Alder Flat and the Riverside Trail – 11/09/19

We managed to stay off the trail for two weeks but a favorable forecast called us back out for our November outing.  We chose a pair of hikes along the Clackamas River east of Estacada, OR.  The Riverside Trail was another of Sullivan’s featured hikes that we’d been saving for a rainy day, but we just didn’t have many of those this year so we decided to go ahead and check it off our to do list.

Before getting to the Riverside Trail though we stopped at the nearby Alder Flat Trailhead which is located along Highway 224 just west of the Ripplebrook Guard Station.
Alder Flat Trailhead

We arrived a little before the light so we waited at the trailhead for enough light before setting off on the .9 mile trail that led to the primitive Alder Flat Campground along the Clackamas River.
Sunrise over RipplebrookThere was a nice sunrise while we waited for enough light.

Alder Flat TrailAlder Flat Trail at the trailhead.

The trail passes by an old beaver pond and through a green forest before arriving at the campground near a swimming hole at a bend in the river. Maps also show a trail around the beaver pond but we followed it briefly on the way back and it petered out after crossing the outlet creek on a log.
Sunrise from the Alder Flat TrailPassing the old beaver pond.

Old beaver pond along the Alder Flat TrailBeaver pond from the former trail around it.

Former trail around the beaver pond.The trail around the pond petered out on the far side of this log.

Alder Flat TrailAlder Flat Trail in the forest.

Arriving at the campground.

Clackamas River at Alder FlatSwimming hole (It was a little too cold today.)

Clackamas River at Alder FlatClackamas River at the Alder Flat Campground.

From the Alder Flat Trailhead it was less than a mile to our starting point for the Riverside Trail at the Rainbow Campground.
Gate at Rainbow Campground

When the campground is open you need to pay to park there. With the campground closed there is no fee, but it does add a .3 mile road walk into and through the campground to reach the trail.
Rainbow CampgroundThe Rainbow Campground

The Riverside Trail sets off at the far end of the campground following the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River.
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Riverside Trail

Oak Grove Fork Clackamas River

The trail climbs up to an overlook of the Clackamas River in the first half mile near the confluence of the two rivers. We both were a bit confused at first when we got to the overlook because the river was suddenly flowing in the opposite direction, then we remembered that is was a different river.
Clackamas River

Clackamas River

Beyond this first viewpoint of the Clackamas River the Riverside Trail continues a little over three and a half miles to its end at the Riverside Campground. Along the way the trail makes several ups and downs as well as dipping deeper into the forest occasionally to navigate side canyons. There were a number of viewpoints above the river as well as numerous chances to explore the river bank. The final mile and half (after passing a spur trail coming from the no fee Riverside Trailhead) did spend more time closer to paved Forest Road 46 but there wasn’t a lot of traffic and the scenery was still nice.
Riverside TrailIn the forest for a bit.

Clackamas RiverViewpoint from above.

Riverside TrailBack in the forest.

Clackamas RiverAt the river.

Sun through the trees along the Riverside TrailSun peaking through the trees.

Rock formation along the Riverside Trailone of several rock formations along the trail.

Clackamas RiverAnother view of the Clackamas.

Riverside TrailSide creek crossing.

Clackamas RiverBack along the river.

Clackamas RiverRock pinnacle in the Clackamas River.

Riverside TrailSpur trail to the Riverside Trailhead.

Clackamas RiverViewpoint near the spur trail.

Clackamas RiverViewpoint near the spur trail.

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Clackamas RiverAnother rocky beach along the Clackamas.

Clackamas RiverLooking down river.

Clackamas RiverNow from above the rock beach.

Just before reaching the end of the trail at the Riverside Campground the trail passed above a deep green hole.
Clackamas River

We’d been keeping our eyes open for fish all morning given how clear the river was but hadn’t seen any until we gazed into the water here. We spotted several large fish.
Fish in the Clackamas River

Fish in the Clackamas River

The trail descended from the viewpoint above the hole to the Riverside Campground where we watched an ouzel dip in and out of the river looking for snacks.
Riverside Trail sign at Riverside Campground

Riverside Campground

Ouzel

Ouzel

Clackamas RiverClackamas River at the Riverside Campground.

We headed back the way we’d come stopping to admire some of the mushrooms and fungi along the trail.
Mushrooms

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Tree mushroom

Mushrooms on a log

In addition to the fish we’d been on the lookout for rough skinned newts. As we stopped at a viewpoint looking across the river valley toward Fish Creek Mountain (post) we finally spotted one.
Fish Creek Mountain

Rough skinned newt

This is a very popular trail in the Summer based on the number of cars we’ve seen when driving past on the way home from other hikes. We didn’t see a lot of other hikers on this day although we did pass one group twice (near each end of the trail) and several others as we got close to the Rainbow Campground on the way back. The GPS said we did 9.5 miles which included several side trips along the river and to viewpoints as well as the .6 miles of road walking. For those looking for a shorter hike the Riverside Trailhead would be a good starting point or try the Alder Flat Trail which is only about 2 miles round trip.

With the Holiday Season quickly approaching it was nice to be able to get our November hike in early with such nice weather. We plan to head out once more next month to wrap up our 2019 hikes so until then Happy Trails!

Flickr: Alder Flat and the Riverside Trail

Wahtum Lake with Indian, Chindrie, and Tomlike Mountains – 10/27/2019

After a false start we closed out our 2019 hiking season with a bang on a 16.7 mile jaunt to three peaks near Wahtum Lake. We set off on Saturday morning for this hike but only made it 16 miles from our house where we wound up stuck on Interstate 5 for more than three hours due to an unfortunate accident that resulted in a fatality. By the time we were able to proceed it was too late for our liking so we took a mulligan and tried again the next morning.

