Location of Hike: Memaloose Lake Trail
Trail Number: 515
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 11:05 AM End Time: 3:30 PM
Hike Distance: 3.6 miles Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
We decided to see if we could get up to Memaloose Lake, which is a little bit lower in elevation. Fortunately, we ran into almost no snow, and the few short spots we encountered were easily passable. We got to the trailhead and started getting ready, when another car pulled up. I was a bit surprised to see another car this far up this early in the season, but I knew we would have company. We shortly headed up the trail, which was littered with branches and detritus from the winter – it didn’t look like anyone had cleared anything yet this year, so we threw a bunch of branches off the trail as we headed up. We stopped at one of the switchbacks where the creek is near the trail and the folks from the car we saw passed up – they were a couple of trail runners, so were moving pretty quickly. We soon made it up to Memaloose Lake that still had lots of snow:
We stopped at the campsite next to the lake and had lunch. We decided to try and head up the trail up to South Fork Mountain to see how far we could get. There was patchy snow on the unmaintained trail:
When this trail finally hits the ridge up to South Fork Mountain, an old abandoned trail joined it – the South Fork Mountain trail headed west and the trail to Wanderers Peak went east. We decided to explore a bit of this abandoned trail – initially we were just going to go a little ways and then return and go up to the top of South Fork Mountain, but as we proceeded down the ridge, we finally realized we didn’t really want to go back the way we came, so we decided to continue down the ridge looking for blazes and tread and eventually come out on the 45 road and then walk back to the trailhead.
As we proceeded down the ridge, the side hill got steeper and steeper – we got concerned we were going to get cliffed out, but we continued to make progress, although it was pretty slow. Here is an example of some of the SERIOUS side hill action going out the ridge on the old Wanderers Peak trail:
At the end of one of the somewhat flat ridge lines, there was a bit of a knob. We climbed over to it and didn’t get as good of a view as we were hoping. This was a cool rock formation looking back at Memaloose Lake (hidden behind trees) from that little knob:
A little farther down the ridge, we came to this cool ridge top meadow:
And a little farther we came across a knob (it actually shows as a small knob on the map). We climbed to the top of it and found great views. Mt Hood and Mt Adams to the north:
Hard to see peak of Mt Jefferson and Olallie Butte to the south:
We climbed back down and continued traversing the steep side hill, which got slightly better as we got closer to the road. We ended up following a second ridge down to the road, which was a little easier. We finally made it back to the road and walked back to the trailhead. Unfortunately, there was almost no trail left that we could find. A few blazes here and there and a few short sections of tread were found, but large sections were without any blazes and many of the sections where there would have been tread are so steep we figured that the tread has probably slipped down the hill.
We got back to the truck about 3:30, so we decided to head farther up 45 to see what conditions looked like. When we got to the 4550 junction, it was obvious that someone had spend some serious time brushing out the road:
We decided to head down it to see how far we could get, wondering if we could make it to the waterfall at Music creek. We made it there, but just past the first campsite, the road was impassible due to snow on the road again. We walked down to the creek, and got a great view of Music Creek falls running loud and fast:
Here is a short Video – it was rather LOUD:
After watching the waterfall for a little while, we headed back up. I walked up the road a bit to see if the brushing continued – it appeared to have stopped at Music creek, but it was hard to tell. Once the road re-opens, it will be interesting to see what it looks like. We walked back to the truck and headed out. On the way home, we took a short detour so that I could show Kirk the remains of the Silvicultural research area – I’d investigated this area several years ago – it is an interesting area where they studied ways to make trees grow better/taller/faster, but it has been closed for at least 10 years I think. There isn’t much left except for some remnants of the buildings and all the fences and trees they planted.
We stopped at Fearless in Estacada for a burger and a beer. What a great way to cap off a great day of exploring!
Location of Hike: Milepost 3 and Rimrock Trails
Trail Number: 704
Weather during Hike: A few sprinkles, overcast and a few sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Thor
Start Time: 10:15 AM End Time: 5:00 PM
Hike Distance: 7.6 miles
It rained a bit on the way to the trailhead, but by the time we got there, the rain had stopped. Interestingly enough, back in January, I hiked this trail. It was oddly warm in January, and there was very little snow anywhere. The bad news was that the beginning of the trail was rather difficult to get to due to a tree that came down recently. Today, the good news was that someone had cleaned that all up, and the ramp leading up to the trail from the road was all clear!
We headed up the trail, and had a couple short periods of light rain, but they didn’t last long. The trail gains a fair amount of elevation relatively quickly, so it was tough going – but we didn’t encounter any snow on the lower portion of the trail. At the first rockslide, we found that while we could see a bit, the views weren’t great – lots of clouds:
We continued up the trail, doing minor trail maintenance – soon, we arrived at the junction with the Rimrock trail at about 4200′. This was the first real snow we saw. We stopped and had lunch:
While eating lunch, Thor played around in the snow, and Kirk and I talked about what our next objective was – we figured it was around 2 miles to the overlook, and decided we should have enough time (and hopefully energy) to do it. We headed out, down the trail heading east. The snow quickly began to get deeper. It wasn’t too hard at first without snowshoes, but soon it was easier to put them on – it is still harder to snowshoe than to hike, but it is easier than postholing.
For the most part, we followed the trail, but I think there were short sections where we missed it. The trail is very well blazed and that helped us to know we were on the actual trail.
Snowshoeing is very hard work as you have to lift your legs up a lot higher than you do when hiking. You also have to make your own trail in the snow which takes a lot more effort. After several rest breaks, we finally got to the overlook trail junction, and were surprised to see how deep the snow was:
Compare that to a picture taken when there was no snow:
After a short time of amazement at the snow depth, we then proceeded up the overlook trail, which is about a half mile to the viewpoint. Shortly after the junction, Kirk noticed this blaze that had almost disappeared into the snow – pretty amazing:
The snow continued to get deeper as we headed up to the overlook:
And right before the entrance to the overlook, the snow had really large drifts – Guessing they were 6 feet or more:
We made it up and out to the point, which was clear of snow (amazingly enough). The views from the point were not terrible, but none of the mountains were visible:
There was still a lot of snow on the north facing slopes too:
And there was a LOT of snow at the overlook:
While were out on the point, we could see dark clouds all around us. The weather forecast said there was supposed to be thunder storms about 2pm, which was right about the time we were there. We saw some dark clouds moving towards us, so we decided we should get back in the trees before it started raining. Just as we were getting ready to leave, the rain came in – in the form of snow! It wasn’t heavy, but it was definitely snowing. We decided it was a good time to head back down the hill. Once we were back in the trees we didn’t feel or see any of the rain/snow.
We made very good time going down the overlook trail (they way up seemed like the longest half mile I’ve ever done), and soon were back on the main Rimrock trail. As we were heading down, eagle eyed Kirk spotted one of these old insulators – it was so low due to the snow pack that we could almost touch it:
We continued down and soon came to the junction with the MP3 trail where we had lunch. We took off our snowshoes at this point and then continued down the trail. We made really good time on the way down – it is a lot easier going down than up!
As we were heading down, I noticed this beautiful scene – old trail thru an old moss covered rockslide:
I’ve seen it many times, but for some reason today it really moved me. What a beautiful scene.
We made it back to the truck about 5pm, all very tired from the days adventure. Just about the time we got there, it started raining. We were most fortunate with the day’s weather.
On the way down the 4635 road we spotted three deer that ran across the road!
We decided to stop at Fearless for a burger and a beer – a wonderful way to end a great day of adventuring in the woods!
Location of Hike: Switch Creek Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny and Cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Zack, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:30 AM End Time: 3:50 PM
Hike Distance: 6.8 miles
It had been something like 5 years since I’d been on the trail, so I had to try and remember some of the more obscure parts. Fortunately, I had a track from my last visit that helped us to stay (mostly) on the trail. We headed up from the parking area on road 46 where it was somewhat windy – down by the reservoir it was REALLY windy, but all up and down the Clackamas Gorge it was windy. The wind made the air temperature feel even colder – it was below freezing and there was frozen frost on road 46 in quite a few places, so driving was a bit tricky.
After getting ready (quickly due to the cold temps), we headed up the old spur road which is the beginning of the trail. It is still reasonably easy to follow, however the small trees are growing in in spots. We shortly got to the creek crossing and picked up the trail on the other side. That was not very easy, since there were quite a few rather large logs that had fallen, many right in the tread. We made our way thru that mess, and a better trail emerged after that (at least for a while). It wasn’t too long after the creek crossing where we ran across the first grisly/gross/interesting find of the day – a dead blacktail deer – and a pretty large one at that – Zack said it was a “4×5” – a 4 point buck with a smaller point near the head which was the “5”. He said that was a REALLY large deer for the Clackamas area. Something had eaten a large portion of it, but it was still pretty fresh. We couldn’t tell if this was a bad shot by a hunter, or if it was a cougar kill. Warning – gross picture ahead:
After checking out that find for a bit, we continued up the steep hillside – sometimes VERY steep – losing the trail for a bit here and there – but someone has flagged most of it reasonably well – so we were able to re-find the trail easily. When you get near the top of the hill, you intersect a better, more established trail. This trail takes you up to the 4640 road. At the trail junction, eagle eyed Kirk found an insulator (the old map shows this trail heading back up to Oak Grove Work Center with the phone line):
We shortly got to the newly decommissioned 4640-157 spur – the one that took you to a hunter camp at the top of the hill. The section out to the 4640 road is very short and soon we were on the 4640 road, attempting to follow the road and a bit of cross country to head east:
After doing a short cross country route thru an old gravel pit, we soon crossed Switch Creek again:
And then headed up to a rather swampy little lake area where we had lunch. There were a few of these “birdhouses” – but I’m not sure what is supposed to nest in them. The hole is HUGE:
After eating lunch in the sun on the north side of the swamp/lake, we made another cross country route – pretty much directly east to the 163 spur road, where we passed another swampy/lake area and then attempted to find the old trail that headed east. We walked up the ridge, and thought we were in the right area, but ended up going too far north and came back down and finally found the old tread. It was on a VERY steep, unstable hillside, but it had good views to the south in a couple of spots. This was looking southeast towards Burnt Granite with Olallie Butte just to the left of it – Olallie was all white, although it didn’t show up too well in the photo:
We headed up a little higher, following the trail relatively easily, with a few spots that had kind of fallen away. This is what some of the better trail looked like up higher:
At some point, we talked about what our turnaround time should be, and we decided it should be 2:00 (since the days are pretty short). We got to a particularly indistinct area on the trail, and we weren’t quite sure where it went. At that point, it was 1:57, so we made that our turnaround spot. We headed back the way we came – I got another shot looking south/southeast with a cool shot of the fog/clouds hanging over the hills:
We went back the same way we came except for one section where we walked back the road instead of going cross country – it was all downhill and we figured it would be faster. Looking at our route, I don’t think it cut much distance off anyway. We pretty quickly got back down the hill and got to the van a little before 4:00. It was starting to get chilly again, so it was good we got there when we did.
