Old Vista Ridge trail

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Chip Down
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Old Vista Ridge trail

Post by Chip Down » October 7th, 2019, 7:11 pm

I've been meaning to do this hike for a long time. Every time I'm at the junction, where the spur trail to the TH meets Vista Ridge, I wonder what's down there. Or actually, as it turns out, up there. I discovered that the junction is in a saddle, so hiking north on the old trail is uphill, for a while anyway.

I carried our field guide, to make sure I didn't miss anything. No need, as it turned out. It's pretty straightforward, not much can go wrong.

Just past Alki Point the trail was signed not-maintained. It was really easy to follow. A bit overgrown, and it was rocky, which was tricky because of frost, so I had to go slow.
A couple surprises when I hit the bottom of the trail, where it turns to road: The road junction is actually at a hairpin turn, so you have to decide to go left or right. Right deadended very soon, meadowy, bit of a view, worth the minute or two it took to get there. Second surprise was a couple concrete foundations. I now know there was a lookout cabin, but I wasn't expecting this.

I continued down the road to Perry Lake. It's just a little pond. Disappointing. I had hoped it would be frozen or snowy, but not yet. Walked a little further on the road, found a snowtel, walked a little further, consulted map, saw nothing interesting down the road, turned back.

On the way back, I didn't dawdle as much as I thought I would. I started a little later than usual, and days are getting short. Still, when I arrived at the spur junction, I didn't return to my car. I wanted to look for the trail that google shows going east from Vista Ridge, eventually meeting Road 2840 (Pinnacle Ridge TH, Elk Cove TH). I was virtually certain there wasn't a trail there, but it couldn't hurt to look. I walked parallel to Vista Ridge trail, a few yards to the east, until I had passed over the alignment shown on google maps. Then I zigzaged back where the trail should be. Still nothing.

A little more exploration: I returned to the trail and followed it up, until I could look down into the parallel gully to my right. The trail drops to the gully, follows it a bit, then switchbacks up the other side. Coming back down the trail in the snow can get a little tricky here. Once you start down that gully, it's natural to continue, but you need to watch for the spot where the trail leaves the gully and veers right/east. I once made the mistake of continuing down the gully, but soon realized it didn't seem right. This time, I wanted to drop lower in the gully, just for fun. But first I wanted to go up to the next ridgecrest to the west. Turned out it wasn't a ridgecrest, it actually flattened out. I was perplexed by all the stumps. They seemed to be post fire. But how were the logs removed without a road? Well, looking at GE image, I now realize I was very close to a road, jut a little more west. A couple other surprises: huckleberries (surely the last of the season), and footprints in the snow. Nobody ever goes here, so what gives? I followed them, they faded, I dropped back into the gully, followed it until it curved away from Vista, started bushwhacking. Ran into lots of sawcuts, in a linear pattern, like a trail. Followed the trail up to Vista, down until it faded, then bushwhacked back to the TH.

That old Vista trail was more fun than expected. I figured it was just a forested trail that descends to the old TH at Perry Lake, but it was more interesting than that. Even so, it's scarcely worth the time. It's a good fill-in hike if you're in the area, but don't drive to the Vista TH just for this.

I was shocked at how crowded this trail was. The early snowfall certainly is keeping some people lower, but I saw two people on the trail! But seriously, I was surprised at the footprints, the dogs barking, people shouting. It was only through good luck and some offtrail excursions that I missed seeing all but two.
Fieldguide says you can get through this swampy meadow with dry feet if you pick your route carefully. Turns out if it's cold enough you can just pick a straight line.
Perry Lake
A little bushwhacking and scrambling took me here. behind me was a rocky high point that would be fun if it wasn't slightly overgrown.
between the trees is Katsuk Point.

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Chip Down
Posts: 1937
Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Re: Old Vista Ridge trail

Post by Chip Down » October 7th, 2019, 7:13 pm

The real reason I go hiking.

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Re: Old Vista Ridge trail

Post by bobcat » October 8th, 2019, 9:21 am

Chip Down wrote:
October 7th, 2019, 7:11 pm
I now know there was a lookout cabin, but I wasn't expecting this.
Red Hill Guard Station. Some of the old telephone wire is wrapped around Red Hill itself.

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Re: Old Vista Ridge trail

Post by Water » October 10th, 2019, 8:47 am

Last edited by Water on May 6th, 2020, 12:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Feel Free to Feel Free

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Re: Old Vista Ridge trail

Post by Guy » October 18th, 2019, 4:44 am

Just in case you haven't seen this:

The route between Perry Lake & Laurance Lake is pretty nice with only a short section that's completely off trail. We have done it both ways a few times.
hiking log & photos.
Ad monte summa aut mors

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