Location of Hike: Shellrock Lake to Cache Meadow to Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 700, 702, 703
Weather during Hike: overcast and snowy
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:105 AM End Time: 4:20 PM
Hike Distance: 10.5 miles Elevation Gain: 2800 feet
The days are short right now and I had to take the long way around over Mt Hood to get here – it takes about 2 hours to get to the trailhead, so I started early – I left the house at 8:00. The weather report said it would be cold, but it also said it would be “partly sunny” – that turned out to be a lie. I got off 26 and started down 42, soon getting to road 58. It climbs quite a bit and I was soon into a fair amount of snow. It kind of looked like someone had plowed the road (two tracks – it didn’t look like just driving). But it was deeper than I was expecting:
We soon made it to the junction with 4610 and I decided to drive up a bit to see what the east end of the road closure looked like – I don’t think anyone will be getting around that gate:
There was also a pretty large log deck there:
After quickly checking this out, we headed back down to 58, then down to the 5830 road and out to the Shellrock lake trailhead. As I expected, I saw no one else, nor any evidence of anyone driving out this way at all. This is what my truck looked like parked in the Shellrock Lake trailhead parking area in the morning (about 10:15):
And this is what it looked like when I returned about 4:15 – It had been snowing a lot of the day and I was concerned it would have been a lot more snow – and I would have a difficult time getting home – fortunately things were OK – I think we got about a half inch of snow during the day:
We suited up for the cold and quickly headed out. A little bit up the trail we got a really beautiful view from the trail – looking east ish:
It didn’t take Thor long to start REALLY enjoying the snow – doing his “beaver” thing in the snow – you can hardly even tell he is there – he kind of buried himself in the snow! There was probably 4-6″ of snow at this point on the trail:
We continued down the trail and soon got into the woods. It is at this point that the abandoned trail takes off to the west. There used to be a post that was a good jumping off spot – the trail going up the hill seems to have mostly disappeared but once you are up the hill a bit, it re-appears. I couldn’t find the post so we took a shot and headed up the hill – it was kind of tough going, with the snow, but we eventually found the trail and continued west. Pretty soon, we got to this junction with another abandoned trail that heads down to 5830 – I had not seen this before – but I’ve only been on this segment a couple of times:
We followed the trail thru the snow and soon came to this small lake around cache meadow:
Shortly after this small lake, we hit the junction with the Grouse Point Trail (517). Just past the junction we saw Cache Meadow proper:
And near this is a campsite where Cripple Creek Trail comes in and where there used to be a cabin – it burned in the early 2000s:
We stumbled around in the snow a bit, struggling to find the trail, but eventually found the cripple creek trail and headed south, and then took a westerly turn. At that point, we came to this lake – I’m not sure what it is called – Cripple Creek Lake? – Cripple creek feeds it and is the outlet from it, so that would make sense, but it is not labelled on any of the maps I have:
We continued down the trail, fighting a LOT of downed logs such as this – I’m guessing these might have been casualties from the Labor Day windstorm:
Soon after that tree, I found this Bear print in the snow:
And soon after, Thor found what looked to be a “deer nest” – there was deer fur all over the place – or maybe that is where a deer got eaten – I’m not sure – it sure looked like a good “den” – It sure interested Thor:
We continued down the trail – I kept looking for the trail heading north (I didn’t want to have to road walk around) – I found it and we soon got to the spot where where all the trail junctions come together with a few signs – it is very confusing:
We actually headed off in the wrong direction – heading back up the Cache Meadow trail – I soon realized my mistake and we headed back and found the correct trail – which was probably 20′ from those signs. We soon got out to the 4635 road where the Cache Meadow trail starts:
We headed a bit down the road where Cripple creek continues downhill and continued down. It wasn’t too long before we got to the spot where the trail crosses the 4635 road farther down:
Shortly after the road crossing, the trail gets into a big rockslide. It was here that we got our first look into the burned areas farther below:
We continued down the trail, thru the cut area, and soon saw the first evidence of burn damage. It started out relatively limited, and soon got worse. This is one of the more severe burn damaged areas – lots of trees downed across the trail – you can see a cut log where the trail went in the distance:
Some of it wasn’t too bad to follow, but some got tough. In many spots, the tread burned out, like this section -a big hole that was one tread:
I saw this interesting section as well – it burned on both sides of the tread but the tread itself is completely intact – It seems like in this area it was mostly a ground fire:
We continued down the trail – it kept getting harder and harder to make progress – there was a lot of stuff on the trail, a lot of downed trees (some green). I used my loppers and a bit of hand saw work to get thru some of it, but it was getting increasingly difficult. This was another example of a heavily damaged area:
It was getting close/past my turn around time (1:30) and we still had not eaten lunch. I decided that we would turn around and find a spot to eat lunch. We had been pushing hard all day long. We found a small unburned section not too far from where we turned around. We quickly ate lunch and then headed back up.
