Tag Archives: hiking

Taylor Dunes, Lake Marie, and Umpqua Dunes

We’d been fortunate this year having only been forced to change plans due to weather twice, in February due to snow in the coast range and at the end of our trip to the Elkhorns when thunderstorms forced us to cancel our plans to visit the lookout atop Mt. Ireland. For the third time in the last four years our September vacation coincided with a forecast for snow in the mountains. We had planned a four day trip around and up Diamond Peak, but with a chance of rain or snow showers all four days we decided to turn to our alternate plan which was a trip to Bandon, OR on the Oregon Coast.

We had three stops planned in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area on our way down to Bandon. Our first stop was at the Taylor Dunes Trailhead located seven and a half miles south of Florence.IMG_2286

From the small parking area the trail immediately crossed a paved road and passed by Taylor Lake.IMG_2287

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After .4 miles we arrived at a viewpoint above the dunes.IMG_2305

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From the viewpoint we followed the trail through the sand for half a mile to a signed junction.IMG_2311

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We turned right here on a half mile trail that passed through a forest behind a foredune before arriving at the Pacific Ocean.IMG_2313

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After reaching the ocean we returned to the junction and turned right to complete a loop through the Carter Lake Campground.IMG_2338

Carter Lake

The final .4 miles of the loop was along the paved campground road.IMG_2339

Our second stop was at Lake Marie, about 18 miles south of Taylor Dunes, in the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. We parked at the Lake Marie Trailhead and set off on the 1 mile loop clockwise around the lake.IMG_2340

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The fishermen around the lake had some competition from the local wildlife.IMG_2352

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Just under a mile around the lake a short spur trail led to a viewpoint overlooking more dunes.IMG_2372

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We completed the loop and then decided to walk the tenth of a mile up Lighthouse Road to see the Umpqua River Lighthouse.IMG_2381

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A viewpoint at the lighthouse looked out to the mouth of the Umpqua River.IMG_2383

There was also a gray whale jawbone nearby.IMG_2387

After visiting the lighthouse we returned to our car and continued south on Highway 101 for another 5.5 miles to the signed John Dellenback Dune Trailhead.IMG_2390

The trail left the parking area and immediately crossed Eel Creek on a footbridge.IMG_2391

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The trail passed a marshy area where a great blue heron was looking for breakfast.IMG_2401

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At the quarter mile mark the trail crossed a paved road in Eel Creek Campground.IMG_2403

In just .2 more miles the trail left the trees and entered the dunes.IMG_2407

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Poles marked the route of the trail through the shifting sands of the dunes, but we began to doubt that we were really supposed to follow the poles when they began to veer to the north (right) of a tree island. The GPS appeared to show the trail passing to the south (left) of that island.IMG_2418

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There were footprints leading to both sides of the trees so we decided to trust the GPS and headed to the left.IMG_2428

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When we reached the vegetation of the deflation plain just under two miles from the trailhead we were unable to find any sign of a trail. We did however find a lupine still in bloom.IMG_2442

We attempted to locate some sign of a trail in the area shown on the GPS but each time we thought we might have found a way through the brush it got too dense to continue. We worked our way north along the edge of the vegetation for nearly half a mile where we finally spotted some signs.IMG_2443

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For the next three quarters of a mile the trail passed through a variety of scenery before reaching the ocean.IMG_2445

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We followed the beach south for about a mile before turning back.IMG_2460

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On the way back we followed the posts along the north side of the island.IMG_2476

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We took a side trip up the tallest of the dunes before reaching a junction at the edge of the trees.IMG_2490

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We went right at the junction for a half mile to complete a loop back to the trailhead.IMG_2498

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With our wandering around this hike came in at 8 miles giving us a total of 12.7 on the day. We ended the day in Bandon where we explored the old downtown and had a wonderful dinner at Foley’s Irish Pub. A good start as far as backup plans go. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Taylor Dunes, Lake Marie, and Umpqua Dunes

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Pamelia Lake Overnighter

As I mentioned in our recent Table Lake Loop Trip Report (post)we had plans to visit Goat Peak, a 7159′ peak just south of Mt. Jefferson. We had obtained a Pamelia Limited Area Entry Permit in May when they became available for September 8th and 9th. It was a roll of the dice not knowing what the wildfire or weather situations would be four months down the road but it ensured that we would be able to go if conditions permitted it. Aside from a slight chance of showers the morning of the 8th the forecast looked good so that morning we drove to the Pamelia Lake Trailhead and set off.IMG_1945

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We had been here once before in 2013 on a long loop to Hunts Cove (post).

From the trailhead the Pamelia Lake Trail travels just under two and a quarter miles to the lake. Along the way the trail passes through some very nice forest scenery with several views of Pamelia Creek.IMG_1948

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Just prior to arriving at the Pamelia Lake the trail veers left at a junction with the Grizzly Peak Trail which heads to the right.

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Our original plan for this trip had been to take the Pamelia Lake Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail via the Hunts Creek Trail and follow the PCT up to Coyote (aka Mud) and Shale Lakes where we would set up camp before attempting to reach Goat Peak. After some additional consideration though we decided that setting up camp at Pamelia Lake might be a better option. Setting up camp there would eliminate the need to haul our heavy backpacks up the PCT while also leaving us with a hike out the next day of less than two and a half miles. It did mean we would be adding nearly 4.5 miles to Saturdays hike, but on paper it would still only be around 15 miles. The designated campsites at the lake were all along its left (north) side so we followed a use trail straight ahead from the junction and started looking for an open site.