Our next attempt went better and we arrived at the trailhead at the Wahtum Lake Campground just before dawn. A loan car was parked at the trailhead with just a bit of fresh snow on it from the night before. (We would find out later that he had spent the night at Mud Lake.)
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After some deliberation regarding our planned route we settled on the following. We would hike down to the lake then go southbound on the Pacific Crest Trail to the Indian Mountain Trial and take it up to the summit of Indian Mountain. Then we would return to Wahtum Lake on the PCT and follow the Chindrie Cutoff Trail around the southern end of the lake and climb up to the PCT near the Chindrie Mountain Trail (This part of the plan wound up being changed but more on that later) and hike up to that summit as well. After tagging Chindrie the plan was to return to the PCT and go southbound once again to the Herman Creek Trail following it to the unofficial trail to the summit of Tomlike Mountain. Finally after returning to the Herman Creek Trail from Tomlike Mountain we would backtrack a few hundred feet to the Anthill Trail which would lead us back to the Wahtum Lake Campground.

From the campground we took the Wahtum Express Trail down a series of slick looking steps entering the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness along the way.
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After dropping a little over 200′ in .2 miles we arrived at the PCT as it curved around Wahtum Lake.
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Before turning left (south) on the PCT we went down to the lake shore. It was a little under 30 degrees and a crisp breeze was making it feel even colder so we didn’t linger but between a small island and a section of snow flocked trees to the north it was a nice scene. Chindrie Mountain was visible across the lake to the SW.
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IMG_1381Chindrie Mountain from across Wahtum Lake.

We set off on the PCT passing a couple of additional nice views of the lake before arriving at a trail junction at the lakes southern end.
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At the junction we noticed a closure sign for the Eagle Creek Fire closure area over the signs for our planned route to Chindrie Mountain.
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I admittedly hadn’t checked the Forest Service closure map in a while but it had been my understanding that the Eagle Creek Trail was closed at the junction with the Chindrie Cutoff Trail but I had expected this trail to be open. Being uncertain we altered our plans and decided to follow the PCT all the way around the northern end of Wahtum Lake on our way between Indian and Chindrie Mountains. According the mileage shown on our map that would and approximately three quarters of a mile to our day. Further research would confirm that it was indeed only the Eagle Creek Trail that was closed which was just over a tenth of a mile further along the Chindrie Cutoff Trail (it would have been nice if the sign had been clear about that).

We continued south on the PCT gradually gaining over 400′ as we contoured along the side of Waucoma Ridge before arriving at the old Indian Springs Campground a little under 3 miles later. Along this stretch we had some additional views of Chindrie Mountain as well as Tanner Butte and Washington’s Table Mountain (post).
IMG_1395Chindrie Mountain

IMG_1399Tanner Butte

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IMG_1404Table Mountain

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IMG_1413Chindrie Mountain again.

We also got our first look at Indian Mountain and Mt. Hood .6 miles from Indian Springs after leaving the wilderness and popping out of the forest alongside Forest Road 660.
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IMG_1418Mt. Hood

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The presence of ice formations and a bit of snow here and there made the scenery even better.
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IMG_1435Crossing FR 660 near Indian Springs

IMG_1436Trail sign at the junction with the currently closed Indian Springs Trail.

We continued south on the PCT for another third of a mile crossing a small stream before climbing up and around a treeless ridge where a frigid wind was steadily blowing.
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The view from the ridge was spectacular. To the north the snow covered peaks in Washington were visible beyond Chindrie Mountain and to the south was our goal, the 4892′ Indian Mountain.
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As the PCT rounded the ridge we came to the junction with the Indian Mountain Trail.
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The wind was pushing us around a bit as we turned up the Indian Mountain Trail. As this trail climbed the open ridge the views just got better eventually leading to a decent view of Goat Rocks (post) between Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier.
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IMG_1476Table Mountain and Greenleaf Peak with Mt. St. Helens in the background.

IMG_1491Mt. St. Helens

IMG_1490Mt. Rainier

IMG_1488Goat Rocks

IMG_1477Mt. Adams and Chindrie Mountain

The trail finally went back into the trees which gave us some relief from the biting wind.
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After passing remains of the former lookout (and bathroom) the trail climbed to the rocky summit a mile from the PCT.
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Given the time of day and year the Sun wasn’t in the greatest spot for pictures but the view of Mt. Hood was great and there was also a decent view further south to Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_1499Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson

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IMG_1514Mt. Hood from the former lookout site.

IMG_1512Mt. Hood with Lost Lake Butte (post) in front.

The snow and cold weather added some nice touches to the scenery here as well.
IMG_1508Snow on the north side, green on the south.

IMG_1524Mt. St. Helens with some snow on the trees in the foreground.

IMG_1528Crystals on a bush.

We headed back the way we’d come and arrived back at the junction with the Chindrie Cutoff Trail where we paused to see if we could find any indication that that trail was indeed open. With no confirmation in sight we erred on the side of caution and stuck to the PCT which began a gradual climb up and away from the lake beyond the Wahtum Express Trail.
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We gained another 400 plus feet over the next 1.6 miles before arriving at a junction with the Herman Creek Trail.
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IMG_1581Herman Creek Trail junction.

We stuck to the PCT and promptly passed the junction with the Chindrie Cutoff Trail. At this end there was no closure sign signifying that we could indeed have taken the trail up from Wahtum Lake savings us about .7 miles (but at a “steeper” price).
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Another 100 yards on the PCT brought us to a fork where the Chindrie Mountain Trail headed uphill to the right.
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This .4 mile trail was the steepest we were on during the hike as it gained approximately 400′ on the way to the rocky viewpoint atop the mountain.
IMG_1590Looking at the summit from the trail.

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IMG_1596Mt. Hood

The 360 degree view included Wahtum Lake to the east below.
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The view south included Mt. Hood and Indian Mountain (and some Sun glare).
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Tanner Butte rose above the fire scarred Eagle Creek Valley to the west.
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The best view, given the position of the Sun, was to the north where the Washington Cascades lined the horizon.
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There was also a good view of the rock spine of Tomlike Mountain in front of Mt. Adams.
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From the angle it looked like a pretty gradual ascent. It was a little breezy at the summit so we didn’t linger long because the wind was making it cold. We returned to the PCT and then to the Herman Creek Trail junction where we set off on that trail.
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We had been on the lower end of the Herman Creek Trail before (post) but not this end. Here the trail climbed gradually through an open forest with with lots of beargrass.
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After a quarter mile we passed the Rainy/Wahtum Trail.
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IMG_1645Lots of beargrass clumps.

