Nasty Rock, Not Nasty Rock and points around

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bobcat
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Nasty Rock, Not Nasty Rock and points around

Post by bobcat » October 7th, 2015, 6:23 pm

WARNING: Some of this was off-trail or on very hard to follow abandoned trails. Do not attempt without the necessary experience and skills! However, two of these trails are very navigable.

I have been three times in the past six weeks to the ridge that separates the Molalla and Little North Santiam drainages. The primary objective on all three occasions was to visit Nasty Rock, where I had never been. In the end, I hiked the three of the last four trails described in A Hiker’s Guide to Oregon’s Hidden Wilderness, published in the mid-1970s by the Central Cascades Conservation Council (p. 36 and p. 38).

1. Not Nasty Rock

My first attempt was to head up the Nasty Rock Trail (Willamette National Forest’s Trail #3356) in the Opal Creek Wilderness. This trail does not go to Nasty Rock, which I well knew. I have done it before to its maintained end at a forest covered prominence (Peak 4478). It then continues northeast along the ridge on a well-defined path to the jagged rock outcropping called Not-Nasty Rock by the Cascade Rambler (Peak 4678). The objective was then to hike farther along the ridge on an abandoned trail to reach Nasty Rock.

The Nasty Rock Trail (USFS) is relentlessly steep, rising almost 2,500 feet in 1 ½ miles. Once at the forested knoll of Peak 4478, it segues seamlessly into the climber’s trail that drops steeply and then rises from a saddle to the ridge that leads to Not Nasty Rock. The latter is a shattered, mostly sheer-sided rock outcrop that rises above a talus slope. I scrambled around the north face of the rock and found a climber’s bivvy nestled at the base. The mossy chute here looked like the only non-Class V route and I gave it a try. When I began stretching too far for purchase and the rotten Old Cascades basalt was breaking off in my hands, I decided to come down. I tried to access the saddle below down the steep slope, but turned back. Coming around to the south side of the rock, I found a trail bench across the talus. Once I entered the woods again, I continued straight but lost the trail. I encountered a rock outcropping and dropped down the steep slope, clambering over blowdown and not finding another trail trace. I turned back at this point. (I now think you have to go back up to the ridge directly after leaving the talus slope to make a traverse above the rock outcropping.)
Trailhead, Nasty Rock Trail (USFS).jpg
Wilderness sign, Nasty Rock Trail.jpg
Wall above Tincup Creek, Nasty Rock Trail.jpg
Not Nasty Rock, Opal Creek Wilderness.jpg
Mt. Jefferson from Not Nasty Rock, Opal Creek Wilderness.jpg
View to Nasty Rock from Not Nasty Rock.jpg
The meatball, Not Nasty Rock.jpg
2. Finding the Nasty Rock (BLM) Trailhead

A second Nasty Rock Trail, one which actually takes you to Nasty Rock, is in BLM-land north of the Opal Creek Wilderness. I spent the better part of a day trying to find out exactly where it was. Maps indicated I could head around the south side of the Table Rock Wilderness using the Copper Creek Road, but I ended up at a bunch of gated roads on private timberland.

I went back and took the Middle Fork Road, which runs along the Table Rock Fork of the Molalla River. This road also crosses private lands that are savagely clearcut, but the Middle Fork Road is open all the way. Then you get into a maze of BLM roads, all unsigned. At some point, you get a good view of the east face of Table Rock, and you can stop and make the short walk in to Joyce Lake.
View to Table Rock, Molalla River area.jpg
Vine maple, Joyce Lake.jpg
Eventually I ended up where I thought the trail might be. There were a couple of rigs parked there already, blocking access to a campsite. The first of three gentlemen came out and folded his arms. I greeted him and asked if he knew of a trail. Nope. I explained why I thought there might be a trail in the vicinity. He called a friendlier individual out, but the upshot was – no trail here. I then spent considerable time driving back and forth, going up every little side road looking for a trailhead. No luck.


3. Nasty Rock

When I got home, I checked a checked a couple more maps that show the BLM trail. It seemed like I had hit the exact spot, so I resolved to try again.