We wound up choosing site #3 which kept us relatively close to the Grizzly Peak Trail junction as well as the Hunts Creek Trail junction.IMG_1966

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After setting up camp we briefly visited the shore of Pamelia Lake then we headed up to the Hunts Creek Trail.IMG_1967

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We turned left onto the Hunts Creek Trail and followed it around a ridge for nearly three quarters of a mile to its end at a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail gaining a view of Mt. Jefferson along the way.IMG_1975

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On our loop to Hunts Cove I had taken the short side trip north on the PCT to see Milk Creek but Heather had not so we turned left at the junction and followed the PCT for a tenth of a mile through vine maple donning its fall colors to a viewpoint above the creek of Mt. Jefferson.IMG_1983

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After checking off the viewpoint we turned around and headed south on the PCT which climbed gradually through a varied forest.IMG_1990

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Along the way some movement in a fir tree caught our attention. At first we thought it might be a medium sized mammal of some kind but it turned out to be a squirrel harvesting cones that were crashing down through the limbs after being detached.IMG_1995

Approximately four and a quarter miles from the junction we arrived at Mud Hole Lake. (On some maps it is identified as Coyote Lake but on the USGS Topographic Map the name Coyote Lake is assigned to another lake on the west side of the PCT.)IMG_2010

We turned off the PCT just before the lake on an unsigned but clear trail leading NE through a meadow.IMG_2014

We were using “75 Scrambles in Oregon: Best Non-Technical Ascents” by Barbara I. Bond as our reference for the hike. This was our first time using this particular guidebook but so far everything was going smoothly. The book did not mention that there was a clear trail to follow but we were headed straight for Goat Peak and we’d turned off the PCT at the right spot so we figured we were good to go.IMG_2016

Our intended route would lead us up above a talus slope to the north (left) of Goat Peak where we would then bend to the south at about 6800′.IMG_2020

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It was a lovely area with red huckleberry leaves and a few butterflies still flying about.IMG_2027

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The tread petered out for a bit in one meadow in particular but small cairns helped lead the way.IMG_2030

The unexpected presence of the well marked trail got us off our guard and we weren’t paying enough attention to the fact that our heading was drifting further north than we’d intended. In the meadow where the trail grew faint the cairns led to the left of a rocky ridge end. In order to reach Goat Peak we should have veered to the right here to find the correct gully uphill.IMG_2031

Instead we continued to follow the trail as we now were hearing other voices ahead. The trail began to climb away from the meadow passing more rock covered hillsides.IMG_2035

Three Fingered Jack

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It started seeming really odd that we seemed to be heading directly at Mt. Jefferson but kept thinking that maybe the trail would bend right around some geologic feature.IMG_2042

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I really started to question things when we caught up to the group of gentleman who were ahead of us. They asked how high we were planning on going which is when I became fairly certain we were on a climbers route and not the scramble route to Goat Peak. I replied “as high as our legs will take us”, knowing that if this wasn’t the right way to Goat Peak we’d gone to far to correct it by then. Shortly after we crested a rise and left the tress. We were now at the bottom of a boulder filled gully.IMG_2046

There wasn’t much we could do at that point other than go back or continue on so up we went.IMG_2048

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Cliffs on the right side of the gully.

As we gained elevation the views to the south opened up and the Three Sisters joined Three Fingered Jack on the horizon.IMG_2049

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We were well above the summit of Goat Peak by the time we reached the lip of the gully where stunted white bark pines clung to the steep slope.IMG_2057

Anxious to see what spectacular view awaited I charged up the final pitch only to find a second albeit smaller gully.IMG_2059

At least it had a view of Mt. Jefferson. There were a couple of bivouacs here and I waited for Heather to decide our next course of action. When she reached the second gully I decided to continue on and told her I would wave her up if I thought there was something that she just had to see. From where we were I could already see the top of Goat Peak below to the south as well as The Table and Cathedral Rocks.IMG_2060

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Goat Peak

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The Table

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Cathedral Rocks

Getting out of the second gully was much easier than the first and I soon found myself walking along a snowfield.IMG_2066

Later research would reveal that we were indeed following a climbers trail to the South Ridge Route up Mt. Jefferson. I ended my climb at the top of the snowfield but did a little exploring to the high points on either side of the gully.IMG_2069

Climbers trail continuing up Mt. Jefferson

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View south from the ridge to the north of the gully.

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Looking out along the ridge.

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Where we had intended to be.

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View from below the snowfield.

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Paintbrush below the snow.

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Looking south from the opposite ridge top.

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Wildflower atop the ridge.

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Bear Butte along the nearest ridge.

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Looking back at Mt. Jefferson

The views were nice but I didn’t think they warranted waving Heather up so I headed back down to where she was waiting. After a short break and a snack we began the half mile decent down the lower gully.IMG_2114

We passed the other group, who were still on their way up the lower gully, just after starting our descent. When we’d finally gotten back to level ground in the meadow we decided to check out the other side of the ridge to see if we find any sign of a trail we’d missed.IMG_2128_stitch

There wasn’t anything we could see, but based on all the information in the book including the map and GPS coordinates we definitely had wanted to be on this side of the ridge. Once we had gotten into the area we noticed that there were several ponds/lakes showing on the map to the south. The terrain appeared to be level enough to make a cross country jaunt inviting.IMG_2137

We used the map and GPS to locate several of the ponds but they were all dry save one unnamed lake. We did get some really nice views of Goat Peak though.IMG_2139

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We took another break at the lake.IMG_2162

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There were some tents set up nearby in the trees so we thought that there might be a trail somewhere nearby and set off looking for it when we left the lake. It didn’t take us long to spot the clear tread.IMG_2182

This path led us west between Mud Hole and Shale Lakes and back to the PCT.IMG_2186

Mud Hole Lake

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Shale Lake

We turned right on the PCT and continued a short distance until we spotted another use trail heading further west. We followed this path past more dry (or nearly dry) ponds to Coyote Lake.IMG_2190

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Our urge to explore was now satisfied and we returned to the PCT and headed back to Pamelia Lake, which looked like it was way, way down below us.IMG_2206

It was closing in on 6pm when we finally made it back to camp. We went down to the lake to get water then cooked dinner and relaxed in our camp chairs.IMG_2223

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Ouzel

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Marty, a wilderness ranger, stopped by to check our permit and make sure we were aware of the campfire ban. She seemed relieved that we had a permit and knew about the ban. We got the feeling that a fair number of folks aren’t as friendly as we were which is a shame.

Even though we hadn’t made it to Goat Peak and we’d hiked much further than originally intended (19.4 miles) it had been a great day. It helped knowing that we only need to hike 2.5 miles the next day to reach our car.

