Category Archives: Trip report

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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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

IMG_1503Mt. Jefferson

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_1580Stream crossing

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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IMG_0575Mt. Jefferson

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

IMG_0707Olallie Butte

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.

IMG_0767Quite the camouflage isn’t it?

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.)
IMG_0774Jude Lake

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IMG_0776Jude Lake

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

Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground (Mt. Rainier National Park) – 9/21/2019

We spent most of the Summer doing day hikes from home so that we could be back in time to give our elderly cats their daily medicines which put a limit on how far away we could go, but we had purchased tickets to the Seattle Seahawks/New Orleans Saints game prior to Buddy getting ill so my parents graciously took over for a day. We took the opportunity to drive up the day before the game and stop for a hike in Mt. Rainier National Park.

This would be our second visit to the park having hiked the Northern Loop on a 4-day backpack in 2015 (post). For this visit we were looking for something on the SW side of the mountain that would be a good late Summer/early Fall hike. A little research led us to Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground from Longmire.

We arrived at Longmire just after 8am and prepared to set off on the Trail of Shadows.
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Our trail was located across the park entrance road from the National Park Inn.
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Also across the road was the shear cliffs of Rampart Ridge and the snow capped summit of Mt. Rainier.
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We were excited to see the mountain as it had been raining for several days and more rain was forecast for the next few, but a partly sunny forecast had at least given us some hope.
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The Trail of Shadows is a .7 mile interpretative loop around Longmire Meadow. We followed this trail clockwise for a quarter mile where we arrived at a junction with the Rampart Ridge Trail.
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We turned left on the Rampart Ridge Trail which promptly began climbing via a series of switchbacks to the top of the ridge. The trail climbed through an old growth forest with lots of mushrooms this time of year and a bit of fall color showing on the maples.
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The trail gained the ridge after a little under 1.5 miles and began to follow it to the NE. One and three quarters of a mile from the junction we forked right to a signed viewpoint overlooking Longmire.
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The position of the Sun wasn’t ideal, even with some clouds around, but Eagle Peak was also visible (albeit through some trees) rising above Longmire.
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Less then a quarter mile from the viewpoint we came to a turn where the trail began to descend, but before we started down we followed a short path to a rocky viewpoint where we got a better look at Mt. Rainier.
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Mt. Rainier was the main attraction but to the NW behind the clouds was another interesting and colorful peak, Mt. Wow.
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We spent quite a while at the viewpoint before starting down on the Rampart Ridge Trail which we found turned back toward the mountain and provided another spectacular view.
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We were soon back in the mushroom filled forest grateful for having gotten such a nice view of the mountain already. We figured if the clouds moved in, at least we’d gotten to see that .
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After 2.9 miles on the Rampart Ridge Trail we came to a signed junction with the Wonderland Trail.
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Here we turned left following the pointer for Indian Henry’s (Hunting Ground)
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We had gained over 1400′ climbing up to Rampart Ridge and now we began to lose 400 of those feet as the Wonderland Trail dropped to Kautz Creek in 3/4 of a mile. Mushrooms remained a main theme of the hike as we descended through more green forest.
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As we neared Kautz Creek the mountain once again came into view.
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We dropped into the washed out canyon of Kautz Creek where, you guessed it, there were some more interesting mushrooms amid the rubble.
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IMG_9731Satuick Mountain

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The crossing of Kautz Creek was fairly easy as far as glacier fed streams go. The creek was split into three channels which were small enough to rock hop across dry footed.
IMG_9735First crossing

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IMG_9737The third channel was the largest but still relatively small.

IMG_9740Mt. Rainier from the far side of Kautz Creek.

The trail then reentered the forest and shortly arrived at Pyramid Camp.
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IMG_9746Yet another big mushroom.

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After a brief stint in the trees we emerged at another washed out creek bed. According to the map this was Pearl Creek (which later becomes Pyramid Creek after merging with a couple of other streams).
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This creek would have been a little trickier to cross had it not been for the presence of a pair of footbridges.
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After crossing the creek we popped back into the forest and almost immediately came to a clear spring.
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Beyond the spring the trail began to climb steeply gaining over 400′ in a half mile before becoming a bit more gradual as it traversed up the hillside crossing a few creek beds along the way.
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IMG_9763There were quite a few coral fungi present as well.

IMG_9766Fishers Hornpipe Creek

IMG_9769The mushrooms in the back had exploded.

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IMG_9774A few red huckleberries left to eat.

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Approximately one and three quarters of a mile from the Pearl Creek crossing we arrived at Devil’s Dream Creek.
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This creek flowed through a narrow slot canyon that looked (and sounded) really interesting.
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Although the trail briefly climbed uphill along side the canyon there were no views to speak of save one look down to the water below. From that spot it sounded like there was some sort of waterfall just upstream but there was no angle available to see anything so we settled for more colorful mushrooms.
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A half mile after crossing Devil’s Dream Creek we did spot a waterfall downhill to the right of the trail just before arriving at Devil’s Dream Camp. A path led down to the creek here. There wasn’t a lot of water flowing but it looked like it might be a pretty good waterfall when there was more flow.
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After the side trip we passed through the 8-site Devil’s Dream Camp.
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IMG_9804Bear pole

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It was uphill through the camp but not longer after passing the group site the trail leveled out a bit and entered the first meadow as we neared Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground.
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A larger meadow followed with a view of Mt. Rainier hiding behind Iron Mountain.
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IMG_9825Gentians

IMG_9826Mushrooms in the meadow.