We finished the day with dinner and a beer at Fearless. An awesome winter day in the woods! Oh, and we never put on our snowshoes – we got to almost 4000′ but the snow was never deeper than 3-4″. so it turned out we didn’t need them after all!
Location of Hike: South Fork Mountain Trail
Weather during Hike: Varied - Foggy to Sunny and cool
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 11:50 AM End Time: 3:50 PM
Hike Distance: 5.12 miles
Originally, we were going to hike the Memaloose trail (from the bottom). Kirk had a better idea – hike it from the top down – we were almost already there, so we hiked up an old segment of the South Fork Mountain trail up to the old lookout site and then down to the lake and back. To top it all off, I realized I had forgotten my phone – fortunately, Kirk had his, so he was the track recorder and photographer for this trip.
On the way in, the sun came out and we got this great view from one of the old clearcuts along the 4540 road – looking east to Fish Creek Mountain and Whalehead:
After our snowy escapades, we turned around and headed back to the 017 spur, where we parked and headed up (the snow was deeper than it looks in this photo):
Once up at the landing at the end of the 017 Spur, we started up the real trail:
On the way up, we got a peek of where Mt Hood was hiding in the clouds:
We got up to the old lookout pretty quickly and looked around a bit. We found the old foundations of the lookout and then headed down the “un-maintained” trail to Memaloose Lake – although I think it is strange there is a 515 trail sign on the “un-maintained” portion of the trail:
For an un-maintained trail, it was pretty well maintained. We didn’t have ANY trouble following it except for one very short section in a rooty/rocky section. One interesting thing was that we found a bunch of these orange flags on this portion of the trail – they were all placed VERY low and had “SOL” written on them – looks like they were placed this year:
We made quick time down the trail and shortly got to the beginning of the “un-maintained” section with this old sign that is clearly showing its age – I wonder how much longer it will survive?
We quickly made it to Memaloose lake and looked around the campsites there. The dogs were expending even more energy at the lake:
We ate some lunch and walked around a bit and then headed down the trail to the Memaloose trailhead. Memaloose Creek was flowing fast and furious – the crossing wasn’t bad, but you had to choose your steps carefully to stay dry (although Thor just wanted to play in the water):
A little farther down the trail, I recalled this tree that was down in 2014:
Now it is all cut out and easy to traverse:
A little ways further down the trail, we encountered a couple heading up the trail. We were a bit surprised to see someone else there – it is a LONG drive to the trailhead now. The dogs barked at them, so we leashed them up and let them pass. They asked if it was worth the trip up to the top, and we said yes, but we didn’t see them again the rest of the day. I’m thinking that we passed them when we took the alternate route up the lake.
After leashing up the dogs, we shortly made it down to the trailhead and walked around a bit on the road – Memaloose creek was flowing heavy under the road – ALL the creeks were flowing quickly due to all the snowmelt and rain we’ve had. After exploring the trailhead a bit, we headed back up to the lake:
A little ways up the trail, Kirk noticed these interesting trees – we figured they must have been from when they cut the hillside north of here:
A little farther, Kirk noticed an old sign – I never noticed it before – wonder what it said?:
As we headed up the trail, there was a junction that we noticed on the way down – we decided to see where it went – we think it was the old alignment of the trail:
And sure enough, it put us out a little bit north of the current trail alignment. You can see on the track where it put us out at the lake just north of where we came in.
Since we were a little farther north on the lakeshore, we explored some of the campsites up the east side of the lake and found this poem tacked to a tree near the lake – an “in memory of” poem:
We then headed back up towards South Fork Mountain, and Kirk noticed this odd artifact. We never did decide what this really was – fire pit or old outhouse? Or something else?
We continued up the switchbacks towards South Fork Mountain. Just below the point where you attain the ridge up to South Fork Mountain, we saw this beautiful sunbeam coming thru the trees. The pictures are pretty good, but don’t do it justice:
Once up on the ridge, Kirk found a great rocky outcropping just below the summit that had great views to the south. We got this great view of Mt Jefferson from there:
As we stood there enjoying the views, we realized that it was getting pretty cold. The sun was still up, but the temperature was dropping quickly. We made it down to the truck and quickly got in and fired up the heater which felt good. The truck had frost on it and the puddles on the road were starting to ice over, so it was definitely below freezing when we made it back. We left the chains on the truck until we got thru all of the deep snow and then stopped and took them off.
On the way back, we encountered a half dozen or more vehicles that were all gathering Christmas trees. They all seemed to be having a good time.
Although we didn’t achieve our initial objective, it was still an excellent adventure in the woods exploring some beautiful old forest, and some beautiful old abandoned trail.
Location of Hike: Old Buck Lake Trail
Trail Number: 701
Weather during Hike: Sunny and Hot
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:25 AM End Time: 1:00 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles
Unfortunately, I didn’t take many photos on this trip. The forecast was for it to be almost 100 degrees and we started early to try and beat the worst of the heat. We left home about 7:45am and got to the trailhead a little after 9. We had a bit of a surprise – Road 5810, which takes you to Buck Lake was closed due to logging activities. Even though nothing was happening today, the road was still closed completely, right after you got onto 5810. So, we looked for an alternate route. We decided to head up the road we bailed out on last time – the 58-160 spur – and kind of start where we left off last time. We weren’t exactly sure how the day would progress – we thought maybe we would go back to Buck Lake if we had time.
We quickly found what looked to be something like tread. I think it was what we were following last year, however it looked very different since there was no snow on the ground. We continued north thru the clearcut, following (at times) what looked like it could be tread, and other times just taking the easiest route. We got thru the first clearcut and spread out, looking for signs of tread and/or blazes. We found intermittent sections of tread – in some spots it wasn’t too bad – well blazed and somewhat distinct tread. But it never lasted too long. Either the blazes and/or tread dried up, or we hit another clearcut, where any signs of tread completely disappeared. I think we went thru 4 or 5 cut areas. A good shot of one of the good sections:
We continued north, looking for tread and blazes in the uncut areas, and just tried to get thru the cut areas as best we could – usually going along the east edge of the cut – it usually seemed there was a somewhat open area there. In one of the cut areas, we got this cool shot of a hazy Mt Hood (I thought it would be worse due to all the fires):
It was beginning to get rather warm (especially in the cut areas) and the dogs were getting hot so we stopped in the shade and all drank some water. Kirk snapped this great picture of Thor and Olle cooling off in the shade – they really have fun together:
After heading north and not finding a lot of recognizable tread, we knew we were getting close to the Anvil Lake trail. We spotted a flag, and found some tread. And then another flag, and some more tread. We didn’t backtrack to find the trail, but we did find out where the trail appears to have met the Anvil Lake trail – right at the post with the Blackwolf Meadow sign. This is the Anvil Lake trail as it heads thru Blackwolf Meadows:
We stopped in the shade there and decided what to do. Neither of us wanted to go back the way we came, so we decided to head back down the Anvil Lake trail to the 160 spur and walk back to the truck that way. It looked to be about 2 miles or so back to the truck, so that seemed like a good option, as it was starting to get really hot. We wanted to get done by noon or 1 and it was already noon. We made good time back to the truck and then packed up and headed out.
On the way out, we had been talking about Cot Creek (I’m not exactly sure why), but I thought we could drive up to see the old collapsed bridge. It wasn’t too far out of our way, so we headed up. Interestingly enough, the 4635-120 spur road that heads up to the bridge has had a lot of roadwork done on it. New gravel, grading, and a bunch of trees cut off the edges of the road. Looks like the are prepping for doing some more thinning work up that road.
Here is a photo of the old Washed out cot creek bridge as we saw it today:
Contrast this to 2008 – it has grown in quite a lot since then:
A wonderful day in the woods – it was good to get out and escape most of the heat. Even though we didn’t find a lot of that old trail up high, it was still neat to try and find it.
Location of Hike: Plaza Lake Trail
Weather during Hike: Foggy to Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Robert and Thor
Start Time: 9:30 AM End Time: 1:50 PM
Hike Distance: 2.0 miles
We started out earlier than normal, leaving the house a bit before 8:00. We got to the Plaza Lake trailhead about 9:30 and headed down the hill. The drive in on the 4610 road was bad – it keeps getting worse and worse. We ended up coming in from 4614/4613 which saves 7 or 8 miles of 4610 road driving, but those last 10-12 miles on 4610 are just horrible. LOTS of potholes and the road is continuing to have worse washout damage each year.
The trail down to Plaza Lake is pretty short (about a half mile or so), on a really good tread, and really well graded. Here is a segment of trail up higher where the trees are smaller. The trees get quite a bit larger as you head down the hill:
For a lightly used trail, it was actually in really good shape. Tread was great, and not too brushy most of the way. Partway down the trail, there is a large rockslide that the trail edges up to – kind of some cool rock formations up the slide:
I wish I had taken photos of some of the large trees on the way down. There are some REALLY huge trees down this trail! – Some of the largest I’ve seen in the Clackamas drainage. Very shortly we got down to beautiful Plaza Lake:
The lake is pretty brushy around it, but we found a small opening to get to the lake. We rested there for a bit. Here is picture of Thor being Thor – I had a hard time getting a good picture of him. I think Robert got a really good closeup shot of him, though:
Thor was restless, and ended up finding the continuation of the trail, which continued around the lake. It was really brushy right where he found it which is why we didn’t see it at first. I took him and we followed the trail to what seemed like the end, at the outlet of the lake. We came back and ate a few snacks, drank some water, and then headed back up.
Soon, we were back at the truck and we loaded up and headed farther up the 4610 road-the road gets continually worse as you get closer to the slide. The plan was to get to the big slide area and find Charles. We finally found the slide area and made our way down, finding Charles on the old Clackamas Lake trail. We visited for a bit, and since our time was getting short, decided that we would head west on the old Clackamas Lake trail for a bit and then head back up.
While we were on the trail, we encountered this very colorful garter snake:
Once Thor saw it, he started barking at it. He has gotten garter snakes in the back yard, but they were much smaller than this one!
Time was getting short, so we quickly headed back to the truck and then back down the horrible 4610 road and home. Fortunately, we got home a bit early, so things worked out very nicely.
Although this was a pretty short day, both in terms of distance and in terms of time, it was nice to see a few places I had not seen before.