The next morning we were up before 5am and on the trail by 6:30.IMG_2265

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We made it home just after 9am which gave us plenty of time to unpack, clean up, and do some laundry. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Pamelia Lake Overnighter

Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Days 2 & 3 – Table Lake Loop

After turning in early the night before we were up before the Sun which wasn’t such a bad thing.
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IMG_1511_stitchCarl Lake

For the second day of our trip we planned on taking the Cabot Lake Trail to Table Lake and then on to a viewpoint above Hole-in-the-Wall Park before returning to Carl Lake. We were still debating our return route though. We could simply follow the Cabot Lake Trail back, or we could complete a loop described in Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region”. The loop option would require using what is believed to have been an old Native American trail, not shown on any of our maps, to reach the Pacific Crest Trail. We could then follow the PCT south to the Shirley Lake Trail which would take us back down to Carl Lake. One of the things we really like about Reeder’s book is that most of the suggested hikes have an accompanying GPS track overlaid on a topographic map which can be really helpful.

We decided to wait and see how the day was going before making a final decision about our return route. One thing we did know was that we didn’t want to try and walk around the north side of Carl Lake to hook up with the Cabot Lake Trail after having come back on that side the day before (post). It would have been shorter than taking the Cabot Lake Trail around the southern and western ends of the lake but certainly not easier so we proceeded as we had the day before only this time we went right when we arrived at the junction with the Shirley Lake Trail.
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As we followed the trail around the west end of the lake we noticed that the water at this end was completely calm. It was the only time during the entire weekend that any of the water in the lake was still.
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When we made our way around to the point where we had left the trail to cross the rock outcrop the day before we found the most of the campsites were now occupied which was another good reason for us to not have tried coming from that way.

The trail veered away from the lake and began a half mile climb via a series of short switchbacks. As we made our way up the hillside we spotted a doe and her two fawns coming down the trail.
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Near the top of the climb we had a decent view of Carl Lake below.
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The trail then leveled out in a forest accentuated with small ponds and rock formations.
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Approximately 1.75 miles after turning away from Carl Lake we arrived at tiny Junction Lake.
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There was a small wooden sign here marking the now lost Sugar Pine Ridge Trail which was abandoned after the 2003 B & B Fire.
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What had already been a scenic hike got even better over the next mile and a half as the Cabot Lake Trail passed through an increasing volcanic landscape.
IMG_1573Mt. Jefferson and Forked Butte poking up over the trees.

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Our favorite part of this section was when the trail passed between a jumble of white rocks on the left and the dark lava from the Forked Butte Lava Flow.
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The contrasting colors and textures made for some excellent scenery.
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IMG_1596Moraine below the Waldo Glacier on Mt. Jefferson.

The trail wound around the lava flow where we found a small patch of western pasque flowers that had gone to seed and the remains of a lone clump of aster.
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The trail crested a cinder hillside with spectacular views of North Cinder Peak and Mt. Jefferson and began to descend toward a green forest.
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As we came down and around we got a good look at pointy Bear Butte poking up from a ridge to the right of Mt. Jefferson. Our turn around point for the day was at a viewpoint below and to the left of that butte.
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At the end of this 1.5 mile stretch the Cabot Lake Trail reentered the forest and began a 350′ drop down to Patsy Lake. This .4 mile section was fairly steep as it dove down via one long switchback.
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A signed junction at Patsy Lake announced the location of another abandoned trail – the Jefferson Lake Trail.
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Patsy Lake was forested except for on the northern side where a rock field dipped down into the water.
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We got ourselves a little confused here about where the trail was and wound up following a use trail clockwise around the little lake. By the time we realized our mistake we were at the NW end of the lake at an inlet creek.
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We decided to finish the loop and passed through a couple of decent campsites where we stopped for a short break before having to cross the rock field.
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After picking our way across the rocks we arrived at the lakes dry outlet creek. It was here that we could see where we’d made our mistake. The Cabot Lake Trail continued on the other side of a downed tree after sharing tread briefly with the Jefferson Lake Trail. It also didn’t follow the lake shore but instead veered away from the lake on the opposite side of a ridge. The trail then began to regain much of the elevation it had lost on its way down to Patsy Lake.
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IMG_1652The Jefferson Lake Trail used to come up this valley.

The trail leveled out again this time passing through a series of alpine meadows and over dry creek beds.
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We were keeping our eyes open for the unofficial trail in case we decided on returning via the loop option which was what we were leaning towards. Approximately .6 miles from the trail junction at Patsy Lake we spotted what appeared to be a trail leading off into a meadow to the west.
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I marked that spot on our GPS so that we wouldn’t miss it on the way back. A short distance later Heather spotted a second possible trail heading off toward that same area. We had forgotten to bring a copy of Reeder’s GPS track with us so we couldn’t be sure which one was correct, but we had memorized his route description so we knew if we aimed between a cinder cone and The Table we should be okay. The Table is an unmistakable large plateaued feature south of Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_1661The end of The Table to the left of the trail.

The trail descended a bit as it passed by The Table on its way down to Table Lake.
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Our first look at Table Lake confirmed that this was going to be another nice one.
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We passed a backpacker who had stayed at the lake the night before and was now heading to Carl Lake. She told us where to find a view of Mt. Jefferson from the lake so we made our way to the spot she had suggested.
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After checking out the viewpoint we continued along the Cabot Lake Trail crossing above a spring feeding into the lake and then an inlet creek where we had to watch our step due to the presence of hundreds of little frogs.
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After crossing over the creek we decided to try to make our way back to a smaller unnamed lake shown on the map which the creek flowed out of.
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We followed a clear path past a large campsite and along the creek for a bit (Watch out for frogs!) then came to a wall of small pine trees. It took a little effort to get through the thicket of trees but the reward was worth it.
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With no where to sit along this lake we headed back toward Table Lake and picked up the Cabot Lake Trail which we followed to a sign apparently marking the current “end” of the trail.
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If the Forest Service has indeed abandoned the remainder of the trail it would be shame. The final portion of the trail down to Hole-in-the-Wall Park has been lost for years since the B & B Fire but we hadn’t heard that they had given up on the section between Table Lake and the viewpoint below Bear Butte.