The BLM’s Nasty Rock Trail is mentioned in a 2013 proposal to include the headwaters of the Molalla River in the Opal Creek Wilderness. There are even a few photos of the trail, and the BLM asserts it is committed to maintaining it as a “historic trail” but will not publicize it (i.e. no signage).

Last Sunday, I returned to the Three Gents’ campsite. It’s a two-hour drive from my house, and a lot of gravel, but the surface is not bad (just a few shallow potholes) as everything is maintained for the logging trucks. Looking around the trailhead area, I spotted a narrow bench (maybe a trail?) about 40 yards back from my car. Then I went to the Three Gents’ campsite: there was a flagged trail leading right out of it!
Nasty Rock (BLM) Trailhead.jpg
Excursion A:

Cursing the Three Gents, I headed up this trail, which switchbacks up through a clearcut, pushing through dense huckleberries. The tread is rough but would not have survived without the evident pruning. When, the trail leaves the clearcut, it drops to a bench with several dry creek courses and eventually rises to a ridge. This all seemed in the wrong direction from Nasty Rock to me, but I kept going as this was a definite abandoned trail, now very obscure but clearly blazed. There was debris and blowdown everywhere, much of it big old growth noble fir, and this got worse where the tread dropped over to the south side of the ridge. I got pretty banged up negotiating this obstacle course and, realizing I wasn’t going to get to Nasty Rock this way, I cut back up to the ridge and found another tread that took me up to a view over talus fields and then to a forested summit. I continued a little farther to a rocky second summit that offered views from Mt. Hood to the Three Sisters. I was now east of Burnt Mountain and heading towards Whetstone Mountain on what turned out to be Peak 4818!
In the clearcut, Burnt Mt.-Whetstone Trail.jpg
Blaze, Burnt Mt.-Whetstone Trail.jpg
Blowdown, on the ridge, Burnt Mt.-Whetstone Trail.jpg
Massive noble fir, Burnt Mt.-Whetstone Trail.jpg
Talus, Peak 4818, Burnt Mt.-Whetstone Trail.jpg
Mt. Hood from Peak 4818, Burnt Mt.-Whetstone Trail.jpg
I headed back. I later realized that this tread had been the Boundary Trail (called the Burnt Mountain-Whetstone Trail in A Hiker’s Guide to Oregon’s Hidden Wilderness), an old through trail before logging got to this area, that connected Whetstone Mountain with Burnt Mountain and then went north to Joyce Lake and Baty Butte.

Excursion B:

