Sword Fern Way 11-10-21

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Sword Fern Way 11-10-21

Post by bobcat » November 12th, 2021, 2:58 pm

In anticipation of yet another atmospheric river, I escaped to explore this new trail in the Yacolt Burn State Forest. Beginning from the upper trailhead at Moulton Falls County Park, I crossed the East Fork Lewis River, and then took the Bells Mountain Trail about 2 1/4 miles to the south junction with the new Sword Fern Way. Clouds were low so I could see Yacolt and the snowy bottom of Silver Star but neither Sturgeon Rock nor Mt. St. Helens.

The river above the East Fork bridge, Moulton Falls County Park.jpg
East Fork above Moulton Falls, East Fork Lewis River Trail.jpg
On the East Fork Trail, Moulton Falls County Park.jpg
Sign at junction with Bells Mountain Trail, East Fork Lewis River Trail.jpg
Yacolt Burn snag, Bells Mountain Trail.jpg
Small waterfall below the Bells Mountain Trail.jpg
Small footbridge, Bells Mountain Trail.jpg

Sword Fern Way is a 2 ½ mile trail that ascends the east slope of Bells Mountain in a series of biker loops. This is mostly approx. 40-year Douglas-fir plantation spaced exactly right to allow only a dim understory with maximum potential for timber harvest. Near the high point of the trail, an unmarked spur spins off to enter a clearcut and rise to the summit of Bells Mountain, where there’s an enclosure that cages a communications tower. The views here are restricted except towards the east, and there are better vistas to be had from the Bells Mountain Trail clearcuts. The descent is also via looping switchbacks to join an old logging spur about 30 yards from the Bells Mountain Trail.

South junction with Sword Fern Way, Bells Mountain Trail.jpg
View up the Rock Creek valley, Sword Fern Way.jpg
More mossy firs, Sword Fern Way.jpg
Junction with the summit spur, Sword Fern Way.jpg
Comm tower at summit of Bells Mountain, Sword Fern Way.jpg
Honey mushrooms, Sword Fern Way.jpg
White cheese polypore (Tyromyces chioneus), Sword Fern Way.jpg

There were a surprising number of people out. One group of ladies, obviously on a standard outing for them, told me they had never seen anyone else up on the trail. Then I ran into the same hunter three times; the third time he also almost ran over me on his bike. The hike was about 8 ½ miles total with 1,785 feet elevation gain.

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Re: Sword Fern Way 11-10-21

Post by Chip Down » November 14th, 2021, 5:45 pm

I was excited to see a new trail, but at some point in this TR a had a deja vu moment.
Yep, done it, once when it was almost done, and then again when it was all finished.
I'm glad you posted this though. It's fun to see another report on an obscure trail.

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