Friday, June 13, 2014

Ranger Creek to Dalles Ridge Trail

The Ranger Creek Trail is near Mount Rainier National Park, a 30-mile drive from Enumclaw, Washington.
I highlighted a map of my walk today, which ended up being 16.7 miles round trip.

The Ranger Creek trail and a portion of the Dalles Ridge Trail
I drove highway 410 from Enumclaw to Buck Creek, crossed the bridge, and parked in the lot immediately to the left of the road. A forest service pass is required to park here.

Turn off to Buck Creek from Highway 410
I walked back across the bridge over the White River and headed down to a small trail that heads up into the forest. The trail would be easy to miss, so I took a picture of how it looks from the road.
The start of the trail leading to the Ranger Creek Trail. The trail starts just after the "Pass with Care" sign.
The day was rainy, and I was worried about how far I might get up the trail. However, there was just a sprinkle as I started out, and even fewer drops once I was in the forest, so all was well.

The trail is very well maintained, basically because it is often used by mountain bikers. I only saw two on my trip, but I presume on a sunny weekend, there would be more.

Sign at the top of the little trail leading from the highway. Ranger Creek is 1/4 up the hill.
Start of the Ranger Creek Trail, about 1/4 mile up from the highway
 One common trait of the trail (if trails can have traits), is that it constantly gains altitude. However, the nice feature of this trail is there are numerous switch backs, so the grade is quite manageable. There are only a few sections that I call "huff and puff" sections, since I have to pause frequently to catch my breath!

At about 3 miles, there is a short spur trail leading to a rocky viewpoint. Of course, being a rainy day, this is all I saw. But I hear that the view of the White River valley is spectacular from this spot. This would also make a good turn-around point for a shorter day hike.
Rocky Viewpoint - kinda cloudy today. Also, the rocks were slippery!
 After another couple of miles, the trail reaches the site of the boy scout log cabin. The cabin appears to be very well made and would make a great destination for an overnight hike. There is a fire ring (with rocks) just outside the front, and several places for candles inside. I stopped here for a bit to rest and get a bite to eat.
Boy Scout log cabin on the Ranger Creek Trail
 Behind the log cabin, the trail continues to rise through the forest. At this point it starts to get into beautiful sub-alpine trees, which are really pretty in the fog.
Sub-alpine forest above the Boy Scout log cabin
I continued to where the Ranger Creek trail joins the Dalles Ridge Trail. I was hoping to get close to be able to see Noble Knob and the trail to Lost Lake, but I ran into several very steep and slippery snow fields. Since I did not have an ice axe, and did not have micro-spikes, I felt it prudent to call this my turn-around point.
Snow and icy patches on the north side of the slope blocked my path.
 On the way down, I met a couple of mountain biker headed up, who appeared to be in great shape and were enjoying their ride. I also spotted this work of art along the trail. Someone left their painted rock showing a camp fire, a blue monster (?) and someone running away. It had the date, 3/13, but no year. I also found a cell phone just laying on the trail. It's battery was dead, but I'll try to charge it. If someone reading this blog can identify it, it's yours!
Forest artwork on a rock. The rock is kinda in the shape of a heart!
 As I returned to the road, I noticed that the flowers were loving this wet weather!
Flowers along the trail
This hike is a good conditioning hike. In clear weather, I can imagine the views are spectacular.
I hit the trail at 7 AM, and was back by 12:45. A great trip for just under five hours!

1 comment:

  1. Tweeted, shared on White River Cabin Owners page, and G+ about the found cell phone.