proposal for McGee Creek Trail: abandon or realign

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Chip Down
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proposal for McGee Creek Trail: abandon or realign

Post by Chip Down » October 13th, 2019, 12:34 pm

McGee Creek Trail is a curiosity. It doesn't go anywhere that isn't already served by a shorter higher trail (Top Spur). It doesn't follow or pass anything of interest. It can't significantly reduce crowding on Top Spur, because the junction where the routes diverge is only a mile from Top Spur TH. It offers slightly improved access in the snowy times of the year when people can't quite drive to Top Spur, but PCT works just as well for that, maybe even slightly better. I'm perplexed that the trail even exists, but the USFS does have a history of building/maintaining odd trails (I think there must be some folks there who judge success by the number of trail miles available to the public).

I propose McGee Creek Trail be abandoned or realigned. Proposed realignment would start at the end of the road one drives to reach the current TH (Forest Road 1800-620 per USFS). New trail would follow ridgecrest until it joins Timberline Trail.

Benefits:
- Superior early/late season access: easy to follow ridgecrest in snow (slim chance of getting lost, although maybe that's a moot point in our GPS era) and easier to get to by car than Top Spur when roads are challenging.
- A more direct route, less junctions.
- Possibly shorter hike. As the crow flies, about the same as Top Spur route. With its weaving indirect route, Top Spur hike might be longer.

The purpose of this post is just to solicit opinions/ideas. I don't actually think this will ever happen.

Incidentally, looking at the Top Spur TH, I'm a little surprised the USFS created that. It has the look of an informal access point used by creative hikers. I wonder if it started that way, and came to be adopted as an official trail.
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Aimless
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Re: proposal for McGee Creek Trail: abandon or realign

Post by Aimless » October 13th, 2019, 1:13 pm

It doesn't go anywhere that isn't already served by a shorter higher trail (Top Spur). It doesn't follow or pass anything of interest. It can't significantly reduce crowding on Top Spur

I like McGee Creek trail for precisely the reasons you think it has no purpose. It is far less crowded than Top Spur. I don't care that it is somewhat lower and slightly longer, because I hike for the pleasure of being in the wilderness, not to get somewhere with the least effort possible. What you deem "of interest" is not more interesting to me than the forest I pass on the way to the presumed point of interest. I don't mind that you're proposing a realignment that will never happen, but I am very unhappy that you're proposing to abandon it just because it doesn't suit your idea of a good trail. :x

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retired jerry
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Re: proposal for McGee Creek Trail: abandon or realign

Post by retired jerry » October 13th, 2019, 1:19 pm

About 1/2 mile before the Top Spur is an alternate trail to the PCT. It's where the PCT gets closest to the road, about 500 feet.

I think there are some signs of an old trail, but maybe that's my imagination. Regardless, it's pretty easy to walk. Some of those obnoxious rhododendrons.

If you're going from the Sandy River up to the Top Spur TH, this is an easier route.

If you're going the other direction, PCT or Cairn Basin or McNeil, it's easier to take the regular trail down to Top Spur.

Maybe they chose Top Spur because it's easier to park. Bigger area.

My 1979 Lowe book shows Top Spur TH on a map but doesn't mention it or have any hikes from it. They say to get to McNeil Pt from Cathedral Ridge TH, now called the Mazama TH. I guess if you maintain a trail you get to have it renamed for you. Sort of like the Moda Center.

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retired jerry
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Re: proposal for McGee Creek Trail: abandon or realign

Post by retired jerry » October 13th, 2019, 1:20 pm

Sometimes I go up to McNeil Pt or whatever from the Ramona Falls TH, even though it's miles longer. I like the hike.

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Chip Down
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Re: proposal for McGee Creek Trail: abandon or realign

Post by Chip Down » October 13th, 2019, 1:53 pm

Hi Aimless. I'm aware you're fond of this trail. But I'm baffled that you're upset at my proposal. I think it's objectively a poorly designed trail. If you disagree, that's fine. We can discuss that. But your reaction is what I'd expect if the Forest Supervisor declared that it's a stupid trail and he's going to send a paid work crew in there to decommission it.

Jerry: Yeah, on my map above I noticed that spot where the road gets closest to trail, southwest of the Top Spur TH. I wonder if that rough trail was there first, and then USFS built Top Spur. Or maybe they coexisted as informal bushwhack routes, where users had to balance time spent bushwhacking vs time spent on trail.

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retired jerry
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Re: proposal for McGee Creek Trail: abandon or realign

Post by retired jerry » October 13th, 2019, 2:29 pm

looking at 1962 usgs map, 7.5 quad, bull run lake

https://prd-tnm.s3.amazonaws.com/Staged ... 00_geo.pdf

There's no Top Spur trail but there is a McGeee Creek trail.

so, maybe between 1962 and 1979 they built the Top Spur trail which sort of obsoleted the McGee Creek trail, but there was no reason to decommission it

On that 1962 map there's no connection on my hypothesized trail where the PCT gets close to the road

There's a bit of a tread (my imagination?). I've thought about cutting some branches to resurrect the trail except why bother?

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Chip Down
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Re: proposal for McGee Creek Trail: abandon or realign

Post by Chip Down » October 13th, 2019, 3:52 pm

Jerry,
One of the things I considered when I pondered why the McGee trail is there: what were the surrounding roads/trails like when it was built? I tend to assume the Skyline Trail (now PCT) was one of the early trails up there, as Lolo Pass Road was surely one of the first roads, and it would seem natural to build a trail from the pass up to the mountain. Oh, but look how McGee TH was accessed! Radically different road! [edit: not as different as I first thought, looks like they basically extended the road to Lolo Pass]

Also, off topic, look for the Mazama TH. There's a trail, but it doesn't quite connect with the road. (I know the current Mazama TH isn't the original.)
retired jerry wrote:
October 13th, 2019, 2:29 pm
I've thought about cutting some branches to resurrect the trail except why bother?
Rumor has it you're retired. ;)
Last edited by Chip Down on October 13th, 2019, 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: proposal for McGee Creek Trail: abandon or realign

Post by adamschneider » October 13th, 2019, 3:56 pm

retired jerry wrote:
October 13th, 2019, 2:29 pm
...where the PCT gets close to the road

There's a bit of a tread (my imagination?). I've thought about cutting some branches to resurrect the trail except why bother?
I've used that shortcut; it's not your imagination. When I did it four years ago (to access a loop around Muddy Fork and Ramona Falls), there was some pink tape down by the road where it went up through some small conifers, but no markings on the PCT end. The photo below is from somewhere in between.

PCT-FR118 shortcut.jpg

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Re: proposal for McGee Creek Trail: abandon or realign

Post by Aimless » October 13th, 2019, 6:50 pm

Chip Down wrote:
October 13th, 2019, 1:53 pm
I'm baffled that you're upset at my proposal.
Your thread title says "Abandon or Realign" and not "Abandon and Realign". I have no beef with abandoning the present trail, if it were decommissioned in favor of a newer and better designed trail. But you presented your proposal as an either/or. You think it is objectively a poorly designed trail. OK. Then improve it. Period. Don't suggest the FS abandon it without replacing it with something better. But when I read what you wrote that's exactly what you appear to suggest.

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retired jerry
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Re: proposal for McGee Creek Trail: abandon or realign

Post by retired jerry » October 13th, 2019, 7:19 pm

ahhh... two of us imagine a trail there

oh yeah, I put that ribbon there

(that was just an attempt at humor, I didn't put it there but I've seen the ribbon too)

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