Location of Hike: Skyline Trail segments and West Pinhead Butte
Weather during Hike: Mostly Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:40 AM End Time: 4:20 PM
Hike Distance: 7.25 miles Elevation Gain: 1400 feet
We headed out a bit early since it is a long drive – we decided to not go to the same spot we went last time – I was concerned it would be REALLY muddy in the “wood chip roads” due to all the rain we had, so we parked at a turnout on 4220 and headed over to the trail (which isn’t too far off the road anyway).
Right next to where we parked there were a bunch of pink ribbons, and then I found this short segment with some older flagging which looked an awful lot like old tread – could this have been an old connector trail to the skyline trail?:
Shortly, we came to the trail which we were on 2 weeks ago. A lot of this is in pretty good shape, other than all of the downed logs:
We hiked south, all the way to its junction with an old, closed road east of where 4290 meets 4220. Parts of the trail north of here are rather vague, but we were able to make our way thru it, using blazes and flags and the tracks we had previously. When we got to the old road, we stopped and had lunch. After a quick lunch (the days are short), we headed west back to 4220 (we didn’t want to go back the way we came – it was pretty tough going) and then walked 4220 back to the truck.
Once loaded back up, we headed north to the 4230 road – the plan was to drive as far as we could up 4230 and then walk the rest of the way to the top of West Pinhead Butte. There was a gate on the maps, and I assumed we would get stopped there – it was about a mile and a half to the top from that gate. Fortunately, we were able to drive very close to the top. We looked for the 120 spur to the top but it wasn’t in the place the map showed. It wasn’t far to the top and it was pretty open, so we figured we’d just make our own way to the top. It wasn’t too long before we encountered a road, which was the 120 spur. It wasn’t where the map showed it – at least the spot just above 4230:
We walked the rest of the way up the butte using the road. As we were walking up, Kirk saw North Pinhead Butte – which has an area that looks a lot like line Ruddy Hill – a big red spot (harder to see in this photo – it was much more apparent in person):
When we got to the top of the butte, we were surprised to see the remnants of an old lookout:
This looked to be larger than other lookouts – maybe 20′ square – most seemed to be about 14′ square. The other interesting thing was that there was still a lot of wood up there- like they hadn’t burned it like that had other lookouts – maybe it just collapsed?:
We looked around, I flew my drone and I thought I got video of the view above the trees, however I guess I didn’t hit record and so didn’t get that video.
One of the things that Kirk found below the lookout were 3 garbage pits – or maybe they were the old outhouse – not sure, but they all had old metal in them:
After looking around a bit more, we headed back down. The amazing thing was that if you were so inclined, and brought a chainsaw, I think you could actually drive to the top of West Pinhead Butte – it gets a bit brushy in a few spots, and there is a bit of road washout in a couple of places, but overall the road wasn’t bad. We walked back down the road to see where it intersected the 4230 road – it isn’t where it shows on the map, but it starts about a quarter of a mile downhill from where it shows on the map. This actually makes sense as it would have been too steep if it had been built where the map shows it. We walked back to the truck, loaded up and headed out for the third (and last) segment of the day.
Just down the road a bit from where we were, the Skyline trail crossed the road – I had short segments both north and south of 4230. We decided to head north to see what we could find. The trail in here is actually in pretty good shape, except for a few short areas. We were able to follow it pretty easily. Here are a couple of shots:
Along the way, we found 3 different places that had this weird flagging – at one point we thought it was the trail but soon realized it was not. It was two orange flags with a pink flag in the ground. We couldn’t figure out what it was for:
We continued north and were following trail but it was starting to get late. We got to this interesting rock cairn and decided we should turn around:
We got back to 4230 and headed south for a short ways but it was really starting to get dark so we turned around and headed back. I think we added another mile or 2 to the tracks we have for the Skyline Trail! Had it not gotten dark so early, we could easily have gone farther north or south.
We capped off the day by stopping at Fearless for dinner. A great way to end a great day of exploring.
Location of Hike: Sisi Butte and Skyline Trail
Weather during Hike: Mostly sunnny but windy and cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 11:00 AM End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: 7.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1800 feet
We passed the new bridge over Last creek which is really nice – much better than the old wood one that was here:
Here is what the old wood one looked like:
Once we explored those two things, we headed back to 4220 and headed down to Olallie Lake resort. We weren’t sure if the gate would still be open or no but we thought we’d try. We were fortunate and found the gate near 4690 open and we encountered a few vehicles on our way in, so there was more traffic than we were expecting. We made it to the lake and found the closure gate on 4220 just past the old ranger quarters:
We walked around the day use area and down to the boat ramp – the lake was pretty choppy as the wind was pretty fierce here – the wind made it VERY cold:
After looking at the lake we headed past the store and down to the Paul Dennis campground. After looking around a bit to see the fire damage, we headed back – on the way, we saw someone was staying in one of the cabins and it appeared as though a couple people were working on something up the hill. We wondered if it was the owners taking advantage of a nice weekend to get some maintenance done before the winter. We headed back north on 4220.
It wasn’t too long before we got to the 120 spur that heads up to the top of Sisi butte. It is gated so we parked at the gate and headed up. We weren’t sure how bad the wind was going to be, but we were pretty prepared. This is what the beginning of the road leading up to Sisi looked like:
The trip up the road was relatively quick. It wasn’t too bad elevation wise even though we gained over 1200′. The road is about 3 miles to the lookout.
We rounded the last corner and soon saw the Sisi Lookout:
We looked around the area – there was a lot of stuff up there -propane tanks, two small buildings – one for communications/radio equipment it looked like and another one maybe for a fuel cell or generator or something. Up near the lookout, there was a radio repeater just like the one at Squaw Mountain, and there was also an outhouse.
We headed up the stairs up the lookout but every new flight of stairs made the wind stronger. As we ascended, the steps and handrail had frost on them. We couldn’t get all the way to the top platform, as they have a trap door that is locked, but we made it just below that. I couldn’t get Thor to come up more than 3 stair flights so I went up and left him down (where he complained VERY loudly). It was so cold up there I don’t think a spent more than a minute or two up there. I took a short video and a panoramic photo and then quickly headed down. Kirk and Ollie stayed up there for a few minutes – I don’t know how they did that – it was BITTERLY cold up there.
Here is the 360 Photo
And here is the video:
After looking around the lookout, we searched for a quieter place to eat lunch. We found a somewhat sheltered area on the west side of the butte, down below the road. We ate lunch and then went down into the woods to see if we could find any remnants of a trail Don said he found several years ago. After searching quite a bit, neither of us found anything resembling any real trail – no blazes and no definitive tread. After searching, we decided to head back down.
The trip down was relatively uneventful, but we did encounter a few surprises along the way. We got a great view of Mt Jefferson from the road:
And a little farther down the road got a good view of Olallie as well:
A little farther down eagle eyed Kirk saw this interesting water catchment thingy – our theory is that this was built to capture rainwater and save it for animals to drink:
As we got closer to the bottom, there were some rather large trees:
And Kirk also found this old blaze along the road:
After getting back to the truck, it was just a little after 2:00 so we decided to explore a nearby section of the old Skyline Trail. There was an old road on the map that showed the trail went near it so we headed over to that road. Once we got there the route of the road was either wrong on the map or it got all messed up by all the cutting/thinning that was being done in this area. I’m not sure what the purpose was, but I’m guessing maybe it was to try and stop the heavy beetle kill in the area. This is what the “thinned” area looked like near where the trail got obliterated due to all this work:
We drove along some “wood chip roads” which were pretty muddy in places:
When we got close to where the trail was supposed to cross it, we encountered a pretty large hunters camp with probably 4 or 5 vehicles, an RV, a big wall tent and a woodstove going. They were setup for some comfortable long term camping….
