Location of Hike: Cottonwood Meadows Trail
Trail Number: 705
Weather during Hike: Overcast to sunny - cool
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:35 AM End Time: 3:45 PM
Hike Distance: 7 miles Elevation Gain: 1900 feet
We headed out about our normal time and got to the trailhead about 10:30. On the way in we passed a LOT of what I’m pretty sure were hunters camped along road 58. We passed a few vehicles, even up 5830. There was one car at the Shellrock lake trailhead when we passed and we even encountered one truck past that trailhead – almost to the Cottonwood meadows trailhead. It was kind of weird – I’m not used to seeing so many people up in the woods so late in the year.
We packed up and headed out. As usual, Thor was raring to go. We started down the trail and were quickly presented with lots of nice fall colors:
It wasn’t too long before we got to the first meadow, which was completely dry:
A few things that were different that I remember from my last trip (2 years ago):
- The flags marking the entry and exit to the meadow seemed gone – I really need to make sure I have flagging in my pack to help with stuff like this. I think I’ve used all my flagging up.
- The trail generally was in rougher shape than I remember – mostly due to downed trees
- I always seem to forget how much elevation you gain/lose on this trail – I think it is pretty flat due to the meadows, but you go down to each meadow and then down to the spur road on the south end.
We found our way across the first meadow, found where the trail re-enters the woods and continued down. We soon got to the second “meadow, which is more of a lake. It seems to hold water pretty much all year long. Although the map doesn’t show a name, I call it Cot Lake since this feeds Cot Creek:
We made our way around the lake and continued to the third meadow which gives you a good look back north at Mt Mitchell. I played with the zoom on my phone and I’m pretty sure this is a (blurry) shot of the overlook above off the Rimrock trail:
Thor was have a good time running around in the meadow. After a bit of looking around, we continued down and soon hit the 240 spur. From here, there is really no trail – it is in an old cut area and the trail was never maintained thru it. The good news is that for the most part it isn’t too bad to walk thru. The cut is not recovering well at all and there is a lot of open space that makes walking thru it relatively easy. We made our way thru it – I think I finally found the “wash” that Donovan refers to. It appears to be a runoff “creek” that runs down the east side of the cut along the cut line. For the most part, that is relatively easy walking but there were a few rough spots. It seems like I never take the same route twice thru there. I end in the same spots in a few places but get there differently every time. I guess that is part of the adventure.
As we headed thru the cut, we came to an old skid road. The trees in this area were getting a bit tougher to get thru, so we headed up the skid road to where it meets the 260 spur and then walked down the 260 spur. On the way down the 260 spur, I saw a lot of large hoof prints. At first I thought they were from a horse, but I think they were from a large elk – some of the prints (although they weren’t fresh, they were reasonably easy to see), had a line down the middle which would indicate deer or elk hooves, not a horse:
If that was indeed an elk print, it was a VERY large elk!
When we got to the junction with the 270 spur we stopped to have lunch. After eating, I took out my drone and got some interesting video from a higher vantage point:
After putting away the drone, we continued down the road to the end and started down the lower segment of the trail. This segment is significantly rougher than I remember. The vine maple and rhodies have REALLY grown up in some areas, obscuring the tread. I didn’t bring my loppers, but I did spend a fair amount of time cutting out a few sections – one spot had a tree right in the tread, making it almost impossible to get thru. After you get back into the real old growth again it gets better, but the transition from the cut to the old growth needs some attention for sure.
Once back into the woods the trail gets better, however there were quite a few logs down. I cut the smaller stuff out but this too could use some attention. I counted approximately 25 logs (some pretty large) in the last quarter to third mile above the 4635-120 spur.
We made it down to the 4635-120 spur and found it pretty rough – no traffic here for quite some time since 4635 has been closed for over a year now:
We didn’t spend too much time here – mostly just turned around and headed back uphill. As we were going up, I took a photo of probably the largest downed logs in this lower section:
I didn’t really spend any time on the way back up doing any maintenance as we needed to get back to the truck. As we headed back up the hill, the sun actually came out! The wind kind of picked up a bit too – I think the forecast rain was blowing in. We made it back up the lower segment in about 45 minutes and then did the cross country section in another half hour or so. When we got back to the 240 spur crossing, we headed across the road back on the real trail (even though it is still kind of rough). When we were getting to the north end of that south meadow, Thor took off, bouncing thru the meadow (he looked kind of like Tigger bouncing thru the meadow) – I thought he saw an animal, but as I got closer there were 3 hunters standing in the entry to the meadow. I called him and he finally came – I put his leash on and when we got to the hunters I told them I hadn’t expected to see anyone and they replied they weren’t expecting to see a dog either. They asked if they were on the Cottonwood Meadows trail and I told them they were, but it doesn’t get much traffic so it can be kind of faint. We didn’t talk long and we continued our trip north. We made good time, getting back to the truck about 2 hours from the bottom end. We packed up and headed out.
As we were driving out the 5830 road, I saw these beautiful fall colors across the canyon and had to stop to get a photo:
Shortly before 5830 meets 58, got behind two trucks who were going VERY slowly (like 15 miles an hour). The first one kind of sped up and disappeared but the one in front of me just putted along – I had to follow him for several miles until he finally turned off on a spur road. It was pretty frustrating that someone was not considerate enough to let me pass – that is just kind of common forest road courtesy.
Once past the slowpoke, it was the typical long ride back home over Mt Hood. It was a beautiful fall day with amazing hiking weather. A great day out in the woods.
I think we need to put this trail on the “todo” list to clean up some of the rougher spots…..
Location of Hike: East Side Driving Tour and Mt Lowe Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 12:30 AM End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 500 feet
As with last time, we didn’t have much of a plan, but I kind of wanted to see the Collowash river. With that vague goal in mind, we set off on the long drive around Mt Hood. We made it to the turnoff at the 42 road and headed south. When we got to Clackamas Lake, we zipped by, but I thought I saw some sigh about a closure. A little farther up the road, there was a sign saying “road closed 20 miles ahead”. Since they JUST opened this us, I figured it must have been something on 46 – maybe doing some cleanup or something – I was wrong.
We made it about a mile from the junction with road 46 and then came to a road closed sign – and the road is definitely closed! They are working on replacing the bridge at Last Creek:
After looking at that area for a bit, we had to figure out how to get down to 46. The only way we could see was to go back to road 4220, take that down to 4690 and take 4690 down to 46 – a detour on an already long detour. The good news is that 4220 used to be a pretty bad road, but they had done quite a bit of work on it last summer during the Lionshead fire. It looks like they were going to use it as a firebreak if needed. This made the detour not nearly as bad as we were fearing – the last time I drove 4220 it was a rocky, potholed mess of a road.
We got to the junction with 4690 and saw the gate to Olallie closed. We continued down 4690 to 46 – part way there we were greeted by a truck with its flashers on and he said there was a semi truck behind him so we needed to move over. Fortunately there was plenty of room to get off the road at that point. The semi passed with what looked like a big grader – we were guessing maybe they were going to work on the road to Olallie.
We got to 46, headed north and soon got to 4670. From there we headed west – one interesting thing we saw along the way – someone was parked at the old road up to Tarzan Springs – we were wondering if someone was hiking the old trail up to Burnt Granite. At the same place we stopped for lunch two weeks ago, we stopped again – this is the spot the Rho Ridge trail almost comes to the road – it is right above the road and there is an old trail sign there. We hiked north on the trail to the summit of Mt Lowe – I haven’t been there in a long time – if my reports are correct I’ve only been there once and it was in 2007!
This is what the old Old lookout site on Mt Lowe looks like now:
We stopped and ate lunch and after lunch we looked around and also noted all the mountain views. I got this cool annotated peak view from Mt Lowe of the Fish Creek Mountain ridge:
After enjoying the view for a bit, we decided to head back. The dogs were hot due to the sun and we had more places to see. On the way back, eagle eye Kirk noticed this old yellow diamond trail marker and insulator:
And at an open spot on the way back to the truck, we got this spectacular view of Mt Jefferson, Broken top and Three Sisters from Rho Ridge trail:
We soon got back to the truck and packed up and started heading down to the Collowash – down 6350 to 63. Along the way we did see (surprisgly enough) a few campers along the river. Little Fan campsite had several people and there was at least one other dispersed camping area that had someone, but it is NOTHING like it would have been on a normal 4th of July weekend.
We finally made it to the road closure at the junction of the 63 and 46 roads:
We walked past the gate up to road 46. This is what the burned area to the north of that area looks like:
And then looking north on 46:
Kirk wanted to go swimming for a bit, so we went down to the river and I put my feet in the river while the dogs cooled off a bit:
Kirk swam across the Collowash and then went all the way over to the other side of the Clackamas. Ollie was a little stressed about that. You can’t really see this in the photo, but Ollie swam all the way across the river to the other side to be with Kirk:
After a quick swim, we loaded back up into the truck and started our trip home. On the way in, there was a spot called “Bob Meadow” which looked like it was close to a spur road that we thought was open, so we decided to check it out. Unfortunately, the spur road was tank trapped pretty quickly, so we just ended up walking up the road. At one point we had to go cross country to Bob Meadow. We finally found it, but was a bit of a let down. It wasn’t really anything special, just a swampy area:
It was pretty buggy too, so we didn’t stay very long. We found the easiest way back to the road and then walked back to the truck. By this time it was after 4:00 and we still had a fair amount of driving to get home. We went back the long detour. When we got back to Clackamas Lake, we stopped to look at the sign I buzzed by on the way in. If we had paid attention this sign it would have saved us about 7 miles of driving:
Oh well, it was a day of exploration and it was kind of cool to see that bridge under construction. We made it back over Mt Hood and decided to stop at Fearless for dinner. By the time we got there it was almost 7:00 I think. It was a long day of driving – I didn’t keep exact count, but I think it was about 260 miles.
It was an interesting day of exploration and it was cool to see part of Rho Ridge and Mt Lowe as well as the Collowash.
