the history…..Amazing!
I will be back to do more explorations of this trail for sure. I have already decided that once my goal of hiking all the trails in the district is complete (2 more hikes!), finding the route of this trail and bringing it back will be my next goal. I’m sure it will be an amazing journey….
Location of Hike: Horseshoe Saddle Trail, PCT, Gibson Lake Trail
Trail Number: 712, 2000, 708
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Start Time: 11:00 AM End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 7 miles
This hike was one of my last 3 hikes to complete my goal of hiking all the trails in the Clackamas District. The section I needed was the short section of PCT north of Ruddy Hill. I had tried to do it last year, but there was too much snow at the time. Since that was a pretty short hike, I thought I would add in the Gibson Lake trail as well, since I didn’t have a track of that trail, and it had been quite some time since I had hiked that trail.
The trip to Horseshoe lake was pretty non eventful, although that road keeps getting worse, year after year. There are some pretty washed out sections of that road now. After getting to the Horseshoe lake campground, we parked and headed up the Horseshoe Saddle trail. This trail is a little confusing at the start because there are user trails all over the place at the Horseshoe Lake campground. Basically, just follow the trail that leads next to the lake and you’ll soon be out of the maze of user trails. It is pretty level for a while, until the last few tenths of a mile – then you have to work to get to the saddle. The trail is well graded up to the saddle, and there were a few trees across the trail, but nothing huge. At the saddle, you hit the PCT. We briefly stopped here for a water break, but quickly started down the trail, as the bugs started finding us. The bugs weren’t bad, especially when hiking, but when you stopped, they did tend to find you and were kind of annoying. The PCT was well manicured (as usual), with nothing terribly unusual. We recognized the section where we turned around last summer due to the snow (8 feet of snow on the trail!), and continued a little farther. When the trail started heading uphill, we decided we had gone far enough, and turned around.
On the way back, Kirk noticed what looked like a side trail (definitely not something natural looking), so we we followed it up to explore. It kind of petered out a little bit up the hill, but the beginning certainly looked like a side trail. We continued on down to the Gibson Lake junction and took off to Gibson Lake. The sign says 3/4 of a mile, but it is a little further than that. Probably just over a mile to the lake. We got to the lake where there was a rather large family swimming in the lake, having a great time on a sunny summer day. We stopped at the east end of the lake to eat lunch and to dip our feet in the water. It was a nice break. After eating, we continued on the trail down to road 4220, where the trail ends. We turned around and headed back up the trail, and back to where we came.
Since we still had time left, we decided to do some more exploration on the old Skyline trail, but that is in a separate trip report…..This was a neat half day romp in an interesting section of the forest.
Location of Hike: Pacific Crest Trail
Trail Number: 2000
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:30 AM End Time: 2:45 PM
Hike Distance: 11 miles
I typically like lesser travelled trails mostly because I prefer the solitude and peace. This trip was QUITE different. It is a nice trail – well maintained with some very nice scenery along the way. The day I chose however there was some sort of 50 mile “triathalon” race going on part of the PCT. They used a side trail (the “miller” trail) so I didn’t see them on the entire trip, but I did see a LOT of runners on the trip, as well as a few hikers, and a few horses.
The day started off with LOTS of traffic (based on what I’m used to) up the Clackamas. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people there – I know this is prime season, and the weather was great. I guess I tend to hike more in the spring and fall and not during peak season as much. Things have just worked out the last several weeks where I’ve been able to hike. Once I got up to Clackamas Lake, I realized something was going on – there were cars EVERYHWERE, and I saw a “beware of runners crossing the road” on the way in. I also had to stop at the info station at Clackamas Lake to purchase a day pass – I haven’t had to have a day pass for several years now – I typically hike where they are not required (there aren’t enough people to make it worthwhile I think). So I bought my daypass and parked at the point where the PCT crosses Forest Service road 42 and headed north.
The trail is in GREAT condition, with no logs down and the tread in fine shape. Shortly after starting, you come right beside a small creek, which I later learned is the Oak Fork of the Clackamas river.
