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Snowshoe Destination: Crater Lake Snow Camp, OR
Monday, January 06 @ 14:32:59 PST by Drew (1410 reads)
Multi day adventures!Vicinity Location: The trailhead is 95 miles southeast of Eugene, OR in Crater Lake National Park.

From the South (Year Round):
From Medford – Drive 63 miles on Route 62 north and east to the park's west entrance.
From Klamath Falls – Drive 44 miles on Route 97 north to Route 62 north and west to the park's south entrance.

From the North (Winter):
From Roseburg - Drive 113 miles on Route 138 east to Route 230 south to Route 62 east to the park's west entrance.
From Bend – Drive 132 miles on Route 97 south to Route 62 north and west to the park's south entrance.

From the south entrance road, drive about 4 miles on South Entrance Drive and Rim Drive to the parking area west of Crater Lake Lodge. The trailhead is on the west side of the parking lot near the lake.

There are bathrooms near the parking lot.

A National Park entry permit may be required to park at the trailhead, depending on the month.

Operating hours and seasons: Link

A free wilderness permit is required to camp overnight in the park.

Pets are not allowed on this trail.

Length and Elevation:
5.6 miles round trip Elevation gain 1,300 feet and loss of 1,300 feet. Total gain and loss is 2,600 feet. Elevation at the trailhead is about 7,050 feet. Highest point is 7,874 feet. From camp to The Watchman the gain is 1,100 feet and a loss of 400 feet.

Crater Rim Drive.

There are no geocaches along this trail.

Trail Maps:
Topo Map, Download Garmin .gpx file

The Watchman Lookout Station sits 8,025 feet above sea level on Watchman Peak, which is on the western edge of Crater Lake. The lookout was built in 1932 by the CCC and served the dual purpose of fire lookout and trail museum. The Watchman Lookout actually had flushing toilets from the early 1960’s until the late 1970’s. The water was pumped over 1,000 vertical feet from Lightning Spring.

Early fire detection and prompt suppression used to be a primary responsibility of the National Park Service. The Watchman Lookout Station was part of the fire detection network for Crater Lake National Park which included a number of National Park Service, United States Forest Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs lookouts. A trained observer, usually a park ranger, manned the lookout and kept in contact with the fire dispatcher at the park headquarters on short-wave radio. During the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps also provided observers. The National Park Service manned the Watchman Lookout Station each fire season until 1974 and it has been manned intermittently afterwards.

Since the lookout was built, there has been a major change in how wildfires are dealt with. Today many fires in National Parks are left to burn unless the fire threatens life and property. The Watchman Lookout preserves the essential elements of 1930's era fire lookout. The 360 degree panoramic view and the use of native materials that blend the structure into the surrounding landscape combine make the Watchman Lookout Station a unique and historically significant structure. The lookout was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Review: April 13th, 2014.
Before beginning this hike, stop at the Steele visitor center and fill out a wilderness permit which contains the names, addresses, and contact information of all the hikers. The visitors center is about 2.5 miles before the crater rim parking lot. It is also required to turn in your copy of the permit when you finish your trip. The park service will search for overdue hikers.

Spring snow depths along the rim can vary from a few inches to tens of feet depending on how the snow had drifted. The hiking trail begins west of the parking area. Be sure to check out the views to the northwest of the parking area along the rim of the crater. These are some of the nicest views of Crater Lake and Wizard Island

Follow the snow-hidden road west as it drops gently down along and behind the rim. On a sunny day there are great views right at the start of the trip. Llao Rock, a massive rock formation jutting up from the lake for almost 2,000 feet can be seen behind Wizard Island and the named peaks around Crater Lake ramp up into the blue sky.

The number of people soon diminishes after the next viewpoint of the lake. On the way in, we tried to stay close to the rim which means you follow the up and down contours of the rim. Trees grow right up to the edge of the rim but there are plenty of gaps in the tree cover which allow you to gaze at the azure blue of the lake. The wind can really blow at the edge of the rim and be calm just a few steps away. There are some small, steep slopes which can avalanche so be aware of changing conditions. Also be aware there can be cornices at any spot along the rim so exercise extreme care and forethought when approaching the crater rim for a view. If you can’t see a tree between you and the edge, there could be a cornice ahead.

