The Official "Where Can I Backpack in the Spring" Thread

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
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arundodonax
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The Official "Where Can I Backpack in the Spring" Thread

Post by arundodonax » February 27th, 2013, 3:23 pm

It seems as though we get numerous requests for good few-day snow-free spring backpacking options on Portlandhikers every year. I thought it would be good to create a "master list," if you will, of those places that are worthwhile pre-melt options. I'll gladly compile and revise the first post to reflect your suggestions below.

10-15 miles

Eagle Creek to 7.5 Mile Camp
http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org ... Falls_Hike
7.5 Mile camp is—you guessed it—7.5 miles in.

Salmon River Trail
http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org ... River_Hike
This trail is usually snow free in the spring. About an 8 mile trip that can be extended further by adding the Old Salmon River Trail Section.


15-25 Miles

Olympic NP Coast
E.g., http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org ... Beach_Hike
About 6 hours from Portland. Variable mileage. Read up on tide levels. Other sections of the Olympic National Park wilderness beach are also nice; they just need careful adherence to tide tables and tolerance for the inevitable rain and lots and of mud. You must use a bear canister (can be borrowed with small deposit from the ranger stations).

Siouxon Creek
http://www.nwhiker.com/GPNFHike49.html
Up to about 20 miles out and back. Open when the final "hump" in the road is melted out.


25-35 Miles

Deschutes River Trail
http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org ... River_Hike
Dry, flat, and sunny. The average hike is around 23 miles round trip, but you could do a 35 mile out and back.

McKenzie River Trail
http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/willamet ... 9&actid=24
Portions are open in to the winter. Beware of bikers. Up to 26 miles one way.

Metolius River Trail
http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org ... River_Hike
Up to 32 miles round trip. Near Sisters. Should be accessible around Late March.


35+ Miles

Rogue River Trail
http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org ... River_Hike
41 miles one way. About 4.5 hours from Portland.


Other Longer Options that Require More Individualized Planning

Hells Canyon/Snake River Trail
About 6 hours from Portland.

The Lost Coast
About 9 hours from Portland, in Northern California.

Mill Creek Wilderness
In the Ochocos.

North Fork John Day Wilderness
Northeast Oregon.

Olympic National Park
http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/w ... itions.htm
Many of the river valleys are open earlier, but be prepared for some pretty serious rain, river crossings and the like. Options sometimes include the Bogachiel, Dosewallips, Duckabush, Hoh, and Queets rivers.

The SE Oregon High Desert
About 8 hours from Portland.

Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness
Northeast Oregon. Portions open in the winter. Certainly fine by late April or very early May, when wildflowers should be at their peak. Higher sections, probably not until late May or early June.


Important Notes:
1. Some of these areas aren't open (snow-free) until late spring. When in doubt, check.
2. Many of these hikes are out and back, allowing for varied trip length. Mileage ranges are indicative of what might be the average trip length.
3. And of course, spring really means winter around here folks. Be prepared for winter conditions.
Last edited by arundodonax on February 27th, 2013, 9:48 pm, edited 14 times in total.

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Born2BBrad
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Re: The Official "Where Can I Backpack in the Spring" Thread

Post by Born2BBrad » February 27th, 2013, 3:37 pm

Snake River in Hells Canyon
Hells Canyon from Freezeout Saddle
Wenaha-Tucanan Wilderness
SE OR High Desert
Mill Creek Wilderness
North Fork John Day Wilderness
The Lost Coast

Some of these may be late spring, depending on snow pack.
Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.
- Jean Luc Picard

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Grannyhiker
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Re: The Official "Where Can I Backpack in the Spring" Thread

Post by Grannyhiker » February 27th, 2013, 4:32 pm

Up high on Steens and the Pueblo Mountains, not until late June or early July, depending of course on snow pack.

Wenaha/Tucannon--the Wenaha River trail from Troy, OR, may be open now (haven't checked). Certainly fine by late April or very early May, when wildflowers should be at their peak. Higher sections, probably not until late May or early June, depending, of course, on snowpack and the weather between now and then.

Other sections of the Olympic National Park wilderness beach are also fine. They just need careful adherence to tide tables and tolerance for the inevitable rain and lots and lots of mud. You must use a bear canister (can be borrowed with small deposit from the ranger stations). On the coast, the canister is to deter raccoons rather than bears, although there are some bears in the area.