Location of Hike: Fanton and Old Baldy Trails
Trail Number: 502, 505
Weather during Hike: Overcast and misty
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:30 AM End Time: 3:45 PM
Hike Distance: 10 miles Elevation Gain: 2700 feet
We started out a bit earlier than normal and made it up to 4614. Kirk thought we could make it up to the corner which isn’t too far from the Old Baldy trail. I didn’t think we would make it that far, but I was hoping we could make it to the midway point where we started a snowshoe a few years ago. We didn’t make it to either as there was still quite a bit of snow on 4614 in places. We ended up stopping at a wide spot and then walking up the road a bit and then heading south thru the woods to meet the trail. The trip up the hill to the trail was kind of steep but not bad walking at all. This is what the forest looked like near where we joined the trail:
Once on the trail, we headed down. At this point there was essentially no snow on the trail at all, so it was pretty easy going. I forgot to mention that it was VERY foggy when we got there, and that persisted all day long. We got to this first viewpoint, but unfortunately, there would be no view this day – just lots of fog and mist:
We continued east on the Fanton trail and soon came to this interesting wet area – all melted with a couple of skunk cabbage:
We continued east and soon got to the mid point where we had hoped to start the trip, which had a fair amount of snow on the old spur. We soldiered on, got to the corner access point and there was even more snow there:
It was at this point where I put on my snowshoes as the snow cover was consistent and getting deeper. Kirk opted to leave his off, but I’m glad I put them on – it made the snow a little easier to navigate.
We continued up and soon got to the old Baldy junction which was barely noticeable with all the snow. We got up to the saddle where the trail splits – one up to Squaw Mountain and the other continuing down to Twin Springs (and the meadows). We stopped and had a quick lunch there. We both got a bit cold at lunch because there was a slight breeze coming thru the saddle which really cooled things off. We packed up and tried to head down the switchbacks but were kind of thwarted. The trail takes a pretty good dip down a steep hillside, but all the snow really obscured where the tread went. We headed down in the direction of where it was supposed to go, but the sidehill was really steep and icy in spots. It was tough going. We got down to the spot about where the first switchback was, and we both decided that we should turn around. We would have had to come back up that slope and we didn’t think we’d have enough time to get to the meadow anyway – so we turned around. This is what the trail in that area looked like – the trail is somewhere on this steep hillside:
Since our primary goal was thwarted by all the snow, we decided to salvage the day and head up to Squaw Mountain. At some point the route of the trail became indistinguishable so we just ended up going cross country, roughly following the route of the trail. There were a few pretty significant snow fields we had to cross over. We finally popped out onto the road leading up to Squaw Mountain which had a lot of snow on it:
We then got up to the top where the radio repeater is and found it almost buried in snow – we were estimating there was at least 8 feet of snow here:
We went up to the old lookout location but nothing was visible due to all the snow. I took a picture of Thor and Ollie playing in the snow on the top of Squaw Mountain:
We spent a few minutes on top – it was actually warmer than it was in the saddle – we were hoping the sun would break thru but it never did. You could tell it was trying, but it was still socked in. After a few minutes, we headed back down, mostly re-tracing our steps out. On the way out, I took a photo of one of the snow fields we had to cross – lots of snow – the wall of snow we had to kick in was probably about 3′ high:
We took a slightly different route back as we figured on the way in we went too low on the hill. Kirk found an old segment of phone line:
And one of the most interesting things was that it was actually growing into the tree:
After seeing that interesting historical artifact, the rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. The trip was mostly downhill. I took off my snowshoes a little earlier than where I put them on – while they help with the snow, they are more difficult to walk in and require more effort.
I guess the only thing that I recall on the return trip was where we were going to head back over to the 4614 road. On the map it looked like a great place was in a flat area shortly before where we would hit the 130 spur. There were TONS of rhodies that we would have to push thru so we ended up heading out to the 130 spur. We thought we could head over to 4614 from there, but the trees were pretty thick, so we ended up just walking the spur out to where it hit 4614. It was slightly longer but much easier I think. We liked walking thru the trees because there was less snow which made for easier walking, but sometimes you have to just go with the flow.
We got back to the truck before our targeted time, but I was surprised to see that no one had attempted to drive up 4614 any farther than we did. I’m guessing it was due to the weather – there weren’t a ton of people out. We packed up and headed out.
While the day turned out differently than expected/planned, it was still a really good day of exploration – I always enjoy the snow (so does Thor). We are hoping that at some point we can attempt this trip and make it down to the meadows. More to come on that.
Location of Hike: Eagle Creek and Douglas Trails
Trail Number: 501, 781
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Zack, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 2:20 PM
Hike Distance: 5.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
We headed out at our “normal” time, and got to the trailhead. There were already 5 or 6 cars there which is unusual, but with so many trails closed due to the fires, it is kind of expected. We headed down the road and pretty quickly got onto the “real” trail where it enters the old growth. This trail is so lush and has some gorgeous old growth on it. The constant sound of Eagle creek is pleasant as well.
We got down a couple of miles and the decided to head uphill. We spread out as we were going uphill, looking for signs of trail. We did find a few spots that kind of looked like tread, but it didn’t last very long. We looked for blazes, cut logs and insulators. The only thing we found was the one cut log:
Not too far away from this we found this old campground:
We continued up the hill and eventually joined with the Douglas trail a little east of where it hits the old 255 spur road. We hit tiny spots of snow on the way up the hill and when we got to the top, there was patchy snow. There was a couple of inches on the road – the dogs enjoyed that quite a bit.
We headed west down the road until the spot where the trail takes off again. We weighed our options and decided to go up the trail a bit and then basically follow the ridge. A little ways up the hill, we found what looked like tread – as we proceeded along it was definitely tread and it seemed to kind of come and go, but basically followed the ridge. There is a lot of salal up there which made it tougher in spots. We didn’t go too far, when Kirk found the remains – right on this tread:
We looked around a bit and then decided to have lunch. After lunch, we decided to continue following the tread we had found. It kind of continued to come and go, but we mostly followed tread along the ridge. We got to one open spot where there were these HUGE, ancient vine maples – they looked like huge spiders or something:
As we continued trying to follow the tread, we did end up finding one cut log:
It was shortly after this that we lost the trail completely, but we were very close to the old road, so we walked over there and then continued west. We walked past the end of the road down what we figued was an old quad track. When we were here a few weeks ago, we followed it down to the point where it took a steep turn down the hill. Today we continued down the hill – we were assuming this would eventually bring us out onto an old road that we could walk back to the van. That turned out to be a completely correct assumption. The track continued down the hill, soon getting into a cut area (15-20 year old cut probably) and then down onto an old road. The road has been bermed for a few years so no one has driven up that far, but we did see recent evidence of cutting back some brush.
It wasn’t long before we were back at the van. By this time there were probably 10 vehicles at the trailhead. We loaded up and headed out. It was a great day of exploring on an absolutely beautiful spring day.
Location of Hike: Wildcat Mountain
Trail Number: 781
Weather during Hike: Overcast and foggy
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:10 AM End Time: 2:25 PM
Hike Distance: 9.1 miles Elevation Gain: 2500 feet
We started out a bit early since we expected to do 9-10 miles. We were right on with the estimate – we did just over 9 miles total for the day. We actually made pretty good time, getting done well before it got dark. I guess we can cover a lot more ground when we aren’t doing trail maintenance!
We got to the 255 spur about 9:00, quickly suited up and headed out. It was misting a good bit at this point, so we put on rain gear. We headed down the REALLY bad, ripped up asphalt road. A little ways down the road there appeared to be a side trail, so we tried that for a bit. It didn’t last long and we were back to the road. It got a little better after the initial aggressive ripping up, but it was still pretty tough going. It would be REALLY easy to sprain an ankle on that stuff.
We got to a point where it seemed to make sense to go cross country, trying to find the trail. This shortcut cut about 1.5 miles (maybe a bit more) off the trip since the road headed west a ways and then the trail came back east. After tromping thru the woods for a bit we found the trail – it was a pretty easy cross country trip.
Once on the trail we headed east/southeast and started making pretty good time. Soon, we came to this crossing of an un-named creek, which someone had thoughtfully placed rocks to make it an easy rock hop:
We continued thru the second growth and soon got into the old growth and into the original Wilderness area. The forest in this area is pretty impressive. Although it was foggy and misty, it was still beautiful. I think it was in this area that we encountered a bow hunter coming down.
It wasn’t too long before we arrived at the old start of this trail, the Wildcat Quarry – which is a BIG quarry:
And in the past it has had a LOT of “bad activity” – like this completely shot up sign:
The moved the trailhead north about a half mile, decommissioning the road to the quarry, but as you can see by the tracks in the snow, people still get around it. We didn’t see a lot of evidence of recent shooting in the quarry however.
We couldn’t see anything due to the fog, so we headed around the rim of the quarry and found the trail continuing east. A little farther up the trail is what appears to be a great viewpoint in better weather, but there was not much of a view today:
We continued east, and the snow continued to get deeper although there had been enough footprints in the snow that it was easy to follow. A ways up the trail we saw an opening and headed over to take a look. What we found was another unmapped road that appears to have been decommissioned – it appears to have been an undocumented spur off the 105 spur – it was a LONG road:
After investigating that road, we continued east. We soon got to the McIntyre Ridge/Douglas trail junction:
And just beyond that, I saw some wire hanging down on a tree next to the trail, and looked up and saw an insulator:
It was at about this point that the trail route became unclear – there was a definite split – most of the footprints headed on the right path, but a few headed to the left. Kirk headed up to the left and I headed to the right. It appears the tread to the left was the “old” alignment – it is a bit steeper but is more scenic on a day you had a view as it followed the edge of the cliff looking down into the Boulder Creek drainage. We finally met up where the trails re-converged and made the final push to the top of Wildcat Mountain.
It wasn’t long before we popped out on top of Wildcat Mountain. There was probably 18″ of snow on the ground and there were no views – it has grown up – it is similar to Fish Creek Mountain or Old Baldy – trees mostly ring the perimeter. I think if you headed out to the south end of the top you might have been able to see something – it appeared there was a small opening there. Here is a picture of Thor and Kirk on top of Wildcat Mountain:
We bundled up and ate lunch at the top of the mountain. But not moving, we quickly started to get cold. So, it was a pretty quick lunch. We then packed up and headed back down.
When we got to the junction of the old/new alignments, we headed down the old alignment – I hadn’t seen it and it was quite a bit shorter. In good weather, that would definitely be the preferred route I think.
We made really good time coming down. At one point, I wanted to take a photo of the forest and trail:
We soon got back to the quarry and things had cleared up a bit, so we got a tiny bit of a view looking south – down below is Eagle Creek and somewhere across in the fog would be Old Baldy:
We continued down from the quarry and headed down. On the way up, we had seen what appeared to be another undocumented road and a side trail that appeared to head up to it. We decided to take that route back, thinking it might be easier than the way we came in. That side trail was REALLY short, and put us onto that undocumented road, which we soon discovered was the extension of the 155 spur. We headed north on this spur and it was in pretty good shape – not ripped up or anything:
We walked this very nice road back up to almost the junction with the 3626 road where we had our last adventure of the day. As we were walking we heard gunshots. As we got closer I was concerned they were shooting down the spur road – fortunately, they were not shooting down the road – they were shooting off onto a “sort of” backstop – but we yelled and they heard us and stopped shooting long enough for us to get back up to the 3626 road. We walked this road back to the truck. Along the way we encountered quite a few vehicles. It appears most of them were looking for Christmas trees.
