Location of Hike: Pacific Crest Trail
Trail Number: 2000
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 11:00 AM End Time: 5:30 PM
Hike Distance: 12 miles Elevation Gain: 3000 feet
Thor and I made the long drive to the trailhead, the Breitenbush trailhead on the PCT – it is almost a 2 hour drive and the last 5 or 6 miles are down the pretty rough 4220 road. We got to the trailhead a little before 11. There was a man and his wife getting ready but only a few cars were there (maybe 4 or 5). We quickly got ready and headed out.
A short ways down the trail, we go this really good look at Ruddy Hill, Pyramid Butte, Mt Hood and Olallie (in the trees):
Then looking northwest we got a view of all the peaks in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness (Battle Ax is the easiest to see – to the left – Schreiner Peak is the tallest peak to the right center of the photo):
We continued south on the trail, meeting a few people, including some PCT thru hikers. We went thru the first burned area and missed the junction with the trail to Pyramid Butte (we saw it on the way back). We made pretty good time and soon were almost up to Park Ridge where we got a good view of Mt Hood and Olallie Butte – you don’t see this side of Olallie too much as it shows the steep drop off on the east side of the butte:
Just below Park Ridge there was a small snow field next to the trail and Thor spent a while doing his “beaver” thing in the snow. We were in the sun a lot of the day and he had been getting hot, so I’m sure the cool snow felt good to him. I should have taken a photo.
We finally made it to Park Ridge – the high point of the hike. We stopped there for lunch, where there were quite a few people stopped. We found a spot in the shade where we ate lunch and I took a photo of Thor being Thor:
After eating lunch I walked around the ridge looking for the old sign that marked the entrance into the Willamette National Forest. We saw it back in 2012:
I had heard that it had disappeared and it certainly has. I think I found the logs that made up the frame of the sign, but no traces of the sign itself could be found. I’m wondering if the Forest Service came and got it or something as a historical artifact. Anyway, it is sad it is gone – it was a cool piece of history since it still said Skyline Trail. I’m glad I got to see it before it disappeared.
After looking for the sign for a bit, we headed down the trail into Jefferson Park. There was this great view of Mt Jefferson while we were descending into Jefferson Park:
And a little farther down the trail we started getting into Jefferson Park for real – it is very beautiful-green and lush, even in August:
It wasn’t long before we made it to the shore of Russell Lake:
There were a LOT of people milling around the area, and we saw a few tents there. We stopped in a shady spot and I wanted to just enjoy the scenery for a bit but Thor got restless. I took one last photo of Russell Lake beneath Mt Jefferson
and then we headed out. There are a LOT of user trails in Jefferson Park so we had to find our way out. As we were heading up and out, I took another photo of Mt Jefferson rising above Jefferson Park – I never get tired of that view:
We then headed back up the trail – it is rather steep farther down and gets a little more graded as you get up the hill.
We were almost back up to the top of Park Ridge when we finally met Kirk and Sarah. It was about 3:45 and we still had a ways to hike back. Ollie and Thor had fun playing for a few minutes and we all talked for a bit and then Thor and I headed up and Kirk, Sarah and Ollie headed down. They had camped before Park Ridge at one of the small tarns. Since they didn’t have too far to get back they still had a lot of time to explore before dark.
We got back up to Park Ridge and this time there were only a few people up there. We crossed over the ridge and headed down the other side. I caught this picture just below the ridge where you can see Eastern Oregon pretty well (although it was a lot easier to see in person):
Thor played in the same snow field he did on the way up – he was getting pretty hot – being in the sun most of the day. It is tough having black fur!!!
We made good time and on the way down, I took a photo of this cool rock formation that I had seen on the way up (but neglected to photograph):
There wasn’t a whole lot that stuck out on the way down. Since it was getting late, we were just trying to make time so that we wouldn’t be getting home too late. We met a few people on the way back, but it was a lot quieter on the way back than the way in. I could tell Thor was getting really tired. I was tired too, but we still had a mile or two to go, so I had to encourage him a bit to keep going. We stopped a few times so he could rest – I checked his pads in case he wore them off like he did a couple months ago on a very rocky hike. He was fine, just tired, so we took it slow and took a few rest stops.