About a mile from the PCT we passed another junction, this time with the Anthill Trail which we would be taking back to Wahtum Lake later.
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Just under a tenth of a mile later the Herman Creek Trail made a hairpin turn before beginning a steep descent to Mud Lake. Here the unofficial trail to Tomlike Mountain headed out along the ridge to the left. A yellow “temporary” Forest Service sign at the junction identified only the Herman Creek Trail.
IMG_1649Trail to Tomlike on the left.

The trail began in the trees before skirting some cliffs above Mud Lake.
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The trees began to give way allowing for a view ahead to Tomlike Mountain which from this angle looked like it might be a bit steeper of a climb than it had from Chindrie.
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The other thing we noticed was that it looked further than the mile that the map showed between the summit and Herman Creek Trail. Sometimes it seems like it’s better not to be able to see your goal.
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Much of the path was faint with occasional cairns or flagging marking the way. The rocky terrain was somewhat challenging given that we had, by this point, covered over 12 miles already.
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IMG_1671There’s at least one cairn here.

The higher we climbed along the ridge the more of Mt. Hood that was visible behind us.
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After climbing up a pile of larger rocks the trail entered a patch of small trees which we found to be a fun little section.
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The trail emerged from the little trees for the final time as it climbed to the rocky summit.
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IMG_1679Mt. Adams to the right.

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IMG_1683Mt. Hood with Indian Mountain rising up behind Chindrie Mountain to the right.

IMG_1693Heather crossing the ridge below the summit.

The trail continued for a bit beyond the summit although it didn’t provide any real different views.
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IMG_1700Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams from left to right.

IMG_1706Mt. St. Helens

IMG_1705Mt. Rainier

IMG_1703Goat Rocks

IMG_1701Mt. Adams

We left Tomlike Mountain and returned to to the Herman Creek Trail and then walked back to the Anthill Trial junction and turned up that trail for a final 1.9 miles back to Wahtum Lake.
IMG_1720Anthill Trail on the left.

The Anthill Trail climbed for a half a mile to an old road bed which ran between Wahtum and Rainy Lakes.
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We crossed the road and continued to climb gradually to a saddle where we crosed over a ridge and began a descent which included views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson and Wahtum Lake.
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IMG_1744Mt. Jefferson

IMG_1751Wahtum Lake and Chindrie Mountain

The descent was gradual until the final quarter mile or so where it steepend before arriving at the campground.
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It was a great way to end our hiking season with a little snow on the ground and a lot of blue sky above. The persistent wind was a little chilly, but we had dressed appropriately so it wasn’t too much of an issue (my fingers weren’t pleased about having to come out so often for pictures). We plan on getting out a couple more times this year but it’s time to back off a bit and relish in the memories of some great hikes this past year. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Wahtum Lake with Indian, Chindrie, and Tomlike Mountains

Mollala River Recreation Area – 10/19/2016

Our recent hike at the Mollala River Recreation Area almost didn’t happen. Three days prior an ingrown toenail suddenly was making every step I took painful. By the next night I had managed to remove a bit of the nail but it was still pretty tender. Luckily the next morning one of Heather’s running buddies mentioned using floss to get under the nail and help alleviate the pressure. I gave that a try and it worked wonderfully.

I was ready to give it a try, then I checked the weather for the following day. One hundred percent chance of rain, breezy with gusts up to 30mph, and a chance of a thunderstorm after 8am. The rest of the weekend didn’t look much better so we momentarily considered skipping this weeks hike but instead we decided to at least make an attempt

The Mollala River Recreation Area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The area contains over 20 miles of trails open to hikers (all year), equestrians (May 16th – Oct. 14th), and mountain bikes (single track May 16th – Oct. 14th and all year for non-singletrack). We had waited for the seasonal closures to minimize the chances of running into other users and a wet, windy day would likely further reduce the number of people out.

There are multiple potential trailheads and we chose to start our day at Amanda’s Trailhead
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It had been raining in Salem when we left but at the trailhead we were spared, at least for the time being.

One thing that the trails in this area don’t do is visit the Mollala River so before we set off I crossed Upper Mollala Road to get a peak of the river through the trees.
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After checking out the river we started up Amanda’s Trail.
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We stopped at a trail map (we had also downloaded the maps to our phones) to discuss our planned route. There were a number of options with many of the trails looping and intersecting each other so having a map is a good idea (it’s always a good idea). Our plan was to take Amanda’s Trail to Looney’s Trail then turn up the Rim Trail and follow it to Bobcat Road. From Bobcat Road we’d follow the Huckleberry Trail back to Looney’s Trail. Finally instead of just retracing our steps back we would turn off Lonney’s Trail at Clifford’s Crossing Trail and take that trail to Mark’s Trail which would then lead us back to Amanda’s Trail for the final leg back to the trailhead. This was an 11.5 mile route with over 1500′ of elevation gain.
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We followed Amanda’s Trail for 1.5 miles to Looney’s Trail ignoring the marked side trails along the way. This stretch of trail followed an old roadbed through second growth forest. Yellow and golden leaves were mixed with the green conifers.
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IMG_1141Leapfrog Loop

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IMG_1145Mark’s Trail (our return route)

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In addition to the Fall colors there were plenty of mushrooms along the trail.
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This section also had the only view of the day across the Mollala River Valley.
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Amanda’s Trail simply turned into Looney’s Trail at a sign at the end of the 1.5 miles.
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The mile long Looney’s Trail descended via a series of switchbacks to a bridge over scenic Hardy Creek, then climbed a bit before arriving at a junction with the Huckleberry and Rim Trails.
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IMG_1186Rim Trail

We followed the Rim Trail for approximately 3 miles. The trail gained over 600′ following old roadbeds at times. The trail skirted a farm and a clearcut along the way.
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IMG_1236Huge anthills could be seen throughout the hike.