We made it back to the truck just before 2:30. The dogs were tired and so were we. We started packing up and someone asked if we were leaving – I guess they wanted to park where we were. It was kind of a weird experience to be out in the woods and feel like you were at the mall – with someone waiting for your parking spot.
All in all, it was a great day out, even with the weather and no views. I’d like to come back and do this trail again, maybe a mid week (to escape most of the crowds) hike on a nice day – where there are views.
Location of Hike: Shellrock Lake to Cache Meadow to Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 700, 702, 703
Weather during Hike: overcast and snowy
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:105 AM End Time: 4:20 PM
Hike Distance: 10.5 miles Elevation Gain: 2800 feet
The days are short right now and I had to take the long way around over Mt Hood to get here – it takes about 2 hours to get to the trailhead, so I started early – I left the house at 8:00. The weather report said it would be cold, but it also said it would be “partly sunny” – that turned out to be a lie. I got off 26 and started down 42, soon getting to road 58. It climbs quite a bit and I was soon into a fair amount of snow. It kind of looked like someone had plowed the road (two tracks – it didn’t look like just driving). But it was deeper than I was expecting:
We soon made it to the junction with 4610 and I decided to drive up a bit to see what the east end of the road closure looked like – I don’t think anyone will be getting around that gate:
There was also a pretty large log deck there:
After quickly checking this out, we headed back down to 58, then down to the 5830 road and out to the Shellrock lake trailhead. As I expected, I saw no one else, nor any evidence of anyone driving out this way at all. This is what my truck looked like parked in the Shellrock Lake trailhead parking area in the morning (about 10:15):
And this is what it looked like when I returned about 4:15 – It had been snowing a lot of the day and I was concerned it would have been a lot more snow – and I would have a difficult time getting home – fortunately things were OK – I think we got about a half inch of snow during the day:
We suited up for the cold and quickly headed out. A little bit up the trail we got a really beautiful view from the trail – looking east ish:
It didn’t take Thor long to start REALLY enjoying the snow – doing his “beaver” thing in the snow – you can hardly even tell he is there – he kind of buried himself in the snow! There was probably 4-6″ of snow at this point on the trail:
We continued down the trail and soon got into the woods. It is at this point that the abandoned trail takes off to the west. There used to be a post that was a good jumping off spot – the trail going up the hill seems to have mostly disappeared but once you are up the hill a bit, it re-appears. I couldn’t find the post so we took a shot and headed up the hill – it was kind of tough going, with the snow, but we eventually found the trail and continued west. Pretty soon, we got to this junction with another abandoned trail that heads down to 5830 – I had not seen this before – but I’ve only been on this segment a couple of times:
We followed the trail thru the snow and soon came to this small lake around cache meadow:
Shortly after this small lake, we hit the junction with the Grouse Point Trail (517). Just past the junction we saw Cache Meadow proper:
And near this is a campsite where Cripple Creek Trail comes in and where there used to be a cabin – it burned in the early 2000s:
We stumbled around in the snow a bit, struggling to find the trail, but eventually found the cripple creek trail and headed south, and then took a westerly turn. At that point, we came to this lake – I’m not sure what it is called – Cripple Creek Lake? – Cripple creek feeds it and is the outlet from it, so that would make sense, but it is not labelled on any of the maps I have:
We continued down the trail, fighting a LOT of downed logs such as this – I’m guessing these might have been casualties from the Labor Day windstorm:
Soon after that tree, I found this Bear print in the snow:
And soon after, Thor found what looked to be a “deer nest” – there was deer fur all over the place – or maybe that is where a deer got eaten – I’m not sure – it sure looked like a good “den” – It sure interested Thor:
We continued down the trail – I kept looking for the trail heading north (I didn’t want to have to road walk around) – I found it and we soon got to the spot where where all the trail junctions come together with a few signs – it is very confusing:
We actually headed off in the wrong direction – heading back up the Cache Meadow trail – I soon realized my mistake and we headed back and found the correct trail – which was probably 20′ from those signs. We soon got out to the 4635 road where the Cache Meadow trail starts:
We headed a bit down the road where Cripple creek continues downhill and continued down. It wasn’t too long before we got to the spot where the trail crosses the 4635 road farther down:
Shortly after the road crossing, the trail gets into a big rockslide. It was here that we got our first look into the burned areas farther below:
We continued down the trail, thru the cut area, and soon saw the first evidence of burn damage. It started out relatively limited, and soon got worse. This is one of the more severe burn damaged areas – lots of trees downed across the trail – you can see a cut log where the trail went in the distance:
Some of it wasn’t too bad to follow, but some got tough. In many spots, the tread burned out, like this section -a big hole that was one tread:
I saw this interesting section as well – it burned on both sides of the tread but the tread itself is completely intact – It seems like in this area it was mostly a ground fire:
We continued down the trail – it kept getting harder and harder to make progress – there was a lot of stuff on the trail, a lot of downed trees (some green). I used my loppers and a bit of hand saw work to get thru some of it, but it was getting increasingly difficult. This was another example of a heavily damaged area:
It was getting close/past my turn around time (1:30) and we still had not eaten lunch. I decided that we would turn around and find a spot to eat lunch. We had been pushing hard all day long. We found a small unburned section not too far from where we turned around. We quickly ate lunch and then headed back up.
On the way up, it started to snow, even at the lower elevation where there really wasn’t any snow. I started to get worried about how much snow was falling and whether or not I’d be able to get out. We hurried our pace (as much as I could, since the beginning was mostly uphill – heading back up to Cache Meadow). It continued to snow off and on. When we got back to the confusing junction (with the signs), I decided to go back on the Cache Meadow trail instead of going back the way we came in. I wasn’t sure if it was any shorter, but it didn’t seem like it was any longer and since it has been a LONG time (2008?) since I’ve been here, I thought it would be good to have different scenery. We made it around the north side of Cache Meadow and soon got back to the Grouse Point trail near the old campsite. We went a little bit on Grouse Point to the cutoff trail – on this end it is VERY apparent – so apparent it would be easy to take the wrong turn. We headed east on the cutoff trail, heading uphill – struggling a bit to follow the trail in the snow, but keeping with it. We did well until we got to the top of the hill. There was a big downed tree, and we kind of lost the trail at that point. We went downhill, navigating a BUNCH of downed logs and finally hit the Shellrock lake trail. From there, it was easy sailing back to the truck. I had set a target of being back at the truck by 4:30 – we beat it by about 15 minutes. We quickly loaded up and headed out. I didn’t want to drive too far on the forest service roads in the dark. Fortunately, it didn’t get really dark until we got close to 26. The drive over 26 was rather interesting. It was snowing pretty hard and it was icy – the thermometer on the truck said 27 degrees and there were signs that said watch out for ice. At some point, there were trucks and what looked like some cars spun out. We successfully navigated all that, and got home safely. I think it took us almost 2.5 hours to get home, though.
It was a challenging, beautiful, COLD day. I’m glad I was able to get as far as I did. I think this is the last opportinty to get into the high country this year. It is forecast to be cold and snowy all week long – unless we get a big warm spell, I think these areas area all closed for the year now.
Location of Hike: Rho Creek Trail
Trail Number: 569
Weather during Hike: Overcast with periods of rain and sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:45 AM End Time: 5:00 PM
Hike Distance: 9.4 miles Elevation Gain: 2200 feet
We headed up the trail and soon saw evidence of recent maintenance:
A little farther long where the trail gets very close to Rho Creek we got this great view of it:
And a little farther we got to one of the rough spots – the crossing of Tumble Creek:
We crossed the creek on the big log and continued – there is a switchback just past the crossing and the trail starts climbing more aggressively. At some point along the way, we encountered the relatively new, very large uprooted tree:
We had to climb above the tree to get around it, but it wasn’t too bad. As we continued up (this trail gains 2000′ of elevation, so it is almost constantly going up). Along the way, I noticed that the rhodies were starting to bloom:
As we proceeded up, we got to this old post, which marked the intersection with an abandoned trail (the Tumble Creek trail) that headed north:
Here is a piece of the abandoned Tumble Creek trail – we only headed up a tenth of a mile or so:
After exploring the Tumble Creek trail, we continued up the trail, crossed the beginnings of Rho Creek and then got into the clearcut. We passed Fadeaway spring and continued up thru the clearcut. Near the upper part of the clearcut, Kirk saw this really interesting orange fungus on a relatively young tree:
When we got to the top of the clearcut we had a decent view of Peavine Mountain:
We got to the 4672 road and headed across, up the next segment of the trail. The trail continues to climb thru large old growth until it gets up to the flat area surrounding Rho Meadow. As we were heading up this segment, we found these bones right in the middle of the trail:
Somewhere near these bones the trail flattened out and there were lots of downed trees. They were almost all small trees (2-6″), with a few larger ones, but there was a lot of them, many times piled on top of each other. It made passage rather difficult. We passed the post that wet southeast towards the meadow and continued down the trail. We finally came to the collapsed Ranger/Guard station at Rho Meadow:
We stopped there for lunch – there were a few bugs, but not too bad. It threatened to rain on us, but we mostly stayed dry. After we ate, we decided to continue west, following some flagging – there were trails going all over the place from this spot – it was the center of a lot back in the day.
We were able to follow the trail for a while, but at some point lost it. We just continued in the same general direction and soon came to a decommissioned road. It does not appear on any maps but appears to be a spur road off of 4670. We saw a flag and a blaze across the road and we followed it – this was the continuation of the trail. We also found the trail on our side of the road – it appears we were a little bit too low. Anyway, we followed the trail across the road and quickly intersected the Rho Ridge trail. We walked this out to the junction of 4670 and 6350 – Graham Pass. From there, we pondered going up to Mt Lowe, but I’m glad we didn’t -that would have added another 5 miles to our day and it was already about 3:00. Kirk remembered a trailgoing east from a hunters camp just up 4670. So we headed up there. We found the camp and then started searching for the trail. We never did find it, but we did end up finding the Rho Creek trail just west of the guard station. We then started hiking back and soon found the junction with the trail we had been looking for. We apparently didn’t go north quite far enough to hit this trail. Kirk did a short recon trip up the trail and then we started back.
As we were heading back, Thor saw those bones again. He decided he wanted to take one home, so he grabbed it and was carrying it for a while. After a tenth of a mile or so, I guess he decided it was too heavy or something and dropped it.
