Bull of the Woods, Pansy, Lake Lenore Loop

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ghsmith76
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Bull of the Woods, Pansy, Lake Lenore Loop

Post by ghsmith76 » June 8th, 2018, 6:06 pm

My first backpacking trip that I took when I moved to Oregon in 2004 was on the Dickey Creek Trail. I think I found it in a book of hiking trails. It was good but I never got high enough to discover the vista views that are abundant in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness. The ridges that surround the Fire Lookout Tower offer great views. So it was time for a short backpacking trip and the Bull of the Woods area caught my interest. Trip Map Surprisingly I was not finding that many good trip reports but it did look like the Pansy Lake Trailhead would be a good bet to launch. It appeared that I had a number of loop options but those diminished as I discovered the trails that were not being maintained. I discovered that the Mother Lode fire in 2011 severely impacted the area keeping me from venturing further south.So I adjusted my trip to camp the first night at Lake Lenore and then evaluate if there was more to see for a second night.

Hiking to Lake Lenore was a fairly difficult 4.7 mile trek with plenty of vertical and some snow to navigate. The trail was in good condition except for snow on the drop down to the Lake Lenore Trail. There is a nice overlook just after Pansy Lake which worked out well for a lunch break.
Image Pansy Lake Overlook

After that you would occasionally get great views of Mt Jefferson.
Image First view of Mt Jefferson

Once you got to the junction for the Bull of the Woods Trail and the the Mother Lode Trail #558 you got your first view of Mt Hood.
Image

Image First Snow

Continuing on to the drop down to the Dickey Creek Trail junction for the Lake Lenore Trail, I had to navigate a fair amount of snow but nothing difficult. I was planning on camping at the Lake Lenore, however, that whole area below the last ridge was burned from the Mother Lode Fire.
Image
Lake Lenore

I decided to camp on the ridge which turned out to be just beautiful, but I needed water so I had to hike down to the lake. This hike for water was quite a task as the trail was almost nonexistent on a very steep grade probably due to the fire damage. The forest floor is recovering with small plants but it has a long way to go before trees reappear. Camping on the ridge is a nice option, however, very little flat area for a tent.
Image
View of Mt Jefferson from Ridge

Mosquitos are an issue in the Bull of the Woods which is another reason why you may want to camp on high ground where you have a bit of a breeze. But I also love to camp high up with a view and this one gave you the Oregon Cascades.

The next day was focused on visiting the Fire Lookout Tower with the option for another night but the options for this area really lean towards a single night trip. The hike back to the fire lookout tower is mostly a return to join the Bull of the Woods Trail. The tower was perfectly located to provide a view of any fire activity from the Sisters to Mt Hood. It is appreciated that the tower is protected in the National Historic Lookout Register. I was the only human at the tower so I thoroughly enjoyed just hanging out taking in the view for a few hours.
Image
Pan toward Mt Jefferson

Image
View North to Mt Hood with @AussieBrook

I took many photos and as with my previous night’s campsite there is fairly good cell service here which I believe is received from Mt Hood. With the cell connection I was able to do a live video on facebook to let all my friends back in the midwest get a taste of the wilderness.

Image
On Bull of the Woods Trail

I thought about camping another night but it was early afternoon meaning I needed to accomplish more. I considered another spot down the Bull of the Woods Trail but ended up deciding to head for home by way of cut over trail to the Pansy Lake Trail. This trail did have a number of downed trees but none were a problem to climb over. Back to the car and ready for the drive out on NF roads that are in great condition.

You can view the complete Trip Report at my Blog Post https://adventurecontinues.org/2018/06/ ... the-woods/
Last edited by ghsmith76 on June 9th, 2018, 9:23 am, edited 3 times in total.
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greenjello85
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Re: Bull of the Woods, Pansy, Big Slide Loop

Post by greenjello85 » June 8th, 2018, 7:19 pm

Great report on one of my favorite areas! I could be wrong but I think your picture is of Lake Lenore? I don't think big slide burned and I don't remember seeing it from the trail except at the BOTW watchtower. You may have hiked a bit farther than you realized.
~Dan

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retired jerry
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Re: Bull of the Woods, Pansy, Big Slide Loop

Post by retired jerry » June 8th, 2018, 7:31 pm

your dog liked the snow?