As we snowshoed farther along the rim, we only saw one or two other people. After a couple of miles we didn’t see anyone else. The views are wonderful at many spots along the way. We saw Mt. Shasta and Mt. McLaughlin to the south, Mt. Thielson to the north, and other tall peaks.

We found a place to camp about 400 feet back from the rim with great view to the southeast. Jeremiah and Carissa set up their tent and Johnny set up his tent in the middle of a snow meadow. I made my snow trench near the edge of the meadow. It didn’t take me too long to get the roof on the trench so I could sleep out of the wind. Johnny had a backpacking beer kit from Pat’s Backcountry Beverages and Jeremiah helped read the instructions. The beer was okay but I think bringing some cans for a short trip would be easier. After the beer brewing, we felt pretty warm in the sun and decided there was time for us to climb The Watchman.

Johnny, Jeremiah, and I put out snowshoes back on and headed along the road towards The Watchman. We mostly stayed off the ski tracks but some places were along the narrow tops of snowdrifts that we had to snowshoe on the ski tracks. Some places had tall drifts and other places the wind had blown most of the snow away and spring weather had melted the snow down to the road.

We passed another viewpoint with unobstructed views of the lake and from there we snowshoed along the road up the south side of The Watchman. We climbed steadily for about .8 mile up to a point where we decided to leave the road and head up the ridge towards the lookout tower.

For about .3 mile we travelled up the ridge on a moderate slope where it was easy to pick our way among the trees. We headed towards the southern facing slope. The trees become sparse and we could see Mt. Shasta and all the nearer peaks too.

The last several hundred feet of the slope is pretty steep but the avalanche danger was very low because there hadn’t been any snow for the week. Climbing is slow work at 7,500 feet and I needed a couple of breaks on the way up.

We got to fire lookout but the snow slope facing the lake looked too dangerous to climb. I walked around to the north side and there was an easy snow slope and climb over the railing. From there it was easy to walk to the overlook for fantastic views of the lake and from every side of the lookout.

After taking photos we headed back to camp. It took us about 90 minutes on the trip up and about 60 minutes for the trip back to camp. We got back well before dark but had taken our flashlights as a precaution.

Cooking dinner is always the coldest time of camping but my heavy mittens were really nice to have. I always use my white gas stove in the winter so I melted a lot of snow for dinner and breakfast.

It was getting pretty cold after we finished dinner so it wasn’t long before we retired to our tents and shelters. Since I my snow shelter was open to the weather, I dug a pit, put in my water, and put a lid on top. The full moon made the night bright and I was glad that my snow shelter kept the moon off of my face so I could get a good night’s sleep.

The next morning was 20 degrees and everything outside was covered in frost. I checked on my water and there were some ice crystals but it was mostly unfrozen. I walked around on the hard crust and ventured to the rim for the sunrise. To the right I could see some cornices so I was careful not to venture too close to the edge. I walked around taking in the views until the others woke up.

Things warmed up quickly with the shining and a light breeze in camp and in a couple of hours it was close to freezing. Johnny used a few snow blocks from my snow shelter to make a windbreak for his stove. We had our breakfasts and Johnny made French Press coffee.

It was nice to hang around camp in the sun and after a while, we broke camp and headed back. We didn’t see anyone else until 11:30 and we were pretty close to the parking lot. I stopped for some photos at the rim then joined the group at the car.

We stopped in at the Steele Visitor Center to turn in our permit, use the toilets, and congratulate ourselves on a great trip. From there, it was back on the road, stopping for pizza in Eugene.

Enjoy the photos!!

Gallery Pics

Switchback Steve

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Snowshoe Destination: South Cinder Cone, OR
Friday, February 15 @ 10:51:59 PST by Drew (2297 reads)
Winter snowshoeing informationDirections:
From Portland, take I-5 south for about 46 miles, driving through Salem.

Take exit 253 for OR-22 E toward Detroit Lake/Bend 0.3 mile.
Turn left onto OR-22 E/Mission St SE, crossing over I-5 and continue to follow OR-22 E for 65 miles.

