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Backpacking Eagle Creek/Wahtum Lake/Benson Plateau

Hike Description
This is a great multi-day backpack trip. You go up scenic and crowded Eagle Creek, then trek steeply up to Wahtum Lake. This hike returns on the Pacific Crest Trail and Ruckel Creek Trail which is much less crowded but also less scenic. I’m planning on a 2 ½ day, 2 night trip.

We will start at the Eagle Creek Trailhead. Park at the lower parking area next to the fish hatchery and camp host for better security. The first 8 miles follows scenic Eagle Creek (see Eagle Creek to Tunnel Falls Hike, Eagle Creek to High Bridge Hike, and Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Falls Hike).

For the first night we will camp before Seven and a Half Mile Camp, depending on campsite availability. Be sure to bring flashlights in case the closer campsites are full. The second day we will hike the steep trail up to Wahtum Lake, elevation gain 2300'. This is the hardest day. The second night we will camp at Wahtum Lake. Again, hopefully Wahtum Lake won’t be too busy this early in the year so we should be able to find something. It is also possible there could be snow in some of the campsites. Timberline got 5 inches of new snow this week.

We will go back on the Pacific Crest Trail/Ruckel Creek/Ruckel Ridge. We will plan on the short side trip to Chinidere Mountain, where you'll get your best views of the hike. We will follow the PCT along the edge of Benson Plateau for views of Mt. Hood. We will take trail 405A and cut across the plateau to either the Ruckel Ridge or Ruckel Creek trail. If the party is large enough, we could split on each of the trails.

The Ruckel Creek Trail goes steeply down to next to the freeway and ends at the Gorge Trail #400. Ruckel Ridge Trail is even steeper and has poison oak on some of the rocky descents.

Once at the bottom, turn left (West) on the Gorge Trail and go back, next to the campground, and out on the road to the campground. Follow the road 0.1 miles back to the lower parking area.

We could check out a pub or pizza at Cascade Locks or Portland or head home.

We plan to meet at a house near the Parkrose TC and we can pick transit riders up from the Parkrose TC.

We will arrange carpooling a couple of days before the trip.

Steve is available to drive or ride. If you are a rider, please chip in some gas money.

Link to approximate plan: http://caltopo.com/map?id=6P31

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  • Steve J.

    Thanks for the Cheetos!

    2 · May 21, 2014

  • jeremiah

    Guys, you can view the pics on my flickr.com site.
    www.flickr.com/photos/miah66

    1 · May 20, 2014

    • Duncan

      Thanks Jeremiah! Fantastic shots!!!

      1 · May 21, 2014

  • Steve J.

    The meetup was awesome. We finished our trip between downpours today but the weather for the rest of the trip was great. This is an awesome trail, well maybe excluding the steepest parts of the Ruckel Creek Trail! Thanks to Jeremiah, Duncan, and Aaron for making this a fantastic trip.

    2 · May 18, 2014

  • Steve J.

    There are 4 of us going. We will pick up Duncan at Parkrose TC with a planned time of 4:40.

    What are dinner plans? I can run out during lunchtime and get me something for dinner or we can stop at a Subway type place. So... stop or have dinner ready. What say you.

    May 16, 2014

    • jeremiah

      I'm gonna stop on the way home.

      May 16, 2014

  • Steve J.

    Will, I need to hear how you are going to meet us and your contact information.

    May 15, 2014

    • Will

      Steve, I need to back out. I'm having car problems and need to stay in town to get it fixed.

      May 16, 2014

  • jeremiah

    I'm guessing we'll have multiple cancellations, I wouldn't sweat it.

    May 15, 2014

  • Steve J.

    We've got a total of 5 going on the trip, thought I don't have Will's contact information yet. To fit 5 people and get into my CRV, a backpack may have to share laps in the back. Does anyone have a car that holds 5 and gear?

    May 14, 2014

  • Steve J.

    What about meeting at your house (Parkrose area) at 4:30 and hitting the trail by 5:30? That way you wouldn't have to miss much, if any work. That would give us 3 good hours of hiking up Eagle Creek and we would stand a good chance of getting a campsite.

    We should be able to get to 6 1/2 mile camp right at dark. That would take us to Wy'East or Blue Grouse camp.
    I'm voting for Eagle Creek versus Ruckel Creek on Friday because Eagle Creek shouldn't be so crowded with the cloudy weekend coming up.

    Since this is a short trip, each person can bring their stove and own food. I'll have a water filter and another person or two can bring their water filter or whatever purification system they are using. His name is Aaron.

    We have an additional person going. His membership is pending and he has backpacked before.

    Needing contact information for our group:
    Cell phone, email, and whether you can text.

    May 13, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry to have to change my RSVP, some other plans changed and I won't be able to make it out on Friday. Was really looking forward to this, but hopefully I can do another one soon. Have a great time out there!

    May 11, 2014

  • Duncan

    Sounds like some night hiking regardless on Friday eve! What's the goalpost for hitting the trailhead Friday???

    May 11, 2014

    • Steve J.

      It looks like we need to leave from the trailhead by 4:30pm. That will give us about 4 1/2 hours before dark I'll need to ask if everyone can get out of town around 3:30. I'll get the carpool queries sent out tomorrow. We will need two vehicles with 6 people going. I'm torn between hiking up to the plateau and looking for a camp along Eagle Creek.

      May 11, 2014

  • jeremiah

    Steve, another option is to do the trip in reverse, harder hiking, but it might make it easier to find camps on Friday evening and then we would have an easy walkout on Sunday thru EC past the hordes.

    May 8, 2014

    • jeremiah

      We'd set up camp on the Benson Plateau in this scenario.

      May 8, 2014

    • Steve J.

      Yes I'm open to that. Have you been to the spring on the plateau? I'll have to look up exactly where it is but there is a camp near it.

      May 10, 2014

  • Steve J.

    I'm planning to limit this to 7 people but can't seem to access that feature this evening.

    May 6, 2014

    • Claudio

      Steve, I just made you a host for this event. Now you should be able to set limits and all that fun stuff

      1 · May 7, 2014

    • Steve J.

      Thanks, it works great. I added a map that Jeremiah made.

      May 7, 2014

  • Amy

    Wish I could come. I need to work on Sunday. Looking forward to a summer full of other great trips.

    May 7, 2014

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