Corral Springs to Roaring River 11-28-23

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bobcat
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Corral Springs to Roaring River 11-28-23

Post by bobcat » November 28th, 2023, 7:12 pm

I had to rise exceptionally early to deliver people to the airport at 5:00 a.m., so decided to make a day of it in the Clackamas. The Corral Springs Trail #507 has long been on my radar, and it may be one of the last, if not the last, USFS listed trail that I had not hiked in the Mt. Hood National Forest. Yes, the USFS actually has a page on the Corral Springs Trail even though they don’t maintain it!

The trail has a somewhat mysterious history, appearing on a 1938 topo as descending to the Roaring River to the west of the current route, fording the river, and heading up the opposite slope to the lookout that once stood at the end of Indian Ridge, near Shining Lake. On a 1956 topo, the trail maintains this old westerly route and crosses the river to become the South Fork Roaring River Trail #511, which traversed above that creek and north of Lower Rock Lake to Frazier Turnaround (see pablo's 2009 report on attempting that route). By 1985, the topo shows the 507 on the current, more easterly descent and dead ending at the river. By the 1990s, the trail has disappeared from topo maps.

I began at the Huxley Lake Trailhead, about 14 miles up the notorious Abbot Road. The trailhead is just above a small quarry, and at the top end of the deeply rutted rise in the road that comes after you negotiate 16 trillion potholes on Dee Flat. The sun would rise over Grouse Point in the east soon after I began the hike. Twenty yards from the boulder barrier, I departed from the decommissioned road that led down to the old Lookout Springs Campground and guard station. The path is wide here and traverses the slope in a 100-year forest with old burn snags. I stepped around a depression in the trail that used to be a cattle guard at a fence line. Some of the posts and barbed wire remain. Then I got to the junction with the Huxley Lake Trail right above Corral Springs, which trickle in several channels out of a vine maple thicket. (I used the Huxley Lake Trail to visit the Roaring River in 2015.)

Parked at the Huxley Lake Trailhead, Corral Springs.jpeg
Near the beginning of the Corral Springs Trail.jpeg
Old cattle grid, Corral Springs.jpeg
Barbed wire and fence post, Corral Springs.jpeg
Throttlehold, Corral Springs.jpeg
Junction with Huxley Lake Trail, Corral Springs.jpeg
Sign at the junction, Corral Springs.jpeg
At Corral Springs.jpeg

I kept on the Corral Springs Trail and passed the boundary of the Roaring River Wilderness. The trail soon begins to drop and never stops dropping: it’s 2,200 feet down to the river in two miles! This upper part is in excellent shape and a logout had been done by the trail elves perhaps last year. Mushrooms had erupted everywhere but perhaps were frozen (it was 27°).

Wilderness sign, Corral Springs.jpeg
Sun hitting the rhododendrons, Corral Springs.jpeg
Big fire snag, Corral Springs.jpeg
Ramaria coral mushroom, Corral Springs.jpeg
(Russula bicolor), Corral Springs.jpeg
Questionable stropharia (Stropharia ambigua), Corral Springs.jpeg
Lactarius mushroom, Corral Springs.jpeg
Fluted black elfin saddle (Helvella lacunosa), Corral Springs.jpeg

The trail reached the rim above the deep Roaring River valley and changed aspect. The duff tread changed to gravel, with some sloughing of the tread. Chinquapin showed itself among the rhodies, with all the vegetation dripping strands of Methuselah’s beard. And views opened up a little. I could see east around the big bend of the Roaring River to Linney Butte, the massive forested face of Indian Ridge loomed ahead, with Grouse Point above the valley of the South Fork to the right. At one switchback, I could depart from the trail to get a view down an impressive talus slope that is one of the features of this hike.

Methuselah's beard, Corral Springs.jpeg
View to Linney Butte, Corral Springs.jpeg
Looking down the talus slope, Corral Springs.jpeg

Lower down, I found a trail badge that had fallen off a tree, the only sign since the junction. I was able to bushwhack out to the talus again. Down here, I was basically wading through salal although there was recognizable, although sometimes sketchy, tread all the way. I made the only creek crossing of the trip and passed a couple of Douglas-fir giants that must have survived the big fire. Soon, the trail decided to eschew switchbacks, and made a final steep plunge down to the Roaring River. It was brushy along the river bank, and the Forest Service’s “nice camping” was nowhere to be found. The sun only hit the valley bottom around midday, and then probably only briefly. This is a remote spot on one of only two trails, both not officially maintained as far as the river (the other is Grouse Point), that reach the Roaring River in the middle of its wilderness.

