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Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Lincoln City Parks – 01/01/2023

It has been a couple of years since we kicked off a new year with a hike but January 1st, 2023 was forecast to be a lone dry day in the foreseeable future. Not only was the day supposed to be rain free, it was also going to be at least partly sunny. While Heather works back from her injury we are targeting shorter hikes that don’t involve too much elevation gain. Specifically looking for hikes that fit these criteria has led us to some hikes that we might have otherwise overlooked. We discovered several such trails in Lincoln City.

I put together a plan to visit five of the city’s open space areas over the course of four stops. The four stops would be just under six and a half miles with approximately 800′ of cumulative elevation gain. Following the hikes our plan was to have lunch at the newly opened Pelican Brewing Siletz Bay Brewpub.

Since the brewpub is located just south of Lincoln City we planned to start at the northern most trailhead and worked our way south. This meant that the Friends of Wildwoods Trailhead. The hike here was supposed to be a 1 mile out-and-back with a short side spur to a platform overlooking a swamp.
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We somehow managed to turn it into a 1.5-mile hike including a loop that isn’t shown on any maps. It’s worth noting that in all of these open space areas we visited on this day there were multiple use trails leading off in different directions. We used our GPS a surprising number of times throughout the day. One nice feature was that there were QR codes available at the trailheads which accessed maps for our phones. Even so we somehow managed to not find the viewing platform but instead wound up overlooking the wetlands from a different spot.
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IMG_5056Junction with the spur Wetlands Trail. The larger sign on the left is a Trail Challenge sign. We would see several more over the course of the day. The challenge, we learned later, is to visit all eight of the Open Spaces.

IMG_5058End of the trail at East Tide Ave.

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IMG_5067The wetlands.

We may have overlooked the trail down to the platform due to debris left over from a big storm the week before which packed wind gusts over 70 mph. We had been prepared for the possibility that some of the trail might be inaccessible due to damage but overall they were in good shape.

After finishing our hike we hopped in the car and drove less than a mile south to our second stop at Regatta Park.
IMG_5095Devil’s Lake from Regatta Park.

From this trailhead we would visit two open spaces, Regatta and Spring Lake. Before hitting the trails though we walked down to the shore of Devil’s Lake to get a closer look.
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From the lake we walked back uphill across the parking lot to a large Nature Trail sign.
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Once again the plethora of trails got the best of us and our route through the Regatta Open Space was not how we’d meant to do it, but we managed to see what we had wanted to.
IMG_5100Pointer for a heritage tree.

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Sitka Spruce. This approximately 400-year-old Oregon Heritage Tree is 212′ tall with a 32 1/2′ diameter.

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IMG_5107Another Trail Challenge sign.

After looping through the Regatta Open Space we walked uphill out of the park to West Devil’s Lake Road where we turned left for 400′ to a trail on the far side of the road.
IMG_5109Heading out of Regatta Park

IMG_5110Neat dragon sculpture.

IMG_5113West Devil’s Lake Road. The trail is ahead on the right just beyond the driveway on that side.

IMG_5114There was no sign along the road but there was a trail marker just uphill.

This was the Spring Lake Trail which made a short steep climb to a ridge top.
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IMG_5118The trail briefly leveled out atop the ridge before diving down the other side.

The area around Spring Lake was by far the most confusing of the day with numerous trails crisscrossing and intersecting seemingly every few feet. We used the GPS quite a bit here as we made our way counterclockwise around the lake.
IMG_5120This junction is where our loop began and ended.

IMG_5122Another fork just beyond the one in the previous photo.

IMG_5125Footbridge over the northern arm of the lake.

IMG_5127Spring Lake from the footbridge.

IMG_5131Found another one.

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IMG_5137Small trailhead at 14th Street.

IMG_5139Spring Lake from the 14th Street Trailhead.

IMG_5140We had to walk a few feet along 14th Street to find the trail on the east side of the lake.

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IMG_5143Approaching the junction at the end of our loop.

After completing the loop around the lake we returned to our car and drove another 2.7 miles south to the Agness Creek Open Space.

There are two trailheads here, a north and a south, separated by 200′. We parked at the South Agness Creek Trailhead and started with the 0.3-mile loop there.
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IMG_5154This forested loop was full of bright green mossed covered ground.

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After completing the loop we took a connector trail between the two trailheads to reach the North Agness Creek Trailhead.
IMG_5163The connector trail at the south trailhead.

IMG_5166Two short out-and-back trails begin at the north trailhead. We started with the left hand trail.

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IMG_5172The left hand spur abruptly ends on a ridge above what we assume was Agness Creek although we couldn’t really make out an actual creek.

IMG_5174Agness Creek?

We returned to the trailhead and took the right hand fork which led a third of a mile to SW 19th Street.
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IMG_5184Approaching SW 19th Street.

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After reaching the neighborhood at the end of this trail we returned to the south trailhead and drove 1.8 miles to our final stop at the Spyglass Open Space.
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Sticking with the theme for the day we got turned around a bit here as well and instead of doing a 1.4-mile loop around the perimeter we followed an old roadbed directly up the middle of the open space. We had planned on doing a counterclockwise loop but didn’t see the trail we actually wanted which was right next to a chain link fence.
IMG_5188This should have been the end of our loop, not the beginning. Had we realized we weren’t on the perimeter trail we would have taken the first left hand trail which would have allowed us to do our planned loop in reverse (clockwise). Instead we headed straight up the ridge.

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IMG_5193The Trail Challenge sign here was located at a second junction, near the ridge top. A short distance beyond was another junction with an unsigned trail veering off to the right. We still hadn’t figured out our mistake and thought that the right hand trail was a spur trail shown on the map leading to a neighborhood so we went left.

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The trail never quite reached the ridge top as it veered left in the forest below.
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I scrambled up one of several use trails to see what kind of a view the ridge offered.
IMG_5197A lot of clearcuts is what I could see.

When the trail made a sharp turn left and suddenly headed downhill we began to realize that we hadn’t been where we thought we were. We pulled up the map and GPS track and began comparing and figured out what we’d done. We weren’t sure where we had missed the right turn at the beginning of the hike though. When we reached another split in the trail we went left, leaving the perimeter to cut back uphill to the junction at the Trail Challenge sign.
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We turned left at the junction and then took the right hand spur that we’d mistook for the spur to the neighborhood. We followed this trail uphill, encountering our first and only downed tree for the day, to a junction with the actual spur. This section was fainter and a little harder to follow but we stayed left along the ridge as much as possible.
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IMG_5212We were really surprised that this was the only real obstacle we encountered all day given the recent storm.

IMG_5215An example of the fainter tread along this section.

IMG_5218The spur to the left led to a neighborhood so we turned right.

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IMG_5221The trail arriving at the trailhead entrance road. The chain link fence at Taft High is on the left.

Our hike here was just over 1.5-miles long with a little over 300′ of elevation gain which was the most of the fours stops. We changed at the car and drove on to the Pelican Brewery arriving just before they opened at Noon. We watched the birds in Siletz Bay while we waited for the restaurant to open then enjoyed a great lunch before heading home.
IMG_5222Siletz Bay from the brewpub.

IMG_5225A gull and an egret.

Once we were home we did a little research on the Trail Challenge which is when we learned that the challenge involves eight open spaces. The five we visited on this day plus The Knoll which we had visited back in 2020 (post), Cutler Wetlands, and Nesika Park. It looks like we have a couple of reasons to head back to Lincoln City (and the Pelican Brewpub) sometime soon. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Lincoln City Parks

Categories
Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Trip report Willamette Valley

Talking Water Gardens – 12/17/2022

After a couple of months of being on my own while Heather recovered from a bad knee she had been released to take short hikes with minimal elevation changes. With Heather cleared for action we just needed a favorable forecast for our December hike. When a day off coincided with a rain-free forecast we set off for the Talking Water Gardens in Albany. The site of two former mills Talking Water Gardens is a series of wastewater ponds created to assist with water treatment for the cities of Albany and Millersburg. While it may not sound like a typical place for a hike a series of paths and maintenance roads provide for a nice stroll with plenty chances to spot wildlife.

There are a couple of possible starting points for a visit to the gardens and we chose to begin at Waverly Lake and follow a route suggested in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide.
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IMG_4893Waverly Lake at sunrise.

We headed left (clockwise) around Waverly Lake where a number of ducks were paddling around.
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IMG_4895Mallards

IMG_4903Buffleheads

IMG_4906I think this is a ruddy duck.

IMG_4915American coots

IMG_4914Guessing these are some sort of domestic/mallard? crossbreeds. Very interesting looking.

IMG_4917More mallards near Cox Creek

IMG_4919Cox Creek flowing toward Waverly Lake.

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IMG_4926Nearing the outlet of Cox Creek.

When we arrived at Cox Creek flowing out of the lake we crossed Salem Avenue then crossed Cox Creek on a footbridge.
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We turned left on far side of the creek and followed a paved path 0.3 miles to Waverly Dr. NE and the other possible starting point, Simpson Park.
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IMG_4935We almost got off-track here. This path on the right (just after passing under some railroad tracks) does lead into the wetlands but it wasn’t part of the Oregon Hikers described hike.

IMG_4937One of several interpretive signs along the trails.

IMG_4939Frosty leaves, it had been a chilly 28 degrees when we started out.