On the way up, it started to snow, even at the lower elevation where there really wasn’t any snow. I started to get worried about how much snow was falling and whether or not I’d be able to get out. We hurried our pace (as much as I could, since the beginning was mostly uphill – heading back up to Cache Meadow). It continued to snow off and on. When we got back to the confusing junction (with the signs), I decided to go back on the Cache Meadow trail instead of going back the way we came in. I wasn’t sure if it was any shorter, but it didn’t seem like it was any longer and since it has been a LONG time (2008?) since I’ve been here, I thought it would be good to have different scenery. We made it around the north side of Cache Meadow and soon got back to the Grouse Point trail near the old campsite. We went a little bit on Grouse Point to the cutoff trail – on this end it is VERY apparent – so apparent it would be easy to take the wrong turn. We headed east on the cutoff trail, heading uphill – struggling a bit to follow the trail in the snow, but keeping with it. We did well until we got to the top of the hill. There was a big downed tree, and we kind of lost the trail at that point. We went downhill, navigating a BUNCH of downed logs and finally hit the Shellrock lake trail. From there, it was easy sailing back to the truck. I had set a target of being back at the truck by 4:30 – we beat it by about 15 minutes. We quickly loaded up and headed out. I didn’t want to drive too far on the forest service roads in the dark. Fortunately, it didn’t get really dark until we got close to 26. The drive over 26 was rather interesting. It was snowing pretty hard and it was icy – the thermometer on the truck said 27 degrees and there were signs that said watch out for ice. At some point, there were trucks and what looked like some cars spun out. We successfully navigated all that, and got home safely. I think it took us almost 2.5 hours to get home, though.
It was a challenging, beautiful, COLD day. I’m glad I was able to get as far as I did. I think this is the last opportinty to get into the high country this year. It is forecast to be cold and snowy all week long – unless we get a big warm spell, I think these areas area all closed for the year now.
Location of Hike: Upper Cripple Creek and Cache Meadow Trails
Trail Number: 702 and 703
Weather during Hike: Overcast to start, then partly sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my Dog)
Start Time: 11:15 AM End Time: 1:30 PM
Hike Distance: 2.2 miles
The plan was for this to be another short hike with Bodie. After seeing the conditions over the past few weeks, I thought I might be able to make it up to the Rimrock trailhead (plan A). If tht wasn’t possible, I figured I could make it up to the Cache Meadow trailhead (plan B). The day took an interesting turn.
On the way up, we passed the MP3 trailhead where had been a couple weeks ago. After that, the 4635 road deteriorates a bit – with more potholes and it gets a bit brushier. There has been some interesting winter damage as well 0 this was across the road farther up:
We continued up, seeing only two tiny patches of snow about 3600′ on the side of the road – until we got to the junction with the 140 spur, where we were surprised by about 2 feet of snow all over the road:
So, that nixed both Plan A and plan B. I was thinking we wouldn’t be hiking at all. Then I remembered that the cripple creek trail crosses 4635 and I thought we had already passed that. So, we turned around and headed back down. We found the crossing point, and surprisingly enough, I had cell service there, so I texted Gail with Plan C. We headed up the Cripple creek trail from the 4635 crossing, doing some brushing on the trail and shortly got to 4635 up higher – at the Cache Meadow trailhead junction. Bodie was enjoying himself in the snow:
We headed up the Cache Meadow trail thru the snow and found that Cache Meadow was pretty wet – the snow is melting quickly and the trail is more of a creek at this point:
We made it thru the first bit of water and got to a nice place for lunch, overlooking the “lake” at Cache Meadow (it is pretty shallow, but is technically a lake I guess):
We stopped to have lunch – it was very pleasant there in the sun. I wasn’t sure we were going to get sun since we were in the clouds earlier, but the sun finally burned them off. It was very nice and peaceful with a gentle breeze. We finished lunch and while we were getting ready to leave, some wispy clouds started rolling in over the lake, which was kind of cool looking:
We decided to head up a little farther to see how hard it would be. We didn’t get too far before we encountered alternating large patches of snow and then more “creeks” in the trail. We decided to turn around and head back down. It was a quick trip back down with a little more brushing in places. We got back to the truck and headed back down 4635. Not too far from where the trail crosses 4635, the road crosses Cripple creek, which was running pretty swiftly:
And here is a short video of the creek:
A little farther down the road is a nice viewpoint:
We headed down and headed home. It was a pretty short day, but a great, peaceful day in the woods.