The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful – we were trying to make time since it was getting late. We only stopped once on the way back. We made it back to the truck about 5, just about as it started raining. It rained harder the closer we got to town. We were very fortunate with the weather.
We capped off the day with a trip to Fearless for a burger and a beer – it was the perfect way to end a great day of exploration.
Location of Hike: Helion Creek
Weather during Hike: Partly Cloudy and cool
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Zack, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 1:30 PM End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 700 feet
I knew it would be a short day, so we headed out after lunch and arrived at the gravel area a little after 1:00. We headed out, down the horrible side hill, with tons of downed logs. We had realized that staying high was a better option that going low, as hugging the cliffs was usually a little easier.
As we went, we passed a couple of small creeks. One of them had a cool waterfall:
After about an hour, we made it to the creek and started searching. Kirk used his endoscope and I used mine and Zack was using his pole to poke around. Here is Kirk using his endoscope, attempting to find the drone (with the dogs supervising him):
And here is a great photo of the Helion Creek Waterfall:
Along with a video:
After a while with no success with the endoscope, I decided to put on my waders and wade the creek and use my hands to search the pools. That worked really well, although the water was REALLY cold. After about an hour of searching, we finally gave up. I thought we searched the target area pretty well, but there are a LOT of nooks and crannies it could have gotten stuck in, or it could have been washed way down the creek. Either way, we decided to call the search and head back.
The trip back seemed slightly better than the trip back the prior week (maybe we were getting better at finding a good route, or maybe we were just worn down by the rough trip). It took us about another hour to get out and back to the van. We were all tired and a little disappointed we didn’t find it. Even if we HAD found it, who knows what shape it would have been in. I guess I just wasn’t meant to have a drone. If/when I get another one, I will make sure I have one with obstacle avoidance, and I will make sure I’ve practiced flying it a LOT more before I try and fly it in a tight canyon.
Even though it was a disappointing day, it was nice to get out for a few hours.
Location of Hike: Helion Creek
Weather during Hike: Rainy
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 2:15 PM
Hike Distance: 3.75 miles Elevation Gain: 1100 feet
The weather forecast for the day was wet – very wet. I was determined to go anyway – one plus was that it was supposed to be warmer most of the day – so as Kirk said “at least it is a warm rain”. The weather forecast was pretty correct. It rained most of the day a few times pretty heavily – but we also had a few spots of no rain at all which was nice.
We parked at the Armstrong campground:
We got all suited up for the rain and then headed back up the road to the bridge. One the way, Kirk wanted to look at something we’ve seen being built, but we never knew what it was. It is just south of one of the bridge crossings – just before the Lockaby campground. It appears to be an overlook, and maybe will have some interpretive signs. We got a good view of the Clackamas, which was rather angry – running high and fast:
We then headed across the road and then up the hill a bit – we had to go a little over a half mile on this steep hill to get to Helion creek. The first part wasn’t too bad, as there was kind of a Fisherman’s trail, but the hillside continued to get steeper and the going going tougher and tougher due to the steepness of the hill, the brush and a bunch of downed logs we had to negotiate over, under or around – all without falling into the river below us.
It was VERY slow going – It took us almost an hour and a half to get to the creek I think – and then took us a bit to actually get to where we could see it. The wash the creek was in was pretty steep and narrow. This was our first view of Helion Creek falls:
We carefully worked our way down to the creek and got a much better view of the waterfall. This is what it looked like from the bottom:
While we were there, I took this video of the waterfall:
It was at this point the trip took a decidedly bad turn. I got my drone for Christmas and thought this would be the perfect place to get a video of the waterfall from a perfect vantage point. It was crowded in the creek canyon so I knew it would be difficult. I unpacked the drone and fired it up. Kirk had to hold it to take off since there was no place to take off from. I had no sooner taken off than it started moving backwards (I still don’t know exactly what I did wrong – I’m very new at being a drone pilot) – but it moved backwards, hit a small tree branch and dropped straight into the creek. I watched all this in slow motion in my head. The creek was running really fast and there was a hole it fell into – we poked around trying to find it but the water was too fast and deep to really do much there. We looked for it downstream but didn’t find anything. Our best guess is that it fell into that hole and one or more of the arms got stuck in the rocks. Even if we had been able to find it, I’m sure it would have been ruined by the water. So my really cool Christmas present, which had probably only 4 of 5 flights (all but 2 at home in the backyard), was gone. It was about at this point when it started raining REALLY hard. We decided to head down the creek to a spot where it seemed easier to get out of the creek canyon. We headed downstream, looking for any evidence of my drone, but found nothing.
We made it down to a spot that was a lot easier to get up out of, and then started heading back. By this time it was getting close to 1:00, so we found a big log that was somewhat sheltered and had some lunch. We ate pretty quickly and were starting to get a bit cold, so we packed up continued on. We took a different path back. I’m not sure if it was any easier than the path we took in, but it had quite a few tough spots to get thru – a few that I had to help Thor get thru too. He kind of struggled with the more difficult log crossings due to the steepness of the hill.
We finally made it back to the parking area near the bridge -we were back on easy walking again. For the second piece of the day, we headed across the bridge and then over to the Carter Bridge campground where we headed up the hill to the old road grade. I’m not sure when the road was re-aligned but it had to have been a long time ago. The bridges don’t have dates on them, but they are riveted, so I’m guessing they are pre 1960’s at least. It kind of made sense the road went where it did because it eliminated the need for two bridges. The bad thing was that the route was pretty windy and they probably had some significant problems with rocks falling on the road.
Anyway, we headed down the road, and soon saw this aftermath from the 36 pit fire – it was laying right in the road – interesting it was upright:
A little farther the dogs (who were off leash – we didn’t expect to see anyone up here) started barking so we called them back and a couple passed us. They told us there was a shack a bit further up the road. And sure enough, a bit farther up the road we found this old shack – it appeared that it might have been water for the Carter Bridge campground at some point in the past – there appeared to be a spring or something directly behind it – it was obviously non functional:
After looking at the old shack for a bit, we continued down the road – at one point we got a pretty good view of the Clackamas:
We continued down the road – this is kind of what a “normal” section of it looked like:
We decided we would head down the old road to where it used to meet the current road. It wasn’t too long before we met highway 224. We then headed across the bridge and back to the truck. Fortunately for us, it wasn’t raining when we got back to the truck so we were able to change our shoes without getting soaked. The dogs were more than ready to get in the truck. We were all tired! Even though it wasn’t a lot of mileage, it was pretty tough mileage.
An interesting day of exploring with one bummer. A trip to Fearless for a beer and some fries (since we were too early for dinner) made for a great way to end the day.
Location of Hike: Lower Cottonwood Meadows Trail
Trail Number: 705
Weather during Hike: Overcast to partly sunny with rain, snow and sleet
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Zack, Ollie, Thor
Start Time: 10:15 AM End Time: 2:20 PM
Hike Distance: 5.5miles Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Due to the warmer than normal weather we’ve been having, we were able to easily make it to the lower trailhead at almost 3000′. It wasn’t really raining when we got there, so we quickly suited up for extreme weather and headed up the trail. The trail basically follows the ridge up to an old clearcut below Cottonwood Meadows. The lower portion of this trail is in some magnificent old growth with tread in really good shape:
We did encounter quite a few downed logs and a few messes on the beginning of the trail, but we cleaned up what we could and went over/around what we couldn’t. It wasn’t too long before we popped up onto the 5830-265 road where we saw just a little bit of snow:
We walked up the road and then went cross country thru the clearcut (the trail thru the clearcut was wiped out). After a few attempts at making sure we were going the right direction, we got up tp the 240 spur crossing where there was more snow. Beyond this crossing the real trail continues north:
Right after that crossing, we got to the first, lower Meadow, which looked mostly frozen over:
And then continued north thru a couple of small little meadows towards Cottonwood Lake:
And shortly arrived at a mostly frozen Cottonwood Lake (although none of us wanted to try it out to see how frozen it really was!):
We ate lunch there and looked around a bit and then headed out. When we got to the 240 spur, we decided to walk back the road rather than going cross country, since it was rather difficult – there was a lot of melting snow water runoff which added to the difficulty of getting thru the clearcut. The plan was to head west until the road turned and then head uphill to the upper road – this would cut quite a bit of time off the trip – almost a mile of road walking it looks like.
We made it up to the road turn and then up the hill – from there we went uphill and soon found the upper road that had been bermed at an old gate location. It was in this section I took some photos of Thor having fun in the snow:
He had lots of fun with Ollie – running around and doing his beaver thing in the snow and even doing some frapping at one point.
We finally came back to the 265 spur and things had cleared up a bit from what they were in the morning – we still got gusts of wind occasionally but there was even a few small spots of blue sky at times – You can sort of see Mt Mitchell in the background (in the clouds behind the trees):
We headed down the road and onto the old trail and quickly made it back to the truck, doing a little bit of trail maintenance along the way – cutting out some smaller trees.
Since it was still somewhat early, we decided to drive down to the end of the road and check out the collapsed bridge over Cot Creek:
It is really growing in – it was interesting to see how much work went into building that bridge too – there was a LOT of cribbing on each approach.
After checking out the bridge we headed back to town – we wanted to stop at Fearless but they were closed for New Years Day. We headed over to the Wagon Wheel Saloon (I had been there once with Don) for a beer and some appetizers.
It was a very interesting day on a beautiful old trail in a very interesting area. The winter weather warning didn’t really seem to come to pass – other than a few gusts of wind and a little bit of rain, sleet and snow at times, it really wasn’t that bad up there. I was expecting to get a LOT wetter than we did. I wasn’t even sure we would be able to make it up all the way due to the wind. It turned out to be a pretty good middle of winter day in the woods. A good start to the new year.
Location of Hike: Pansy Lake Area
Trail Number: 551, 558, 554, 550, 549
Weather during Hike: Sunny and cool
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:40 AM End Time: 4:50 PM
Hike Distance: 8.3 miles Elevation Gain: 2600 feet
I had seen references to the trail before, and a few years ago Zack and I did some explorations on the west side of the lake where we found the old mine and some blazes and such. I wanted to see if we could find the whole old trail. We were mostly successful.
Since the days are short this time of year I wasn’t sure how far we would get. We started at the usual time and ended up getting to the trailhead about 10:30. Not another soul in sight however we did pass a couple of trucks coming down the hill – I’m guessing they were hunters.
We suited up and headed out. Since neither of us were sure where the old trail started Kirk started from one campsite and I started farther west and then headed south looking for blazes or old tread. I was thinking this re-route was done in the 70’s or 80’s, but I think it could have been earlier. Even 1980 is almost 40 years ago now.