Forty yards behind my car, I peered at the narrow trail bench I had seen before. An arrangement of rocks going up the road cutting seemed more and more like a rough set of steps. These led up to a trail. For the first time, I noticed a couple of white diamonds on a tree. Suddenly, everything was smooth going: switchbacks up to the north ridge of Burnt Mountain and then a traverse along its west side. I made a short off-trail foray to the ridge crest and an old logging road (The east side was an old clearcut) to get a view of Mt. Hood. The trail continued, and before bending around the large bowl that holds the headwaters of the Molalla, I got my first glimpse of Nasty Rock to the west. There were only a couple of downed trees before the trail hit the ridge and some open dry meadows carpeted with pinemat manzanita and common juniper. Views extended south to the Sisters. I hiked above cliffs and outcroppings and fetched up at the base of Nasty Rock, an easy scramble to get far-reaching views: all of the ridges and peaks of Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek and the Cascades from Hood to the Three Sisters – it was hazy, so on a clear day the view would include perhaps more volcanoes. Not Nasty Rock was also visible and far to the west, Marys Peak in the Coast Range. Table Rock and Rooster Rock in the Table Rock Wilderness lay to the north and below were the headwaters of the Molalla River.
Nasty Rock Trailhead steps, Nasty Rock Trail (BLM).jpg
Above the source of the Molalla, Nasty Rock Trail (BLM).jpg
Cliffs above the Molalla, Nasty Rock Trail (BLM).jpg
Cliff tree, Nasty Rock Trail (BLM).jpg
Vine maple, Nasty Rock Trail (BLM).jpg
Below Nasty Rock, Nasty Rock Trail (BLM).jpg
Summiting Nasty Rock.jpg
Molalla River headwaters, Nasty Rock.jpg
View to Burnt Mt., Whetstone Mt., Mt. Jefferson from Nasty Rock.jpg
View to Not Nasty Rock from Nasty Rock.jpg
Below Nasty Rock, there are carpets of Gorman’s aster (Eucephalus gormanii), an endemic found only in this part of the Oregon Cascades. After enjoying the views, I kept west along the ridge crest towards Not Nasty Rock. Here was a clear, if little-used trail, and well flagged. It kept to the narrow ridge crest and then ducked below a series of rock outcroppings exhibiting highly weathered columnar basalt. The trail rises steeply to the forested summit of Peak 4622. I was running out of time, so I turned around here, but every indication says there is a well-defined track leading to Not Nasty Rock, the next prominence on the ridge from 4622.
Gorman's aster (Eucephalus gormanii), Nasty Rock.jpg
Ridge top, Nasty Rock-Not Nasty Rock Trail.jpg
On the way back to the trailhead, I cut up to the summit of Burnt Mountain, which has a bald spot that offers good, but more restricted views, than Nasty Rock. A trail used to lead up an old logging road on the north ridge, but this has become a dense growth of huckleberry and young conifers, so it is best to keep to the west side of the ridge when going up.
View to Pansy, Mother Lode, Silver King Mts. from Burnt Mountain.jpg
The two Nasty Rock Trails are very short: just over two miles to Not Nasty Rock via the USFS trail; only 1 ¼ miles to Nasty Rock via the BLM trail.

Verdicts:

* The Nasty Rock Trail (USFS) does not go to Nasty Rock, but the Nasty Rock Trail (BLM) does.
* The Nasty Rock Trail (BLM) is shorter and not as nasty as the Nasty Rock Trail (USFS), and it offers more views.
* Nasty Rock is not as nasty as Not Nasty Rock.
* Locating the Nasty Rock Trailhead (BLM) can be a nasty business.
* The trail leading out of the campsite at the Nasty Rock Trailhead (BLM) is not the Nasty Rock Trail; it is part of the old Boundary Trail to Whetstone Mountain.
* The Boundary Trail going east from the Nasty Rock (BLM) Trailhead is extremely nasty and should only be attempted by gluttons for punishment.
* The Nasty Rock Trailhead (USFS) is also unsigned, but there is a new parking area on the right about ¼ mile before the Opal Creek Trailhead.
* Not Nasty Rock can be accessed via either the Nasty Rock Trail (USFS) or the Nasty Rock Trail (BLM).
* A couple of adventurous loops could be made using all of these trails:

Nasty Rock Trail (USFS) to Not Nasty Rock; then along the ridge to Nasty Rock and down to the BLM trailhead. Boundary Trail to Peak 4818 and then (very nasty, tortuous, abandoned section of unknown caliber) all the way to Whetstone Mountain. Whetstone Trail down to FR 2209 and back to the Nasty Rock (USFS) Trailhead by road.

A shorter version of the above, and perhaps more merciful, would mean a very steep bushwhack down from Peak 4818 to the North Fork of the East Fork Gold River. Here pick up the abandoned cat track to the Blende Oro mines (I posted about this in 2012), cross East Fork Gold Creek to the Whetstone Trail, down to the road and back.
Nasty Rock Map.png

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CampinCarl
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Re: Nasty Rock, Not Nasty Rock and points around

Post by CampinCarl » October 7th, 2015, 6:50 pm

What a great adventure! I've been up to Not-Nasty Rock and was also stumped trying to ascend it. However, I did it too close to sunset and didn't have time to investigate further. Thanks for such a thorough report, I'll definitely bookmark it for later use!

pablo
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Re: Nasty Rock, Not Nasty Rock and points around

Post by pablo » October 7th, 2015, 7:56 pm

Hey bobcat,

Great report and scouting, very thorough - I'm having to add all this to my list and thx for the map. I'm hoping to do a loop on the Not Nasty to Nasty to Whetstone line one of these days - that'd be a great outing.

