Monthly Archives: July 2014

Trail 4 hazard reduction

On July 25, several folks showed up to perform hazard reduction along the ridge top section of Trail 4. A few perilous spots on the upper switchbacks were fixed up and considerable blow-downs removed.

There were five of us in this little party…

Trail 4 Crew, July 25, 2014

Trail 4 Crew, July 25, 2014

From left to right: Randy Kenyon, Jerry Costello and Jan Caldwell. Not shown: Bill Walker (behind the camera) and Greg Evans.

Trail report: Most of Trail 3

Trail 3 got a more thorough look July 21. I still didn’t have time to walk the entire length, but I did the first 4 out of about 5.5 miles.

Trail 3, a segment of the Pacific Northwest Trail, continues west from the end of Hay Creek Road. Most of it is old roadbed, making it suitable for either hiking or bicycling.

Hay Creek Drainage - West End

Hay Creek Drainage – West End

The trail is generally in good shape, although alder is starting to encroach on it where it passes close to Hay Lake.

Alder Thickets - Trail 3 Near Hay Lake

Alder Thickets – Trail 3 Near Hay Lake

Trail 3 crosses Hay Creek perhaps a half-mile before the alders get really thick. The Forest Service conveniently left a very sturdy bridge in-place.

Hay Creek - Near West End

Hay Creek – Near West End

There was a lot of animal sign along the trail. I saw scat from mountain lion, grouse, coyote and pine martin. Most noticeable, though, was an extravagant amount of bear by-product. I encountered several spruce grouse, including this hen that made sure her chicks were safe before taking flight herself…

Female Spruce Grouse Along Trail 3

Female Spruce Grouse Along Trail 3

The only real problem with Trail 3 is weeds. The first mile (starting from the eastern end at Hay Creek Road) has a heavy knapweed infestation. Just beyond mile 2, there is an extensive patch of orange hawkweed. The Forest Service has been notified and likely will do something about this fairly soon.

Overall, it is a nice trail, quite scenic in spots and providing ready access to the Whitefish Divide trail near its intersection with Red Meadow Road.

Trail 3 - looking west

Trail 3 – looking west

Trail reports: Demers Ridge, Thompson-Seton, Thoma, Hornet and Cyclone

Here are a few, brief trail condition reports. Short version: Most trails discussed so far are in fair to good shape, with the exception of Demers Ridge, which is awful.

Greg and Sue Evans said that the Demers Ridge Trail [Trail 266 from the north] to Glacier View Mountain is in terrible shape. They counted 192 blow-downs. However, others report that the route up Glacier View on Trail 266 starting from its southern end near Camas junction is in good shape, with very few obstacles.

Debo Powers turned in several reports…

“…I did hike to Thompson-Seton [Trails 79 and 28] and I was surprised at how much the brush has grown back.  It’s only mid-calf high instead of head-high, but it has grown back so lush that you can’t tell that we cut it last year!  I was surprised because it looked so scalped last year when we finished!  Nature is resilient!  My pant legs got soaked walking the lower trail on Tuesday morning [July 15] after the Monday evening rainstorm.  The trail is fine for this year, but we should put it on our list for next spring or early summer.  There are also 7 logs across the trail, so we will want to do some cutting next year, too.”

“The trail to Thoma that starts on Frozen Lake Road [Trails 18 and 15] has a brush problem in one short stretch, but I imagine that Leif will take care of that sometime this year.  His re-supply mule train came up the other route from Trail Creek Road [Trail 15 from the south] on Thursday [July 17], so that trail has probably been cut out to make room for mules.  I haven’t hiked it though.”

“The trails to Hornet [Trail 349] and Cyclone [Trail 40] are in fine shape.”

Moran Basin and Trail 2

On July 10, we took another look at Moran Basin Road (Road 5241). The slides had been cut out a few days earlier (reportedly, not by the Forest Service but by a third party), so we were able to reach the Trail 2 trailhead. Time was limited, so I decided to go as far up the trail as I could get by mid-afternoon.

Trail 2 is a popular local hike, climbing south along the western edge of the Moran Creek Basin until it reaches the crest of Coal Ridge near the old lookout and patrol cabin. Although I didn’t reach the ridge top, I got several photos along the way.

Here’s the trail near the beginning. As you can see, it’s in great shape.

Trail 2 - Near Start

Trail 2 – Near Start

The remains of the lookout are still standing.

Coal Ridge Lookout From a Distance

Coal Ridge Lookout From a Distance

There were quite a few water crossings, including this nice waterfall. John’s dog, Blue, is certainly enjoying it.

Trail 2 Waterfall

Trail 2 Waterfall

At that altitude, the wildflowers were still in full display.

Trail 2 - Wildflowers

Trail 2 – Wildflowers

I had to turn around at this point — near Coal Ridge, but not yet above the trees.

Trail 2 - Nearing Coal Ridge

Trail 2 – Nearing Coal Ridge

Coal Ridge — Hay Creek tour

July 3, John Frederick and I took advantage of a nice day and open Forest Service gates to do the tour of the Coal Ridge — Hay Creek drainage area. We went perhaps a quarter-mile up Trail 4 with the big chain saw, did a little clean up and  then drove to the Trail 3 trailhead at the west end of Hay Creek Road.

Trail 3, most of which is old roadbed, is in excellent shape for the first mile (and likely for at least another three after that). It offers a broad vista of the west end of the Hay Creek watershed, including the Whitefish Divide.

Trail 3 - looking west

Trail 3 – looking west towards Whitefish Divide

Moran Basin Road (Road 5241), the last stop on our tour, has problems. We encountered a bad slide about two miles in where a collection of trees had slid down the bank, roots and all, spilling across the road. I cut out the first pile, but we encountered two more about a quarter-mile farther up the road. Until the Forest Service cleans this up, Moran Basin Road is navigable only by ATVs and bikes. Update: By July 8, the road was open. Someone (not the Forest Service) had removed enough debris to allow passage by regular vehicles.

Slides on Moran Basin Road - July 3, 2014

Slides on Moran Basin Road – July 3, 2014