Location of Hike: Burnt Granite Trail
Trail Number: 595
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Charles, Robert and Thor
Start Time: 10:50 AM End Time: 6:10 PM
Hike Distance: 6 miles
We had not really planned on doing much in the way of maintenance but we did more than we planned to, moving and cutting small logs off the trail – since the trees in the lower section of this trail are pretty small, it isn’t too hard to do with a handsaw. One thing we noticed on one of the cut trees – VERY small growth rings – although this tree is only 5″ or so in diameter, it looks to be 30-40 years old! (Edit-later – Kirk counted the rings and counted 53 rings!!!):
As we continued up the trail, we were enjoying the brush work from a couple of years ago – still holding up very well:
Shortly, we got to a decent sized log that was partially rotten. Charles decided he could saw it out with his handsaw. It turned out to be more involved than originally thought, but we did end up removing it. A before shot (well, kind of a “during” shot):
And what it looked like after it was cut and pushed off the trail:
We stopped for lunch at the 3rd switchback and then continued up the trail. Up to that point, we had not seen any snow, but about 4500′ we saw our first snow on the trail:
The snow wasn’t too bad – it was intermittent and got kind of deep in spots, but we were able to keep going. When we got to the junction with the Tarzan Springs trail, Charles said he was going to turn around and head back down. Robert and I continued up the trail, and would join him back and the vehicles later. We made it up to the first rockslide, where we were treated to beautiful views of Mt Jefferson and Olallie Butte::
I had thought it would be fun to go up to the top of Burnt Granite, but once we started seeing the snow, I figured it would be too deep up there. Shortly before we hit the rockslide the snow disappeared, and the route up the hill (there is no trail left up there), seemed relatively clear, so we decided to head uphill to the saddle below Burnt Granite and then walk the ridge up to the top. It wasn’t TOO difficult, but we did encounter some significant snow drifts up on top, but we were able to get thru them. Once on top, we found a cut area, which was an old helispot:
I never knew that existed. Kind of a neat find.
We continued up the ridge until we got to the top of Burnt Granite, which is all covered in trees now:
We then continued over to the east side, just below the top where we found the post and telephone wire that we had found on a prior visit:
While we were up there, I took a video of Thor playing in the snow – he always cracks me up when he does this:
We spent a few minutes up on top, and then headed back down – eventually finding the trail. The way down was a little more covered in rhodies than the way up, but we managed to find the trail again, and then headed down. We lopped a few of the worst of the rhodies on the way down, but didn’t really do much – we were already running late. We ended up getting back to the truck about 6:00, which would put us back in town around 7:30. Charles was starting to wonder where were were! We decided to stop at Fearless on the way home – we were hungry – Charles had to get home so he didn’t join us. The burger and beer tasted really good after a hard day of hiking and trail work!
A great early summer day in the woods!
Location of Hike: Bissell, Old Baldy and White Iris Trails
Trail Number: 502
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Charles, Zack, Robert, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:25 PM End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 5.5 miles
I had been thinking of hiking MP3 up to the Rimrock trail and trying to get out to the overlook or maybe going up 4635 and the Cripple Creek up to Cache meadow. Charles had the great idea of doing a shuttle hike using the old Bissell Trail, Old Baldy and the White Iris trail. I was hoping that the Iris would be in bloom, but due to the late spring, it had unfortunately not bloomed yet.
He also said those of us who were “adventurous” could go down and explore the un-named lake below Old Baldy. That all sounded intriguing to me, so we all planned to head out early on Saturday morning. The plan was to leave one car at the White Iris Trailhead, then drive up to the Bissell Trailhead (about 2 miles up the road), and then hike the Bissell trail up to a point where we could head cross country over to the un-named lake below Old Baldy. After exploring the lake, we were going to go up to Old Baldy, and then head down the Old Baldy trail to its junction with the White Iris Trail and take that back to the 4615 road where we could retrieve the other car.
The day went off mostly as planned with the exception of the beginning of the White Iris trail. We ran into some serious snow on the Old Baldy trail, and were unable to continue following it, so we ended up going cross country in the general direction of the White Iris trail, hoping to find it. We eventually did, and followed it the rest of the way down.
OK, on to the play by play and photos of the day.
We made quick work of the Bissell trail, and although the uphil to get to the un-named lake below Old Baldy was physically difficult, it didn’t take too long. Once up the hill, we stopped at the top to eat lunch and rest a bit before heading downhill to the lake. There was this weird hanging snag next to where we ate lunch:
The only thing holding it up was the top branch on the snag next to it. Very odd, although it looks like it has been hanging there for quite some time, so it must be pretty solid.
After eating lunch, we headed down the steep slope to the lake. Just before the lake, Zack found this really cool cave-no sign of bears, however:
Continuing down the hill (it had gotten less steep by now), we found the un-named lake below Old Baldy:
But there was still LOTS of snow and ice at the lake – it was still mostly frozen over!:
We explored around the lake, and while doing so, Thor ended up kind of falling into the lake. I think he ran out on to the ice and it broke. It didn’t seem to bother him much, but he didn’t stay in the water too long. It had to be VERY COLD in that lake!
We ended up walking all the way around the lake, exploring the outlet and the other side of the lake. Once we had finished exploring, we headed back uphill. We opted to go a different way up, which was a bit less steep (although it was still pretty steep). In a few minutes, after much huffing and puffing, we made it around the east side of Old Baldy and found the trail up to the top. Kirk, Robert and I headed up and spent a few minutes on top while Zack and Charles waited on the trail below. Thor was enjoying himself on top of Old Baldy (there isn’t much of a view on top of Old Baldy – it isn’t very “bald” anymore):
After a few minutes on top, we headed back down (we heard Charles yelling for us down below). We continued south on the Old Baldy trail encountering very little snow – this was the largest patch of snow we saw (other than down by the lake) – until we got near the White Iris Junction:
We headed down the trail and soon found a beautiful viewpoint with views of many of the mountains to the north – Mt Hood and Wildcat Mountain from the viewpoint on Old Baldy trail:
After enjoying the view for a few minutes, we packed up and headed down the trail. We made good time until the trail crossed over the ridge onto a north facing slope and the snow got REALLY deep, REALLY fast (like from nothing to 3 or 4 feet of snow). We weren’t exactly sure where the junction was with the White Iris trail, but knew the map was wrong. Since the snow was making it really difficult to follow the trail, and it was also making it hard to walk, we decided to head downhill in the general direction of the White Iris trail and eventually found it. We soon got out of the snow in the woods, however there was still a LOT of snow at the 4614 road crossing on the White Iris trail:
We picked up the trail on the other side of the road and we had no problem finding and keeping the trail all the way back down to 4615. It was a little warm in the cut area going down the hill, since we were in the full sunshine. Fortunately, we were going downhill, and the exposed area wasn’t too long. Thor had apparently had enough though – about half way down the hill, he stopped in the shade behind a tree and laid down. I gave him some water and let him rest a bit and he was then ready to finish the trip. I think he was getting hot in the sun. Black fur makes it easy to get REALLY warm in the sun!
We did a fair amount of trail maintenance on this trip as well, doing a bit of lopping and cutting or moving quite a few trees off the trail.
A beautiful day in the woods with good friends. Per tradition, We stopped at Fearless for a great end to the day!
Location of Hike: Buck Lake Trail
Trail Number: 701
Weather during Hike: Cold, sunny at times, overcast others
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 10:20 AM End Time: 3:15 PM
Hike Distance: 6.7 miles
We got to the trailhead a little after 10:00, and found just a little bit of snow:
We headed up the short trail, and while I had planned on going to the lake and then going up, Zack had seen some segments of trail on previous hikes in the area, so we headed up the ridge off the trail about half way to the lake. We shortly found the first evidence of trail – a blaze and tread:
And a little farther up we found a very old cut log:
We continued up the ridge, mostly following blazes, but occasionally losing the trail in the snow. We finally arrived on top of the ridge, where the terrain flattens out. This area has been cut extensively in the past, so the trail goes in and out of cut areas, making it difficult to follow (especially in the snow, since it obscures many clues to the trail). There is also a tremendous amount of blowdown in places, making traversal quite difficult. Here is what it looks like on top in one of the easier to traverse spots:
In one particularly well maintained section, we did find some interesting artifacts. The tread was discernible and blazes were plentiful, and someone had worked on cutting out a number of downed logs. We also saw these “diamonds” along the way – Red, blue and one yellow one:
Our guess as to the purpose of these was to mark the trail for winter use – maybe snow shoeing or cross country skiing, but that was just a guess. They were high up on the trees, maybe 10-12′ high, placed at regular intervals marking the trail.
When we got up higher (we actually got up to about 4800′ in places), and got into some of the cut areas, the snow we getting a bit deep, and any semblance of trail was almost impossible to see. We were soaking wet from being rained on (melting snow from the trees) all day long, and decided to cut our losses and take the roads back rather than trying to go back the way we came. We figured it would be easier and much faster – I think that was a good call. We headed over to the 160 spur and hiked down to a point where it looked like it would be easier to go thru the woods. That also turned out to be a good call – in the uncut trees the snow was almost non existent and the underbrush was very easy to walk thru. We walked uphill back up to the flat area and then headed down the “nose” back to the 240 spur. On the way down, we encountered 3 or 4 of these rock outcroppings, which were really interesting. Here is the largest of the 4:
These would be interesting to explore – I think this one in particular would yield a nice view from the top. We didn’t want to climb it with all the snow on it. An adventure for another day.
We soon came to the 240 spur and headed back down to the trailhead. That was easy walking and we quickly made it back to the trailhead, and a warm truck. A stop at Fearless on the way home made for a great end to a great exploration. Probably the last high elevation one for this hiking season. This trail will stay on my list of “todos” for next year, for further exploration.
Location of Hike: MP3 and Rimrock Trails
Trail Number: 704
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Dave and Bodie (in spirit)
Start Time: 10:15 AM End Time: 3:45 PM
Hike Distance: 7.8 miles
Originally, I had planned to do the hike myself, but Dave and I had been emailing back and forth and he was interested in the MP3 trail, so I thought I could show him the trail and hike it up to Rimrock and then out to the overlook.
The weather was almost perfect. It was sunny and reasonably warm for a later October day but it was somewhat windy up on the overlook which was a bit chilly.
We met at the church and I drove up to the trailhead. We had great conversation on the way about all sorts of trails in the Clackamas district. Soon we got to the trailhead and shortly headed up the trail. We soon got to the first rockslide which had a neat view of the clouds still stuck in the valley:
We continued up the trail and eventually got to the junction with the Rimrock trail. We headed up Rimrock to the overlook where we had lunch.
After lunch, it was time to say my final goodbye to Bodie. I went out on the overlook, said goodbye and scattered his ashes to the wind. It was sad to say goodbye to a great hiking partner, but he had a good life, and 14 1/2 years is a good run for a dog. All good things must come to an end. Here was his ashes final resting spot:
After performing that sad task, I enjoyed the view of Mt Jefferson for a bit:
We were both getting cold so we quickly headed back downhill, trying to get the blood flowing. Near the overlook, I spied this thing I never noticed before, even though I’ve been up there numerous times:
After looking at the 1/4 section benchmark, we quickly headed downhill again. We made pretty good time going down, stopping a couple of times for water and also to soak up the sunshine in one of the rock fields. We got back to the truck about 3:45 and headed home.
