This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
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Post by mtncorg » September 18th, 2019, 9:27 am

I have wanted to hike in this area of the Boundary Trail for years now. The whole 53 miles of the Boundary Trail cover a lot of interesting country, but like to cherry pick with a light daypack, so I picked what looked to be the very interesting section between Badger Peak and Craggy Peak. A long drive up the Lewis River highway from I-5 at Woodland and around the east side of Mt St Helens started things off – doesn’t Forest Highway 25 seem to be getting worse every year? - and I was on the trail a little after 9am.

I had read about the motorcycles on this section of the Boundary Trail and after a mile up from Mosquito Meadows go to experience some of those ruts and ‘improvements’ along the way.
Trail "improvements" along the Boundary
Actually, I didn’t find the ruts to be too bad on most of the Boundary Trail on which I hiked – the side trails were another matter – here I especially speak of the Badger Ridge Trail #257 and why allow the bikes all the way up to the old lookout site on the peak. Dismount and walk the half mile like the rest of us instead of gouging - 8-minute mark

A couple more miles and you get to Badger Lake, a little pool of water lying at the base of Badger Peak. The Badger Peak Trail branches off up slope to the north just a few yards to the west. More on that on the way back. The area around the lake gets a lot of attention from the motorcyclists who have ripped up quite a bit of landscape along the trail. Signs are posted warning them of the potential consequences.
Badger Lake
Pushing onwards, the Boundary stays up on the ridge moving over to the next big peak, Kirk Rock. Some maps do not have a name for the prominence, because its former name was not suited for such a fine peak. The official name was bestowed in the 1960’s naming it after a local ranger of repute. There is a little meadow on the northeastern side of the Rock that was magic as I walked through it. I have gone four plus miles by now and have seen no one – until now. Up on the cliffs about a third of the way are three goats looking down at me.
Kirk Rock rising high above the trail
Goats on the cliffs of Kirk Rock
Leaving the magic behind, you ascend a couple switchbacks – switchbacks are a bit difficult for some of the bikers who have carved them out on a bit larger scale – and finally you are at the base of Shark Rock with a wonderful view to the east of the Dark Divide and Mt Adams.
East to Mt Adams and Hat Rock from base of Shark Rock
There is a nice flat area atop some cliffs where you can take your lunch and peer up at Shark Rock – which has not been seen previously from the trail – and Craggy Peak beyond.
Shark Rock and Craggy Peak - trail a little wider here for lunch parking
Craggy Peak would be next – I did walk over to the north base, but decided that time would not allow me to summit it, since you have to go around to the south side and up, as well as go up Badger Peak on the way back, so time to return.
Craggy Peak
The trail around the base of Shark Rock gets beaten up by the bikers and you can see that here - especially around 4-5 minute mark and 26 minute mark where the group is riding the switchbacks at Shark Rock.
Switchback below Shark Rock that gets a little beaten up
Back all the way to the Badger Peak Trail – maps show a ‘trail’ going straight up from the lake, but it doesn’t seem to be in much evidence – and here, because of the steepness and dampness of terrain, the motorcycles really dig the ground up making walking much more tedious – trekking poles definitely help.
Once again past Kirk Rock
The last half mile is the worst as the motorcycles go all the way to the top – back to watch the 8-minute mark
The view from the top of Badger Peak is great - the other Boundary Peaks are there close at hand;
Peaks of the Boundary Trail from Badger Pk: Hat Rock, Shark Rock, Craggy Peak and Kirk Rock with Adams as a backdrop
St Helens is off to the west with the peaks of the Mt Margaret Backcountry arrayed to the north. Mt Hood is off to the south, with Rainier and the Goat Rocks to the north and northeast.
West to Mt St Helens
North to Mt Rainier
The way out seems longer than the way in, but that seems to be the case a lot of the time. I met only one fellow who was with his dog at Badger Lake when I passed and that was it for the whole day. So, come to the Boundary mid-week is the moral of that story.
badger peak.jpg
Gouged switchback on the Boundary Trail with Badger Peak on the right
The return drive was as long as the drive out, but since it was around 5 pm, I drove back via the Wind River, Carson and the Bridge of the Gods to avoid traffic on the Lewis River Road, plus it seems prettier – the time is really about equal for those of us living on the east side of town.

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Post by bobcat » September 18th, 2019, 2:49 pm

Nice report! The area is a bit too far for me for a day hike. I need to station myself out there for about a week to capture the flavor.

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Post by mtncorg » September 19th, 2019, 8:12 am

Helps to live on the eastside and get up early ;-)

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Post by K.Wagner » September 22nd, 2019, 2:01 pm

Nice report! You covered a lot of ground on this trip.
I know the area well!
While the trail bikes do chew up the trails, the riders have always been courteous to me, often stopping and talking story for a few minutes. Also, if it wasn't for the spring clean-up rides that the clubs organize, most of the trails through the Dark Divide would likely not have any maintenance at all.
There is no shortcut to anyplace worth going to.

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Post by mtncorg » September 23rd, 2019, 11:20 am

I don't have any problem with the riders, it is the ruts which get tiring. The final bit on Badger Peak was a bit much, but the Boundary Trail, itself wasn't too bad except at Badger Lake and a few of the switchbacks. The area is a gem under most people's radar, a true highlight of Skamania ;-]

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Post by JayWalk » September 24th, 2019, 5:00 am

This hike (RD 25 to Craggy Peak trail) is one of the gems of the Gifford system, while it is motorized the hike does not have a lot of elevation gain and offers fantastic natural beauty and views.

The motorcyclists have cleared three miles of brush on this section this year starting at Craggy peak trail and working towards Badger lake.

Thank you for the report.

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