IMG_1245Skirting the clear cut.

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There were a number of trail junctions but the signage was good and we just kept following pointers for the Rim Trail.
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IMG_1273Unnamed creek.

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The Rim Trail ended at a fork with the Red Vole Trail to the right and Bobcat Road to the left. In the second edition of “Off the Beaten Trail” Matt Reeder mentions preferring Bobcat Road over the Red Vole Trail so we went left.
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We followed Bobcat Road downhill for a little over three quarters of a mile where we met the Huckleberry Trail (another roadbed).
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IMG_1295Varied thrush

We turned left onto the Huckleberry Trail which forked left uphill after 100 yards.
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IMG_1300One of the few unsigned junctions we came to.

The trail was fairly level as it contoured along the hillside arriving at Annie’s Cabin, a still functioning shelter, after .6 miles.
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Up until this point the weather had held up very well. Aside from a couple of very brief periods of sprinkles it hadn’t rained and the wind was mostly non-existent. That ended shortly after leaving the cabin when the clouds opened up and a heavy rain shower passed overhead.
IMG_1323Huckleberry Trail just before the shower.

IMG_1334Near the tail end of the shower.

Luckily the rain didn’t last long and we were back to mostly cloudy skies with a few sun breaks.
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IMG_1335The Hardy Creek Trail coming up from the Hardy Creek Trailhead on the right.

Two miles from Annie’s Cabin we arrived back at the Rim-Looney’s-Huckleberry Trails junction where we went straight onto Looney’s Trail.
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We recrossed Hardy Creek and followed Looney’s Trail until we arrived at a junction with Clifford’s Crossing Trail a total of .8 miles from the Huckleberry Trail.
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We turned right onto Clifford’s Crossing Trail. Our reasoning was simply to see some different trail rather than simply retracing our steps. This half mile trail descended fairly steeply only to immediately regain some of that elevation before making a more gradual descent to it’s end at Mark’s Trail.
IMG_1344Going down.

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IMG_1348Going back up.

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Mark’s Trail was another half mile that wound its way up through the forest to Amanda’s Trail. These two trails would probably have been more fun on mountain bikes as they were clearly designed for that and not to get from point A to point B. With nothing of note to see there really wasn’t a need to hike this unless you’re looking for some extra climbing or are like us and like to take different routes when possible.
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IMG_1357Back at Amanda’s Trail.

We turned right onto Amanda’s Trail and followed it back down to the trailhead which was just under a mile away. We had been watching for rough skinned newts all day but hadn’t seen any until this section where a loan newt was sitting in the middle of the trail.
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The only other people we saw all day was a family coming up from Amanda’s Trailhead to take what appeared to be some senior pictures. The rest of the hike was full of solitude.
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We were glad that we hadn’t let the forecast deter us. It hadn’t rained enough to really affect the hike and both the wind and thunderstorm had never materialized. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mollala River Recreation Area

Lookout Mountain and Gunsight Butte – 10/14/2019

With a day off and a mostly sunny forecast we looking for a viewpoint hike for our 50th outing of the year. There were two hikes left on our 2019 schedule that fit the bill and it came down to which one kept us out of Portland’s traffic (since it was a weekday) and that was the hike to Lookout Mountain and Gunsight Butte east of Mt. Hood. We had been to the top of Lookout Mountain in the Badger Creek Wilderness Area during our inaugural backpacking trip (post) but there had been no view that day.

On that previous visit we had started from High Prairie which is less than a half mile from the summit of Lookout Mountain, but this day we chose to start from Highway 35 at the Gumjuwac Trailhead.
IMG_0819Gumjuwac Trail at Highway 35.

From Highway 35 the Gumjuwac Trail wasted no time in heading up hill toward Gumjuwac Saddle.
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The lower portion of the trail climbed via a series of switchbacks before straightening out a bit gaining almost 1900′ in just over two and a half miles to the saddle. There were brief glimpses of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier through the trees which improved as we climbed.
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IMG_0839Mt. Hood in the morning Sun.

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IMG_0871Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams

IMG_0866Mt. Adams

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IMG_0884Finally an unobstructed view of Mt. Hood.

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IMG_0896Gumjuwac Saddle

From Gumjuwac Saddle we turned left onto the Divide Trail which briefly paralleled Bennett Pass Road.
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The Divide Trail soon entered the Badger Creek Wilderness.
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We had been on this stretch of trail while returning to our car during the backpacking trip so it was a little familiar, but that trip had been in late June so much of the vegetation looked different as we passed from forest into a series of meadows.
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The wildflowers were long gone but we did get a view of Mt. Hood that hadn’t been there on the previous visit.
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A pair of raucous ravens provided a bit of entertainment as they harassed an unwelcome hawk.
IMG_0911The hawk.

IMG_0913A less than thrilled raven.

There was another thing that we were hoping to see and that was larch trees turning color. Larches are a deciduous conifer whose needles turn a yellow/gold in the Fall. We were hoping that the recent cold temperatures had helped start the process early and there were a few larches scattered about on the distant hillsides in the process of turning.
IMG_0912Light green to yellow larches on the hillside behind the raven.

The trail left the meadows and began a series of switchbacks on the forested flank of Lookout Mountain where we ran into a little snow left over from the week before.
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As we climbed we got another good look at Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens as well as a number of Cascade peaks to the south.
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IMG_0930Mt. St. Helens

IMG_0922View south.

IMG_0923From L to R: Broken Top, The Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, and Mt. Jefferson.