There is a great spot for nice cold water (a spring that feeds the river) just up the trail a bit and the trail pretty much follows the river until it dumps into Timothy lake. There is a neat rock slide and then a great viewpoint where you get your first glimpse of Timothy Lake.
It is a pretty large lake, and it was VERY busy, both on the lake and campers around it. The trail mostly follows the shore of the lake, occasionally drifting away for a bit, and then coming back. There is quite a bit of large timber in that area, interspersed with smaller trees. Once we got to the spot where the runners were entering the trail, we had to stop quite a few times to let runners go by. Bodie isn’t the most sociable dog, and I normally don’t take him on hikes where I think there will be many other people, but I decided to take him on this day. He did really well – maybe he acts differently when he isn’t home – maybe he doesn’t have that protective instinct like he does at home. At any rate, I kept him on the leash, and he did fine. There were just a LOT of runners to deal with.
About half way up the lake we stopped at a campsite on the shore and Bodie took the opportunity to lay down in the water to cool off. After a short break there, we continued up the trail. We kept hiking until the “finger” we were hiking next to got pretty narrow, and then looking at the mileage decided that was a pretty good turnaround point. So, back the way we came, passing runners and even a few horses! One group of horses seemed a little skiddish about us, especially Bodie, so I had to get further off the trail to let them pass. Even then, some of the horses walked off the OTHER side of the trail. They REALLY didn’t like him. The trip back to the 42 road was uneventful, however we did stop for some lunch after the point where the runners went off. The parts of the trail where the runners were running really didn’t have a lot of traffic on it. I probably saw 8-10 people and 5 horses with riders on those sections of trail.
After arriving back at the starting point, the goal was to hike south to the Warm Springs Reservation border and then back. It was a little farther than I thought – I thought it was a mile or less, and it was almost a mile and a half I think. Not too bad, but after hiking 8 miles the previous direction, we were both starting to get tired. In retrospect, I should have hiked the south end first (when it was cooler) and then done the north half. I think we would have run into fewer runners, and we wouldn’t have been quite so tired. oh well, hindsight is 20/20. It worked out OK.
This trip was pretty uneventful as well, however it was interesting to see Clackamas “Lake” – It is more of a bog/swamp than a lake – the lake (actual standing water) is a tiny corner of the lake – the rest is just grasses and bog plants.
The closer we got to the reservation, the smaller the trees, and the more sun and the warmer it became. As it became warmer, both Bodie and I got more tired. We finally got to the marker of the Reservation boundary and turned around.
The trip back to the truck seemed to take longer than the trip in, but that is just because we were ready to stop hiking for a bit.
All in all, a good (but not quiet) day in the woods. Next time maybe I’ll call ahead! 🙂
Location of Hike: Various Bull of the Woods Trails
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 9:50 AM End Time: 6:20 PM
Hike Distance: 12 miles
The day started rather early, in order to make sure we had enough time to do the entire hike. We knew it would be challenging, especially if we wanted to take our time and be able to look at things and take pictures along the way, rather than just powering through the hike to get it done. We were figuring about 8 hours of hiking, and we were pretty much dead on. We started up the Pansy Lake trail, looking downhill for old trail bench. We had been told that there was the “old” Pansy Lake trail that was further downhill from the current trail. We didn’t see much evidence of a trail downhill, but we were more excited to get going on the days hiking, too, so we may not have been paying close attention.
After a short hike (a mile or so), we got to Pansy Lake, where we met a couple (and their dog) who had camped there for the night. We put on bug spray at that point, because the bugs were starting to bother us. We hiked part way around the lake, and then went back to the trail where we continued up the hill to its junction with the Motherlode trail. There are some magnificent views on this upper stretch of trail – rock slides where you can see the whole Pansy creek drainage.
The visibility on this day was exceedingly good – better than I have seen in quite some time. The other thing about the weather was that it was a nice temperature – we were working hard, so it was nice that it wasn’t too warm. It was probably in the upper 60s or low 70’s during the day.
