2012-09-06 Old Vista Ridge Trail to Owl Point and Perry Lake

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Peder
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2012-09-06 Old Vista Ridge Trail to Owl Point and Perry Lake

Post by Peder » September 7th, 2012, 1:25 pm

The Vista Ridge trail is old; it certainly shows on the oldest map I own from 1990. On that map the Vista Ridge Trail enters the map on a forest road, passes Perry Lake, Owl Point and the Rockpile following the same thread as today. The Forest Service is seemingly upset regarding the trail [note] and the trail signs that were in place on the Vista Trail just north of the Wilderness Registration kiosk on 28 August have been removed:
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28 August 2012
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6 September 2012
The new sign on the notice board reads:
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Notice
Obviously, as the Vista Ridge trail dates back at least 22 years, the problem is not trail construction! So presumably the Forest Service is upset that this trail was upgraded from a (at least partial) bushwhack to a user-friendly trail and that somebody has had the temerity to signal the improved trail.

I fully understand that the Forest Service has regulations that prohibit “constructing, placing, or maintaining any kind of road, trail, structure, etc…without a special use authorization or approved operating plan.” In my opinion 36CFR 261.10(a) is not intended for the casual hiker doing trail maintenance. Federal Regulation 36CFR 261.10(a) are the kind of directives you throw at those who operate non-approved logging operations, illegal mining or who build access (and/or shelters) for their hunting, fishing, hiking, kayaking or other outdoorsy business. In my opinion, the Forest Service should appreciate when the public contributes to trail maintenance, especially given their strained financial situation and shortage of resources.

I sincerely hope that the Forest Service will remount the missing signs, or at least state where the signs can be retrieved, so that the Owl Point trail can again be signaled. The trail is well suited for hikers who wish to view the wondrous vistas on the north side of Mt Hood and who do not have the stamina to undertake longer hikes. Attempting to eliminate the Vista Trail north of the Wilderness Registration kiosk is a disservice to the hiking community.

It is assumed in the above that the removal of the signs was undertaken by the Forest Service, as opposed to an act of vandalism committed by an individual citizen, given the reference to 36CFR 261.10(a) placed on the notice board. If this should not be the case, my most sincere apologies to the Forest Service for accusing them of removing the markers.

In the long-term, the Forest Service could also consider a fee collection system at the Vista Ridge trail head. This is a popular trail head and I’m sure that many are unaware that a Forest Pass must be purchased prior to leaving the lowland: The only two cars parked at the trailhead yesterday morning had encountered that problem:
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Car # 1
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Car # 2
Note: I have had absolutely no involvement in this trail and made my very first visit to the Owl Point area yesterday.
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Guy
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Re: 2012-09-06 Old Vista Ridge Trail to Owl Point and Perry

Post by Guy » September 7th, 2012, 2:12 pm

From what's been posted on this site Peder that's the second time the signs have been removed this year & the third time in total I think. Next they will be employing hackers to hack into this web site to remove all references to the trail from the field guide. :lol:

I'd love to know why someone has their "knickers in such a twist" over this existing legitimate trail.. Perhaps we can expect the FS to mine it in IED's the future ;) ..

Re the Forest Pass did you see a sign saying it was required there? I thought they removed the requirement for a forest pass last year when it became clear they had to provide Porta Potty service to be able to require the pass.

I think we should get some T shirt's made "Friends of the Old Vista Ridge Trail"

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Re: 2012-09-06 Old Vista Ridge Trail to Owl Point and Perry

Post by Peder » September 7th, 2012, 2:49 pm

Guy wrote:Re the Forest Pass did you see a sign saying it was required there? I thought they removed the requirement for a forest pass last year when it became clear they had to provide Porta Potty service to be able to require the pass.
Oh - I don't think that there was a sign! You are probably correct that no Forest Pass is required. That said, given the quantity of TP around the trail head, a Porta Potty service would do wonders and probably be especially appreciated by female hikers.
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Re: 2012-09-06 Old Vista Ridge Trail to Owl Point and Perry

Post by mattisnotfrench » September 7th, 2012, 3:36 pm

I was there Saturday afternoon and all the signs were in place. This is pretty lame.

I don't understand why they would have a problem with this. Whoever is in charge of the Mount Hood National Forest right now is pretty lame, IMHO. It seems like the only thing they care about is privatizing as much of their forest as possible and enforcing arbitrary rules.

Somebody should leave them a note on the trail register stating that their action might be legitimate on the micro sense but makes no sense on the whole, given the popularity of the area.
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Re: 2012-09-06 Old Vista Ridge Trail to Owl Point and Perry

Post by Splintercat » September 7th, 2012, 6:22 pm

There's a long history of the MHNF trying to keep hikers off this trail. The earliest reference I've found to the trail being abandoned is in Don and Roberta Lowe's 1974 guide "70 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades". In this guide, they describe the "abandoned trail to Red Hill Guard Station". This matches up with maps from the late 60s, when the USFS began to show the Vista Ridge Trail beginning at the logging spur that is the modern trailhead. The goal at the time was to clearcut the remaining slopes of the Clear Branch drainage, and it very nearly happened -- in fact, I think the goal was to connect the current trailhead spur road to the system of roads that were creeping up the Clear Branch Valley, over the top of the saddle where the wilderness entry sign is now located.