Anyway, we set out and attempted to find the tread in this huge cut area – we were successful in finding small portions of the tread in the cut area, and a couple of random flags, but mostly the old tread had been obliterated by all the cutting and wood chips being spread. Once we got to the edge of the cut area, we located the tread again and followed it for a ways. The track I had ended but we kept following it and believe this was where the trail crossed Slow Creek:
We continued north and soon lost the tread near an old road (possibly the 130 spur). We turned around and headed back – along the way we found quite a few old blazes, and even one triple blaze.
When we got back to the cut area, I thought we were done, but Kirk continued poking around and found the trail on the south side of the cut – we ended up following the tread for a while on the south side of the cut but it was getting late so after about a third of a mile or so we turned around and headed back. The trail where we turned around was in pretty good shape – I’m pretty sure we could follow it down to the next segment south.
We got back to the truck, headed out and started the long drive home over the mountain. We stopped at Fearless for a burger and a beer which was a great way to end an awesome day of exploration.
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: East Side Clackamas District
Weather during Hike: Sunny and Warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:00 AM End Time: 6:00 PM
Starting out, we didn’t really have much of a plan, but this is how the day progressed:
- Headed out highway 26 to where road 42 intersects it – took road 42 all the way to where it meets 46 (about 26 miles)
- Drove road 46 to the south end closure where 4690 intersects it
- Drove road 46 north to 4670 – headed up 4670 to 6350 (Graham Pass) – had lunch where the Rho Ridge trail comes close to the road
- From Graham Pass, headed south to 6355 – headed up to the south Rho Ridge Trailhead
- Continued south on 6350 to the closure gate at 46 – interesting thing was that the gate was open
- Headed back north on 6350 to Cachebox meadow and then out 4671 to 4672 and then up to the intersection on 4672 of the Rho Ridge trail – we walked down to Fadeaway Springs – it had water in it!
- Drove 4672 back to 4671 and then 4670 to 46 – headed north on 46 to the north closure point near Austin Hot springs
- Drove back down road 46 to 42 – headed up 42 to road 57 to Timothy Lake – Followed detour signs over to 58 – headed up 58 to the east end of the 4610 closure gate
- Drove out to high rock springs primitive camp – found out the east side of the road was closed due to at least one large log over the road
- Drove back out to 4610 to 58 to 42 and then back highway 26
It would have been nice to have been able to get down to the Collowash, but we ran out of time. That would have added another 20 miles to our trip, or about 30 miles if we went all the way down to where the closure would be on 63. We did a lot of driving as it was. I guess that will have to wait for another day.
We started at our usual time and headed out to Sandy, out highway 26 to Government camp and over the Blue Box pass to where Skyline Road (road 42) hits it. We headed south on 42 all the way to where it intersects road 46, which is about 26 miles if I did my calculations correct. From there we drove south on 46 to where 4690 meets it and where the south end closure gate was:
While we were looking at it, amazingly enough there was a van that came down 4690 – we think they were looking for a spot to camp. We let the dogs run around a bit and looked around, took some pictures and then headed back north. As we were driving, we came across the small burned area across road 46:
It isn’t too long, but it did burn pretty significantly. There was a sign that burned – not sure what it said, but one side of the post burned.
We continued on 46 to where 4670 intersects it and headed west. Near the 46 junction there is a spring that I never really knew about – it is on the map and is a good water source:
We headed out 4670, and at one point, there is an old access spot for the Rho Ridge trail – we stopped here and had lunch:
There were some great views to the south of Olallie Butte:
The bugs were pretty bad here so we had a quick lunch – Kirk walked north on the trail and he saw a log – I brought my chainsaw just in case we hit a log across the road, so we decided to do a little tiny bit of maintenance – here is the before shot:
And here is the after shot:
There was a smaller log just past this one that Kirk cut out as well, but this trail is really becoming overgrown and somewhat faint – at least in this section.
We finished our maintenance and looked around a bit more and continued south to Graham Pass and then continued south on 6350 to the Rho Ridge southern trailhead:
From here, we went back to 6350 and headed south to see how far we could go – we passed thru a few burned areas until we got almost to 46 where we found this gate – it was open:
We turned around (I kind of wanted to drive down 46 to see what it looked like but I resisted the urge), and headed back north to Cachebox meadow where we headed out 4671. We decided to head up to the Rho Creek trail and see what Fadeaway spring looked like.
Along the way, we turned off 4671 to 4672 and we stopped where the road crossed Berry Creek – it was an interesting little creek:
After a short stop there, we continued and finally got to our next stop at the point where the Rho Ridge trail crosses 4672. We headed down the trail to Fadeaway Spring:
Amazingly enough it had water in it. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen water in this spring. After a little looking around, we headed back up to 4672 and back down 4672 to 4671, past the lower trailhead and back to 46. From there we headed north on 46 to the closure gate at the north end of 46 – Near Austin Hot Springs:
After looking around for a bit we turned around and headed back down 46 to 42, then north to road 57 and over to Timothy Lake. From there we went across the dam and then followed several detour signs, taking 5810 to 5820 back to 5810 and then up 58 to the gate at east end of 4610:
We got out and walked down the 4610 (Abbot) road a short ways. We saw this area that had been dug out when the did the work on the road last fall for the fire – wondering if this was intended to be a turnaround spot?:
At the end of the road, there was also this piece of what appeared to be old logging equipment – wondering if it got unearthed when they were doing all this work:
We looked around a bit, enjoyed the view of Mt Hood and then packed back up and headed out. That was to be the last stop of the day. We headed out 58 to road 42 and then 42 back to highway 26 and then back home. It was a lot of driving, but I saw some things I’ve never seen before, we got to see some fire damage and even got in a little bit of trail maintenance on an abandoned trail!
We decided to stop at Fearless for dinner, which was a great way to cap off the day.
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: Douglas Trail
Trail Number: 781
Weather during Hike: Partly Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:45 AM End Time: 3:30 PM
Hike Distance: 9.1 miles Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
We started out at the normal time and headed up to the “other” Eagle Creek trailhead (Harvey Road Trailhead). We decided to park at the new landing since I had driven down there last week. It takes a little bit off the hike. We weren’t sure exactly how far we were going to go – it depended upon our energy and how the day progressed.
We set off down the old road from the new landing and very quickly got to the Douglas trail junction. From this point, we started our uphill climb. We started at just under 2000 feet and got up to almost 3000′, kind of going up and down in the process.
After several switchbacks and going thru old growth and cut areas, we popped out on the old 3626-255 spur road which has been closed. At this point, we decided to head west to the site of the old lookout to see what we could find. It was rather challenging, since the road to the west was all ripped up. This is what it looked like:
The section that the trail heads down (east) was left intact thankfully. We made our way west on the ripped up road, navigating the rather deep snow and the big piles on the road. At one point we thought about heading up to the ridge, wondering if it might be easier walking thru the trees than down the road, but there was a pretty significant cut bank and by the time the cut bank disappeared the road evened out and got easier to traverse (they stopped the decommissioning).
Partway up to the site of the old lookout, the sun made an appearance and I captured this cool sunray effect thru the trees:
It wasn’t too long after that and we got to the literal end of the road – somewhere in this neighborhood was where the lookout used to be (it was abandoned in 1957-64 years is a LONG time in the woods).
We looked around in the brush and groundcover for a while trying to find some remnants of the lookout, but we couldn’t find anything. It is pretty well grown over and the groundcover is pretty thick.
After looking around for a while, we decided to head down the “continuation” of the road – we were guessing that it was an old quad track, probably coming up from one of the roads down below:
We walked down the quad track to the Forest Boundary – about this point it started taking a steep turn downhill and we didn’t really feel like losing a bunch of elevation, so we decided to turn around. It we getting near lunchtime, so we went and found the best view we could (which wasn’t great) and had lunch.