In any case we continued on to a rock outcrop above Table Lake where we took a snack break.
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From Table Lake the trail climbed gradually save for about 100 yards of switchbacks after three quarters of mile. The trail was a little crowded with brush and had a few downed trees over it but nothing too challenging as it passed through a mix of meadows, trees, and huckleberry bushes.
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Shortly before the switchbacks the trail passed a large boulder leaning up against a pair of trees. It looked like the rock was going to be flat and thin from the direction we were coming but it turned out to not be flat on the other side at all.
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Beyond the switchbacks the trail leveled out again for about a quarter mile with a view south of the Three Sisters in a gap between Sugar Pine Ridge and Forked Butte.
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After the quarter mile of more level trail the Cabot Lake Trail headed steeply up a gully arriving at a saddle with a view of Mt. Jefferson after another quarter mile.
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The viewpoint that we were aiming for was to the right of the saddle visible atop the ridge below pointy Bear Butte.
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A straight forward cross country walk brought us to the top of the rocky outcrop.
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The view of Mt. Jefferson was spectacular. In the valley below was green Hole-in-the-Wall Park with Mt. Jefferson on the other side. Along the ridge to the left of Mt. Jefferson was Goat Peak, a feature we are hoping to visit someday in the future.
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The view south wasn’t too bad either despite the presence of a little haze.
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To the east was Bear Butte.
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To top it off the sound of crashing water filled the air. Heather spotted the series of cascades creating all the noise well before I did.
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After soaking in the view we returned down to the saddle and sat in the shade of some trees while we had another bite to eat. We then hiked the 1.5 miles back down to Table Lake and refilled our water supply from the inlet creek where there was clearly a frog convention occurring.
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With our water replenished we left Table Lake and hiked back along the Cabot Lake Trail approximately a quarter mile to the side trail we had marked earlier.
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As I previously mentioned there was another side trail that probably would have been the better option about 30 yards north of where we turned. The trail we chose started clearly enough but soon was lost in a meadow.
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We knew from the description in the guidebook that the trail passed between a cinder cone and The Table so we just headed in that direction and were able to once again locate an obvious path.
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As we neared the cinder cone the trail climbed up along its side as it squeezed between the cone and the rocky hillside of The Table.
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This area looked like it should be full of pikas and although we heard a few “meeps” that let us know they were there, all we spotted were golden-mantled ground squirrels and chipmunks.
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As the trail passed by the cinder cone views ahead opened up to a large valley below the Cathedral Rocks.
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All the climbing along the side of the cinder cone was now lost as we dove downhill into the valley.
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The GPS track we’d seen showed the trail passing to the left of two ponds then to the right of a third in this area. The tread was fairly easy to follow here and there was at least one recent set of shoe prints leading the way.
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IMG_1809First pond on the right.

The traverse around the second pond was a little tricky. The cinder hillside was loose and sharply angled and there was no clear trail around to the left save for at the far end.
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It may have been a better option to have gone around on the other side but we managed to make it around the second pond and then the trail dropped into a dry creek bed where the tread disappeared. Fortunately someone had placed a small cairn on the other side though so we knew where to exit.
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The trail was now passing along the left hand side of an enormous rock field.
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Keeping track of the actual route here was near impossible but we kept our eyes out for cairns and footprints which were just frequent enough to keep us on track until we found the clear path again entering a hillside of huckleberry bushes.
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It wasn’t until we had climbed a bit above the rock field that we were able to spot the third pond that had been on our left.
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The climb out of the valley and up the Pacific Crest Trail only lasted a half mile but it was steep through the huckleberry bushes gaining 400′ in a little under .4 miles.
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Things began to level out a bit once we were back into the trees though.
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One item of note here was that the location of the Pacific Crest Trail shown on the topographic map, the Garmin, and the one in our guidebook is incorrect in this area. Thankfully we had noticed that the GPS track on the map in the guidebook crossed over the supposed location of the PCT before turning south and eventually rejoining the trail shown on the map as the PCT rounded a ridge end. If we hadn’t noticed that we might have wasted some time searching for it amid the small pines that were growing where the Garmin showed the PCT should be.
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The actual location of the PCT was about a tenth of a mile to the west of its location on the maps near some much larger trees.
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We turned left (south) on the PCT and began the 4.3 mile stretch to the Shirley Lake Trail.
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After about a quarter mile on the PCT we arrived at the first of several excellent viewpoints of Mt. Jefferson and some of the areas we hiked through earlier.
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IMG_1880North Cinder Peak and Mt. Jefferson

IMG_1886Cabot Lake Trail along the Forked Butte Lava Flow

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We were surprised by the amount of climbing the PCT did along this stretch gaining over 750 unexpected feet in all as it passed a wide variety of scenery.
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A little under 3 miles along this stretch we got a look at Carl Lake below to the east.
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Not long after we got a good look at South Cinder Peak to the south with Mt. Washington peaking up over a ridge.
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When we finally arrived at the Shirley Lake Trail junction we turned left and headed back down to Carl Lake just as we had done the day before.
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We headed down to the lake shore again and this time went counter-clockwise around the shore to complete the loop we had started the previous day.
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Much like the day before our time at the lake was plagued by a chilly breeze (The only place that we experienced any significant breeze the whole weekend.) and glare from the sun.
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We spent most of the evening sitting near our tent behind the trees facing east until it was time to turn in for the night. The mileage for our hike came in at 17.4 miles for the day which included the unintended loop around Patsy Lake and the side trip to the unnamed lake near Table Lake.

Another early bed time led to another predawn wake up on Labor Day.
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We used the light of the moon and our Luci inflatable lantern to work on packing up and cooking breakfast while we waited for enough light to begin our hike out of the wilderness.
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We were on our way a little after 6:30am, saying our goodbyes to Carl Lake and beginning our descent to Cabot Lake.
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IMG_1936Cabot Lake in the trees below and Mt. Jefferson in the distance.

As we reentered the snowbrush covered landscape of the B & B Fire we noticed quite a bit of smoke in the Metolius River Valley.
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It gave us a little cause for concern as we wondered if some new fire had started nearby but it was smoke from some more distant wildfire that had settled in the valley. We completed the 4.9 mile hike back to the car in about 2 hours and were headed back home before 9am, but not before one last look at the mountain.
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Happy Trails!

Flickr: Table Lake Loop and Carl Lake to the Cabot Lake THTable Lake Loop and Carl Lake to the Cabot Lake TH

Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Day 1 – Carl Lake and South Cinder Peak

Following our somewhat underwhelming backpacking trip in the Waldo Lake Wilderness (Day 1, Day 2) we spent Labor Day Weekend backpacking in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.

For this trip we began at the Cabot Lake Trailhead.
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The trailhead is located at the end of Forest Road 1230 which is accessed via Forest Road 12. Forest Road 12 is located 8 miles east of Santiam Pass or 12 miles west of Sisters along Highway 20.