IMG_4941Simpson Park

We walked over to the park to take a look but didn’t check out the Simpson Park Trail this trip.
IMG_4942The Simpson Park Trail is a 1 mile out and back along the Willamette River. It also offers access to the Riverfront Trail which one could follow SW almost 3.5 miles to Monteith Riverpark at the mouth of the Calapooia River. With Heather being limited to shorter hikes for now that wasn’t an option today but will be something we look forward to trying in the future.

After the brief detour we recrossed Waverly Road and entered the gardens through a black gate.
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We headed left past a mostly frozen pond.
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IMG_4945Map on a welcome sign.

IMG_4946Frozen leaves

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There are numerous different loops and routes available through the gardens. We followed the Oregon Hikers description linked above. We had to stop numerous times to consult the track map from that description to stay on the right path due to the trails not being marked/signed and the only maps having been located near the entrance. The paths themselves were in good shape and we saw a lot of ducks and other birds as we wound through the wetlands.
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IMG_4956American wigeons

IMG_4962Bald eagle fly over

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IMG_4968Flock of geese flying over

IMG_4977One of many unsigned intersections.

IMG_4982Robin

IMG_4983One of two memorials in the gardens.

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IMG_5016Bufflehead

IMG_5017Green winged teal

IMG_5019Northern shoveler

IMG_5024Frost

IMG_5027Simpson Park across a pond.

After completing our loop we headed back to Waverly Lake where some fog had rolled in.
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IMG_5036Fishermen heading into the fog at Waverly Lake.

IMG_5039Mallards hanging out in the fog.

IMG_5040Dark eyed junco

The GPS had us at a 3.5-mile hike, a little more than what Oregon Hikers showed but we did double-back a handful of times for one reason or another.

This was surprisingly nice hike and we’re anxious to visit again when the plants are green and water is flowing through the ponds. This was perfect though for a first outing to test Heather’s progress. Merry Christmas and Happy Trails!

Flirck: Talking Water Gardens

Categories
Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Oregon Trip report

Eagle Creek to 7 1/2 Mile Camp – 11/19/2022

I took advantage of some favorable weather and headed to Eagle Creek in the Columbia River Gorge for a pre-birthday hike. I was on my own again with Heather still working her way back from her injury (Good news she has been released to do some short hikes), so I was looking for something we’d done before but also wouldn’t be a total repeat. We’ve visited Eagle Creek twice in the past, both prior to the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire but never gone past Twister Falls so my plan was to continue on beyond that waterfall to at least Sevenmile Falls.

I left home at 5:30am and found myself being pushed around by the wind as I drove Interstate 84 along the Columbia River. Luckily the wind was calm at the Eagle Creek Trailhead where it was right around 30 degrees. I bundled up and set off on the trail past a burned area warning sign.
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Despite the fire the scenery was good. I had to pay attention to my footing though due to areas of slick ice mixed in the wet portions of the trail.
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IMG_4431It was hard to tell at times which parts were frozen.

IMG_4433Snow at the higher elevations.

IMG_4438A pink cloud in the direction of the Columbia River Gorge.

Near the 1.5-mile mark I found the first major difference post fire, a view of Sorenson Falls which had been hidden by trees and other vegetation on our previous visits.
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IMG_4449Sorenson Falls splashing down into Eagle Creek.

Prior to December 2016 there had been a short spur trail just up the trail from this new view of Sorenson Falls that led to a viewpoint of Metlako Falls. A landslide claimed that spur trail but as I continued along the trail Metlako Falls became visible through the remaining trees.
IMG_4454Looking back down Eagle Creek. It was hard to tell where the spur trail had been.

IMG_4456Runoff falling from the cliffs into Eagle Creek.

IMG_4457Metlako Falls

IMG_4459Metlako Falls

I crossed Sorenson Creek on round concrete steps that were fortunately ice free and quickly found myself at the Lower Punchbowl Falls Trail junction.
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I detoured down this nearly 0.2-mile spur trail even though I knew that the former view of Punchbowl Falls was lost in 2018 after a post-fire landslide rerouted Eagle Creek.
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IMG_4470Lower Punchbowl Falls

IMG_4472Rocks from the landslide on the right.

I returned to the Eagle Creek Trail and continued to the Punchbowl Falls viewpoint to get a look at that fall.
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Beyond the viewpoint the trail crosses Tish Creek on a footbridge followed by a second footbridge over Fern Creek after another 0.6 miles.
IMG_4487Tish Creek Bridge

IMG_4490Tish Creek

IMG_4496More snow on the ridge.

IMG_4498Fern Creek Bridge

IMG_4502Fern Creek

After Fern Creek the trail passed through a scree slope where I kept my eyes open for pikas hoping that one might brave the chilly temperatures but alas no luck.
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Following the pika-less scree slope I came to a section of trail where a cable acts as a rail as the trail passes along a rocky cliff. This was the first section where I encountered actual icicles.
IMG_4506Coming up on the cable section with a bit of ice to start things off.

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IMG_4509Careful where you step.

IMG_4512The last part was ice free.

Continuing on the trail brought me to a view of Loowit Falls. This was another case of the fire having created a better view of Eagle Creek below the falls.
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IMG_4521Passing Loowit Falls.

IMG_4529More cable passing Loowit Falls with High Bridge in
the distance.

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At the 3.3-mile mark I came to High Bridge.
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IMG_4538Eagle Creek from High Bridge.

IMG_4541Eagle Creek from High Bridge, looking upstream.

Less than a quarter mile from High Bridge I came to another dramatic change in the trail when I got a good view of Skoonichuck Falls. Previously only the upper portion of this 50′ waterfall was visible from the trail above it but again the fire had removed enough vegetation to provide a nice view of the waterfall.
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IMG_4550Skoonichuck Falls

I was briefly distracted by a varied thrush (my nemesis bird).
IMG_4556Not my worst varied thrush photo.

IMG_4558Another nice view of Skoonichuck after I’d given up on the thrush.

IMG_4559Sad looking penstemon but I’m counting it as a flower.

IMG_4566Some nearly as sad pearly everlasting.

IMG_4569This fall was visible across the creek on an unnamed creek (at least on the maps I’ve seen).

At 4 1/2 Mile Bridge I recrossed Eagle Creek.
IMG_4574I arrived at nearly the same time as the Sun.

IMG_4575Beach and Summer swimming hole at 4 1/2-mile bridge.

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Just beyond the bridge is Tenas Falls on the other side of Eagle Creek.
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IMG_4582Tenas Falls

A little further along the trail passes Opal Creek which begins below Tanner Butte.
IMG_4586Opal Creek flowing into Eagle Creek.

I continued along the trail chasing the Sun past Wy’East Camp and to the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness boundary.
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IMG_4599The sites on the East side of the trail were posted closed for restoration at Wy’East Camp.

IMG_4603The wilderness begins a little over 5.5 miles from the trailhead.

IMG_4606A bluebird sky above a few green topped trees.

Next up was Wy’East Falls which was more visible than before as well from the trail. I opted not to attempt to get closer to the falls this time due to not being able to pick out the route we had taken on our previous visits.
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I continued on from Wy’East Falls enjoying the wonderful weather.
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IMG_4627Near the six-mile mark I passed the signed Eagle-Benson Trail which hasn’t been maintained since the fire, in fact the sign was the only sign of a trail here.

IMG_4632Sunrays over Eagle Creek.

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At the 6.5-mile mark I got a good look at Grand Union Falls.
IMG_4640Note the hexagonal shape of the basalt columns making up the trail surface here.

IMG_4644Grand Union Falls

Not far past Grand Union Falls I got my first glimpse of Tunnel Falls in the distance through the trees.
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The falls disappear as the trail gets closer then after rounding a corner they are back.
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IMG_4657Tunnel Falls on East Fork Eagle Creek.

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The trail passes behind the falls in a tunnel built in the early 1900’s (pre-1920).
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IMG_4664I had brought my micro spikes just in case, but even though there were some impressive ice features there was enough good footing (and cable) to not require putting the spikes on.

IMG_4667The slickest section was exiting the tunnel here.

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With the ice situation being manageable I continued on beyond Tunnel Falls to Twister (or Crossover) Falls just a short distance upstream on West Fork Eagle Creek.
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IMG_4680No ice on this section which was welcome because it can be intimidating anyway.

IMG_4685Twister Falls. There is another hiker ahead on the left.

The section passing Twister Falls was the one that I had been most concerned about ice on. I assessed the situation and decided that with care it was passable and continued on.
IMG_4692This was the trickiest section but again there was just enough good footing to allow passing without need spikes.

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I soon found myself looking at another waterfall which turned out to be Sevenmile Falls. I had been mistakenly thinking that it was 7 1/2 Mile Falls confusing it with 7 1/2 Mile Camp.
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I continued on thinking that this must have been the waterfall but confused because 7 1/2 Mile Camp was still a half mile away. I decided to keep going until 10:45am or I found another waterfall, whichever came first. At this point the trail maintenance, which had been excellent up to a small slide between Tunnel and Twister Falls, really fell off.
IMG_4705A bit more overgrown here.

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IMG_4709Hair ice, only the second time I’ve encountered it.

IMG_4710I stopped at this campsite which some maps show as 7 1/2 Mile Camp, but I pulled out my National Geographic topo which showed the camp a little further ahead near a pair of small creeks. I think both are correct and this was just the first of the sites that make up the “camp”.

IMG_4711Eagle Creek near the first campsite.

