Last Friday, interested to see how last year's Big Hollow burn had shaken things up, I went to check out the Siouxon area. "Sugar Pine" put up a report on 10/4, so I kind of knew what to expect in the lower valley. As he(?) noted, the 5701 road is gated right at the junction with 57 (a robust, expensive new gate, resistant to the ordinary gate-breaking efforts. Probably fire money.). At the big switchback about .7 miles in, what used to be called the "upper Siouxon" trailhead, now styled the "Siouxon trailhead", departs. The trail is, a little confusingly, about 50 yards down the road from the switchback and the trailhead signs. Having always been sucked in by the drive-to-the-end-of-the-road vortex, I had never before walked the 3+ miles from this trailhead down to the former end-of-road parking lot. But I can report it's nice Yacolt-era forest, and untouched by fire, unlike the valley farther upstream. This stretch of trail is in excellent shape, perhaps a reflection of its former low usage.
Fire effects begin shortly before the former road end, and continue off and on as far as the Wildcat creek trail junction, as far as I went on the main Siouxon trail. I have to say, unlike "Sugar Pine", I found it pretty cool and interesting. It's a mixed-severity burn, and was most definitely a ground fire rather than a crown fire. In that entire four-mile stretch it's rare to go through a stand with no surviving trees. Even if things look all burned up at ground level, if you look up you will usually see green crowns of surviving trees. In a lot of stands the fire picked off a high proportion of the thin-barked species (western Hemlock and red-cedar) but didn't kill any Douglas-firs. One indicator of fire severity, neither of the wooden bridges in this stretch (West Creek and Horseshoe creek) were burned up.
After fording Siouxon creek (still at relatively modest levels) I headed up the Wildcat trail to the intersection with the Huffman peak trail on the Siouxon-N Fk Siouxon divide. Unlike the main Siouxon creek trail, this trail has definitely *not* been cleared, although there is evidence of some modest work (new notches cut in fallen logs, some sawn down wood. Fire severity is also higher on this S-facing ridgeline. The lower half of the ridge is steeper and the trail does more sidehilling; I was able to follow it over this stretch, but lost it for most of the upper half, where the gradient backs off and there are no sidehill benches. There is pretty much no visible tread and a fair amount of small- and medium diameter downed wood to further disguise the trail route. Occasional old sawn logs, where found, are the only indicator. It's not a hard route to follow--the understory is still largely absent, and the general route up the spur obvious--but one should definitely approach this with a cross-country attitude.
The ridgeline Huffman peak trail, which I followed for about a mile to Siouxon peak, has not been burned over in this stretch; but last year's blowdown has not been cleared, and this winter will add more before any realistic possibility of trail work next summer. One presumes some combination of Covid-19 + the fire is responsible for this.
I can't report first-hand on the state of the Chinook trail, the traditional way to close this loop (I took a cross- country route down the E branch of Wildcat creek) but I imagine it has not been cleared either, and the burned sections lower down may be hard to follow.
On my return I walked the closed road instead of taking the last three miles of the Siouxon trail. It's faster, no surprise. Maybe an hour and a half down in the morning as far as the old trailhead, and an hour-fifteen on the return, tired, uphill, and in the dark. So I would guess the road is on average 20-25 minutes faster than the trail. A good choice for the return, when you just want to get to the car. I would not recommend skipping the trail both ways, though, since it is a pleasant and interesting contrast with the burned-over sections farther up-valley.
Before the fire the Siouxon peak loop from the lower trailhead was already a fairly full day, and at present it is a bigger challenge--add close to eight miles for the road closure, and add some time for obstructed and hard-to-follow tributary trails. People with a greater tolerance for driving and lesser tolerance for walking might consider the alternate FS 6403 trailhead.
This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
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Yeah, they all are. I Didn't know there was anyway to upload them directly; not obvious from the interface. Clearly one of those stupid permissions issues. So how do I upload pics?
1. Log in and then click the Edit icon (little pen) on your post.
2. Scroll down to the bottom and click the Attachments tab.
3. Select and upload the relevant photos.
4. Use your cursor to place individual photos and click "Place inline"
A bit cumbersome but it assures a permanent home for your illustrations as part of your report.