Location of Hike: Three Lynx Way Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 3:30 PM
Hike Distance: 9.6 miles
Anyway, the route was intended to be going up the Shellrock Lake trail to the “shortcut” trail (another old abandoned trail) over to the Grouse Point trail and then head up this trail to the junction with this abandoned trail. I started out on the “shortcut” trail which has blazes all over the place:
Made it up the shortcut trail, and then to Cache Meadow – I never get tired of looking at it:
Heading past the meadows and up Grouse Point, we came to the helispot overlook above Serene Lake – It is a beautiful spot with a great view of Serene Lake and Indian Ridge:
Proceeding a little further, we came to the junction with the Three Lynx Way trail – the tread is recognizable for much of the trail:
We continued southeast on this tread until we got to a clearcut, where the trail essentially disappears. We headed around the edge of the cut, looking for where another old abandoned trail intersected it. Unfortunately, we did not find any evidence of this other trail. We did, however pick up the trail on the southeast corner of the clearcut, and followed it out to the 4635 road. We headed across the road to see if we could find any evidence of the trail on the west side of the road, but the only thing we found was this (whichI really don’t think was tread):
While exploring this area, I found this cute little tiny frog hopping about – he was hard to get a photo of:
After searching for a while and finding nothing, we headed back up to the road to go back to the Cache Meadow trailhead. We then followed the Cache Meadow trail to the meadows:
And then back to the shortcut trail and down the Shellrock Lake trail back to the truck.
Although I didn’t find the continuation of the trail, it was neat to hike a short section of a historical trail. On the way out, I took a picture of this unusual thing:
I’m guessing this is some sort of water “cache” for fighting fires. It kind of looks like a small swimming pool. It was on the 5380 road on the way to the Shellrock Lake trailhead.
This was a wonderful way to spend the beginning of my birthday! Weather was just about perfect for hiking – not too hot and not too sunny.
Location of Hike: Cache Meadow, Grouse Point and Trail "X"
Trail Number: 702, 517
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:15 AM End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: 13
It started out in the morning rather chilly, but it was clear. I missed the trailhead the first time I drove down road 4635, but found it on the way back. Bodie was very eager to get going (as usual). We started down the Cache Meadow trail about 10:15 or so, a beautiful trail through some nice forest, and relatively level going. It goes uphill just a bit before you get to Cache Meadow. Once there, there is a somewhat confusing bunch of trail junctions. I took the 517 junction, which essentially bypassed Cache Meadow “proper”.
From there we wound our way up to the ridge that the Grouse Point Trail follows. The trail is another very nice, very scenic trail that is mostly flat, with a little up and down along the ridge. There are a couple spots where you can look North and see the view across the Roaring River valley.
When getting close to Grouse Point, the trail veers away in some very thick rhodies. Although there is supposed to be a side trail to Grouse Point, no one appears to be able to find it. I was determined to get to Grouse Point, but the rhodies just seemed to get thicker as you get closer to the point, and I finally decided to forget it. I looked at several possibilities for side trails, but all of them quickly disappeared in the thick rhodies. I didn’t have any loppers with me, otherwise I probably would have cut my own path to Grouse Point. I’m sure the view from there is probably spectacular.
I hiked down Grouse Point to the junction with the Dry Ridge Trail, the point at which we hiked last weekend. I had lunch there, and then turned around and came back. The forest once you come down off Grouse Point is much different. Very little undergrowth, just blowdown and dirt/duff mostly. One interesting note: Most of the way, it was rather breezy. So much so that the trees were creaking and groaning. But, when we got on the west side of Grouse Point, the wind disappeared and the forest was very quiet.
Once back to Cache Meadow, we took a different route home. The forest service maps show a Trail “X” on the south side of the meadow cut, so we came back that way. The trail was easy to follow, once we found the junction at the burned out shelter at Cache Meadow. We hiked past a nice rather large, shallow, un-named lake with a couple of campsites.
There is supposed to be a trail going north towards the end of the trail, but we missed it, and hiked out to the 4635 road and back to our starting point.
The only thing that could have made the day better was a little less haze in the air. The overlooks where a little hazy, but not too bad. The temperature was just perfect-not too hot, not too cold, and most of the day we had a nice breeze. The hike was great-Not too much elevation gain/loss, and some beautiful scenery. By the end of the day, I was tired, but still feeling pretty good. My feet held up well and so did my legs. I was very happy that I felt so good after a pretty long day of hiking.