We reached the saddle where the Pansy Lake trail ends at its junction with the Mother Lode trail. We stopped here for a few minutes to rest, eat and drink some water. We had to plan our water refills carefully since there weren’t a lot of good places to get water, and due to the sun and the elevation, we were using a fair amount of water. After a short break, we continued down the Mother Lode trail. This trail was in pretty good shape, although it did get a little brushy in places. I forgot to mention, when we were driving into the trailhead, we passed a couple of horse trailers that were on their way out. They had stayed at the Pansy Lake trailhead, and had been doing some trail maintenance. There were quite a few logs down that had been sawed out by them – If any of you are reading this – THANK YOU!
We proceeded pretty much uneventfully down the trail, enjoying a number of large trees along the trail. The trail heads uphill along this stretch, but it was pretty well graded. We eventually came to the junction with the 554 trail, where we found a woman enjoying the sunshine on the ridge. She was a little confused as to which trail she should take, so we helped her understand the trails. We then proceeded down the trail towards the Schreiner Peak junction (we had originally intended to hike down to Lake Lenore on the Schreiner Peak trail). We came to the junction, and thought it was the wrong trail and continued along the Welcome Lakes trail until we got to the beginning of the burned area from the fire last year.
At this point, we took another look at the map and realized that the junction we had passed was the right one. After some discussion, we decided that we would continue down the Welcome Lakes trail and make the loop back on the West Lake way trail. Lake Lenore would have to wait for another day.
The burned area was fascinating to see. There was a very definitive line where the fire stopped, and where it burned, it burned HOT. And pretty much completely. We saw trees with sap on the bark that looked red – it almost looked like the trees bled, which they probably almost did – the sap was probably boiling in the trees since it was so hot.
Many trees have already lost their bark. The good news is that the Welcome Lakes trail was still recognizable for the most part. Only a couple of sketchy parts.
The bad news is the the Geronimo trail (which I did with Carly a few years ago on another long loop) looks like it might be lost now. I didn’t go down the trail at all, but it was a little sketchy before, and now with the burn it may be lost. The trail down to upper Welcome Lake (the smaller one) was pretty easy to follow through the burned area – once we got to the campsite at the lake, we stopped to have lunch and get water. I had heard that Welcome Lakes was “charcoal” and they weren’t kidding – there is nothing left as far as trees, but the huckleberries, rhodies and thimbleberry were thriving in the spring above the lake with all the sun. This will be an EXCELLENT place to pick huckleberries in a few years I think.
After having some lunch and filling our water, we headed down to the lower Welcome Lake. The trail junction is very apparent, but the trail quickly disappears. We looked and looked for it, but it was destroyed in the fire I think. There isn’t much down by that larger lake anymore, although there are a few green spots – somehow they escaped the fire.
We ended up just walking back up the hill since there wasn’t a trail – back up to the upper lake. It is really interesting how open things are now, and how much different it is than it used to be. It used to be you couldn’t see the lower lake until you were almost on top of it – now you can see it from the trail above.
After getting back up on the trail, we headed back up the West Lake way trail, continuing through the burned area for a while. West Lake was unaffected by the fire – it was kind of nice to be back in the trees and green after being in the burned area.
We then came to the junction with the Schreiner trail (the one we were supposed to have taken) – we stopped at a little creek to fill up with water – it was ICE COLD and DELICIOUS! Then we proceeded to go up the brutal switchbacks back up to the Welcome Lakes trail – IT IS STEEP.
After arriving at the Welcome Lakes trail, we proceeded west back to the junction with the 550 trail, and headed up to the lookout. The lookout is faring OK, but one of the windows is broken now sicne the shutter came off a year or two ago and the glass is unprotected. The wildflowers were in full bloom up there!
We stayed for a while, enjoying the views and the breeze – by this time it was getting rather late, so we figured we should head down. North down the 550 trail we went, looking for telephone insulators, which Kirk found a bunch of! At the junction with the 549 trail, we headed southwest toward Dickey Lake. When we got to the lake, it was a pretty small, shallow, brushy lake. Interesting, but not too interesting.
After a bit of exploring, we went back to the trail to finish our day. Back to the Pansy Lake trail and then north back to the truck. On the way back, we did see what might have been part of the old trail – at a switchback, the trail appeared to keep going and then switchback a little lower down the hill. That exploration will have to wait until another day – along with the Pansy mines.
