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Dayhikes: Burnt Lake Trail, OR
Tuesday, August 12 @ 14:38:46 PDT by (75 reads)
Day hikes in the Northwest.Drew writes "
Vicinity Location: 44 miles east of Portland in the Mt. Hood National Forest.

Directions:
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 for 26.8 miles to Zigzag. When you drive past Welches, you are getting close to Lolo Pass Road. East Lolo Pass Road is just after the Hoodland Fire Station and Salmon River Road, which are both on the right and the Zigzag Mountain Store on the left. Turn left onto E. Lolo Pass Road and follow the twisty paved road for about 4.2 miles and turn right onto a paved Forest Road 1825, just a little past the end of the road maintenance sign.

About 4.9 miles from Hwy 26, turn right and cross over the Sandy River. At about 5.3 miles is a brown road sign. Continue straight, towards the Ramona Falls Trailhead, passing the junction on the right.

At 6.6 miles is another junction and sign for the Ramona Falls Trailhead. Turn right at the junction with Forest Service Road 1825 and continue on the single lane paved road for about 1.6 miles. These last 1.6 miles of the road have some incredible potholes that will cause you to creep through them.

The gravel parking area isn’t very big and looks like it fills up on nice weekend days.

Northwest Forest Park permits are required and a wilderness permit needs to be filled out.

There is a seasonal bathroom at the trailhead.

Length and Elevation:
Elevation at the trailhead is 2,454 feet, distance 9.5 miles roundtrip, Gain of 2,352 feet and loss of 319 feet to the summit. Total elevation gain of 2,550 feet, total loss of 2,550 feet.

Trail:
Burnt Lake Trail #772, East Zigzag Mtn Trail. Connections to Zigzag Mountain Trail #775.

There is at least one geocache for this trail at: N 45° 21.086 W 121° 48.093 Info at Geocaching.com.

Trail Maps:
Topo Map - future, Download Garmin .gpx file - future

Review: August 17, 2014
This is one of the most popular trails on the west side of Mt. Hood so be prepared to meet plenty of people and their dogs.

The Wilderness Permit box is just a couple hundred feet down the trail and you are required to fill out a permit and post part of the permit on your pack.

The first 1.5 miles of this trail is a delightful walk on a gently climbing, wide trail through second growth forest of hemlock and cedar with undergrowth that varies between bunchberries, apple clover, elderberries, vanilla leaf, ferns, huckleberry bushes, and other bushes that don’t get very tall. The fairly dense canopy the trail has slanting shafts of sunlight piercing the canopy and scattering across the trail. Lost Creek makes a nice sound off to the right that is never really out of earshot and mountain ridges protect the trail from any highway noise.

Cross a small creek then start climbing more steeply up along a hillside where the trail breaks out of the forest for a short stretch then goes back under the tree-cover. Along the way there is a junction leading down to an overlook of a small cascading waterfall.

Just before reaching the lake, there is a junction on the left that leads to a user path to campsites around the lake. Walk along this for some views of the lake walking farther around Burnt Lake, there are some other small ponds past the far side of the lake but they aren’t noteworthy.

Come back to the junction and continue about .1 mile to the next junction. Take the trail to the left for a short distance for places where you can walk down to the lake. The nicest views of Mt. Hood are from this side, the west side, of the lake.

Go back to the junction for East Zigzag Mountain and turn left to take you uphill. The trail ascends gently for a bit, then the trail steepens, crosses a couple of small creeks, then climbs up about a dozen switchbacks, and reaches the junction of Zigzag Mountain Trail. Continue to the right and walk up the steep and rocky trail follows the ridgeline up to another junction. The trees are becoming sparse along this section of the trail and there are mostly obscured views that can be seen through the trees.

It doesn’t take long before you come out of the trees and walk along the edge of a cliff to another junction. Continue along the ridgeline up the steep slope to the rocky top of East Zigzag Mountain. On a clear day there are great views of Mt. Hood and Burnt Lake. Enjoy the views from a shady spot, then return the way you came.

Enjoy the photos!

Gallery Pics

Switchback Steve

"

(Read More... | Dayhikes | Score: 0)

Dayhikes: Yoc-um Ridge, OR
Tuesday, August 12 @ 14:37:58 PDT by (72 reads)
Day hikes in the Northwest.Drew writes "Notice: 8/13/14 - A severe thunderstorm swelled streams on Mt. Hood and washed out the bridge over the Sandy River. One person on the bridge was swept away and died according to local news sources. This trail is not suitable for inexperienced hikers at this time. Trip reports show that fallen trees have been used to cross. The river can swell to uncrossable levels on hot or rainy days.

