Suggested Late Season Backpacking - Portland?

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
tomb
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Suggested Late Season Backpacking - Portland?

Post by tomb » October 11th, 2017, 5:38 am

Hello All,

Myself and a friend are flying into Portland from 10/21/2017 - 10/25/2017 and are looking to complete a backpacking trip. As out-of-towners, trail loops with easy public transportation to the trailhead are ideal. I was looking into the Timberline Trail, which seems perfect distance, difficulty, views, etc. but I was curious about late season trail conditions. I don't mind a little bit of sufferfest, but if there are better options I would like to know! I also considered something along the Loowit trail. I know this is last minute but it is hard to plan for weather too far in advance. I love to travel to a new place and spend a majority of my time outside so any and all suggestions or recommendations are much appreciated!

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retired jerry
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Re: Suggested Late Season Backpacking - Portland?

Post by retired jerry » October 11th, 2017, 6:43 am

It's getting late for Timberline Trail. There's a little snow up there. We now seem to be in a pattern of rain, which would be snow up there. Anything above about 5000 feet is probably snowy now.

Columbia Gorge would be good, with some public transportation, except it's all closed because of forest fire.

Trinity Alps in northern CA would be good but there's forest fires there.

Olympic Peninsula would be good but it's far away. And more likely to be rainy.

Rogue River would be good, but it's like 250 miles south and no public transportation.

Something on the east side of the Cascades would be good, maybe 150 miles away, no public transportation. Badger Creek would be good. It might be snowy/rainy.

Aimless
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Re: Suggested Late Season Backpacking - Portland?

Post by Aimless » October 11th, 2017, 10:28 am

Jerry is spot on.

That late in October will almost certainly see accumulations of snow on every trail above 5000 feet. Snow could fall as low as 3000 feet, and if not snow, then rain is a better than 60% likelihood at that time of year. The river crossings on the Timberline trail will be high and dangerous. Public transport around here is sparse as you get away from the metro area and it won't get you to any backpackable trailheads, especially now that almost every trail in the Columbia Gorge is closed after a nearly 50,000 acre wildfire out there. You'll need access to a car.

Locally, you could try backpacking up the Salmon River (near Welches, OR) and in the absence of higher elevation snow you could make it a loop by using the trail on top of Hunchback Ridge and descending at the Green Canyon Way trail. There are trail reports on this loop. It has many downed trees on one section of the ridge. Further afield, you could look at the east side of the Cascades. Badger Creek Wilderness might present the most accessible trails in easy driving distance. But the truth is, that by late October most local backpackers have stored their gear, or else are starting to plan snowshoe camping trips for later in winter.

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drm
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Re: Suggested Late Season Backpacking - Portland?

Post by drm » October 11th, 2017, 12:00 pm

retired jerry wrote:Columbia Gorge would be good, with some public transportation, except it's all closed because of forest fire.
Of course the fire is mostly out with just a few protected smoldering spots. But having it closed, possibly all winter, is really going to cramp our style as it is the primary low altitude off-season area. Options on the other side of the river are far fewer. There are some hikes on the Washington side, but far less, and most of it is not considered backpacking terrain. The Trapper Creek loop in the wilderness of the same name is much shorter than the Timberline but usually would still be open, if soggy, in late October. But it's only 15 miles or so.

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jdemott
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Re: Suggested Late Season Backpacking - Portland?

Post by jdemott » October 11th, 2017, 1:21 pm

Indian Heaven Wilderness in Washington is about 1-1/2 hours from Portland, but no public transportation. Elevation is about 1 to 2 thousand feet less than Timberline Trail, so less chance of heavy snow. As of Oct 9 there was no snow on the ground up there but overnight temps were below freezing. With precipitation there will likely be some snow. Part of Indian Heaven is closed due to an earlier fire but you could certainly find plenty of options for backpacking. Making a true loop would be more difficult because of the closure.

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Peder
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Re: Suggested Late Season Backpacking - Portland?

Post by Peder » October 11th, 2017, 3:36 pm

Forget about a five day backpack. Stay somewhere around Bend and do some day hikes.The weather should be dry. Smith Rock is fantastic and the Badlands Wilderness should allow you to spend at least one night under the stars. Now, if you hike really slow in the Badlands...
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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VanMarmot
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Re: Suggested Late Season Backpacking - Portland?

Post by VanMarmot » October 11th, 2017, 3:43 pm

First let me echo what others have said about the weather here in late October: it can, and likely will, vary widely - from sunny skys to an awesome weather-fueled sufferfest and back - possibly all on the same day. Or for days... So be prepared.

Second, with the Gorge out of action, public transportation is likely NOT a realistic option if you want some choice of decent backpacks within your 5-day window (assuming you're flying in/out on the weekends and backpacking during the week?). Consider renting a car...

Southern Oregon can be a little drier (but not necessarily warmer) than the Portland area in late October. You could do an out-and-back on the Rogue River Trail. Or do the Wild Rogue Loop. With these, snow is unlikely to be an issue - but rain could be.

To add to what Peder just posted: You could include the Spring Basin Wilderness north of Bend - beautiful area for a long dayhike.

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CampinCarl
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Re: Suggested Late Season Backpacking - Portland?

Post by CampinCarl » October 12th, 2017, 8:21 am

I echo what others have said about the mountains. However, if you are looking for public transit options and are not from a coastal state, you could in theory catch a bus (http://www.nworegontransit.org/routes/t ... _portland/) from Portland to Tillamook and hike to Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast Trail, see the maps here: http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/PARKS/docs/OCT_b.pdf ; http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/PARKS/docs/OCT_a.pdf

You could do a section hike and take public transit back to Tillamook and then on to Portland. Perhaps a little more complicated logistically as far as transportation and camping. Note: Overnight camping is allowed on sections of the Oregon Coast, not adjacent to Oregon State Parks, not within the city limits of Cannon Beach, Lincoln City, Seaside, Newport, Bandon, Gold Beach, Rockaway Beach and Manzanita. However you could do some "European" style backpacking and stay in hotels since you'd be hiking through towns along the way.

Weather - rain, fog, some sun possibly, temps mid 50's - low 60's for highs, lows upper 30's to mid 40's

tomb
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Re: Suggested Late Season Backpacking - Portland?

Post by tomb » October 16th, 2017, 7:53 am

Thanks all for the response, this is a great community! I have decided to rent a car to give ourselves some flexibility with the trip. Right now my plan is to still drive up to Timberline Lodge 10/21/17 (will I be able to do this with a rental sedan, no chains?). Then the thought is to do an out and back along the trail, but to avoid any river crossings (due to possible high water and cold temperatures). I downloaded a pretty good trail map to my GPS and I'm decent with a map and compass so I am not too worried about route finding (though this thought may be naive). Is this idea even feasible at current water levels, or do I need to abandon the Timberline trail all together? I've backpacked in the snow before and I have some basic gear like a snow shovel and gaiters, but I wouldn't want to need snow shoes or much more technical equipment. Thanks again for all the help!

walkin62
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Re: Suggested Late Season Backpacking - Portland?

Post by walkin62 » October 16th, 2017, 8:21 am

I would definitely watch the current conditions. Forecast is calling for two more feet of snow and high winds at Timberline over the next three days. The website for Timberline Lodge has webcams and a good snow forecast link that might be helpful to you.

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