507 badge, Corral Springs.jpeg
Looking up the talus slope, Corral Springs.jpeg
At the creek crossing, Corral Springs.jpeg
Burned Douglas-fir giant, Corral Springs.jpeg
Cut logs on lower trail, Corral Springs.jpeg
Ruffled freckle pelt (Peltigera leucophlebia), Corral Springs.jpeg
Looking up the Roaring River, Corral Springs.jpeg
Down the Roaring River, Corral Springs.jpeg

The return was a simple plod, up 2,200 feet, but not too bad. I amused myself by removing branches from the trail and doing some minor saw work. I didn’t see any wildlife, only heard a couple of deer running away.

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RobFromRedland
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Re: Corral Springs to Roaring River 11-28-23

Post by RobFromRedland » November 30th, 2023, 5:51 pm

I was surprised to see that the FS had indeed done maintenance on that trail last year. It was the first time in YEARS they had touched that trail that I'm aware of, but I talked with the trails supervisor and she confirmed it. I was also surprised to see they actually cut logs all the way down to the river. Didn't do any treadwork, but did cut several logs near the river.

As far as the trail heading up the other side, I think the maps were incorrect on that one - we looked and looked for a trail continuing across on the other side, but never found anything at all. Just like the 511 trail on the South Fork, I think the maps had it in the wrong spot. Here is one map showing the 511 coming across the Roaring River and heading up the other side, with Corral Springs to the north and Grouse Point to the south - the only map I've seen that showed that trail, and I think it may be accurate:
1983RondyMapClip.jpg
It is a neat trail that gets VERY little use but takes you down into the heart of a true wilderness area. I'm glad someone else enjoyed it.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW! What a ride! - Hunter S. Thompson

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bobcat
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Re: Corral Springs to Roaring River 11-28-23

Post by bobcat » December 1st, 2023, 8:36 am

RobFromRedland wrote:
November 30th, 2023, 5:51 pm
I was surprised to see that the FS had indeed done maintenance on that trail last year.
Then my apologies to the Forest Service and a big thank you (credit where credit is due)!

No, I also haven't seen a map that shows a trail leading up the other side of the river from the current 507. However, that middle trail (now defunct) you see on older maps, which connects with the 511, is also labeled 507 on some of them. I also just realized that the trail is not on my 2002 Clackamas River Ranger District map, so perhaps at some point it was taken off the official list but then resurrected, sort of?

All this begs the question: Why was the current alignment of the 507 built at all? I can see that it might be an attractive, remote destination for an adventurous fly fisherman and apparently there was an established campsite on the river, but no longer.

Also, the topo maps that display the current alignment show the trail as a series of squiggles leading down to the river. In reality, there are far fewer switchbacks than these maps show. Unfortunately, as I have found with many remote trails, these squiggles from the hand-drawn track are repeated in Caltopo and Gaia, proving that these resources are not reliable when it comes to rarely hiked trails (when you actually need them the most). They are using whatever they can find and not necessarily actual GPS tracks. Also Caltopo's measurements are off (very common, I've found), saying the trail is 2.8 miles from the junction to the river when that's actually the length of the entire route.

People need to understand that these resources, useful as they are, are not the "gold standard". In the case of the Clackamas, of course, Rob's Trail Advocates site is your best resource!

This old (maybe 1970s?) Forest Service trail log, which I got off the Trail Advocates site, is a case in point.

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RobFromRedland
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Re: Corral Springs to Roaring River 11-28-23

Post by RobFromRedland » December 1st, 2023, 10:41 am

bobcat wrote:
December 1st, 2023, 8:36 am
All this begs the question: Why was the current alignment of the 507 built at all? I can see that it might be an attractive, remote destination for an adventurous fly fisherman and apparently there was an established campsite on the river, but no longer.
This is a really good question - my only thought is that maybe this did (long ago) connect with the trail that came down from the lookout on Indian Ridge - the old maps seem to indicate that trail and the 511 connected and then headed up the other side, but in my searching, coupled with the reality of where the 511 actually is (about half way up the hill instead of along the river like almost all the maps show) make me think those alignments were not correct. We will probably never know....