We finally made it back to the truck about 5:30pm – that last mile seemed to stretch on forever! We loaded up and started the long bumpy road home.
I always love Jefferson Park. It was a good day in the woods.
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: 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: Horseshoe Lake, PCT, Pyramid Butte, Ruddy Hill Trails
Trail Number: 712, 2000, 714
Weather during Hike: Sunny but cool
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Bandit
Start Time: 10:40 AM End Time: 4:45 PM
Hike Distance: 9 miles
The road to Horseshoe Lake campground is pretty rough, and beyond to Breitenbush is even worse. It was quite a wild ride down that rough road.
The Horseshoe lake trail was in great shape, although it was a little cool – we found frost on parts of the trail, and the parts that weren’t icy were very wet. Fortunately, we wore our rain pants to keep the water off our pant legs. After the junction with the PCT, we headed south towards the junction with the Pyramid Butte trail. There were several nice viewpoints, and the trail was in great shape – not too surprising since it was the PCT. Once we got to the wilderness boundary, we knew the trail junction was pretty close. We thought we found the correct trail junction, but we later realized that we took the wrong junction. I think we ended up taking a game trail, even though it looked like a trail, it quickly ran out. We eventually found the real trail, and on the way back found where we made the wrong turn. At the bottom of Pyramid Butte is a junction that goes south on what used to be the Skyline trail. Sometime later, when the PCT came through, it was rerouted a little farther east, bypassing this junction. There was still an old sign at the base of the butte, right where the trails joined. It was very cool to see such an old sign that was in great shape, but you could see how weathered it was. The sign must have been at least 50 years old.
Taking the trail up to the top of the butte was steep, but reasonably easy (since it was pretty short). We saw some old phone line cable and insulators on the way up, and found the old lookout foundation. Interestingly enough, the lookout wasn’t on the highest point of the butte. It was on the northern end which is a little lower than the southern end. There isn’t much left of the lookout, just some piers and metal ties, and some broken and melted glass. The really big draw to Pyramid Butte is the view. The views in almost all directions are stellar, some of the best in the area. To the south, you can just seen Mt Jefferson peeking over the hill – it looks so close you could touch it. To the east, on a clear day, you can actually see central Oregon. To the north, you can see Ruddy Hill and Olallie Butte. The butte is almost completely burned, but the very top was spared.
Hiking back down, we found where we found the wrong turn we took. We found the spring referenced on the map and walked through the burned area – the Pyramid Butte fire of 2010. Parts of it burned REALLY hot, and other spots weren’t too badly hit.
We were still feeling pretty good, and had enough time left, so we decided to hike up to Ruddy Hill. That trail is in good shape, but I forget how steep it is. You essentially walk straight up the hill (a little cross hill, but mostly up). Once on top, the view is great (but not as good as on Pyramid Butte). We got a great view of the butte, and saw the old telephone box at the summit. Met a nice group at the summit and talked for a few minutes. Interestingly enough, there was still wildflowers – Kirk had been up there just a few weeks ago, and there was till a big snowbank there, so the flowers didn’t have much of a season.
On the way to our next stop, we stopped at the Breitenbush campground, which is now on Indian reservation land. We looked at an old stone building, which was interesting. The campground was originally built by the forest service, but when the reservation line was moved, the campground reverted to tribal ownership.
A quick trip back down the hill and back to the campground and we went on to our last destination for the day: The weird, unique springs in the bottom of the Breitenbush valley. The floor of the valley is essentially a bog, but these springs are really weird. They have a “brim” around them that makes the water level a foot or two above the rest of the meadow. One of them looked a lot like the hot springs in Yellowstone park (although these are not hot springs). You could see trees and roots way down in the spring, probably 10 feet deep. Really weird, but cool.