We finally arrived back at the truck a little after 6 – tired and sweaty. We stopped for a burger at Fearless brewing in Estacada – boy, those burgers taste good after a long day of hiking!!!! Truly a day to remember.
Location of Hike: Corral Springs Trail
Trail Number: 507
Weather during Hike: Sunny (overcast at times)
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 3:15 PM
Hike Distance: 6 miles
The upper part of the trail was in great shape, however you could tell it doesn’t get hiked much. There was lots of branches, etc on the tread, although the trail was quite wide at the top – probably due to the quad traffic this trail used to get. The lower section started to get brushy in places and was difficult to follow as you got closer to the river. The last tenth of a mile or so it felt like you were going straight down! At a couple of points I wasn’t sure I was on the trail-I had to look very closely for where the trail was. I think it would have been a lot easier to hike in the early summer or late fall, when the ground cover isn’t do dense. On the way back up, I lost the trail for a bit – it was easier to see the faint tread going down than going up – the undergrowth is getting so aggressive now it is hiding what is left of the trail.
I spent a fair amount of time on the way back up the hill doing pruning of vine maple, fir trees and rhodies (it was a good excuse to take “rest” breaks on the long slog back up the hill). I didn’t have my loppers, so I was limited to smaller branches, but I think I improved the trail a fair amount. Also removed a lot of sticks and rocks from the trail – hopefully making it a little easier to follow. What the trail really needs down at the bottom is more boots on the trail. There are a few sections around the rockslides where the tread has kind of disappeared (slid down), so those areas need some tread work. But all in all, the trail was in pretty good shape – especially for an abandoned trail!
Some questions I came up with during the hike (I haven’t found answers as of yet, but will continue to look for them):
- Where did Corral Springs get its name? Was there a horse Corral there at some point? I figure the springs are the ones at the junction of the Huxley Lake trail and Corral Springs. I did find evidence of what appears to be a corral (barbed wire) near the old campground, but don’t know what the story is.
- A little bit past the “Corral”, past the junction with Huxley Lake, there was a small clearing?? it looks like there might have been a house or something there. Looking at the map, it is VERY close to an old spur road. I wonder what used to be there? I didn’t really see much evidence of a building or anything. Answer’ – There was some sort of corral in this vicinity. Apparently it was a grazing claim way back when. The barbed wire remnants I found were from the corrals. That clearing may have housed some kind of building at one time.
- I found a pink ribbon tied to a tree down by the river – it said “PNW 7/27/10 Team #1” – anyone know what it means? The campsite didn’t look to have been used for quite some time. Maybe two years ago was the last time anyone camped there.
- Near the base of the rockslides, there is what looked to be an area where a cabin may have been at one point. Anyone know anything about that? Or is my imagination running wild?
View from the trail down into the canyon:
Location of Hike: White Iris Trail
Trail Number: 502-A
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:15 AM End Time: 1:00 PM
Hike Distance: 2.6 miles
What gives this trail its name:
It was a warm day and Bodie hadn’t been out for a while, so I decided to take him with me. I forgot any water for him, but he was able to drink from the stream. I also forgot his leash, but he did really well off leash. The first part of the trail was easy to follow – just like the last two times. We got to the clearcut, and the trail starts to get harder to follow, since the ground cover is really taking off. But, by paying close attention, you can see where the path is. Then we got to the BIG tree that had been uprooted. I took a hard right (westerly) turn, and looked around behind the rootball of the tree, and sure enough, there was the path going down hill.
It starts going downhill pretty steeply from this point, and there are sections where the path is not well evident, but by looking closely, I was able to follow the trail all the way down to the 4615 road. Once out on the 4615 road, I found that the GPS coordinates that I had to mark the lower trailhead were incorrect. They placed the trail about .2 mile south of where it actually was. That makes more sense why I had a hard time finding the trailhead!
After completing the hike, we had lunch at the trailhead and then drove all the way up to the end of the 4614 road – we tried to drive to the end of a spur road, but had to back up when there was trees across the road. It was also getting VERY narrow!
