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Looking for a 2-night backpack in July

Posted: June 2nd, 2019, 12:57 pm
by yuda
Hi all,

I’m from back east (grew up in Pennsylvania, live outside DC now). Moderate amount of camping experience but I don’t usually enjoy really going for big miles (8-12 miles in a day usually feels about right, depending on how much elevation I’m gaining). The goal is mostly to be out in the woods and enjoy nature sounds, smells, and sights.

I’ll be in Portland for a conference mid-July, and I have a few days to myself first. Fly in on the 11th, plan to be on trails July 12 to the 14th, then back in Portland for the night of the 14th. My preference is to do the camping in a hammock, but if the best options for that season don’t have the trees, you could convince me to bring my tent.

I’ve been contemplating something in the Roaring River / Serene Lake area, but now I’m wondering if that’s going to be too overwhelmingly buggy. (Adjusting for the fact that most of my hiking, camping, and backpacking is in the blue ridge, where we get plenty of mosquitoes and ticks — so gear will be treated with permethrin and I’ll have picaridin, etc)

Should I keep looking in that area? Somewhere else more likely to be successful?

Main constraints:
  • 2-3 hour* drive from Portland
  • 25-35 miles total distance (give or take a few)
  • strong preference for hammock
  • July 12-14
Thanks! I’m looking forward to the suggestions (and the trip!)

Re: Looking for a 2-night backpack in July

Posted: June 3rd, 2019, 7:37 am
by teachpdx
I was up in the Roaring River Wilderness in mid-July last year, and spent a night at Middle Rock Lake. It was moderately buggy... not the worst but definitely noticeable.

You'll be hard-pressed to get the kind of mileage you are looking for in the Roaring River Wilderness. It's pretty isolated and has no trail connections onward, and a loop through the main areas is less than 10 miles.

I'd recommend going down to the PCT at Santiam Pass and doing a loop, north on the PCT from there to South Cinder Peak, down the Swallow Lake/Lake of the Woods trails to Marion Lake, and then back on the Blue Lake/Santiam Lake trails. Right around the proper distance, hammockable, varied scenery... a nice mix of lush and burned forest.

Re: Looking for a 2-night backpack in July

Posted: June 3rd, 2019, 7:50 am
by Aimless
• 2-3 mile drive from Portland

I'm thinking you definitely meant 2-3 hours' drive. ;)

Re: Looking for a 2-night backpack in July

Posted: June 3rd, 2019, 1:54 pm
by yuda
Yes, I meant 2-3 hour. Whoops!

Re: Looking for a 2-night backpack in July

Posted: June 3rd, 2019, 2:43 pm
by retired jerry
Maybe one of the mount hood hikes ... Hood_Hikes

There may still be some snow though, look at trip reports here when time gets close

The views on Mount Hood are really good. Visit Timberline Lodge when you're done. Maybe Timberline Lodge to Paradise Park but the mileage is a little less than your desire. Maybe when you get to Paradise Park you could walk continue up the Paradise Park Trail another mile up the mountain, amazing views.

Or Top Spur to Cairn Basin. Hike up to McNeil Ridge shelter for a little extra mileage.

Re: Looking for a 2-night backpack in July

Posted: June 3rd, 2019, 7:12 pm
by drm
My recommendation would be to start at Ramona Falls, hike to either Cairn Basin or Elk Cove and set up camp for two nights and do a couple hikes in the area on the middle day - so many choices. Snow has been melting fast so this should be okay, but you would need to check back to confirm as it gets closer, and to make sure the water crossings aren't too bad. Both would have possibilities for hammock camping while still near the alpine zone, which we tend to assume folks from back east want. You could start closer than Ramona Falls if you wanted shorter mileage.

July 12-14 is Fri-Sun. These areas get packed on weekends, but a hammock means you aren't competing for the same sites as most of us. The main camping area at Elk Cove doesn't have a lot of trees, but if you go down the Elk Cove trail a short ways there are plenty.

Re: Looking for a 2-night backpack in July

Posted: June 4th, 2019, 7:02 pm
by leiavoia
The "Three Fingered Jack Loop" as documented by Douglas Lorraine would be good that time of year. This also starts at Santiam Pass and goes North, but takes the trail to the right instead of the left. It includes a fun cross-country section and amazing scramble over a scenic saddle right next to the mountain. Might be some snow up at the top at that point. 20 miles total. Stops at 3 lakes. Very hammock friendly (but beware of hanging in burn zones - trees are unstable).

A alternative would be anything in the often overlooked Bull of the Woods Wilderness near Portland. You can make a DIY loop of scenic lakes. Mileage is whatever you please.

Green River / Goat Mountain near Mt St Helens is a good July option. This can be a two or three day adventure depending on what trail you take. Deadman's lake is one of the best swimming lakes.

The Serene Lake loop is a nice hike and Cache Meadow should have some flowers in it, but it will have some bugs. It's only 12 miles total RT though.

Re: Looking for a 2-night backpack in July

Posted: June 5th, 2019, 9:11 pm
by greenjello85
You could start at the roaring river campground and hike into the serene lake/rock lakes area. That would bring you close to your target mileage. Maybe a side trip down to perrywinkle falls on roaring river? Several other possibilities for bumping up the distance. Mt. Mitchell is a cool destination that not many people visit.

Outside of the main serene lake loop, the trails are remote, and not well maintained. Also, this would be quite a bit of elevation gain if you're not used to it.

Re: Looking for a 2-night backpack in July

Posted: July 7th, 2019, 5:45 pm
by yuda
Thanks, everybody! As luck would have it, my wife is able to join me. We’re planning to get up into Paradise Park, either via Timberline Lodge, or via the Paradise Park trail if the blowdowns aren’t too bad.

I’ll circle back next week to report out.