Turn left onto Marion Creek Rd. The road is just before Marion Creek and is easy to miss. It is 4.5 miles from Hwy 22 to the trailhead. The road is not plowed. Drive to where you will be able to get back out if it snows during the trip, and park.

A Northwest Forest Pass may be required. There is no fee during winter.

Outhouse at the trailhead.

Length and Elevation:
12.6 miles round trip. From the trailhead to camp is 6.3 miles and an elevation gain of 3,000 feet with an elevation loss of 100 feet.

Marion Lake Trail #3436, Lake of the Woods Trail #3493,with connection to the PCT trail #2000.

Trail Maps:
Topo Map, Download Garmin .gpx file

Review: April 13, 2013
The four of us drove up the road until the snow prevented us from going any farther. Since it was dark, we decided to walk up to the trailhead and set up our tents. We walked less than .25 mile and reached the trailhead. Some of us camped on snow and some on wet forest duff.

I hadn’t brought a tent and Jerimiah offered me a spot in his tent, which I gladly accepted. The sleet turned to snow and we were snug in our bags until Jerimiah heard a noise and shined his flashlight onto a rat. It must spend its nights looking for camper’s food. We didn’t have any food in the tent or in our backpacks, but Jerimiah finally pulled his backpack into the tent to get it away from the rat. The rat was pretty bold and hung around for about an hour. I woke up imagining the rat had found my food bag and chewed a hole in it and had contaminated all my food. I hurried out to check my food and it was untouched. During breakfast Jerimiah told about the rat but no one else had seen or heard any trace of it.

The snow had stopped and we made breakfast and packed. Happily for me, I used the pit toilet instead of having to use the “blue bag” for the day.

We walked up the Marion Lakes Trail because the first part of the trail had mostly melted out. The trail is well maintained and not very muddy. The snow on the trail got deeper as we slowly gained elevation. We reached Ann Lake after walking 1.5 miles. We met a couple of guys drinking beer and looking for a spot to fish. The wanted to walk up to Marion Lake, but soon after the lake, we needed to put our snowshoes on and they turned back. We needed to be careful to keep to the side of the trail because water running down the trail had thinned the snow and we stepped through a couple of times.

The snow started blowing as we made our way up to Marion Lake, which is about 2.2 miles from the trailhead. The lake was pretty much frozen over with a layer of snow covering most of the lake. I don’t think the fishermen would have been able to fish at the lake if they had been able to walk to its shore.

To follow the trail, walk through the woods to the far shore of the lake and follow the shore southeast for about .3 mile to the junction with Lake of the Woods trail.

Head north, away from the lake generally following the contour of the land, slowly gaining elevation and entering an area burned by the B&B fire. The fire burned about 95,000 acres in 2003. It looks like a lot of the burned trees have fallen over during the storms of the past decade and the silver forest is fairly open. Coming into the stream valley, continue uphill until finding a good place to cross the stream. Continuing to follow along the ridge, head generally east for about a mile.

In the burned-out area, we found a fallen log for lunch and hoped the clouds would clear. We talked about the hike and what was the best route to take to where we wanted to camp. The waypoint for our lunch was N44 34.534 W121 50.465.

From lunch, the path became steeper. We first climbed a pretty steep, though fairly short slope and continued to follow the ridgeline. Though we couldn’t see the cone, Justin knew the general direction and we continued generally heading east but curving to the south. After lunch we moved out of the charred trees of the B&B fire.

As we continued to climb among the clouds, we used the compass and GPS to head in the general direction of the cinder  cone. We wove through the trees, picking our way through spaces in the trees. There were a few short, steep places but they were in the trees so the avalanche danger was very low.

At about 6,200 feet, we found some good breaks in the trees to contour around the lower slopes of the cone. We had found an alley through the trees and it made for easy travelling. The snow had a thick crust and it was easy to walk.

We scouted around for a camp and backtracked to a flat area that had trees to block the wind a bit.I started my igloo and the rest set up their tents. Jerimiah picked the windiest spot and you could see his tent flapping a lot.