The first 1.8 miles of the Cabot Lake Trail pass through the scar of the 2003 B & B Fire. Much of the area burned in this fire has been taken over by snowbrush which is the case along this section of trail. Several other trails in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness have been lost to the fire and subsequent thickets of snowbrush but the Cabot Lake Trail has been kept open and was in good shape as it passed through the shoulder high brush. Without trees to block the views Mt. Jefferson could be seen in the distance behind Sugar Pine Ridge.
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IMG_1280From left to right – North Cinder Peak, Forked Butte, and Mt. Jefferson

Just over 1.75 miles into the hike we began seeing more green trees.
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Shortly after leaving the snowbrush behind we came to a junction with a short side trail down to Cabot Lake.
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We turned right and descended steeply downhill to visit the small lake.
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Returning to the Cabot Lake Trail we continued on, climbing a series of switchbacks with occasional views to the north of Mt. Jefferson.
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After about a half mile of good climbing the trail began a more gradual climb. Along this section we passed many ponds, some dry some not.
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Just under two and a half miles from Cabot Lake we passed a final pond. This was the largest (with water) and had a view of Mt. Jefferson. There were a couple of campsites nearby which we made note of in case we couldn’t find one at Carl Lake.
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Another half mile brought us to Carl Lake.
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Larger than we’d expected, Carl Lake was a beautiful blue lake backed by the cliffs of the Cascade Crest.
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There had been a decent number of cars (and two horse trailers) at the trailhead which had us a little worried about available campsites. At the lake we turned right planning on taking the first available spot we found but as we made our way around the lake we didn’t see any other tents anywhere. We settled on a spot as far back from the lake as the rocky ledge would allow due to a steady wind blowing across the water. Our little spot had just enough trees between it and the lake to create a nice wind break.
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After setting up camp we returned to the Cabot Lake Trail and followed it around the southern side of Carl Lake for a quarter mile to a signed junction with the Shirley Lake Trail.
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We veered left onto the Shirley Lake Trail which began climbing toward the Cascade Crest. After another quarter mile we spotted green Shirley Lake through the trees below the trail to our left.
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We didn’t see any obvious trails down to the lake so we followed an open ridge down through the trees to the lakes northeastern shore.
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We climbed back up to the trail and continued uphill toward the crest. As we climbed the view of Mt. Jefferson to the north improved.
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The trail left most of the trees behind as it rounded a ridge three quarters of a mile beyond Shirley Lake. The valley below was full of rock fields and cliffs.
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A little over 1.25 miles from Shirley Lake we arrived at a four-way junction at a saddle. Here the Shirley Lake Trail from the east and the Swallow Lake Trail from the west ended at the Pacific Crest Trail.
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Our plan was to hike up to the summit of nearby South Cinder Peak which was just SW of the junction. We turned south on the PCT (we could also have taken the Swallow Lake Trail) and followed it until we were due east of South Cinder Peak.
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We left the PCT and headed cross country, crossed the Swallow Lake Trail, and picked up a use trail up the cinder cone.
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The quarter mile climb up South Cinder Peak was a little steep and the loose rock required some extra effort but the views were worth it. We benefited from a cloud free sky and the smoke was limited to the east and south where the Terwilliger Fire continued to burn near Cougar Reservoir.
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IMG_1388Broken Top, The Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, and Three Fingered Jack to the south.

IMG_1392Mt. Jefferson to the north.

IMG_1382Black Butte to the SE

IMG_1398The Three Pyramids and Marion Lake to the west

IMG_1402Coffin Mountain and Bachelor Mountain to the NW

IMG_1377Maxwell Butte, Red Butte, and Duffy Butte to the SW

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After a break at the summit we returned to the PCT and decided to continue south to Rockpile Lake which was just over a mile away. It turned out to be a good decision as the open views along this stretch of the PCT were nice.
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We stopped again at Rockpile Lake which was right next to the PCT.
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After a relaxing break at the lake we started back. Along the way we noticed a small sign marking the location (or maybe not) of the abandoned Brush Creek Trail.
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We both got a kick out of the sign wondering how a trail that doesn’t exist can be abandoned.

We took the Shirley Lake Trail back down to its junction with the Cabot Lake Trail then decided to follow one of the many use paths down to the shore of Carl Lake.
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We then decided to walk clockwise around the lake to get back to our campsite. The walk was easy at first and we spotted a good number of butterflies and a varied thrush along the way to the lakes western end.
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The Cabot Lake Trail came down nearly to the shore at this end so we hopped back onto it for a bit. When the trail turned away from the lake at some campsites we were no longer able to follow the shoreline around. A narrow rock outcropping running along the northern end of lake bordered the water forcing us to scramble over it. The view down to the lake was nice but the scramble was a bit of a pain.
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We made it back to camp around 2:45pm having hiked 13.1 miles on the day. That gave us plenty of time to relax by Carl Lake which we did as best as we could. There was a nearly constant breeze blowing across the lake at us which made it a little chilly when we were simply sitting by the water. To make matters a little worse the glare from the Sun became intense as it made its passage west.
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We put on some of our extra layers and moved around a few times looking for a comfortable place to settle down. We couldn’t really find one but we did manage to hold out long enough to spot a mountain goat on the cliffs beyond the lake. Between the distance and the lighting it was hard to get a decent photo but I was able to get a couple where the goat can at least be identified.
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Mountain Goat Above Carl Lake

We eventually took our chairs back to our campsite where the breeze was mostly blocked but with the Sun now behind the crest we were having trouble warming up so we called it a day and turned in early. We had another big hike ahead of us the next day so the extra sleep couldn’t hurt. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Carl Lake and South Cinder Peak

Waldo Lake Wilderness Day 2 – Rigdon Lakes

After the 20+ mile hike the previous day we woke up at 5am feeling somewhat refreshed and happy to find that it wasn’t nearly as cold as it had been the morning before. A layer of clouds had moved in pushing out most of the smoke and trapping some heat in.
Morning at Waldo Lake5am clouds over Waldo Lake

We ate breakfast, packed up and then briefly hopped onto the Shoreline Trail following it to the signboard for the Wahanna Trail near Dam Camp.
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The Wahanna Trail quickly entered the Waldo Lake Wilderness and nearly as quickly entered the 1996 Taylor Burn fire scar.
Wahanna Trail entering the Waldo Lake Wilderness