It was only 10:15am so I kept going, now thinking that I would either turn around at 10:45 or at the Eagle-Tanner Cutoff Trail junction which didn’t appear too far beyond the pair of creeks.
IMG_4718More campsites near the first creek.

IMG_4722The first small creek. This one was a lot icier than any of the other creeks I’d crossed. I was able to find enough dry rock to make my way to the other side though.

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IMG_4729Looking back at the creek.

The next creek was a different story though. There were no dry rocks here.
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It was almost 10:40am anyway and I was now sure that the earlier waterfall had been what I was calling 7 1/2 Mile Falls where I’d intended to turn around anyway. I made my way back stopping to admire all the falls again along the way.
IMG_4725This cascade was across Eagle Creek near the last campsites.

IMG_4734Woodpecker

IMG_4748Green pool above Twister Falls.

IMG_4758Above Twister Falls.

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IMG_4808Plant in ice.

IMG_4818Wren

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IMG_4868Chipmunk

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With a couple of detours my hike came in at approximately 16.2 miles with 1400′ of elevation gain.

It was a great day overall. The weather, although a bit chilly to start, was great and there weren’t a lot of other hikers out. I still passed a fair number of other hikers on my way out but nothing like it would be on a warm Spring or Summer Saturday. The falls had enough added water from recent rain/snow to be flowing better than they had been when we visited in early October which was also a plus. I missed having Heather out there with me, but it was nice to get out one last time before I turned 50 (yikes!). Happy Trails!

Flickr: Eagle Creek 2022

Categories
Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Trip report Willamette Valley

Silver Falls Perimeter Loop – 10/29/2022

With October and our official hiking season coming to an end I was hoping to go out with a bang by doing a long loop around Silver Falls State Park. I had gotten the idea during our 2021 hike in the backcountry of the park (post). While looking at the map for that hike I had started doing the math for the loop and it appeared to be a little over 20 miles which would be a long day but doable. Heather was not as enthused as I was about the possibility, so I had originally planned on attempting the loop on a day off while she was working. With her knee ending her season early it seemed like a good way to put an exclamation on the end of mine.

As the day neared I started second guessing myself. Some much need wet weather had moved in, and Friday was the wettest day we’ve had in months. The forecast for Saturday was for more rain in the morning, a 70% chance, followed by several hours of patchy fog then mostly cloudy skies. Twenty plus miles with wet feet wasn’t my ideal way to spend a hike but I decided to give it a try figuring I could cut the loop short by using one of the many trails running through the park. I packed some extra pairs of socks in a dry sack and had my rain gear ready as I made the 40-minute drive to the South Falls Trailhead.

It was a dark and raining when I left home but shortly after turning onto Highway 214 I popped out of the low clouds and left the rain behind. Things were trending positive. When I got to the South Falls Day Use Area entrance I was reminded that by the gate that the Park opens at 8am and not 7am from October through March and it was only 7:30am. I needed to purchase a pass so I drove to the North Falls Trailhead where I knew there was a pay kiosk, only I had forgotten that the station there only accepts cash which I didn’t have. After using the restroom there I drove back through the park to the campground entrance remembering that there was a station along the entrance road that did take cards. I decided that I would get a pass there and then park at the 214 Trailhead like we had in 2021 since there was no gate blocking that one. At the kiosk I immediately inserted my card into the cash slot. Things were trending down. I managed to retrieve the card using a pair of travel nail clippers and finally got my pass. It was nearly 8am as I came to the turn into the trailhead at Lookout Mountain Road. Given the time I changed my mind here and decided to revert back to my original plan and drove back to the now ungated South Falls Day Use Area.
IMG_3949A lot more blue in the sky than I had expected to see.

The route I had penciled out was to take the paved bike path from the parking lot to the campground where I would pick up the Nature Trail. I could take that trail to the 214 Trail followed by a portion of the Newt Loop to the Catamount Trail. I hoped to take that trail up to Buck Mountain then take the Perimeter Trail down to the Trail of Ten Falls near the North Falls Trailhead. I planned on visiting all ten falls and returning to the parking area via the Canyon Trail portion of the Trail of Ten Falls. I crossed South Fork Silver Creek on a footbridge to pick up the Bike Path on the far side where I turned left.
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IMG_3964Crossing Highway 214 to the campground.

IMG_3965I detoured left to check out this bridge over Howard Creek.

IMG_3967Howard Creek

With the Nature Trail being a loop I could have gone either direction from the campground to reach the 214 Trail. Going left was a tenth of a mile shorter but I really wanted to make the loop as wide as possible so I went right at a pointer for the trail and Ampitheater.
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We had been on the Nature Trail in 2021 so it was familiar surroundings as I made my way to the 214 Trail where I turned right.
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IMG_3977Sign at the 214 Trail junction to let people know that there are no waterfalls in the backcountry.

I followed the 214 Trail for 1.3 miles to the Newt Loop.
IMG_3986Just a little fog but no rain.

IMG_3987Passing the Smith Creek Trail (left) after 0.6 miles on the 214 Trail.

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IMG_3992Rough skinned newt on the 214 Trail. (Probably headed for the Newt Loop too.)

IMG_3994Big nursery tree along the 214 Trail.

IMG_3996The trail post at the junction shows the Catamount Trail instead of the Newt Loop but the map at the junction labels it the Newt Loop.

IMG_3997Map check.

I turned right onto the Newt Loop and arrived at a junction with the Catamount Trail after 0.4 level miles.
IMG_4000This second post included the Newt Loop along with a pointer for the Catamount Trail.

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IMG_4005Crossing a CAT road along the Newt Loop.

IMG_4008Turning onto the Catamount Trail.

The Catamount Trail was new trail for me having not used it on our loop in 2021. The park map showed this trail extending 4.6 miles to a junction with the Lost Creek Trail then continuing another 0.9 miles to Buck Mountain. As a mountain bike trail the Catamount wound steadily uphill through the forest.
IMG_4016Lots of nursery stumps along the trail.

IMG_4020Another nursery stump.

IMG_4023Side trails were well marked.

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IMG_4034Did not expect to see that overhead today.

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IMG_4065I believe this short section of fire scar was from the 2020 Beachie Fire.

After 3.8 miles on the Catamount Trail I came to a 4-way junction with a maintenance road.
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The Catamount Trail continued on the far side the road only there was a “Do Not Enter One-Way” sign on the post.
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This was the first I’d heard of the trail here being one-way and I haven’t had a lot of luck since my hike in finding that information online or maps, but I honored the sign and turned left on the maintenance road following a Catamount Trail pointer.
IMG_4069Turning onto the road.

IMG_4070The opposite side of the post had a pointer for the Lost Creek Trail.

I followed the road for half a mile to the Lost Creek/Buck Mountain Trail junction.
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IMG_4074I veered uphill to the right here.

IMG_4075The Lost Creek/Buck Mountain junction.

On our previous visit we had arrived at this same junction having come down the Buck Mountain Trail. To make this hike as different as possible (and to remain as far to the outside of the park as possible) I turned right on the Lost Creek Trail.
IMG_4077The Lost Creek Trail doubles as a fire road.

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I followed this trail for 0.8 miles to a junction with the Catamount Trail at the edge of a clear cut.
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IMG_4083Here is where I would have come up had the Catamount Trail did not have the on-way section. (Note that on some mountain biking maps the one-way section is labeled “Upper Catamount Trail.)

I turned left onto the Catatmount Trail at the junction and quickly found myself walking through the clear cut.
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IMG_4085The treeless section wasn’t long. It appeared to have been an area impacted by the 2020 Beachie Fire.

IMG_4088Still some bleeding heart blooming.

IMG_4089There wasn’t a lot of bright Fall colors in the backcountry, but this maple stood out.

IMG_4090Was a bit surprised to see a few violets along this section.

IMG_4091Nearing the end of the logged area.

At the tree line the trail split unexpectedly (another feature not shown on the park map) into two one-way trails. The right hand fork (in this direction) was one-way uphill while the left down. I was going down at this point so I stayed to the left.
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It wasn’t long before the two trails rejoined. The trail continued downhill to the Buck Mountain Loop near its crossing of Howard Creek.
IMG_4095The rejoining of the trails.

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IMG_4099There were several bridges along this section of the trail. I also ran into the only mountain bikers that I would encounter all day in this area, a group of five.

IMG_4105The Buck Mountain Loop junction.

I turned right at the junction and crossed Howard Creek then turned right again back onto the Catamount Trail.
IMG_4107Bridge over Howard Creek.

IMG_4108The continuation of the Catamount Trail on the right.

The trail now climbed uphill for 0.2 miles to the large trail junction on Buck Mountain, a total of 1.1 miles from the Lost Creek Trail junction.
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IMG_4113The map showed the section I had just done as 0.9 miles, but my track was a bit more twisty than the map.

From the junction I took the Perimeter Trail.
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The park map lists this trail as 5.9 miles in length and has a “Steep” warning not far from the Buck Mountain junction. The trail was in good shape and although it lost over 350′ of elevation in just under a mile to a crossing of South Fork Silver Creek the grade was reasonable. Compared to some of the other trails we’d been on this year it didn’t seem all that steep.
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IMG_4123A small opening on the way down.

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IMG_4128Footbridge over South Fork Silver Creek.