I made a bigger than normal igloo so we could get inside and the construction took about 2 ½ hours. It kept me warm while the others mostly kept to their tents to stay warm. I got done about 5:30 and Justin decided to help build a snow wall to help shield Jerimiah’s tent.

They used extra blocks from the igloo and cut additional blocks for a while. We  talked a bit while we made dinner but most of the time was spent in our shelters.

I spent a quiet night only hearing a bit of wind on occasion. The wind died down during the night but the clouds remained. We still couldn’t see much the next morning as we made breakfast.

We decided that our route as pretty good so we followed it back as best we could. Sometimes we could see our tracks and other times not. The map shows the terrain as relatively gentle, but there is a very steep slope to the south of our track and boulder fields.

Once we reached our Saturday lunch spot, the slopes were pretty gentle. We found our stream crossing without a problem. The sunlight and clouds made interesting patterns with the trees which are a mix of silver-grey and charcoal black. All the small branches have been burned away and only the skeletal frameworks of the trees remain. From our lunch spot, it was easy to navigate back to Marion Lake. We alternated wearing snowshoes and carrying them.

Marion Lake was mostly frozen over but seemed to have a couple of interesting patterns which we think were made by water upwelling and keeping the ice from forming a thick layer. We walked the rocky trail above the lake, then continued through a flat forested area for just a couple tenths of a mile then traverses back across the steep slope. Even though I tried to avoid walking over the trail, I still fell through in a spot up to my hips. The rest of the group navigated the slope without plunging through to the trail.

Back in the forest the slope lessened and walking became easier. The trees help shield the trail from high snow ac*****ulations. We soon came back to the shores of Lake Ann which looks like it stays unfrozen during the winter.

We carefully negotiated the logs at the outfall of the lake and went back into the woods. There were still deep patches of snow where you step into a footprint thinking it will hold, only to posthole up to your knee. Those patches lasted about .5 mile and from there it was a pretty easy walk. We enjoyed finishing up our trip on a trail that has a nice consistent grade downhill for the last mile.

We got back to the pit toilet about 2 in the afternoon and I enjoyed not having to use a blue bag on the trip. We met a couple of people going for a day hike, but other than the two people we saw on the first day, we had the wilds to ourselves.

I hope we can see some mountains on the next trip. The scenery should be fantastic on a clear day. Thanks to Justin for organizing this trip to a quiet place of solitude and snow.

Enjoy the photos!!

Gallery Pics

Switchback Steve

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Snowshoe Destination: Barlow Butte, OR
Friday, February 15 @ 10:47:32 PST by Drew (2432 reads)
Winter snowshoeing informationDirections:
From Portland take I-84 East to the Wood Village, exit (16A). Head south and turn left onto NE Burnside Rd. Heading East, Burnside will merge into Highway 26. Follow Hwy 26 past Government Camp and exit on Highway 35 to Hood River. Follow Hwy 35 for about 2.7 miles. Turn right into the Barlow Pass Snow Park.

A Snow Park permit is required during the snow season. No permit is needed in the summer months.

No outhouses are available at the parking lot. The closest bathrooms are at White River West parking lot or Government Camp.

Length and Elevation: 5.9 Miles roundtrip, Elevation gain totals 1,800 Feet. Elevation at the trailhead is 4,150 feet. Highest point is at 5,070 feet. Lowest elevation is 3,900 feet. 

Barlow Road, Barlow Butte Trail, Mineral Jane Trail, with connections to the Pacific Crest Trail #2000.

Trail Maps:
Topo Map, Download Garmin .gpx file

Review: February 1, 2013, March 3, 2013
Walk east across the parking lot and to the Pacific Crest Trail and the Barlow Road. Walk northeast a bit until you reach the Barlow Road, which heads downhill. Walk about 150 feet farther, looking for the Mineral Jane Ski Trail, the Barlow Creek Trail, and the Barlow Butte Trail #670 off to the left. Follow this trail downhill, looking for blue diamond signs marking the trail.

Follow along this trail as it drops down to a tail junction sign for the Mineral Jane Ski Trail and Barlow Butte Trail. Turn left at the signpost. Continuing straight takes you the wrong way, descending towards Devils Half Acre.

