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Rudolph Spur - May 6, 2007

Posted by pablo (2007-05-07)

Rudolph Spur May 6, 2007

For me, this hike was more about preparation than execution. I recently purchased Sullivan's 100 hikes for Northwest Oregon and in the back, hike #150, is the Rudolph Spur with the comment 'Adventurers only!'. With a challenge like that, how could anyone resist? As no map was available in Sullivan's book, I went to the forums here and inquired about the trail, got a couple of replies about conditions but no map. The replies concerning conditions were like "a wee bit of exposure", "I wouldn't do this trail when it's wet" and "be good at route finding" - recharging my fear batteries which were running  low. Almost undaunted, I pressed on towards acquiring a map.

While surfing through the Lost Trails forum I landed on SplinterCat's mention of an out-of-print book by Don and Roberta Lowe and a list of some of the hikes in the book, one of which is Rudolph Spur. I tracked down a copy at Powell's and used the accompanying topo map of the hike to determine waypoints for my GPS. It all worked out very nicely, I was an attentive student for the duration of the hike, the right amount of fear and knowledge.

Starting from the Bridge of the Gods trailhead I launched the hike, heading under I-84 and freedom. I promptly went down the wrong street and ran into a 'No trespassing' sign. A local, on observing I was all decked out in hiking gear and looking very earnest, without my asking, pointed in the direction of a road a ways back and said "I think you want the trail over there". Okay, I'm 300 feet from the start and already off the trail, so much for my route finding abilities.

The starting point for Rudolph Spur is just prior to the crossing of Dry Creek about 20 feet back from Dry Creek Road and near a PCT marker post. I'd set a waypoint based on the Lowe map and pretty much nailed the location, while faint, very noticeable if you are looking for it. If you go past the post you went to far.

The approach to the Rudolph Spur ridge is short section south across fairly level ground to a westerly tranverse across a talus slope. The trail on the way to the talus slope was easy to follow except a  spot where there were a couple of downed trees.  At the end of the traverse, a short steep pitch (40%?) got me on the ridge.

Looking back on the approach to the ridge. The leafy line in the middle is the trail.

Once on the ridge the burn started early and continued fiercely for about 1300 feet vertical in a half mile. The trail made some feeble attempts at switch backing and would try to disappear but I simply went in the direction of maximal pain to get back on track.

There were spots of blowdown on the trail but most of the stems were small enough so just high stepping cleared them.

Blowdown on the trail.

The next 8/10ths of a mile added another 1000 feet elevation with a viewpoint at 2600 feet of Cascade Locks, Bridge of the Gods, Table Mtn., etc.

At 2600 feet, I might be standing on a 'wee bit of exposure' here.

I managed to stay on the trail most of the way including the intersection with Ruckel Creek trail. The map of GPS track points below should be a good approximation of the actual trail, there were spots of yellow paint all the way even when the tread was invisible. However, once on Ruckel Creek trail there was no way I could determine where the Rudolph Spur trail branched off - I think it would be a real challenge to find this trail starting from Ruckel Creek. Once on Ruckel Creek trail, I tracked to Benson Way, connected to the PCT and returned home.

A challenging hike and educational experience. I've now got a few more hikes to do based on the Lowe's book that I hope are as much fun as this one.

Any trip report for a hike done in the Gorge requires a photo of a waterfall, here's mine, Dry Creek Falls

Trip report minutiae follows:

Graph of GPS track log for Rudolph Spur.


GPS readings done in the field:

TOPO! GPS Data Format Deg NAD83 ElevFeet

Trailhead off PCT near Dry Creek

On the talus slope

Start of ascent on ridge

Viewpoint midway up the ridge

Intersection  with Ruckel Creek trail

Re: Rudolph Spur - May 6, 2007

Posted by jimsiff (2007-05-11)


Nice work!  I've found the top and bottom of the trail a few times, but never ventured all the way up.  I tried to do a Ruckel Ridge / Rudolph Spur loop last October, but lost the Rudolph Spur trail about 300 yards off the Ruckel Creek intersection.  I was running late, so I bailed back to Ruckel Creek.

Your GPS data makes it easy now.  I no longer have an excuse.  :)

You mention the other interesting routes in that old book.  I'd like to do the Nesmith Ridge route up from McCord Creek to the Nesmith Point trail.

Re: Rudolph Spur - May 6, 2007

Posted by EddyB (2007-05-12)

Hi Pablo-

Thanks for a superb report on the Rudolph Spur Trail. Next trip up, I'll take a copy of your map!


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