Diamond Peak: which trailhead?

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
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adamschneider
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Diamond Peak: which trailhead?

Post by adamschneider » August 30th, 2020, 10:46 pm

I'm thinking about hiking up Diamond Peak this week. I have two trailheads to choose from: Rockpile and Emigrant Pass (a.k.a. Summit Lake/PCT). The hiking distance from each is almost exactly the same, but the Emigrant Pass option has a bit less climbing. (The drive time is similar too, but Emigrant Pass is a little shorter if you go in from the east.)

Image

It seems like most people do it via the Rockpile Trailhead. Why? Is the road to Summit Lake (NF 6010) so bad that it should be avoided by small cars?

johnspeth
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Re: Diamond Peak: which trailhead?

Post by johnspeth » August 31st, 2020, 5:17 am

I deeply researched autumn climbing options in 2008. I decided to use the Rockpile TH due to best access and likelihood of finding a good trail. I remember the road between Oakridge and the TH being in surprisingly good shape. I was driving a 1998 VW Jetta at the time. I used the driving directions found at Summit Post at the time. It was a really long drive from Oakridge to the TH (38 miles according to Google) with dozens of roads to make a wrong turn on. Summit Post warned against using Rd 6010 (Summit Lake approach) for small cars.

Here are driving instructions I used found at Summit Post at that time, which differs from what is there today:

From the west take I-5 to Highway 58 in Goshen, OR. (From the east you'd have to take Highway 97 to Highway 58) From Goshen, take Highway 58 35 miles east to the town of Oakridge. Just outside the the east edge of Oakridge, you'll take a right onto Road 23, only problem is that it's not marked so you have to look for a large green sign that says "Kitson Spgs Rd/Hills Creek Dam/Middle Fork Willamette". Turn right at that sign and go .5 miles to Road 21 (also not marked - look for the sign that says "Diamond Drive"). Turn right onto Road 21 (also known as Rigdon Road) and go 30.6 miles to Road 2154. Take a left on 2154 and go .3 miles to Road 380 (the sign has a large 380 on it with a smaller 2154 as well). Turn left on Road 380 and go 3.7 miles to Road 2160. Turn left onto Road 2160 and go 1.6 miles to the trailhead. There is a brown hiker sign and the trail is marked Trail 3632.

Some alternatives:
If you want to avoid gravel as long as possible, stay on Road 2154 a bit past where the pavement ends on it. Branch off left onto Road 2160 and follow for a couple miles to the trailhead.

You can also take Highway 58 to the town of Crescent, then take Road 60 to Road 6010. Follow Road 6010 to where it meets 2154/380 and follow as above. Road 6010 is rough and may require a 4WD vehicle so beware.


I'll bet the present Summit Post South Ridge route driving directions are the best (https://www.summitpost.org/south-ridge/156704). I've heard the Corrigan Lake route (spring skier's route) is a worthwhile alternative to the South Ridge approach.

I think most people choose the Rockpile TH to minimize off-trail hiking by leaving the protection of the PCT trail as late as possible. I hiked to Marie Lake and easy-bushwacked north from there. It's mostly easy boulder hopping along the South Ridge. Eventually you hit a trail to take you to the very broad mountain ridge. Here's a trip report I put on a personal web page: http://myplace.frontier.com/~jspeth/DiamondPeak.htm. It was an extremely memorable trip for me. Diamond Peak is way cool!

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jessbee
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Re: Diamond Peak: which trailhead?

Post by jessbee » August 31st, 2020, 5:45 am

The road to summit lake is heinous unless you have a truck.

Do it from the Rockpile lake trailhead.
Will break trail for beer.

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adamschneider
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Re: Diamond Peak: which trailhead?

Post by adamschneider » August 31st, 2020, 8:45 am

After a little more research, I decided that Rockpile is a better bet because it allows for THREE route options: I can stay on the trail all the way to the PCT and then take the "main" climber's trail, or I can bushwhack up from Marie Lake, or I can go north on the Diamond Lake Trail to the Pioneer Gulch junction then and go up the southwest ridge.

I'll probably choose two out of those three for the ascent and descent.

Diamond Peak routes.jpg

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walrus
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Re: Diamond Peak: which trailhead?

Post by walrus » August 31st, 2020, 7:20 pm

I've gone in from Rockpile (I think - the Bond Scramble route) and up from Marie Lake. It was 3 or 4 years ago, we camped along the road near the trailhead and came across blazes (modern) for the old Free Emigrant Road and explored that a bit the night before.

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Re: Diamond Peak: which trailhead?

Post by adamschneider » September 4th, 2020, 2:02 pm

We ended up starting from Rockpile and then going north from Marie Lake for the ascent.

On the way down, we took the southwest ridge, and we were going to continue southwest to the Pioneer Gulch trail junction, but instead we bushwhacked back over to Marie Lake so that we could refill our water bottles and jump in the lake.

Diamond Peak track.jpg
The terrain was pretty monotonous, and the wildflowers were cooked, so I don't think we missed much by backtracking on the Rockpile Trail instead of going for more of a loop.

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