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Celebrrrrate the start of winter....Ruckel Ridge

Difficulty - difficult

Distance - 9.6 miles round trip

Elevation Gain - 3700 feet

Driving Distance - 68 miles round trip ($7 to the drivers)


Saturday is the shortest day of the year and the start of winter. Although it gets dark early nowadays, we can still enjoy a Gorge hike. I have done Ruckel Ridge once in the rain in 2012 so I could describe this as a semi-exploratory hike. 

As Sullivan describes it (hike #49 on pages[masked]), "the hardiest of adventurers can turn this hike into a loop by starting out on the Ruckel Ridge Trail, a very rough, unmaintained path along a rocky crest with numerous viewpoints."

Park at the Eagle Creek (exit 41 on I-84) entrance. Turn right when you reach the Buck Point Trail junction beside the Eagle Creek Campground. After cutting through campsite number 5, hike up to the Buck PointTrail for 0.6 miles. Continue to a rockslide, scramble straight up this slide, traverse left around the base of a cliff and then climb steeply to a viewpoint on the ridgecrest. For 3 miles we will have to step over logs and use our hands as we clamber up and down the narrow crest for 3.5 miles. At 2700 feet, the catwalk starts. If you do not feel comfortable walking on the spiny ridge, there is a bail out trail. Upon reaching Benson Plateau, we will cross Ruckel Creek and then descend along the Ruckel Creek Trail to complete the loop. On the way down, we will pass Indian pits. 

No dogs, children or novice hikers. This is a strenuous but fun hike. Please be in good shape, have your ten essentials and a head lamp. I do not intend to hike in the dark, but things do happen that test the best made plans. Sullivan and the Portland Hikers org caution that this a "trail not maintained" hike. I do not have a GPS but I intend to follow the cairns along the path. If you are "the hardiest adventurer" please sign up.

If you do not want to stop for refreshments after the hike or need to be back at a certain time, you may want to drive your car to the trailhead. 

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  • Craig G

    Was there any snow or ice on the plateau? If so, how much? Thanks!

    December 22, 2013

    • barbara s.

      Craig, no snow on the way up or down. Just a few thin patches at the top. Nothing requiring traction.

      December 22, 2013

  • barbara s.

    The best part of hiking with people you know is that you know their ability. This group was the heartiest of adventurers. Somehow we found an additional unmarked catwalk (thanks Janice). Thanks everyone for coming out on an almost dry day. The days are now getting longer!!

    1 · December 22, 2013

  • Bruce

    Great Meetup. I have about 20 photos but, I'm unable to upload from my apple laptop. Any tips?

    December 22, 2013

  • Janice

    Definitely a great hike with a great group. Thanks Barbara. Lot's of funny moments :)

    December 21, 2013

  • Deborah

    Awesome all the way around! Thanks all.

    December 21, 2013

  • Juergen

    I heard it was snowing in the Gorge today, traction devices are definitely helpful, also for the wet muddy ground.

    December 20, 2013

  • barbara s.

    Craig G is right....please bring traction devices. Hiking poles on the way up will get in the way but they will be useful on the way down.

    December 17, 2013

  • Craig G

    This looks fun - wish I had Saturday available. I would suggest traction devices (Yak Traks, microspikes or similar) may be helpful up some short sections, but are not required. Please take photos of folks crossing the creek at the top. Those are always interesting. :)

    December 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hey, just dropped off to do Rick's hike (same route, same day, thru NW Wilderness), still with Wx considerations, and let someone else get on this hike. Hope to meet you sometime, Barbara.

    December 17, 2013

    • barbara s.

      Yes Meryl I hope to meet you sometime too... it may be on Saturday as Rick's group zooms past mine.

      December 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I would LOVE to do this! Could you add a 9th hiker? Oooo I hope!

    1 · December 15, 2013

    • CYL

      Me too !

      December 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm signing up as a "yes" but will be checking the weather the day before and wx for Saturday. I've done this hike and it is awesome, but a lot of scrambling up mossy basalt and eroded trail; I'm too wimpy to do it in snow, ice or when it's drenched.

    December 15, 2013

  • Bruce

    This could be interesting, hopefully, not too much snow and ice.

    December 15, 2013

    • barbara s.

      The long range forecast is 47 degrees and a 30% chance of rain...or a 70% of no rain.

      2 · December 15, 2013

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