RobFromRedland
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Re: Bull of the Woods, Pansy, Big Slide Loop

Post by RobFromRedland » June 8th, 2018, 7:32 pm

That is indeed a neat place, however you have mis-identified Big Slide Lake. The lake you show as Big Slide Lake is actually Lake Lenore, which is a bit the east of Big Slide Lake. Lake Lenore was heavily impacted by the fires in 2011, and the trail down to the lake is pretty much gone due to the fire. Big Slide Lake was untouched by the fires however and is a very nice place to camp. Once you head west on the Schrenier trail a bit, you get out of the fire area and back into unburned areas. It is very possible you missed the junction with the Dickey Creek trail due to snow. The trail junction in BOTW are very odd, and easy to miss.

FYI, here is what Lake Lenore looked like prior to the fire - it was a beautiful,tranquil spot - not so much anymore:
Image
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

RobFromRedland
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Re: Bull of the Woods, Pansy, Big Slide Loop

Post by RobFromRedland » June 8th, 2018, 7:39 pm

This is the junction I bet you missed in the snow:
BigSlideMountainArea.png
I'm kind of surprised you made it down all those switchbacks coming down from BOTW lookout. That can hold snow for a while and it is pretty steep.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

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ghsmith76
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Re: Bull of the Woods, Pansy, Big Slide Loop

Post by ghsmith76 » June 8th, 2018, 8:10 pm

Thanks for the feedback, I did have a map that placed Big Slide properly, but I did not trust it. I think an AllTrails map confused me. Oh well I am sure glad I found Lake Lenore.

Concerning the snow. I am very concerned about how little snow I encountered. It is going to be a dry year.
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Nybble
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Re: Bull of the Woods, Pansy, Lake Lenore Loop

Post by Nybble » June 13th, 2018, 3:08 pm

Thanks for sharing what looks and sounds like a lovely trip! I'm glad to hear the roads are in good shape.

Would you (or anyone familiar with the area) be willing to extrapolate on trail damage due to the 2011 Mother Lode fire? I've been eyeballing a loop heading down to Battle Axe via the Mother Lode (558) and Twin Lakes (573) trails and returning via the Elk Lake Creek (559) and Geronimo (557) trails.

RobFromRedland
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Re: Bull of the Woods, Pansy, Lake Lenore Loop

Post by RobFromRedland » June 13th, 2018, 7:30 pm

Nybble wrote:
June 13th, 2018, 3:08 pm
Would you (or anyone familiar with the area) be willing to extrapolate on trail damage due to the 2011 Mother Lode fire? I've been eyeballing a loop heading down to Battle Axe via the Mother Lode (558) and Twin Lakes (573) trails and returning via the Elk Lake Creek (559) and Geronimo (557) trails.
Mother Lode, Elk Lake Creek and Geronimo (which is an abandoned trail) all have fire damage in places. Geronimo I've only been on once and that was before the fire. It was faint in spots before the fire, and I'd be a bit concerned there wouldn't be much evidence left of the trail after the fire. As far as the other trails go, you will encounter areas that might be a bit faint in spots, but overall I'd say the other trails should be pretty easily doable if you are comfortable on faint trails. The Welcome Lakes area was hit especially hard. The junction of Welcome Lakes and Geronimo is pretty rough - I did see the junction when we were up there a couple of years ago. I haven't hiked Twin Lakes since the fire, but I don't think it got much damage from it.

I don't know if that helps or not. Most of my experience in the area was from 2012, so things may have changed a bit since then.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

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NickingUp
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Re: Bull of the Woods, Pansy, Lake Lenore Loop

Post by NickingUp » June 13th, 2018, 8:29 pm

Nice report! Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing :)
Wander around, look up to the sky and let my feet feel the earth.

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Nybble
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Re: Bull of the Woods, Pansy, Lake Lenore Loop

Post by Nybble » June 14th, 2018, 12:53 pm

RobFromRedland wrote:
June 13th, 2018, 7:30 pm
I don't know if that helps or not. Most of my experience in the area was from 2012, so things may have changed a bit since then.
This is very helpful, thank you! I'm pretty comfortable dealing with faint trails and some uncertainty, but it's nice to have an idea of what I might be getting myself into :)

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