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IMG_9828Gray jay in the huckleberries.

A quarter mile from the camp we arrived at Squaw Lake.
IMG_9832Iron Mountain from the lake.

We crossed Devil’s Dream Creek again as we passed around the lake.
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I don’t know where the actual boundary of the hunting ground is but beyond Squaw Lake the meadows kept opening up more as we neared a backcountry patrol cabin.
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IMG_9853Western pasque flower

Finally Mt. Rainier came back into view.
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We spotted the patrol cabin approximately 8 miles (according to my GPS) into the hike. The cabin was set back in some trees overlooking the meadow with Mt. Rainier in the background. It couldn’t have been a more picturesque setting.
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We had been playing leap frog with another pair of day hikers who had planned on turning back at the cabin. We had also considered that given the distance and elevation gain to get there, but the mountain was so visible we decided to push on to Mirror Lakes which was just under a mile away. From a junction with the Kautz Creek Trail near the cabin we followed a pointer for the Mirror Lakes Trail .3 miles down the Wonderland Trail.
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The Wonderland Trail lost a little elevation before arriving at the Mirror Lakes Trail junction. Views of Mt. Rainier were plentiful along the .3 mile stretch.
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We turned onto the Mirror Lakes Trail which was pretty wet in spots from the recent rains, as were the meadows alongside the trail.
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There were a number of frogs in the meadow and they seemed to be enjoying the extra water.
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Most of the flowers were long since past but a few stragglers were hanging on.
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IMG_9920Butterfly on the remains of an aster.

IMG_9926Gentians

While the Summer flowers were mostly gone the nearby hillsides were heralding the arrival of Fall.
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We were glad that we’d decided to go on even before reaching the Mirror Lakes as the trail just kept getting us closer views of Mt. Rainier.
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IMG_9931Pyramid Peak to the right.

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The best was yet to come though. The largest (and first) of the little lakes that make up the Mirror Lakes had a perfect reflection of the still mostly cloud free mountain.
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We lingered for awhile studying the mountains various features.
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We would have loved to have stuck around longer but we still had a long hike back to Longmire and a 2 hour drive to our motel so we pulled ourselves away and started back. In the time it took to reach the patrol cabin the clouds had increased noticably.
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The shift in the clouds did reveal more of Emerald Ridge to the north which had some interesting features.
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We returned the way we’d come until arriving at the Wonderland Trail/Rampart Ridge Trail junction. This portion of the hike saw us spotting additional mushrooms that we hadn’t noticed earlier and a few more frogs, including one at the spring near Pearl Creek.
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IMG_9987This guy was tiny.

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IMG_9995Frog on a rock at the spring.

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The clouds had really moved in by the time we were crossing Kautz Creek and Mt. Rainier was gone.
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From the Wonderland/Rampart Ridge junction we stayed straight on the Wonderland Trail which, in addtion to being new trail, was at least a mile shorter route back to Longmire.
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The trail lost elevation pretty quickly and was fairly steep in places. The mushroom theme continued here as well.
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The trail did level out some as it passed below Rampart Ridges cliffs and over a swale on a boardwalk.
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We crossed the Paradise Road and soon after turned at a pointer for Longmire.
IMG_0044Looking back across the road.

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Our feet were sore and our knees tired but the 16.4 miles had been more than worth it. As we were loading up the car a gentleman asked if we would give him a ride out of the park. He had been on the Wonderland Trail but after 5 days of rain everything was wet and he hadn’t been able to cook some of his food so he was living to fight another day. His car was at Mowhich Lake though so we gave him a lift to Ashford and dropped him off at a motel/restaurant there before heading toward Seattle.

It was a great start to the weekend, if only Seattle’s play had been half as impressive as Mt. Rainier was maybe they could have pulled out a win. Ah well, we will take a beautiful hike over a single W any time. Happy Trails! (and GO Hawks!)

Flickr: Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground

The Twins and Bobby Lake – 9/14/2019

The weather was once again looking promising for the last hike of our mini-vacation so we headed up to Waldo Lake to visit a viewpoint atop The Twins with a side trip to Bobby Lake thrown in. This wasn’t the first time that we had planned on doing the hike The Twins, but the elements hadn’t played nice and we’d changed plans every time before.

We took Highway 58 from Eugene to the Waldo Lake (Forest Road 5897) and followed it for just over 6 miles to the Twin Peaks Trailhead
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We set off on the trail which gradually climbed through a fairly open forest of lodgepole pine and mountain hemlock.
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We quickly (less than a tenth of a mile from the trailhead) passed our return route, a connector trail with a pointer for Gold Lake.
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We stuck to The Twins Trail and in another mile and a half reached a four way junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. A variety of mushrooms could be seen along the trail.
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IMG_9266PCT junction.