IMG_4134South Fork Silver Creek

If I had paid better attention to the elevation numbers shown on the park map I might not have been so surprised when the trail began to climb on the other side of the creek. Over the next 2.1 miles the trail gained over 650′ before arriving at junction with the Rackett Ridge Trail. Up until the Rackett Ridge junction I had only encountered 8 people, the group of 5 mountain bikers and three trail runners (one solo and two together). The number of people seen doubled at this junction.
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IMG_4143I’m a hiker so I went right here.

IMG_4146Big fungus on the tree ahead.

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IMG_4155Map at the Rackett Ridge junction.

I continued on the Perimeter Trail which now began a nearly 3-mile descent that was at least as steep as the section before with the warning. The use of switchbacks allowed the grade to stay reasonable though.
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IMG_4159Another impressive nursery log.

IMG_4161I stopped in this area to change out of my sweaty socks and into one of the extra pairs I’d brought expecting rain.

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IMG_4163The vegetation went through several changes as the trail lost elevation.

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IMG_4169This was a big tree in the midst of much smaller ones.

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IMG_4174Roemer’s Meadow Trail (left) isn’t shown on the park maps yet, but it was completed in 2021 with help from the Salem Area Trails Alliance. (They do a lot of good work in the park and the area.) The trail is approximately 1.7 miles from the Rackett Ridge junction.

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IMG_4185The Trail of Ten Falls junction near Highway 214.

IMG_4184Looking back up the Perimeter Trail.

For the hike to be a true loop I would have turned left onto the Trail of Ten Falls, but in order to see Upper North Falls I needed go right for 0.3 miles so that’s what I did.
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IMG_4196Upper North Falls

After visiting the falls I headed back and passed under the highway to a large map at a “T” junction.
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IMG_4208A left would have taken me to the North Falls Trailhead.

I turned right at the signboard then veered right onto the Canyon Trail at a congested fork in the trail.
IMG_4209The Rim Trail to the left and Canyon Trail to the right, both part of the Trail of Ten Falls.

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The Canyon Trail descended some stairs then wound its way behind North Falls in approximately a tenth of a mile.
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The trail followed the creek arriving at Twin Falls a little over three-quarters of a mile from North Falls.
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IMG_4240I’m always impressed by the size of this rock in the creek.

IMG_4244Not Twin Falls, but a nice little cascade nonetheless.

IMG_4247This post could be a little confusing without a map. The Twin Falls Trail climbs uphill to a group camp and does not lead to Twin Falls. The falls are the opposite side along a very short spur trail that connects at either end to the Canyon Trail.

IMG_4248Twin Falls isn’t very easy to see from the spur trail either even though you’re right next to it.

I was able to find a better viewpoint of Twin Falls further along the Canyon Trail.
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IMG_4254Twin Falls

My next detour came 0.3 miles beyond Twin Falls when I turned left onto the Winter Falls Trail.
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The Winter Falls Trail crosses the creek on a footbridge then climbs gradually to the base of Winter Falls before steepening to climb up to the Rim Trail. I turned around before the steep part.
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IMG_4261North Fork Silver Creek

IMG_4263Winter Falls, as the name suggests it’s not much of a waterfall outside of Winter when rain and snowmelt provide more water.

IMG_4267With the dry Summer it isn’t a great Fall color year but there was a decent display along this trail.

After saying hi to Winter Falls I returned to the Canyon Trail and continued toward the South Falls Day Use Area. Next up was Middle North Falls and another detour to go behind this one as well.
IMG_4270I turned left here on the spur trail behind Middle North Falls.

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I again returned to the Canyon Trail and quickly arrived at the Drake Falls viewing platform.
IMG_4298Middle North Falls from the Canyon Trail.

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IMG_4301The 27′ Drake Falls.

Approximately a quarter mile beyond Drake Falls I turned right onto the Double Falls Trail.
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Much like Winter Falls, Double Falls is on a side creek which has a low flow much of the year.
IMG_4313The hiker at the base gives a good idea of the fall’s height, you just have to use your imagination to add water.

On my way back to the Canyon Trail I ran into one of Heather’s friends which allowed me to pause for a moment to talk and update her on our new kittens. Just beyond the Double Falls Trail I passed the eighth waterfall of my hike, Lower North Falls.
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It was about here that my feet started to let me know that this was a long hike. It was almost a mile from Lower North Falls to my next marker, a junction with the Maple Ridge Trail.
IMG_4330The Canyon Trail crosses the creek just downstream from Lower North Falls then makes a short climb to get above the canyon cliffs.

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A quarter mile from the Maple Ridge junction was Lower South Falls, another that the trail passes behind.
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After passing behind the falls the trail climbs a number of stairs which at this point of the hike was a mean trick.
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After conquering the stairs it was another 0.6 miles level miles to a footbridge at a fork in the trial within sight of the tenth and final waterfall, South Falls.
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IMG_4376I walked out onto the bridge for the view then returned to the junction to take the right hand fork and go behind this fall as well.

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I stayed right at junctions as I climbed to the top of South Falls then followed a paved path to a footbridge where I crossed the creek.
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IMG_4410View toward South Falls from the footbridge.

I followed the paved path to the Bike Path where I recrossed the creek then made my way along the parking lot to the car.
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IMG_4412Not sure what this old building was, possibly restrooms by the doors.

IMG_4413One of several picnic shelters in the park.

IMG_4414Approaching the Bike Path where I recrossed the creek.

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IMG_4417I can see the car!

The hike turned out to be close to 22 miles with somewhere around 2900′ of cumulative elevation gain. The GPS originally said 22.4 miles but that was partly due to it jumping around when I was behind the different falls and it didn’t have a good connection to the satellites. Removing some of the points put the total down to 21.5 miles but doing that lost the out-and back behind Middle North Falls and some of the switchbacks up from South Falls. Whatever the actual distance it was a lot for me but overall everything held up pretty well. A couple of small blisters on one heel were the worst consequence. The fact that it hadn’t rained surely helped with the feet.

Track prior to trying to remove some of the jumps in data points.

The lack of people in the backcountry is almost a shame as the forest is lovely and the trails well maintained. I say almost a shame because for those of us who do take the time to explore it, the solitude only adds to the beauty. The Trail of Ten Falls was busy comparatively, but it wasn’t the zoo that it would have been on a Summer weekend which was nice. Doing the loop in reverse would have resulted in less folks at the falls but we’d been to the falls in the morning on all our other visits so this gave me a chance to see them with the Sun at a different angle. The only minor bummer was not being able to hike the full Catamount Trail due to the one-way section. If I were to do it over I would probably start at the North Falls Trailhead and go clockwise so that I would have been going the right way for that section and still would have ended with most of the Trail of Ten Falls. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Silver Falls Perimeter Loop

Categories
High Cascades Hiking Mt. Washington Area Oregon Trip report

Mount Washington North Ridge – 10/15/2022

Our lack of rain unfortunately continued for another week allowing the numerous fires in Oregon and Washington to remain active. To top it off a warm, dry East wind arrived in time for the weekend creating a red flag warning for high fire danger and blowing the smoke from the current fires into Western Oregon. The combination of the smoke and unseasonably high temperatures had me searching for a suitable hike. My Plan A, B, and C hikes were all forecast to be in the smoke (and warmer than I’d prefer in October) then I remembered seeing that Hike Oregon had gone up Mount Washington’s North Ridge back in August using a climbers trail off of the Pacific Crest Trail. I had been interested in that trail ever since hearing about it during the Chemeketans Route Finding course we’d taken and then later passing it on our hike to Mount Washington Meadows in 2017 (post). A quick of check of the forecast there showed clear (but breezy) skies and a high below 60 at the mountain, I was sold.

Just as we had done in 2017 I parked at the Pacific Crest Trailhead at Big Lake which at this time does not require a Cascade Wilderness Permit for day-use (one is required for overnight stays).
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I set off South on the PCT shortly before sunrise and followed it for three miles to a cairn marking the obvious climbers trail.
IMG_3387Mount Washington from the Mt. Washington Wilderness boundary just a few hundred feet from the trailhead.

IMG_3395Three Fingered Jack to the North from the PCT.

IMG_3399From left to right – Sand Mountain (post), Hoodoo Butte, and Hayrick Butte.

IMG_3401Mount Washington

IMG_3406Sunrise on Hoodoo Butte.

IMG_3410Sunlight hitting the spire of Mount Washington.

IMG_3416Hayrick Butte and Three Fingered Jack at sunrise.

IMG_3424Big Lake, Hoodoo, Hayrick Butte, and Three Fingered Jack.

IMG_3429Just over two miles from the trailhead I passed a sign for the non-maintained use trail from the private Big Lake Youth Camp.

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IMG_3440Shortly before reaching the climbers trail the PCT left the 2011 Shadow Lake Fire scar.

IMG_3442The cairn and climbers trail from the PCT.

I turned left onto this trail which was fairly easy to follow through the trees.
IMG_3443Huckleberry leaves turning color.

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IMG_3448There were a few logs to navigate and keeping an eye on the tread was helpful.

The trail climbed moderately at first then steepened as it went, with occasional flatter sections before reaching the ridge.
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IMG_3452Maxwell Butte (post) behind Hoodoo and Hayrick Butte.

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IMG_3459Mount Washington

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I stopped here for a moment to admire a raptor that was hovering high above the ridge (small black dot in the middle of the photo).

IMG_3470The only movement that I could see was when it tilted its tail feathers which would catch the sunlight.

