I'll just reinforce here what's already been stated in a couple of trip reports. Both the Gorton Creek and Nick Eaton Trails were cleared out by the PCTA as far as their respective junctions with the Deadwood Trail. The Deadwood and Ridge Cutoff Trails are also O.K.
Above Grays Creek (Deadwood Camp), you lose the Gorton Ridge Trail at the top of the switchbacks heading up to the ridge (downed trees, burned brush). Just cut up to the ridge at that point, and find the trail again leading up along the ridge. A second place you might lose the Gorton Creek Trail is a little higher up the ridge where the trail veers off the crest to the right and then makes a switchback. Gorton Creek is lovely and unburned starting at the talus slopes (The pikas are very happy about that!). However, having seen no hikers for nine months, the shrubbery near the talus fields is even thicker than before. Above this, Gorton Creek is a delight.
Nick Eaton sticks mostly to the ridge so even if you lose it in its upper reaches, you won't get lost. One area is where the trail drops off to the east side of the ridge and the route disappears among loose debris and new duff. There are two sections of intense crown fire where just about everything was killed down to and including the roots. One is around the Casey Creek junction, which is almost impossible to find. Only the southern half mile of Nick Eaton is unburned. Thankfully, the 2,000-foot switchbacking descent/ascent at the north end of the trail still has shady canopy for the most part.
My suggestion, if you are hiking above Deadwood, would be to take a small pruning saw and loppers and donate, say, an hour or so of your hike to clearing. The next person can do the same, and so on . . .
Use this forum to report and discuss trails in need of maintenance. This will help organizations like TKO and agencies like the Forest Service get the most recent on-the-ground trail conditions.
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