The secrets of Forest Park

Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
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oldandslow
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Re: The secrets of Forest Park

Post by oldandslow » March 28th, 2020, 8:35 am

I would guess that those roads and firelanes date back to the aftermath of the 1951 forest fire in Forest Park. A friend of mine who went to Vanport College had a summer job with the Portland Fire Department. He told me that there were no roads in Forest Park at the time which hampered fire fighting efforts. Probably the city built roads and firelanes but with the advent of ariel fire fighting, let them go.

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Dave Rappoccio
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Re: The secrets of Forest Park

Post by Dave Rappoccio » March 29th, 2020, 12:24 pm

gandeez wrote:
March 27th, 2020, 8:27 am
I walked/jogged Firelane 14 again yesterday. It was clearly graded for a road at one time, with that big chunky gravel underneath. I think somebody decided it wasn't worth it, dug up the culverts, and decided to let it return to nature.

I found more evidence for your Firelane 11 on this historical maps website:

https://www.oldmapsonline.org/

Maps from the 60's and 70's seem to show a road/jeep trail in that spot. I'm going to have to go explore it next.

A couple weeks ago I found that cut from the bottom of Firelane 9 over to Linnton Trail. I didn't find it that difficult - my flimsy sandals handled it pretty well, and a path up from the creek to Linnton Trail wasn't too difficult to find. There were some hikers a couple minutes behind me who seemed to be managing OK as well. Maybe the path is a little more defined now.

Cheers - thanks for helping me explore and find some adventures.
Wow I just decided to randomly check the forums today while quarantined and didn't expect to see my several years-old thread pop up

I've actually found several more abandoned road grades since making this thread if anyone is interested. Word of note, the last time I went down Firelane 11 I was able to better track it after it leaves the ridgetop halfway down, and I came across what is clearly an elaborate hidden shelter by someone who did not want to be found and I hightailed it out of there. So explore at your own risk.

I'm pretty sure I also found the lost Firelane 6. There are two ridgelines between the Firelane 5 & 7 ridges, and both actually have lost roads on them. Close to firelane 7 is the Wiregate Trail, which links LE and WW up a roadbed trail, but if you wander south past the junction on the WW you might be able to spot the rest of the roadbed going up. It's pretty brushy but it's there, and I followed it for a while before it more or less ends by entering private land past no trespassing signs. So the Wiregate Trail and this forgotten section might be Firelane 6. It's labeled "Jeep Trail" on this map. https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/img4/ht_icons/ov ... 00_geo.jpg

But the next major ridge before firelane 5 also has a network of lost roads. If you walk south on the WW from firelane 7 look out for a bunch of oil pipeline signs that go up the ridge. If you bushwhack up this ridge you'll find a pretty open road following the oil-line signs. You'll even reach a junction with another lost road at the base of a hill. Going straight up is the same thing, it goes until you see no trespassing signs. Both other roadbeds kinda disappear immediately after the intersection, but I'm almost positive the one heading south eventually connects to the firelane 5 saltzman TH that is in the private land area with all the warning signs.

There is also a trail leading north from the open field at the top of the Waterline trail that follows the ridge until it lands on a roadgrade that descends to the top of Germantown. You can see the base of this road very very easily if you drive down Germantown from Skyline - it's on the right going uphill from the very first turn.

There is also a forgotten road to nowhere off of Newton Rd, about halfway down. It just descends around a turn and kind of loops and vanishes.

Lastly, while the Waterline Rd has the secret extension down from LE connecting to Springville Rd, there are actually two of these same roads. The main one is easy to spot because it has a gate right off LE, but if you backtrack south to a large pullout type area not far from the gate and look downhill towards the creek, you can spot another lost road that does the same thing. It goes down, crosses the creek (hard to follow at the bottom), then rises back up the other side to connect to Springville further up.

