Burnt Granite-Tarzan Springs Hike
From Oregon Hikers Field Guide
|This page is marked as a Lost Hike. The "trail" may be dangerous and hard to follow and is not recommended for beginning hikers without an experienced leader. Beginning hikers should check out our Basic Hiking Information page.|
- Start point: Burnt Granite Trailhead
- End point: Granite Peaks Viewpoint
- Trail Log:
- Hike Type: In and out
- Distance: 8.3 miles
- Elevation gain: 2070 feet
- High Point: 4,850 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Seasons: Summer into Fall
- Family Friendly: No
- Backpackable: No
- Crowded: No
The old Skyline Trail was a precursor to the Pacific Crest Trail, but was often routed through country that became accessible to loggers and was eventually abandoned. The trails you will hike on this excursion are all abandoned routes, part of the Skyline corridor, that have been kept in a modicum of order by volunteers. The Burnt Granite Trail #595 follows the route of the Skyline Trail; the southern section, below the Tarzan Springs Trail, then became part of the Rho Ridge Trail #564. The diversion to Tarzan Springs follows part of the route of the abandoned Trail #568, which joined the Rho Creek Trail below Fadeaway Spring.
This area has other claims to fame as well and is considered prime Bigfoot country. Tarzan Springs was apparently named for a prospector who resided in the woods near there with a family of “ape-like” creatures. The rock pile at the Granite Peaks Viewpoint was the site of the 1967 witnessing of a small family of Bigfoot by Glen Thomas. According to Thomas, the creatures were vigorously turning over rocks and grabbing and eating small rodents that they found.
It’s advisable to bring a small saw and some pruners. You will encounter blowdown along the way and the rhododendrons are a force to be reckoned with on the lower section of the trail: if it’s wet, be sure to don full rain gear or you’ll be soaked by dripping vegetation!
The original trail crossing of FR 4650 was about half a mile west of this trailhead, and that is where you’ll find the remnants of the northern section of the Burnt Granite Trail heading down to the Clackamas River. The section described here heads up an old road bed past a clump of Sitka alder. Pass an old trail signboard and continue to rise on the rhododendron-lined road be under secondary-growth mountain hemlock, Douglas-fir, silver fir, and western white pine. The trail splits off the road bed at a fallen tree and resumes the route of the old Skyline Trail. Switchback and begin brushing through the rhododendrons overhanging the trail. Soon reach a dense, young forest with no understory. The tread becomes soft and mossy where the rhododendrons come back.
Make a sharp switchback to the left and traverse under larger silver firs and mountain hemlocks. Switchback again and traverse through a lengthy, more open rhododendron corridor with a grouseberry carpet that soon is taken over by bear-grass. As the trail levels, you will encounter more open, formerly burned areas dominated by lodgepole pine. Up to the right you can see the dark hulk of the Burnt Granite ridge. In one of the lodgepole areas, come to an old fire circle with a rusted tin can. This is the Burnt Granite-Tarzan Springs Trail Junction.
Go left here, pushing downhill through the rhododendrons. There may be orange flagging marking the route, but this trail is also quite well-defined. The trail levels above a forested bowl and then drops in shady old growth, mainly Douglas-firs, to a road spur of FR 4670. Go right about 230 yards on the road, and then bushwhack into the forest perimeter on your right to reach the sedge expanse of Tarzan Springs Meadow. Find the main spring pool, bordered with western spiraea, on the road side of the meadow. Bushwhack the few yards back to the road and head back up to the Burnt Granite-Tarzan Springs Trail Junction the way you came.
Go left at the junction. The trail rises to cross a talus slope and one gets a commanding view to Sisi Butte, Olallie Butte, Mount Jefferson, and Three Fingered Jack. Keep heading up along the slope on a trail lined with bear-grass. Pass across more talus with vine maple thickets and expansive views. The trail levels in mature mountain hemlock forest and makes a traverse through huckleberries to pass below a rock pile. Just below the ridge crest, reach an area of severe blowdown. Find the trail by locating sawn off logs and rise over the crest in a former clearcut. The trail here becomes much more indistinct as it drops through a bear-grass meadow and then heads left to a rock pile capped by strange cairns and the deepest ‘’vision quest’’ pit you might ever see. This is the Granite Peaks Viewpoint and Glen Thomas bigfoot sighting area. In fact, the pit is claimed by some to be the result of bigfoot “burrowing’’ in rock piles to find rodent prey. Views from here extend to the Granite Peaks on the northern end of Rhododendron Ridge to Peak 5017 on the same ridge. Mount Jefferson looms to the left of Peak 5017. Tarry awhile, look for signs of ape-like activity, and soak in the views before returning down the Burnt Granite Trail the way you came.
Fees, Regulations, etc.
- Unmaintained trails: carry a saw and/or pruners to do a little maintenance as you go along
- Maps: Hike Finder
- Green Trails Maps: High Rock, OR #593 and Breitenbush, OR #525 (southern section of Burnt Granite Trail not shown)
- Burnt Granite Trail (Trail Advocates)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Clackamas River Ranger District
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
- National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
- Search Trip Reports for Burnt Granite-Tarzan Springs Hike
Related Discussions / Q&A
- Search Trail Q&A for Burnt Granite-Tarzan Springs Hike
Guidebooks that cover this hike
- Burnt Granite Trail 595 (Trail Advocates)
- Oregon Skyline Trail (Trail Advocates)
- 10/3/2010 – Burnt Granite – 595 (Rob’s Hiking Diary)
- Burnt Granite Viewpoint Hike (Northwest Hiker) (partial)
- The Glen Thomas Sighting (Bigfoot Journal)
- Tarzan Springs, High Rock Quarry, and the Glen Thomas Site (PNW Roads)
- Bigfoot Country (The Logging Road Cyclist)
- Be More Observant (Bigfoot Encounters)
- Sasquatch Investigations in the Pacific Northwest (Bigfoot Encounters)
- John Green on Glen Thomas and William Roe (Cryptomundo)
- bobcat (creator)