I would've have put this in lost trails forum as it might get buried with the regular reports. Gonna write some of this stuff up as field guide entries?

Thx again,

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

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bobcat
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Re: Nasty Rock, Not Nasty Rock and points around

Post by bobcat » October 8th, 2015, 4:54 am

CampinCarl wrote:I've been up to Not-Nasty Rock and was also stumped trying to ascend it.
The north side is your best bet: there's a mossy chute there with some stunted trees. Purchase isn't good, though, and I decided not to complete it alone.
pablo wrote:I would've have put this in lost trails forum as it might get buried with the regular reports.
Yeah, I considered that, but the two Nasty Rock trails are good and need to be hiked, especially the BLM one. I'll put them in the Field Guide eventually.
pablo wrote:I'm hoping to do a loop on the Not Nasty to Nasty to Whetstone line one of these days
I'll look forward to that report! The passage is relatively gentle elevation-wise, but there is big old growth windfall all the way on the Burnt Mountain - Whetstone section methinks.

Again, to those out there - I would not recommend that anyone other than dyed-in-the-wool pablo types attempt that section!

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mattisnotfrench
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Re: Nasty Rock, Not Nasty Rock and points around

Post by mattisnotfrench » October 8th, 2015, 7:07 am

Wow, you found the BLM Nasty Rock Trail? I've never seen almost any information on it and I've been wanting to go there for my current book. I just figured it wouldn't ever happen because I didn't want to navigate the maze of roads out there. Maybe now I'll give it an attempt. Your photos convince me that I'm missing out.

I hiked the USFS Nasty Rock Trail a couple of years ago and found it to be pleasant, but insanely steep and quite monotonous. But then again, I never made it out to the rock because I reached point 4478 at about 5PM and all of a sudden got the chills, as though something was watching me from nearby. I made a beeline back down the trail after that. I'd love to go back and investigate.
Author of Off the Beaten Trail, 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region and PDX Hiking 365. Website: www.offthebeatentrailpdx.com

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Karl Helser
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Re: Nasty Rock, Not Nasty Rock and points around

Post by Karl Helser » October 8th, 2015, 9:37 am

I've always considered the "Not Nasty Rock" as the Chemeketan's Nasty Rock....and so do the Chemeketan's :-)
The Nasty Rock Twofer is one of my favorite conditioners...pretty much accessible all year long. There is a nice trail the whole way...and if your ever in doubt, just stay on the ridge.
Here's some pics from a 2010 tour...
https://picasaweb.google.com/1050102852 ... nADay32010#

Feel free to rip the map and GXP file from my blog, under the "Maps and GPX Tracks" tab...
www.karl-helser.com

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jessbee
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Re: Nasty Rock, Not Nasty Rock and points around

Post by jessbee » October 9th, 2015, 5:49 am

Wow, thanks for the detailed write up. I've been eyeballing that one for a while but haven't yet made it out there. I have to be in the right kind of mood to negotiate mazes if logging roads. Definitely want to explore this area now though, thanks!
Will break trail for beer.

Blog and photos

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bobcat
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Re: Nasty Rock, Not Nasty Rock and points around

Post by bobcat » October 9th, 2015, 10:12 am

mattisnotfrench wrote:I've been wanting to go there for my current book.
Matt, it would be really cool if the BLM's trail got in your guidebook: the only other occasion it was so honored was in the mid-70s! It's a short trail, but as Karl mentions, it's an easy ridge walk to Not Nasty to extend the hike.