After walking around the woods in circles, Kirk found the old trail not too far from the current trail. We followed it a bit and decided to back track to see if we could follow it back to the road. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find it all the way back to the road- it got lost at some point. We turned back around and followed the old trail. We did however find some pretty nice pieces of the old trail with some good blazes:
When we got to the Audrey Creek crossing (this creek is unnamed on the topo maps, but the project map document showed it as “Audrey Creek”), the trail crossed under a small but very nice waterfall:
Here is a video of waterfall in action:
We continued south and a bit farther we found an old campsite:
The trail then headed west and down into a flat area. We found the old trail along the north side of this flat area, but there was a wet area where we struggled thru some thick brush and kind of lost the trail. Kirk thought it might have gone up to the ridge farther to the west (which I think it did, because we found the tread farther south – up the hill). After re-finding the tread, we headed up the rather steep section to another flat area – we then climbed a small knoll and ate lunch. We thought this knoll might have a good view, but it had too many trees. Kirk got this photo looking north:
After eating a quick lunch and realizing it was getting late (it was like 1:30 at this point), we decided to just find the mine, take a look and then head up to the lookout and hopefully make it down before it got dark. On the Northwest side of Pansy Lake there is this interesting seasonal pond:
We continued south, following the trail past a bunch of campsites and finally finding the old mine:
We didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the mine – we quickly headed back towards the lake:
And then headed over to the east side of the lake and then south (and up) on the current trail. (we had almost 1500′ to gain before we got to the lookout) On the way up the trail, we found one of the spots where the old trail crossed the existing trail (as shown on the project map). That was kind of cool. We shortly got up to the junction with the Motherlode Trail and headed east, climbing pretty much all the way. There was a viewpoint where we got a great view of Mt Jefferson:
We tried not to stop, but we had to make a few breather breaks on the way up. We finally got to the Welcome Lakes Junction and then headed back west – our final push up to the lookout. It wasn’t too long before we make it to the Bull of the Woods Lookout:
The lookout is doing pretty well, all things considered. It doesn’t appear to be really getting any maintenance but it still stands. Every time I see it, it is a little bit more weathered than the last time I saw it.
Here is a nice view from the lookout – looking over to Big Slide Mountain and Schreiner Peak behind it and Olallie Butte to the south:
We spent a few minutes at the lookout enjoying the view, but it was getting late – it was about 3:30 and we figured it would be getting dark by 5:00. We were hoping we could make it down in an hour – the plan was to take the Bull of the Woods trail (550) down to the Dickey Lake trail (549) and then back the final leg of the Pansy Lake trail to the truck.
We kept up a good pace, but were slowed somewhat on the Dickey Lake trail due to a bunch of downed logs. We were trying to go as fast as we could. Once we got to the Pansy Lake trail it started getting rather dark in the trees, but we didn’t need to pull out the headlamps. We finally made it back to the truck just before 5:00 and it was almost dark. Not another soul to be seen all day long.
I took the drive back down the mountain slowly – I was expecting to see some animals and didn’t want to hit any of them. Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any animals on the way down. We made it back to Estacada a little after 6 and had a burger and a beer at Fearless.
It was a fantastic day of exploring on an absolutely beautiful fall day. I’m so glad I was able to get out and enjoy it.
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 spent 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: Rimrock and Cottonwood Meadows Trails
Trail Number: 704 and 705
Weather during Hike: Sunny, cold and windy
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 11:30 AM End Time: 3:45 PM
Hike Distance: 6.5 miles
We got a bit of a late start due to my sleeping in a bit. We got to the east end of the Rimrock trail about 11:30 and headed up. The dogs were ready to go (as usual). While we were getting ready, they were running back and forth down the 5830 road like maniacs. They probably hiked 2 or 3 times as far as we did….
Anyway, we headed up the east side – the hill is pretty steep in places, so we quickly got our hearts racing. The trail was relatively clear (this side doesn’t get a lot of traffic). Part way up the hill, we encountered a little bit of snow:
When we got to the top, at the rockslide, we got a pretty good view of the Shellrock creek drainage:
From there, we continued up the hill to the overlook trail junction, and then headed up to the overlook. I think the last time I was here was in the middle of winter when you could barely see the trail junction sign! This was almost 7 months prior:
We headed up the overlook trail and shortly got to the overlook where it was very windy. We headed out to the point, where we got some good views. This is looking south towards Mt. Jefferson and Olallie:
This is looking north towards Mt Hood:
This is looking southwest to Oak Grove Work center:
Here is a short video – It was really windy on the North/East side of the overlook – make sure to turn the volume down:
We kind of sheltered on the west side of the overlook where the wind wasn’t too bad – we ate lunch there and then headed back down. Just to make things interesting, we decided to head back along the bluff. It was quite a bit shorter and it looked pretty open and was a straight shot back to the trail (instead of going down and then back up). It turned out to be relatively easy walking, other than going over a bunch of downed logs. We soon made it back to the trail near the rocklide and then continued down. On the way back down, we saw several of these blazes – two on bottom and one on top – but weren’t sure what they meant:
We quickly got back to the truck (around 2:00) and then headed across the road to the Cottonwood Meadows trail. This is what greeted us near the beginning of the trail:
We went around the frozen spot (it wasn’t thick enough to walk on I don’t think). We continued down the trail and then explored a short alternate for the trail that ended up pretty much heading back up to the road. Not sure if it was an old alignment or what. As we continued down the trail, we soon got to the first meadow – we obviously had to go around – even the dogs didn’t want to go thru it – not sure how deep it was, but it was more than ankle deep for sure:
We continued around that meadow/swamp and soon came to the big swamp/lake – Cottonwood Meadow Lake? (not sure what it is called). We took the route on the west side of the lake, continued south and had to route around another wet area, finally coming to the large meadow north of the 5830-240 spur road. This is essentially the end of the trail until you get down to the 265 spur, where the beautiful south end of the trail exists. We didn’t go that far since we didn’t have enough time. We headed cross country a bit to explore the area – we went down the road a bit and then headed south where it seemed more open. It was for the most part, but was still rough going. We were running out of daylight, so we headed back up the hill – we didn’t really want to hike in the dark – we knew it would get cold really quickly once the sun went down.
We headed back up to the road, then back up thru the meadow. Just before the big lake, we saw some branches piled in the trail with a flag – it kind of looked like a trail, so we followed it around to a campsite on the south end of the lake. There was a boat there (I had seen it a few years ago on the west side of the lake). There was about an inch thick of ice on the south end of the lake (the dogs were walking all over the ice – we didn’t go too far out):
And here is Cottonwood Meadows Lake from this south end campsite – you can see the ice part way out – I don’t think this end of the lake gets any sun this time of year:
After exploring this campsite for a few minutes, we continued back up the hill. We made good time and got back to the truck just before 4:00. We loaded up and headed out. As we drove out, we decided to explore the 210 spur – I took this photo part way down the spur road. This was where we were earlier in the day – the overlook is to the left, Mount Mitchell proper is to the right:
We went down the spur pretty much to the end. We were hoping there might be some sort of view, but things have grown up too much. It was interesting – part way down, the road went thru some uncut area that was really pretty. It had a campsite next to the road. We turned around and headed back. As we were driving, the sun went down – by the time we got back to Estacada, it was pretty much dark. We stopped at Fearless for a burger and a beer. The perfect way to end a good day of exploration!
Location of Hike: Minotaur Lake
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Carly and Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 1:30 PM
Hike Distance: 4 miles
Carly told me that this was a short, but steep hike. She was not kidding. The trail gains about 1400′ of elevation in about 3/4 mile. After that, it gains still more elevation, but it is much less steep. I wasn’t sure I was up for it, and I was not really prepared to hike – but since it was short and relatively close, and she had all her hiking gear with her, we decided to go. (I borrowed a water bottle and one hiking stick from her) We found a couple of cars at the trailhead when we got there, and quickly headed up the trail. The trail is steep from almost the first step you take, and just goes up, and up and up and up. Here is an example of one section of trail (this was looking downhill at a steep section):
It is more climbing than hiking, but the trail is in reasonably good shape. We trudged up the trail, resting a few times along the way, but we really made pretty good time. Before too long, the grade eased and then we found ourselves at a couple of cool meadows:
These were relatively small and soon, we crested a hill and we got our first glimpse of the lake:
When we got there it was pretty calm, but the wind picked up a little bit as the day progressed. We walked on the south side of the lake to a nice spot to have lunch. Carly was kind enough to carry my lunch in her backpack (since I didn’t have mine). The water in the lake was really clear and a beautiful deep blue/turquoise color:
We ate lunch by the lake and then started looking up the hill above us – we saw a rough “goat path” that looked like it went up to the ridge. Carly had said that there was some sort of climbers trail over to Labrynth Mountain (another mile or so). While we didn’t have enough time to go all the way to Labyrynth Mountain, I thought we could try to see if we could get up on the ridge. Here is a shot of the “goat path” (taken on the way down) showing how steep it was:
It wasn’t too hard to get up to the ridge – soon we had views in pretty much every direction. The wildfire smoke that had been stuck in the area for the last several weeks had cleared quite a bit, so we had pretty good views. This was looking kind of northwest – I think the peaks in the distance (the ones with snow on them) might be Black Mountain in the center, and Monte Cristo and Columbia peaks towards the left:
Looking east you could see some smoke rising over one of the distant ridges, as well as a tiny sliver of Lake Wenatchee:
Here is Carly pointing out the smoke – with Labrynth Mountain behind her:
We enjoyed a few minutes on the ridge looking around, but knew we needed to get back, so we headed back down the goat path. On the way back down, I noticed these really interesting flowers. I asked Carly if she knew what they were and she said her friend called them “Dr Seuss flowers”:
After we got back I did a little googling and found out they are white pasqueflowers that have gone to seed. I can certainly see why they could be nicknamed Dr Seuss flowers though!
We made it down off the ridge and then headed to the north side of the lake to the ridge separating Minotaur and Theseus Lakes. Apparently there is a trail down to Theseus lake, but we didn’t have time to explore it, so we just hiked up to the ridge and looked at Theseus Lake from the ridge – another beautiful deep blue lake:
After a few minutes, we headed back down – before we left, Thor had to cool off in Minotaur Lake (for the second time). He gets hot easily and loves to lay down in shallow water to cool himself off:
We then headed back down the trail – the hiking pole came in really handy on the steep downhill, but that steep downhill is tough on the knees. In places I think it was easier to go uphill than it was to go downhill! We made good time on the trip down and shortly got back to Carly’s car.
