Archer Mountain loop on the last day of freedom (3/22/20)

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
User avatar
adamschneider
Posts: 3279
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm
Location: SE Portland
Contact:

Archer Mountain loop on the last day of freedom (3/22/20)

Post by adamschneider » March 30th, 2020, 9:45 pm

Last weekend, the writing was on the wall and it was pretty clear that COVID-19 was going to shut us all down on Monday. I wanted to get outside, but I didn't want to be one of the idiots clogging up Waterfall Alley or the Rowena Plateau, so I opted for the much less popular Archer Mountain. And I made nearly a full loop of it by spending half the day on old or non-existent trails, thereby sending the Social Distancing factor off the charts.

I'd traced ghosts of old trails on the Strava heatmap in the past, so I had GPS guidance. The map below shows my route. Blue is the new "official" trail (still unofficial as far as the USFS is concerned); orange is the old trail; red is where I semi-bushwhacked; and green is the sketchy flagged route to/from the summit, and the old roadbed from the north.
map.jpg

I was a little surprised to find nine other cars at the trailhead at the end of Smith-Cripe Road, but that's better than ninety. I started up the track and noticed the old path that turns right in the first meadow. (The picture below shows the meadow, but not the path.)
20200322-113814.jpg

Then the track looked like it wanted to go straight ahead and uphill toward another meadow, but a little homemade "Archer Trail" sign sent me to the right and downhill, then downhill some more — passing within about 15 feet of the old trail alignment — until I got to Archer Creek, and the funky hand-made bridge made of logs tied together.

Along the way, I found a wild ginger plant just starting to bloom. (There was a fully-open flower nearby, but I couldn't get a good angle because of the neighboring stinging nettles. Oh well, I'll take nettles over poison-oak any day.)
20200322-122420.jpg

Half a mile past the creek, I noted where the old trail joined up from the right. (It's been obscured fairly well; you have to look for it.) 100 yards beyond that, there's an obvious right turn across a tiny creek to an ancient logging road. I walked down that for another 100 yards, then turned left and started up deer trails through a very steep meadow.
20200322-124342.jpg

I knew I was coming up to sort of a cliff band, which turned out to be an easy scramble on surprisingly solid rock.
20200322-125543.jpg

After that, it was just a boring slog up through steep but fairly benign woods for another 1/3 of a mile until I hit the normal trail again. It traverses over toward Arrow Point on some sketchy side-hill tread that was scorched by the Eagle Creek Fire. Some Columbia kittentails were blooming at the point where Arrow Point's ridge joins the rest of the mountain.
20200322-143333.jpg

Arrow Point looks scarier in this photo than it really is.
20200322-141557.jpg

There were a couple of groups of people at Arrow, and we all Socially Distanced from each other. Then I left the humanity behind by semi-scrambling up the ridgecrest to the summit of Archer; at first there's sort of a trail, and then there isn't — but it's a ridge, so there's no getting lost.

From the unremarkable summit, I followed an obvious path (marked with orange ribbons) heading northwest and then west down to the old logging road that comes in from the off-limits Columbia Falls Natural Area Preserve to the north. From there, a pretty obvious trail forks off to the southwest and then mostly south to the "main" trail.

I really enjoyed hanging out for a while at Scott Point. It was quiet, sunny, scenic, and mossy — and no one else seemed to know it was there.
20200322-152829.jpg

And there was a huge bee-filled clump of manzanita.
20200322-154651.jpg

On my way back to the trail from Scott Point, there was a patch of moss with cool spear-like fruiting bodies.
20200322-155703.jpg

On my way down, I turned left on the old trail shortly after I passed my earlier bushwhack departure point. The old alignment is starting to get overgrown but was pretty easy to follow. The bridge over the creek (boards and roof shingles) is even still there.

Lots of trillium and redwood sorrel on both trail alignments.
20200322-171149.jpg
20200322-172242.jpg

When I got back to my car, I still had an hour or two of daylight left, so I headed over to the always-picturesque Duncan Creek on the other side of Archer Mountain.
20200322-183414.jpg
20200322-192436.jpg

Google Earth view of my day:
googleearth.jpg

So, a question: Does anyone know WHY the Archer Mountain trail was re-routed? The new one doesn't seem "better" in any way... just different. At any rate, one of these days I'll go in and update the Field Guide page to reflect the new reality.

User avatar
BigBear
Posts: 1664
Joined: October 1st, 2009, 11:54 am

Re: Archer Mountain loop on the last day of freedom (3/22/20)

Post by BigBear » March 31st, 2020, 10:46 am

Yes, the old route was closed in the mid-90s due to an endangered newt or salamander. Ironic since the old route followed a logging road. I was pleased to have hiked it once before it closed.

User avatar
Chip Down
Posts: 2177
Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Re: Archer Mountain loop on the last day of freedom (3/22/20)

Post by Chip Down » March 31st, 2020, 3:06 pm

Archer always manages to confuse me. I'm never quite sure I'm on route. I suspect I've still missed out on some of the fun parts. Fortunately, it's close to home, and I like getting "lost", as long as I'm not lost. Maybe I'll go back with your maps next weekend...oops, I mean a few months from now.

