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Diamond Peak Area Hiking Trip report

Diamond Peak Loop Day 1 – 08/22/2020

Four of the five remaining featured hikes from William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Cascades” (4th edition) were scattered around Diamond Peak in the Diamond Peak Wilderness. To check these off our to-do list we decided to hike a four day loop around the mountain visiting most of the highlights of those four hikes. We started our trip at the Trapper Creek Trailhead, a trailhead that we were familiar with having started our Yoran Lake hike there in 2014 (post). After crossing some railroad tracks we arrived at the actual trail and set off into the Diamond Peak Wilderness.
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IMG_4155The writing on the sign made us chuckle, it says “If you need a map you should stay home”. All kidding aside you should always carry a map and refer to it as often as necessary.

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Two tenths of a mile from the railroad tracks we arrived at the Yoran Lake/Whitefish Trail junction where we had turned right in 2014. Posted on this sign (as well as before the railroad tracks and on the signboards at the start of the trail) was a notice that the Trapper Creek Bridge was closed due to damage. That was our return route for the final day but we knew there was an established ford so we weren’t too concerned about it.
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We stayed left on the Whitefish Creek Trail which climbed gradually following Trapper Creek.
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IMG_4190Breakfast time.

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While several lakes including Yoran, Karen, and Diamond View drain into Trapper Creek they are seasonal flows yet Trapper Creek was flowing nicely. The main source of water for the creek is a spring between those lakes. As we continued up the Whitefish Trail the sound of running water faded and the forest shifted to dustier lodgepole pine.
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IMG_4203Unnamed lake along the Whitefish Trail

Just under 5 miles from the trailhead we arrived at Diamond View Lake. It had been overcast when we began our hike but the clouds were burning off fast and as we sat at the lake taking a break the clouds lifted and gave us a full view of the east side of Diamond Peak.
IMG_4209Arriving at Diamond View Lake

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IMG_4221Diamond Peak with Mt. Yoran to the right.

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IMG_4240Sharing our break spot with a butterfly

IMG_4252Crossbill near Diamond View Lake

We continued past Diamond View Lake passing a couple small lakes and ponds before arriving at a 4-way junction with the Crater Butte Trail a total of 5.7 miles from the trailhead.
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From the junction the Whitefish Trail continues for 3.9 miles to Crescent Lake. The 13.7 mile Crater Butte Trail starts at the Crater Butte Trailhead on the east side of Odell Lake and passes Fawn and Saddle Lake (post) prior to the junction and then continues on to the Pacific Crest Trail. That was where we were headed so we turned right on the Crater Butte Trail which promptly crossed a mostly dry bed of Whitefish Creek.
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There were some markers along the trail, possibly mile markers and after two miles on this trail we passed the signed junction for the Snell Lake Trail.
IMG_4273Mile marker?

IMG_4277A lone lupine

IMG_4284Nice looking sign for the Snell Lake Trail.

IMG_4285It didn’t look like the Snell Lake Trail sees much use, at least at this end.

Beyond the Snell Lake Trail junction the scenery became a little more green with heather filled alpine meadows and an unnamed lake with a great view of Diamond Peak.
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IMG_4294The heather was all done blooming but there was a lot of dried blossoms.

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IMG_4307The summit of Diamond Peak.

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One and a quarter miles from the Snell Lake junction we crossed the small but pretty Mountain Creek before a short steep climb.
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After the climb the trail returned to its gradual grade with a few ups and downs.
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Just over 5 miles after turning onto the Crater Butte Trail we arrived at the PCT.
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Our plan was to set up camp near the junction as we hoped to summit Diamond Peak the next morning from the PCT before continuing on our loop. With COVID-19 significantly lowering the number of thru hikers we weren’t too concerned about taking spots from them so we picked one a bit off the trail and set up our tent.
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As it wasn’t quite 1:00 yet we could do some exploring after getting camp situated. We briefly contemplated attempting to summit that afternoon but decided against it due to heat and needing water so instead we headed for Rockpile and Marie Lakes by taking the Rockpile Trail which continued across the PCT from the Crater Butte Trail.
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We would be going this way when we continued on our loop but both of the lakes are a bit off the trail and visiting them now gave us the opportunity to relax by the water before turning in for the night. A half mile down the Rockpile Trail on the left we found the signed .1 mile spur trail to Rockpile Lake.
IMG_4350Diamond Peak from the Rockpile Trail

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IMG_4355Rockpile Lake

There were a few camps set up along the south side of the little lake. We decided not to stay long here as kids throwing rocks into the lake might be fun but it isn’t exactly relaxing so after checking it out we returned to the Rockpile Trail and turned left toward Marie Lake. After 110 yards we came to a junction with the Rockpile Trail continuing to the left while a spur trail continued .2 miles to Marie Lake.
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We followed a trail along the south side of the lake to a view of Diamond Peak. While there were people camped here too the lake was bigger and we found a spot along the lake shore to sit and relax.
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From our spot we could see the false summit of Diamond Peak and the route that we would be taking the next morning.
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IMG_4383Hikers on the trail to the right coming down from the false summit.

As the afternoon turned to evening more people showed up including some bathers, some floaters and a couple of skinny dippers. We kept the photos to the non-humans at the lake though.
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IMG_4391Dragon fly

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We had dinner by the lake then pumped water before heading back to our tent. We spent a little time exploring the area around camp and picked some huckleberries before turning in for the night. We had planned on hiking somewhere in the area of 12 miles but we wound up showing 14.3 on our GPS units (they actually agreed this time). It had been a beautiful day, not too warm and pleasantly smokeless given the number of wildfires in California and Oregon. We were hoping that the rest of the trip would be equally nice and turned in looking forward to the next days adventures. Happy trails!