From the signpost, the trail climbs a bit, crosses a small creek, and then steadily gains elevation for about .25 mile and reaches a sign for the Mineral Jane Ski Trail and Barlow Butte Trail. Continue straight ahead on the Mineral Jane Ski Trail through the moss-draped Hemlock forest. The trail should be easy to find, though you may not always be able to see blue diamond markers.

Now you’ve gotten far enough from Hwy 35 so that you can barely hear the traffic. The sound of your snowshoes crunching through the snow masks out the low-level traffic noise. The trail crosses a low saddle then drops down and joins a Forest Service road. Walk along the sweeping turns of the Forest Service road as it gently loses elevation. Right at a mile from the trailhead, a nice view of Mt.Hood is off to the left.

Walk a bit farther to a T-junction at a Forest Road There is a blue diamond with a black arrow pointing to the left. Turn right at the junction and begin walking very gently uphill. The trail here is mostly level for about the first.25 mile, then steepens as you climb up the lower shoulders of Barlow Butte.

Continue steadily gaining elevation as you head east. Walking along the road you pass many spectacular views of Mt. Hood, looking across the White River Valley. About 1.6 miles from the trailhead, you pass a small mountain stream tumbling down the mountainside, going under the road, and continuing downhill to join the White River.

The trees are beginning to change from Hemlocks to Noble Fir. This section appears to be protected from the east winds by a nearby ridge, thus allowing moss to drape down from the tree branches.

You might think that trails lose elevation as you walk away from Mt. Hood, but Barlow Butte Trail steadily gains elevation going away from Mt. Hood.

The trail continues to climb for a couple of miles, rounds a bend, and begins to descend. A few hundred feet farther and you reach a point about 2.6 miles from the trailhead. Look for a break in the trees, angling up and to the right. This is a tree-lined snow-covered forest road which you walk on for a few hundred feet. Head towards a large meadow that is ahead on your left. After reaching a big meadow, navigate along the top of the meadow, gently turning to the left and sidehill for about .3 mile, crossing over a very gentle saddle so that the uphill side is on your right before the saddle, and the uphill side is on your left after the saddle.

Be sure not to lose elevation as you sidehill towards Barlow Ridge. You will reach a pointed rock butte jutting from the ridgetop. The easiest way to get around this first butte is to skirt it on the left, following the snow around the rock.

Continue along the ridge to the second butte. You will need to switchback down through the forest on the right side, losing about 50 to 100 feet in elevation. Once you’ve gotten past the butte, there is a nice place to take a well deserved break, with a view of Mt. Hood as a reward. Barlow Butte is not far from here.

Start climbing along the ridge, with views of Mt. Jefferson to the south and Mt. Hood to the west. The ridge is exposed and can have large cornices on the right side. Stay to the left side of the ridge to avoid walking on any cornices and continue up the slope, entering the woods just below the butte. Looking back you can see the two promontories you passed earlier, one up high on a rocky slope, and the closer one jutting up out of the forest.

Near the top of the butte, look for any clearings off to the right and head in that direction. You will find nice views of the Forest road you came up on, the route you followed along the ridge, and the White River Valley.

You will want to head back into the woods, looking for the highest point of the ridge. After a bit of a walk, you should be able to find Barlow Butte, which is a snow-covered rock dome which stands just a bit higher than the rest of the ridge.

Now that you’ve reached the apex, the next goal is to get back to the car safely. Continue following the ridge for about 500 feet, and it begins to drop down with increasing steepness. Pick a good point to leave the ridge, cut left across the face of Barlow Butte. The woods here are fairly open and you can choose where to switchback and mostly avoid any brushy areas.

As the slope decreases, it becomes more difficult to pick out any ridgeline to follow. A compass heading of North by Northwest (about 330°) will allow you to bushwhack through the open forest, back down to the Mineral Jane ski Trail. Turn left here, retracing your steps past the junction with the Barlow Butte trail and back down the bridge over the small stream.

