Frog Lake Buttes and Clear Lake Butte - 7/14/12

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justpeachy
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Frog Lake Buttes and Clear Lake Butte - 7/14/12

Post by justpeachy » July 15th, 2012, 6:42 pm

On Saturday I headed to the Mt. Hood National Forest to explore some fire lookout buttes.

My first stop was Frog Lake Buttes (map). This is one that you can either hike to or drive to. I had gotten a late start so I opted to drive this time. Road 290 to the top is 2.5 miles of gravel, the last half of which is pretty rough. A cell phone tower stands in the spot where the lookout tower once was.

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Nearby is an ENORMOUS pile of ashes. That must have been quite a bonfire. (Not surprisingly I saw all sorts of garbage up here, including a broken landline phone. WTH? Who would bring a telephone up here and why?)

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The road keeps going a little ways beyond the cell phone tower. Since there are no mountain views from the tower I walked down the road to see what I could see. Ah, that's much better!

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I think that the hill with a meadow that you can see towards the right is Barlow Butte, which is another former fire lookout site. You can see what a cloudy day it was. Fortunately the clouds were high enough that I could still see the mountain, but it did make for very muggy conditions. Also, the mosquitoes were out in full force.

The 1956 topo still shows the lookout on Frog Lake Buttes. The lookout tower was removed in 1967 and taken over to Goat Mountain. Another interesting thing that shows up on the 1956 map is a trail down the east side of Frog Lake Buttes that joins up with another trail called the Bonney Meadows Trail. Neither of these trails show up on current topos, so they must have been abandoned by the FS. Anyone been on them?

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When I was done there it was time for lunch so I headed over to Clear Lake, found a log on the shore of the lake, and enjoyed a peaceful lunch. It wasn't cold out, but it wasn't warm either, yet there were plenty of people swimming in the lake. Brrr! The water level must be high right now, because there were trees and vegetation submerged in the water.

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Then I headed over to Clear Lake Butte (map). The lookout tower here still stands and is actually still staffed in summertime. Road 240, the two-mile access road off of Road 42, is gated.

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Because of the gate you have to walk up the road to get to the top of the butte. Too bad, because it is paved almost the whole way and would be easy to drive up. (I later learned that it's gated to keep out the vandals.)

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The last bit of road is not paved, and passes through a really pleasant forest of tall trees and vine maple.

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I saw a patch of columbine complete with a butterfly!

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And then I was at the lookout tower!

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A dog up in the tower announced my presence and the woman staffing the place came out to say hi. I know that lookout staff are working and sometimes don't like to be bothered, but she invited me to come up and see the views. So I climbed the 40' tower and met Carol and her sweet border collie, Abby. Check out Mt. Hood and Clear Lake. NICE!

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Looking northeast. I think that the bump just left of center is Frog Lake Buttes, where I was earlier in the day.

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Looking southeast, with a view of the toilet! :D You can also see the huge boulder below with my hiking poles leaning up against it.

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Looking south at double-humped Sisi Butte. You can just barely make out the lookout tower there sticking up above the trees on the right hump. (Mt. Jefferson is just off-frame to the left.)

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Looking southwest to Timothy Lake.

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Looking northwest. They're going to need to do some tree trimming soon or the view in this direction will be gone in a few years!

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Carol had a binder of photos of many of the lookout towers that once stood in the Mt. Hood National Forest. She showed me the pictures and through the windows she pointed out the spots where they stood. As a view-lover and history-lover I thought this was pretty freakin' cool. She showed me photos of a fallen tree that she found in the forest not far from the lookout tower and it had a bunch of metal pegs sticking out of its entire length. She thinks that it's from the original crow's nest lookout that used to be up here. She was full of stories and knowledge. She said this was her eighth summer staffing Clear Lake Butte. I could have sat and talked with her all day, but time was ticking on and I didn't want to take up her time since she was working. It took me about 45 minutes to hike the road back to my car.

You can rent the Clear Lake Butte lookout in the winter. Click here to see a winter trip report that jley did a few years back. AMAZING photos.

