Exploring Lakes in Roaring River Wilderness
I had never been to the Roaring River Wilderness, nestled in the mountains between the Clackamas River and west of Timothy Lake, and this day was intended to be a shorter, quicker loop, but the need to explore and visit mountain lakes got the better of me and I ended up traveling about 29 miles around the area.
Arriving at the trailhead for Shellrock Lake around 7 AM I headed north up the lake, but didn’t linger (still chilly and a solitary camper had a spot near the lake). Near Frazier Turnaround I was feeling like I was making too good of time and enjoying the area, and Shining Lake looked like a worthy addendum to my route. The way is a is nicely graded and soft decommissioned road along the ridge, which I followed for 3.9 miles to the end, crawling under overhanging rhododendrons to where an old lookout spot without too much a view and a awful lot of cougar sign awaited. I doubled back a bit and made the descent down to Shining Lake. The lake was lovely, but the road trail out, with its sections of tall forest and blooming rhododendrons sprinkled with sunbeams cutting onto the ridge was the real highlight of the detour.
Back to Frazier turnaround, I took the Serene Lake Trail down before splitting off to the icy blue, glimmering Rock Lake, the headwaters of the Roaring River. At the end of the lake I crashed uphill on logs and through the brush to the smaller lake, where I spent some time floating about with a curious group of rough-skinned newts. After swimming and sunning I got back to the trails and headed to the idyllic Serene Lake, one of the loveliest mountain lakes that I’ve come across in the area- sparkling turquoise blue waters, sunny rocks, and an osprey cackling from the tree line. The trail climbs the ridge behind the lake before descending down to Cache Meadows where I followed the Cache Meadow Trail through the dry bed of the meadows to where Cripple Creek crosses under a Forest Service Road. That road took me south to where the road ends and the Rimrock Trail begins. I detoured off the trail to a south facing outcropping of rock below Mount Mitchell where there were expansive views of the southern section of Mt Hood National Forest and Mt. Jefferson beyond. From the overlook I headed north through the forest, crossing the summit of Mt. Mitchell and then descending towards the saddle until I found the Rimrock Trail. I took the Forest Road 5830 north two miles to where I was parked, but with some time still left, I turned south of the road and hiked a short way to Hideaway Lake.