Appaloosa Trail (Tarbell shortcut)

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Chip Down
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Appaloosa Trail (Tarbell shortcut)

Post by Chip Down » July 8th, 2021, 10:18 pm

Appaloosa Trail is a new trail that goes from Tarbell Trail near Rock Creek Campground, up to Tarbell Trail near Hidden Falls. So yeah, just a shortcut. It's three miles of boredom, nothing special. Curiously, it doesn't take advantage of existing roads and trails as much as possible, nor does it avoid existing roads and trails. Instead, it follows existing roads and trails in a haphazard seemingly random way. It does feature an expensive elaborate bridge over a little creek, so there is that, if you're into that sort of thing. I'm rating this a one-chip trail.

I overslept, so arrived at Rock Creek Camp a little after sunrise. That felt weird, but I didn't really mind. I knew this would be a fast easy trip, and it was cloudy, so I had a fairly cool start. I knew there had to be a day-use area, so I poked around a bit until I found what looked like it. Dropped off my car and got on my bike.

I didn't want to search for the bottom of Appaloosa in the maze of road and trails at the campground, so I started up what I like to call The Webfoot Variant: Back to Dole Valley Road where I came in, continued east just a little, veered onto rd L1200 (which goes to Grouse Vista), then left on rd L1210, past a gate, across Rock Creek, then nook-and-crannied my way up to the high point of Tarbell Trail (where it crosses over Sturgeon Ridge), exploring every dead-end side road along the way. That was fun.

By the time I hit Tarbell about 6 hours later (!) it was still cloudy. I really lucked out. I was miserably hot, but the swirling clouds and slight breeze kept it bearable. If it had been sunny, I wonder if I would have aborted. On Tarbell, I started started down the long series of clearcut switchbacks to Hidden Falls. That was nicer than expected. I've seen it from a distance several times, but this was my first time seeing it up close. It's been a few years since this slope was harvested, and it's dominated by ferns and flowers more than stumps and slashpiles. Another fun surprise was that one of the switchbacks was in cool shady forest before the trail went back to the clearcut. At this point, the sun was mostly out, but as I was descending, I didn't mind too much.

After a nice break at Hidden Falls, I continued north on Tarbell. It took so long to get to Appaloosa, I wondered if I had missed it, but finally I arrived at the junction. I don't know why they routed it so high.

The ride down Appaloosa was was quick and boring, except for a road junction I missed (see pic below). Coming down the road, I reached a familiar bridge, which I recognized from some exploring a few months ago. I backtracked and found where I had missed the trail, and realized I had followed the trail below here on that previous trip. On that trip, I had considered exploring up the road, but I don't think I ever did, because research suggested it was a deadend, and not a particularly interesting one.

As I descended through partly-known and partly-new terrain, I realized how many of the trails I had seen before, which I assumed to be social trails, were the primitive roughed-out Appaloosa.

Soon, I arrived at the bottom of Appaloosa, where it met Tarbell. Aha! Good thing I didn't waste time looking for it at Rock Creek Camp. I followed Tarbell downstream, presumably towards Rock Creek Camp. After a brief descent, the damn trail kept going up, and through sunny clearcuts. It was getting hot, and I was miserable and frustrated. I didn't expect such a long ascent. It didn't make sense. But I knew I was on Tarbell, so it was just a matter of time.

I reached a point where I looked around and thought my surroundings had the look of the north Tarbell Trailhead. That's when I realized I must have gone the wrong way on Tarbell. A couple minutes later, I reached a gravel road, looked left and saw a yellow gate, and realized I was right. I cant really explain how I knew I was approaching the North Tarbell TH. There was no distinctive tree or rock or creek, no landmarks, just a feeling in my gut. I had only been on this section of Tarbell once before, and that was going the opposite way, so there was absolutely no way I should have recognized this place. I thought about how I had passed countless clues on today's ascent (road crossings, bridges, the Silver Shadow trail junction). None of them tipped me off. In my state of mind (confident I was going the right way) each of them was interpreted from that perspective. But as I was riding back down, they looked totally familiar, from the one time I descended this trail a few months ago.

Finally back at the Appaloosa/Tarbell junction, I checked the time, because I wanted to see how close I had been to my car when I started up Tarbell going the wrong way. Well damn, it was about 60 seconds. From that junction at the bottom of Appaloosa, I probably could have seen my car if not for the trees.

Mammals sighted: lots of rabbits, two horses, two humans, and naturally a few people in very close proximity to Rock Creek Camp.