Long low-elevation river valleys in the Olympic Mountains, also. Hoh River comes to mind. Enchanted Valley, per reports on nwhikers.net, is still snowy. (Nwhikers.net is getting exactly the same queries, BTW.) For Olympic NP ideas, I'd suggest checking out nwhikers.net, which is more attuned to Washington (except SW Washington, where there's lots more info here). The ONP Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles is, in my experience, a friendly place that will give you lots of help planning a trip.

The McKenzie River trail and the Metolius River trail should be accessible by late March or early April if not sooner. Again, that depends on the weather at the time.

Looks like we're getting a good list going; maybe our Field Guide folks can get a list posted there.

As already mentioned, being prepared for winter conditions and keeping a close eye on the weather forecast is vital!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey

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texasbb
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Re: The Official "Where Can I Backpack in the Spring" Thread

Post by texasbb » February 27th, 2013, 9:29 pm

If Washington is fair game:
  • Chelan Lakeshore Trail
  • Ancient Lake (good overnighter)

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romann
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Re: The Official "Where Can I Backpack in the Spring" Thread

Post by romann » February 28th, 2013, 1:28 am

Mill Creek wilderness is snow-free for the most part by mid- or late May, and flowers follow ~2 weeks later, so it's good late spring backpack. Lower canyon may be accessible much earlier, maybe even in March but it's short section.

Though access directions are complicated, Badger Creek Hike is great low-elevation trail and may be accessible in April. There's a sign driving from SR 26 that access road is closed before April 1. Alternative approach route would be via The Dalles and SR 197.
Same thing is first 4 miles of School Canyon trail nearby, it's slightly higher in elevation but this place is dry so not a lot of snow (maybe good in May, I did it in June and snowline was much higher). May do a loop with Little Badger Creek trail.

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drm
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Re: The Official "Where Can I Backpack in the Spring" Thread

Post by drm » February 28th, 2013, 8:32 am

It needs a page in the Field Guide, and maybe a sticky post in season pointing to it.

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CampinCarl
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Re: The Official "Where Can I Backpack in the Spring" Thread

Post by CampinCarl » February 28th, 2013, 8:43 am

Redwood National Park - Utilizing the horse trails along with the Redwood Creek trail, you can make a loop of up to 32 miles.

Illinois River Trail- Inquire as to snow conditions for whole trail, but much of it should be accessible

Little North Santiam Trail (4.5 miles total) is nice for an overnight

Opal Creek is another possiblity for a night or two - about 10 miles total. Jawbone Flats Webcam link is great for monitoring the snow level.

"Recliner" Option - Ecola State Park :)

Lower elevation stretches of the North Umpqua Trail.
Last edited by CampinCarl on February 28th, 2013, 9:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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retired jerry
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Re: The Official "Where Can I Backpack in the Spring" Thread

Post by retired jerry » February 28th, 2013, 9:15 am

"It needs a page in the Field Guide, and maybe a sticky post in season pointing to it."

I'm putting something below "Must See Hikes". I just started right now and will have something more complete within a couple days.

As always, any feedback appreciated.

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retired jerry
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Re: The Official "Where Can I Backpack in the Spring" Thread

Post by retired jerry » February 28th, 2013, 1:50 pm

Okay, I created something on field guide home page just under must see hikes

Any feedback appreciated

Obviously, this could be open-ended, but there's a few

Mostly, I just copied Chris' stuff

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Grannyhiker
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Re: The Official "Where Can I Backpack in the Spring" Thread

Post by Grannyhiker » February 28th, 2013, 3:20 pm

Thanks for adding Mill and Badger Creeks--forgot about those! Also Opal Creek and Illinois River. With Opal Creek, though, the stream has to be forded to get to Cedar Flats and that's probably not a good idea when it's high with snow melt. I'm wondering if the Illinois River trail has been worked on since the fire? I know somebody was down in the Kalmiopsis last May, but it was a different part. I remember photos of the kalmiopsis leachiana blooming then.

Chelan Lakeshore is a standard early hike, the only problem being abbreviated boat schedules in April and most of May.

A review of March-April-May-early June trip reports for the past few years would be an excellent source. Unfortunately, I don't have the time right now (and probably won't be backpacking until mid-July this year) or I'd volunteer. This would be a good project, especially since everyone is champing at the bit to get out there!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey

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