Finding the Douglas Trail

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discodan7700
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Finding the Douglas Trail

Post by discodan7700 » May 7th, 2013, 8:17 am

Took time to scout out the Douglas trail in Clackamas Mt Hood area yesterday. Hoping to use it as a way to access wildcat mountain > kinzel lake > jackpot meadows. This trail seems inviting to me because of its proximity to Portland and that the trail starts at approx. 2400 ft. This would give a significant ele advantage over other trail heads along 26 without having to go to Govt Camp.

However, after checking it out... I may opt to climb the extra 1000 - 1500 feet. It's not super easy driving. Heavy logging trucks have left deep scars along the road. There's several shameful firepits obviously used and abused by shooters. Shells litter the ground; targets and trash left behind; saddness resonates all around as one is witness to the devastation of consistent disrespect. The stumps remind me of an amputee. Approaching the trail is like walking thru a crime scene, a cold case, a holocaust, where blood stains are branches and the debris of the dead are still everywhere.

To locate the western terminus of the Douglas Trail #781, I referred to the US Forestry and Caltopo maps. It appeared that the nearest town was "Bissell". Google maps was able to find it and derive an appropriate route by searching for "bissell, estacada, or". From there, I continued east along Harvey Rd which is gravel, single lane, and has intermittent rocky sections.

** NOTE: you will likely be without internet thru here. So cache your maps, print out paper directions, don't close Google Nav till you're sure you've found your parking spot. **

After the right turn on Harvey: .5 miles then sharp left, stay on main logging road for .75 miles then pass logging road on right. Then another .5 miles and you'll come to a T intersection. Your car should be pointing north. Turn right then about 250 ft there will be another fork. Your car should be facing east as you approach the fork. On my map, the road that goes to the east from this fork is the beginning of trial #501. So I parked my car and started trotting down the gravel road.

.6 miles down the road is where my map indicated the junction of Trail #781 (Douglas Trail) and Trail #501 (Eagle Creek Trail) and also... a Saab! Aha, I could have parked just a wee bit closer. Next time...

The gravel road continued uphill to the left (North-east-ish) and a trail continued off to the east-ish. At this point I'm getting excited thinking I've found the western end of the Douglas trail. I followed the gravel road uphil, and watching my gps, it tracked quite closely to where trail#781 was supposed to go.

But.... it didn't. After about 500 ft. The trail became wooded and appeared to be used as an ATV course. Occasional shotgun shells and primitive targets ( gallon jugs, beer cans ) were left along the trail. And also, the gps indicated I was no longer following trail#781. It looked like it was possible that the trail would shift course on the other side of a small high ele point at 2600 ft and then reconnect to what was supposed to be #781... but when I got to 2600 ft. the trail headed north and downhill and it would have needed to go south and down hill to meet back up with my intended route.

So, I turned around. Feeling happy I didn't take wifey-pooh out here without scouting it out, I trotted downhill till I got to the point where the ATV track split from my intended route. The split happened at a shameful firepit in a large turnaround in the gravel road. I looked and looked, but no trail junctions. Nothing to indicate that there was a way to continue on my intended route as displayed on the gps.

Oh well... still had fun and had a chance for much needed f5, clearing out the noise and nonsense and replacing it with woodland sounds and smells. At the junction of #501 and #781 the Saab owners were about to head out. I flagged them down to see if they had any knowledge of #781 or a connecting trail from here to get to Wildcat Mtn. It seems there is a connecting trail not displayed on my map approx .5 miles east on #501 just past the wilderness boundary. The hikers had never taken that trail and had no idea where it went, but I suspect it would have connected to #781! Map and compass are great for not getting lost... but for finding the trail? Nothing's better than experience...

As a side bonus, the hikers gave me lift back to my car half mile down the road. Thanks Jeff and Maureen!

After I got home, I looked at a trail map ( as opposed to a topo map ) from the US Forestry website. And, yes, there's a connecting trail that looks like it would have been correct. I'm learning that the topos are good, but that they aren't as up to date as the trail maps. To see if a trail map is available, google search "usda " + trail name + trail number. Example: "usda douglas trail 781". There should be a result labeled "Mt. Hood National Forest - trail name and number - USDA Forest Service". Then if there's a map, there will be a link labeled "Link to Trail description & MAP".

If it turns out that the trail maps are consistently better than topos, I'm going to be working on a way to upload them to my gps. I think there's a way to do it, but not sure how.

Here's a few pictures, not much scenery, and this was just a scouting out trip. Had very-very little time. Hope this is helpful!

sincerely,

-daniel-

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Is that wildcat mountain? Snow is visible from the road :)

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Here's map from gps showing the route to my parking spot ( in blue ), route to the Saab parking spot / 501 - 781 junction ( in green ), then the ATV trail I followed ( in orange )

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Here's a close up map of the ATV trail. The red arrow indicates the direction the ATV trail appeared to be taking which would lead away from #781. The green arrow shows where I believe the connecting trail is.

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Here's a screenshot from the trail map for comparison to the topo map.