A short, but fun and very rewarding day.
Location of Hike: Cape Lookout Trail (Cape Trail)
Weather during Hike: Foggy and Rainy
Hiking Buddies: Troop 133! (Noah, Alex, Bobby, Kirk, Bob, Estella
Start Time: 10:10 AM End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles
We had lunch at the end of the cape, where it was pretty calm and warm, however it started drizzling a bit so we headed back into the protection of the trees. It was a little wet on the way back, but not too bad. We finally arrived back at the van just in time for it to start raining pretty regularly. We then made a pilgrimage to the Tillamook cheese factory for cheese samples and ice cream before heading home.
A good day with the Boy scouts! Too bad there weren’t more people who braved the conditions. It really wasn’t all that bad. Most certainly much better than my hike the previous weekend where it was rainy and cold.
Location of Hike: Bissell and White Iris Trails
Trail Number: 502-A (White Iris)
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 2:15 PM End Time: 7:15 PM
Hike Distance: 9 miles
After about 3 hours of sleep, I left home (after lunch). Fortunately, the drive isn’t that long. One of the things I was worried about was the snow level. I did run into snow, but only on the north side of Githens Mountain. Other than that, there was really no snow at all – well, except for where the White Iris trail crosses the road (4614?). There is still a couple of feet right there.
It was challenging for me because I had a very tough time following both trails – there was a variety of reasons – snow, clearcuts, faint trail, etc. The plan was to start at the Bissell trail, go down it to the junction with Old Baldy, follow it to the junction with White Iris trail and take that back to the 4615 road and then walk it back to the start.
To start off, I had a hard time finding the start of the Bissell trail – I’m sure I was at the specified location, but it went up into the woods and I didn’t see any real trail for a while. I searched around and finally found it and followed it pretty well for a while and then I lost it. I ended up doing LOTS of cross country travel on this hike. After a while I got back on it and followed it up to Old Baldy and followed that for a while, but right around Githens Mountain, probably where the trail takes an easterly turn, the snow appeared, and it was deep – 2′ plus and it came up all at once. I lost the trail at that point (and the junction with White Iris). I did some cross country bushwacking for a while, and finally found it and followed it up until the clearcut, at which point I lost it completely. I ended up just heading downhill. I’m not sure I ever did really find it after the clearcut, although I found small sections that looked like the could have been trail, but were probably game trails. I eventually ended up back on road 4615 about a tenth of a mile south of where the GPS coordinates said the White Iris trailhead was. I didn’t see anything that looked like a trailhead at the waypoint that was provided. On the way back, I looked for the trail from the road but still didn’t see anything.
I guess I didn’t earn my “Savvy Woodsman Adventurer badge” on this hike, but I felt pretty good about navigating successfully even with losing the trails. That is a good day for me. I was a little challenged, but rose to the occasion. After doing all the cross country travel, I didn’t mind walking back the road!
Other than losing the trail so many times, it was a pretty uneventful hike. The view from the clearcut on White Iris is wonderful! And I just missed the blooming of the Clackamas Iris – looks like they will be blooming in a few more weeks. But I did see why that trail is called the White Iris trail – WOW, what a lot of wildflowers and Iris! It must be absolutely beautiful when the iris are blooming!
While hiking the Bissell trail, I also found one of those wildlife cameras attached to a tree. It probably got me and Bodie on camera! There was also some weird contraption that looked like some stove pipe that was “attached” to a tree. It was one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen in the woods. I have no idea what someone might have used it for.
It was really nice to get out in the woods and enjoy the day. I was tired when I got home, but it was a good tired.
Location of Hike: Bissell, Old Baldy, White Iris Trails
Trail Number: 502, 502-A
Weather during Hike: Rainy and cold
Start Time: 10:15 AM End Time: 5:45 PM
Hike Distance: 11 miles
To start with, the weather on this hike was pretty poor. It was raining a good part of the day and was rather cold (lower 40’s most of the day). We did see a couple of sunbreaks during part of the day, then the clouds would come back and it would start raining again. We persevered and stayed warm (mostly by keeping moving). We were ready to call it a day by then end, however. The rain had started to get to us.