After eating lunch, we headed back to the quad track/trail and then the road and headed east, back down the ripped up road. After a short section, the trail heads off the road again and we continued east. It was shortly after this that the trail started getting snow on it – we kept gaining elevation. This is what the trail looked like in the area – east of the 3626-255 spur:
The goal for the day was to get to at least the place where we came down and met the trail last year, so we can say we hiked the whole trail. We soon got to the place we joined the trail last year and then decided to turn around.
While we were coming up the trail, we noticed a spot where it looked like the trail used to continue straight ahead. The trail now took a sharp turn. On the way back, we decided to follow this “old alignment” and did indeed find it was the old alignment and went across a wet area/old spring. It almost looked like there might have been a bridge over the we area but it was hard to be certain. We followed it a bit further and saw where it rejoined the trail. We both remembered seeing this on the last trip and guessing the trail had been rerouted but we weren’t sure why. The old alignment was much straighter but maybe that wet crossing was too problematic or something. This segment was only one of several re-alignments we found (or think we found) during the day.
We soon made it back to the 255 spur road and continued west. We saw quite a few deer and possibly elk tracks in the snow on the road as well as what looked to be a small kitty (Lynx? Coyote?) We quickly made it back to where the trail heads off from the road. We let the dogs play in the last of the snow and then headed down.
As we were headed down this segment of trail, we had a bunch of different precipitation events. It sleeted for a bit, it rained, and there was rain mixed with snow. None of it was heavy or long lasting but it made for an interesting trip down.
It wasn’t too long before we were back at the junction with the Eagle creek trail. We headed up the road to the landing. The last thing we were going to look for was the quad track coming down. The maps show the Douglas trail hitting the Eagle Creek trail quite a bit farther west than it actually does – we were thinking maybe that was where the quad track was. After looking for it for a bit, our guess is that the quad track probably comes down somewhere on the road above the trailhead. Something to look for some day.
A stop at Fearless on the way home for an early dinner was a great way to end the day. Fearless was REALLY busy – I guess there is a lot of pent up demand for eating out since covid restrictions have loosened up a bit.
Location of Hike: Cool Creek Trail to Devils Peak Lookout
Trail Number: 793 and 794
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 7:20 AM End Time: 1:35 PM
Hike Distance: 7.3 miles Elevation Gain: 3500 feet
We started out very early since Kirk had to get back for a dinner party in the evening. So, we left the house a little after 6 in the dark. By the time we got to the trailhead, it was getting light enough to hike without headlamps. The traffic on 26 was pretty heavy – we were guessing lots of people headed up to the mountain to go skiing.
When we got to the trailhead there was no one else parked there. We got all suited up and loaded our snowshoes and headed up the trail. The beginning of the trail is a pretty steep ascent. The route gains over 3000′ of elevation in about 3.5 miles. The lower portion of the trail is pretty “rooty” as well, with lots of roots protruding into the tread. The tread is well worn (this trail gets a fair amount of traffic), but it can be tough on the feet with all the roots in the tread.
We made pretty good time given how much elevation we were gaining. We kept looking for a view of Mt Hood – it took quite a while, but we finally got a view – it was thru the trees, but we got a pretty good view of Mt Hood in the early morning light:
A little farther up the trail, I took this photo of the sun rising on the trail:
We continued up – it was tough due to the elevation, but we slowly made our way up. Probably about halfway up, we got our first clear view of Mt Hood – which was gleaming white:
As we continued up, I was amazed that we weren’t seeing ANY snow whatsoever. The first time we saw any real snow, it was pretty light, but it was well over 4000′ – this photo appears to be taken about 4400′ and it was pretty much a dusting of snow:
A little farther up the trail there was a large rock outcropping above the trail – we headed up to it and were rewarded with this great view of Hood:
A picture of the outcropping we were standing on:
After enjoying the view for a bit, we continued on, climbing up and up and up. At one point, I remarked that this trail reminded me a bit of the Bull of the Woods trail – the approach to the lookout felt very similar – there was a sharp knife ridge and below it the trail headed up to the lookout.
At some point, we ran into 4 guys coming down the trail. I was surprised to see them – fortunately they didn’t have any dogs with them since Thor was offleash. I was behind Kirk a bit and I heard dogs barking. At first, it sounded like Ollie, which isn’t surprising since he frequently goes off into the wood to chase a smell. I soon realized it was BOTH dogs and was worried there were other hikers with dogs. I caught up and saw the 4 backpackers coming down from the lookout. They had spent the night in the lookout and camped at the campground near the trailhead (which is why we didn’t see their vehicle at the trailhead).
We continued up the trail and soon got to the junction with the Hunchback trail, which headed up to the lookout. From the junction it was a very short trip to the lookout – this is what it looked like as we were heading up to it:
We headed up the stairs and Kirk opened up the protective panels. The inside of the lookout is mostly what it would have looked like when it was being used (except the Osborne Fire Finder isn’t in the middle of the lookout anymore):
You got a beautiful view of Mt Hood from inside the lookout – looking out the door:
We ate lunch in the lookout and then headed down to take a look around. The ridge to the south went downhill – I was wondering if the outhouse was still around (like it is at Bull of the Woods), but we didn’t find one. I did get a pretty good view of Olallie and Mt Jefferson from this sport just below the lookout:
And looking back up towards the lookout, you can see there was a fair amount of snow up there (but it was all frozen and hard):
After looking around a bit, I decided it was time to put my drone up in the air to get some videos. At that point, the wind was very calm. I’m still not great at getting videos with the drone, but here is a 360 panorama from about 50′ above the lookout:
And here is another one where I get more of a closeup of the lookout:
While we were there another guy came up – he was worried we were going to stay in the lookout (it is a first come, first served place). Since he was staying we didn’t need to close it up. A little later, two ladies popped out of the woods. They had come up a different trail – I believe it was from the Green Canyon campground up to the Hunchback trail to the lookout.
After eating lunch, exploring a bit and flying the drone a bit, we decided it was time to head back down. There is the note of a “spring” not too far from the lookout, so we decided to see if we could find it. We headed down the Hunchback trail, and found a sign saying “water” – we found a small, narrow side trail, however we didn’t go too far as the hillside was VERY steep and the trail was covered in snow. We turned around and came back up and when heading back up the Hunchback trail, we found this very old water sign (it was pretty cool):
After that exploration, we headed back up to the junction and then back down the cool springs trail. Going down was a lot easier on the lungs, but still pretty tough as the trail was still just a hunk of ice. We went slowly and finally made it out of the ice and snow. After we got back to solid ground, it was still rough going as many spots are rather steep (which is hard on the knees).
Along the way down, we probably encountered 5 or 6 groups of people who were headed up. All in all, we probably encountered 20 people all day long.
We made it back to the truck about 1:30, packed up and since we were a little earlier than expected we decided to do a little exploring – we drove up 2612 a little ways, then drove on some other roads. We got turned back a few times as bridges over creeks were closed (not sure why – maybe they were unsafe for vehicles?). We stopped and looked at the east end of the Flag Mountain trail – it looked somewhat interesting – there were no cars at the trailhead at the east end, so we thought we’d go around to the west end and see if there were any cars – maybe this is not popular trail we could hike? Anyway, we kept getting blocked from the west end – we ended up turning east on 26, but the traffic coming west was so bad we weren’t sure we would be able to turn left. So, we opted to skip it for the day. We turned around and finally get in line with the traffic. It was a solid line of cars coming west – and that was only at like 2:30! I can’t imagine what it would have been like later in the day!
We made it back home a little after 3 – plenty of time for Kirk to make it to his evening affair. Days like this don’t get much better – it was an absolute Bluebird day – FANTASTIC weather – not too many people and incredible views.