The last quarter mile feels like a mile because the trail climbs steadily the whole way back to the parking lot. Eventually you reach the sign for the Mineral Ski Trail and the Barlow Butte Trail #670. From here, snowshoe up the Barlow Road Trail for about 150 feet and take the junction to the left. The junction is easy to spot if you keep a lookout for it and it leads up and away from the Barlow Road. Soon you’ll reach the junction for Barlow Road and the Pacific Crest Trail. It is just a short walk west back to the parking lot.

This trail is moderately used, which is surprising because of the very low avalanche danger and the great views. You can turn this into an out-and-back trip by turning around at the alpine meadow and retracing your steps.

Happy Trails,
Switchback Steve

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Snowshoe Destination: Mazama - Narada Loop, WA
Thursday, November 03 @ 08:36:28 PDT by Drew (6067 reads)
Winter snowshoeing informationVicinity Location:
About 15 miles east of Ashford, WA in Mt. Rainier National Park.

From Seattle, take I-5 South to Hwy 512 East and go towards Puyallup (Exit 127). Follow Hwy 512 East for about 2 miles. Turn south onto Hwy 7 towards Mt. Rainier. Follow Hwy 7 south to Elbe. At Elbe, turn left onto Hwy 706, travel through Ashford, and then to the Nisqually entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park. Now, follow the last paragraph of the directions.

From Portland, take I-5 North and take exit 68 to Hwy 12. Take Hwy 12 for about 30 miles to Morton. Turn left into Morton on Hwy 7 and drive about 17 miles to Hwy 706. Turn right on Hwy 706 and drive to the Nisqually entrance on the west side of Mt. Rainier National Park. The drive take about 3 1/4 hours.

Paradise trailhead:
Peak weekends: Once you are in the park, continue about 18 miles on the Longmire-Paradise Road. If you are in the park by 9am then you can follow the signs and probably park at the Paradise Inn parking lot. Barn Flats Trailhead Parking is 2.2 miles past Narada Falls on the right. In the winter the road between Longmire and Paradise can open as late as 10am. The road opens earlier if little snow has fallen the previous night.

National Park entrance fee must be paid to enter Mt. Rainier National Park.

No pets or bikes allowed on trails within the National Park.

Flush toilets available near the parking lot, near Paradise Inn and at Jackson Memorial Visitor Center.

Avalanche Evaluation Information

Length and Elevation:
4.4 miles round trip. Elevation gain 1,130 feet and loss 1,130 feet round trip. Elevation at the trailhead at 5,400 feet, highest point is at 5,800 feet. Lowest elevation is 4,800 feet. The Jackson Memorial Visitors Center is elevation 5,400 feet.

Paradise Valley Road, Mazama Ridge Trail, and Narada Falls Trail with connections to Barn Flats Trail. Note, these trails have different names in the summer.

Trail Maps:
Topo MapNational Park Service MapNational Park Winter MapDownload Garmin .gpx file-Early Winter Route, Download Garmin .gpx file-Late Winter Route

Review: March 24th, 2012
Before going on this trip, click here to check the NW Avalanche Center or ask a Park Ranger when entering the park, at the Longmire museum, or at the visitor’s center at Paradise. If avalanche danger is higher than moderate then evaluate conditions very carefully before taking this trip. There are two small exposed slopes and one long avalanche runout encountered between Paradise Valley Road and Mazama Ridge.

 When driving past Ashford keep an eye out for elk. I saw a herd of about 15 elk grazing on the left side of the road. I thought I could get some pictures but the elk turned skittish as I stopped, so I drove away so they wouldn’t run off. When I got to Longmire the road was already open for the day and the pavement looked like I didn’t need cable chains, so I drove up to Paradise.

The weather wasn’t as nice as I had hoped for but the clouds were high and the winds were low. I strapped on my showshoes and headed down Paradise Road admiring the snow clad Tatoosh mountains.

After .6 mile turn off the road at waypoint LVRD, N46° 47.408’ W121° 43.601’. The spot to leave the road and turn uphill is where the road makes a sweeping turn of about 90°, just after crossing Paradise River, and passing a small clump of trees on the left. Head up 4th Crossing Trail keeping close to the uphill trees when possible. On the way up I noticed two showshoers turning off the road before Paradise River. That route forces you to cross an avalanche slope.