One little oddity with the GPS track above – not sure what happened, but the GPS shut off and I didn’t notice it for a while, so there is a gap in the track (about .6 miles or so).
While we did see some white iris in bloom, we did not see a sea of white iris which is what I was hoping for. I don’t know if it is because they just haven’t come up all the way yet, or if they don’t bloom all at once, or ???? But it was neat to see them in bloom, even if it was only a few of them. I’ve never seen a trail so peppered with one plant like this trail. If there ever is a time when they are in full bloom it would be a spectacular sight!
We successfully followed the Bissell trail from the trailhead – I got mis-directed at the start – there was a ribbon to the right which I mistakenly thought was the trail – the trail just takes straight off from the trailhead (old spur/skid road maybe?). This trail was easy to follow with the exception of one area with some blowdown and boggy areas where we briefly lost the trail, but found it quickly again. Other than that, it is in VERY good shape, and is easy to follow up to Old Baldy.
From the point where we met the Old Baldy trail, we headed NW up to Old Baldy. This trail is very purposeful, which means that it goes straight up and down hills – no switchbacks here! The last little push up to the top of Old Baldy (the site of the old lookout) is pretty steep, but we made it. Once at the top, we looked around a bit, but there wasn’t much to see since we were in the clouds (foggy) and the trees have all grown up.
Heading back down the trail, we passed the cutoff for the Bissell Trail, and were intending to find the actual cutoff to the White Iris trail, since I was unable to find it on my last hike due to snow. We were using the topo map as a guide for where the cutoff was, but it it WAY wrong. Fortunately, we kept hiking up the trail, and found the VERY apparent trail junction to White Iris. We kept going down Old Baldy until we got to the 504 Eagle Creek cutoff trail, but turned around there and came back to finish up the White Iris trail.
We were able to easily follow the White Iris trail to the junction with the 4614 road, and continue across until the base of a clearcut. At that point, there was a downed log, and the trail just seemed to disappear. We looked around, but found no tread after that point. We continued south for a bit and then headed west at another clearcut and landing, but all of this travel was cross country. No tread was found. After reviewing the map and our track, I’m wondering if the trail headed west about the point where that log was and we just were not looking in the right place for the tread. Another day of exploration is in order to find this last piece of missing trail……
The day wrapped up by having a traditional burger at Fearless Brewing in Estacada. A great way to fill an empty stomach from a day of hiking!!!! Especially when it is cold and rainy…..
Location of Hike: Upper Gipper Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny but windy in the morning
Hiking Buddies: Don and Kirk
Start Time: 9:00 AM End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 7 Miles (not including the Hillockburn lookout exploration)
A little below the spring, Don found some old remnants – an old pail, some flashing, old glass and what looked like springs from an old (model A?) car.
We didn’t see too much in the way of remnants of a camp or cabin, but something was obviously there, and it would have made a good place for one.
We tried to find more tread coming up the hill, but we weren’t too successful. We started up top and then spread out down the hill, looking for what might be tread. We didn’t really find any, and decided to kind of cross hill south until we hit the road. On the way, we found what appeared to be more tread, in reasonably good shape. This really deserves more exploration to find out where the real trail went….
All in all it was an interesting day. Not quite what I was hoping, but it was really neat to find the spring and all the remnants there. The views from the top of the road at the clearcut allowed us to see parts of 4 mountains! (St Helens, Adams, Rainier and Hood). The start of the day started out REALLY windy, but that died down pretty soon, and most of the day we were in the big trees so we were protected from it.
After we completed the exploratory hike we decided to go up and try and find the location of the old Hillockburn lookout. We found what we think was the old location, however it has been all trenched up (to stop the off roaders from ripping up the area). We also went on a little journey to find the section corner. We eventually found it, but it was WAY downhill from the road.
A stop on the way home at Fearless with some good food and conversation made for a great end to a great day. A good day in the woods.