Lastly, we had one more surprise on the way home. After enduring the seeming never ending rough road that is forest service road 4220 (it is hard to call it a road in places), we were stopped about 10 miles from Ripplebrook – someone had run their car into the river and flipped it. There were two tow trucks that were trying to get the car out of the river but were not having much luck. After about a half hour of attempts to get it back up the hill, they moved and let people pass while they were going to re-think their approach. We were told by others who were tehre thatn the driver was OK and was taken from the scene a little before we got there. It was amazing that they weren’t more seriously hurt.
It was one of my best days hiking, and a great way to do what will be one of the last high elevation hikes this year.
Location of Hike: Olallie Lake Area - 4 different trails
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 11:30 AM End Time: 5:30 PM
Hike Distance: 6
When they said “short and exceptionally steep”, they weren’t kidding! We basically walked up the side of the hill….Not quite, but almost. It was VERY steep, although the trail was actually in very good shape. With such a steep trail, I would have expected more erosion. The view from the top of Ruddy Hill is impressive. Quite a panorama.
This was my favorite area on this hike. The one interesting thing was the “box” on the top of the hill.
I have no idea what it is/was (edit many years later – that was the box that housed the forest service phone way back when they had their phone lines strung throughout the forest), but it was interesting to see it still there. After eating lunch, enjoying the view and taking some pictures, we descended back to the PCT and back to the Gibson trail to see Gibson Lake.
This was a reasonably good sized lake, but it didn’t look too deep. The trees around it are pretty scrubby, which isn’t my cup of tea. I enjoy the big doug firs more than the scrub pines. After scouting out the lake, we returned back to the truck the way we came (back up Gibson trail to the PCT, then back to the Horseshoe Saddle trail). We went to the store at Olallie Lake and bought a couple things and then headed back home (after taking one detour).
Lastly, I had to explore the “trail” that was discussed on trailadvocate.org (see below). I ended up finding the trail, and found the old campsite nestled in a grove of some very old trees, right next to the Collowash River. What a beautiful place, and a great place to finish the day! (edit many years later – this is the “Oh Boy” camp that appears on old maps and was on what is now the Elk Lake Creek trail (this part of the trail was taken out by road building, but this short section remains).
Here is a summary of each of the trails I took on this hike:
- Horseshoe Saddle Trail 712 One mile long.
- Gibson Lake Trail 708 Trail is easy to follow and offers views of the Ollalie Lake District, Ollalie Butte, and Mount Hood.
- Ruddy Hill Trail 714 A short side trail off the PCT just north of the junction with the PCT. Climbs to the summit of Ruddy Hill. Offers wonderful views. A short and exceptionally steep trail. Was called Red Hill for it’s red cinder crown.
Exploration (message from the trailadvocate.org site): On Forest Road 6380 (which is the approach to the Elk Lake Creek trailhead) there is a short trail which leads from the road down a steep slope to a terrace near the Collowash River. This trail is located about 1/2 mile downstream of the bridge crossing the river. The trail is not evident from the road except for the flagging that someone has hung on the trees. This 1/4 mile or so of trail appears to be a constructed trail, with a level tread dug out of the hillside and a constant grade down the hill and may be a remnant of a more significant trail, perhaps one that predated the construction of FR 6380. At the end of the trail there are the remains of a camp of some sort, including a storage box or cabinet made out of wood slats, and a table or work surface. Two walls of the storage box, fastened above ground to two trees, are still in pretty good shape, but the table is mostly rotted away. Could this be a camp that early-day forest rangers might have used as they went about their rounds or whatever they did in the old days? On a couple of maps that I have there is a reference to â€œOh Boy Campâ€ in this general area, so Iâ€™m wondering if this might be that camp. Does anyone have any information on this? Could this be a segment of a trail that once followed the general route up the Collowash joining what is now known as the Elk Lake Creek trail? Trails along that route can be seen on the 1935 and 1946 Mt Hood Forest maps posted on this website as well as on other maps that I have.