Location of Hike: Bissell and Old Baldy Trails
Trail Number: 502
Weather during Hike: Sunny most of the day
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:05 AM End Time: 4:15 PM
Hike Distance: 5.1 miles Elevation Gain: 1800 feet
We started out at our “normal” time since it is a relatively short drive to the trailhead. On the way there, we decided to switch from White Iris to Bissell and I’m glad we did. I didn’t take a lot of photos since we ended up doing quite a bit of trail maintenance on the Bissell trail.
Once at the trailhead, we quickly got suited up and headed out. Before we left I had to get a shot of my truck parked at the trailhead (I love this truck):
We headed up the old spur road (or whatever it is), and soon found the real tread. It was easy to follow for a while. It heads uphill pretty aggressively. We got to the spot where it joins with a side trail out to the 4614 road. This spot is no longer accessible via vehicle since the road has been bermed off. This is what the end of 4614 Road looks like:
After heading back up the trail, we struggled for a bit to find where the trail continued up the hill. I headed in one direction and Kirk headed in another – I found the trail farther up the hill and he found where it took off after the junction – we then connected the pieces together and did some clearing so it was much clearer where the trail went.
We got up to a flat spot and had a hard time figuring out where the trail went. After a bit of searching, we found it again and did some more clearing. I added a couple flags for clarity as well. We continued up the trail, lopping stuff off, pulling small trees, etc. in order to be able to follow the trail easier. We continued doing maintenance for a while. At one point I looked at my watch and it was already after 1:00. We were within about a half mile of the junction with Old Baldy and decided to just head out there, stopping our maintenance activities.
We had a few rough spots but followed the trail out to its junction with Old Baldy:
From there, we decided to head up to the ridge to see if we could find any views. We didn’t really find much in the way of views, so we found a large log to sit and eat lunch. We ate lunch and then decided to follow the old trail route (there were blazes all over the place along the ridge) until it met up with the Old Baldy trail. While we were able to follow the blazes, there was really nothing in the way of discernible tread. We soon got to the junction with old Baldy and since it was only about a quarter of a mile, we decided to head up. It appeared there had been a lot of blowdown recently and we were wondering if maybe it opened up more of a view from up on top.
We headed up the trail and soon got to this enormous bundle of blowdown:
We found a few more on the way but we worked our way thru or around it and were soon on top of Old Baldy. Unfortunately, there is still really no view from up there. It seemed to be somewhat more open than what I remember, but there were still no views.
We didn’t spend a long time up there since the days are short this time of year and it was already after 2:30 already, so we headed back down. It wasn’t long before we got back to the Bissell junction. We turned and headed back down the Bissell trail. We started doing more maintenance, making the trail more evident and wider. It wasn’t too long before the clouds started to come in and it started to get noticeably darker. At that point, we decided we needed to stop doing maintenance and just head down the trail so that we made it back to teh truck before it got dark (sunset was at 4:28).
On the way down, I stopped and had to take this photo. I just liked the tread in this picture:
We made it back to the truck about 4:15 – just a little bit before sunset. We loaded up and headed out.
On the way home we decided to stop at Fearless for dinner – it was different today due to COVID restrictions – we had to eat outside. It was a bit cold, but it was nice to end the day in traditional fashion.
A great day out – I’m guessing I will e re-visting this trail again soon partly because I don’t have too many options right now, but partly because it is a very cool old abandoned trail.
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: Eagle Creek Trail
Trail Number: 501
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:10 AM End Time: 5:20 PM
Hike Distance: 15.5 miles Elevation Gain: 3700 feet
Unfortunately, there was a security guard posted at the border of the forest and he was not letting anyone pass. So, we had to move to plan B. Plan B was to hike the Eagle Creek trail (501) which was not in any kind of closed area. It took a little time, but we made it to the trailhead and it looked a bit different than we remembered. There appeared to have been recent work done there. We were greeted by this sign at the start of the trail, informing of us the closures, etc (which seemed odd, since this trail and the whole Salmon-Huckleberry wilderness was open.):
We started down the road which has been widened considerably. Soon we got to a new landing area, which had been worked quite extensively. They took a huge chunk of the hillside off to make the landing:
After that, the old road reverts to what it used to be – a very narrow old logging road that is pretty overgrown:
We hiked down the road and soon took a hard left onto real trail. From there we got down to the creek, which the trail follows the rest of the way. It goes up and down a bit, but is relatively level. We were making really good time as we were not doing any real trail maintenance – just hiking. Since the tread was pretty level, we were able to make really good time.
A little over 4 miles down the trail, we explored a side trail that Zack and I had found almost 5 years ago. It is an old “cattle camp”. We found the side trail (it was more overgrown than I remember, although we were there in January when all the ground cover was dormant). We headed up and looked around and found several old relics. One of the coolest is an old watering trough which Thor just thought was the coolest thing ever:
Here is one of the old hitching posts:
We searched around a bit and then headed down the trail looking for a lunch spot. We found a somewhat sunny spot next to the creek. Ollie took advantage of it to cool off – he spent most of the time in the creek:
We ate lunch and then headed back up to the trail and continued east. Soon, we found this really interesting tree on nurse log that had toppled over and raised up the nurse log out of the dirt:
We continued down the trail – although it still gets traffic this far up, you could tell it gets less traffic. The areas that were more open were rather overgrown although you could clearly see the tread. There were a few spots where the brush was still really wet – we were guessing it must have had a heavy dew the night before.
We continued down and finally got to the crossing point – from the other side of the creek the trail transitions to the 504 – Eagle Creek cutoff trail – it heads up to the Old Baldy trail. The crossing point is very calm and pretty:
We rested a few minutes at the campsite on the south side of the creek and then headed back. It was about 2:30 and we had quite a ways to get back to the truck. And a lot of it was still uphill – especially at the very end. We tried to make good time and we didn’t stop a lot – we took a few water breaks, but they were pretty short. The trip back was pretty uneventful – we got back to the truck about 5:15. We loaded up and headed out.
We decided to have dinner at Fearless but before we did that we decided to head up 224 to the crest to see if we could see what the Clackamas Canyon looked like. We couldn’t see a ton, but this is what it looked like from the crest of 224:
A fair amount of burned area with some green areas and also some mosaic burning as well. Time will tell what it really looks like. It is kind of doubtful we will be able to drive 224 this year I think.
Dinner at Fearless was great as usual, and to top off the day, Zack and his family stopped in after doing some exploring on the east side of the mountain.
It was a great day out.
Location of Hike: Mosier Creek BLM Land
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 1:45 PM End Time: 3:45 PM
Hike Distance: 4.4 miles Elevation Gain: 1100 feet
The trail is only about 10 minutes from our house and I knew there wasn’t a ton of space to explore so I figured a Sunday afternoon would be great. We hiked a lot farther than I thought we would be able to. We went a bit off the BLM land, but not too far – and I think Port Blakely allows people on their land – I see people all the time parked at the various entry points.
We headed up the road and soon started seeing lots of side trails – these woods have TONS of trails going all over the place. We more or less stayed on main paths – there is a lot more to explore up here at some point. We headed up and more or less continued straight on the main road/trail. We ended up at the border with the Port Blakely land – a section line – and went just past, but this area was all small trees (it had been harvested within the past 20-30 years I’d guess). From there, we turned around and headed north at another junction – this was on more of a real road I think. We headed up this road looking for a spot to head down to the lake that showed on the map. We finalyl found a side trail that went down to it. I’m not sure what its official name is, but since it appears to be essentially a dammed up Mosier Creek, I’m calling it Mosier Lake – almost a swamp really – not very deep:
We continued north past a second small pond and heard water gurgling, so we looked for the “dam”. We found something that was sort of like a dam – it was some rocks piled up that appear to be somewhat damming up the creek to create the lake/swamp. There appears to be a LOT of people that come in here, as there was lots of activity visible.