A great (and also sad) day out in the woods.
Location of Hike: Lower Milepost 3 Trail and Oak Grove Work Center
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Don, Brian, Elizabeth, Jane
Start Time: 10:30 AM End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 1.3 miles
The agenda for this day was to do two things:
1- Explore below the 4635 road where the MP3 trailhead is, to try and find the trail down to Oak Grove
2 – Meet some of Rondy’s family at Oak Grove to get a tour of the buildings and hear about what it was like to live there 50 years ago.
We parked on car at Oak Grove and then drove up to the MP3 trailhead to start our explorations – we fanned out in the woods, and it bout 15 minutes, Kirk had found a phone line insulator:
Unfortunately, that was the only one we found, but at least it showed us where the tread was. Once we found that we worked back and forth from that point, flagging and doing some lopping ot make the route more apparent. Much of the route was overgrown with vine maple. Here is one section of tread (it looked much better in person):
We continued down the trail, flagging as we went until we got to a newer cut area where it kind of disappeared. We ended up finding the spur road that shows on the map – we had thought that maybe the spur road took out the trail since it headed in exactly the right direction. We followed it down until we were pretty much due north of Oak Grove and we saw a “corridor” thru the woods – we headed down that way, wondering if we might find some tread. On the way, we found these bird bones and Skull (kind of a weird find):
We ended up finding what seemed like tread in this area and it led down to 4630. We were running out of time, so we will have to come back and scope out the 3 areas that were kind of fuzzy – right below the road – the section before the spur road (180 spur) and then the last section above 4630.
We made it down to the Oak Grove work center and ate lunch. Shortly after we were done, Elizabeth came walking down the road, followed shortly by her husband and mom. A few minutes later, Brian came and joined us. We chatted for a bit and did introductions and then started looking at all the old buildings. We had viewed them over a year ago, but really didn’t have any context for any of the buildings. We had made guesses (and some of them were correct), but now we know what each building was for, and also the location of a couple of other buildings that are no longer there:
Unfortunately, there has been even more vandalism – now there is graffiti in at least a couple of the buildings. In Rondy’s old house, the chimney has been “tagged” and in the warehouse building, the walls are completely covered in graffiti now. It is very sad what is becoming of this place – it holds such history.
I thought I had photos of all the houses and buildings from our prior trip, but I only took a couple of photos – I will have to take more photos at some other time to preserve what is left of these buildings.
We also found out that the the meadow to the east was where the horses and mules grazed while they were there. They were taken somewhere lower in the winter, but spring, summer and fall they were there. Actually, most of the summer they were probably out on the trail, supplying the lookouts. In addition, we identified which of the 2 shop buildings was the sign shop (where all the cool signs were made) and which was just a shop.
After touring all the buildings, we drove back up the road to locate the location of the old Collawash Ranger Station. It was where I kind of thought it was – pretty much at the junction of the 4630 and 4631 roads – there is an open area in the woods where people now camp – that is where it used to be – just west of Silvertip (which used to be a logging camp). Once the Rippplebrook Ranger station was built, the Oak Grove and Collawash Ranger stations were combined in Ripplebrook and both of the others closed. At some point both buildings were destroyed.
After locating that, we went back to our car and drove back up to get the Van and come home. A stop at Fearless made for a great end to a great day out in the woods with great people.
A couple of closing photos:
Wintertime view of Oak Grove looking east (from 1959):
Lastly the beautiful view from Oak Grove – looking east (taken today):
Location of Hike: Milepost 3 Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:30 AM End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 3.4 miles
On the drive up, I was surprised I didn’t see more cars on the road going in. There were a few, but not many – more coming out than in. On the way in on the 4635 road, I got to see 3 or 4 deer (at least one fawn) cross the road – they bounded out of the woods and disappeared so fast I didn’t get a good look at them, but it was cool to see. More on the deer later…
We made it to the trailhead, parked and headed up. Since the last time I was here, someone has put up several pieces of flagging at the trailhead. It is hard to miss now.
We started up the trail, and I figured I’d do a little bit of maintenance-I ended up doing a lot more than I had planned. I didn’t think I was going to do much, so I didn’t bring my gloves, but I ended up doing quite a bit of brushing and removing oregon grape from the tread. It ended up doing quite a number on my hands, including a big blister on my index finger. Oh well, it will heal.
There was very little blowdown on the first part of the trail – mostly just branches and brush which I was trying to clean up. A half mile or so up the trail was a section where there were two very large trees that had come down a long time ago and both had been cut. One of them had slipped down the hill, so the cut had closed up:
I almost thought we were going to have to turn around, but after a bit, I finally got Bodie to let me help him jump over the log. There was an area that was much easier to get over since it had kind of a step, but he still needed help. At one point, he was trying to find a different way around and he kind of got stuck – his coordination and strength keeps declining due to his brain tumor. I went over help him, but he finally figured out how to get himself out of the situation he was in. Once over that log, the rest of the downed logs were pretty easy.
We continued up the trail, doing brushing, removing limbs and branches and removing oregon grape from the tread in particularly faint areas. Shortly, we came across this cougar scat:
It looks like cougar scat to me, and it looked like he had eaten something very close (a big pile of hair) and then done his business right on the trail. I guess he was warning others!
A little farther, we got our first snow – at about 3500 feet – it was intermittent:
A bit farther down the trail, we found this deer trail, going straight up and down the hill – there was lots of sign of deer on the trail (3 or 4 piles of deer pellets):
Continuing up the trail, we got to the upper rockslide where we had lunch. There is a nice view from here:
After lunch, we continued up and shortly got to the junction with the Rimrock trail:
We poked around a bit and it was already 2:00 (I had spent quite a bit of time on the way up doing maintenance), so we turned around and headed back down. On the way back down, I found this antler shed right in the middle of the trail – my first one! (I forgot to take a photo of it on the trail):
On the way back down, I noticed this interesting activity in this old cut log – something is very actively eating it. There was a pile of fresh sawdust on the ground under it:
Made it back to the truck about 3:00 and headed home. An absolutely wonderful, peaceful day in the woods on a beautiful old trail.
Location of Hike: South Fork Clackamas River - Old Waterworks
Weather during Hike: overcast, rainy and some sun
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Zack
Start Time: 9:45 AM End Time: 2:45 PM
Hike Distance: 4.75 miles
Photos will be coming soon.
This trip was to explore some of the burned areas up road 45 that were burned as part of the 36 pit fire a couple of years ago. The road has not re-opened, so we walked across the bridge and walked up the road. We weren’t quite sure what we were going to look for on this trip – one option was to explore portions of the old abandoned Memaloose trail, which still existed above (and below) road 45 before the fire.
We crossed the Memaloose bridge and headed up the road, looking at the fire damage on the hillside above the road. We also noticed that all the culverts on the road had been replaced. A new benchmark at the BLM property boundary appears to have been installed as well. I looked for the place where the Memaloose trail took off above the road, however nothing looked familiar to me – I had only been on it one time. We ended up walking up to the old borrow pit and looking around for trail there. We think Kirk found some trail on the ridge at the back side of the borrow pit.
Since we were not having much luck with that trail, we decided to go down and explore the old waterworks. We hadn’t been there in several years and wanted to see what things looked like after the fire. So, we headed across the road, down the old decommissioned road to the “trailhead” – and down the hill to Memaloose creek.
The route has been well traveled since we were last there, and someone has tied ropes down the steep traverse down to Memaloose creek. There are also some new slides which have made things a bit more challenging, but still not too bad. We opted not to go down to see Memaloose falls, and continued down the old road to the bridge at the confluence of Memaloose and the South Fork. It is amazing how much more you can see now that things have burned out. Zack noticed some very interesting rock formations on the east side of the South Fork at the confluence. You could never see things like that before. We also noticed a very long rock retaining wall at the confluence – where all the valves were – we had seen teh valves before, but never the extent of this rock wall – Kirk thinks there might have been some sort of shed roof over it at some point.
We continued up river to the big tunnels and the tall falls. Now that a lot of brush has been cleared, you can get a good look at the falls from various locations – before the only way to see the whole falls was to go down to river level. We got to the “bridge of death” and made our way around the bypass “trail” and then headed up thru the long tunnels. We popped out up on top – there wasn’t as much burn damage up there as I would have thought, though. It had started raining, and it was a good point for lunch, so we went back into the tunnel to eat lunch.
After eating lunch, we headed back down river. As we headed down, the sun actually came out! It was nice for the rain to stop – the sun felt good.
The fireline appears to have been right on that old road most of the way – above the road it was burned, but below it was mostly unburned – there were some big trees downhill from the road that were untouched. We made it back to the area of all the buildings and started looking for the old stove that I had seen someone post. Zack found it – it appears to have been essentially a dump site for this little encampment. There were a couple of old lawn mowers, the old cookstove, a couple of old doors from old cars (model A’s?) and just a bunch of junk. After looking at that for a bit, we headed over to the South Fork to see if we could find a tree to cross on – otherwise we would be heading back the way we came. Fortunately for us, there was a relatively new cedar tree that had come down over the river – Zack shimmied across and cut off the branches on the top so it was a relatively easy way to cross the river. We made it over to the east side and then started looking for the Memaloose trail that headed back up to the 45 road. Shortly we found some flagging and found the tread – still rather faint, but followable. This hillside was burned pretty heavily and there will be a LOT of snags coming down in the future years. As we made our way up the hill, you could see new brush growing in the tread. This area is very open now, so it getting lots of sunlight.
We made it back up to the road, and then headed back down to the truck. A great day in the woods with a couple of good friends. We stopped at Fearless for dinner and met up with some other friends.
Location of Hike: Eagle Creek Trail
Trail Number: 501
Weather during Hike: overcast and rainy at times
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 3:50 PM
Hike Distance: 10.8 miles
I didn’t get many pictures of the trail, since I’ve been there before. I did get this one from my favorite veiewpoint of Eagle Creek – about 4 miles down the trail or so:
This trail is beautiful once you get down to the creek – some pristine old growth forest. The trail follows the creek, and this day it was running pretty high, fast and loud. We made great time down the trail – before I knew it we had done 3.5 miles! We were getting close to the spot where Zack had marked the junction, so we slowed down a bit to be able to look at all the potential junctions. We soon found this junction (which was more apparent in person):
And here is a close up of one of the trees at this junction, which used to have a sign:
From here on is where this hike got really interesting. We wandered up what looked like old tread, finding a cut log and a blaze. Shortly, we found these very old, but obviously milled boards (covered in very thick moss):
These were obviously man made, not natural, so we wandered around trying to see if we could find more, or maybe what they were part of. We thought maybe they were part of a bridge across the nearby unnamed creek, but could not find a clear crossing point. We continued poking around and then I came across this old sign laying on the ground!
