Salt Creek, Mt. Adams Wilderness

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
Post Reply
User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 1898
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Salt Creek, Mt. Adams Wilderness

Post by bobcat » September 2nd, 2012, 11:53 am

Every summer, I try to get out to Mt. Adams at least once. My hiking time has been fairly constrained recently, so with essentially half a day, I decided to go up Salt Creek, just an 8-mile in-out hike on the lower slopes of the mountain. There is a new trailhead signboard here and bow hunters, probably the most consistent users of this trail, were camped out along the access roads.
Trailhead, Salt Creek.jpg
Pinedrops (Pterospora andromedea), Salt Creek Trail.jpg
The trail heads into the varied coniferous woodland of the transition zone (Douglas-fir, western hemlock, silver fir, Engelmann spruce, ponderosa pine, western white pine, lodgepole pine, western red-cedar, western larch) along an old road bed – the trailhead used to be one mile farther in. Once off the road bed, the path undulates along the wide valley of Cascade Creek and, in relatively short order, one arrives above an expanse of beaver ponds and marshes with Stagman Ridge framing the horizon. This vast aquatic system has been made shallower by silt deposited in the past six years by severe flooding.
Beaver pond.jpg
Beaver pond and Stagman Ridge, Salt Creek Trail.jpg
After more undulation above Cascade Creek, which the trail never really accesses, and many intersections with elk trails, the tread drops steeply to a cottonwood-cedar swamp and the sudden announcement that the fun is over:
Trail end!.jpg
I have been in this spot before, so located the use trail that continues behind this sign and around the swamp into a dry woodland. This trail is sometimes partially obscured by debris and there are a couple of spots where it is obliterated by blowdown. However, it is easy to spot the sawn-off logs that edged the original tread. Eventually, I fetched up at the raging torrent of Salt Creek about a quarter mile above its confluence with Cascade Creek.
Use trail obliteration, Salt Creek Trail.jpg
Salt Creek Canyon.jpg
A 1921 debris avalanche came roaring down Salt Creek and created the large outwash fan at this confluence. More recently, the floods of November 2006 deposited more debris and killed the forest of trees that had established themselves on the older deposits. You cannot see the mountain clearly from the trail’s (unofficial) end, so I scrambled along the steep bank and down onto the debris field. After wandering about this area a while, I cut back into the woods and picked up the use trail back to the trailhead.
Yellow willow herb (Epilobium luteum), Salt Creek.jpg
Debris avalanche, Salt Creek.jpg
Mt. Adams from Salt Creek.jpg
I seem to have seen somewhere that the trail used to continue up a couple of miles to Lookingglass Lake. Some day, it might be worth trying this as a hike/bike option with the Stagman Ridge Trail.

User avatar
Splintercat
Posts: 8180
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland
Contact:

Re: Salt Creek, Mt. Adams Wilderness

Post by Splintercat » September 8th, 2012, 9:55 am

Thanks, Bobcat. I haven't spent much time in that area, so very interesting to read the history of debris flows. I haven't even been to Mount Adams for something like 10 years, so gotta get my butt over there. Nice to see reports from you and DRM on the "other" parts of the mountain, too.

Tom :)

User avatar
Sean Thomas
Posts: 1639
Joined: February 25th, 2012, 11:33 pm

Re: Salt Creek, Mt. Adams Wilderness

Post by Sean Thomas » September 9th, 2012, 7:01 am

I agree with Tom, BC. Your tr's are always filled with solid info. Jojo and I have wanted to check out the Salt Creek trail all summer and it looks like a great hike from your report.

Thanks for mentioning the old use path to Salt Creek past the trail end sign, looks awesome up there :)

User avatar
drm
Posts: 4901
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: The Dalles, OR
Contact:

Re: Salt Creek, Mt. Adams Wilderness

Post by drm » September 9th, 2012, 1:27 pm

A hunter once told me that the trail used to go up to Lookingglass Lake, that you can follow blazes, and I once followed it maybe halfway up from where you stopped. From across the debris basin, it is not too hard to find the continuing old trail, but it doesn't last for long. If you go up and up, you occasionally see parts of it.

User avatar
drm
Posts: 4901
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: The Dalles, OR
Contact:

Re: Salt Creek, Mt. Adams Wilderness

Post by drm » September 9th, 2012, 1:33 pm

PS - There appears to be a wildfire in this area now. Widespread lightening the night before has started scores of wildfires and one is called the Cascade Creek fire, 4 miles west of Mt Adams. So I assume that is in this area.

User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 1898
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Re: Salt Creek, Mt. Adams Wilderness

Post by bobcat » September 9th, 2012, 3:18 pm

@drm: Thanks for the info. about the blaze trail. It exists then! I must try that loop sometime.

Post Reply