I went uphill, keeping mostly to the trees to avoid avalanche danger. Continuing towards Mazama Ridge the trail passes a couple of small exposed areas and comes out to a flat area. I headed towards the trees at the end of the flat area, and then proceeded uphill to the right, towards Mazama Ridge. On the way up, I looked back and saw the 2 snowshoers heading towards me and about to cross an avalanche slope. Later in the day, I met these two snowshoers, Frank and Kip.

Walking through the small copses of trees was enchanting. A warm wind had blew the day before and made thousands of glistening icicles on all the trees. After leaving the road and walking about .6 mile I passed the trees and reached the ridge.

From the ridge I had expansive views of the Tatoosh Range and what I could see of Mt. Rainier. I headed down the ridge, enjoying the mountain views. The weather deteriorated a bit and it started to snow lightly. It was beautiful with filtered sun mixing with the snowflakes.

I walked generally southwest and found a place for lunch. I stopped by some fox tracks, hoping to see some wildlife. The only wildlife I saw was Kip and Frank snowshoeing down a draw towards Reflection Lakes. 

I headed down towards Narada Falls, meeting several people heading up the ridge. I passed the campsite where a friend and I had been 3 weeks ago and there wasn’t a trace of our camp. The snow wall that Kevin had built was completely obliterated. 

By now several people had tramped out a path down the ridge for me to follow. After walking down the ridge about 1.8 miles I reached the junction to Reflection Lakes. From here the descent steepens down to Paradise Valley Road. Once I got down to Paradise Valley Road I used my GPS to find the Narada Trail. I had to wander around a bit, but I found the footbridge over Paradise River. I walked carefully on the untrodden snow bridge and rejoined the trail. From there I headed up to Barns Flat where I waited for the weather to clear but those stubborn clouds kept hanging around. 

I walked back to the trailhead at Paradise and the sun came out. I went back down Paradise Valley Road to get more photos and met two snowshoers who offered to take my picture. It turned out to be Kip and Frank, who I had seen in the morning and just before noon. 

What a coincidence that I would have seen these two men three different times in the same day. They snowshoed an out-and-back to Reflection Lakes. 

We traded contact information and I hope to go hiking with them sometime. 

Enjoy the photos!!

Gallery Pics

Switchback Steve

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Snowshoe Destination: Paradise River Snowcamp, WA
Thursday, November 03 @ 08:34:15 PDT by Drew (4869 reads)
Winter snowshoeing information
Vicinity Location: 61 miles  southeast of Seattle in Mt. Rainier National Park.

From Portland, take I-5 North and take exit 68 to Hwy 12. Take Hwy 12 for about 30 miles to Morton. Turn left on Hwy 7 and drive about 17 miles to Hwy 706. Turn right on Hwy 706 and drive to the Nisqually entrance on the west side of Mt. Rainier National Park. Drive about three miles from the entrance and cross the bridge over Kautz Creek. Continue to Longmire and take a right turn just after the lodge. Drive about .1 mile and park on the right.

From Seattle, take I-5 South to Hwy 512 East and go towards Puyallup (Exit 127). Follow Hwy 512 East for about 2 miles. Turn south onto Hwy 7 towards Mt. Rainier. Follow Hwy 7 south to Elbe. At Elbe, turn left onto Hwy 706, travel through Ashford, and then to the Nisqually entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park. Drive about three miles from the entrance and cross the bridge over Kautz Creek. Continue to Longmire and take a right turn just after the lodge. Drive about .1 mile and park on the right in the parking lot.

Flush toilets are available at Longmire.

Pets aren’t allowed on National Park trails.

National Park Entrance fee of $15.00 or Annual Pass is required to enter the park.

Length and Elevation:
7.5 miles round trip. Elevation gain 555 feet and 30 feet loss. Total gain and loss is 1,170 feet. Elevation at the trailhead is 3,165 feet, the high point of the trail is 3,920 feet.

Wonderland Trail. Connections to Trail of Shadows, Rampart Ridge Trail.