Wahanna Trail

The Wahanna Trail passed around the west side of Rigdon Butte near the edge of a plateau above the North Fork Middle Fork Willamette River. Across the river valley was Waldo Mountain with Winchester Ridge extending to the north.
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Rigdon Butte

Waldo Mountain and Winchester Ridge

Although the area is still struggling to recover from the fire there was a lot of color and interesting sights along the route. We also spotted three deer as they bounded over a ridge.
Ponds along the Wahanna Trail

Pond along the Wahanna Trail

Meadow along the Wahanna Trail

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A little over a mile along the trail we spotted a larger body of water off to our right which we would later identify as Ernie Lake.
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After 1.3 miles on the Wahanna Trail we arrived at a junction with the two mile long Rigdon Lakes Trail where we turned right.
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We quickly got our first view of Lake Kiwa which was larger than we’d expected and turned out to be our favorite lake (not named Waldo) of the trip.
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Lake Kiwa

The trail followed the lake shore south providing a nice view ahead of Rigdon Butte.
Rigdon Butte from Lake Kiwa

Beyond Lake Kiwa the trail climbed over a small ridge and arrived at Lower Rigdon Lake just a tenth of a mile later.
Lower Rigdon Lake

The trial passed around this lake to the left then climbed up and over another ridge to Upper Rigdon Lake.
Rigdon Lakes Trail along Lower Rigdon Lake

Upper and Lower Rigdon Lake

Upper Rigdon Lake

Upper Rigdon Lake was also quite nice with a couple of small islands adding character.
Upper Rigdon Lake

Beyond Upper Rigdon Lake the trail wound its way over and around small rocky ridges to the Waldo Lake Shoreline Trail.
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Rigdon Lakes Trail junction with the Waldo Lake Shoreline Trail

We turned left onto the Shoreline Trail and stayed left at forks opting to take a different (slightly shorter) route back to the trailhead instead of following the lake shore.
Jim Weaver LoopFirst left fork

Water for horses along the Jim Weaver Loop TrailSecond fork left at a “water for horses” sign

Jim Weaver Loop TrailThird left fork at a junction with the Shoreline Trail

Jim Weaver Loop TrailFourth left fork at another junction with the Shoreline Trail

We should have stopped with the fourth left hand fork when we arrive at a fifth fork, but the topographic map on the GPS showed we weren’t at the correct right hand fork to lead us back to the trailhead.
Jim Weaver Loop TrailFifth left fork which should have been a right.

We realized our mistake but then spotted a faint abandoned trail near the spot the trail was shown on the topographic map so we followed it for just over 100 yards to a picnic table across the parking lot from our car. It had been a nice 5.4 mile hike with scenery that exceeded our expectations. A great way to end our August hikes and get us ready for September. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Waldo Lake Wilderness Day 2 – Rigdon Lakes

Waldo Lake Wilderness Day 1 – Winchester Ridge and Eddeeleo Lakes Loop

We ended our August hikes with an overnight stay near Waldo Lake. After several days of smokey skies the weather had shifted and most of the smoke had been pushed out of the area. The exception to that was the smoke being produced by the Terwilliger Fire burning east of Eugene along Cougar Reservior and into the Three Sisters Wilderness. 😦

We were hoping that the smoke from that fire wasn’t going to be aimed right at us all weekend.  Things were off to a good start when we arrived at the Jim Weaver Trailhead at the north end of Waldo Lake. The sky was a crisp blue but the sky wasn’t the only thing that was crisp. The temperature gauge in the car had read 36 degrees when we’d parked.
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Diamond Peak from Waldo Lake

From the parking area we walked down to boat ramp and turned right at a Shoreline Trail sign.
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Initially the trail passed through green trees with occasional views across the lake to Diamond Peak and Fuji Mountain (post).
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Diamond Peak and Fuji Mountain from Waldo Lake

Diamond Peak and Fuji Mountain from Waldo LakeDiamond Peak to the left and Fuji Mountain directly behind the island

Soon the trail entered the fire scar of the 1996 Taylor Burn.
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Diamond Peak and Fuji Mountain from Waldo Lake

Despite the frosty morning the wildlife was out in force.
Frost on the Shoreline Trail

Bluebird

Tree full of birds

Golden-mantled ground squirrel

Bald eagle

After 2.3 miles we passed a trail signboard for the Rigdon Lakes Trail. We planned on returning the next day via that trail so for the time being we stuck to the Shoreline Trail for an additional 1.4 miles to another trail signboard, this time marking the Wahanna Trail. Along the way we’d passed Conim Lake on our right just a bit before leaving the Talor Burn fire scar.
Conim Lake near the edge of the 1996 Taylor Burn

Wahanna TrailWahanna Trail

Just beyond the Wahanna Trail junction we came to the North Fork Middle Fork Willamette River flowing from Waldo Lake.
Footbridge over the North Fork Middle Fork Willamette River

North Fork Middle Fork Willamette River

A side trail to the left here led passed a small outbuilding to Dam Camp where we had hoped to find a camp site but that area was already spoken for so we settled for a spot further back from lake.
Some sort of monitoring station

Outlet of Waldo LakeDam Camp is to the left in the trees and rhododendron

Campsite near Waldo Lake

This worked out to be a fine spot despite not being close to the lake as it was closer to the Wahanna Trail which we would be taking then next day on our way to the Rigdon Lakes Trail. After getting camp set up we put on our day packs and continued beyond the river crossing just a tenth of a mile to a fork where the Wahanna Trail forked downhill to the right (the Wahanna and Shoreline Trail briefly share tread).
Wahanna Trail splitting to the right from the Shoreline Trail

The trail promptly entered the Waldo Lake Wilderness.
Entering the Waldo Lake Wilderness

Just a quarter mile from the fork the trail forked again. This time the Wahanna Trail forked to the left while the right hand fork was the Six Lakes Trail.
Wahanna Trail to the left and the Six Lakes Trail to the right

Here we faced a choice. If we stayed left we could complete a long loop past Lake Chetlo and along Winchester Ridge and eventually following the Six Lakes Trail from its other end past the Quinn and Eddeeleo Lakes. Alternatively we could go right and after visiting the lakes turn back or decide to complete the loop in the opposite direction. We were feeling ambitious and felt up to the loop so we decided to go left. This way we would be saving the bulk of the lakes for the end of the loop.
Wahanna Trail

The trail remained relatively level for the next mile passing through a forest full of huckleberry bushes and several small meadows.
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Meadow along the Wahanna Trail