Once we found the dam, we needed to re-cross Mosier creek, which we found a great spot – basically a ford of the creek:
We crossed and continued back from where we came. On the way back, we decided to take another junction – we were hoping it might lead to a spot where we could see an odd feature on the map. Neither Kirk nor I could tell what it was supposed to be so we wanted to get a good look at it. The road continued up and ended at a gate along Rutherford Lane:
We turned around and headed back where we came from. Somewhere along the way, I took a photo of what one of the older areas looked like:
There wasn’t really much more of note during the trip – it was short, but this is a very interesting area and one which I’m sure I will come back to in order to do more exploring. It is certainly convenient!
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: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: Sunny at times
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie, Otis and Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 6.2 miles Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
The weather was supposed to be reasonably good and I expected new snow (and wasn’t disappointed). New snow is always really pretty in the woods, especially when it is undisturbed. We were the only ones on the trail all day long and it did not appear anyone had hiked it the day before.
The hike itself wasn’t anything special, other than being on a beautiful trail that goes thru some spectacular forest scenes. We headed up the trail, went past the “grotto”, the unique hillside meadow (where the dogs seemed to have caught some scent as they all wanted to head up hill into the woods). We continued up the trail to my favorite spot – the spot between the two road crossings:
I’m not sure why I like this area so much – it is just a beautiful section, especially in the snow. Big trees, a serene setting between two hills. We went thru this section and decided to continue up the trail, since the snow wasn’t really all that deep. The 4635-130 spur probably only had 3-4″ of snow on it. I was expecting quite a bit more.
Shortly after the road corssing, we got to a pretty significant section of blowdown – the trees weren’t huge, but it was tough to make it thru them, so we decided to clean it up with our loppers and handsaw. This is what it looked like before the work:
And this is what it looked like after we were able to remove all the blowdown:
As we continued up, the trail ends up going thru a rockslide, which didn’t have a ton of snow on it. This was the view from the rockslide:
We continued across the rockslide – this is the only spot where Otis had some trouble. He didn’t like the large rocks in the rockslide and didn’t want to proceed. I had to help him thru one section of the rockslide. After that, we continued up the trail to the spot where it crosses the road:
We decided this would be the perfect turnaround spot, so found a spot below the road that had a bit of a view. We had lunch – we tried to eat quickly because Otis didn’t have his jacket and since he has a short coat, we thought he would get cold quickly. Ollie, Otis and Thor did a LOT of horsing around on the 4635 road, keeping active so he didn’t get cold.
After eating lunch, we headed back down the hill. We did some more lopping and trail maintenance on the way back down, trying to improve the trail for the next trip.
The trip down was pretty uneventful and pretty quick since it was all downhill and we didn’t do NEARLY as much trail maintenance on the way down. We got back to the truck about 3:00 and then headed home.
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: Elk Lake Creek/Welcome Lakes Trail
Trail Number: 519, 554
Weather during Hike: Overcast with a few sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:45 AM End Time: 3:40 PM
Hike Distance: 7.8 miles Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
We headed out about 9:00 and made it to the trailhead about 10:30 or so. I was surprised to see another vehicle there. We suited up – it was rather chilly (34 degrees or so) and headed up the trail. The trail starts out in an old clearcut and shortly opens out into the burned area from the 2008/2010 (I’m not sure which was where) fire. Here is a map showing the three different fires that have affected the Bull of the Woods Wilderness recently:
And this is what the beginning of the trail looks like thru the fire damaged area – lots of burned out trees but a few survivors, especially down by the creek:
A short ways in, you come to a really cool area – the creek takes more than a 90 degree bend and there is a nice waterfall – it was flowing very fast and loud today:
And here is a short video of the waterfall – you can hear how loud it was:
As we were hiking thru this area, I noticed quite a few young trees popping up all over the place – they are somewhat hard to see in this photo (all my photos were kind of washed out on this trip – maybe because it was so overcast and foggy) – here are some of the new sprouts:
We continued up the trail, doing a little bit of trail maintenance as we went – trying to make passage over some of the logs easier. Soon, we got to the Pine Cone Creek Crossing, which is where the Bull of the Woods Wilderness boundary is:
We continued up the trail and soon got got an unmarked side trail which we believe is the old trail over to Janus Butte. I had gone down this trail a few years ago and explored a bit – we decided to go down and to have lunch by the creek. This is what it looked like:
When looking at it, we wondered if this was a ford spot – it doesn’t look quite natural and somewhere they would have had to ford the creek to continue up the other side. That exploration would have to wait for another day, however. The water was too fast and deep to cross today.
We ate lunch next to the creek, did a little more exploring of the campsite there and then headed back up to the trail. We continued a bit farther to the Knob Rock Creek Crossing-this was a little challenging due to the volume of water coming thru here:
Right above the crossing there is a very nice waterfall:
And here is a short video of the waterfall – it was running pretty fast and loud:
We expected there to be some distance between the Knob Rock Creek and Welcome Creek crossings, but they are almost next to each other. The maps are not quite correct. I don’t know if winter storms have changed their courses or what, but they are VERY close to each other now. This is the much easier Welcome creek crossing:
After crossing these two creeks we very quickly came to the Welcome Lakes junction. We decided to go down to the Elk Lake Creek crossing just to see what it looked like. It is not very far from the Welcome Lakes junction. We headed down there and quickly got to the first crossing point:
I’ve crossed here at least twice – but always in the summer when the water is much lower. Even then, it is at least 6″ deep. I’d guess the water was 18″+ deep and it was pretty cold. We opted not to attempt crossing it. So, we turned around back to the Welcome Lakes junction and headed up that to see how far we could get.
The first half mile or so of the trail is in un-burned territory but is getting rather brushy in places. It goes uphill at a pretty good rate, so it was somewhat challenging. After the first half mile of wooded terrain, we started to break out into the burned area. From here is got even more challenging due to all the downed logs and washed out tread sections. Part way up, Kirk noticed Janus Butte to our southeast:
The one thing that the fire did is to open up a lot more views on this trail. Although there are a LOT of snags, you can see out across the valley – pre-fire this section of trail would have been in heavy forest cover.
There are a few VERY messy sections in this area like this (yes, there is tread under all those trees):
We headed up a little farther and got a pretty good look at Schreiner and Knob Peaks too:
And looking east, we could see a bit of Rho Ridge:
We continued up, seeing just a hint of snow here and there and doing a little bit of trail maintenance where we could, although most of it was not work for a handsaw. We made it up to about 3500′ and decided we should turn around – I was hoping we might be able to get to Welcome Lakes but the days are short and I didn’t want to hike in the dark. This trail is quite a workout between the elevation gain and all the downed logs. I wouldn’t be surprised if we encountered 100 downed logs in the mile of the trail we hiked.
The trip down was pretty uneventful – we did a little more work up high on Welcome Lakes, but soon decided we needed to just push to get out before dark. We made it back to the truck a little before 4:00 – it was already starting to get dark. When we got back to the truck, the vehicle that was there when we arrived was gone. We never saw anyone else all day long so I’m not sure where we crossed. Maybe they were farther up the trail, or maybe they came back while we were down at the creek or up Welcome Lakes or something. It was nice having the trail to ourselves all day long, however.
A stop at Fearless on the way home was a great way to finish a nice day of exploring an interesting area.
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: Fanton and Old Baldy Trails
Trail Number: 505 and 502
Weather during Hike: Sunny and cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:40 AM End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 5.4 miles Elevation Gain: 1900 feet
We tried to do this same trip in 2016, but the snow was much deeper and we had to turn around about 3/4 mile from the top so that we had enough time to get back before it got dark. Since the snow was much deeper it was a lot rougher going too. Having to break trail thru the deep snow was very tiring. For this trip, the plan was to drive up 4614 as far as we could, since the Fanton trail mostly follows it for a few miles. Then we would park and head up the trail to the old Lookout spot.