This area was kind of strange looking, like had been a lot of disturbances in the area. Like a camp, maybe. Lots of open, flat ground. We continued searching the area, and then found the first of a set of posts:
We were postulating that these might have been “hitching posts” to tie horses to – they obviously had some sort of cross brace on them at one point in time. We ended up finding 5 sets of them in the area.
We wandered over to a very open area, and I spotted this unusual item – an old watering trough:
The next find was really weird – Zack was commenting that “you’d think we would see some sort of fire pit around here” – I looked down and saw a heavily moss covered fire pit! We removed the moss and found a concrete fire pit underneath:
Looking around the area of the firepit, I found several more milled pieces of wood, a few of which were notched:
These looked to be remnants of a picnic table – the notches were at an angle that would match what you’d see on a picnic table and there were some longer boards like you would have for the top.
We continued searching the area for a while, looking for more artifacts, but other than some more cut logs, didn’t really find anything else – but what we found was quite enough! We headed back down to the trail to find a spot for lunch. We stopped at a spot next to the creek and ate our (late) lunch. We then headed back down the trail to the truck. We made really good time on the way back, just as we had on the way in. The weather alternated between almost sunny, drizzly and rainy as it had all day long. I was a bit worried we would not make it back out by dark, but we got back to the truck before 4.
We headed back to Estacada for a celebratory strong scotch ale at Fearless and then headed home. For an unexpected hike, this was an AWESOME day! Thanks, Zack for pulling me out of the house!
Location of Hike: Fanton Trail
Trail Number: 505
Weather during Hike: Cloudy, snowy, rainy and windy
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:45 AM End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: ~5.5 miles (GPS flaked out)
Today’s hike had two parameters:
- It had to be accessible (snow)
- It had to be easy enough for Bodie
In looking at snow levels and trail elevations, I thought the Fanton trail might fill the bill. It seemed low enough and it seemed relatively level – we could also turn around at any point. It has also been quite a while since I’ve hiked this trail.
So, off we went – got a bit of a late start, but that was OK since this was going to be a pretty short hike anyway. We got to the trailhead about 10:30 or so. We just hit snow about 2800′ – right before we got to the trailhead. As I was getting ready, I noticed what appeared to be a continuation of the trail on the west side of 4613. After getting ready, we headed across the road and sure enough, there was a BEAUTIFUL trail there! Easy to follow and nice tread:
We followed it for about a quarter of a mile until the edge of the FS property where it abruptly ended:
There was a recent clearcut on that property which obliterated whatever was left of the trail thru there. Too bad – looking at the old maps, it looks like it went west until it hit an old road in the area called Fanton (I’m guessing that is where the trail got its name). There used to be a school and guard station there and what looked to be a small community.
Well, enough old trail exploring. We turned around and headed back to 4613 – it had some slushy snow on it:
And then I took a photo of the trailhead – not much signage – I guess this trail missed out on the stimulus money a few years ago where all the trailheads got new signs:
Bodie was raring to go – he was ahead of me all day long! I was surprised how well he did. Even jumping over logs!
This trail, although not spectacular is very pleasant to hike. It is basically a ridge walk thru some very nice forest and a variety of ecosystems. Not a ton of views, but there are a few. When we started out, there was really no snow on the trail (just a tiny bit on the road), but as we got higher, snow started appearing, especially in the more open areas of the trail. It was quite the winter wonderland farther down the trail:
When we got up to the old road along a clearcut (don’t know what the number was, it doesn’t show on my maps), there are some good views looking south. I was surprised we could see much on this day. I’m not sure, but I think this might be Fish Creek Mountain and Whalehead in the distance:
The snow was getting pretty deep on that old road:
We continued down the trail, fighting the wind (it actually blew off my hat at one point) and the snow bombs off the trees as the snow melted and the wind gusts came thru and blew it off. Not too much farther down the trail, we decided to turn around. It was getting a bit much and the snow was getting deeper and deeper – And the wind seemed to be getting stronger. I kind of wanted to get to the junction with the parking area that most people take – the one that goes up the Squaw/Tumala Mountain. But we had gone far enough.
On the way back, I found this cool old blaze and sign after a road crossing:
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We quickly arrived back at the truck. By that time, 4613 was pretty much melted out. Since it was still early, I decided to drive up 4613 and hit 4610 and see how far up I could get. I encountered a lot of traffic on 4610, mostly mudders who had been up higher. I made it to about 3500′, and decided to turn around. It wasn’t too bad, but I was by myself and I really didn’t want to get stuck. I got to within about .75 miles of Lookout Springs I think. We turned around and headed back down and headed home.
A short hike for a short day. But it was nice to get out and I’m glad Bodie had fun.
Location of Hike: Baty Butte Trail
Trail Number: 545
Weather during Hike: Foggy in the morning, Partly Sunny later
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:55 AM End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 5.7 miles
We headed out a little later than normal – it was kind of foggy and looked like rain – but that was supposed to clear up and be partly sunny in the afternoon.
It has been several years since I’ve been here, and on the way up the 7010 road, it was obvious that thinning has been going on for a while. The forest looked really good where they had thinned. The road up to the point where the thinning stops was in great shape (obviously because of the thinning projects). Beyond that, the road deteriorated a bit – got narrower and a little rougher, but wasn’t bad.
We were driving thru the clouds on the way up to the trailhead – I was hoping that the clouds would burn off so we could have some views later in the day. We passed the Culvert replacement on 7010 at Blister/Stroupe creek that stopped us the last time I was here in 2011. That project is long complete now. We finally hit the 7010-160 spur road that takes you up to the trailhead. One the way up, we ran into a BUNCH of new, DEEP waterbars in the road:
You have to take these VERY slowly as some of them are VERY deep. I’m not sure a passenger car could navigate some of these.
We arrived at the trailhead and headed down the trail. Very quickly, we found some VERY recent trail maintenance!
A big thank you to whoever did this work. Both logging and brushing were done VERY recently.
As we proceeded down the trail, we came to the first rockslide and found brilliant fluorescent fall colors – this photo doesn’t even begin to do it justice – the colors were so vibrant – it was amazing!
We came to the junction and headed north/east – the goal was to get to the top of Baty Butte and have lunch there. On the way, I met a bow hunter (he was VERY quiet-didn’t even know he was there until we were right on top of him) and later we met another couple – the husband had a bow but said he really wasn’t hunting.
As we progressed east, we went under the “white spot” of Baty Butte, and it looked like the east ridge might be a viable way to get up to the top. At an opportune place, we started up the east ridge – we found what appeared to be old tread heading up, but shortly got cliffed out (it got VERY steep and narrow – didn’t want Bodie to trip and fall), so decided to come back down. On the way down, we found what appears to be an old water bar in the tread:
Definitely didn’t look natural – I’m very sure this was some sort of trail at one time. We headed back down the trail to the west side ridge – to a switchback with an obviously homemade sign that said “Bracket Mountain” and pointed north. Figured maybe there was some sort of user trail, so we headed that way. The “tread” didn’t last long, so we ended up basically just walking more or less east – essentially straight uphill – near the top of the hill we found old tread and figured this must go to the top. Well, after going back and forth on the tread, and finding the spot on the east side where we had been earlier, it was obvious that there was no recognizable (at least I didn’t see it) tread to the top – we were VERY close, so we just headed uphill a bit and finally made it to the top of Baty Butte. It was a little bit of a letdown – since it was an old lookout location, I was hoping to find some remnants of the lookout – at least something. We found nothing – it is a very small area with steep dropoffs on all sides, so we had to be careful. Some nice views, however:
Looking west to the Molalla drainage:
Looking south/southwest back to where we started:
And there was a geocache at the very top:
We ate lunch and headed back down the west ridge – we followed the trail down – it wasn’t much of a trail, heading pretty much straight down the hill (it was REALLY steep). On the way down the hill, I literally tripped over this piece of old phone line:
We finally found the real trail again and headed southwest down the trail. When we got to the southern part of the trail, it was obvious it hadn’t had much activity. It was VERY brushy in places and had quite a bit of blowdown. We ended up hiking about a mile south of the junction, and in that mile, we counted about 40 trees down – and some spots in the trail are almost completely grown over with brush. This portion of the trail needs a bit of love.
Just south of the junction, there was this neat view of Baty Butte and Mt Hood (which had emerged from the clouds finally):
And a little farther, one of the cool side hill meadows (the first one as you head south):
And the neat ridge walking in the trees – this is just really cool to me:
We walked down the trail for about a mile and I could tell Bodie was getting tired. We were nearing our turnaround time anyway, so I decided to turn around and come back. I think it was just about the perfect length for Bodie. Had we not expended so much time and energy trying to climb to the top of Baty Butte, we could have gone farther south, but I was glad I finally got to see the top of the Butte.
A very nice and pleasant day in the woods.
Location of Hike: MP3 and Rimrock Trails
Trail Number: 704 and 705
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Emily, Carly and Zack
Start Time: 10:25 AM End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 7.75 miles
Kirk had asked if I wanted to go hiking too, and when his daughter heard my daughter was going, she wanted to go too! So, it was 4 of us. Then, Zack texted me in the morning asking about some other trail, and I told him where we were going and said he was welcome to join us if he wanted. We weren’t sure if he would be coming or not. It turned out to be quite a party!
We headed out about 9am and make good time to the trailhead. Took us a few minutes to find the MP3 trailhead (it isn’t marked), and then we went on our way. On the way up, we did quite a bit of lopping in some of the tougher sections. Even though the MP3 trail is abandoned, it is in pretty good shape. In its heyday, I think the trail got a lot of use from pack trains coming from Oak Grove Ranger Station down below.
On the way up, Kirk noticed a big tree – kind of behind another big tree – a REALLY big tree:
And a little further up the trail, we ran across this reminder of prior maintenance on the MP3 trail – probably the last time it had any significant maintenance:
As we were doing some lopping, Zack came up the trail and joined us. It was a great surprise! After chatting, we continued up the trail, clearing brushy areas and navigating around the few pieces of blowdown. Once we got close to the junction with the Rimrock trail, we ran into the somewhat messy area – there is a fair amount of blowdown near the junction. We stopped and had lunch at the junction and then proceeded up the Rimrock trail to the overlook junction. The Rimrock trail had quite a lot of blowdown on it:
And right next to the trail, we came across this rack from a deer – looks like it has been out here for a while – quite green and gnawed on:
We were very surprised at how little snow there was. This was the most snow we ran across the whole trip – at the most there was maybe 12″ of snow on the ground – but you can see other spots were completely bare:
We continued going up, and soon got to the overlook area where there was still almost no snow – the overlook is just over 5000′. It is shocking that there is essentially no snow at 5000′ on the last day of January. We headed out to the point, where you get great views in almost all directions – this is looking south at Mt Jefferson:
We stayed up on the point for a while, enjoying the wonderful views and taking pictures. Since it was starting to get late, and we wanted to make one more stop before it got dark, we decided to head down the hill. We made GREAT time coming down, and got back to the vehicles about 4:30 – just enough time to stop at the old Oak Grove Work Center to look at some of the old houses and buildings. This was the precursor to the Ripplebrook complex and it is where the MP3 trail actually started (not sure if it is still accessible down lower or not). It has a few houses, a shop, a bunk house and other miscellaneous buildings and a big old barn. The barn was getting a new metal roof, so they must be planning on doing something with it. Here is a picture of one of the houses:
Although the houses have been heavily vandalized and have a LOT of mouse/squirrel/rodent activity in them, they have some really neat architectural details inside. Here is a view of a really neat fireplace in one of the houses:
We walked around to the various buildings and then made our way up to the old barn. By this time it was starting to get dark, so we headed back to the vehicles and home. We stopped at Fearless for dinner. A great way to end a great day of hiking!