It was along this section that we encountered the only other people we would see during the loop. After 1.2 miles we spotted Lake Chetlo through the trees on our left.
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Lake Chetlo

Expecting to find a side trail down to the lake we continued on but the trail began to climb up and away from the lake. Less than a quarter mile later we were at a junction with the Winchester Ridge Trail and that had been the only look we had at Lake Chetlo.
Wahanna Trail junction with the Winchester Ridge Trail

We turned right onto the Winchester Ridge Trail which climbed steeply for a little over half a mile to another junction. We had been on this section of trail before in 2012 as we were coming down from the Waldo Mountain Lookout and heading for Elbow Lake (post).
Winchester Ridge Trail

We turned right at this junction as well to continue on the Winchester Ridge Trail which now leveled out somewhat as it traveled along the ridge.
Winchester Ridge Trail

The blue skies from the morning were quickly being replaced by smoke from the Terwilliger Fire as we made our way along Winchester Ridge. There aren’t many views from this trail to begin with and the couple that we did get we could just barely make out the Three Sisters to the NE.
South Sister through smoke

Smoke from the Terwilliger Fire obscuring the view of South SisterSouth Sister

Smokey view from the Winchester Ridge Trail

The Three SistersThe Three Sisters

View from the Winchester Ridge TrailRigdon Butte beyond the Eddeeleo Lakes from the Winchester Ridge Trail

Not only does the Winchester Ridge Trail suffer form a lack of views, but there aren’t many distinguishable landmarks along the way. A little over two and a half miles from the fork though the Waldo Meadows Trail came up from the left.
Waldo Meadows Trail to the left and the Winchester Ridge Trail to the right

That trail went downhill for .5 steep miles to Swann and then Gander Lakes, neither of which we could not see from the Winchester Ridge Trail. The trail climbed briefly beyond this junction before descending to yet another junction with a trail on the left. This time with the Winchester Trail, a total of 1.8 miles from the Waldo Meadows Trail.
Winchester Ridge Trail

Winchester Ridge Trail junction with the Winchester Trail

The Winchester Ridge Trail ends at the Winchester Trail. We stayed straight at the junction and followed the Winchester Trail for a half mile to its end at the Blair Lake Trail.
Winchester Trail

Blair Lake Trail sign

We turned right onto the Blair Lake Trail.
Blair Lake Trail

We had hiked the western end of this trail in 2015 on what remains to this day as the best beargrass hike ever. (post)

The Blair Lake Trail descended for a mile to Lower Quinn Lake which was unfortunately suffering from the increased smoke.
Lower Quinn Lake

After a brief stop at the lake we continued on the Blair Lake Trial for another quarter mile before reaching the signed junction with the Six Lakes Trail.
Blair Lake Trail junction with the Six Lakes Trail

Six Lakes Trail

We turned right onto this trail which climbed gradually for the next half mile to a fork where we went right to visit Upper Quinn Lake.
Upper Quinn Lake

Although the smoke wasn’t bad enough to cause us any issues with breathing or our eyes it was putting a damper on the views of the lakes. At Upper Quinn Lake we found a few empty campsites and lots of little frogs.
Frog at Upper Quinn Lake

Frog

Somewhere along the way we wound up losing the trail (most likely in one of the campsites) and had to bushwack back to the Six Lakes Trail. Once we had regained the trial we turned right and in just a tenth of a mile spotted the northern end of Long Lake beyond a grassy meadow.
Long Lake

Again we erroneously assumed there would be obvious side trails leading to the lake but the Six Lakes Trail passed on the opposite side of a rocky ridge for nearly a mile which hid the lake from sight.
Six Lakes Trail

When the GPS showed that we were nearly past the lake we decided to try and bushwack through the rhododendron to the southern end of the lake. We had managed to make it most of the way there when we spotted a tent set up near the shore. Not wanting to stumble into someones camp we settled for an obstructed view through the trees.
Long Lake

Long Lake

We left Long Lake and continued for another half mile toward Lower Eddeeleo Lake. Shortly before reaching the lake there was an obvious side trail to the left.
Side trail at Lower Eddeeleo Lake

This side trail led across a dry outlet creek to an open area along the lake shore. We took a longer break here. We could just make out the old Waldo Mountain Lookout through the smoke.
Waldo Mountain from Lower Eddeeleo Lake

Waldo Mountain

Waldo Mountain Lookout

We might have taken an even longer break if not for the yellow jackets who were just a little too interested in us for my liking. We left the lower lake and returned to the Six Lakes Trail which climbed a short way above the lower lake which was barely visible through the trees.
Six Lakes Trail

Lower Eddeeleo Lake

Just under one and three quarter miles from the side trail to Lower Eddeeleo Lake we came to a short side trail to Upper Eddeeleo Lake on our right. We stopped again briefly at this lake which had a little sunlight glinting off the water.
Waldo Mountain from Upper Eddeeleo Lake

The next lake on the map was Round Lake which lay below and to the east of Upper Eddeeleo Lake. The Six Lakes Trail wound around the lake but never got very close to it and the one side trail we spotted heading to the lake would have required a steeper climb back up than either of us were willing to do at that point so we once again settled for a very limited view through the trees.
Round Lake through the trees

The Six Lakes Trail climbed up a ridge away from Round Lake for the final mile of its 6.6 mile length before dumping us back out on the Wahanna Trail.
Six Lakes Trail

According to our GPS we had hiked a total of 19.4 miles at that point and still had the quarter mile climb back up to the Waldo Lake Shoreline Trail. We had known that this was going to be a long day but by our calculations we were expecting closer to a 17 mile day. We had also brought our dinner with us thinking we could eat it at one of the lakes, but between the smoke, yellow jackets, and a few hardy mosquitoes we hadn’t found a spot where we really wanted to sit for an extended time.

When we got back to the Shoreline Trail we turned right (away from camp) hoping to find a spot along Waldo Lake to eat. Fortunately we only had to go about 100 yards where we found a trail down to the rocky sore across from Dam Camp.
Waldo Lake with some smoke

Even better was the fact that the smoke was starting to move out of the immediate area bringing back some of the blue sky from the morning.
Waldo Lake

We tried a new meal, three cheese chicken pasta, which wound up being underwhelming. It sort of fit with much of the day. The hike was nice but nothing really stood out and the smokey conditions at the lakes didn’t help. It also seemed like most of the lakes were very similar in that they were surrounded by forested hillsides but nothing dramatic.