We decided to stop near the 167 spur – about a mile farther than we were able to get to in 2016 – I was hoping that would be enough to get us to the top:
We parked, and then headed up the road looking for where the trail crosses the spur road. At this point in the day, it was all untouched snow – this is the Fanton trail continuing south from the 167 spur:
We took off to the north, heading up towards the Old Baldy trail. The snow was probably 4-6″ deep here, but we really didn’t need snowshoes while we were in the woods. At this point, we really only needed them in open areas where the snow was deeper.
Not too far down the trail, Kirk saw this cool shadow of a cross, I thought I’d take a picture:
Very quickly we arrived at the landing just off the 4614 road – the last point where you can hit the Fanton trail from 4614. After seeing what we saw, we probably could have driven up this far with little effort – but we were confident we had enough time to make it to the top. The landing was beautiful in the morning light – with all the fresh snow:
Kirk took this picture of Ollie being a goof in the snow:
After enjoying the view from that landing for a bit we headed back to the trail and continued up. It didn’t take too long to get up to the junction with the Old Baldy trail. The sign that used to mark the junction is gone – not sure if it is laying on the ground or what – you can see where it used to be though:
Anyway, we continued up towards the lookout, with the snow continuing to get deeper. It wasn’t long before we got to the road up to the lookout and finally popped out on top. It is hard to know where the lookout was – the snow had to be a couple feet deep at least. We stopped here and pulled out our stoves and made some hot beverages and ate some lunch. We tried to get a good view of Mt Jefferson, but it seemed to be hiding in the clouds. We did get a great shot of Mt Hood:
While Kirk and I were eating, Thor and Ollie were playing around:
After we ate lunch, we explored the peak a bit. Kirk found these cool designs in the snow:
And you could see part of Squaw Meadows to the east (it wraps around the back of the ridge to the south – this was just the north end of it):
After exploring the peak a bit we went down to where the old garage used to be but we couldn’t quite figure out where the foundation was – I think there was too much snow. We started our descent back down. I think the dogs were glad we were headed down – they were both having some issues with their feet and ice getting between their pads on their feet. As we got down farther and the snow wasn’t as deep, the problem seemed to go away. I could tell Thor was getting tired – between the foot thing and just being tired, he stopped a bunch of times on the way down.
We made good time on the way down – nothing much of note happened until we got almost back to the 167 spur – maybe 100 yards or so from the spur road, there were tracks on the trail – we weren’t sure if it was a jeep or what – but it was a 4 wheeled vehicle for sure. As we got back to the spur road, you could see they just drove up the spur road and then headed up the trail. I think there was a large enough log that they turned around.
Once we got back to the truck, we saw lots of new tracks – there was snowmobile tracks – not exactly sure where they went – and new tracks farther up 4614. As we were getting ready to leave, a side by side came up 4614 and went down the spur – I think that is the vehicle we saw tracks for – I hope they weren’t going to try and head farther up the trail…
We headed out and got stuck behind a caravan of 3 trucks – not sure if they were together or not, but the lead truck just stopped and talked to someone for like 5 minutes – we couldn’t really go around them due to the snow on the road, so we had to wait. This part of the forest seems to get very busy in the wintertime…. There were LOTS of people up here now with families.
An absolutely beautiful bluebird day in the snow – a perfect way to start 2019.
Post Hike note: While doing this hike I had a bit of a runny nose. I thought I was just getting a cold, but after I got back home, it really hit me. I got hit with a pretty severe flu bug. That is why this posting is so late – I was so tired I didn’t even look at my computer for like 3 days. Had I known what was coming, I definitely would not have gone on this hike, however I’m very glad I went. These are the kinds of hikes that are special. You don’t get too many beautiful winter days like this with undisturbed snow.
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: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: overcast with a few sun breaks
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:00 AM End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 7 miles
We got to the trailhead a little after 9 and got the dogs out of the truck and got ready to head out. They were raring to go, but since there is a fair amount of traffic on the pipeline road, we wanted to keep them on leash so they didn’t get run over. Kirk took this photo of Ollie, Thor and I getting ready at the trailhead:
We headed up the trail in reasonably warm temperatures. A sharp contrast to this same trip Thor and I did just 3 weeks ago when it was below freezing and there was a couple of inches of snow on the trail at the start (and got deeper as we headed up).
We soon got to the base of the unique hillside meadow where “The grotto” is – this is a tiny waterfall from a small creek that flows down from the meadow. It seems like I always have to take a picture of this – it is a unique place:
We headed thru the hillside meadow and continued up. This trail gains a fair amount of elevation – the grade is almost always going up. It starts about 1650′ and tops out at about 4100′ in about 3.5 miles. It is a lot of elevation but it never feels too bad, except for a few short spots where the grade gets rather steep.
Enough complaining about the elevation gain – back to the trip. We continued up, crossing the old 4635-020 spur and then shortly the 130 spur. When we were here 3 weeks ago, this road crossing had about two feet of snow on it. Today it was bare except for a tiny bit of snow on the edge of the road. This is about where the snow began on this trip:
We continued across the road, and up the hill. The snow started to slowly accumulate on the trail, but it was still easy to walk on. The snow today was pretty wet. Three weeks ago it was all very fluffy and dry. We soon made it to the rockslide below the 4635 crossing – there was a pretty decent view today:
It was in this rockslide that Thor complained about getting thru the rocks. I had to help him navigate thru some of the larger rocks (it must have had some slide at some point because most of it was easy walking – just a short section where the tread had been disturbed):
Shortly, we got to the 4635 Road crossing, where there was about a foot of snow on the road:
The dogs played in the snow for a bit and then we decided to continue on up. Kirk captured a Video of Ollie and Thor playing in the snow (did I mention I forgot to bring my phone on this trip?):
We were only about 2 hours in at this point and I thought we might be able to get up to the lake/water at the start of the Cache Meadow trail.
We continued up and the snow was not deep at all in the woods, but we soon got to another cut area where the snow really started piling up. We were able to follow the trail for a while, but the snow just kept getting deeper and deeper. We got to what appeared to be an old road of some sort and it looked like that was the shortest way to the 4635-140 spur, so we headed off that way – we later determined that was the point where we got off the trail – but it probably didn’t really matter as the snow was so deep it was tough going either way – especially without snowshoes.
We finally got up to the 4635-140 Road – a little west of the Cache Meadow trailhead:
Kirk decided to bury his hiking poles to see how deep the snow was on the 4635-140 road – we guessed it was well over three feet deep:
We went over into the larger trees and decided to have lunch on a downed log. It was just too much snow without snowshoes to go any farther. I was thinking of going up the road to see if we could find the trailhead, but breaking trail in this deep snow was just too tiring. So we ate lunch and decided to head back down the same way we came – which was a bit easier since we had already made a trail. We were sinking about a foot deep in the snow:
We made really good time on the way down and soon made it out of the snow again. We cleaned up a few areas and this area in particular where a lot of green was littering the trail, obscuring it. Kirk took an “after” photo of it with Ollie posing in the foreground (didn’t get a before photo unfortunately):
We continued down the trail, making excellent time – it is much easier going downhill! We got back to the truck about 2:30, just in time for some sprinkles to start. I think we timed this trip just about right. It was interesting because a few times during the day we actually saw some short sun breaks. Mostly the day was overcast, and except for the areas with the deep snow, it was actually pretty warm – probably in the mid 50’s. When we got higher into the deep snow, it was definitely colder.
A very good day in the woods.