Location of Hike: Salmonberry Canyon - Coast Range
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 9:30 AM End Time: 7:20 PM
Hike Distance: 16+ miles
The day started out early – leaving home at about 5:30am. We had planned that the hike would conservatively take about 10.5 hours (16 miles/ 1.5 mph). Factoring in doing all the driving to drop the cars at both ends and pick them up, we figured about 5 1/2 – 6 hrs of driving. We wanted to have a safety margin to make sure we got done before dark, so opted to start early. It was so early, I wanted to stop and get some coffee and breakfast, so we ended up getting a bit of a late start. We ended up at Cochran (after dropping a car at Salmonberry and driving back) at about 9:30am, and headed down the tracks.
Shortly after leaving Cochran, we found a beaver dam where they used the track rail as part of the containment.
We came to Cochran pond, where there used to be a swamill.
The tracks were in really good shape for quite a while, with only blowdown (like you would see on a trail) and a few small slides. We proceeded down the tracks, and in a little more than a mile we came to a “ballast regulator” on a siding. It is my understanding that this piece of equipment was for smoothing out the ballast (gravel) on the rail line. This machine had seen better days, and will probably be there forever now.
A little farther down the tracks we came to the first tunnel. After exiting the tunnel, we found the remnants of a board where you used to fill out an “access pass” (similar to a wilderness permit) to be able to hike the tracks. This was when trains were actively using the route.
Moving on down the tracks, we went through more tunnels, more small trestles, saw some trackside waterfalls until we got to the Baldwin creek trestle. This was the highest of the two big trestles, the supporting structure was mostly steel, with the bridge made out of wood. On each end was a large water tank – we think these were used to water the bridge in the summer, or to use for putting out any fires that might occur in dry months. They looked like tanks from old tanker cars.
After leaving that trestle, we started the series of washouts. They start pretty small, and easy to walk around, but they get bigger and bigger the closer you get to Belding (about the mid point of the hike).
The track takes a journey up Wolf creek – a sharp u-turn and then up the other side. Here you can see the washouts on the other side of the creek:
At the end of the u-turn there is another tunnel and then the second largest trestle – the Wolf creek trestle. This is a curved trestle that is completely made out of wood. It was an impressive sight.
Continuing on, we see more washouts and slides – you can easily see the damage on the other side of Wolf creek. Wolf creek must have been quite active in 2007 to do all of this damage…..We passed washout after washout – some short, some very long. At about mile 4 (or so), we came to a “B&B” shack. I think the B&B was “Bridge & Building” – essentially their maintenance guys. This was an old railcar of some sort that had been converted to a makeshift shop.
A little farther up the tracks was the Kinney creek tunnel and bridge – this was a pretty serious washout, and one of the few water bridges that caused you to make a water crossing rather than walk across the bridge. It was a pretty serious logjam that took out a good portion of the bridge.
Next we came to 3 closely spaced bridges – the river here goes back and forth like an “S”, but the railroad goes pretty much straight. These bridges were all in good shape. A couple more washouts and a tunnel or two and we were at Belding. There is a road that comes in over the tunnel to a parking area.
There used to be a bridge that went over the river here, but it was either washed out or removed a long time ago.
This is where we had lunch, rested our feet a bit, removed our boots and relaxed for a few minutes. Continuing past Belding there are several very significant washouts. The first one past Belding had an interesting thing – a small pyramid of dirt that appeared to have been eroded all around it, but the pyramid stood by itself. It was very odd looking.
At the far end of the washout, someone had taken a ladder from somewhere along the line and re-purposed it to climb out of the washout. It was very convenient.
We continued walking down the tracks through more tunnels, over more bridges (there were a lot of them!) until we came to a huge logjam that almost covered an existing bridge. It appears as though what happened was the logjam got stuck on the bridge, but it didn’t blow out the bridge – it created a new channel for the creek right next to the bridge! Absolutely amazing, and I think it is a testament to the construction of the bridge. It was easier for the creek to cut a new channel than to blow out the bridge!
Farther down the tracks, more slides, downed trees and probably the toughest washout to get around. It looks like it was a combination of a washout and a huge slide, so it took a big portion of the hillside with it. We had to go up and around and then down almost to the river level to get through it. There were are few blue arrows and ribbons to help guide us. I think that washout was probably the peak, and then they started getting smaller (but there were still a LOT of them!).