Trail Maps:
Topo MapNational Park Service MapDownload Garmin .gpx file

Review: February 18, 2012
This is a great snowshoe trip to take when the road to Paradise is closed. However the log bridge over the Nisqually River by Cougar Rock Campground is washed out during the winter about 2 of every 5 years. Make sure the log bridge is in before going on this trip.

From the Longmire museum, walk across the road towards the gate across the road. Look for the Wonderland Trail which is about 30 feet to the right of the road. There is a junction of the Wonderland Trail in a few hundred feet where you will continue straight ahead. The trail goes gently uphill through the woods between the road and the Nisqually River. Sometimes the trail is close to the road, other time it is close to the river. 

Since the road is closed then there will only be administrative vehicles and plows on the road. Lucky for us no plows came by when we were close to the road. I would hate to be plastered by wet snow from a plow.  

After about 1.5 miles the trail passes a junction to Cougar Rock Campground. Continue  straight, keeping on the Wonderland Trail. In about .2 mile the trail drops down to cross the Nisqually River.    

Once across the Nisqually, look for where Paradise River joins the Nisqually. The trail is on the left side of Paradise River, about 50 feet from the river. Walk up a slope to the bench above the river and enjoy one of the few flat areas of the trail. This nice stroll lasts about .25 mile and then the trail starts to climb and in almost no time, you’re climbing along Paradise River, enjoying the views of the mountain slopes and the river below. 

As the trail climbs the hill, it passes an old wood-stave water pipe. The pipe is covered with metal bands. This pipe supplied water to a powerplant that was once on the bank of the Nisqually. There used to be powerlines across the Nisqually, but have been removed.  

In about .6 mile from the Nisqually and  600 feet higher, you reach Carter Falls. Though it is a bit hard to see, it sounds wonderful. From the falls, walk just a bit farther to Madcap Falls. This is more a steeply sloping riverbed than a waterfall but you have a great view of it. The steep trail is mostly past and the trail soon passes little side streams and wet areas where the standing water keeps the snow melted. 

Watch out for places where the snow hides voids. There won't be many that a snowshoe will fall into but walkers could well find some nasy step-through places.

In about .5 mile farther, the trail crosses the first of three strong bridges. The third bridge crosses the largest branch of Paradise River. I can remember hiking through this area in the summer before these bridges were built. These bridges have to be really strong because of the weight of winter snows. 

Soon after crossing the last bridge, the trail curves to the left around a large fir tree. Paradise River Camp is off to the right and back towards Paradise River a bit. If you want to find the camp, look for the bear pole which is left up all year. 

After enjoying the winter scenery, retrace your steps, taking time to look at the interplay of the snow on the tree bark or the texture of lichen on the rocks. Be careful about going off trail becaus of voids under the snow. I found a hole along the rive over eight feet deep.

 This is a wonderful snowshoe trip because of all the water along the trail. Avalanche danger is low along this section of the Wonderland Trail. There is just one bare slope to watch for avalanches.

Enjoy the photos!!

Gallery Pics
Switchback Steve

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Random Photos
From: Dalles Mountain Ranch, WA

From: Dog Mountain June 2002

From: Eagle Peak, WA

Wahkeena Falls cascades down the basalt cliffs in the Columbia River Gorge.
Wahkeena Falls cascades down the basalt cliffs in the Columbia River Gorge.
From: Devil's Rest via Wahkeena Falls

This creek flows into Paradise River. The rocks make a nice pattern in the creek. I could stay around here all day.
This creek flows into Paradise River. The rocks make a nice pattern in the creek. I could stay around here all day.
From: Paradise River Snowcamping

Previous Articles
Monday, November 22
· Paradise Valley Road Snowshoe, WA
Thursday, January 21
· Trillium Lake, OR
Friday, March 13
· Newton Creek, OR
Tuesday, December 09
· Twin Lakes, OR
Wednesday, February 27
· Mt. Hood, OR
Tuesday, May 01
· Barlow Pass, OR
Sunday, March 19
· Snowshoe up White River 3-19-06
Sunday, March 12
· June Lake Snowshoe, WA
Monday, March 06
· Narada Falls to Reflection Lakes, WA - via road
Wednesday, February 23
· White River Snowshoe, Ski, Bushwhack, OR
Thursday, February 26
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