IMG_3471First view of Mt. Jefferson behind Three Fingered Jack.

IMG_3473Coming up on the ridge.

IMG_3474Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, and a lot of smoke to the North.

IMG_3478Cache Mountain and Black Butte (post) to the NE.

Approximately 1.5 miles from the PCT the climbers trail turned North along the ridge toward Mount Washington.
IMG_3484View along the ridge to Mount Washington.

IMG_3488That East wind was really noticeable as I made my way along the open ridge crest.

I didn’t have much trouble following the trail for the first three-quarters of mile up the ridge. It was typical Cascade volcanic rock which isn’t the most fun rock to hike through but the views were great.
IMG_3496_stitchThree Fingered Jack and Mt. Jefferson to the left. Green Ridge (post) across the center, and Cache Mountain & Black Butte to the right.

IMG_3503Big Lake came into view as I climbed.

IMG_3506One of the steeper sections I went up. The spire is poking up on the right.

IMG_3509Mount Washington’s shadow.

IMG_3510View back down the ridge.

IMG_3511I was hoping to get up and over these rocks where the map showed a more level bench but I wound up reaching a chute where I was unsure of the correct route. The further up I’d gone the more braided the trail became and I may have been too far left. A climber had passed me way back on the PCT but if I had been able to watch him go up here I may have found a better route.

IMG_3513The chute that turned me back. It’s a bit hidden by the rocks in the foreground but there was no way across that I would have been comfortable with and scrambling up looked way too sketchy for my taste (especially w/o a helmet).

I sat down here and took a brief break to catch my breath and have a snack. I was just over 7100′ in elevation and had been feeling that on the climb up.
IMG_3514My shadow on the left from my break spot.

IMG_3518This was the place I’d come up.

IMG_3523Zoom of Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Jefferson

IMG_3525With all the smoke I hadn’t noticed Coffin (flat top) and Bachelor Mountains (post) beyond Hoodoo, Hayrick, and Maxwell Buttes.

After catching my breath I started carefully down, pausing often to admire the view.
IMG_3527The Moon overhead to the West.

IMG_3528Patjens Lakes (post) in the forest below.

IMG_3536Lookout tower on Black Butte.

IMG_3540Unfortunate that my timing once again put the Sun directly in line with my view.

I passed three more hikers heading up the ridge on my way down and at one point wound up following a wrong trail too low on the ridge and had to scramble back up to the correct one.
IMG_3555Using a tree to try and get a better view.

IMG_3561A framed Mt. Jefferson.

IMG_3570Sometimes it’s the little things, like these bent trees that I really appreciate on a hike.

IMG_3572This mushroom casting a shadow was another one.

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When I got back to the PCT I turned right and hiked the three miles back to the trailhead.
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IMG_3584Looking back at Mount Washington from the PCT.

IMG_3589Three Fingered Jack

IMG_3595Hoodoo and Hayrick Buttes behind Big Lake.

IMG_3601Huckleberry bushes and ferns adding some Fall colors.

IMG_3607The best Fall colors were near the trailhead.

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IMG_3611The trailhead from the wilderness boundary sign.

This hike came to 10.7 miles with a little over 2700′ of elevation gain. In total I saw 7 hunters, 4 climbers, and two fellow hikers, not bad for a sunny Saturday. It might not be one for those uncomfortable with heights or climbing/descending loose volcanic rock (for those reasons it was a good choice since Heather is still sidelined) but if you don’t mind those things this would be a worthwhile outing.

When I got back to Salem around 2pm it was 90 degrees, in mid-October! The good news is that the high pressure system causing the warm, dry weather is supposed to break up this week with rain to follow. Hopefully it will be enough to put an end to the fires. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mount Washington North Ridge

Categories
Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Oregon Trip report

Multnomah Falls to Larch Mountain – 10/10/2022

With Heather still sidelined with a bum knee and a Monday holiday that most of the rest of Oregon didn’t have off I decided to tackle the climb from Multnomah Falls to Larch Mountain. Starting at the Multnomah Falls Trailhead the hike to Sherrard Point is roughly 14.5 miles out-and-back with just over 4000′ of elevation gain. If I was feeling up to it, my plan was to extend the hike just a bit by detouring on the way back to visit Fairy and Wahkeena Falls adding another 1.7 miles and 500′ of elevation to the days total.

We had hiked to Multnomah Falls on a big loop in 2012 starting at Oneonta Trailhead (post), Larch Mountain in 2020 from Road 315 Trailhead (post), and Wahkeena Falls in 2013 from the Angels Rest Trailhead (post). Even though we had visited all of these main attractions before, this route would provide several miles of trail that I had yet to be on. Two of those trips also occurred prior to the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire which burned most of the forest along the lower portion of this hike.

I arrived at the Multnomah Falls parking lot a little before 7am and was pleased to find that I was just the fourth car.
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It was still a bit before sunrise but there was enough light once I had gotten everything together to set off towards the falls.
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The lack of light did nothing for my point and shoot camera but that was a small price to pay to have the falls to myself (save for a few staff preparing the grounds for the day).
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IMG_3043Multnomah Falls

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IMG_3049The Benson Bridge.

IMG_3051View from the bridge.

IMG_3052Multnomah Falls from the bridge.

Beyond the bridge the paved trail climbs steeply via 11 switchbacks. (I’m pretty sure they squeezed a very short 12th in there.)
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IMG_3065The Moon beyond the Columbia River and Multnomah Falls Lodge.

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IMG_3068Beacon Rock (post) to the east on the Washington side of the Columbia.

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IMG_3072The second switchback.

IMG_3073Another view of the falls. I passed a pair of hikers along this stretch then didn’t see another person for another couple of hours.

After climbing above the falls via the switchbacks I took my first detour to visit the Multnomah Falls Viewpoint.
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IMG_3079Viewpoint trail.

This trail descends a tenth a mile to a viewpoint above the falls.
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IMG_3084Small fall just upstream from Multnomah Falls.

IMG_3085Cape Horn (post) to the right across the Columbia.

I returned to the Larch Mountain Trail and continued towards Larch Mountain. After a brief descent to cross Multnomah Creek the trail began a long gradual climb along the creek.
IMG_3087Bridge over Multnomah Creek.

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IMG_3092Approaching Middle Dutchman Falls.

IMG_3095Middle Dutchman Falls

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IMG_3098Upper Dutchman Falls

IMG_3102Dutchman Tunnel

IMG_3106Wiesendanger Falls is located just beyond Dutchman Tunnel.

IMG_3110A short distance beyond Wiesendanger Falls is Ecola Falls.

IMG_3111Ecola Falls

A quarter mile beyond Ecola Falls (and 2 miles from the trailhead) I arrived at the Wahkeena Trail junction.
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IMG_3120Good signage at nearly all trail junctions, especially those closest to the trailheads.

I stayed on the Larch Mountain Trail which crossed the creek on a newer (2018) steel bridge that replaced the one burnt in the Eagle Creek Fire.
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IMG_3126Looking down the creek at sunlight starting to hit the hillside.

IMG_3129A few bleeding heart were still in bloom.

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IMG_3132Penstemon

IMG_3136This section is flooded in late Winter/Spring. The signed High Water Trail leads up and around it for those high water times.

IMG_3138Sign for the High Water Trail at its southern end.

IMG_3139The southern end of the High Water Trail heading uphill to the right.

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IMG_3141I couldn’t find a name for this creek but it had a good flow, in fact it was more water than what was in Multnomah Creek upstream from their confluence.

IMG_3144Multnomah Creek upstream from the unnamed creek.

One point two miles from the Wahkeena Trail junction I came to the Multnomah Basin Road where the Larch Mountain Trail jogged slightly left before continuing on and entering the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness.
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The forest around the wilderness boundary had mostly been spared by the fire but I quickly reentered the burn before arriving at a junction with the Franklin Ridge Trail.
IMG_3154Reentering the fire scar.

IMG_3155The Franklin Ridge Trail on the left.

A tenth of a mile from the junction the trail crossed the nearly dry East Fork Multnomah Creek on a small footbridge.
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The trail continued briefly through a patch of green trees up a ridge between the East and West Forks of the creek then reentered the fire scar. Four tenths of a mile from the East Fork crossing I came to a second footbridge, this one crossing the West Fork.
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Beyond this second footbridge the trail crossed a large scree field where I was taunted by the distinctive “meep” of pikas. They were seemingly all around but I wasn’t ever able to spot any of the little rock rabbits this time.
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IMG_3171Maple changing colors

IMG_3172I’m sure there is at least one pika in this photo somewhere.

IMG_3174Looking back toward Franklin Ridge.

A short distance beyond the scree field the trail left the fire scar for good arriving at a junction with the Multnomah Creek Way Trail 1.8 miles from the Multnomah Basin Road crossing.
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IMG_3180Arriving at the junction.

I stayed left at this junction on the Larch Mountain Trail and climbed 0.4 more miles to a road crossing of gated FR 315 (Where we had started our previous Larch Mountain hike).
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I crossed the road and continued climbing. The trail steepened noticeably at first but quickly relented and resumed a more gradual grade.
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IMG_3192I was hoping for less smoke in the air but these sunbeams told me that there was still a fair amount lingering around much as it had been for the last several days.

IMG_3194After 1.25 miles I passed a pair of old campsites with picnic tables on the right. I stayed right at an unsigned junction with a trail that led uphill to the left. We had come down that way on our previous trip skipping a short section of the actual Larch Mountain Trail.