Vicinity Location:
The trailhead is about 42 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon in the Mt. Hood National Forest

Directions:
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 for 26.8 miles to Zigzag. When you drive past Welches, you are getting close to Lolo Pass Road. East Lolo Pass Road is just after the Hoodland Fire Station and Salmon River Road, which are both on the right and the Zigzag Mountain Store on the left. Turn left onto E. Lolo Pass Road and follow the twisty paved road for about 4.2 miles and turn right onto a paved road, just a little past the end of the road maintenance sign. 

About 4.9 miles from Hwy 26, turn right and cross over the Sandy River. At about 5.3 miles is a brown road sign. Continue straight, towards the Ramona Falls Trailhead, passing the junction on the right. 

At 6.6 miles is another junction and sign for the Ramona Falls Trailhead. Turn left at the junction with Forest Service Road 1825 and continue on the single lane paved road. Watch out for some fairly big potholes in the pavement.

The road leads to a large gravel parking area. The trailhead is on the right side of the parking area.

A wilderness permit is required. The free self-registration for a wilderness permit is about 200 feet from the trailhead along the trail.

Bathrooms are available in the summer.

A Northwest Forest Park permit is required to park here.

The access road to this road is closed during the winter.

Length and Elevation:
19 miles roundtrip, elevation gain 4,000 feet and loss 370. Total gain and loss is 8,740-feet. Trailhead elevation is 2,450 feet, Ramona Falls is at xx feet. The high point of the trail is 5,960 feet.

Trail:
Ramona Falls Loop Trail #797, Yo***** Ridge Trail #771,Timberline Trail #600 and overlapping with the Pacific Crest Trail #2000.

There is at least one geocache for this trail at: N 45° 23.215 W 121° 49.876 Info at Geocaching.com.

Trail Maps:
Map - Future, Download Garmin .gpx file - future

Review: August 8, 2014
The trail enters the woods and leads past the Wilderness area registration box. The wide trail comes out to the bank of the Sandy River. You can see evidence of erosion and undercutting. Don’t venture too close to the edge of the bank. It could collapse if you get too near the edge.

After walking along the river, the trail comes to a crossing of the Sandy River. The old bridge has been washed out and now there is a  seasonal bridge which is removed in the late fall.

In 2011 there were a couple of downed trees that could be used for crossing the stream. Au-natural log crossings become dangerous after the tree has been dead a couple of years because the bark can suddenly, and without warning, slough off when you walk across the log. If the seasonal bridge is gone, the logs are gone, or crossing on the logs is too dangerous, then the creek is about a knee-deep ford. You can’t see the bottom of the stream because of the glacial silt.

Continue upstream about .25 mile to the junction of Ramona Falls Loop and the Pacific Crest Trail. Turn left at this junction and continue up the trail. The trail to the right is the return trail.

After walking about .5 mile through the pleasant forest, over Ramona Creek, and along the gently rolling landscape, you come to another junction, JCRF1, on the Ramona Falls Trail. Turn right and walk past a horse gate, a fence built to stop horses, and continue just a few hundred feet farther along, to another trail junction. A small trail leads off to the left to a hiker bridge over the Muddy Fork of the Sandy River and then to the Pacific Crest Trail. From the junction, the main trail continues southeast towards Ramona Falls gaining only about 400 feet in the next mile. The trail parallels Ramona Creek for much of the next mile, crossing over the creek a couple of times. The creek may be the prettiest in the fall when the golden leaves fall along the trail and into the stream.

The trail passes a junction to the Timberline Trail just before Ramona Falls. Just downstream of Ramona Falls is a very nice log bridge over the creek. On the other side of the bridge is an area that has been trampled of most vegetation but is a lovely spot to watch the falling water.

The 120 foot waterfall cascades down a blocky basalt cliff and the water fans out across the face of the falls. This cascading water makes a wonderful sound and with the water falling down the rocks there is a below average amount of spray from the falls which allows you to linger near the falls without getting soaked from the spray.