We had expected to run into the High Prairie Loop Trail about 2 miles from the Gumjuwac Saddle but we missed the final switchback and ended up following a deer trail uphill to rejoin the official trail. We came to a rocky viewpoint where we could see the summit to the east and had a great view south.
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IMG_0946Mt. Jefferson

Beyond the viewpoint the trail passed over to the north side of the ridge into the trees where a little more snow remained.
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There were a number of birds in the area, many of them varied thrushes which you might know are a nemesis of mine. We see them a lot but rarely can I get even a semi-decent picture. On this hike though I lucked out and one landed on a limb that I was already focused on and I was able to get an only slightly blurry photo.
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As we neared the summit we came to the other end of the High Prairie Loop.
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We stayed right on the Divide Trail which passes just below the summit where a short spur trail brought us the rest of the way.
IMG_0964Approaching the summit.

IMG_0965Lookout on Lookout Mountain.

IMG_0968Flag Point Lookout in the distance.

IMG_0969Flag Point Lookout

As we came around to the summit we could see that the larches further east in the wilderness were a bit further along than those we’d seen so far.
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The view was excellent, making up for the clouds on our first visit. A total of 10 Cascade peaks were visible with Mt. Hood being front and center.
IMG_0980Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier

IMG_0988Mt. St. Helens

IMG_0985Mt. Rainier

IMG_0983Mt. Adams

IMG_0993Mt. Hood

IMG_0997Mt. Jefferson followed by Mt. Washington, The Three Sisters, and Broken Top

IMG_1001The Three Sisters

After a long break we started to get a little chilly just sitting up on the summit so we started back down. This time we stayed on the official trail and found the end of the High Prairie Loop that we’d missed on the way up.
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We had stopped briefly near a small talus field as we descended the switchbacks and Heather spotted a pika that was gathering tree bits, presumably getting ready to spend the winter underground.
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The pika wasn’t the only critter running around on the rocks.
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We made our way back through the still frosty meadows and returned to Gumjuwac Saddle.
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The saddle can be a bit confusing as several trails converge at Bennett Pass Road here. The Gumjuwac Trail coming up from Highway 35 crosses the road and continues down the other side to the Badger Creek Trail, the Divide Trail crosses the Gumjuwac Trail and descends to Badger Lake (we came up this way on the backpacking trip). We nearly started back down that trail this time before realizing that the trail to Gunsight Butte (the aptly named Gunsight Butte Trail) was on the other side of Bennett Pass Road.
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We headed up this trail which began a gradual climb through trees which included a few larches.
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The trail emerged from the forest into a burn scar along a rocky ridge with a view.
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IMG_1088Lookout Mountain from the Gunsight Butte Trail.

IMG_1062Clark’s nutcracker

After a mile and a half we found ourselves crossing over the forested summit of Gunsight Butte. Another .1 miles, slightly downhill, brought us to a rock pile with yet another view of Mt. Hood.
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It wasn’t quite as impressive a view as Lookout Mountain but it was still pretty good. We returned to Gumjuwac Saddle and then turned down the Gumjuwac Trail for the final 2.5 miles of the day.
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We took our last looks at Mt. Hood from the trail then enjoyed the signs of Fall as we descended.
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This was a 13.2 mile hike with around 3600′ of elevation gain making it a pretty good workout. This may have been our last viewpoint hike for the year, and if it is, it was a great one to end on. Happy Trails!

Flirck: Lookout Mountain and Gunsight Butte

Lodgepole Loop – 10/12/2019

We’re entering the time of year where the weather can be a real wildcard. A week earlier there was snow down to the mountain passes. There wasn’t any snow in the forecast but a continuously changing threat of cloudy conditions and rain showers kept us from deciding exactly where we’d be heading until the night before. A mostly cloudy but precipitation free forecast led us to our third hike of the year in the Olallie Lake Scenic Area for a lake filled hike where the presence of clouds would have minimal affect on the scenery.

Our plan was to follow a route suggested by Matt Reeder in his “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region” starting at the Olallie Meadows Campground and taking the Lodgepole Trail to the Red Lake Trail which we would then take east to the Pacific Crest Trail. Heading north on the PCT would bring us to the Russ Lake Trail. After a side trip to Russ and Jude Lakes we would take the Russ Lake Trail west to the Lodgepole Trail and return to Olallie Meadows. That was our plan anyway but it isn’t quite how things played out.

We parked at a trail sign at the end of the Olallie Meadows Campground and checked out the meadows while we waited for a little more light. The sky was fairly cloud free which was encouraging but it also meant that the overnight low of 35 that had been in the forecast was actually 27 (according to the car).
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We didn’t have to wait long and soon we were crunching along the trail. There was a lot of frozen moisture so every step sounded like we were crushing a bag of potato chips, it wasn’t a good sign for seeing any morning wildlife. A quarter mile from the trailhead we passed the Russ Lake Trail junction where we would be coming from on our return.
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For now we stayed straight enjoying the fall colors and traces of snow along the trail while we tried to keep some feeling in our fingers.
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After a short climb the view ahead opened up to Olallie Butte which we’d climbed earlier in the year.(post)
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Three quarters of a mile from the Russ Lake Trail we arrived at another signed junction.
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We turned right here onto what turned out to be the Pacific Crest Trail (we didn’t notice the marker on a nearby tree on this first pass) following a pointer for Olallie Lake.
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Shortly afterward we began to realize something was amiss. Prior to setting off we had taken a last look at Reeder’s map and remembered that there was a short section of trail that we would not be hiking on if we did the loop the way we’d planned. What we didn’t remember was where that section was, but if we were already on the PCT it didn’t seem possible for there to be such a section so we differed to the book and realized that somewhere between the Russ Lake Trail and the PCT the Lodgepole Trail should have forked to the right and crossed Skyline Road near the Triangle Lake Horsecamp. Neither one of us remembered seeing anything that looked like a trail. We contemplated going back to look for it, but decided to just continue on in the opposite direction as planned.