We headed back into Leavenworth where Carly treated me to a bratwurst and a beer at a good sausage place in Leavenworth. A very nice end to a nice surprise hike!
Location of Hike: Calico Road and Fish Creek
Weather during Hike: Cool with intermittent sunshine
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 9:50 AM End Time: 1:25 PM
Hike Distance: 7 miles
I was surprised at how much snow there was. Just a few weeks ago there was pretty much no snow anywhere, but today, there was snow at the crest of the hill outside of Estacada, and remnants of snow along 224. Once we turned off to go up Fish Creek road, the snow started getting heavier – it wasn’t ON the road, but right up to it.
We started out on the old road with snow almost covering the “tread”:
We continued down the road, making good time and watching the snow get deeper and deeper. We got to a turn where the sunlight was poking thru and illuminating the trees (this photo doesn’t do it justice):
We continued down the road, gaining elevation until we got to the 120 spur junction. At that point, we started heading down and found some fresh deer prints in the snow:
We continued down the road to its end and then did a short cross country jaunt back to the 54 road. From there, we decided to head upstream to the first bridge. We had lunch there and rested for a few minutes. Here is Fish Creek from first bridge:
Thor was kind of restless, so we shortly headed back. On the way back, I looked back at one point and saw this view of what I think is Wanderers Peak, with snow on it:
We made good time going back and got back to the car about 1:30 and then headed home.
Nothing terribly exciting or earth shaking happened on this hike, but it was nice to experience the snow and get out and enjoy the woods for a few hours.
Location of Hike: Down Calico road and Back Fish Creek
Weather during Hike: Misty to Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Zack and Thor
Start Time: 9:45 AM End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 4.8 miles
Zack joined us on this hike and he wanted to do some clearing up the old Calico road – the plan was to try and clear that and then head down to Fish Creek and clear that road on the way back – we didn’t have enough time to get the whole Calico road cleared, but we got close. We didn’t do much on Fish Creek since we ran out of time. I didn’t take too many photos since it was kind of a short day, but we did cut quite a few logs off the old road. I didn’t count, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were 40 or 50 logs. We used my saw, but Zack did all the cutting since I wasn’t sure how Thor would respond to the the noise of the chainsaw. Amazingly enough, it didn’t seem to bother him. I did a bunch of lopping and clearing of the cut logs.
We started down the old Calico road, and short came to a huge messy blowdown. We cleared that, and then crossed Rimrock creek. After that crossing, I normally head down to Fish Creek (there is an old quad trail down), but today we continued up the Calico road. We cleared logs as we went, and while clearing one log, Zack saw this Pacific Giant Salamander- I didn’t get a good picture of him – once we saw him, he quickly scampered back under some brush – I was trying to get my boot in the photo for scale, but was too slow. His body was probably 6-8″ long and his tail was at least that long, if not longer:
We continued down Calico road to a point where the 120 spur met it. We had lunch there and the sun came out for a few minutes. After a quick lunch, we continued south on the 120 spur and quickly came to First Creek – this is what it looks like a little higher up the canyon wall (a little smaller than down by fish creek):
We continued down the spur road and a litlte farther Zack told me about this cool little waterfall below the road:
While he continued to cut logs off the road, Thor and I went down to check it out. A little farther down the road, we encountered this very large tree that had come down – one we did not cut:
We continued to the end of the 120 spur and then headed cross country down to the old road 54. We came in just north of Second creek. Once we hit the old road 54, we quickened our pace since we were running a bit late. We didn’t really do any cutting or lopping on the way back except for a couple of small trees. We made it back to the truck a little after 3.
A great day out in the woods in February. Nothing earth shaking happened, but cutting out a bunch of logs felt good and the weather really couldn’t have been better.
Location of Hike: Plaza and Salmon Mountain Trails
Trail Number: 783, 787
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:20 PM End Time: 5:05 PM
Hike Distance: 10.25 miles
We headed up a little earlier than usual, and made our way down the pothole laden 4610 road to the east end of the Old Baldy trail. The Plaza trail actually starts here – you take off from the trailhead and in about 50 feet the Plaza trail heads east for a bit (to the old Plaza Guard station) and Old Baldy heads west.
We parked, got ready and headed out. I remembered to bring Thor’s backpack so he could carry his own water, etc. Here he is all ready to start the day:
We headed out, heading pretty much east until we got to the old Plaza Guard station location. About the only thing noticeable now is the old fireplace:
We looked around a bit and then headed up the trail. At this point the trail turns north, heading up to Sheepshead Rock and beyond. We got to Sheepshead Rock pretty quickly, and found a side trail that headed up to the small, rocky area on top of the rock. We got probably the best views of the day from this point, however I neglected to take a photo of the rock itself. It was a pretty unique looking rock. Here is a picture of Mt Hood from the top of Sheepshead rock:
And here is a 360 Photo from the top of Sheepshead Rock that Kirk took (mine got messed up somehow).
After soaking in the views for a bit, we headed back down and then continued north until we got to the junction with the Salmon Mountain trail (the marker sign has obviously seen better days):
And on the way up we saw a half dozen or so old phone line insulators along the trail that went up to the old lookout:
Shortly after the junction, we headed offtrail to get to the plane crash site which occurred in 1966. Here is part of the debris field of the crash – the debris field was actually much larger than I thought:
We explored the debris field a bit and then realized it might not have been a great idea to let the dogs run around – there was LOTS of gnarled metal on the ground – we were concerned that one of the dogs was going to cut their paws. We walked back out of the main debris field to make sure the dogs didn’t get hurt, and then headed back up the hill to the trail. It was still pretty early, and it didn’t look like it was too far to the lookout, so we continued east up the trail. Partway up, we saw these remains – we couldn’t figure out what it could have been. It was kind of small for an outhouse – we thought maybe the phone line terminated here, but we saw insulators farther up the trail, so what it was remains a mystery – some sort of box probably about 30″-36″ square:
Here is kind of typical tread on the Salmon Mountain trail-the trail guide says the tread disappears, but it seemed to be pretty good the whole way – but maybe I’m just used to hiking abandoned trails and this wasn’t as bad as those are:
And a bit farther up the trail, we found a ribbon from the recent hiker search in the area (just last week-thankfully he was found alive and well):
After some odd junctions on the trail, we finally made it up to the old lookout site on Salmon Mountain:
We found out that the trail location on the map is wrong. The trail actually goes below the summit, over to the east, and then switchbacks to the west to get to the summit. Apparently there is a cliff on the east side that is pretty much impassable. It was rather small up on top, and only had two footings there. Kirk took this photo of me and the dogs at the lookout (I was sitting on one of the footings):
We ate lunch at the lookout site and enjoyed the sunshine and the views for a while. After a while, we decided we should head back and then went back down the way we came. When we got to the switchback at the bottom of the hill (where it switchbacked back west up to the lookout), Kirk wanted to see if there were views on the second peak – the switchback was kind of in a saddle between the two peaks. There was a faint trail that headed up, so we followed it up to the high point, but there was really no views, just a small meadowy place where the faint trail seemed to kind of die. So, we headed back and then headed down the trail. We still had a long ways to go back and by this time it was almost 3:00.
On the way out, I had forgotten how up and down this trail was – or maybe I was just tired. It seemed like there was a LOT more UP on the way back than I remember.
We got back to the trailhead a little after 5:00 and found another vehicle parked there – we were guessing they must have been hiking the Old Baldy trail. We packed up and headed out.
On the way out, driving the 4614 road, a lone hunter was along side the road with a deer. He flagged us down and asked if we could help him load it into the back of his minivan. We did, although Kirk got some blood on him while we were loading it. It was kind of an interesting way to end the day!
We capped off an almost perfect day of hiking with dinner at Fearless.
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: Corral Springs Trail
Trail Number: 507
Weather during Hike: Misty at first then sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 3:30 PM
Hike Distance: 5.75 miles
When we got to the abandoned Lookout Springs campground (where the trailhead starts), there was a family camped there. Thor, being Thor wanted to meet them and ran over to them. He made a new friend with their son, who seemed to really like him. The dad asked me about Huxley Lake – how far, how hard, etc. I told him what I remembered from the last time I went down there and told them about the weird side trail to the lake (which tripped me up on my first attempt). When we returned from our hike, they were still in the camp and I asked if they had gone to the lake they said no. Oh well – at least they didn’t get lost.
OK, back to the hike – The beginning of this trail has some nice trees in it and the trail is pretty flat. It goes thru some beautiful old growth forest – a sample of the upper section:
And then after about a mile, it starts the brutal descent into the Roaring River canyon. Shortly, you get a great view of Indian Ridge which is across the canyon (this is near the big rockslide):
At this point, the trail changes quite a bit – it gets steeper, and the trees are much smaller and there are a lot more rhodies. A little farther, I noticed a bunch of White Iris on the trail, which is really interesting because you don’t see that very often:
As you get closer to the river, the trail gets steeper and more faint. Fortunately, there is good flagging where the trail gets really faint. And as you get closer to the river, the trees get larger as well. The lower part of the trail is somewhat like the upper part, except for an abundance of salal (which is the primary reason the trail gets so faint). We eventually arrived at the Roaring River, which wasn’t too Roaring this time of year:
We ate lunch at the campsite (which obviously hasn’t been used for a while):
Once we were done with lunch, we crossed the Roaring River (I took my boots off and waded and Thor swam) and looked for any sign of tread on the other side – we were trying to find the junction with the old 511 trail. The brush over there was brutal, and there are HUGE logs down EVERYWHERE, so moving around over there was pretty tough. A photo of the rootball of one of the downed trees (hiking pole for scale):
So many downed trees:
We did find one possible short section of something that kind of looked like tread, but it was only about 10 feet long. We found no blazes at all. We spent about 30 minutes over there looking for anything, and found nothing. I’m guessing that the maps are correct and at some point Corral Springs got re-routed farther north (its current location) from its original routing. I’m guessing any tread or blazes (if they exist) would be wherever that alignment was. Since we couldn’t really find more 511 tread across the river, I think that end of the 511 is probably gone.
We crossed back over the river – this time I thought I could rock hop, but it turned out that I missed a rock – I ended up getting wet on the far side. But it wasn’t too bad. We headed back up the steep trail, doing some brushing on the way (it allowed me to rest a bit on the long trip back uphill).
This was a burned out stump I noticed on the way back up which I thought was kind of neat:
And I really liked this little area on the way back up – an interesting combination of dying old trees and new trees taking their place:
We made it back up in pretty good time and then headed home. A very nice day in the woods – great way to spend a birthday!