First berry harvest of the year, so sweet and juicy, but quite small.
In the Portland area, and my surrounding hikes, it's been cloudy every morning since those record setting days. I think this was day number nine with cloudy mornings. I'm loving it, this is perfect summer weather.
One of the many side roads I explored on my way to Tarbell.
Coming down the Tarbell clearcut switchbacks to Hidden Falls.
upper Appaloosa/Tarbell junction
Easy to miss.
Also easy to miss.

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Re: Appaloosa Trail (Tarbell shortcut)

Post by bobcat » July 11th, 2021, 4:20 pm

Thanks for the report on this new although not terribly interesting trail - other than it gets you to Hidden Falls from the Rock Creek Campground and you can do a loop with the other new trail in the area, Silver Shadow.

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Chip Down
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Re: Appaloosa Trail (Tarbell shortcut)

Post by Chip Down » July 14th, 2021, 8:52 pm

bobcat wrote:
July 11th, 2021, 4:20 pm
... you can do a loop with the other new trail in the area, Silver Shadow.
Splendid idea. I started up in the fog, which surprised me, as it was clear until I got up into Dole Valley, just a few miles before Rock Creek Camp. It was fun seeing Appaloosa in the fog.

I didn't get to Silver Shadow. It was pretty early when I reached Tarbell, just north of Hidden Falls. On a whim, I decided to take Chinook up to Ed's trail and the north ridge of Silver Star. (Can we call that Ed's ridge?) Clouds started breaking up, which was disappointing, but I didn't have that far to go, so I didn't mind the sun too much. As a consolation, it was breezy, so not too hot.

SS was a bit more peaceful than usual. I think I saw just two parties, five people total.
20210714_064335 (2).jpg
A nice cool start.
In 2020, this meadow was bursting with flowers in late June.
Chinook Trail was overgrown and dewy. I was soaked in just a few minutes.
Every meadow should have a pile of pallets.
I wonder if this new, or maybe I never noticed it. Tarbell north of Appaloosa junction.
Appaloosa runs parallel to this gated dead-end road. I'm stumped.
I scofflawed my way right over that bridge on my bike.
Oh...I never gave any thought to why its named Rock Creek.

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Re: Appaloosa Trail (Tarbell shortcut)

Post by Chip Down » July 16th, 2021, 5:39 pm

Once again, I set out from Rock Creek with intentions of working my way to the top of Silver Cloud trail, where it meets Tarbell. Oh, wait, it's Silver Shadow. Okay, whatever. Our field guide shows it's a whopping 1185' of elevation gain, but with all the side trips exploring all the roads and trails along the way, I never made it to the top, after 7 hours of effort. But I did explore pretty much every nook and cranny along the way, so it was very satisfying.

I was a little worried as I approached Rock Creek Camp. It seemed to be clear (but dark, so hard to be sure), but as I drew closer, I was into the clouds. I can still report we've had clouds at the start of every morning since our heat wave broke on June 29. What an amazing string of perfect hiking weather! Today the clouds were high all day though, not the low swirling clouds I love. But they were persistent; despite some small openings, I don't think I saw my shadow all day.

Most of the roads I explored were boring, just dry coarse gravel roads to nowhere. But it was fun seeing how they connected. One dropped to a dead end at a residence. I imagine they come it at the North Tarbell TH, with a key for the gate.

Some of the roads were older and more charming, gently sloped, grassy. One quietly left a main road with little fanfare, looking like it would deadend in fifty yards at a degenerate camp. It could easily be overlooked at the junction with the main road. It surprised me though. Under a dense canopy, it dropped on and on, ending at Dole Valley Road, a couple hundred feet below Rock Creek Camp. I was a long grind back up, but I was glad I took the diversion.

Another road ended abruptly, but I looked around to see if there was a continuation trail (I always do that) and followed a loooong user trail that hit a dead end. Work in progress? Maybe I'll check in on it in a couple years.

When I was finished with my explorations, I connected to Silver Shadow at a road crossing, and dropped in. It was horrible. So overgrown, and thorny. I was on my bike, so the thorns were horrible. I was wearing pants, and stopped to put gloves on.

Other parties:
Two cyclists seen at a distance on one of my dead-end roads, and two equestrians on timid horses on Silver Shadow. Lots of deer. Lots of flies, but no mosquitoes.
Both signs are correct. One of them wasn't cut to allow space for post. What's the matter with people? I'd be fired if I did something like that.
Snack time.
Oops, I'd better lay off the roadside berries.
A surprise on my highest/last road of the day. I wasn't expecting this nice view. High point at center is Sturgeon Rock. To left is Silver Star's north ridge. The big clear (light green) area to the right is where Tarbell Trail switchbacks up from Hidden Falls and crosses over Sturgeon Ridge.

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