We followed the PCT south passing a large dry lake then a small frozen one before crossing under a set of power lines and passing the Olallie Butte Trail in just under a mile.
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Another 2.2 miles on the PCT brought us more colorful foliage, another frozen pond, and a glimpse of Mt. Jefferson before arriving at Skyline Road just north of Olallie Lake (post).
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We crossed the road sticking to the PCT and stopped to take a look at Head Lake.
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Beyond Head Lake the PCT climbs for approximately a mile and a half to the Red Lake Trail junction. We had been on this section of the trail before (post) but on that day the clouds had restricted the views to the forest and ponds along the trail. In addition to the great fall colors on this trip we had some excellent views of Mt. Jefferson.
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IMG_0536Olallie Butte

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IMG_0559Mt. Jefferson

IMG_0562Olallie Lake

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We even had a rather obscured view of Mt. Hood for a moment.
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At the junction with the Red Lake Trail we turned right onto that trail.
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This trail was also familiar to us as including the unnamed lake below Twin Peaks.
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Beyond the lake the trail began a rocky descent to a junction with the Lodgepole Trail just over a mile from the PCT.
IMG_0594Potato Butte ahead.

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IMG_0597Lodgepole Trail junction.

Here we turned right back onto the Lodgepole Trail. We were back on new-to-us trail and in less than a quarter mile came to an unnamed lake on the left.
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IMG_0603One of the causes of the noisy steps.

Just over a quarter mile from the junction was Middle Lake on the right.
IMG_0612Twin Peaks on the other side of Middle Lake.

IMG_0616Colors along Middle Lake.

Next up was supposed to be a short out and back to Gifford Lakes on a trail located somewhere between Middle and Lower Lakes. We missed the unmarked trail on our first pass, but realized it fairly quickly when a GPS check showed we were closer to Lower Lake than we should have been. (For the record it’s about a quarter mile from Middle Lake.) We turned around and headed back the way we’d come looking for yet another trail we’d missed. I had an idea of where we’d missed it having noticed some logs and branches that looked like it could have been over an old trail. Sure enough that turned out to be the spot, but between the wood and snow it had been really easy to miss.
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A .2 mile detour brought us to the larger of the two Gifford Lakes. We had heard that this was probably the prettiest lake in the area and we wouldn’t argue that.
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IMG_0630Olallie Butte

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IMG_0648Twin Peaks from Gifford Lake.

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A trail to the left around the lake led to a ridge between the two Gifford Lakes. The smaller lake didn’t have the views that its larger neighbor enjoyed but it was scenic nonetheless.
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After exploring the lakes and a snack break we returned to the Lodgepole Trail and turned right to continue on our loop. We came to another junction about .4 miles from the trail to Gifford Lakes.
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Here the Lodgepole Trail continued straight crossing the Fish Lake Trail. We turned briefly down the Fish Lake Trail to take a quick look at Lower Lake before continuing on.
IMG_0704Sign for the Fish Lake Trail.

IMG_0705Lower Lake

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IMG_0713Sign for the Lodgepole Trail.

The trail dropped to a meadow then reentered the forest and climbed to a ridge top .8 miles from the junction.
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IMG_0719Pinedrops

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IMG_0731The trail was actually the fainter track to the left leading to the bridge, but that wasn’t obvious until we reached the trees.

IMG_0733A lone yarrow.

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After cresting the ridge the trail dropped to a dry crossing of the Clackamas River.
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Approximately two miles from the Fish Lake Trail we found ourselves passing back under the power lines.
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Another mile of fairly level trail brought us to Triangle Lake.
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After passing the lake and horse camp we quickly found ourselves crossing Skyline Road again.
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We were really interested in seeing where we were going to meet up with the trail from that morning. Our answer came in less than 100 yards when the clear trail we were on arrived at a junction. A small tree was lying across the trail but the tread was rather obvious. We decided we must have been focused on the hill that was just beyond the junction and not looking at that side of the trail because it was hard to miss.
IMG_0766Approaching the junction.

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We turned right climbing the little hill, for the second time that day, and in a tenth of a mile were back at the Pacific Crest Trail. This time we turned left following the Jude Lake pointer.
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The PCT entered the Warm Springs Reservation before arriving at the Russ Lake Trail in a third of a mile.
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Here we turned right on the Russ Lake Trail (which was not signed).
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The trail passed a small pond after a tenth of a mile and the southern end of Jude Lake after two tenths before arriving at Russ Lake a little of a third of a mile from the junction. (Please note that fishing is not allowed on the Reservation without a permit.)
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IMG_0786Russ Lake

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We watched the ducks on Russ Lake for a bit before heading back. It wasn’t until we were passing Jude Lake again that we actually realized that it was Jude Lake which allowed us to skip a short out and back north on the PCT to see the other side of that lake. Having seen Jude Lake we stayed on the Russ Lake Trail when we got back to the PCT junction and in a tenth of a mile turned right on a short unsiged spur trail to Brook Lake.
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From Book Lake it was another .2 miles to the Lodgepole Trail and about the same back to Olallie Meadows.
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We were anticipating a 13.2 mile loop (per Reeder) but a little extra exploring, missing the Gifford Lakes Trail, and screwing up the route to begin with we ended our day just over 14 miles. It turned out to be a really nice day (after our hands warmed up) with a lot of nice scenery. We only ran into a single pair of backpackers during the hike although there were a number of vehicles on Skyline Road both in the morning and on our drive out. The Olallie Lake Scenic Area is definately a great place for late Summer/Fall hiking. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Lodgepole Loop

Mount Pisgah – 10/05/2019

We were going to be in Eugene for a joint celebration birthday celebration for our Son and Heather’s Dad at 1pm so if we were going to sneak a hike in it needed to be one close enough to Eugene to make it to the restaurant in time. It seemed like the perfect time to hike at Mt. Pisgah which is located SE of Eugene and just minutes from its downtown. The area is home to Buford Park and the Mount Pisgah Arboretum and offers many miles of trails.

We had been on some of these trails in December 2013 when we were participating in the Frozen Trail Fest 15k. That day had lived up to the race’s name, but now we were heading back to officially check off another of Sullivan’s Featured Hikes.
02 The Trail BeginsNorth Trailhead in 2013.