Location of Hike: Old Trail East of the Battle Creek Shelter
Weather during Hike: Sunny, but cold and windy
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 2:10 PM
Hike Distance: 4.4 miles
So I had the day off (Veteran’s Day) and went up and hiked this trail. Thanks to the wonderful description, and a copy of the track, we were able to follow most of the trail. It gets pretty iffy in the middle – LOTS of blowdown and the tread gets less discernible along with LOTSs of rhodies. It is obvious this trail has not seen real work in a long time – and no hikers for a long time either. The tread is covered in moss, but most of the route does have intact tread. It is actually pretty amazing that it is still hikeable (although with a fair bit of difficulty). A day or two of lopping/brushing and maybe a bit more flagging in a few spots would make this trail relatively easy to hike.
We headed up the old road to find the cairn that marked the start of the trail. The directions I was given were very good, and we had no problem finding it. We headed through a rhodie thicket (on old downed logs to minimize the fighting the rhodies) and soon came to the other side of the rhodie meadow – we found tread! And flags! We followed these for quite a ways pretty easily. In the middle the trail starts to get rather vague – I think we pretty much kept to the tread (there are blazes all along the way). We continued down the trail until we found a flat spot with an old old sign:
We continued on down to the creek – at the creek there are a LOT of REALLY BIG logs down, which were a challenge to navigate around. We decided not to cross the creek – it was pretty cold and the creek runs pretty high. We stopped to have lunch, enjoy the sights and sounds of the creek, and then headed back up the hill.
Going back up was a little tougher than coming down. We lost the trail a couple of times at difficult points, but picked it back up after getting our bearings and looking around a bit. On the way back up we found a few interesting things. One was a section marker cut into a tree – this was very close to a section line – kind of cool:
This tree looked like it was the location of old sign maybe?
This next photo might have been an old junction – it was just about at the halfway mark on the trail. You can’t really see much tread to the right (the trail heads to the left – you can see a flag). But the tree to the right looks double blazed and it looks just like an old junction would look – and there is a bit of tread heading down to the right – it just doesn’t go too far:
And lastly, on the way home I took this very sad photo of Detroit Lake – I don’t know if is it always this low this time of year or not. Wondering if they drain it down really low to allow water to accumulate over the winter? It looks like the water level is at least 50′ below where it should be. All those docks are sitting WAY high and dry.
When we got back to the truck, I realized it was colder than I thought – my boot laces were FROZEN! But we left feeling good that we could find this very old trail. A bit chilly (the heater in the truck felt REALLY good), but satisfied at successfully hiking another old abandoned trail.
Location of Hike: Horseshoe Saddle, Ruddy Hill and Skyline Trails
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 10:30 AM End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: ~5 Miles
On the way up, all the rough roads shook up my bladder so I needed a break. We stopped at the Olallie Meadow campground to use the outhouse. While there, Zack happened to spot tread! We hiked it a ahort way just to see where it went. I realized this must be the old Skyline trail when it was routed near the meadow. After scouting that out for a short way we headed back to the truck and checked out the guard station/cabin (not sure its official name):
It was unlocked so we went in and looked at it. It was cool to see a structure that is probably close to 100 years old (built in the 20s?):
And soaked in the views of the huge Olallie Meadow:
After checking that out for a bit, we headed on up to Olallie Lake – we stopped at the store to look around (since Zack had never been there before). It was rather breezy, which was putting whitecaps on the lake. After enjoying the view of the lake fora bit, we headed up to Horseshoe Lake campground. Well, I didn’t do any real planning – the plan was to meet at the campground and hike the Horseshoe saddle trail (which has the sign on it). Well, never having met them in person before, I wasn’t sure who to look for, but I kind of figured 3 women camping would be easy to spot. Zack asked if I knew what they drove and I said “that would have been a good question to ask!”. Looking around the campsites, we didn’t see anyone who fit the bill – we asked a couple people and they kind of looked at us strangely. We decided to hike the trail and then head up to Ruddy Hill – maybe we would meet them on the trail. So, off we started down the trail. Shortly, we came to the new sign, which was very well done:
We continued down the trail, reaching the saddle shortly and then headed north on the PCT to the short, but steep Ruddy Hill trail. Huffing and puffing, we finally arrived at the summit of Ruddy Hill, were the first thing we saw was the old phone box. A little worse for wear than the last time I saw it, it continues to stand (barely):
We took in the incredible views from up on this aptly named hill:
We decided to eat lunch on the hill, enjoying the views. Once done with lunch, we headed back down the trail. When we got to the campsite, we looked around to see if anyone new had arrived. For some reason, I was thinking they were going to stay Friday and Saturday nights, but I was wrong – they were only staying Saturday night and had gotten a late start from town. Needless to say, we didn’t find them, so we decided to head out. We figured maybe plans had changed or something else happened. Having a bunch of extra time in the day, since we were so close, I asked Zack if he wanted to go explore a section of the old Skyline Trail that Donovan had shown me a couple of years before. I guess that was going to be “plan B”….. On the way, we decided to stop at Olallie Meadows and do a little more checking of that section of the Skyline trail. We went back and got on the trail segment again and hiked north a short ways. Zack found a really cool artifact – an old fence/hitching post along the edge of the meadow – they are kind of hard to see in the photo, but they are in a line – all leaning to the right in the center of the photo:
We also found a blaze:
After poking around, finding a couple more fence posts on the ground, we decided to head out and go up to the other junction I had been shown a couple of years before. We headed up an old decommissioned road to the point where the trail crossed it. We could either go north or south. We opted to go north. Following the trail was difficult in parts, but we kept finding blazes. Up the trail a little ways, we found another interesting artifact – an old phone line insulator – it is kind of hard to see in this photo – it blends in with the tree behind it:
We continued north, finding tread and blazes – the trail gets pretty wide near an old grazing/watering hole. We ended up kind of running out of time, but since the trail pretty much ran parallel to the road (the 4220 road), we decided to go a bit farther and then hike over to the road and back to the truck. We figured it would be MUCH faster than climbing over all the logs we came thru and we could go a bit farther up the trail. So we ended up going a little farther than a mile up the trail and then headed over to the road and back to the truck. The trip back to the truck was a LOT faster than the trip in. Note for future explorations – we can head over on the road and then start where we stopped to continue north.
It was a good day of trail exploring. Not quite what was planned, but we had a good time. The big event happened on the way home. Not too far from Estacada on Highway 224, we got stopped by a flagger. We didn’t know what was going on, but we heard a helicopter and were stopped for 10-15 minutes. I got out and asked the flagger what was going on and he said there was a fire – once I was out of the truck and around the corner, I could see a smoke plume up on the canyon wall. It was a pretty good fire, that was certain. We watched the helicopter do about 3 or 4 runs, dipping his bucket in the river and then heading up to the fire to drop it. They did not want cars going under the helicopter due to safety concerns. After those runs, the helicopter stopped for a bit and they let us go. After we got past the fire, Zack took a couple photos of the fire out the read window of the truck:
It was obvious this was a large fire and growing quickly – it started right above the quarry at milepost 36 sometime during the day. I guess it is named the “Pit 36 fire”. As of today, the fire is still growing and they have closed highway 224 – hopefully they will get it under control soon. It was a very somber way to end the day.
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: Lower Burnt Granite Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Don and Murphy
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 2:15 PM
Hike Distance: 3.5 miles
We headed up to the road where the “current” Burnt Granite trail takes off from – but that starts down the road a bit. The section where this crossed the road was clearcut, and so the current trail uses an old cat road to begin. In due time, maybe the original tread can be located in the clearcut and the original path restored. Who knows. (edit – the original route has been found! And restored!!) It is just cool to see this very old path. It will make a great wintertime trail – could be used to snowshoe – start at the bottom, hike up to snow, then put on showshoes to go higher.
On the way back down, we took a slight detour to the un-named creek – there is a user/game trail down to it that is flagged with blue and white flagging. A neat little creek.
On the way back home, we stopped to explore the old Memaloose trail off road 45. We didn’t go too far up the trail, but we did find some old cut logs:
And even cooler, we found an old benchmark tree!
After exploring that trail for a short ways, we headed back down and wanted to stop at fearless for a pint, but found out they are closed on Tuesdays! So, we headed over to another bar in town and had a pint there – not the same as Fearless, but still tasted good.
Both of these trails will be on my list to explore further.
Location of Hike: South Fork Water Pipeline
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Zack
Start Time: 10:15 AM End Time: 3:40 PM
Hike Distance: 3 miles
The day started at the location of the old “Oregon City Water Patrol Station” (that is how it is labeled on the maps). The house is no longer there, however there is a nice big pullout and lots of parking there. Kirk brought his canoe and the plan was to canoe across the river over to the landing on the other side and then follow the pipeline trail north as far as we could.
The trip across the river went easier than expected – the current in the middle of the river was relatively fast, but it was pretty narrow – on the far side of the river was an eddy that was actually moving upstream! Anyway, we quickly made it across the river, got the canoe out of the water and then proceeded to find the pipeline grade. Doing this trip in the winter is really the best option for two reasons: 1 – there is LOTS of woody brush (salmonberry, blackberry, various grasses) that would be tough to navigate in the summer. 2 – There is a fair amount of poison oak along the pipeline grade – in the winter it is dormant, so it a lot easier to move past without getting itchy.
