The Devil's Back Yard

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arlohike
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The Devil's Back Yard

Post by arlohike » March 6th, 2015, 11:31 am

Inspired by some dashed lines on my Green Trails map of the West Gorge, this trip report and another weekend of unseasonably sunny weather, I set out last Sunday morning to explore a larger loop from Wakheena Falls around Devil's Rest. I don't know the names of some of these trails and roads, so I made an annotated map for reference. My route is in red and other trails and roads are in orange:
map.png
I arrived a bit too late for any available parking at Wakheena Falls, but the Multnomah Falls return trail is now open again, so I drove on to the Multnomah Falls parking lot and parked near the return trail there, then walked back and headed up the Wakheena trail to the plateau around 2000 feet [A]. From there I took the unmarked trail about 100-200 yards through the woods to the Multnomah Basin Road and turned right [C]. I really enjoy this area of forest, and it's nice to see more of it than you can see from the Devil's Rest trail. I followed this down to Palmer Mill Road and then turned right again [D].

My plan from here was to walk about 1.5 miles and catch a short segment [E] that connects back to the Foxglove trail on the West side of Devil's Rest, and which I had checked out from the other end the previous weekend. However, this is where my plan went astray. The Green Trails map shows a junction about 1.25 miles from Multnomah Basin Road where the main road (heavier dashed line) veers to the right and connects with my destination, and a smaller road continues straight along the creek. I was watching for that, but figured it wouldn't matter if I missed it because I just needed to stay on the main road. In fact, the map is misleading because it's the main road that continues straight and a much smaller, unmarked path that veers to the right. In retrospect, I saw that and considered exploring it, but it didn't fit what I expected it so I kept walking. The first photo in the aforementioned trip report is the junction I missed.

By the time I realized my error [F], I was halfway to where the road I wanted met Palmer Mill Road again at its other end. I was enjoying the weather and the adventure, so I decided to keep going and make an even larger loop.

However, when I reached that junction [G] I was disappointed, because this segment was the least satisfying of the day. The first part of this segment was overgrown and muddy, but that quickly improved. Unfortunately, the rest of the segment was full of litter of the most puzzling variety ... car and truck parts, oil cans and tires, a vacuum cleaner and the beginnings of a motorcycle cemetery [H]. It was a bit spooky and a bit depressing, and by this time the realization of how many extra miles I'd just added was sinking in as well.

I finally reached the junction I had been aiming for , and took that unmarked road back to Foxglove. Near there, I noticed a flagged trail [J] that apparently comes out on the Devil's Rest trail just East of Devil's Rest, and I spent a few minutes considering following that. But I decided I'd had enough for one day and headed back on familiar routes, down the Foxglove to the Angel's Rest trail [K], back down to Wakheena Falls and then to my car. This was all uneventful except when my Clif Bar popped out of the wrapper and tumbled down a hillside after just one bite. I then threw the rest of my food after it and screamed. (Just kidding -- Wild joke.)

I had planned on about 10 miles, but the return trail plus the larger loop made it 13.5. Other than the missed junction, I never had a problem following any of these segments, although that segment H (a new-looking sign at junction I says Smith Road and the Green Trails map says Road 1520) alternated between a wide fire road and an overgrown path surprisingly quickly. I would definitely spend more time on Palmer Mill Road, maybe starting from Bridal Veil, which I haven't done before. But I don't think Smith Road will become a part of my rotation. Too bad, because it makes a nice opportunity for a loop around there.

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Looking back to the Devil's Rest trail from Multnomah Basin Road. Silhouettes of two people there provide the scale.
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Smooth sailing on the Multnomah Basin Road.
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So green!
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Palmer Mill Road follows, and criss-crosses, Bridal Veil creek.
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Shortly before F, I ran across several trees at the creek side that each had multiple tags attached to them. What are these?
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More tags on the same tree.
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Shortly after F, over a slight ridge to the left of the trail, was this interesting bowl formation about 30 yards wide. It was difficult to photograph because the sun was just over the top of the bowl.
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Further down Palmer Mill Road you can see a clearcut across the creek.
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I didn't see the famous owl, but I was surprised to see a butterfly this early in the year.
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Here's the junction G, which a closed gate just visible behind the blackberry vines.
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Some dirt bike tracks on segment H eventually led to this dirt bike cemetery.
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How in the world did this truck cab get up there? Or if it drove up there, what happened to the rest of the truck?
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It was nice to get back to familiar territory.
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Still waters on the Multnomah Falls return trail.
Last edited by arlohike on March 6th, 2015, 1:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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miah66
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Re: The Devil's Back Yard

Post by miah66 » March 6th, 2015, 12:29 pm

Heck of a TR! I love the map you made and the lettered junctions. Makes for fun reading. I haven't explored much up here, I was waiting for "winter" but this darn long fall we've had has allowed explorations beyond what is normal in other locales. Someday, and I'll probably take along your map!
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Splintercat
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Re: The Devil's Back Yard

Post by Splintercat » March 8th, 2015, 8:12 am

Ditto on the map - very nice, and great report, too!