Unlike the Frozen Trail Fest the forecast for our hike was for patchy fog but otherwise sunny conditions with a high in the mid 60’s. During our drive we passed through several of the foggy patches but at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum parking lot the conditions were good.
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There is a $4/day parking fee which can be paid online or at a kiosk at the trailhead.
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We didn’t have a set route planned out. Sullivan suggests a 3 mile round trip to the 1529′ summit of Mount Pisgah and/or a 1.7 mile loop in the arboretum. We were looking for something closer to 10 miles. With reportedly over 30 miles of trail in the area, getting in 10 miles wouldn’t be a problem, it was just a matter of coming up with a route that included both the summit and the arboretum. We formulated a plan at the large map on the trailhead signboard.
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The trails in Buford Park are number with the main trails being 1-7 and with connector trails being a combination of the numbers of the main trails on either end of the connector. For instance we started our hike on Trail 17 which connects trails 1 & 7.
IMG_0182Trail 17 to the left with Trail 1 straight ahead.

The route we decided on included trails 17, 7, 3(with an out and back on 30), 4, 14, 1, 2, 24, 4 again, back to 2, 6(briefly), 3, and 5 which would bring us back to the arboretum where we would then decided which trails to take there among the various possible loops. The trails were all well marked so following the route was no problem.

Trail 17 climbed uphill for approximately half a mile to Trail 7. Like much of the park it passed through sections of forest and open oak woodlands.
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At the junction we turned left opting for a longer trek to the summit.IMG_0192

We now headed back downhill on Trail 7 to the North Trailhead where we had started the Frozen Trail Fest race.
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IMG_0196Some of the patchy fog in the valley over Eugene.

IMG_0195Swing Hill

IMG_0205Deer high up on the side of Swing Hill.

IMG_0208Geese flying in front of the fog.

At the North Trailhead we followed a pointer for Trail 3.
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Trail 3 wrapped around the base of Swing Hill to its northern side where it started to climb in earnest up to a saddle.
IMG_0214There were a lot of wet spider webs shining in the brush.

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IMG_0224The north side of Swing Hill was very forested.

IMG_0228Saddle below Swing Hill

At the saddle we turned right on the .1 mile Trail 30 which ended at a bench and swing atop Swing Hill.
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IMG_0232View from Swing Hill

We returned to the Saddle and continued on Trail 3 until we came to the junction with Trail 4.
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We could get to the summit going either way but chose the slightly longer (1.3 vs 1.0 mile) Trail 4 which traversed around a forested hillside to a junction with Trail 14.
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Trail 14 was only a few hundred feet long, ending at a junction with Trail 1 at a saddle with a bench where we turned left.
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We ignored Trail 2 when we came to it in order to visit Mount Pisgah’s summit which was just another tenth of a mile up Trail 1.
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It was a beautiful day to be at the summit although being so early in the day the position of the Sun limited the ability to get a good look to the east at the snowy Diamond Peak and the tops of the Middle and South Sister. It’s the one consistent issue with hiking early in the morning on the west side of the Cascades.
IMG_0258Diamond Peak on the horizon.

IMG_0260Diamond Peak

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IMG_0264Middle and South Sister.

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IMG_0278South Sister photobomb by swallows

IMG_0279South Sister without swallows.

IMG_0283Spencer Butte to the west.

IMG_0284Eugene and the Coast and Middle Fork Willamette Rivers.

After taking the views from the summit (and watching the swallows) we backtracked the .1 miles to Trail 2 and turned downhill.
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After a short stint in the trees Trail 2 entered an open hillside with additional views of Diamond Peak.
IMG_0297Looking back uphill.

IMG_0298Sun still causing problems with the view.

After .4 miles on Trail 2 we turned left at a pointer for Trail 24.
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Trail 24 was a narrower track that headed steeply downhill through the forest. We had to be a little more careful to avoid the occasional poison oak that is present throughout the area.
IMG_0301Some red leaves of poison oak along Trail 24.

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The trail was only about a quarter mile long ending at Trail 4 where we turned right.
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This stretch of Trail 4 followed an old road bed to some power lines where the road bed gave way to single track.
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IMG_0314More poison oak

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We went straight on Trail 2 when we arrived at that junction.
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Trail 2 reentered the oak grassland before arriving at a junction with Trail 6 near the East Trailhead.
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IMG_0321Bright red tree at a nearby farm from Trail 2.

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We turned right on Trail 6 near a signboard and followed it a few hundred feet before veering left onto Trail 3.
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Trail 3 passed through more grassland and crossed a couple of stream beds, one with flowing water.
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In between the stream beds we heard a ruckus as a few scrub jays sounded very agitated. We quickly spotted the reason, a hawk was in the area. It looked like it might have caught brunch but we couldn’t tell for sure until later; when looking at the pictures it became apparent that it had snagged a jay.
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Just beyond the flowing stream crossing we left Trail 3 (which headed uphill) and turned left onto Trail 5.
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Trail 5 was posted for hikers only as it headed to the South Meadow and Mount Pisgah Arboretum.
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Trail 5 followed the stream downhill then turned right as it approached the Coast Fork Willamette River. A very short unmarked path led down to the river bank here.
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After visiting the river we returned to Trail 5 and continued toward the arboretum. Before reaching the arboretum we passed a blank signboard at the South Meadow.
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We opted not to explore any of the trails in that area this time and stayed on Trail 5. There were a number of birds along this stretch (there had been quite a few all over but most weren’t interested in having their pictures taken).
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IMG_0370A few late bloomers.