We wandered around a bit, and finally found the pipeline grade and started our trip north. I had forgotten how rough this “trail” was – and I think it has gotten worse since I was here last. We struggled with the downed trees and brush and it seemed the farther north we went, the worse it got. I finally had enough of it, and pulled out my little pruning saw and started cutting some branches. Zack had just given me new loppers, but I didn’t bring them, thinking I would not need them – that was a mistake. The pruning saw helped a lot, but loppers would have made it easier. Kirk soon took over the pruning saw, and I got out my hand pruners. There is a LOT more clearing that needs to be done on that trail, but we made a bit of an improvement. Here is some of what we had to go around (and there was a lot worse that I didn’t take photos of:
Here is Zack and Kirk clearing a particularly rough spot:
Once we got past the “cliffy” parts of it, just north of the bend where we started, the going improved a bit, but it was still rather brushy:
Although you couldn’t see the pipeline itself most of the way, these coax cables were visible almost the entire route – they made it pretty easy to follow the route of the pipeline:
Sometimes they were buried in the duff, sometimes they were stretched in mid air (like guard rails almost) – this photo also shows a big downed log that was cut at some point long ago – it wasn’t cut all the way through, but a notch was made in it – it was cut so long ago the notch was now at ground level:
A little farther up the trail, we found this item – Kirk thought it was a device to bleed off air from the pipeline, which kind of makes sense since it seemed to be at a high point along the pipe:
We continued north, following the river – the route improved a bit, and we even got to some rock slide areas where the grade was very good (if you look closely, you can see the coax cables in the lower left of the image):
Around one of these rock slides, an interesting/scary thing happened: When Kirk moved a log off the trail and threw it downhill, the rocks started giving way – a mini slide occurred. We were waiting for it to take out the trail, but it didn’t (thankfully). It did slide a LOT of rock downhill however.
Continuing north along the grade, we finally found the tunnels we had heard about. The tunnels did not start at the cliff face directly north of the bend in the river, they started a lot farther north. Here is the entrance to the first of four tunnels:
They were not very large – and seemed to get smaller the farther north we got. The first one was big enough to stand up in, but just barely
This was a very weird sight inside the first 3 tunnels. Groups of daddy long legs spiders and crickets, all grouped together. We had no idea what was going on there, but it was really weird looking:
At the entrance to the second tunnel, Kirk found an old insulator laying on the floor of the tunnel – it was kind of a weird place to find one:
All of the tunnels were in the cliff behind an “island” in the river. I’m not sure it is actually an island, but it does have a slough going alongside the cliff on the north side, and looks kind of like an island. This is the view from between two of the tunnels looking out at the flat area between the cliffs and the river:
Inside the 3rd tunnel, we had to walk on top of the pipe – there was up to a foot of water in the tunnel and it made for difficult going:
When we got to the other end, we found out why – a landslide had blocked up part of the tunnel exit and there was water dripping down into the tunnel from runoff. I”m sure during wetter parts of the year, this tunnel has a lot more water in it. Here is the exit of the tunnel – that straight thing is not a piece of the pipeline, but a tree that had fallen downhill – you can’t even see the pipeline, just the small tunnel exit:
The last tunnel had what looked like a piece of petrified wood in the ceiling of it:
And it also has a curve in it:
At the end of the 4th tunnel, the pipe takes a hard turn and goes straight down to the water – it is kind of hard to see in this photo because the pipe is covered in moss and ferns, but it goes downhill at probably a 60-70 degree angle until right above the water and then turns north right above the waterline:
On the way back someone noticed this interesting “glaze” on the wall of one of the tunnels:
It reminded me of stuff I remember seeing in the Oregon Caves. When looking it up, they referred to this as calcite deposits. It looks like it is soft, but it feels just like rock (although smooth).
After exiting the 4th tunnel, and realizing we were pretty much at the end of our route, since the pipeline went down to the water and seemed to head at waterline for a while, we decided to head up to the top of the hill and see what we could see – we got up there and saw a very difficult bushwhack. We decided this would be our turnaround point, so we stopped for lunch.
Heading back was pretty uneventful, and considerably faster than the trip in, since we had done all that clearing on the way in. We enjoyed some of the many cliffs on the way back:
We made good time back, and since we were a little early, we decided to go explore a little ways up the “Gipper” trail – it heads up and over the hill over to Hillockburn. I have been on that trail a couple of times and it offers some really nice views (this picture was taken on a trip in 2012):
After exploring up the Gipper trail a bit, we headed back down, back to the canoe, and made our way back across the river without incident. Kirk had to go home to a family dinner, but Zack and I headed to Fearless for a beer and some sweet potato fries. On our way back, we stopped to look at the point we got to, in order to see where the pipeline went. While we were looking we saw an AWESOME sight – A Bald Eagle flew up from the river into a tree! As we made our way down river, the eagle followed us for a bit. They are absolutely beautiful creatures, and it was amazing to see in the wild. An amazing way to spend an incredible winter day in the Clackamas. It felt more like a fall day!
Location of Hike: Shellrock Lake, Cutoff Trail (between Shellrock Lake and Cache Meadow), East end of Grouse Point Trail and finally, Frazier Mountain
Weather during Hike: Partly Cloudy
Hiking Buddies: Don
Start Time: 10:25 AM End Time: 3:35 PM
Hike Distance: 7.3 miles
Since Don knew the cutoff trail location, and he also wanted to go up on Frazier Mountain, he came with me. We started at the Shellrock Lake trailhead parking lot about 10:30 under sunny skies. Shellrock lake starts through a clearcut, and it pretty open and hot, but thankfully, it wasn’t too warm this day. Almost immediately after entering the forest from the clearcut, there are 2 posts on the side of the trail (wonder what they used to say?). This was our clue to head uphill to find the cutoff trail. You only have to head uphill 100 yards or so and you’ll see blazes and the trail. It is in pretty good shape – amazing shape actually, for a trail that is no longer used. We made our way up this trail until we came to the first “excitement” of the day – a nest of wasps/hornets/yellow jackets that had been dug up next to the trail (just like the hike from 2 days ago where I got stung 3 or 4 times). I tried REALLY hard to be careful around it, but I ended up getting stung on my left hand anyway. STUPID BEES! Don gave me some Benadryl which helped a bit.
The trail starts getting a little sketchy towards the bottom of the hill, but following blazes helped us stay the course. Once it gets to the bottom where it starts getting wet, we kind of lost it for a bit, but quickly located some more blazes and then it was easy to follow to the point where it meets the Grouse Point trail near Cache Meadow. We headed west on the Cache Meadow trail until we got to the site of the old cabin there:
We walked a little farther east, to the point where the Cache Meadow trail intersects, and then turned around. We got a good view of Cache Meadow “proper”:
And found an interesting sign that had been eaten by a tree (not exactly sure what it said):
And another sign that looked like a woodpecker attacked it:
Once we got done looking around Cache Meadow, we turned around and started heading east up the Grouse Point trail. Up the hill….to the first rockslide of the day:
And finally to the end of the old Frazier road, which is now trail:
The road continued southwest from where the trail meets it, however we did not explore that section. We had other things to explore this day. We proceeded up the old road, which was really nice walking – to the next rockslide:
On a clear day, it would have an AWESOME view of Mt Hood, but on this day, it was hiding in the clouds. Here is what the old road looked like through the rockslide:
We continued up the road until we got to Frazier Turnaround. Another old trail that interested me was the old South Fork Roaring River (511) trail. Supposedly there was a junction off the Serene Lake trail not too far from the beginning. Don had seen it quite a few years ago, and we headed up to see if we could find it. We didn’t go too far, but couldn’t find the old junction – a quest for another day. We stopped to eat lunch at Frazier Turnaround and then headed back down the Grouse Point trail (east) to a jump off point to make our way up to the top of Frazier Mountain. Our plan was just to walk the ridge from the road up to the top of Frazier Mountain. We did, and it wasn’t long before we found an old trail!
The trail is pretty overgrown, but we guessed this must have been the route before the road was built. Once up on top, we got some great views:
And found evidence of the old phone box and phone line:
One more interesting thing – Don had seen from one of the old lookout photos (from the 30’s) a very clear “line” across a rockslide above the South Fork Roaring River – it certainly looked like a very clear trail. Since we were up at a similar vantage point, we decided to see if we could see the same “line”. The view was a little more obscured due to the trees being much larger, but we did see a very clear “line” on the rockslide:
This anomaly really needs to be investigated. That trail heading up the South Fork would be AWESOME if it could be located. This visual clue certainly looks like a trail, however it will be need to be investigated up close to determine exactly what this “line” is. Maybe it is the first hard evidence that the 511 actually exists?
Once we enjoyed the view from the top, we followed some blazes west until we hit the flat area west of the summit of Frazier Mountain at which point we lost the trail – so we just headed south to go back to the Grouse Point trail. Once on the trail, we headed back to the junction with the Shellrock Lake trail and headed down the 700 trail until we got to Shellrock Lake:
We took in the views of the lake (and the MANY campsites surrounding it) and continued back towards the beginning of our journey.
We got back to the parking lot around 3:30 – a day well used and lots of new things found and as usual, more items to explore another day.
A short stop at Fearless in Estacads for a beer made a great ending to the day.
Location of Hike: Rimrock and MP3 Trails
Trail Number: 704
Weather during Hike: Cool and Overcast (we hiked in the clouds most of the day)
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:50 AM End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: 7.5 miles
We started off in the morning, and it was pretty cool – especially for an August morning. I almost put a jacket on when I started, but figured I would warm up soon enough-which I did. I had high hopes that the clouds/fog/mist would burn off, but that did not happen to any great extent. We did have a few moments later in the day when the sun came out for a few brief moments, but most of the day was in the clouds and fog. That was OK – it was still a great day.
This gives you a sense of what it was like hiking in the fog:
On the way up, I had wanted to see if I could find the junction with the MP3 trail. I remember the last time I was there, I saw some flagging, and thought that might be the junction. Although I didn’t see any trail at the flagging, I followed it a bit to an interesting little seasonal stream (or at least that is what it looked like):
We explored that a bit, and quickly realized that was not the junction. We continued on our way to the overlook trail. When we got there, this was our view for the day:
Not much of a view. Even the “point” which normally is an exceptional view of the valley was completely socked in:
We didn’t even venture out to it. We stayed on the main landing (near the old helicopter landing pad) and ate lunch and enjoyed the spot. After eating lunch and watering up a bit, we headed back down the trail. One thing I noticed while hiking down was how wide the trail corridor was. It is getting somewhat overgrown, but where it goes through the trees, you can see a very wide corridor. I’m thinking this must have been a pretty major re-supply route for the lookouts. I could just imagine a long pack trail of horses/mules with supplies headed down this trail:
After getting back to the junction with Rimrock, we continued up the trail to the point where it starts its short descent to road 5830 and the Cottonwood meadows trail. Normally, you get a pretty good view here, but not today:
There is a cool rock field on this end of the trail, though:
We (I) didn’t really want to do the descent to the 5830 road, since we would just have to turn around and come back up, so we turned around at this point and headed back. I had some time (a little), so I decided to look for that junction with the MP3 trail. After reviewing the trail info sheet, I realized the junction was near the start of the trail, right after the first overlook viewpoint. So, I carefully looked to the south for any evidence of a trail junction. While I was thinking, I remembered seeing a 704 sign on a tree – I thought that was an odd place for a trail sign, but then thought that must be where the junction is – signs are usually at or near junctions to identify trails. I figured it was near a jog in the trail – I was RIGHT! The problem was that there was so much blowdown, it was obscuring the MP3 trail and its junction:
I saw a “hole” on a tree that used to have a sign on it – I’m guessing this sign used to identify the MP3 trail (whatever it was originally called). After following the cut logs for a bit, I found the trail and followed it down a bit. I did some trail maintenance, removing sticks and rocks and doing some brushing – it was in quite a bit worse shape than I remember it being when I hiked it last. I don’t think it has seen many boots on it in a few years. Here is a before and after photo of a section of trail we cleared:
We hiked down to the first rock field, clearing as we went, and by that time, the fog was beginning to lift a bit and we got a bit of a view:
Shortly after that, I looked at the time I realized I needed to head back, so back up the hill we went. The rest of the MP3 trail would need to wait for another day. It is a cool trail….The rest of the trip back was pretty uneventful, except for right around the marshy/swampy area. I saw this on the way in, and wanted to make sure and pick it up on the way out:
The balloon said “We miss you Marcos”. I wonder who Marcos was, and why they released a balloon for him? Kind of sounds like a sad story. Anyway, I picked up the balloon and took it home to dispose of it properly.