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Last edited by discodan7700 on May 9th, 2013, 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Peder
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Re: Finding the Douglas Trail

Post by Peder » May 7th, 2013, 8:01 pm

Your picture sure looks like Wildcat Mountain to me, with the small open area just below the summit.
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PeakFreak
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Re: Finding the Douglas Trail

Post by PeakFreak » May 10th, 2013, 11:28 am

Looks like you had quite the adventure trying to find this TH. We have lived up here in Bissell for years and have thoroughly explored this area. You were on the right track following the old ATV trail. If you keep going from where you left off, the trail will turn into abandoned FS road 255. It is still paved, but only accessible from the side you came in on, or up Wildcat Mtn. Drive. Follow old 255 for maybe about a mile and you will find the Douglas Ridge Trailhead. We did an overnighter last summer, hiking from NF 4614 (Tumalo Mtn. Rd.) to Squaw Mtn, all the way across to Wildcat Mtn, down the Douglas Ridge Trail, down FS Rd 255 to Harvey Rd. and finally back down George Rd to home. Its a wonderful hike if you can find your way past the numerous logging operations and littered spots along the way to the trailhead:) You can refer to the geocaching page GC3NGCN for info on this specific hike. http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_de ... c6d26703db
Attachments
abonadoned fs route 255.jpg
Abandoned FS Route 255, accessible from Harvey Rd. or Wildcat Mtn. Drive.
douglas ridge TH.jpg
Douglas Ridge TH via old FS route 255

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discodan7700
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Re: Finding the Douglas Trail

Post by discodan7700 » May 10th, 2013, 12:53 pm

That's just brilliant! Thanks Peak! Looking fwd to doing it again.

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justpeachy
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Re: Finding the Douglas Trail

Post by justpeachy » May 11th, 2013, 6:43 am

discodan7700 wrote:saddness resonates all around as one is witness to the devastation of consistent disrespect. The stumps remind me of an amputee. Approaching the trail is like walking thru a crime scene, a cold case, a holocaust, where blood stains are branches and the debris of the dead are still everywhere.
That whole area kinda gives me the creeps. I went there on my own last year and I'll never do that again. Once you get into the forest on the trail it's fine, but until that point the "ambiance" is bad.
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discodan7700
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Heading over today....

Post by discodan7700 » May 11th, 2013, 7:37 am

Going back today, getting ready to head out. Hope to come back with some better results thanks to Peak's post.

-daniel-

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discodan7700
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New Route: 26 > 211 > Eagle Fern Rd

Post by discodan7700 » May 11th, 2013, 7:48 am

Had some bad traffic issues using the default route derived by google maps to get to Estacada. Lots of folks go to the river this way on the weekends, plus getting behind a truck is a frustrating.

So I'm going to try to use 26 > 211 > judd / howlett / eagle fern rd.

It appears to add about 5 miles and 10 minutes to the total drive.

Wish me luck!

-daniel-

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discodan7700
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Accuterra Trail Map

Post by discodan7700 » May 11th, 2013, 8:20 am

Looks like the accuterra map has the zigzag connecting trail I'm going to be looking for today.

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discodan7700
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Douglas Trail Found!

Post by discodan7700 » May 12th, 2013, 8:19 am

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trail #501 is green / zigzagging connector trail is red / atv return trail is blue

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Went back to re-explore the western end of Douglas Trail #781. It was me, EZ, and Uma-Kuma. EZ is my son, 4. And Uma-Kuma is a monkey. Also 4. :)

Driving 26 > 211 > EagleFern Rd was an easy and more scenic route. There's some farms along the way with Mt. Hood perfectly framed behind. Horses and Cows... no trucks, rafters, or much of anything. If you take this route, please be respectful of the folks that live here. It was tempting to pull over and snap a few pictures. But there wasn't a good spot other than pulling into someone's driveway.

My feelings about the logging, litter, and spent ammo hasn't changed. But it was less intense. EZ picked up on my change in mood. We talked about how tempting it can be, to take without end, leaving our waste behind. We talked about how the first nations were caretakers. Only taking what would help the forest to thrive. And how now we need rules to protect the forest from carelessness and selfishness and short term thinking.

We started out hiking along Eagle Creek Trail #501. The trailhead had 4 other cars, ours was the 5th. That's about all that would fit.

After about .5 miles, our connector trail was on the left heading north. There's a faded orange ribbon tided to a tree showing the trail junction. But the ribbon is easy to miss.

The trail is pretty easy to follow, but very brushy. No poison oak that I saw. All very shady. I can imagine as the summer months continue, the trail would become more and more difficult to follow. The US Forestry PDF ( and accuterra maps ) were closer to being correct. But as you can see from the trail map above, the actual trail doesn't follow the map very well at all.

1.8 miles and 700 ft ele later, we were at the trail junction with the old forestry road. EZ, Uma-Kuma and I had planned to take a little nap. Well... I napped. EZ ate. Uma-Kuma played. :) Then all three of us quite refreshed headed back along the old ATV route to make a nice little loop. EZ really liked hiking along the ATV route. It was an easy 1.8 miles back to the car.

Made some conversation with another hiker back at the trailhead. ( Nice chatting with you, Mike! ) He was scouting out #501. I asked him about the "vibe" around this area. Had he ever seen folks shooting here? As a matter of fact, he said when he pulled in, there was a crew heading in, camo head to toe with 22s. I heard and saw nothing along our route.

Will def come back to do Wildcat from here. It's so close to home, I can't resist. Plus I'm Finneytown proud.

Hope this helps,

-daniel-

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Here's the trail junction. Notice the little orange flag. The blue arrow points down trail #501. The green arrow points north along the zigzagging connector trail.

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Here's EZ and Uma-Kuma charging up the hill. My heart overflows with joy.

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Some pictures along the zigzagging connector trail.

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Nap Attempt:

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Pacific Coast Aquatic Garter Snake Thamnophis atratus? ( ref: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/species/reptiles/ )

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Some pictures along the ATV trail:

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Go Wildcats!

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RobFromRedland
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Re: Finding the Douglas Trail

Post by RobFromRedland » May 12th, 2013, 9:45 am

There used to be a trail sign on that trail - although I've never hiked it, I always wondered where it went. I've hiked past that trail junction several times:
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Douglas Trail sign
Thanks for the trip report - I'll have to explore it one of these days.
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