A post announced the boundary of the arboretum.
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We decided that prior to taking any other trail we needed to make a pit stop at the restrooms so we stuck to Trail 5 aka Quarry Road on the arboretum map until we passed an old barn.
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We veered left onto the Riverbank Trail here and followed it to the restrooms.
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After the pit stop we headed back following Meadow Road past a pavilion back to the barn.
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Near the barn we stayed on Meadow Road following a pointer for the Wetlands Exhibit.
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We continued to follow pointers for the Wetlands Exhibit which led us to the unique exhibit.
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There was quite a bit of information present in interactive displays. There was also a wolf spider with a sense of irony hanging out on one of the signs.
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After checking out the exhibit we returned to the Water Garden Trails and followed them to the Vern Adkinson Bridge.
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We crossed the bridge then promptly cross Quarry Road and headed uphill on the Jette Trail.
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The Jette Trail climbed uphill passing the Cedar Trail (We decided to save the Incense Cedar Exhibit for another visit.) and some memorials.
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IMG_0419Cedar Trail to the left.

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We detoured left 100′ on the Buford Trail to check out the interactive Oak Woodlands Exhibit.
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This was a really neat exhibit and would be great for kids. After playing around with the exhibit we continued on the Lower Plateau Trail.
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We paused briefly to locate the source of the sound of knocking on a nearby tree. It was a partially visible pileated woodpecker.
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IMG_0437Mount Pisgah from the Lower Plateau Trail.

We turned left when we reached a post for the Zig Zag Trail which did just that as it headed downhill.
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This trail brought us down near the pavillion. They were setting up for a wedding there so we stayed right on the Creek Trails which led through a picnic area to the arboretum entrance near our car.
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The route had worked out well coming in at 10.5 miles and taking just over 4 hours and 45 minutes leaving us nearly an hour to change and drive the 15 minutes to the restaurant in Eugene. The route also managed to incorporate at least part of each trail numbered 1-7 albeit only very briefly on Trail 6. (We ran walked up this trail during the Frozen Trail Fest so we’d seen enough of that one.)

With the numerous trails and loop options available the Mount Pisgah area offers a lot of options and the exhibits in the arboretum make it a good place to bring the kiddos. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mount Pisgah

Cascade Head Rainforest Trail – 9/28/2019

With the weather forecast for the Cascades calling for a mix of snow and rain we decided to dial up another coastal hike where a chance of showers was a bit more appealing. While hiking in a little snow can be a lot of fun the snow/rain combo is much less so. We decided it might be a good time to check out the Rainforest Trail at Cascade Head.

Earlier this year we had hiked to the meadows on Cascade Head (post) hoping for some nice views and flowers but spent most of the time in the fog with a little rain thrown in. We thought we might be in for more of the same when we did a final weather check before leaving in the morning and saw that the 40% chance of showers/mostly sunny forecast had been replaced by a 90% chance of showers decreasing to 40% later in the day. At least this time there weren’t going to be any viewpoints and rain almost seemed fitting since we would be on the Rainforest Trail.

We arrived at the Cascade Head Trail – South Trailhead a little too early and had to sit for about 20 minutes waiting for enough light to start hiking. We’d driven through a few showers through the coastal range but there was no precipitation falling as we set off on the Rainforest Trail, which is also part of the official route of the Oregon Coast Trail.
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The trail set off uphill following an old logging road that was crowded with vegetation.
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The trail was a little muddy and slick in spots but given the recent rain we’d had it wasn’t as muddy as we had expected. It also wasn’t nearly as cloudy as we’d expected with a few breaks visible to the west.
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There are no real viewpoints and no trail junctions over the first 3.5 miles, just the rain forest which transitioned to a more open forest with some mature trees toward the latter end. The most obvious marker along the way was a boardwalk over the headwaters of Calkins Creek approximately 2.7 miles from the trailhead.
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IMG_0078Ferns on a tree trunk.

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IMG_0085Lichen overhanging the trail.

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IMG_0097The boardwalk

IMG_0099Nursery stump

IMG_0111Spider finishing its morning web.

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About 3.7 miles (and 1200′) from the trailhead we arrived at Forest Road 1861.
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Up until 2008 the trail continued 2.4 miles on the far side of this road and descended to Highway 101 near Neskowin (post) but storm damage that year prompted the Forest Service to abandon that section forcing Oregon Coast Trail hikers to follow FR 1861 1.2 miles to Highway 101 and follow its shoulder into Neskowin. In March of this year volunteers from Trail Keepers of Oregon (TKO) began work to reopen the abandoned trail. We had heard that completion of the repairs should take place by 2020 so we thought we would check on the progress.

Pink flagging marked a path on the far side of the road so we began following it.
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IMG_0117There is a flag in there.

This path led us to a junction at an old sign near the road.
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A better path was coming up from the road here. (If we had turned right on FR 1861 for a short distance we’d have found it.)
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We weren’t sure how far we’d be able to go and kept our eyes out for an sign of closure but we found the trail to be in good shape. Flagging was present in many areas and the time and effort of the TKO trail crews was evident.
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IMG_0133Flagging along the trail.

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IMG_0137Elk had obviously been on the trail recently.

IMG_0138Fern covered hillside.

There was a brief break in the trees along the way which gave us a view of Cascade Head’s high point.
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There were also some impressive fungi along the section.
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A mile and a half from FR 1861 the trail began a steeper descent via some switchbacks as it approached Fall Creek. There was evidence of quite a bit of tree fall in the area.
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Near the bottom of the switchbacks we spotted a TKO crew.
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They were a bit surprised to see actual hikers since the trail hadn’t officially been reopened (they said we were more than welcome there though). They indicated that the final .7 miles of trail was still pretty rough as they had done work on that section yet. We thanked them for their hard work and let them know that the upper section that they had worked on was probably in better shape than parts of the trail that hadn’t been abandoned. We turned around and headed back up to FR 1861 and then dropped back down to our car enjoying the forest along the way.
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We never did have a shower pass over and actually wound up under a mostly sunny sky after all. The 10.4 mile hike gained approximately 2000′ total but most of that was gradual. It was an enjoyable hike even though there wasn’t much in the way of viewpoints or other “features”. It was also fun to see the trail crew doing their thing. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Cascade Head Rainforest Trail

Exploring the Pacific NW one step at a time.