Arriving back at the truck about 4:00, we headed home – a great (cool) day in the woods!
Location of Hike: Upper Falls- South Fork Clackamas River - Old Memaloose Trail
Weather during Hike: Mostly overcast - a little misty but with some sun breaks
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 9:15 AM End Time: 6:00 PM
Hike Distance: 7.9 miles
Here is panorama photo of the waterfall amphitheater:
This is a really cool waterfall – a very unique amphitheater with three separate water “falls” – two from the river (it splits into two streams at the top), and one on the side from a creek. The water was running so fierce today it was really roaring and churning as it hit the pool at the bottom.
After enjoying the waterfall(s) for a while, we scouted our route out of the amphitheater. Rather than bushwhack 800′ back up to the trail and then go back down the Hillockburn to the river, we opted to bushwhack upstream. I think that was a good choice, as it was only a little over a quarter of a mile to bushwhack. Although it wasn’t easy, I think it was easier than going back up the hill. Once we got to the campsite at the bottom of the Hillockburn trail, we stopped for a break and had lunch. After lunch (where we saw a few sun breaks), we looked for a log to cross the river on. We had been informed that there was a good log to cross near the campsite. A little bit downstream from the campsite, there was a good candidate. Crossing the log was relatively uneventful, and from there we bushwhacked back to where the trail crossed the river to find the old tread (what is left of it). The lower part of this trail is not very well defined â€“ between marshy areas and lots of blowdown, you have to pay close attention. We kept looking for cut logs â€“ that is how we followed this lower section of trail. We did not see any blazes down lower and ended up losing the trail not too far from the start. We wandered around looking for bench, but didn’t find any (we had wandered too far south), but we did find some interesting side hill meadows:
There was some sort of waterfall on the creek down below, but we didn’t feel comfortable going down to look – the walls were close to vertical as you got farther downhill, so this is the best shot I could get of it:
Above that little creek was this massive cliff face, which was very interesting:
After heading uphill looking for tread (and feeling like a goat since it was so steep) we decided to head farther north to see if we could find more trail. We ended up stumbling back across the trail! From this point, the trail was actually really easy to follow for the most part, with blazed and well defined tread.
The occasional blowdown mess made for tough going, but once you were past the blowdown, the trail was easy to follow. We followed it for a while, until it got to a point with a LOT of blowdown that was really big. Just up the hill from this, it almost looked like a thinning area where there was even more blowdown and made the trail very difficult to follow. The good news is that someone has been in there and it is reasonably well flagged. I added a few more flags to help navigate through some of these areas. After navigating through one final area of blowdown, and having the trail become rather faint (and also getting pretty tired), we decided to turn around. We ended up going up to within about 1/4 mile of an old road (at least it shows on the map). This was our turnaround spot:
On the way back down, I took a few more photos than on the way up. Here are remnants of an old footbridge:
Here are some of the MANY BIG trees (I think they are larger on this side of the canyon):
Some of the easier to follow trail through smaller trees:
We successfully followed the trail back downhill, recognizing where we lost it (we missed a switchback), and made it safely back across the South Fork River (I think this picture was taken while I was crossing the log over the river):
Once across we did our final bushwhack back to the campsite and trail, and then headed back uphill to the car. I have to tell you, that hike back uphill seemed a lot longer than I remember it! I’m sure it was because I was so tired. This was more bushwhacking than I’ve done in quite some time, and all of it was rather difficult. Very brushy, lots of trees to crawl over or under. It was good to get back to the car and rest my weary legs. I slept very well that night.
The abandoned trail on the east side of the South Fork Clackamas River deserves some attention. It is in really good shape other than the blowdown areas and goes through some absolutely beautiful forest. That will have to wait for another day, however.
A couple of videos of the waterfall:
Location of Hike: Old Alder Swamp Trail (attempted), Three Lynx Waterfall, Sounds of Two Rivers Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny but cold
Hiking Buddies: Carly and Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 11:15 AM End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 3.5 miles
We started down the trail, but with all the snow, it was hard to see where the trail was. The beginning of this trail is a little rough (it follows the river at the start and some of it has slid down into the river), and we had a hard time finding where it should go. To top it off, Bodie did something to his foot (he has been having an issue with one of his toenails), and his foot started bleeding. We thought it best to turn around and try something different.
I had read about a new waterfall near the small community of Three Lynx. It was supposed to be a very short hike to the waterfall, so we thought we would try it and see how Bodie did. We found the old Schoolhouse in Three Lynx (edit later- which has now been torn down):
One there, we headed up the road behind the schoolhouse. We passed through this BEAUTIFUL forest along Three Lynx Creek:
Shortly, we found the dam that supplies this small community with water:
We headed up and over the dam and just a little ways past the dam is the BEAUTIFUL 90 foot waterfall!
After spending a few minutes enjoying the waterfall, we headed back the way we came and since Bodie did fine with his foot on this trip, decided to try to hike the “Sounds of Two Rivers” trail. This is an old, unofficial trail up the north side of the Roaring River (hence the name – both the Clackamas snd Roaring rivers can be heard). Here is the “trailhead” for this trail:
We figured we could hike as far as we were able to, or until we got into too much snow, and then turn around. That turned out to be a pretty good plan of attack. We headed up the trail, which was in pretty good shape – I kicked a bunch of branches and rocks off the trail on the way up. There were a few freshly downed trees that I tried to clean up a bit (branches on the trail), but for the most part, the trail was in good shape. Once we got almost to the top of the hill, we decided to stop and have lunch. After eating, we decided to turn around and go back down to the truck.
Although the day didn’t turn out as planned, it was a great day, with great weather, and having my daughter along was a bonus! They don’t get much better than this!
Location of Hike: Abandoned Broughton Log Flume Exploration
Weather during Hike: Overcast and rather cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 11:00 AM End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 2 miles (more driving than hiking - the map is mostly showing the route we took driving the area)
One of the interesting things I found was the “alarm” system that the flume had. It had wires on the downhill side of the flume (from the Chenoweth road crossing down to the Hood mill) and if one of those wires were cut, the flume would automatically shut down and divert all its water to Drano lake. There was concern that if there were a leak on the side of the hill, it could cause rocks or trees to come tumbling down the hill onto the trains and cars below. The alarm system and bypass mechanism was near the Chenoweth road crossing.
OK, enough of the facts and figures of the flume itself. On to the description of the trip. We started out early on New Years Day – it was cold and the roads were icy in spots. No matter, it was a good day to go exploring – a great way to start a new year. We got to Hood River and made the trip over the toll bridge (it was $1 each way). We stopped in the small town of Bingen to look at a steel portion of the flume that used to go over a roadway. It had some history of the flume and some photos that were interesting to see. After this stop, we were ready to go looking for what was left of the flume. We headed west on Highway 14 until just before tunnel 5 (I think that is the right tunnel-maybe it was tunnel 6). Anyway, there was a nice place to pull off the road. We headed back up the road a bit to get around the cliff. Then we headed up. In less than 100 feet up, we found remnants of the flume. There was LOTS of poison oak all over the place, but since it was cold, and the plants were all in hibernation for the winter, I think we were OK. It was interesting to walk down the flume line and see how far it has degraded in a short time.
There was also a section that was in reasonably good shape:
We also saw the wires for the alarm system:
After poking about those pieces for a while and enjoying the view of the river, we headed back down and continued west on highway 14 until we got to Draino Lake. WOW, was the wind howling there! And it was COLD! We stopped just long enough to look at the plaque they had at the boat ramp and then continued west to Cook-Undewood road, and then headed north towards Willard (where the upper mill was). We passed through “Mill A”, a small mill town, and after taking a left fork on Willard Road, eventually got to the small town of Willard (population 46 according to the town sign). In Willard, we saw the long metal flume that went across Cook-Underwood road:
As you can see, there was a fair amount of snow on the ground. I was surprised, since we were only at about 1200′ of elevation. Near this piece of flume, we also saw a family of deer resting in the front yard of one of the houses:
Driving a little further up the road, we found one of the best preserved pieces- this piece didn’t actually carry any cants, it was the “feeder” flume from the dam on the Little White Salmon river to the mill in Willard where it picked up the cants:
From there, we saw where the flume crossed the Little White Salmon River:
We kept driving down Willard Road (it kind of makes a U Turn) looking for more remains of flume. The flume was supposed to parallel the road, but we could see no evidence of it. We then proceeded to what I found to be the most interesting part of the trip. We went down Chenoweth road, almost to the end. At this point, the flume went under the road – there was quite a bit of flume left in this area. Seeing no “No Trespassing” signs, we went and explored the pieces of old Flume. On one side of the road was pieces of flume, some elevated as much as 8 feet or so. Some pieces were pretty much ruined, but some were in relatively good shape. On the other side of the road was the interesting piece. This was the place where the “alarm” worked. There was a small building next to a trap door. When the alarm was triggered, the motor in the building opened the trap door and all the water ended up going down to Drano Lake rather than continuing down the flume.
There was some old “decking” which looked like it could have been used for a variety of things (removing jammed up logs if the alarms triggers, sending replacement lumber down the line for flume repairs, etc). As we got back to the car, there was a nice gentlemen on a tractor who informed us that we were now on a nature preserve. We told him we were interested in looking at the remains of the flume and he told us stories of what it was like and how the “alarm” worked. It was great to hear stories from someone who had actually seen it work. Apparently after it use was discontinued in 1986, many (most?) sections of it were sold off – reclaimed. About the only sections that were not were sections that were either in inaccessible areas, or those on private property. The area where the nature preserve is located is private property and the owners had opted to keep the flume in place. Thank goodness for that! It is too important of a historical treasure to leave to rot! Even better, they are discussing preserving a section of the flume permanently so that people can see what it looked like.
After talking with the nice gentleman (I never got his name, just that he was the caretaker of the preserve), we headed out, and back down to Bingen and then back home. While we didn’t do a lot of actual hiking, it was a great day out exploring this bit of NW history.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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