Maybe I can keep exploring the park once we get through our current apocalypse

gandeez
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Re: The secrets of Forest Park

Post by gandeez » March 30th, 2020, 6:51 pm

oldandslow wrote:
March 28th, 2020, 8:35 am
I would guess that those roads and firelanes date back to the aftermath of the 1951 forest fire in Forest Park. A friend of mine who went to Vanport College had a summer job with the Portland Fire Department. He told me that there were no roads in Forest Park at the time which hampered fire fighting efforts. Probably the city built roads and firelanes but with the advent of ariel fire fighting, let them go.
My best guess is that the firelanes pre-date Forest Park (est. 1948), back to when that area was mostly privately owned and logged in the late 19th and early 20th century. Cutting old growth in other parts of NW Oregon, loggers built roads and train tracks along the top of a ridge, brought in heavy equipment to pull the felled trees up to the ridge line. The pattern of firelanes in Forest Park seems to match this use. Now they're mostly for utility company access and some recreational access. The ones that don't fill one of these roles (6,11,14) are not maintained and are slowly returning to nature.

gandeez
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Re: The secrets of Forest Park

Post by gandeez » March 30th, 2020, 7:44 pm

Dave Rappoccio wrote:
March 29th, 2020, 12:24 pm
I've actually found several more abandoned road grades since making this thread if anyone is interested. Word of note, the last time I went down Firelane 11 I was able to better track it after it leaves the ridgetop halfway down, and I came across what is clearly an elaborate hidden shelter by someone who did not want to be found and I hightailed it out of there. So explore at your own risk.

[...]

Maybe I can keep exploring the park once we get through our current apocalypse
I think exploring the park is how I'm going to get through the crisis. Certainly better than being in a hospital right now.

With your help, this morning I found and hiked FL 11. A couple wrong turns and more overgrowth than I expected, but I did succeed in getting down to Newton Trail. GPS on my phone didn't get signal until I had already gone too far along the ridgeline. As soon as I got signal I looked down the hill trying to find Newton, and that's when I saw the shelter you mentioned in your post. I was probably 60 feet above it, and I gave it a wide berth coming down. I agree with your assessment - don't think I'll go that way again without some backup (and maybe a machete).

Ran back up BPA Rd, and down 12 to have another look at 14. Checking out google terrain view it looked like I could get from the end of 14 up a pretty gentle slope up to WW. To my surprise, it worked. Keeping the second stream within sight on my left after I crossed it, and within a minute or two was back up on Wildwood. Not any harder than FL 11, so it looks like I found another loop, something I might actually use again. I'm guessing that FL 14 was built to get logging trucks and other equipment up to that flat area I climbed up through, which is why it just dead-ends there.

I mostly stay north of Germantown just because it's closer to where I live, but I may get out and explore the other areas you mention. I noticed the area you mentioned for FL 6 on google terrain - looks like maybe it comes out near the Saltzmann/FL 5 split.

I agree it's a weird obsession to find and explore these abandoned tracks. Maybe I'll see you up there sometime.

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retired jerry
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Re: The secrets of Forest Park

Post by retired jerry » March 31st, 2020, 5:49 am

maybe a project to resurrect as hiking trails :)

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Dave Rappoccio
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Re: The secrets of Forest Park

Post by Dave Rappoccio » March 31st, 2020, 3:48 pm

gandeez wrote:
March 30th, 2020, 7:44 pm
Dave Rappoccio wrote:
March 29th, 2020, 12:24 pm
I've actually found several more abandoned road grades since making this thread if anyone is interested. Word of note, the last time I went down Firelane 11 I was able to better track it after it leaves the ridgetop halfway down, and I came across what is clearly an elaborate hidden shelter by someone who did not want to be found and I hightailed it out of there. So explore at your own risk.

[...]

Maybe I can keep exploring the park once we get through our current apocalypse
I think exploring the park is how I'm going to get through the crisis. Certainly better than being in a hospital right now.