Last time I was up there I think I did see a VERY old firepit, but nothing that really looked like a campsite - at least not one that had been used this century.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW! What a ride! - Hunter S. Thompson

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Splintercat
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Re: Corral Springs to Roaring River 11-28-23

Post by Splintercat » December 8th, 2023, 8:46 am

Nice report, Bobcat -- and a rather significant milestone: you've hiked EVERY trail in the MHNF? Wow! That's truly impressive!

@Rob, that sure looks like a clip from a map that Howard Rondthaler drew from memory for me when I was in college, circa 1982 or 83. I still have it. I was working on a hiking guide for the "proposed" Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness as part of a Sierra Club effort to promote the area and Howard was an amazing source of knowledge. Like Bobcat, he had walked every trail in the forest -- and had also laid out a fair number of them. At the time, he was busy getting the Green Canyon Way trail reopened, among others. A very different era for recreation within the NF system, despite the logging heyday that was also in full swing.

-Tom :)

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RobFromRedland
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Re: Corral Springs to Roaring River 11-28-23

Post by RobFromRedland » December 8th, 2023, 11:09 am

Splintercat wrote:
December 8th, 2023, 8:46 am
@Rob, that sure looks like a clip from a map that Howard Rondthaler drew from memory for me when I was in college, circa 1982 or 83. I still have it. I was working on a hiking guide for the "proposed" Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness as part of a Sierra Club effort to promote the area and Howard was an amazing source of knowledge. Like Bobcat, he had walked every trail in the forest -- and had also laid out a fair number of them. At the time, he was busy getting the Green Canyon Way trail reopened, among others. A very different era for recreation within the NF system, despite the logging heyday that was also in full swing.

-Tom :)
Yes, that map snippet was from a bunch of stuff I got from the FS several years ago (before they moved to Sandy) - they had several "Rondy" boxes - stuff that had been sitting around for years that he had amassed. There was a lot of really interesting stuff in them - that map being one of them. He had plans for building a trail up the Roaring River, which is sad it never happened - that would be an AWESOME trail.

I've met his family, including his ex wife, but sadly never had the pleasure of meeting him unfortunately. He was an "old school" ranger - one who understood recreation and really knew the areas he was managing. That seems to be something greatly missing from today's Forest Service. They get moved around so frequently they never get to know the areas they are responsible for.

I don't know if you knew this or not, but as a tribute to him, the Horseshoe Lake trail was informally named the Rondy trail and a commemorative sign was installed before the fires. Amazingly enough, the sign survived the fires completely intact:
Trailhead sign:
20231009_120822.jpg
Commemorative sign a bit up the trail:
20231009_121750.jpg
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW! What a ride! - Hunter S. Thompson

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bobcat
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Re: Corral Springs to Roaring River 11-28-23

Post by bobcat » December 10th, 2023, 7:46 pm

Splintercat wrote:
December 8th, 2023, 8:46 am
you've hiked EVERY trail in the MHNF?
Well, now that I've put myself on the spot, here are three ( I think the three) that I haven't hiked:

Rim Rock #487A
Eureka Peak #671
Buck Lake #728

So I'll have to get to them, I guess.
RobFromRedland wrote:
December 8th, 2023, 11:09 am
Commemorative sign a bit up the trail:
Great to see the Rondy sign at Horseshoe Lake was relatively unscathed by the fire. It sure seems to have burned intensely in that area.

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RobFromRedland
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Re: Corral Springs to Roaring River 11-28-23

Post by RobFromRedland » December 11th, 2023, 5:49 am

bobcat wrote:
December 10th, 2023, 7:46 pm
Well, now that I've put myself on the spot, here are three ( I think the three) that I haven't hiked:

Rim Rock #487A
Eureka Peak #671
Buck Lake #728

So I'll have to get to them, I guess.
Buck lake is a REALLY short trail - only a half mile to the lake - it used to go up around the rim of the lake and continue north but it has pretty much been obliterated by logging in that area. If you look carefully near the beginning you can see the junction where it headed up the ridge - that goes for a bit before you hit the old cuts.
RobFromRedland wrote:
December 8th, 2023, 11:09 am
Commemorative sign a bit up the trail:

Great to see the Rondy sign at Horseshoe Lake was relatively unscathed by the fire. It sure seems to have burned intensely in that area.
Yeah, I was amazed it survived intact. It did burn very intensely in that area. So much different than it used to be.... It kind of looks like they are mostly cutting the trees in that area - when I was down there a couple months ago there were big cleared areas. I don't quite understand why they are leaving the dead trees in some places and removing them in others - I doubt they can sell the timber at this point though....
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW! What a ride! - Hunter S. Thompson

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