Location of Hike: Grand Tetons - Mormon Row and Laurel Lake
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Sarah and Carly
Start Time: 3:50 PM End Time: 5:50 PM
Hike Distance: 2.5 miles
We started at the visitor center and enjoyed the exhibits and displays and watched a short movie on the Grand Tetons. From there, we drove around to Mormon Row, which is an abandoned row of homesteads. There were several homesteads and buildings along this road, but this is a photo of the Thomas Murphy Homestead:
After walking around the Mormon homesteads for a bit, we got back in the car and went to see the Cunningham Cabin. He was another early settler:
We then decided to go up to the top of Signal Mountain – you can drive to the top and get a great view of the whole valley. This is Jackson Lake from the top of Signal Mountain:
By this time it was almost time for Carly to get off work, so we headed back to camp to get ready for our last short hike up to Laurel Lake. As we were headed back to camp, we ran into a “Bear Jam” – a Bear had been chased out of the campground and was along the road. People had stopped in the middle of the road to take pictures. The bear seemed completely uninterested in all the attention it was getting.
We got changed and met Carly and then headed out to the String Lake trailhead. This “trail” split off from the String Lake trail and then headed (literally) straight up the hillside to Laurel Lake. There were a few very short switchbacks (more like a snake trail than switchbacks) and a lot of the trail was very brushy, but it was pretty easy to follow – you can tell a fair number of people hike this unofficial trail. This is a photo looking down the trail – the hillside is probably 45 degrees or more the whole way – you can see the official trail down near the lake:
We made good time and it didn’t take too long to get up to the lake since the ascent was pretty aggressive. We gained about 850 feet in short order. We found the lake and it was a beautiful small lake in a bowl:
We enjoyed the lake for a bit and then headed back to the car and then on to Leek’s Marina for some great pizza. A great way to end our stay in the Grand Tetons.
Location of Hike: Grand Tetons - Delta, Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes
Weather during Hike: Ranged from Sunny to Misty
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Sarah and Carly
Start Time: 10:45 AM End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 11.5 miles
We started out and headed up the Lupine Meadows trail, which then joined the Amphitheater Lake trail. On switchback number 6, there was a pretty rough side trail (goat path, really), that led you up to Delta Lake. It went thru two rock fields and in some places straight up the hill. It was a challenging route. Here is one portion of one of the rock fields:
And a photo looking up from below on the descent – this hill was probably at least 60 degrees – maybe steeper:
Once we got up to Delta Lake (we would see later in the day how it got its name), we hiked around the north side of the lake to a very large rock in the water. We had lunch on this rock and enjoyed this view of the Grand Teton:
After having lunch and enjoying the view for a bit, we headed back down to the junction with the Amphitheater Lake trail. On the way down, we saw these pouches on a tree and a small placard explaining what they were. They are trying to save the Whitebark pine trees from the mountain pine beetle, and the pouches are “pheromone pouches” which must repel the beetles.
We continued down the trail to the junction with the real trail and at this point, Carly went downhill since she had to go to work. We continued up the hill to Surprise and Amphitheater lakes. On the way up, we talked with a man who said we should continue past Amphitheater lake up to the ridge above the lake – he said it was quite a view and worth the climb.
Shortly after Carly left us, we saw a deer right off the trail. He didn’t seem to be too concerned about our presence. He just kept munching away at the brush as we walked up the trail:
A little later, we started to feel a little drizzle. This continued for a while and got heavier. Unfortunately, I did not bring rain gear on this hike since I only had my little teeny day pack. I did bring my OmniHeat jacket, which isn’t waterproof, but it kept me warm while it rained. The rain let up somewhat, but continued for a few hours.
Shortly, we came to Surprise Lake:
We tried to shelter under some trees at Surprise Lake, but still got wet there. After spending a few minutes checking things out, we went back to the trail and headed up to aptly named Amphitheater Lake:
Since it was still raining, we didn’t waste much time and headed up the north side of the lake on a somewhat legible user trail. We headed up to a small pass between the Amphitheater lake basin and the Delta Lake basin. Although we couldn’t see Delta Lake from there, it was quite a view:
There was also quite a “chute” between the ridge and where we were standing – it went all the way down to the Delta basin-about 1000′ below:
After checking this out for a few minutes, Sarah and I were ready to head back down, but Kirk wanted to explore a bit higher. We were tired, but waited for Kirk to explore up higher. I’m so glad he did, because he found a really cool little platform where we could see Delta Lake (the lake we visited in the morning):
You could see how this lake got its name – seeing the delta feeding it and the sediment going into the lake. It was really interesting to see the lake from 1000′ above like that – you couldn’t even see the brown part of the lake from below!
After enjoying the view of Delta lake from above, we headed back down to Amphitheater lake. When we were coming up, Kirk thought he saw some sort of climbers trail on the south side of the lake up high. When we went back down, there were two climbers heading up (they are pretty small but they are in the upper snowbank in the middle of the photo):
That was really interesting to see. We were thinking they might try and summit one of the mountains.
After watching the climbers for a bit, we continued down the trail. Shortly after that point, the rain mostly stopped, so we took off our rain gear and continued down the hill. The trip down was pretty quick (compared to going up). We got back to the trailhead about 3:30 and headed back to camp – a wonderful days adventure in a BEAUTIFUL place.
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: Thornton Lakes Trail
Weather during Hike: Partly cloudy to overcast
Hiking Buddies: Carly
Start Time: 11:00 AM End Time: 11:00 AM
Hike Distance: 11 miles
- Day 1 – Drive up to Chelan and pick up Carly off the ferry – drive to somewhere around Winthrop and spend the night.
- Day 2 – Drive to the Thornton Lakes trailhead and head up the hill – taking a side trip up to Trapper Peak – camp the night at Thornton Lake.
- Day 3 – Hike back down to the truck and drive back to somewhere near Chelan to camp the night.
- Day 4 – Drop Carly off at the ferry and then drive home.
The actual trip changed a bit, as we talked we decided that Carly could just come home with me and then we could look for a car for her. She could go back up to Stehekin/Wenatchee later. The weather was a big unknown, as some of the weather reports were talking about snow and/or rain and freezing temperatures. Whatever happened, I knew it was going to be quite an adventure.
I headed up on a Saturday morning to Chelan – the drive was pretty uneventful (although long). Made it to the ferry early, as I left early and made good time. Fortunately, the ferry was on time and I picked up Carly and we headed out. Since it is getting dark earlier, and the trailhead was 3 miles from the ferry landing, I decided Winthrop was a good spot and since we were only going to “camp” one night, and the weather was kind of iffy, I decided to get a hotel for that night. It turned out to be a good decision, as we would have been setting up camp in the dark. We made it to Winthrop and had dinner and filled up the truck and pretty much went to bed.
We got up Sunday morning and had the continental breakfast at the hotel and then packed up and headed out. In the field next to the hotel, they were preparing to launch a hot air balloon, which was kind of interesting:
We had about an hour and a half drive to the trailhead, so we headed out – we stopped for coffee at a little bakery in Winthrop and found out it was so busy because there was a marathon that day. Good thing I got a reservation for the hotel!
We headed up highway 20, marveling at all the huge mountains and dramatic views along the way. We passed the trailhead we hiked last summer, near Ross Lake. A bit further down the road was an overlook – looking out over Diablo Lake – we stopped to take a look:
Quite a dramatic place. After enjoying those views for a few minutes we headed back out and shortly made it to the town of Newhalem where there was a North Cascades visitor center. We stopped there for a bit to see what was there. Lots of exhibits and info about animals and trees and such. Neat place.
We headed back out and soon got to the trailhead – after driving up a 5 mile long narrow rough road (the whole reason I brought the truck rather than the car and I’m glad I did). There were 3 other cars at the trailhead, which kind of surprised me since we were at the beginning of October and the weather hadn’t been all that great. We weren’t sure if we were going to have decent weather or not – the weather report had gotten better – from rain/snow to showers and possibly some sun – but still forecast to be near freezing at night. We got ready and headed down the trail – the first couple miles of the trail is actually the continuation of the road – it was closed to vehicles due to some washouts but was still pretty much a road. Since the trail was relatively flat and easy walking, we made great time on this portion of the trip. Soon, we got to the Thornton Creek Crossing:
A little farther, the actual trail portion took off uphill. Portions of this were steep and rocky, but overall it wasn’t too bad. As we neared the top of the hill, the trail leveled out a bit and there was a neat meadow area:
We continued up to the pass where there was a side/unofficial trail up to the top of Trapper Peak. Carly had read that it got a bit steep in places but was a non technical climb, so we dropped our packs in the woods and headed up the side trail. It basically follows the ridgeline up the top of Trappers peak, although it does get a bit steep in places:
About halfway up was this interesting, very small (about 8 feet in diameter) tarn:
In about 45 minutes we reached the top – we looked bakc down at where we had come – this was not all the way up the hill, but you can see the ridge route down to the pass:
This gave us some impressive views in all directions. We got a great view of Upper Thornton Lake, which would be very difficult to hike to – it is in a huge bowl:
And here is a view of both of the two upper Thornton lakes:
The views were in all directions and were incredible – we were very blessed with good weather – the clouds had mostly cleared and the wind was very calm. An absolutely beautiful fall day.
Here is a few of some of the fall colors down in the valley from the top of Trapper Peak:
And what it looked like on top of Trapper Peak – there were like 3 little “peaks” with flat areas in between:
Here is a 360 degree panorama video from the top of Trapper Peak:
After enjoying the views for about an hour, we headed back down – we wanted to make sure we would get to our campsite in plenty of time before dark and it was already almost 4:00. So we headed down and shortly got back to our packs and headed over the saddle and down the rough, steep, narrow trail down to the lake. It was kind of a slow trip down since it was pretty tough. Once we got down, we then had to make our way across a difficult boulder field and then across the logjam at the outlet of the lake (it was a LOT harder than it looks – those rocks are HUGE, and pretty steep).
We made it across and then decided which of the two campsites we wanted to use – we opted for the first one, since it seemed a little nicer than the second one, and we would be serenaded by the outlet creek. Our campsite at Thorton Lake:
Here is what the lake looked like from near our campsite – looking up at Trapper Peak where we were earlier in the day:
We set up camp and were both hungry so we made dinner and then cleaned up. By that time it was starting to get dusky and chilly, so we buttoned up the campsite for the night, hung our food and crawled into the tent.
It got cool overnight, but I don’t think it got as cold as was predicted (34 degrees). When we woke in the morning, it was foggy, which I’m thinking might have kept some heat in to keep it a little warmer. We got up, made breakfast and then packed up and headed back up that horrible trail. I had to stop 3 times to take layers off – I was getting too hot!