We continued straight across the PCT climbing steeply at first before becoming more gradual. Here the trail passed through an open forest of mountain hemlock with a couple of ponds and many rock outcrops. It was the type of forest that called for exploration and we both felt like we could have set up camp in the area and stayed relaxed for days.
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IMG_9272More cool mushrooms.

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IMG_9277First pond

IMG_9278Looking down on the first pond.

IMG_9280Liked the pattern on this shroom.

IMG_9282A smaller pond.

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IMG_9291Found a few blooming bleeding heart.

We reached another junction 1.2 miles from the PCT at a sign for Charlton Lake.
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This would also be a return trail for us as part of a short loop including the summits of The Twins.

The trail steepened beyond the junction and eventually headed straight up the cinder covered rim around The Twins crater.
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Over our shoulder a nice view to the south was unfolding including Maiden and Diamond Peaks, Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey and even Mt. Scott in Crater Lake National Park.
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IMG_9307Diamond Peak on the right and Mt. Bailey (post) on the left.

IMG_9326Mt. Scott (post) on the left and Mt. Thielsen (post) behind Howlock Mountain.

IMG_9322Maiden Peak (post) in the center.

IMG_9338Close up of Diamond Peak

As we followed the rim north Waldo Lake could be seen below to the west.
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IMG_9331Waldo Mountain Lookout (post) on the far side of Waldo Lake.

At the north summit the view north was spectacular stretching all the way to Mt. Jefferson.
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IMG_9368Rigdon Butte (post) along Waldo Lake

IMG_9362Mt. Jefferson (with Three Fingered Jack in front), Mt. Washington, and The Husband

IMG_9346The Three Sisters

IMG_9347Broken Top

IMG_9350Mt. Bachelor

The Sun was still to the east making that view a little bright and there seemed to be some smoke over the LaPine area but Newberry Crater and Paulina Peak were visible above the smoke with a low water Wickiup Reservoir in the foreground.
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To the SE Davis Lake was visible in front of Davis Mountain and Hammer ButteIMG_9458

To the south the taller southern summit blocked some of the view.
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As we started down the trail a saddle between the two summits we spotted a marmot.
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IMG_9400The marmot on a rock ledge with Crane Prairie Reservoir in the background.

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The saddle was forested complete with green grass.
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The trail forked on the far side of the saddle where a faint path traversed the hillside below the south summit.
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The other fork headed 200′ up to second summit.
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The view north was still great from this summit and Waldo Lake was still visible by looking west across the cinder cones crater.
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Here though the view to the south was back.
IMG_9413_stitchThat’s Bobby Lake below Maiden Peak.

IMG_9452Mt. Yoran near Diamond Peak

IMG_9459Gold Lake

IMG_9462Fuji Mountain (post)

Llao Rock was visible over the right shoulder of Mt. Thielsen from this angle.
IMG_9456The closest rocky peak to the right of the photo is Cowhorn Mountain (post)

We had planned on going back down the way we’d come up and taking the trail around the summit, but from the summit we noticed another user path heading down the back side and meeting up with the loop trail at another saddle.
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It didn’t look too steep so we decided to try it out. As we started down we quickly realized that it was quite a bitter steeper than it had seemed but we were able to get down without too much trouble. Lower on the hillside we came across a number of elk tracks.
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We turned right onto the trail when we reached the saddle where there was a bit of a view of the Three Sisters and Broken Top.
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We completed the 2 mile loop and arrived back at The Twins Trail at the Charlton Lake sign and turned left to head back down to the PCT where we turned left again following the point for Bobby Lake.
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We followed the PCT south for 2.5 miles, losing a little elevation along the way and passing a pair of small lakes/ponds just before arriving at a 4-way junction.
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IMG_9494Tiny PCT frog.

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IMG_9513One of the unnamed lakes.

IMG_9516Trail sign at the 4-way junction.

We turned left and dropped down to Bobby Lake which we reached in just over a quarter mile, but not before being looked over by some grey jays.
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A short distance along the lake shore to the right was a large rock feature.
IMG_9531Maiden Peak above the lake.

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We made our way over to the rocks and took a nice break where we had some company.
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IMG_9550The Twins

IMG_9555One of several butterflies.

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After the break we returned to the PCT junction and continued straight on the Bobby Lake Trail toward Waldo Lake Road.
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Of particular interest to us was a post located about 100 feet from the junction marking the end of the Eugene to Crest Trail. We had done some of that route earlier in the year during our Bunchgrass Ridge hike (post)

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We followed the Bobby Lake Trail for a little over one and three quarters of a mile before turning right at a point for The Twins Trail.
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IMG_9571Nordic trail sign high on the tree.

A fairly level but not at all straight mile walk back to The Twins Trail followed as did a chance encounter with a toad.
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We didn’t see too many people during the hike but we found the trailhead parking area full, counting at least 10 cars plus ours (we had been the only car when we started). The hike came in at 12.1 miles and gained upwards of 2100′ of elevation gain making it a good workout but well worth the effort. Happy Trails!

Flickr: The Twins and Bobby Lake