Crossing back over the bridge, walk a couple hundred feet to the junction to the Timberline Trail and turn right, heading uphill. In about .2 mile is the junction to the right for the Yo***** Ridge Trail. Turning right, you walk along the side of the ridge and continue to gain elevation.

At about 6.5 miles from the trailhead you come to another big boulder field where you get a glimpse of Mt. Hood and the Sandy River off to your right. At 7 miles you pass by a small mountain stream where you could get water. It looks like you could camp here but there is a no camping sign on a tree. Take a break at the edge of the small meadow then continue up the trail.

The trail continues to gently climb and you go to the north side of the ridge.  Just before it bends back into the trees there are nice views of Mt. Adams, Mt.Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens.  Soon the trail goes back across the ridge and switchbacks to gain elevation. After climbing for a half mile you pass by the base of the boulder slope. The trail makes a large switchback and crosses right at the top of the boulder field which provides a view to the northwest. Though there are no mountain peaks from the boulder field, there are forested ridges fading of into the distance.

After walking for about 8 miles, the trail comes out of the trees and crosses sloping mountain meadows and the magnificence of the views increase with every bend in the trail. You soon pass a junction on the left and come to a precipice with views into the Sandy River canyon. From here you can see some nice waterfalls and glaciers hanging on Mt. Hood. As with many places on Mt. Hood, you will be visited with the biting black flies during most of the summer. The best you can do is not stop too long or too often and find resting spots in the breeze.

If you want to take in the fantastic views and make this your final destination, you can turn around here or if you desire, walk back to the junction, take the right fork and make your way along the meadow. Soon the trail starts dropping down to go underneath a rocky cliff then loops across the face of the ridge and bends around to more spectacular views of Mt. Hood. This is another good choice for a turnarouind spot. From here the trail climbs fairly steeply near the spine of the ridge.

Finally you get to a nice spot after working you way across a treacherous little ridge. There is a small mountain meadow here. You can hear streams in the distance and nearby you can see the Sandy Glacier to the right and the Elliot Glacier on the left side of the ridge.

From the top of the ridge, you can work your way down some snowfields and rocks to where melted snow comes out, then follow the stream to where it passes through a wildflower meadow and cascades down a rock face. From there, keep fairly level and follow the valley past some nice flat areas which are good for camping sites. You should find a way trail that will take you through a rock field and allow you to scramble up the hill a bit and reconnect with the trail.

The rest of the review will be coming soon.

Link to Photos

Switchback Steve



"

(Read More... | Dayhikes | Score: 0)

Dayhikes: Dillon Falls, OR
Monday, April 28 @ 09:26:15 PDT by (250 reads)
Day hikes in the Northwest.Drew writes "
Vicinity Location: The trailhead is about 125 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon in the Deschutes National Forest. 

Directions:
From Portland, drive to Bend, about 175 miles. From Bend, drive south onto Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway passing through several traffic circles. After the last traffic circle, continue on Cascade Lakes Highway / SW Century Dr for about 5 miles.

Turn left onto Dillon Falls Rd / NF-41 and continue for 2.6 miles.

Turn left onto Forest Road 4120 for .5 mile, and take the left fork to head south for 1 mile on Forest Road 4120 100. The road leads to a parking area just upstream from the falls.

There is a restroom at the trailhead.

From May 1 through September 30 $5 daily permit or a Northwest Forest pass is required. No on-site purchase for permits. No permits are needed to park between October 1st and June 30.

Dogs are allowed and have to be on-leash from May 15th to September 15th.

Trail:

Deschutes River Trail.

There is no geocache on this trail, but there is farther up the Deschutes River Trail.

Trail Maps:
Topo MapDownload Garmin .gpx file

Length and Elevation:
1.3 miles roundtrip. Elevation at the trailhead is 4,050 feet. Elevation gain totals 100 feet. Total gain and loss is 200 feet. Highest elevation is 4,050 feet. 

Review: April 17, 2014.
Dillon Falls was named after Leander Dillon, a homesteader from the late 1800’s. The trail goes north towards Dillon Falls with a short side-trail to the river’s edge. Here the river spits water into the air during the spring runoffs. The river races over a series of small waterfalls and quickly drops about 10 and into a narrow canyon. Over the next quarter mile the river drops about 50 feet more. Follow the trail along the rim of the cliff as the Deschutes River is squeezed into a quarter-mile long chasm that is 40 to 60 feet wide. There are several nice views looking both upstream and downstream at the churning water.