All of that logging history is now mostly a bad memory for the (recovering) Clear Branch drainage, as the entire Clear Branch Valley above Laurance Lake is now part of the Mount Hood Wilderness. President Obama signed that expansion into law in 2009, and the new boundary follows the old Vista Ridge Trail for much of its length -- a very nice way for us taxpayers to explore our newly designated wilderness additions! The volunteer maintenance has also made for a convenient fire line for the brave USFS folks who go out and fight fires, and they even included it in their mapping system - check it out:

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So, somebody at the MHNF had the good sense to add this fine route to their fire maps. This is the first time the trail has appeared on a USFS map since the 1960s, so that's a good thing! The trail also has a friend in National Geographic: it's mapped quite nicely on their brand new Mount Hood Wilderness map, so NG was doing some pretty good ground truthing when they created that map. Likewise, it has also appeared in published hiking guides, so any notion of locking the hiking public out (for whatever reason) is futile.

Okay, here's where it gets confusing. If you manage to navigate the MHNF website to the trails/trailheads section (good luck with that), you'll come across this description for the Vista Ridge Trailhead:

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The written description is clearly for the present trailhead on Road 1650, but somewhere in their GIS data, they've got the original Vista Ridge trailhead at Perry Lake identified as the trailhead for Vista Ridge -- and thus the map to the old trailhead. It would be pretty hard for someone to follow the map, however, as the road to Perry Lake was closed and partly decommissioned several years ago.

On the trailhead fee question: I've updated our own Portland Hikers Field Guide to show the Vista Ridge Trailhead as a permit-free site. This is based on the USFS removal of trailhead signs identifying this as a fee site (last year, as I recall), and the Vista Ridge Trailhead dropping off this MHNF list of fee-sites. If I'm wrong on that, let me know -- but I'm pretty certain that you don't need a pass to park here, anymore.

Peder, thanks for the update on the trailhead conditions. I'll add a note to the Field Guide to that effect.

BTW, Peder -- isn't Owl Point cool..?

Tom :)

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Re: 2012-09-06 Old Vista Ridge Trail to Owl Point and Perry

Post by Splintercat » September 7th, 2012, 6:31 pm

Oh, and by the way... if anyone has wondered what the view from Owl Point looks like after the Dollar Fire, here's what we saw a few weeks ago:

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That's one fine swath of wilderness, ain't it..?

Tom :)

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Re: 2012-09-06 Old Vista Ridge Trail to Owl Point and Perry

Post by justpeachy » September 7th, 2012, 7:21 pm

Well how infuriating! Has anyone ever tried to get in touch with the Forest Service about their constant sign removal? If they want to be upset over something, be upset about non-FS staff putting up signs (although I still think that is a dumb thing to get upset over). The big maintenance project from 2007 is long done. Now people are just hiking it, so this notice is pretty much irrelevant. I heard that William Sullivan is updating his NW Oregon hiking book for publication next spring. I wonder if he'll include this hike. I hope so!

The signs were there on Labor Day (September 3) when I hiked to Elk Cove. I remember thinking when I saw them, "Aren't these the signs the FS keeps taking down? Maybe they gave up on that." Guess not. Someone needs to post a notice below the FS notice that includes an old map showing the long existence of this trail.

Image

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Re: 2012-09-06 Old Vista Ridge Trail to Owl Point and Perry

Post by mattisnotfrench » September 7th, 2012, 7:37 pm

justpeachy wrote:Well how infuriating! Has anyone ever tried to get in touch with the Forest Service about their constant sign removal? If they want to be upset over something, be upset about non-FS staff putting up signs (although I still think that is a dumb thing to get upset over). The big maintenance project from 2007 is long done. Now people are just hiking it, so this notice is pretty much irrelevant. I heard that William Sullivan is updating his NW Oregon hiking book for publication next spring. I wonder if he'll include this hike. I hope so!

The signs were there on Labor Day (September 3) when I hiked to Elk Cove. I remember thinking when I saw them, "Aren't these the signs the FS keeps taking down? Maybe they gave up on that." Guess not. Someone needs to post a notice below the FS notice that includes an old map showing the long existence of this trail.

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It's going to be in my book, regardless. I don't care if the Forest Service is discouraging people to visit - I will be encouraging them to visit.

They are in the wrong here.
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Re: 2012-09-06 Old Vista Ridge Trail to Owl Point and Perry

Post by Peabody » September 7th, 2012, 7:51 pm

Not to be a contrarian....ok I'm being a contrarian.

The USFS is responsible for managing trails. I'd hate to see lots of well intentioned folks hanging signs an "fixing up" old trails. It could get a little confusing out there without some sort of oversight. Bottom line is that it's the USFS' call and folks need to work within the system, fixing the system if necessary.

I've hiked that trail and I had really enjoyed it. There's nothing stopping anyone from doing that....but it is illegal to maintain and sign a trail without USFS permission. The trail does take you through a sensitive meadow and the trail from Alki point to the lookout is washed out and in very poor condition. Those two areas would need to be rerouted / adjusted. It would take a lot of effort to bring it up to modern standards.

Just my two cents.
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Re: 2012-09-06 Old Vista Ridge Trail to Owl Point and Perry

Post by Peder » September 7th, 2012, 8:06 pm

Splintercat wrote:BTW, Peder -- isn't Owl Point cool..?
Tom - It is wonderful and I am planning to return soon to explore some more - trail signs or not! The vistas are superb and I am thankful that the area was not logged.
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