We sat out on the rocks for quite a while watching a paddle boarder and a canoe float around on the lake as well as having some mergansers swim by.
Merganser

It was quite a bit busier at the lake than where we normally camp and after getting a little chilly and returning to our tent to put on some extra clothing we noticed that a family? that had set up camp near where we had eaten had lit a campfire. Just a couple of days earlier the Willamette National Forest had announced a ban on all campfires and we had seen numerous posted signs that morning. On top of the illegal campfire we were also being treated to the melodious (NOT) sounds of someones portable music player. Thankfully the music died down and at one point we heard someone yell to the family that they needed to put the fire out. We went to bed hoping that the next day would be just a bit better. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Waldo Lake Wilderness Day 1

Elkhorn Crest Trail Day 5 & Crawfish Lake

The rain showers that had begun the previous afternoon continued into the morning as we prepared for our last day in the Elkhorns. Fortunately they were infrequent and only one quick shower provided any significant amount of precipitation.
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By the time that shower rolled through we had pretty much packed everything up and had it all under the cover of trees. After eating breakfast we started up the Dutch Flat Trail to Dutch Flat Saddle. The presence of the clouds passing overhead gave things a different look that morning and had pushed some of the smoke out.
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The showers had been coming from the west so we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of blue sky we found in that direction.
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Instead of turning right at the saddle and following the Elkhorn Crest Trail back to the trailhead we went straight over the ridge onto the Crawfish Basin Trail.
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This was a longer route back, just over 6 miles vs. 3.25 miles, but it would allow us to visit the Hoffer Lakes as well as Anthony and Lilypad Lake and only repeat a half mile of trail from our first day.

After a series of switchbacks down the Crawfish Basin Trail leveled off along the hillside above Crawfish Meadow.
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It also passed below the rocky spires of Angell Peak, Lees Peak, and The Lakes Lookout.
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As we made our way around the hillside Crawfish Lake came into view down in Crawfish Basin.
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The lake is one of the featured hikes in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Easter Oregon” guidebook which put it on our list of to do hikes if we are ever going to finish all of his featured hikes. There are no trails between the lake and the Crawfish Basin Trail so we were planning on stopping at the Crawfish Lake Trail later in the day on our way from the Elkhorn Crest Trailhead to Sumpter. For now we continued along the Crawfish Basin Trail which wrapped around The Lakes Lookout before joining an old road bed after two and a half miles.
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Just prior to joining the road we startled a group of elk in the trees below the trail. They were never in view long enough for a picture but we were excited to add them to the deer and mountain goats we’d already seen during the trip.

A tenth of a mile along the old roadbed we came to a fork where a trail to the right led up nearly 800′ to The Lakes Observation Point.
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Rock Creek Butte had been enough climbing for us on this trip so we ignored the side trail and continued on the roadbed toward the Anthony Lakes Ski Area passing views of Anthony Lake along the way.
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IMG_0878Ski lift on the hillside ahead.

Near the ski area we turned downhill on a steep double track instead of continuing around a much longer hairpin curve in the road.
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We then turned right on the road which seemed to see plenty of use.
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In a quarter mile we came to the start of the Hoffer Lakes Trail on the right.
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We followed this trail for half a mile through meadows to the first Hoffer Lake.
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Following the path around the first lake to SE led us across a series of footbridges to the second Hoffer Lake.
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Only a narrow strip of meadow separates the lakes.
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After visiting the second lake we returned to the Hoffer Lakes Trail and followed pointers for Anthony Lake.
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This section of the trail was wide and full of roots. It was also surprisingly steep in places as it followed Parker Creek downhill.
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After half a mile the Hoffer Lake Trail ended at another old road bed near walk-in camp sites.
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We followed a path straight ahead for about 50 yards to get a look at Anthony Lake.
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After making use of one of the picnic tables we followed the roadbed to the right around the lake for .3 miles to a boat ramp where the view across Anthony Lake included Gunsight Mountain.
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At the boat ramp we turned right onto the Black Lake Trail.
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Just 500 feet along this trail was the aptly named Lilypad Lake.
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The trail made a short climb beyond Lilypad Lake before dropping us back onto the Elkhorn Crest Trail a half mile from both the boat ramp at Anthony Lake and the Elkhorn Crest Trailhead where our car awaited us.
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Although we weren’t done with our hiking for the day we were glad to be done with our full backpacks. We took our day packs out and prepared them for the Crawfish Lake Trail then drove 4.5 miles west of the Anthony Lakes Ski Area to the Upper Crawfish Lake Trailhead just off of Forest Road 73.
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The Crawfish Lake Trail began by diving steeply downhill to a creek crossing.
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It then leveled out a bit and descended much more gradually past a variety of scenery.
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There were signs of recent trail maintenance along the way, some more successful than others.
IMG_0961Trail maintenance fail.

Shortly before arriving at Crawfish Lake the trail entered the North Fork John Day Wilderness.
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Just 1.4 miles from the trailhead we arrived at the lake.
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We walked along the NW shore for .3 miles to a campsite with a view across the lake to The Lakes Lookout.
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We took a break at the campsite, which was also the location of the continuation of the trail as it left the lake and headed downhill 1.3 miles to the Crawfish Creek Trailhead.

After a brief rest we returned the way we’d come and headed into Sumpter along Forest Road 73. It wasn’t noon yet but the sky was starting to fill up with some ominous looking clouds.

We were planning on staying in Sumpter for two nights. We had unfinished business from our previous visit in September 2017 when snow kept us from hiking up to the lookout atop Mt. Ireland (post). After checking into the Sumpter Stockade we walked through town to the Golden Nugget Cafe.

On the way back to our room we heard the first of the thunder. A quick check of the weather forecast showed that the area was under a red flag warning for thunderstorms through much of Friday with the chance of them occurring into Friday night. Since the top of a mountain is one of the last places you want to be during a thunder storm we decided to scrap our planned hike up Mt. Ireland and return home a day early.

In the end it was probably for the best as we were both dealing with some foot issues after having hiked for six straight days and over 76 miles. Heather was also anxious to meet her new nephew so Mt. Ireland would have to wait for another trip. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Elkhorn Crest Trail Day 5 & Crawfish Lake