Old Vista Ridge trail

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

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.
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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.
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Perry Lake
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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.
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between the trees is Katsuk Point.

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Chip Down
Posts: 1803
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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bobcat
Posts: 1989
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

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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Water
Posts: 1240
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Old Vista Ridge trail

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

adam b1... WOW

thanks for the report and pictures, appreciated. Love that you explore these odds and ends.
Feel Free to Feel Free

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Guy
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Location: The Foothills of Mt Hood
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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:
viewtopic.php?t=16510

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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