User avatar
adamschneider
Posts: 3279
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm
Location: SE Portland
Contact:

Re: Archer Mountain loop on the last day of freedom (3/22/20)

Post by adamschneider » March 31st, 2020, 3:50 pm

BigBear wrote:
March 31st, 2020, 10:46 am
Yes, the old route was closed in the mid-90s due to an endangered newt or salamander. Ironic since the old route followed a logging road. I was pleased to have hiked it once before it closed.
When you say "the old route," do you mean the northern route from Duncan Creek Road, or the orange line on my map near the end of Smith-Cripe Road? I'm just talking about the southern trails here. The Field Guide entry on OH seems to describe the orange line, and it was certainly written well after the mid-'90s.

User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 2159
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Re: Archer Mountain loop on the last day of freedom (3/22/20)

Post by bobcat » April 1st, 2020, 7:31 am

Looks like "Friends of Archer" have been at work.

Yes, the FG entry describes the orange route, then resumes with the blue route where they meet on the orange route's east end. The top end of the blue route going northwest to Scott Point is new (post-fire), fashioned in 2018. The old route going east from off that route above the Douglas-fir "yellowjacket nest" viewpoint went to Quiver Point (the big peninsula jutting south) but that was obliterated in the fire. It had tracked across very steep terrain.

"Scott" and co. told me about the planned reroute below to replace the orange route, which they must have completed in 2019. There's a new bridge there? They took advantage of the cat tracks that were graded as a firebreak in 2017. It would be good if you could update the FG entry.

User avatar
adamschneider
Posts: 3279
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm
Location: SE Portland
Contact:

Re: Archer Mountain loop on the last day of freedom (3/22/20)

Post by adamschneider » April 1st, 2020, 9:06 pm

bobcat wrote:
April 1st, 2020, 7:31 am
"Scott" and co. told me about the planned reroute below to replace the orange route, which they must have completed in 2019. There's a new bridge there? They took advantage of the cat tracks that were graded as a firebreak in 2017. It would be good if you could update the FG entry.
Yeah, here's the new bridge, looking west across the creek. (Sorry about the ridiculously overexposed photo.)
20200322-120037.jpg

User avatar
CraigG
Posts: 368
Joined: April 29th, 2013, 8:06 pm

Re: Archer Mountain loop on the last day of freedom (3/22/20)

Post by CraigG » April 1st, 2020, 9:16 pm

The 2018-2019 Archer reroute was more maintainable, so I heard, and avoided the burned parts.

I went out to the end of Quiver Pt last month (not Arrow Pt, which is more common). Quiver Pt trail is a bushwhack mess now. The old trail to Quiver Pt from both the east and west is practically gone and hasn't been maintained for 5 years. In fact, I could no longer find the trail from Quiver Pt west back to the maintained trail. It was rather dangerous/foolish bushwhacking.

Old trail segments north of Archer summit are no longer maintained and quickly fading. There is flagging from Archer summit northwest back down to the old road.

There is a "new" trail, out to the 4th/Uppermost Cable/Gable waterfall. That must have been put in over the past year.

Always neat stuff going on out there.

Regards,
CraigG

User avatar
CraigG
Posts: 368
Joined: April 29th, 2013, 8:06 pm

Re: Archer Mountain loop on the last day of freedom (3/22/20)

Post by CraigG » April 1st, 2020, 9:22 pm

Greetings -

A fun and beautiful spring hike is to do both Archer Mtn and Duncan Creek in one day - it can be a loop. It is approximately 14 miles and very secluded. The trails from Archer to Duncan Creek are fading and need some boots. If you want more suffering, try hitting Railcar Falls too.

Regards,
CraigG

User avatar
adamschneider
Posts: 3279
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm
Location: SE Portland
Contact:

Re: Archer Mountain loop on the last day of freedom (3/22/20)

Post by adamschneider » April 2nd, 2020, 4:24 pm

CraigG wrote:
April 1st, 2020, 9:22 pm
A fun and beautiful spring hike is to do both Archer Mtn and Duncan Creek in one day - it can be a loop. It is approximately 14 miles and very secluded. The trails from Archer to Duncan Creek are fading and need some boots.
How does one get from Archer to Duncan Creek without going through the NAP? Are there trails down the cliffs northeast of the summit?

User avatar
CraigG
Posts: 368
Joined: April 29th, 2013, 8:06 pm

Re: Archer Mountain loop on the last day of freedom (3/22/20)

Post by CraigG » October 23rd, 2020, 7:24 pm

Hmm - I missed this append. Sorry about that.

I followed the (old) trail north of Archer Mtn summit out to the roads around Cynthia Falls, then took a short trail segment just north of Cynthia Falls. I thought the NAP (Natural Area Preserve) was the area immediately below Archer Falls. Perhaps it was my ignorance that allowed me to make such a route.

Post Reply