After following the trail downstream for about .25 mile, there is a trail junction with steps leading to a trail that continues downstream along the bottom of the lava cliffs. Follow this for as long as you like. It eventually rejoins the upper trail.

The river fans out at the end of the canyon and this is a good place to turn around and return up the stairs.

Back at the junction, wander a bit more downstream for more nice views of the Deschutes

You can continue along the trail and go upstream and enjoy other views of the Deschutes River or return to your car.

This trail is good for children who have done some hiking and know to stay back from the cliffs and fast-moving river. Use caution with your pets as squirrels and other rodents can safely scamper over the edge of the cliff but your pet cannot.

Enjoy the photos!!

Gallery Pics

Switchback Steve

"

(Read More... | Dayhikes | Score: 0)

Backpacking Trips: Eagle Creek - Wahtum Lake Loop, OR
Monday, April 28 @ 09:24:15 PDT by (273 reads)
Multi day adventures!Drew writes "Directions:
From Portland, Oregon, take I-84 east for about 40 miles and take exit #41 for the Eagle Creek Recreation Area. The exit is just after the highway tunnel. Follow the road to the right about 50 feet and park in the parking lot on the left.

From Hood River, Oregon, take I-84 west to exit #41 and return to the freeway eastbound. The exit is just after the tunnel. There is no westbound exit at Eagle Creek.

To return to Portland, follow the signs to merge onto I-84 East. Exit at Cascade Locks, go under the freeway and make a sharp left in about 50 feet. Merge onto I-84 West towards Portland.

Overnight parking is available at the main parking lot, near the campground host.

The bathroom is in a stone building near the trailhead and water is available at the trailhead in the summer months. Only portable toilets at the trailhead are available during the winter at the trailhead for Eagle Creek.

A Northwest Forest Park permit is required to park at the trailhead.

Length and Elevation:
28 miles roundtrip. Elevation at the trailhead is 120 feet. High point is about 4,645 feet. Total elevation gain is 6,420 and loss of 6,420.
Day 1 – 5 miles. Elevation gain 880 ft, loss 120 ft. Ending elevation is 960 feet.
Day 2 – 8.5 miles. Elevation gain 2,975 ft, loss 200 ft. Ending elevation is 3,724 feet.
Day 2 side trip to Chinidere Mtn. – 2.6 miles. Elevation gain 910 ft, loss 910 ft. Ending elevation is 3,724 feet. High point is about 4,645 feet.
Day 3 – 12 miles. Elevation gain 1,650 ft, loss 5,200 ft. Ending elevation is 120 feet.

Trail:
Eagle Creek Trail #440, Pacific Crest Cutoff Trail, Chinidere Mountain Trail #445, Pacific Crest Trail #2000, Benson Way Trail #405B, Benson Spur Trail #405C, Ruckel Creek Trail #405, Gorge Trail #400. Connections to Eagle-Benson Trail #434 and various other trails.

There is at least one geocache along this trail at: N 45° 38.263 W 121° 53.204. Info at Geocaching.com 

Trail Maps:
Topo MapDownload Garmin .gpx file

Review: May 19, 2014
We started our trip by parking at the parking lot near the Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery. We parked as close as we could to the campground host hoping to deter thieves. Parking up at the Eagle Creek Trailhead overnight is a bad idea because of car break-ins.

Aaron, Duncan, Jeremiah, and I got all our gear together and walked up the road and saw some salmon in the creek. The creek was wide, swift, and deep and I was glad we wouldn’t be trying to ford it later on.

Starting up the trail you cross a bridge and pass by a petrified tree stump. I missed it when I walked by, but the other guys called me back to see it.

Friday evening is a good time to head up the trail because there are fewer people than on the weekend. Even so, the parking lot was pretty full.

It wasn’t long before the trail is high above the creek. We were making good time and it wasn’t long before we reached places where the trail has been blasted out of the cliff. I walked carefully with my hand near the cable because I didn’t want to trip with my pack on.

We passed Metlako Falls and then stopped at the junction for Punchbowl Falls. We dropped our packs and wondered if anyone would bother our packs. We decided that no one would try to carry out any of our packs and if they did, we could easily catch up with them.

Down at the creek, we  walked upstream and tried to get a view of the falls. The water was so high from spring runoff that we had to walk on rocks and through a little water to get a view of the falls. I was unhappy that another tree has fallen into the canyon by the falls. I hope that when the water gets lower, you can get a better view of the falls.