Another quarter mile brought me to the Larch Mountain Trailhead
IMG_3198There were four cars at this trailhead.

I’d passed one person with a dog followed by a pair of ladies with another dog between FR 315 and the trailhead. I turned onto the paved Sherrard Point Trail expecting to see the other car owners along this 0.3 mile path but was pleasantly surprised to find that I had Sherrard Point all to myself.
IMG_3200Vine maple near the Sherrard Point Trail.

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One of the factors that had led me to choose this hike for the day was due to the forecast calling for clear sky at this viewpoint whereas the other hikes I had considered were expected to have widespread haze. Technically I think the forecast was correct because if I looked straight up it looked like a blue bird day. Looking out was a different story though with smoke in every direction.
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IMG_3221Mt. St. Helens in the smoke to the left and Mt. Adams a bit above it to the right.

IMG_3218Mt. Hood

IMG_3208Mt. Adams

IMG_3228Mt. St. Helens

IMG_3229Silver Star Mountain (post)

Unbeknownst to me at the time a new fire, the Nakia Creek Fire, had started near the Larch Mountain in Clark County, WA to the SW of Silver Star less than 24 hours earlier contributing to the smokey conditions.

It wasn’t the view I’d hoped for but it was something, at least I could see parts of several mountains. I didn’t spend much time at the viewpoint given the conditions and made my way back to the old picnic tables by crossing over Larch Mountain. I took a short break at one of the tables to drink a Gatorade I had been hauling around and put on a clean pair of socks for my return hike.
IMG_3230Heading down.

From the picnic table I returned to the way I’d come up to the Wahkeena Trail junction. Up to that point I had only encountered a total of eight other hikers. I had however seen dozens of woolly caterpillars.
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I heard fewer pikas on my way back through the scree field but saw the same number, zero. There was an encounter with a squirrel that came crashing through the brush, jumped across the trail, and climbed a snag so that it could give me a scolding.
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IMG_3266Lots of fungi on this tree.

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IMG_3273Hedgenettle

IMG_3278Ouzel

The solitude that I had been enjoying ended abruptly at the Wahkeena Trail junction where a number of hikers could be seen heading uphill on the trail ahead and a group was effectively blocking the trail at the junction as they attempted to make sense of the trail signs.
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I tried to align my photos with the hikers ahead passing behind trees.

I had made the decision to take the longer way back past Wahkeena Falls since I had been making good time and I was still feeling pretty energetic. I hadn’t really paid attention to the fact that the Wahkeena Trail gains over 300′ in the first mile as it traverses up the hillside to a junction on a ridge top.
IMG_3284Looking back down at Multnomah Creek.

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IMG_3288Cape Horn again across the Columbia.

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IMG_3291I couldn’t recall seeing these before on a hike, not this color anyway.

IMG_3295The Devil’s Rest Trail on the left at the ridge top.

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I wound up getting distracted by the different hikers coming and going atop the ridge and turned right onto the Vista Point Trail instead of staying straight on the Wahkeena Trail which had been my planned route. In the end I was glad I did. It was only about a tenth of a mile longer to take this detour which was a bit overgrown but it also passed a viewpoint that I detoured out to.
IMG_3297I should have followed the Wahkeena Trail Pointer here.

IMG_3298Instead I followed the pointer for Wahkeena 1.0.

IMG_3301Vista Point Trail

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I could see my car in the parking lot from the viewpoint.

IMG_3309There is the trail I had intended to be coming down arriving at the junction with the other end of the Vista Point Trail.

The Vista Point Trail was in pretty good shape (other than the overgrowth) save for the final 10-20 feet which was now part of a stream bed. The combination of slick wet rocks and it being downhill made for a tricky descent to the junction.
IMG_3316Looking back at the Vista Point Trail from the junction.

After successfully navigating the wet rocks I turned down the Wahkeena Trail. I immediately was glad that I’d chosen to come this way as I had forgotten how scenic Wahkeena Creek is flowing through the narrow gorge. Even after the fire it was still beautiful.
IMG_3320Lots of tight switchbacks to get down the gorge.

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IMG_3324Fairy Falls

IMG_3326Fairy Falls

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IMG_3332Looking out across the Columbia River.

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A half mile down this trail I took a short detour to Lemmons Viewpoint.
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IMG_3348Cape Horn (again)

IMG_3352The Wahkeena Trail from Lemmons Viewpoint.

Another half mile descent brought me to the base of Wahkeena Falls where I was happy to find only a small number of other hikers.
IMG_3354The poison oak was really colorful.

IMG_3355Approaching Wahkeena Falls.

IMG_3357Wahkeena Falls

IMG_3360Wahkeena Falls.

IMG_3362Looking back at Wahkeena Falls.

There were plenty of folks at the trailhead as I passed by before hopping onto the Multnomah Falls Return Trail.
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IMG_3370One last look at Wahkeena Falls through the trees.

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It was roughly half a mile back to the now busy lodge at Multnomah Falls and another tenth or so to my car.
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IMG_3378A line of cars on Historic Highway 30 in front of the lodge.

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This hike came to 16.2 miles with around 4500′ of elevation gain. A tough but scenic outing with highlights at the start, mid-point, and end to help take the mind off the body.

I was on my way home at 1:45pm and looking forward to spending some time with our new kittens. After losing Buddy in 2020 (post) and Hazel in 2021 (post) we’d been cat-less for over a year. With Heather unable to hike it seemed to the perfect time to open our home up again and on Monday the 3rd Heather picked up Merry and Pippin from the Humane Society.
20221005_114540Merry (black) is 3 mos. and Pippin is 2 mos. Both boys from separate litters.

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They have been keeping us plenty busy. Merry is a snuggler while Pippin is a ball of chaotic energy until he runs out, then he likes to snuggle too. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Multnomah Falls to Larch Mountain

Categories
High Cascades Hiking Oregon Sky Lakes/Mountain Lakes Area Trip report

Sky Lakes Basin Day 2 – 09/25/2022

We woke up way too early for the time of year and found ourselves playing Yahtzee on Heather’s phone lest we would be hiking out from our camp at Trapper Lake in the dark. After some less than stellar scores we packed up camp and set off on the Sky Lakes Trail back toward the Cold Springs Trailhead.
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IMG_2682Low-light at Trapper Lake.

IMG_2689Sunrise from the trail.

IMG_2691Sunlight hitting the tops of trees.

Just before reaching the Heavenly Twin Lakes we came to the Isherwood Trail where we turned right.
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The Isherwood Trail passed by the larger of the Heavenly Twin Lakes.
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The trail left the lake and climbed gradually through the forest to a rocky bluff above Isherwood Lake.
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IMG_2701Heading up to the bluff.

IMG_2706Pelican Butte beyond Isherwood Lake.

IMG_2708Fall foliage above Isherwood Lake.

About half way along Isherwood Lake we detoured to the other side of the trail to visit Lake Liza.
IMG_2709Heading for Lake Liza through a dry bed.

IMG_2710Great reflection

After returning to the Isherwood Trail and passing Isherwood Lake we passed Elizabeth Lake on our left.
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Elizabeth Lake was followed by Lake Notasha on the right with another nice reflection.
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IMG_2722_stitchLake Notasha

IMG_2728Depending on the angle the water was a beautiful green.

A short distance beyond Lake Notasha we came to the end of the Isherwood Trail at the Sky Lakes Trail.
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We turned right for a third of a mile to a junction with the Cold Springs Trail.
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We turned left this time following the Cold Springs Trail pointer. This trail climbed a lot more than we’d expected as it passed by Imagination Peak but after nearly two miles we arrived back at the junction with the South Rock Creek Trail which we had taken the day before.
IMG_2746Parts of the latter half of this trail passed through the 2017 fire scar.

IMG_2748Fireweed seeds

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IMG_2753Pelican Butte as we descended toward the junction.

We turned right here for the final 0.6 miles to our car.
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IMG_2757Leaving the Sky Lakes Wilderness

IMG_2758Dark-eyed junco seeing us off.

IMG_2760An as of yet unidentified flower.

20220925_092616Another unidentified flower.

IMG_2761I do know this one – bleeding heart.

IMG_2764Woodpecker (it was a busy final 0.6 miles).

IMG_2765Back at the shelter and trailhead.

Our hike out came to 6.6 miles with just over 1000′ of elevation gain.

Dark track is Day 2 while the light solid line is Day 1.

It had been a great Autumn weekend for a backpacking trip and the hikes were great. The only negative to come out of it was Heather’s knee which had been a lingering but manageable issue for most of the year finally decided it had had enough. She has some PT ahead and no hiking so I’ll be on my own for a bit. The good news her knee should be fine and we didn’t have any more featured hikes on our schedule until mid-Spring next year. It also means we might be welcoming some new kitties into our home sooner than we’d expected since she won’t be joining me on the October hikes. Happy Tails! (or Trails!)

Flickr: Sky Lakes Basin Day 2

Categories
High Cascades Hiking Oregon Sky Lakes/Mountain Lakes Area Trip report

Sky Lakes Basin Day 1 – 09/24/2022

An excellent weekend forecast allowed us to head back to the Southern Oregon Cascades less than a week from our three night, four day stay in Shady Cove (post). In an attempt to give us the best chance to finish our featured hike goal (post) I’d recently broken a 5-6 day backpacking trip in the Sky Lakes Wilderness into shorter trips. During our Shady Cove stay we did the Blue Lakes Basin hike (post) and now we were back for an overnight backpack in the Sky Lakes Basin to check off Sullivan’s Sky Lakes via Cold Springs and Sky Lakes via Nannie Creek hikes. (Hikes #43 & #44 respectively in edition 4.2 “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California.)

