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