On the way back up, I stopped to take this photo of the lake, which is kind of a neat point of view:
We made good time on the way back up and arrived at the truck about 11am – shortly after we got there, it started lightly raining – the first rain we had on the trip. We changed our clothes for the long drive back home and packed up the truck and headed out. We had 309 miles and about 6 and half hours of driving (according to Google). We stopped somewhere north of Seattle for lunch and then stopped in north Vancouver for dinner, finally arriving home about 7pm.
It was a very short trip, but it was pretty incredible, and I was very happy to be able to take the trip with Carly. I hope we can plan a trip next year – I really enjoy our father/daughter trips – I assume it will probably be somewhere in the same neighborhood since she really likes the North Cascades.
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: 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: Cottonwood Meadows Trail
Trail Number: 705
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 2:15 PM
Hike Distance: 6 miles
I decided on Cottonwood Meadows since it seemed like a relatively flat and easy trail to do, and it wasn’t too long. The cross country part was a little tough on him, but he did really good all the way. In addition, this is the perfect time to visit this trail, since the meadows are all dried up and the bugs are all gone. I had not been here in several years (looks like it has been 7 years!!!!), and wanted to go back.
The hike was pretty low key – nothing terribly exiting happened. Shortly after we started down the trail, we arrived at the first meadow:
We looked around a bit, headed across the meadow and soon came to the second, largest meadow that has a “lake”:
And then we found something completely unexpected – A boat!!!:
I can’t believe that someone drug a boat all the way into this lake. I can’t imagine there are any fish in this lake – it is very shallow.
We wandered down the trail to the end of the official trail at the 5830-240 spur road. From here, you must go cross country through an old clearcut (that isn’t recovering well) to get to the lower section of trail. Basically, you need to go from the 5830-240 spur to the 5830-260 spur road thru the old clearcut. About in the middle of the clearcut, right at the edge, we found this tree that had something painted/written on it, but we couldn’t make it out. What does this tree say?
We then made it down to the 5830-260 spur and took it to the end where the lower trail starts again. The very beginning is a little rough, but once you get into the uncut area, it is a beautiful trail:
Had to get a shot of Bodie next to a big old tree with a blaze:
We continued down to the 6345-120 spur where the trail ends. We thought about heading down to the Cot Creek bridge that is washed out, but Bodie seemed to be getting tired, so we turned around and headed back up. On the way back up, I took a picture of this rough spot:
There were only about 10-12 trees down on the lower section – less than the upper section. The tread down there is REALLY good!
We continued back up the trail – I’m sure I took a different route thru the clearcut on the way back, but ended up close to where we were started. Got back up to the truck pretty quickly and then headed home.
A very nice, peaceful, pleasant day in the woods.
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: Pansy Lake and Motherlode Trails
Trail Number: 551 and 558
Weather during Hike: A little bit of everything - wind, misty, overcast and sun spots
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 10:15 AM End Time: 5:15 PM
Hike Distance: 9.3 miles
Zack and I talked about a few options, and decided to hike up to Pansy Lake to see if we could find the old mines up there, as well as some other artifacts from long ago. Zack also had an off trail lake he wanted to explore to see if there were any fish in it. He said it had been stocked with fish in 2011.
We arrived at the trailhead a little before 10:00 and were surprised to see several other cars there – 2 of them were leaving as we got there, and 2 guys headed in just ahead of us. We figured we would see them later in the day. We also figured that some people were probably camped at Pansy Lake – that was an incorrect assumption – no one was camped at Pansy.
We headed up the trail and soon got to Pansy Lake – hiking past all the campsites on the north end of the lake – We got intermittent wind gusts in that section – some pretty strong. I was surprised how strong they were in there – I was thinking the lake would be much more protected. We were on guard for falling trees, though! Once past the campsites, we kind of kept going west, and followed the map over to a spot marked “prospect” (which I suspected was the mine). That turned out to be a good assumption, as we found the old mine:
And after exploring a bit, we found an old generator near the mine:
There was also supposed to be remnants of a horse corral and other signs of an old encampment. We were not able to find much, but we think this might have been the old watering hole:
We wandered around looking for a kind of open area, and ended up finding a trail on the north side of this watering hole. It was blazed and pretty well defined, but very steep – we were wondering if it might have been an old Indian trail:
It deserves more exploration sometime in the future, as well as some research to see if we can find this trail on some old maps. After wandering around for a while, we headed back to Pansy Lake:
Headed up to the saddle where the Motherlode trail joins. Shortly, we entered the burned area (from the BOTW fire a few years ago):
On the way down the Motherlode trail, just before the dry Motherlode creek crossing, there was this very interesting double blaze – I have not see one like this before where both blazes are side by side:
We continued down the trail until we got to what seemed like a good route up to the un-named lake. We fought our way thru the dense rhodie brush until we got up to the burned area. Once, there, travel was a little easier due to less brush, but it got pretty steep in places. One thing I noticed – what I called the “Forest of a thousand bent trees” – It seemed like every small tree in the burned area was bent over like this – I don’t know what causes this, but it was interesting to see:
We finally made it up to the bowl where this un-named lake was above the Motherlode trail:
Zack got out his fishing pole and tried some catch and release fishing. He got a strike on his first cast, and then nothing for a while – he worked his way around the lake and eventually ended up catching (and releasing) 3 fish – one of them a really nice one.
We were concerned that we wouldn’t have enough time to get back, so we started back downhill a little after 3:00. It was easier going downhill and quickly met the Motherlode trail and headed back up the hill. We didn’t really stop on the way back up except to cut a few of the “bent” trees that were hanging over the trail. We made really good time, and ended up getting back to the truck a little after 5:00. We were thinking it would take us 3 hours to get out and it only took us slightly over 2 hours!
We only saw 4 other people on the trail all day – the 2 who headed out before us (we figured they took the loop up the BOTW lookout), and what looked like a mother/daughter coming up Motherlode – they were coming from Twin Lakes.
It was a great trip, although a bit farther than we had anticipated. We got very little rain, and only periodic short spurts of wind – a lot better than I thought it would be! We even got some short sun spots! On the way back down from the saddle, we started getting a little mist, but we really only felt it in the open areas. When we got back to Estacada, it was really raining. Either the hills didn’t get as much rain as the valley, or we lucked out and missed the brunt of the rain. We stopped in Estacada at Fearless for a burger and a beer.
All in all, a great 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: North Fork Clackamas River - Fisherman Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 11:15 AM End Time: 3:15 PM
Hike Distance: 4.7 miles
It was a beautiful day – probably close to 60 degrees and sunny. The beginning of the walk climbs, but you hear the sound of the river for a ways – you then veer away from the river and keep climbing quite a bit above it. A little later, you come back down to the river – it is about here where the old road kind of disintegrates and gets tougher to follow. I think it was about this point where we came upon a small herd of elk. We scared them and they ran off, but it was pretty cool to see. The trees in this area are relatively large and it is a very pleasant area. Here is a photo of one of the tracks:
We continued following the increasingly difficult road, coming to a large old washout which was rather difficult to get around. We had a hard time figuring out exactly where the road went. We finally found bits and piece and made it up to an old spur road. We stopped for lunch and saw a logging operation on the hill across the way. We ate and then decided to head up this old spur to see how much farther we could go. A little ways up the spur we came across what looked like an old marijuana grow operation. Abandoned camping gear, fertilizer bottles and trash. It was very odd because they camped right on the old road, and there was active logging nearby. Maybe they did this before that area was logged. Anyway, we kept going up the road until the road stopped at a removed/collapsed bridge across Fall creek. The creek was running pretty fast and deep and we really didn’t want to cross it, so we turned around and headed back. We took a slightly different track back, hoping to avoid some of the blackberries we encountered on the way in. A photo of the removed/collapsed bridge:
It was a nice day in the woods. I really enjoyed hiking with Zack, although it wasn’t as good of a day as it would have been if we had been able to get to our original goal. Still, any day spent in the woods is better than a day anywhere else!
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: Rho Creek Trail
Trail Number: 569
Weather during Hike: Mostly Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 10:55 AM End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 8 miles
We got a lazy start, since it was New Years Day, but got up to the trailhead by a little after 10:30. The driving was a bit tricky, since there was lots of ice on road 46, and also LOTS of rocks that had come down from cliffs – some rather large rocks that required driving around.
Anyway, we headed up the trail – I had forgotten how much elevation this trail gains. The beginning of the trail climbs rather quickly. It is graded well, but you are gaining elevation rather fast. In a short while, we came to the Tumble Creek crossing:
Tumble/Rho creek is beautiful:
After crossing Tumble Creek, we headed up a couple of switchbacks, gaining more elevation before coming to the upper clearcut. It was here where I made an incorrect turn in 2006 (the last time I was on this trail). I turned right (NW) and headed along the edge of the clearcut. I should have continued mostly straight along the other edge of the clearcut, which is where the trail follows. We proceeded up the trail to the 4672 road, which was almost snow free – amazing for a road at 4000′ elevation on the first of January:
We continued across the 4672 road and headed uphill. After some more uphill, the trail levels out and the forest changes to smaller trees and more open:
After following this for a while, we got to a post that used to have a sign on it. We weren’t sure what it was marking. The notes I had sounded like this was a trail junction, and “turning left” would take us to the Guard station, which we wanted to find. We followed a very rough, faint trail for a while – it kind of came and went. We thought the guard station was near the meadow, so we continued on to the swampy area – it is actually called a meadow – Rhododendron Meadow. Maybe later in the year it is drier – today it was icy, otherwise it would have been hard to walk across.
We didn’t see any sign of the guard station site, but we were a bit confused about where exactly it was. We were running out of time for the day, so we decided to head around the meadow and find the trail that we came in on. We found the trail and started heading back, and lo and behold, we stumbled across the old collapsed guard station!
On the way back down, right above the 4672 road, we caught this nice glimpse of Mt Hood:
About half way back to the start, we saw something we missed on the way in – a post – it definitely said something at one time, but what did it say? It certainly didn’t look like a trail junction, so what could it have been for? I’ll probably never know (edit: I later learned that this post IS an old trail junction – the trail has long been abandoned and is pretty faint):
We were kind of in a hurry on the way back, racing to get back to the truck before dark (the days are very short this time of year), but I couldn’t help but take a photo of this section of the trail:
I can’t really say this is “typical” since this trail goes through so many different areas. But it is a very pleasant area. This trail is a very under appreciated trail. I will be back again sooner than 7 years next time.
We capped off the day with a burger and pint at Fearless. What a great way to kick off the new year!