We continued past more washouts and tunnels, and came to an interesting washout – it showed the detail of something that is normally hidden. It was a square box culvert made entirely of wood. It was still functional even though all the dirt over it had all been washed out. Interestingly, we saw quite a few of these, and none of the ones we saw had plugged up. All the plugged up culverts appeared to be the typical round galvanized, corrugated metal ones.
The rest of the hike was relatively uneventful. We came to the old town of Enright, which consisted of a string of old log cars on a siding, two houses which are still in use, and a water tower.
Following that a mile or so later we found an old piece of equipment that appears to replace railroad ties.
The last highlight of the trip was seeing an inverse rainbow in the sky. Don’t know what caused it – there didn’t appear to be any moisture in the air, but it was late in the day. It was really neat to see it.
The last two miles were pretty plain – we hiked past the old town of Belfort, but didn’t see remains or anything. By that point, we were both tired and just wanted to get to the car.
All in all, a GREAT day – one of my highlight hikes I would say. It was a LONG day – I didn’t get home until after 10:00 – so 5:30am – 10:00pm, and lots of driving – but it was all worth it to see the power of nature’s fury and to see a seldom seen, beautiful coast range canyon.
Location of Hike: Salmonberry Canyon
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Hike Distance: 2 miles
Location of Hike: The old "Gipper" Trail - from the Clackamas River up to an old camp site
Weather during Hike: Overcast with rain late in the day
Hiking Buddies: Don, Kirk and Murphy (the dog)
Start Time: 8:15 AM End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: 7 miles
Since there was supposed to be a “snow event” that day, we decided to get an early start on things, hoping to beat the weather that was supposed to come in. On the way to the road (our starting point), we got a little bit of rain, but that was it. Almost the rest of the day, we didn’t have any rain to speak of, and the underbrush was dry.
We started off down a road that led through to a BLM land, a clearcut and then to USFS land, passing an old research area that was fenced off – except for the corner where the gate used to be…..You could walk in the research area if you wanted to. Not sure what they were researching, but it looked rather messy and overgrown. We continued down the old road to the end, and then went cross country through a grove of alders – this was an old clearcut that didn’t appear to have been replanted – the alders seemed to be natural volunteers. Once through the alder grove, we worked our way south to an old 4 way junction of trails. Although the trails were readily apparent, you could still see the sign on the trees. The sign was in excellent condition, considering how old it must have been. Don was leading, and knew the trail down to the river, but we found a side trail that we think eventually led up to the old camp. We followed this trail as far as we could, locating quite a bit of REALLY good tread, with only a few rough spots. We followed it up to another old clearcut, where you could still see the tread, but it was VERY overgrown – we decided to stop locating trail at that point – but, we located probably 6 or 7 tenths of a mile of the old trail. Very Cool!
After finding all that tread, we headed back the way we came, back to the old junction. We then took the trail down to the river – most of this trail is in pretty good shape. There are a few rough spots going down the hill, but, surprisingly enough, going back up was almost easier than coming down! We made our way down to the junction with the pipeline trail and had lunch. We then proceeded back uphill, doing some trail maintenance along the way. I ended up breaking the jaw on my compact loppers, so we didn’t get quite a much done as I would have liked, but we still did a fair amount. Lopping off branches, clearing the trail, kicking off rocks and cutting some of the smaller branches – we left the trail in better shape than we found it.
After the 4 way junction, we took a slightly different way back – we walked along the boundary line – the boundary between BLM and FS land. Many of the trees were marked (some with an X chopped into them, some with a plate). We found the section corner marker in the ground! It was interesting to find all this old history.
The hike back to the truck was mostly uneventful, however we were racing to get back before the big rain/snow event hit. When we got to the clearcut, it was starting to rain, and it got heavier, although most of the time we were in the trees. It started raining pretty heavily just before we got to the vehicles, and shortly after we started driving out, we got rain, snow, sleet all mixed together. We timed the hike pretty well! A stop at Fearless Brewing in Estacada for a Strong Scotch Ale and some fries made a great end to a great day.