Back on the main trail, we soon came to the overlook for Punchbowl Falls. There is sign that mentions the fine for people trying to kayak over the falls or jump off the cliffs. From the overlook you can see where people have walked to the edge of the falls.

Heading up the trail you come to more basalt cliffs where the trail was blasted into the cliffs. Construction of the trail started in 1916 and was completed 3 years later. After about 3.5 miles, the trail crosses High Bridge, which is about 120 feet above the creek. From there, it seems like a short time before the trail crossed back to the east side of the creek.

From the 4 ½ Mile Bridge, it is less than ¾ mile to Wy’East Camp. It took us about 2 hours to backpack 5 miles thanks to the gentle elevation of the trail. We picked a camp above the trail and we were the only ones in the area. There was plenty of room for our tents and were happy there weren’t any bugs. That made Aaron happy because he brought his hammock. After we got set up we used the fire pit to have a small campfire. There was even a rusty iron grill at the fire pit. Outside of the wilderness, fires are allowed once you are 200 feet away from the trail.

We retired pretty early and I used my technique of putting my backpack under my feet to prop them up just a bit. I sleep on my side and my hips didn’t hurt during the night. It was warm enough that I left my bag unzipped and used it as a blanket.

The next morning we found out Dunkin’s pad had a leak and his pad was flat after just a couple of hours. He sat by small stream by camp for a couple of hours during the night. We were happy to not see any rain and no critters had bothered our food. We made breakfast and I watched with interest as Aaron heated water with his Fancy Feast alcohol stove. We had a variety of stoves from the homemade stove to a Jet Boil stove for making breakfast.

We left camp about 8:30 and headed up the creek. It wasn’t long before we passed the junction for Trail 434 leading up to the Benson Plateau. Soon after that we passed Blue Grouse campground which had some campers. They were planning to head back out, we guessed because of the rain in the forecast.

From here, we passed over my favorite section of the trail. It starts where the trail is blasted out of a cliff of columnar basalt. You walk over pillowed domes of basalt lava. I like to walk slowly on this part to enjoy the geology and so as not to slip. The next scenic spectacle is the approach to Tunnel Falls. During spring runoff you first see a big waterfall coursing down the cliff. Spoiler alert: as you approach the falls on the trail blasted out of the cliff, you see a dark hole in the cliff. The trail enters a dark, drippy tunnel behind the falls. I think the view is best after you go through the tunnel as the wet trail curves around the cliff. You go around the corner and boom, the trail points right to Twister Falls. I love the way the trail passes the falls then is suddenly almost the same level as the creek. We noticed one of the blasted out sections had a pocket in the rock about every 20 feet and realized it was from where the rock was hand-drilled and the dynamite was placed for the blasts. It must have been a hard job to hang off the cliffs and drill those holes.

Once past Twister Falls, the trail becomes rougher because most of the day-hikers turn around here and head back to the trailhead. After about a mile we reached the junction for Wahtum Lake. We headed up the trail which climbs gently up the side of a ridge. I saw a couple of plants that I had never seen. The blue Oregon Anemone was especially pretty.

About 5 miles in, we came to the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness where you are required to fill out a wilderness permit during most of the year.

The trail crosses a couple of creeks and there were some deadfalls to negotiate. One of the deadfalls, we went uphill to cross and Duncan slipped and got a good slash in his hand. We were low on water so I went back and filtered some extra water. This time, I went below the fallen tree and I will keep that lesson in mind that it could be safer to drop down off the trail and climb back up rather drop down a steep bank. By the time I got back, Jeremiah and Aaron had Duncan’s cut cleaned and bandaged. Luckily for Duncan, the cut was just at the top of his palm so he could still use his trekking poles.

I was surprised how pretty this section of the trail is. Streams cascade across the trail and the grade is very consistent. I think it is amazing how well surveyed this trail is for being over 80 years old. We were getting rained on a little, but it didn’t matter with the forest canopy overhead. We saw the outlet stream for Wahtum Lake and we knew we were close. I had been to the lake several years ago and recalled campsites near the outlet. These would be our preference because I didn’t want to camp at the east end where the car campers go.