With your help, this morning I found and hiked FL 11. A couple wrong turns and more overgrowth than I expected, but I did succeed in getting down to Newton Trail. GPS on my phone didn't get signal until I had already gone too far along the ridgeline. As soon as I got signal I looked down the hill trying to find Newton, and that's when I saw the shelter you mentioned in your post. I was probably 60 feet above it, and I gave it a wide berth coming down. I agree with your assessment - don't think I'll go that way again without some backup (and maybe a machete).

I mostly stay north of Germantown just because it's closer to where I live, but I may get out and explore the other areas you mention. I noticed the area you mentioned for FL 6 on google terrain - looks like maybe it comes out near the Saltzmann/FL 5 split.

I agree it's a weird obsession to find and explore these abandoned tracks. Maybe I'll see you up there sometime.
Was the shelter still surrounded by random trash cans tucked into the hill? That was how I spotted it. I almost tripped over one, got confused by it's presence, spotted more, then spotted the actual shelter. I opened the one I reached and it was full of clothes. Then my nerves hit and I got back out of there. Thought about reporting it but I never did. If it is still there it might be worth reporting, this was at least 3 years ago. By far the sketchiest thing I've seen on a hike.

I'd recommend finding the oil-lane rd area, the top of the ridge is very nice and there is a lot to walk before you hit the no-tresspass signs. It's incredibly easy to see on google terrain view:
Image

Last time I was there I tried to go as far south from the junction as I could, but the road devolves the further you go and it got very very brushy and mushy. I've thought about trying again when it's the dry season, as I could see the road on the other side of the creek but I just didn't want to face the squish that day. The way north from the junction looks really clear here and I lost sight when I was there very fast, but I think I went off-track too.

If you want another fun loop you can go all the way down to the bottom of Firelane 12, which dead-ends in a backyard, and then do a steep tough bushwhack up the ridge until you come across the viewpoint at the base of firelane 13. There was a faint game trail that got me through that mostly unscathed, but definitely bring pants and expect a couple scrapes.
retired jerry wrote:
March 31st, 2020, 5:49 am
maybe a project to resurrect as hiking trails :)
Honestly if we could get rid of the sketchy shelter the firelane 11 climb from newton-bpa would make a great trail, but I ain't going down there alone again and I want to reiterate I don't think anyone else should, especially now that we have a second witness

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Don Nelsen
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Re: The secrets of Forest Park

Post by Don Nelsen » April 5th, 2020, 6:48 pm

Dave, Thanks for the great TR and info! Somehow I missed it when you first posted. Your post got me re-enthused about the north end of the park so thank you for that, too.

I've hiked all those FL's and other trails for years. (I used to go up there on my bike from '59 to '62 and started hiking the area in earnest starting in '79) I've logged everything on GPS starting in '07 through mid '18 and wondered about the fire lane numbering too. I'd considered Newton Road to be FL 11 though, just somehow it ended up with a name rather than a number. What you are calling FL 11 I think is actually an abandoned section of FL 12. Here's my GPS map of the area. You can see how well FL 12 aligns with that ridge. This would also make the numbering system consistent so FL 13 wouldn't be before FL 12. I've cleaned the map up a bit to make it easier to read.

Image

Also, I think it was graded atop an older logging road: The little triangle a third of the way down is way more over grown than the rest of the road and also, where it drops off the ridge, it is much more deteriorated.
Just my opinion, of course.

BTW, The shelter is still there but long abandoned. There must be 100 boxes of newspapers, too. Boxes weighing 50 lbs each or more. The papers appear new and unread - maybe unsold discards? Probably two or three of tons of material. I opened a couple boxes up and saw the NY Times, the San Diego Tribune, USA Today and more. I opened one of the suitcases in the shelter and it was crammed full of books. Everything I examined was well wrapped in plastic and dry. Someone worked their butt off to carry all that in. A mystery for sure.

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dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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