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Kingsley Wahtum Trail to Rainy Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Along the irrigation pipeline, Kingsley-Wahtum Trail (bobcat)
Red columbine (Aquilegia formosa), Kingsley-Wahtum Trail (bobcat)
Air vent, irrigation pipeline, Kingsley-Wahtum Trail (bobcat)
Looking down Gate Creek, Kingsley-Wahtum Trail (bobcat)
Rainy Lake and Green Point Mountain (bobcat)
The route along the irrigation pipeline to Rainy Lake (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/USFS
  • Start point: Kingsley Wahtum TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Rainy Lake
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 9.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 840 feet
  • High Point: 4,095 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Mid-spring through fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

The Kingsley Wahtum Trail, also known as the Rainy Kingsley Trail or simply the Irrigation Trail, runs along a buried irrigation pipeline for much of its length and then, above Gate Creek, turns up a slope to come out near Rainy Lake on Waucoma Ridge. The trail represents the beginning of what some hope to be a mountain biking/hiking trail network on the south slopes of the ridge. The level contour which carries the pipeline was once the Oak Grove Ditch, which siphoned water from Gate Creek and transported it to Ditch Creek to fulfill agricultural needs in the Hood River Valley. Nowadays, the pipeline helps to fill the Kingsley Reservoirs whose dam walls, in 2018-19, are being raised 11 feet to increase water capacity. This is all part of a system managed by Hood River County’s Farmer’s Irrigation District (FID). Rainy Lake is one of a trio of small lakes, the others being North Lake and Black Lake, whose levels were raised by low dam walls at the beginning of the 20th century to build log ponds. Flumes from each of these lakes carried logs downhill to the Stanley-Smith Lumber Mill at Greenpoint, now Kingsley, in the vicinity of the current reservoirs. The mill processed rough-cut timber, which was then sent on lengthier flumes to planing mills at Belmont and Ruthton.

A short section of the trail runs to the 620 spur road across the road from the trailhead. There's a tall periscope-like vent for the irrigation pipeline that runs under the route. Otherwise, walk from the trailhead on the level in a secondary Douglas-fir forest with a lush understory of thimbleberry, snowberry, Pacific dogwood, and snow brush. The vegetation is growing in on what was once a wide vehicle track that ran along the buried pipeline. Pass an access route out to FR 2820 and then a seep overgrown with Sitka alder. A tall blue vent duct with a conical cover protrudes from the aqueduct below (You can hear the water running). Enter a more open area with younger western white pine, lodgepole pine, and Douglas-fir. Then pass along a brushy corridor of snow brush, Scouler’s willow, and ocean spray. In a wetter area forested with western red-cedar, pass a dripping rock face. On your right, you’ll see a remnant section of the Oak Grove Ditch which preceded the buried pipeline. A little later, a small waterfall splashes down to a vertical plastic pipe. Come to a boulder field: Here the pipeline, now painted steel rather than PVC, runs above ground. The trail reaches a maintenance road; keep left at a junction, and reach a small pumphouse with its solar panel tower.

Resume the trail, and use stepping stones to cross Gate Creek (The source for the irrigation pipeline is a little way up Gate Creek to your right). Hike uphill, and swing to the right below a talus slope. The trail here follows the former FR 2820-630, but the tread has been raised with ditches on both sides. Enter a montane forest of noble fir, silver fir, and mountain hemlock. Then the trail peels off the road bed to continue up through a bear-grass and huckleberry carpet. Make a wide curving loop up, and cross a small ditch that may have been part of the logging flume system. Reach FR 2820 opposite the entrance road to the Rainy Lake Campground.

Cross the road, and hike up to the Rainy Lake Trailhead. You’ll see picnic tables and the A-frame outhouse at the campground. The Rainy Lake Trail leads up a slope to enter the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness at a tall noble fir. Hike up a slope of mountain hemlock, silver fir, and noble fir with a huckleberry understory. Reach Rainy Lake, where there’s a small bench for you to sit on and contemplate. To your right is the willow-lined dam wall which turned the lake into a log pond. Looking up to your left, you’ll see the talus slopes of Green Point Mountain. Return the way you came after you’ve had your fill of the scenery, or hike a little farther north – about one mile – to reach North Lake. Another little adventure you can embark upon from the Rainy Lake Trailhead is the abandoned route on the Black Lake from Rainy Lake Hike.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - West #428S
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North

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Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.