We passed by one campsite just below the outlet but we wanted a view of the lake if possible. It wasn’t long before we found a couple of good campsites. We picked sites that wouldn’t be in a puddle when the rains came. Some of the sites look nice but the water would flow off the trail right into the tent site. There was still a little snow around but it was almost all melted. The ground was still wet in the campsites but not muddy. Later in the summer it is probably hard to find campsites on weekends because you can drive to within a mile of the campsites.

One of our sites had another nice fire pit and it wasn’t hard to go off-trail a bit and find some wood. While I was investigating, I found more campsites uphill, on the south side of the lake.

The rain had been pretty light, then in the evening, the sky cleared off and we decided to hike up to Chinidere Mountain for the sunset. We got flashlights and a few extra clothes for the cold and headed out. The crossing at the lake outlet is interesting because you have to walk over a log jam and when the lake is high, some of the logs sink below the surface when you step on them.

Once across, we switchbacked up towards the Pacific Crest Trail. We passed a few more designated campsites and then the trail got really steep. Part of the trail has an old waterline along it. We wondered if the pipe served the old lookout but some said the pipe used to supply water to the Wahtum Lake campground when it had a water supply.

It didn’t take us more than 20 minutes to hit the PCT and turn left for the junction to Chinidere, which is just a few hundred yards up the trail. The trail branches off to the right then soon switchbacks towards the top on the south side.

The trail goes around the east side then comes out of the trees and scales a rocky slope to the top. This last part is an easy walk to great 360 degree views. We were treated to great views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and a little bit of Mt. St. Helens. We saw Indian Pits near the top but we couldn’t tell if they were recent or actually made by Native Americans.

We put on layers against the wind but again, there were no bugs! The sun dropped below the clouds and the moon wasn’t coming out until almost midnight, so we headed back to camp. We turned on our flashlights about halfway down then stopped near the first campsites to gather firewood.

We negotiated the sinking logs in the dark and got our campfire going. It was so nice to sit by the fire without any bugs. The wind was shifting around and I saw some sparks heading towards my tent. I hurried to pull up stakes and move my tent away from any possible sparks.

We talked around the fire and retired around 10:30 under a starry sky. We hoped the forecast was wrong, but around 1 am I heard the gentle patter of rain, then a stronger surge of rain. I was really glad I had moved my tent away from any chance of a stray spark.

I heard rain a few times and waited for it to stop in the morning, then got up. It hadn’t rained hard enough to make puddles and it seemed a good time for everyone to get up. No critters had bothered our food so we made breakfast. Aaron had his dreaded oatmeal and Jeremiah had some Mountain House. I had my mix of oatmeal and I don’t remember what Duncan had.

We headed east, around the lake, keeping to the lower trail. The trail started climbing, as we knew it would. The gentle grade goes up past several seeps coming out of the hillside. Water flows out of the ground and water drips off the moss covered rocks.

Entering the forest, we soon encountered 3 large trees that had fallen across the trail. We all went downhill to go around the trees and it wasn’t long before we reached the cutoff leading back down to Wahtum Lake, then the cutoff to Chinidere Mountain. A light rain was falling which made us glad we had summited last night.

We climbed for about an hour, then started descending. The trail generally descends along a ridge passing some open views where we just saw clouds, and about 1.5 miles from the Chinidere junction there are a couple of switchbacks dropping down off the left side of the ridge, then the trail comes back to the descending ridgeline.

We leveled out, came out to more cloud obscured views, and started climbing up to the Benson Plateau. After about .75 mile, we reached the upper junction for trail 434, leading down to Eagle Creek. There is some kind of collapsed log structure here which provided a bit of a windbreak for us. The forest floor from here to the end of the Benson Plateau is awash with Beargrass.

We walked another 0.4 mile to the junction for Benson Way Trail 405B (JCTBN). The junction is marked but is slightly obscure. Now we had to start paying attention to trail junctions so we can go down Ruckel Creek.

The next junction is in .7 mile and is a right onto Benson Spur Trail 405C (RCTC), continuing through the open forest.

In just .5 mile is the next junction for the Ruckel Creek Trail 405 (JCRC). In about .2 mile, the trail crosses Ruckel Creek. From here, the key is to stay on the north side of Ruckel Creek and follow it as it drops off the plateau.

The trail drops off the plateau gradually at first, with the sound of Ruckel Creek rushing downhill heard in the distance. Soon the trail gets steeper, then much steeper and you are concentrating on keeping from slipping on the dirt and using rocks for backstops.