Weather during Hike: Sunny and cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Robert, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:00 AM End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 10.1 miles
We ended up starting a little earlier than normal, which was good, because the days are short so we would have limited daylight hours. We made it to the trailhead a little before 9am and quickly headed out. It was pretty cold – the roads were frosty and nothing was dripping – it was all frozen. We headed down the calico road trail/road and at the Rimrock creek crossing, Kirk and Robert noticed this really interesting “hair” fungus – I’ve never seen it before:
We took some photos and then headed down the old quad track back down to the old 54 road. The beginning of the trail is in decent shape – not too many trees down, but there are sections that are getting VERY brushy. We didn’t do any brushing on the way in really, because we were trying to make time. The new cedar and fir trees that are now growing on the old road are really starting to encroach on the trail track. I’m hopeful that as those grow up and shade the old roadbed that it will be easier to maintain, but I guess time will tell how it all plays out.
We continued south on the trail and made really good time – we got to the first bridge about 10:30. We stopped there, drank some water and took a few photos. Here is an un-named creek coming in just north of the first bridge:
We then continued south to the first real challenge of the day – the third creek crossing – I knew this might be a challenge since we’ve had all the snowmelt and runoff, but it was wider and deeper/faster than I’ve ever seen it:
We headed upstream and found a way to cross without getting wet. It was rather challenging navigating on the south side of the creek, and we found this interesting “cave” while going back to the “trail”:
We made it back to the trail and continued south, fighting our way thru the brush and eventually making it to the second bridge about noon. We ate lunch there and pondered on what to do.
I got this really cool shot looking south from Second bridge towards the Fish/Wash creek confluence – the sun and mist was really neat looking, although as usual, the camera doesn’t pick up the beauty of it very well:
After eating and enjoying the view for a bit, we needed to decide how to proceed. We were a ways from the trailhead and when we calculated our return time, we figured we only had 30 minutes or so before we needed to head back (or hike in the dark, which none of us wanted to do). We decided to see how far up Wash Creek we could get – We figured we wouldn’t have time to get to Pick Creek today. We didn’t get very far before we hit the Music Creek crossing of old road 54:
The water there was running even higher and faster than third creek. We decided that this would need to be our turnaround point since it would take quite some time to cross this raging creek safely.
I made a short video of the raging Music Creek:
While we were looking around, I found this neat “chute” just north of where Music Creek empties into Fish Creek:
And a short video of this “chute”:
This was the closest we got to the confluence – Kirk found a good little viewpoint of the confluence. You can see Fish and Wash Creeks in the background with Music Creek in the foreground:
And another short video of this shot:
We then turned around and headed back. Since Kirk had the loppers and I had the saw, we did a little more lopping on the way back, cutting back the worst of the brush – although it needs a LOT more work to make it easily passable.
One thing I had skipped taking a photo of on the way in was this weird area of blowdown – probably a section 50′ wide and a couple hundred feet long – all the trees were all snapped off. We were thinking it was probably some sort of micro climate wind gust that knocked them all down:
At the Third creek crossing we put away the loppers and saw and checked the time. We figured we were cutting it pretty close so we decided to stop doing any more lopping on the way back. We ended up crossing Third creek in a different spot than we did coming in. Robert and I made it just getting our feet slightly wet, but Kirk ended up getting pretty wet. He slipped on a rock and was up to his knees in water. But we all made it safely across the creek. After that crossing, we tried to hasten our pace to get back to the van by dark. We made it just before sunset I think – good timing.
A great way to start 2018!
Location of Hike: Switch Creek Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny and Cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Zack, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:30 AM End Time: 3:50 PM
Hike Distance: 6.8 miles
It had been something like 5 years since I’d been on the trail, so I had to try and remember some of the more obscure parts. Fortunately, I had a track from my last visit that helped us to stay (mostly) on the trail. We headed up from the parking area on road 46 where it was somewhat windy – down by the reservoir it was REALLY windy, but all up and down the Clackamas Gorge it was windy. The wind made the air temperature feel even colder – it was below freezing and there was frozen frost on road 46 in quite a few places, so driving was a bit tricky.
After getting ready (quickly due to the cold temps), we headed up the old spur road which is the beginning of the trail. It is still reasonably easy to follow, however the small trees are growing in in spots. We shortly got to the creek crossing and picked up the trail on the other side. That was not very easy, since there were quite a few rather large logs that had fallen, many right in the tread. We made our way thru that mess, and a better trail emerged after that (at least for a while). It wasn’t too long after the creek crossing where we ran across the first grisly/gross/interesting find of the day – a dead blacktail deer – and a pretty large one at that – Zack said it was a “4×5” – a 4 point buck with a smaller point near the head which was the “5”. He said that was a REALLY large deer for the Clackamas area. Something had eaten a large portion of it, but it was still pretty fresh. We couldn’t tell if this was a bad shot by a hunter, or if it was a cougar kill. Warning – gross picture ahead:
After checking out that find for a bit, we continued up the steep hillside – sometimes VERY steep – losing the trail for a bit here and there – but someone has flagged most of it reasonably well – so we were able to re-find the trail easily. When you get near the top of the hill, you intersect a better, more established trail. This trail takes you up to the 4640 road. At the trail junction, eagle eyed Kirk found an insulator (the old map shows this trail heading back up to Oak Grove Work Center with the phone line):
We shortly got to the newly decommissioned 4640-157 spur – the one that took you to a hunter camp at the top of the hill. The section out to the 4640 road is very short and soon we were on the 4640 road, attempting to follow the road and a bit of cross country to head east:
After doing a short cross country route thru an old gravel pit, we soon crossed Switch Creek again:
And then headed up to a rather swampy little lake area where we had lunch. There were a few of these “birdhouses” – but I’m not sure what is supposed to nest in them. The hole is HUGE:
After eating lunch in the sun on the north side of the swamp/lake, we made another cross country route – pretty much directly east to the 163 spur road, where we passed another swampy/lake area and then attempted to find the old trail that headed east. We walked up the ridge, and thought we were in the right area, but ended up going too far north and came back down and finally found the old tread. It was on a VERY steep, unstable hillside, but it had good views to the south in a couple of spots. This was looking southeast towards Burnt Granite with Olallie Butte just to the left of it – Olallie was all white, although it didn’t show up too well in the photo:
We headed up a little higher, following the trail relatively easily, with a few spots that had kind of fallen away. This is what some of the better trail looked like up higher:
At some point, we talked about what our turnaround time should be, and we decided it should be 2:00 (since the days are pretty short). We got to a particularly indistinct area on the trail, and we weren’t quite sure where it went. At that point, it was 1:57, so we made that our turnaround spot. We headed back the way we came – I got another shot looking south/southeast with a cool shot of the fog/clouds hanging over the hills:
We went back the same way we came except for one section where we walked back the road instead of going cross country – it was all downhill and we figured it would be faster. Looking at our route, I don’t think it cut much distance off anyway. We pretty quickly got back down the hill and got to the van a little before 4:00. It was starting to get chilly again, so it was good we got there when we did.
We finished the day with dinner and a beer at Fearless. An awesome winter day in the woods! Oh, and we never put on our snowshoes – we got to almost 4000′ but the snow was never deeper than 3-4″. so it turned out we didn’t need them after all!
Location of Hike: South Fork Mountain Trail
Weather during Hike: Varied - Foggy to Sunny and cool
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 11:50 AM End Time: 3:50 PM
Hike Distance: 5.12 miles
Originally, we were going to hike the Memaloose trail (from the bottom). Kirk had a better idea – hike it from the top down – we were almost already there, so we hiked up an old segment of the South Fork Mountain trail up to the old lookout site and then down to the lake and back. To top it all off, I realized I had forgotten my phone – fortunately, Kirk had his, so he was the track recorder and photographer for this trip.