All in all a successful day. When I left Portland in the morning under very cloudy skies I was worried I would be cheated out of my mountain views, but thankfully I wasn't!

pablo
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Re: Frog Lake Buttes and Clear Lake Butte - 7/14/12

Post by pablo » July 15th, 2012, 7:26 pm

Nice report & pictures as usual, thx. I'm envious of the opportunity you had to view the old photos and get an impromptu pointing tour of where those lookouts are/were and I'd love to see that tree/crow's nest with the spikes. I've eyed those trails you mention but I figured the area was logged and the trails destroyed - does it look like the area was logged not too long ago? Trail Advocates might know something about these trails as this is in the Clackamas District.

--Paul
The future's uncertain and the end is always near.

pablo
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Re: Frog Lake Buttes and Clear Lake Butte - 7/14/12

Post by pablo » July 15th, 2012, 7:52 pm

pablo wrote:Nice report & pictures as usual, thx. I'm envious of the opportunity you had to view the old photos and get an impromptu pointing tour of where those lookouts are/were and I'd love to see that tree/crow's nest with the spikes. I've eyed those trails you mention but I figured the area was logged and the trails destroyed - does it look like the area was logged not too long ago? Trail Advocates might know something about these trails as this is in the Clackamas District.

--Paul
TOPO maps show a network of logging roads through the area to the east of the lookout - likely gone.
The future's uncertain and the end is always near.

RobFromRedland
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Re: Frog Lake Buttes and Clear Lake Butte - 7/14/12

Post by RobFromRedland » July 15th, 2012, 8:24 pm

Wow - I'm really jealous. Being able to talk to someone who really knows the history and had photos, etc. That would have been a wonderful experience. You are so lucky to have had that opportunity! Maybe I'll have to hike up there someday and see if I can find Carol and talk with her.... :D

Looks like there might be a few more amenities than in days of old (a concrete pit toilet and solar panels at least).
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive 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!

RobFromRedland
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Re: Frog Lake Buttes and Clear Lake Butte - 7/14/12

Post by RobFromRedland » July 15th, 2012, 8:42 pm

pablo wrote:
pablo wrote:Nice report & pictures as usual, thx. I'm envious of the opportunity you had to view the old photos and get an impromptu pointing tour of where those lookouts are/were and I'd love to see that tree/crow's nest with the spikes. I've eyed those trails you mention but I figured the area was logged and the trails destroyed - does it look like the area was logged not too long ago? Trail Advocates might know something about these trails as this is in the Clackamas District.

--Paul
TOPO maps show a network of logging roads through the area to the east of the lookout - likely gone.
Paul - I don't think that trail in is the Clackamas District. It looks too far North and East. I think it is either the Hood River or Barlow district. Looking at the aerial photos, it looks like there has been a LOT of logging to the south of the peak of the butte (both east and west), but very little north of it. That trail looks like it headed east or maybe even a little southeast, so I doubt there is anything left of it.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive 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!

justpeachy
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Re: Frog Lake Buttes and Clear Lake Butte - 7/14/12

Post by justpeachy » July 16th, 2012, 6:44 am

If you look at the satellite image, the south side of the mountain has been logged extensively in recent years. The area north of there, where Twin Lakes are, is now in wilderness. In fact, the wilderness boundary comes right up to the edge of the summit of Frog Lake Buttes, although the summit itself is outside the boundary.

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bobcat
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Re: Frog Lake Buttes and Clear Lake Butte - 7/14/12

Post by bobcat » July 17th, 2012, 8:33 am

I did the west end of the Bonney Meadows Trail on Sunday (Will post presently). I hiked to Catalpa Lake, the large lake to the northeast of Green Lake on your '50s map. The lake was only named in the '50s, which is why it's not on your map. Bonney Meadows Trail now ends at Catalpa Lake Trailhead. A road continues up from this trailhead to Green Lake. Catalpa Lake and the slope west of Barlow Creek are now part of the Mt. Hood Wilderness as you said. As others have posted, most of the rest of the slope south of Frog Lake Buttes has been heavily logged, with many logging spurs.

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bobcat
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Re: Frog Lake Buttes and Clear Lake Butte - 7/14/12

Post by bobcat » July 17th, 2012, 10:38 am

I should add that my Green Trails map (Mt. Wilson #494) shows the westernmost part of the Bonney Meadows Trail as mostly taken over by Road 250, but not all the way to Frog Creek Road. The spur from the '50s map that leads to the top of the buttes is designated on the same Green Trails map as an XC-ski/snowmobile route.

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