Courtesy of bobcat - driving directions (from the Glen Avon Bridge):

Turn right onto Road 6-3E-6, the Molalla River Road, and cross the Glen Avon Bridge to enter the Molalla River Recreation Area. Drive 0.2 miles before the paved road makes a sharp left turn. Continue 11.2 miles and bear left at a junction signed for the Table Rock Trailhead. Keep going for another 1.5 miles and go left on a gravel road marked for the Table Rock Trailhead. In another 2.7 miles, keep left at the junction with Road 7-3E-7, which goes to the Table Rock Trailhead. Cross the Table Rock Fork of the Molalla River, and drive 5.6 miles, passing through private timberland and past many gated logging roads. At a junction, stay left and drive 2.6 miles. At a major junction, stay right and drive in a generally southward direction for 5.0 miles, passing the parking turnout for Joyce Lake and arriving at a Y-junction. Go right at this junction, and drive 0.6 miles. At this next junction, go right and proceed 0.8 miles. After 0.5 miles, come to another junction and keep left. Drive 0.5 miles and stay left at a junction. Continue 0.5 miles to the end of the road and park. The trail proceeds up some roughly placed stone steps 40 yards back from the end of the road.
Karl Helser wrote:I've always considered the "Not Nasty Rock" as the Chemeketan's Nasty Rock....and so do the Chemeketan's
Thanks, Karl. I was hoping a Chemeketan would provide some clarification. Thanks for the track!

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mattisnotfrench
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Re: Nasty Rock, Not Nasty Rock and points around

Post by mattisnotfrench » October 10th, 2015, 9:36 am

bobcat wrote:
mattisnotfrench wrote:I've been wanting to go there for my current book.
Matt, it would be really cool if the BLM's trail got in your guidebook: the only other occasion it was so honored was in the mid-70s! It's a short trail, but as Karl mentions, it's an easy ridge walk to Not Nasty to extend the hike.

Courtesy of bobcat - driving directions (from the Glen Avon Bridge):

Turn right onto Road 6-3E-6, the Molalla River Road, and cross the Glen Avon Bridge to enter the Molalla River Recreation Area. Drive 0.2 miles before the paved road makes a sharp left turn. Continue 11.2 miles and bear left at a junction signed for the Table Rock Trailhead. Keep going for another 1.5 miles and go left on a gravel road marked for the Table Rock Trailhead. In another 2.7 miles, keep left at the junction with Road 7-3E-7, which goes to the Table Rock Trailhead. Cross the Table Rock Fork of the Molalla River, and drive 5.6 miles, passing through private timberland and past many gated logging roads. At a junction, stay left and drive 2.6 miles. At a major junction, stay right and drive in a generally southward direction for 5.0 miles, passing the parking turnout for Joyce Lake and arriving at a Y-junction. Go right at this junction, and drive 0.6 miles. At this next junction, go right and proceed 0.8 miles. After 0.5 miles, come to another junction and keep left. Drive 0.5 miles and stay left at a junction. Continue 0.5 miles to the end of the road and park. The trail proceeds up some roughly placed stone steps 40 yards back from the end of the road.
If you want to take me up there I'll be glad to include it. I'm at the point where I don't particularly want to venture out somewhere that remote by myself. :)
Author of Off the Beaten Trail, 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region and PDX Hiking 365. Website: www.offthebeatentrailpdx.com

johnspeth
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Re: Nasty Rock, Not Nasty Rock and points around

Post by johnspeth » October 13th, 2015, 4:03 am

Thanks, bobcat, for the useful details. I tried the Not-Nasty Rock approach on Sunday, 10-11. It was steep (just how I like em) and very wet from the previous days' rain and morning dew. I got to Not-Nasty Rock soaked to the bone but able to dry out a bit due to the warm sun. There's lots of partially overgrown live brush across a lot of the trail so it can be a soaker on the dewy days.

Five minutes after starting up on the trail I encountered a runaway campfire that appeared to have been burning at least a day, even after the previous nights' heavy rain. It was creeping along under the moss carpet slowly burning the organic ground debris beneath it. I tried to put it out and it was still going a little bit when I returned, at which point I finished the job. About 100 square feet had burned.

The slow fire reminded me of the time I found a fire burning under a snow drift on the PCT near Santiam Pass during hunting season. There was smoke coming from a small hole in a pile of snow. I kicked the hole open and was met with a rush of smoke, steam, and flames.

Lesson: Fires can last a lot longer than you think. Dead out is the key.

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