Just when you think the trail is leveling off, the trail goes up. You leave the creek valley and climb up to cross over a series of hanging meadows. They have various kinds of wildflowers in spring and nice views of the Gorge on a sunny day.

As you leave the last hanging meadow and start down again, poison oak starts appearing in spots. Continuing steeply downwards there gets to be a lot of poison oak growing and some of it arches into the trail. Aaron and Jeremiah soon left Duncan and I far behind. There was a clearing where an ancient rockslide was now covered in moss and a good place for a break. Duncan and I noticed the Indian pit in the clearing and sat down beside it. This low elevation pit lends credence to the belief these pits were used for spirit quests by the first people because I don’t think this location was especially good for hunting.

After the clearing we climbed again then continued down. The steep descent has a few short and almost level sections, but most of this trail drops down along a spine with a few switchbacks thrown in as the trail gradually works its way back to Ruckel Creek.

Eventually there is a switchback that leads down to the creek where you can splash your face, then comes out on the paved bike trail. From here, head west a few hundred feet and take a left onto Trail 400. This route climbs up into the Eagle Creek Campground, follows a fence above the freeway, then drops back down to the parking lot by the fish hatchery.

In the high season, the restrooms are open and a drinking fountain is available for a cool drink of water. This is a classic hike with some great views and many waterfalls and streams. It is a good spring hike because there are no major stream crossings and most of the trails are well maintained. If you haven’t hiked up Eagle Creek, prepare to be amazed by the efforts it took to create this trail by hand.

Enjoy the photos!!

Gallery Pics

Switchback Steve

"

(Read More... | Backpacking Trips | Score: 0)

Dayhikes: Memaloose Hills, OR
Monday, April 28 @ 08:34:15 PDT by (255 reads)
Day hikes in the Northwest.Drew writes "Vicinity Location: The trailhead is about 65 miles east of Portland, in the Columbia River Gorge.

Directions:
From Portland, drive on I-84 East from Portland for about 65 miles, driving past Hood River.

Take exit 69 for U.S. 30 and drive towards Mosier for .2 mile.

Turn right at the stop sign onto U.S. 30 E and drive for about 2.8 miles,  passing through Mosier, to the parking area for the Memaloose Overlook.

There is no restroom at the trailhead.

No permits are needed to park here.

Length and Elevation:
Total length is about 1.5 miles. Elevation gain is 700 feet and 700 foot loss. Elevation at the trailhead is 200 feet. The high point is 900 feet.

Trail:
No official named trails. The 1.5 miles is not the total length of this trail as there are connections to other trails.

There is at least one geocache for this trail at: N 45° 41.153 W 121° 20.364 Info at Geocaching.com.

Trail Maps:
Topo Map - future, Download Garmin .gpx file - future

Review: May 11, 2014
From the parking area along the road, find the signboard on the left side and walk a short distance downhill to an overlook with a stone railing. The overlook provides great views of basalt rock formations in the Gorge. From the overlook you can see the part of Memaloose Island that wasn’t covered when the Bonneville Dam was built, over 30 miles downstream.

Walk back across the road and watch out for bicycles speeding downhill. There is a fair amount of Poison Oak near the trailhead but very little once you reach the groves of oak trees.

This is one of the shadier hikes in the east end of the Gorge. You walk through and alternate landscape of lovely meadows and under old oak trees along a winding trail. Though the trail is fairly rocky with cantaloupe sized rocks poking above the soil, there are plenty of places where it is a dirt path with very few rocks.

The countryside is a carpet of green. Everything is green; the grasses, the lupines, the desert parsley, and the oak trees are that nice shade of new-leaf green with the wildflowers sprinkled throughout.
The nice breeze and rustling leaves makes you want to lie down and take a nap.

As you walk through the woods, the trail gently gains elevation, goes up a little bump, then traverses a flat meadow before dipping down and climbing again.

Continuing along the trail there is a seasonal creek to cross.

The birds, crickets, and wildflowers make for a delightful hike. For a Gorge trail, this is an amazingly level trail and is great for kids who know what Poison Oak looks like. As with any trail in the Gorge, beware of ticks along the trail and in the trees.

Enjoy the photos!

Gallery Pics - future

Switchback Steve

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Tuesday, August 12
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Monday, April 28
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