Encircling the Roaring River Wilderness
After spending time exploring the lakes in the Roaring River Wilderness, I wanted to return and explore more of the area.
I plotted this route that encircled most of the Roaring River watershed, which ended up being about 34 miles and 6200 feet of elevation on trails ranging from well used to nearly non-existent and roads ranging from paved to nearly non-existent. I started on a cloudy damp morning at the Lookout Springs Trailhead where a large pit blocks vehicle access into the old campground beyond.
The Corral Springs Trail descend out of the campground and then splits off, and I headed down the Huxley Lake Trail. My speed was decreased by the need to pay close attention to the trail underfoot to avoid the hordes of newts crossing the trail. Unable to pass by a mountain lake so close by, I dropped down to Huxley Lake, a marshy pool with encircled by alders. Past the lake the trail continues road being reclaimed by nature and after a third of a mile, the trail actually drops downhill right off the road, the Grouse Point Trail almost completely obscured by brush. The trail descends steeply 800 feet to the Roaring River, narrow tread overgrown with Oregon Grape that chews at your ankles.
At the bottom a log hangs cantilevered over the river, which I butt-scooted on, hugging the tree as it bobbed up and down. Once across the creek, I hung down and dropped to the creek side. After scurrying up a bench, the trail climbs steeply up from the river, and progresses through some unmarked, very lightly treaded corridor that was hard to follow at points. The climbs pass Grouse Point, almost 3000 feet above the River heading toward the junction with the Serene Lake Trail. The section of the Grouse Point Trail climbing up to its high points was overgrown with rhododendrons, and although it wasn’t raining, droplets caught on their leaves shed off, drawing on to me like a sponge. Before I was through, I was completely soaked.
I stayed on the Grouse Point trail past Cache Meadows and then along Frazier mountain on the stretch of old road. At Frazier Turnaround I continued on the dirt Forest Road 240 for 4 and a quarter mile to the paved Road 240, which tracked north to fork where the pavement ended and the road entered the woods, lined by signs explaining the road does not go through, no matter how great your 4x4 car is. This turned out to be very true, as a landslide had wiped out a section ahead. The road here is lovely, and soft and lined with dense forest. The corridor of the road divides the Roaring River Wilderness and the Salmon Huckleberry.
The area is filled with facets of the Forests past, campgrounds and sites such as Hambone Springs that see no maintenance. The trail follows the slope, passing open rocky areas with views over towards Frazier Mountain and the river headwaters. By now the sun had come out in earnest and I had dried off. I came across a spring crossing the road, flowing out of a pipe driven into the hillside. I stayed on the road, passing Plaza Lake and Tumala meadow, all the way back to the Lookout Springs Trailhead.
This was a challenging loop but probably one of my favorites in the Mt Hood Forest.