On the way in, the sun came out and we got this great view from one of the old clearcuts along the 4540 road – looking east to Fish Creek Mountain and Whalehead:
After our snowy escapades, we turned around and headed back to the 017 spur, where we parked and headed up (the snow was deeper than it looks in this photo):
Once up at the landing at the end of the 017 Spur, we started up the real trail:
On the way up, we got a peek of where Mt Hood was hiding in the clouds:
We got up to the old lookout pretty quickly and looked around a bit. We found the old foundations of the lookout and then headed down the “un-maintained” trail to Memaloose Lake – although I think it is strange there is a 515 trail sign on the “un-maintained” portion of the trail:
For an un-maintained trail, it was pretty well maintained. We didn’t have ANY trouble following it except for one very short section in a rooty/rocky section. One interesting thing was that we found a bunch of these orange flags on this portion of the trail – they were all placed VERY low and had “SOL” written on them – looks like they were placed this year:
We made quick time down the trail and shortly got to the beginning of the “un-maintained” section with this old sign that is clearly showing its age – I wonder how much longer it will survive?
We quickly made it to Memaloose lake and looked around the campsites there. The dogs were expending even more energy at the lake:
We ate some lunch and walked around a bit and then headed down the trail to the Memaloose trailhead. Memaloose Creek was flowing fast and furious – the crossing wasn’t bad, but you had to choose your steps carefully to stay dry (although Thor just wanted to play in the water):
A little farther down the trail, I recalled this tree that was down in 2014:
Now it is all cut out and easy to traverse:
A little ways further down the trail, we encountered a couple heading up the trail. We were a bit surprised to see someone else there – it is a LONG drive to the trailhead now. The dogs barked at them, so we leashed them up and let them pass. They asked if it was worth the trip up to the top, and we said yes, but we didn’t see them again the rest of the day. I’m thinking that we passed them when we took the alternate route up the lake.
After leashing up the dogs, we shortly made it down to the trailhead and walked around a bit on the road – Memaloose creek was flowing heavy under the road – ALL the creeks were flowing quickly due to all the snowmelt and rain we’ve had. After exploring the trailhead a bit, we headed back up to the lake:
A little ways up the trail, Kirk noticed these interesting trees – we figured they must have been from when they cut the hillside north of here:
A little farther, Kirk noticed an old sign – I never noticed it before – wonder what it said?:
As we headed up the trail, there was a junction that we noticed on the way down – we decided to see where it went – we think it was the old alignment of the trail:
And sure enough, it put us out a little bit north of the current trail alignment. You can see on the track where it put us out at the lake just north of where we came in.
Since we were a little farther north on the lakeshore, we explored some of the campsites up the east side of the lake and found this poem tacked to a tree near the lake – an “in memory of” poem:
We then headed back up towards South Fork Mountain, and Kirk noticed this odd artifact. We never did decide what this really was – fire pit or old outhouse? Or something else?
We continued up the switchbacks towards South Fork Mountain. Just below the point where you attain the ridge up to South Fork Mountain, we saw this beautiful sunbeam coming thru the trees. The pictures are pretty good, but don’t do it justice:
Once up on the ridge, Kirk found a great rocky outcropping just below the summit that had great views to the south. We got this great view of Mt Jefferson from there:
As we stood there enjoying the views, we realized that it was getting pretty cold. The sun was still up, but the temperature was dropping quickly. We made it down to the truck and quickly got in and fired up the heater which felt good. The truck had frost on it and the puddles on the road were starting to ice over, so it was definitely below freezing when we made it back. We left the chains on the truck until we got thru all of the deep snow and then stopped and took them off.
On the way back, we encountered a half dozen or more vehicles that were all gathering Christmas trees. They all seemed to be having a good time.
Although we didn’t achieve our initial objective, it was still an excellent adventure in the woods exploring some beautiful old forest, and some beautiful old abandoned trail.
Location of Hike: 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: 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: Dickey Creek Trail
Trail Number: 553
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Robert, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:30 PM End Time: 5:30 PM
Hike Distance: 6.8 miles
Anyway, Dickey Creek is low enough to be accessible earlier in the year, so I thought it would be a good trail to hike. The trail has been extended by about a half mile in the last few years – the last half mile of the spur road to the old trailhead has been decommissioned and turned into trail. The “trail” past the old trailhead is an old spur road too, so the first 3/4 to a mile of this trail is walking old roads – but they are in good shape for the most part.
When we got to the trailhead, there was a vehicle there – we met a lone backpacker on his way out. While we were getting ready, a couple pulled in and asked about the trail. They had intended to go to Pansy lake but apparently couldn’t get there due to snow. We thought we heard them at one point, but never saw them on the trail all day long. When I got back home, I checked the elevation for the road to Pansy lake and it didn’t appear to get to 4000′, so if that is true, higher trailheads will be inaccessible much longer this spring due to the heavy snowpack.
We headed down the trail and shortly arrived at the old trailhead and kept heading down an even older spur road (I’m guessing this trail might have been built after they logged this area), and pretty quickly we were at the dreaded “rotten log bridge” – normally, I walk across the big log (it has always felt very stable and strong to me), even though the trail walks around it. Thor did not want to walk across the log, so we went around. (on the way back I broke one of the sticks across the water and fell in – oops!)
We continued down and got to the steep descent into the old growth groves and the part that follows the creek. The steep descent has gotten a lot better as they have added steps in some places, but it is still very steep and there is a lot of ground movement on that hill – some of the steps have even moved since they were put in a few years ago. We were able to successfully navigate the steep downhill part and soon came to one of my favorite parts of the trail – the old growth groves (this old photo was taken on a 2005 trip):
Continuing down, the trail crosses several small side creeks like this one (all of them un-named):
There was a fair amount of blowdown from the winter – we cleared a couple that we were able to on the way up, but decided to press on and get to the creek crossing so we could eat lunch. Here is the camp at the Dickey Creek crossing – our turnaournd point:
And the new log “bridge” at Dickey Creek crossing – this has come down very recently it appears.
After eating lunch we all sat and enjoyed the creek – each in their own way. I enjoyed the sounds of the river and the beautiful blue sky:
Kirk decided to cross on another log upstream and Ollie was having separation anxiety when Kirk was on the other side of the creek. Ollie ended up crossing over to the other side of the creek on the new log and then they both came back on the same log a few minutes later:
I recorded a short movie of Dickey Creek (you will hear Thor bark partway thru – he was tied up and not too happy about it):
After a while of enjoying the symphony of the babbling creek, we decided we should head back up. The intention was to clear up some of the blowdown we had come over on the way down. We only had loppers and a small handsaw, but we did a fair amount of trail maintenance. A couple of examples – Before
After – the larger log was too big to cut, and the lower one made a good step to get over the upper log so we left it
On the way back up we did clear quite a few downed trees (I lost track of how many). If they were too big to cut or move off the trail, we trimmed all the branches off to make them easier to get over or under. I’m guessing there are a half dozen or so trees left on the trail, but all were trimmed up. We definitely left the trail in a lot better shape than we found it!
On the way back up, we stopped again at one of the overlooks and I noticed how beautifully clear the water in Dickey Creek is:
And another random photo of Thor playing in one of the creek crossings – he really loves the water – and the snow:
Here is a photo of teeny tiny growth rings – this log was in the boggy area, and I remember having to step over it last time I was on this trail – it was really hard to get over – I was glad to see it had been cut:
Lastly, Robert captured this great photo of some really interesting fungus (I’m not sure where he saw this):
We made it thru all the blowdown, and then made the slow trek back up the steep section. We got back to the van around 5:30. Pretty tired, but pleased with a good day of hiking with good friends.
We stopped at Fearless for dinner – great way to cap off a great day!