We started at the Cold Springs Trailhead.
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IMG_2395Shelter at the trailhead.

We set off through a 2017 fire scar following the Cold Springs Trail into the Sky Lakes Wilderness.
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IMG_2399Aster

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IMG_2407Fireweed

After 0.6 miles we came to a junction with the South Rock Creek Trail.
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Both forks would lead to the Heavenly Twin Lakes but the South Rock Creek Trail would do it in a shorter distance (1.8 vs 2.4 miles) so we stayed to the right and followed that trail through more burned forest.
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IMG_2417Comma butterfly

We left the fire scar after about a mile and continued another 0.8 miles to the first Heavenly Twin Lake.
IMG_2419Exiting the fire scar.

IMG_2420Doe watching us through the trees.

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The larger lake lay just beyond the smaller and provided a view of Luther Mountain.
IMG_2431Luther Mountain on the left and Lee Peak on the right.

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After checking out the view we continued on the Sky Lakes Trail which led along the East side of the large lake arriving at the junction with the Isherwood Trail at the far end.
IMG_2436Sign for the Sky Lakes Trail.

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IMG_2443Isherwood Trail junction.

We would be taking the Isherwood Trail the next day on our way back to the car but for now we continued straight for 1.9 miles to Trapper Lake where we looked for and found a campsite for the weekend. Along the way we passed several small ponds and unnamed lakes and one named one. It was clear why the area is notorious for mosquitos until late Summer (we only noticed two the whole weekend).
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IMG_2448Lake Land

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IMG_2457Luther Mountain from Trapper Lake.

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After setting up camp we returned to the Sky Lakes Trail and continued North along the lake passing the Cherry Creek Trail coming up from the right before arriving at a junction with the Donna Lake Trail.
IMG_2467View along the trail.

IMG_2468Sign for the Cherry Creek Trail.

IMG_2469Sky Lakes Trail sign.

IMG_2470Donna Lake Trail to the right.

This was the start of an approximately 8.8 mile loop around Luther Mountain. We had decided to do the loop counter-clockwise so we took the left hand trail which kept us on the Sky Lakes Trail. This trail led around the North end of Trapper Lake for 0.2 miles where it met the Divide Trail.
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IMG_2473Divide Trail junction.

We stayed left here and started following the Divide Trail which would lead us to the Pacific Crest Trail in 2.8 miles. Shortly after starting up this trail we detoured right to check out Margurette Lake.
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The trail passed close to this lake offering several views of Luther Mountain along the way.
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Beyond Margurette Lake the trail began to wind it’s way uphill passing several smaller bodies of water including Lake No-SE-Um where several mergansers had congregated.
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The trail turned back to the North passing above Margurette and Trapper Lakes along a shelf before turning West and climbing more steeply via switchbacks.
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IMG_2507Saddle Mountain is in the distance with pointy Cherry Peak in the foreground. I believe that is Agency Lake visible in the Valley.

IMG_2514Pelican Butte to the right.

IMG_2515Mt. McLoughlin (post) to the South.

IMG_2517Eagle flyby.

IMG_2522Lather Peak with several more lakes below.

IMG_2524In the distance to the left is Aspen Butte (post) in the Mountain Lakes Wilderness.

IMG_2530Fall is in the air.

IMG_2531On of several small bodies of water along the shelf.

IMG_2533We know there were pikas out there because we heard their “meeps” off and on all day but with so many rocks we were never able to spot one.

IMG_2535Heading toward Luther Mountain.

IMG_2539Pelican Butte on the left and Mt. McLoughlin on the right. The peaks in the Mountain Lakes Wilderness are behind and to the right of Pelican Butte then the small, closer hump is Imagination Peak. To the right of Imagination Peak and slightly further back is Lost Peak and then further to the right (left of Mt. McLoughlin) is Brown Mountain (post). Interestingly according to Peak Finder Mt. Shasta should be visible in between Imagination and Lost Peaks but apparently there was enough smoke/haze in the sky that it was camouflaged.

After passing through the switchbacks the trail straightened out and headed almost due West as it climbed through a rock field on the southern flank of Luther Mountain.
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We left the rock field and made a final climb to a saddle where we arrived at the PCT.
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IMG_2551Luther Mountain from the saddle.

IMG_2553The Pacific Crest Trail.

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After catching our breath we turned right on the PCT which descended slightly to a ridge to the West of Luther Mountain. We followed this ridge, which had been burned in 2014, for a little over a mile to a junction with the Snow Lakes Trail.
IMG_2556Lucifer Peak directly behind Shale Butte.

IMG_2557Lucifer Peak, Shale Butte, Devil’s Peak and Lee Peak.

IMG_2562Blowdown on the PCT.

IMG_2566Luther Mountain

IMG_2573Luther Mountain and Mt. McLoughlin behind us.

IMG_2575Lots of little birds along the ridge but most didn’t stop long enough for even a poor picture.

IMG_2580Sign at the Snow Lakes Trail junction.

We turned right onto the Snow Lakes Trail which passed along another shelf full of small lakes.
IMG_2581Martin, Wind and a Snow Lake from the Snow Lakes Trail.

IMG_2583Hawk circling overhead.

IMG_2585While I was trying to keep track of the hawk this Bald Eagle flew over.

IMG_2588Nearing the end of the 2014 fire scar.

IMG_2591Luther Mountain from one of the Snow Lakes.

IMG_2592Another of the lakes.

IMG_2593Tree on the edge of the shelf.

IMG_2595View from the shelf.

IMG_2601There were many cool rock features along the trail.

IMG_2603Devil’s Peak

IMG_2605Lee Peak and another of the Snow Lakes.

After approximately three quarters of a mile on the Snow Lakes Trail we dropped to one of the larger lakes where we briefly lost the trail.
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IMG_2610A tree had fallen over the Snow Lakes Trail hiding it right where a use trail veered off to the lake. Only seeing the use trail we followed it along the lake until it petered out. A quick look at the map showed we were off-trail so we made our way back finding the downed tree covering the actual trail.

After regaining the trail we followed it downhill via a series of switchbacks past another lake.
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The trail then began to turn ESE as it continued to descend toward Martin Lake and the Lower Snow Lakes. A total of 2.3 miles from the PCT we came to the Nannie Creek Trail junction.
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IMG_2624The worst obstacle for the day.

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IMG_2629Pelican Butte from the trail.

IMG_2630Sign at the Nannie Creek Trail junction.

We stayed right on the Snow Lakes Trail at the junction. After 0.4 miles we passed Martin Lake on our right.
IMG_2634Luther Mountain as we neared Martin Lake.

IMG_2635Dragon fly blending in with the huckleberry leaves.

IMG_2641Martin Lake with a view of the shelf that we’d been on.

Two tenths of a mile beyond Martin Lake we came to what was labeled Lower Snow Lakes on our map which was partly in Luther Mountain’s shadow.
IMG_2643Red huckleberry leaves

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We found a log in the shade along the shore where we took a nice break.
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After our break we continued on the Snow Lakes Trail another three quarters of a mile to a junction with the Donna Lake Trail.
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It was another 0.7 miles back to Trapper Lake either way but the Donna Lake Trail led past Deep and then Donna Lakes so we veered left and took that trail.
IMG_2659Deep Lake was up first, just a tenth of a mile down the trail.

IMG_2665Donna Lake was only two tenths further.

IMG_2670Donna Lake Trail

We arrived back at the Sky Lakes Trail at Trapper Lake and headed back to our campsite for dinner.
IMG_2674Back at Trapper Lake.

Dinner didn’t go as planned as we realized when we pulled our water filter out that we’d left all the hoses at home. Fortunately we carry Iodine tablets for just such an occurrence so we had a way to treat water but by the time it was all said and done we decided to skip a warm meal and opted to eat some of the extra food we’d brought. At least we’d have water for the hike out the next day though. It cooled off quickly once the Sun had vanished and for the first time in a while we got to test the warmth of our sleeping systems.
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Today’s hike came in at 14.5 miles with approximately 2300′ of elevation gain.

Day one is the dark track with the light solid line being part of day 2.

The number of lakes/ponds was almost hard to believe and the scenery was really nice. The timing was great with almost no bugs and the trails were in relatively good shape, just a few downed trees here and there but nothing too difficult to get past. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Sky Lakes Basin Day 1

Categories
Crater Lake Area High Cascades Hiking Oregon Trip report

Union Creek Revisited – 09/20/2022

For the final hike of our Southern Oregon trip we had pegged the Union Creek Trail, the only featured hike that only I had done. Heather had been forced to skip this one after hurting herself at Abbott Butte in 2020 (post). Sullivan has been working on an update to his Southern Oregon book and it will be interesting to see if the Union Creek hike remains a featured hike. A 2015 storm downed many trees along the trail, the middle portion of which had not yet been cleared in 2020 when I’d attempted the hike. A quick look online led us to believe that two years later the conditions were the same so instead of attempting to reach Union Creek Falls from the Union Creek Resort we drove to the Upper Trailhead. To reach this trailhead we followed Highway 62 two miles east of its junction with Highway 230 turning right on Road 600 at a small Union Creek Trailhead sign. After 0.2 miles we veered left at another pointer for 0.1 miles to the parking area at roads end.
IMG_2300An OHV Trail continues on the old road bed from the parking area.

