This trip report is meant to aide those who wish to backpack this loop. After parking at the High Prairie Trailhead (there is a bathroom, permit station, and a very small creek here) we made our way uphill on the east portion of the High Prairie Loop to lookout mountain. After taking in all of the spectacular views, we continued on the east high ridge trail. There are many small trails off to the right (Southwest-ish) with great views that are worth exploring. Keep your eyes out for a trail off to your left that leads to Oval Lake. The lake is 2 feet deep all the way across and not really worth a dip. This is however a good spot to fill up on water. There may or may not be a good, flat, cleared dispersed spot to camp on the perimeter of the lake. Back on the main trail, on your left, before descending into the badger creek there is at least one dispersed camping spot big enough for a two person tent (no access to water). The trail touches a main, wide road that leads to Flag point lookout tower. We did not explore this because we wanted to ensure that we had enough time to find a good campsite further down in the valley before dark. About 1 mile after starting our descent on the Badger creek Connector Trail (# 477A), we soon started crossing many small springs on a steep incline. These are good opportunities to fill up water bottles. Many portions of this trail are marshy and blocked by downed trees and/or overgrown underbrush. It seems like this is the least maintained portion of this loop. The path is not impassible but may become so if left as is. On our first night we camped just to the left of the intersection of the Badger Creek and Badger creek Connector Trail (# 477A). There is a dispersed camping spot right on Tolo creek. It was a good, yet small camping spot. About 1.5 miles further down badger creek to right (west) there is another good, dispersed camping site near a wooden bridge--very near the junction of the Badge Creek and Gumjuwac trails.
The next day we decided to hike to Badger lake, stopped for a lovely midday swim, and rather than retrace our steps and hike back to the Gumjuwac Creek Trail, we continued on the Divide trail to finish the loop. We crossed 3-4 large creeks on our way up and out where we filled up our water. The Divide trail intersects with the Gumjuwac Creek trail and a main dirt road. About 1.5 miles past the intersection of this road, still on the Divide trail, we ran into another spring. This will be your last source of water before getting back to the parking lot. We decided that we were going to camp for the night at a dispersed site near lookout point, on top of the ridge. For this reason we filled up 6 liters of water for drinking and cooking that night for two people. The campsite we found was quite dusty but had a beautiful view of mount hood. Our third and final day consisted of a quick ¾ mile jaunt back to the car.
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