I've never explored the Palmer Mill/Larch area much, too haunted for me! I just stick to the main trail. I'm sure Don (or others) who do will have some background on the dumped items, though.

Thanks for posting!

Tom :-)

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arlohike
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Re: The Devil's Back Yard

Post by arlohike » March 8th, 2015, 6:40 pm

After reading a few more posts about the area, I tried this again today. First, I found the survey marker on the Multnomah Basin Road, then looked for the "collapsed RR trestle" in the map that Don Nelson posted in this thread. I found the road, and a gully that looked like it might have needed a trestle, but no sign of anything manmade. Out of curiosity, I walked another couple hundred yards on this road until I came across a mound of scat large enough to have been made by a horse, but with fur in it. I took that as a hint to get back to the road.

Turning right on Palmer Mill as before, this time I found the junction I had missed last weekend. It was 1.4 miles from the Multnomah Basin Road junction, at a place where there's a small clearing on the right of the road. The trail [E] isn't really visible until you walk into the clearing. After starting on this trail, I came to two apparent junctions and turned right at both, then the path became more clear until the last 50 yards before junction I, where it was obscured by two fallen logs and a lot of ferns. If you were to start from the North end, don't let this dissuade you ... it's very pleasant a little further in.

Feeling relatively fresh this time, I decided to take that alternate route to Devil's Rest near the letter J on my map above. This was also a pleasant and easy to follow path that parallels the Devil's Rest Trail about 1/4 mile South. Apparently it goes all the way across to the letter C on my map, but I took an easy-to-miss left turn to follow another old road North to catch the Devil's Rest Trail just East of Devil's Rest. This is where it got ugly. This section had numerous fallen trees to climb through, and some devil's club, and after a while I started doubting whether I was still on any kind of road at all. I wouldn't do this again, at least not without long pants. But I'll post a photo of the Devil's Rest Trail junction for anyone else who wants to try it.

After a brief break at Devil's Rest, I added one more bit of adventure by returning via the Primrose Path, which I'd never done before. I'd seen this when walking around Devil's Rest in the past, but didn't realize it went all the way to the Angel's Rest Trail until reading some posts about it. Sure enough, just after leaving Devil's Rest, I saw the devil-on-a-sled sign, with the inscription, "a pox on he who vandals me." I didn't have any trouble with devil's club on this path. I usually couldn't make it out more than 10 feet in advance, but I never had trouble knowing where to take my next step. One benefit to going down, at least on a clear day, was a series of nice views of the river and mountains to the North. When I reached the bottom, there was no sign or flag, but some freshly planted primrose flowers!
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Bear? Sasquatch?
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The clearing from Palmer Mill Road.
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A few steps into the clearing, you can see twin paths leading to the elusive segment E.
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No four-leaf clovers, but I still felt lucky walking down this path.
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Being primarily a winter hiker, I'm unaccustomed to the lighting effects created by sunlight in the trees.
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The roughest road I took splits off from the Devil's Rest Trail at the bottom of this steep upward pitch just East of Devil's Rest.
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So that's why they call it the Primrose Path...
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UTurn
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Re: The Devil's Back Yard

Post by UTurn » March 9th, 2015, 8:02 am

arlohike wrote:This was all uneventful except when my Clif Bar popped out of the wrapper and tumbled down a hillside after just one bite. I then threw the rest of my food after it and screamed. (Just kidding -- Wild joke.)
HAHA! :lol: Totally go that!

Great, fantastic report!

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retired jerry
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Re: The Devil's Back Yard

Post by retired jerry » March 9th, 2015, 8:20 am

"Totally go that!"?

What is happening with English? I'm having trouble keeping up with it :lol:


"I then threw the rest of my food after it and screamed."?

You have a vivid imagination, nice! :D

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Don Nelsen
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Re: The Devil's Back Yard

Post by Don Nelsen » March 9th, 2015, 9:32 am

arlohike wrote:After reading a few more posts about the area, I tried this again today. First, I found the survey marker on the Multnomah Basin Road, then looked for the "collapsed RR trestle" in the map that Don Nelson posted in this thread. I found the road, and a gully that looked like it might have needed a trestle, but no sign of anything manmade...
That particular trestle was one of the very first built (1890 to 1902) and was made of logs rather than cut timbers. It has virtually disappeared into the ground and you have to know what you are looking at to see the remains. Even the trestles made of timbers have all but disappeared with the exception of the final RR line built in 1924 and abandoned in 1937. Even that most recent one is just piles of rotting timbers. Here are some pics of some of the trestles on that 1924 line:

Image

Image

Image

Image
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arlohike
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Re: The Devil's Back Yard

Post by arlohike » March 9th, 2015, 9:44 am

Cool photos, thanks, Don!
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