The Union Creek Trail is located at the SW corner of the parking area.
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The upper portion of the trail was in great shape and we quickly found ourselves at Union Creek Falls just 0.3 miles from the trailhead.
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We continued another 0.7 miles before encountering the first real obstacle and began to wonder if by some miracle someone had finally shown this trail a little love.
IMG_2316We had to get creative to see some of the many cool water features along the creek.

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IMG_2338The first mess on the trail.

The trail conditions deteriorated quickly over the next half mile before we completely lost the trail at a large downed tree. Overnight rain had left the vegetation wet and we didn’t see any point in trying to force our way through the brush in an attempt to relocate the tread so we turned around and headed back.
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IMG_2350This mess was just before the bigger tree that turned us back.

On the way back we hopped a side channel onto an island to find a pretty impressive feature that had been hidden from the trail.
IMG_2383Where I crossed the channel.

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To get a good view I had to carefully follow a narrow ledge to an overlook of a thundering hole where water plunged in from all sides.
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We returned to the car having come up a just over a quarter mile short of where I’d given up and turned around in 2020 resulting in a 3.7 mile hike with just over 400′ of elevation gain.

The dashed track is from 2022 with the solid line being 2020’s track.

It is a shame that this trail doesn’t seem to warrant any attention from the Forest Service. The creek is beautiful and the trail isn’t that long so there isn’t that much to clear. It also isn’t in a wilderness area so they could use chainsaws where needed. Ironically this sign is posted at the trailhead along with a box that was full of spiderwebs.
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It was just after 9:15am when we got back to the car and after changing we did what any sane people would do and drove back into Union Creek to Beckie’s Cafe for breakfast, a cinnamon roll, and a blackberry pie to go. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Union Creek

Categories
Crater Lake Area High Cascades Hiking Oregon Trip report

Discovery Point and Lightning Spring – 09/19/2022

The longest planned hike of our Southern Oregon trip also promised to be the most scenic with nearly two and a half miles being along the rim of Crater Lake. After a couple of days of rain showers (and one night of thunderstorms) Monday was forecast to be partly sunny albeit with a 40% chance of showers. We were hoping for clear views of the lake with just enough clouds to make the sky interesting. We had picked up a 7-day pass on Saturday when we’d driven through Crater Lake National Park and now reentered the Park from Highway 62 to the south and parked near the Rim Village Gift Shop and Cafe.
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Our plan was to hike the Discovery Point and Lightning Spring loop described by Sullivan in his “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” (edition 4.2 hike #21). He describes hiking the route counter-clockwise hiking along the rim of the caldera to Discovery Point first but we opted instead for a clockwise loop for two reasons. First was that we wanted to be hiking the rim later in the day when the Sun would hopefully be directly overhead instead of across the lake to the east. The second reason was because Sullivan described the final section of the Dutton Creek Trail as “climbing more seriously…to your car”. Our thought was that it might be more enjoyable to be going down that stretch rather than up.

Before starting the loop we passed by the Gift Shop to check out the morning view of the lake.
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IMG_1885Mt. Scott (post) with a bit of a lenticular cloud.

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IMG_1903Raven making a landing atop a mountain hemlock.

IMG_1909The Watchman (post), Hillman Peak, and Llao Rock along the western side of the rim.

The view was amazing and aside from the ravens we were about the only people around this early. We got distracted enough by the views that we didn’t catch that the Dutton Creek Trail was located a bit downhill along the West Rim Road and we set off on the Rim Trail toward the Discovery Point Trailhead.
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In our defense the topo map on our GPS showed a connector trail further along the Rim Trail (that trail no longer exists) but we didn’t catch our mistake until we’d gone nearly a quarter mile. We turned around and hiked back to the entrance road to Rim Village and hiked downhill to the signed Dutton Creek Trail.
IMG_1913It was by far the most scenic mistake we’ve made while hiking.

IMG_1914Wizard Island and Llao Rock

IMG_1915Mount Scott

IMG_1916We joked that views had been so good maybe we should just end the hike now.

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A short distance down the Dutton Creek Trail we came face to face with a pair of bucks.
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It was quite the start to the hike and we wondered how anything during the remainder of the hike could top the beginning. We followed the Dutton Creek trail a total of 2.4 miles to the Pacific Crest Trail. The upper portion had indeed been fairly steep before leveling out quite a bit. The forest along the trail was very nice and the trail was in excellent shape.
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IMG_1944Dutton Creek was dry.

IMG_1954Blue sky ahead.

20220919_083501Not much left for flowers, this could be a Crater Lake collomia although it’s a little late in the season.

IMG_1964Castle Creek still had some water flowing.

IMG_1965We spotted several piles of hail, possibly from the severe thunderstorms that had been forecast for Saturday night?

IMG_1966Arriving at the PCT.

We turned right on the PCT and followed it for 4.4 fairly level miles to the Lightning Springs Trail. Sullivan described this section of trail as relatively dull but there was enough variety in the scenery to make it enjoyable if not remarkable.
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IMG_1969The campsite at the junction was closed due to hazard trees.

IMG_1970Recrossing Castle Creek.

IMG_1974The PCT appeared to be following an old road bed through the park.

IMG_1982Dropping down to Trapper Creek.

IMG_1984PCT crossing of Trapper Creek.

We saw one other deer, a doe in the trail, and otherwise it was a lot of chipmunks and squirrels along with numerous birds.
IMG_1985A red-breasted nuthatch that was toying with me as I tried to get a photo.

IMG_1988Canada jay (grey jay)
IMG_1990Blue sky to the north ahead.

IMG_1992Some blue sky south too with a glimpse of Union Peak (post).

IMG_1993Union Peak

IMG_2002Entering the 2006 Bybee Complex fire scar.

IMG_2005The Watchman. The lookout tower on top was in a cloud after having been clearly visible from rim earlier. We wondered what that might mean for our views when we finally made it back to the rim.

IMG_2008Chipmunk checking us out.

IMG_2012Coneflower remains

IMG_2017Another creek crossing.

IMG_2015Red crossbills at the creek crossing.

IMG_2025There were some pretty ominous looking clouds behind us but no showers yet.

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IMG_2027Several white crowned sparrows and at least one junco. We could also hear chickadee calls but I couldn’t find one in this capture.

IMG_2030Despite the ugly clouds behind us there was almost always blue sky ahead.

IMG_2032North Fork Castle Creek

IMG_2034Approaching the junction with the Lightning Springs Trail.

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We turned onto the Lightning Springs Trail and headed for the clouds above The Watchman.
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This trail climbed gradually along a ridge at the edge of a 2016 fire scar.
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IMG_2047Townsend’s solitaire

IMG_2048Union Peak had been swallowed by clouds.

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IMG_2052The Watchman with a cloud still hanging on.

IMG_2053Hawk

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IMG_2058The base of Union Peak with lots of blue sky around.

IMG_2066A brief stint in full sunlight.

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We were supposed to pass below a small waterfall after 2.4 miles along Lightning Creek but this late in the Summer it was dry.
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The trail continued to climb beyond the dry fall arriving at Lightning Springs after another 0.8 miles.
IMG_2072Union Peak nearly free of clouds.

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IMG_2081The Watchman still not free.

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IMG_2094Mountain bluebird

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We detoured a short distance down the trail to Lightning Springs Camp to check out the springs which were not dry.
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After visiting the springs we continued another 0.8 miles to West Rim Drive and crossed over to the Rim Trail.
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IMG_2106Full view of Union Peak.

IMG_2109And finally a full view of The Watchman.

IMG_2119Conditions were changing quickly and now there was blue sky above The Watchman.

IMG_2120West Rim Drive ahead with the lower portion of Mt. McLoughlin (post) in between the trees to the right.

IMG_2121Mt. McLoughlin

IMG_2124This squirrel put its cone down in case I had something better for it, but we don’t feed the wild animals per Park rules (and Leave No Trace Principles).

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We followed the Rim Trail for 2.4 miles back to Rim Village passing Discovery Point at the 1.1 mile mark. The views were spectacular resulting in many, many photos for which we don’t feel the least bit sorry about.
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IMG_2150Wizard Island’s cone

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IMG_2160Llao Rock

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IMG_2165Dock along Wizard Island

IMG_2174The Watchman and Hillman Peak

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IMG_2189_stitchGarfield Peak to the left with Union Peak to the far right.

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IMG_2221Phantom Ship

IMG_2224Mount Scott

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IMG_2249Clark’s nutcracker

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IMG_2282That blue though!

IMG_2290Golden-mantled ground squirrel

IMG_2297Back to where we’d been that morning.

Including our wandering around Rim Village and going the wrong way to start our hike came to 14.4 miles with 2000′ of cumulative elevation gain.

I don’t think we could have asked for better conditions. It only sprinkled for one brief moment and the amount as well as type of clouds added to the beauty instead of hiding it. Add in temperatures that didn’t get much over 50 degrees if that and it was about a perfect day for a hike. We changed our shoes and socks then grabbed lunch in the cafe and did some shopping in the gift shop before heading back to Shady Cove. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Discovery Point and Lightning Spring