Dry Creek (SW WA) camping?

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
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teachpdx
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Dry Creek (SW WA) camping?

Post by teachpdx » February 12th, 2020, 8:34 am

Hello!
I've been looking into this, but to no avail.

Are there decent campsites on the Dry Creek trail, adjacent to the Trapper Creek Wilderness? The field guide says [backpackable > no], but I can't help but think that there could be some good spots somewhere along the trail.

My partner and I are looking to add to our repertoire of easy-in winter/spring camping spots... under 3 miles in and relatively flat. We tend to take more of the comforts in the winter (I'm looking at you, 20 lb giant hammock tent) so we tend to keep mileage much shorter than in the summer.

We have done Salmon River, Deschutes River, and Siouxon Creek to death and want some more variety thrown in.

So if y'all could advise on Dry Creek, or give any other recommendations that fit the bill, we would appreciate it!
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Aimless
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Re: Dry Creek (SW WA) camping?

Post by Aimless » February 12th, 2020, 10:42 am

I've only day-hiked a couple of miles up the Dry Creek trail once, a few years ago, so this is based on slight experience and dim memory. Take it with several grains of salt until a better answer shows up.

I don't recall any obvious and well-established campsites along the first couple of trail miles, but if you don't mind camping a bit rough, my recollection is that there are some flat-ish areas and several places with access to water from the Wind River. You could probably make do.

I will now defer to those who know better than I the information you are seeking.

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bobcat
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Re: Dry Creek (SW WA) camping?

Post by bobcat » February 13th, 2020, 7:58 pm

No "established" campsites as far as I have noticed or know of; however, there are a few flat benches where you should be able to pitch a tent amongst the decaying maple detritus.

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Re: Dry Creek (SW WA) camping?

Post by justpeachy » February 14th, 2020, 8:05 pm

When I hiked this a few years ago I don't remember noticing any established campsites along the way. When I reached my turnaround point about four miles in at the crossing of Bourbon Creek (no bridge there) there was a group camped in the trees nearby. I didn't go invade their camp to look around, but there might be an established campsite there.

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teachpdx
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Re: Dry Creek (SW WA) camping?

Post by teachpdx » February 17th, 2020, 7:00 am

Thanks for all of your responses!
I'm pretty surprised that there aren't many (or any) campsites... it has all the ingredients for it (easy access, flat hike, water). I guess we will look into some other places!
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drm
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Re: Dry Creek (SW WA) camping?

Post by drm » February 17th, 2020, 8:42 am

There are sites. I've camped there. Not a lot, and mostly they are fairly close to the Trapper Creek trailhead end of it. Look for fairly obvious side trails that lead to the water. They will be sandy sites, and early season the creek might be too high and they would be under water. If you're not too picky (i.e. for perfectly level) and don't need a lot of space, you can find something.

My guess is the reason there are not more sites is that spring flows wash away sites. The flatness means that the exact location of the flow varies from year to year. For example, at the far end of that trail, there is a log that used to be over the creek. But the creek moved, is no longer under that log. It is 20 years away now, with no log across it.

There are a few sites early on along the Falls Creek Falls trail, though I never camped there. And if you take the variation up to the top of the falls, there is a side trail that leads to a large flat rock on a promontory. That's a few miles and maybe 1000 feet up.

Gifford Pinchot does not have a close-in analogy to Hood's Salmon, though the Lewis River is good fairly early. Badger Creek is the other good early season option, accessed via Tygh Valley. You didn't mention Herman Ck - it's the obvious very early season option, but I figure you know about that.

An obscure option that nobody ever does are the low-land trails on the south side of Mt Adams that go from the Mt Adams Horse Camp or the nearby Buck Creek trailhead. There aren't many good camps, especially near water. But creative campers looking for options can find something if they aren't picky. It won't ever be a backpacker fave, it's kinda brushy and there are few views of the mountain, but it is an option, and you don't see that many horses either. Equestrian groups keep these trails in perfect condition.

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teachpdx
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Re: Dry Creek (SW WA) camping?

Post by teachpdx » February 17th, 2020, 12:01 pm

drm wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 8:42 am
There are sites. I've camped there.
Dean, thank you once again for your wealth of knowledge.

Flat sites aren't necessary with the hammock tent... it's just heavy so I like to keep the elevation gain on the low side if I bring it along. So maybe we could plan for a 1-nighter on Dry Creek and see what happens...

I know of Herman Creek and it's been years since I have been hiking up there... I usually try to avoid the crowds (and break-ins) of the gorge as much as possible so I rarely hike (let alone camp) there. I may actually have to give this one a chance, especially if doing something in February or March.

Definitely agree with Badger Creek... it's a great one but won't the access road be snow-covered this time of year, even from Tygh Valley? I have it on the docket right now for May, or earlier if I can access it sooner.

I'll check out the area on the south side of Adams as well, but probably solo. My partner likes comfort and water access when we camp, and I am much more accustomed to roughing it.
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drm
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Re: Dry Creek (SW WA) camping?

Post by drm » February 17th, 2020, 2:52 pm

Note that Dry Creek has a lot of smaller deciduous trees, I think it's all second growth. I imagine you can find some bigger trees that can hold a hammock, but the campsites I have in mind are on a sandy beach. But maybe you don't need a normal campsite.

Badger - yes, too early now I would assume. It's probably too early for anything but Deschutes and Herman right now in this area, by which I mean north of Hood, since I live in the Gorge. The Lewis River might be a good bet for you. I don't usually go there before April, but I don't even see a smidgeon of snow then. The lower part might be melted out now.

leiavoia
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Re: Dry Creek (SW WA) camping?

Post by leiavoia » February 17th, 2020, 9:27 pm

Curious: what specifically are you referring to by "hammock tent"? Is this the thing with 3 tie-outs and ratchet straps?

A regular gathered end hammock + tarp combo is just as light as a ground tent and will let you disappear into areas otherwise unsuitable for tents.

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teachpdx
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Re: Dry Creek (SW WA) camping?

Post by teachpdx » February 18th, 2020, 9:10 am

leiavoia wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 9:27 pm
Curious: what specifically are you referring to by "hammock tent"? Is this the thing with 3 tie-outs and ratchet straps?
That's the one! The ratchet straps really up the weight... I think the kit is around 22 lbs. But it's like sleeping on a cloud and it's perfect for cold weather camping. I take it on nearly every trip that is <4 miles in and has adequate trees.
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