Flickr: Diamond Peak Loop Day 1

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Diamond Peak Area High Cascades Hiking Oregon

Fawn Lake – Diamond Peak Wilderness

A week after scrapping a planned four day backpacking trip in the Diamond Peak Wilderness due to weather we found ourselves heading to that same wilderness because of weather. Our one available day for hiking this week coincided with the one wet day in the forecast. When that happens we usually look at several different areas to find the one with the best chance to stay dry. This time that appeared to be Fawn Lake in the Diamond Peak Wilderness with just a 30% chance of showers. With our plans set we drove to the Fawn Lake Trailhead near Crescent Lake. To reach the trailhead we turned SW onto NF 60 at a sign for Crescent Lake between mileposts 69 and 70 along Highway 58 (in Crescent Junction). After 2.2 miles we continued on NF 60 where it made a right turn at a sno-park. After an additional .3 miles we turned left at a sign for the Crescent Lake Campground/Fawn Lake Trailhead.

It is an interesting trailhead, the parking area is a day use lot located next to the Crescent Lake Campground. A trail sign at the far end of the parking lot pointed to the Fawn Lake Trailhead.
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We followed this path and in a tenth of a mile came to a crossing of NF 60.
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Another pointer for the Fawn Lake Trailhead lay on the far side of the road.
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A short distance later we arrived at a sign for the actual Fawn Lake Trail and a signboard with self-issued wilderness permits.
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The Fawn Lake Trail set off in a mostly lodgepole pine forest and just after a 4-way junction with the Metolious-Windigo Trail entered the Diamond Peak Wilderness.
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After entering the wilderness the trail climbed gradually for approximately three quarters of a mile through a mix of lodgepole and fir forest to a fork.
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This was the start of a loop past Fawn and Pretty Lakes.
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We went right heading for Fawn Lake which was just over 2.5 miles away. The trail contoured around a ridge end climbing gradually through a nice forest.
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The trail split again at Fawn Lake.
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The left fork was the upper end of the loop, but before we started on the loop we had plans to visit a couple of other lakes in the wilderness so we went right stopping briefly to visit the shore of Fawn Lake. We had driven through a number of showers on the way to the trail but so far the hike had been dry. From the lake Redtop Mountain to the SE was cloud free while Lakeview Mountain to the SW was not.
IMG_3047Redtop Mountain

IMG_3048Lakeview Mountain (to the right behind clouds)

We continued on around the north end of the lake to the end of the Fawn Lake Trail at a junction with the Crater Butte Trail.
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Here we stayed left and climbed above Fawn Lake.
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A mile from Fawn Lake we came to the Stag Lake Trail.
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It was clouding up at this point and a light mist was falling. We decided to wait on the side trip to Stag Lake which lay at the base of Lakeview Mountain hoping that it would be a little clearer on the way back.
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We followed the pointer for Saddle Lake and continued uphill through the forest.
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After .6 miles the trail steepened as it climbed out of a gully to a saddle.
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After .3 miles of switchbacks we arrived at the saddle where the trail leveled out for a tenth of a mile to Saddle Lake.
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A steady light rain was now falling but not enough for us to need to break out the rain gear.
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The weather and the scenery really let us know that Fall had arrived.
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After a break at Saddle Lake we headed back to the junction with the Stag Lake Trail and turned left onto it.
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This fairly level .4 mile trail passed a small pond before arriving at Stag Lake.
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The clouds had not lifted so our view of Lakeview Mountain was fairly obscured.
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We would get a much better look at the mountain from the car as we were trying to leave (more on that later).

After visiting Stag Lake we returned to the Crater Butte Trail and headed back toward Fawn Lake. Shortly before reaching the lake we turned right on a path we had noticed earlier hoping to pass around the west side of the lake and hooking up with the Pretty Lake Trail to the SW of the lake.
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The open forest made cross country travel relatively easy.
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Using our GPS we made our way to the SW shore of Fawn Lake where the Pretty Lake Trail was just a few feet away in the forest.
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Once we were on the Pretty Lake Trail we turned right for a fairly level .4 miles to the start of a short .3 mile climb.
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The trial then crested a low pass and descended slightly for another .3 miles to Pretty Lake.
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It was a little under 2 miles from Pretty Lake back to the Fawn Lake Trail junction. The trail descended a ridge with a bit of a view of Odell Butte to the north.
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We completed the loop then followed the Fawn Lake Trail back .8 miles to our car. With the side trips to Saddle and Stag Lakes this was a 12.7 mile hike with approximately 1500′ of elevation gain. It would have been nice to have had better views of Lakeview Mountain, but it was still a nice hike and we have a good excuse to go back and redo this hike someday.

The only real negative to the day was as we were headed home. A train was stopped blocking NF 60 and we were informed that it could be a couple of hours before it was able to move. We didn’t have a sufficient road map to figure out which forest roads might bypass the train and after a failed attempt to find an alternate route we returned to the stopped train and waited. As we were driving around though we noticed that Lakeview Mountain was now entirely free of clouds. After sitting at the tracks for a little over an hour the train was finally on its way and so were we. Happy (train free) Trails!

Flickr: Fawn Lake