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Surprise Lake
Dylan
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08/27/2014 - 12:41 am
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Sounds intriguing. I would love to see a track of it as it seems like it would inherently involve navigating heavy alders and other brush, plus numerous harvested areas. In other words just about as crude as trails get. In my historic map digging I don't think I came across a route that seemed to even approach Surprise Lake, let alone go between the two lakes. 

irishharmon
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09/14/2014 - 12:54 pm
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Hi my name is Irish and with Paul I helped develop the trail down to the lower road from Skookum to Surprise lake. Paul has been trying to get on this site but has not had any response from the admin. The Dotted I trail as we have dubbed it is a crude but easy way to shave 3 miles of old roadbed walking off the route. We have flagged it so it is easy to follow. We try to visit Surprise lake at least twice a year and we cut the Alder back as much as we can. The thickest part is where the old road crosses Fish Creek. Since they blocked the quad users from coming in here the old road bed is choking up with alder. We are hoping more people visit the lake and help cut back the Alder. 

Rob Williams
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09/14/2014 - 3:09 pm
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I help run the site here and haven't seen any requests for login help.  Can you have him send an email to webmaster@trailadvocate.org with details of whatever login issues he is having?  I found out recently that that email address somehow got deleted, but it has been restored for several weeks now.

I would love to see this trail - Surprise Lake is an interesting place, but I've not found an easy way to get there yet.

irishharmon
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09/14/2014 - 3:40 pm
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I will pass the info on to him

Paul_D_K
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09/15/2014 - 4:43 pm
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UnderwaterArsonist said
Sounds intriguing. I would love to see a track of it as it seems like it would inherently involve navigating heavy alders and other brush, plus numerous harvested areas. In other words just about as crude as trails get. In my historic map digging I don't think I came across a route that seemed to even approach Surprise Lake, let alone go between the two lakes. 

And that's a large part of my attraction to the area, it's more than just walking some mindless trail that's guaranteed to get you from point A to point B. You have to actually use a map to figure out where you're at and what might be the best way to get there. This year I & Irish scouted in advance of the Skookum Trek & Camp and found a route in from the Fish Creek Mountain trailhead. And I've already started planning my route for next year, each time I find new areas explore.

irishharmon
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09/15/2014 - 6:52 pm
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Here is our track it is a partial. We started at Fish Mountain and went to Surprise lake. From there we went to Skookum and out over Thunder Mountain. The geocaches can be searched for on.geocacheing.com. With the exception of the "Dotted I" trail the rest was on the old road bed.Screen-Shot-2014-09-15-at-6.40.12-PM.png

Dylan
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09/25/2014 - 10:56 pm
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Paul_D_K said

UnderwaterArsonist said
Sounds intriguing. I would love to see a track of it as it seems like it would inherently involve navigating heavy alders and other brush, plus numerous harvested areas. In other words just about as crude as trails get. In my historic map digging I don't think I came across a route that seemed to even approach Surprise Lake, let alone go between the two lakes. 

And that's a large part of my attraction to the area, it's more than just walking some mindless trail that's guaranteed to get you from point A to point B. You have to actually use a map to figure out where you're at and what might be the best way to get there. 

Thanks for the track! And I agree, that's the main appeal of the area, which also basically guarantees you solitude.

Although I'm still pretty inexperienced in off trailing it's always something I'd like to do more of.

I was hoping to try and make it in to Surprise Lake via the Baty Butte trail, but was planning on going a bit of a different of a route to shave off more mileage. I wonder if it'd be worth it to bail off before Skookum Lake on a short logging spur (390) and descend from there. It looks like it'd save around 2 miles compared to taking the other way. Maps also show another logging road (048) intersecting closely below it, though from what I can discern it looks much more overgrown then the top spur. MS paint skills aside, hopefully somebody will have something to input about my rough plan. Untitled.png

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Bryon Boyce
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09/26/2014 - 1:41 am
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I've been up that way this year and earlier and there is a few things that may help depending on your goal.

There is an unmarked trailhead on BLM land at around 4400' ft. that is the easiest way in with the least amount of climbing. It very quickly reaches the Boundary Trail. A 2 mile trail is easy all the way to the old road 350 at a point SW of Baty Butte. Depending on the exact route to Surprise Lake chosen it may also be a shorter way in. This trailhead is reached by driving up the Molalla.

If the immediate goal would be Skookum Lake or Thunder Mountain, you need to find either the long abandoned old trail (the shortest and most direct) or a recent longer way-trail pioneered by unknown folks who were not aware of the old trail. The old trail, which starts down the former sideroad 370 to the southeast, is hard to find as a pile of 3 and 4 ft. thick blowdown trees is hiding it. The recent way-trail is starts near the end of 370. The main road is a third route but is getting choked with alder and brush where it's on the north slope but it still can be followed.

If you study the map, you could (brush permitting) descend the uppermost reaches of Fish Creek near Baty Butte once you reach the old road, and reach the road to Surprise in about half a mile. Using the scale, it looks like about 2500 straight-line ft. from the old road near Baty Butte to the next old road at a point about 1.1 straight-line miles from Surprise Lake. Total distance would be in the neighborhood of four miles adjusting for twists and turns along the route. The turnoff point I would try from the old road is near the lower left edge of the track map sent in by Irishharmon.

The 4th of July 2014 picture below shows the current condition of obliterated Road 350 on the right along the small evergreens. The jump off point for Surprise would be the gray patch in the upper center of the pix or a little past it behind the trees. The slopes of Baty Butte are above the gravel patch on the right. To the left the old road drops quickly on the Blister Creek side. If you come from the BLM trailhead, you would jump off of old Road 350 quickly after reaching it by the Baty Butte Trail. You will be in old growth quickly once off the road though the first 20 or so feet is thick with seedling firs and hemlocks.

If anyone wants to try this before the snow flies, let me know.Road-350-1.jpg

Paul_D_K
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09/26/2014 - 9:47 am
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UnderwaterArsonist said 

Although I'm still pretty inexperienced in off trailing it's always something I'd like to do more of.
I was hoping to try and make it in to Surprise Lake via the Baty Butte trail, but was planning on going a bit of a different of a route to shave off more mileage. I wonder if it'd be worth it to bail off before Skookum Lake on a short logging spur (390) and descend from there. It looks like it'd save around 2 miles compared to taking the other way. Maps also show another logging road (048) intersecting closely below it, though from what I can discern it looks much more overgrown then the top spur. MS paint skills aside, hopefully somebody will have something to input about my rough plan.

This is a route suggested by Twigmister, a fellow geocacher from Molalla and I was going to look at it if I had time in the future. for now I've been going in from the Clackamas side. Although that may change with the current Forest fire.

Paul_D_K
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09/26/2014 - 9:55 am
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Bryon Boyce said
There is an unmarked trailhead on BLM land at around 4400' ft. that is the easiest way in with the least amount of climbing. It very quickly reaches the Boundary Trail. A 2 mile tril is easy all the way to the old road 350 at a point SW of Baty Butte. Depending on the exact route to Surprise Lake chosen it may also be a shorter way in. This trailhead is reached by driving up the Molalla.

I would be interested in this route, do you have GPS coordinates for it or a map showing the location

Bryon Boyce
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09/27/2014 - 11:09 pm
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Pulling more-or-less figures from Google Earth, the trailhead is at 44 59 15 / 122 12 33 and the jumpoff point at 44 59 48 / 122 11 43.

Here is a Google Earth capture with my 4th of July flower viewing trip which shows the main route in red. The yellow is the proposed bushwhack downhill to the road which goes N. from there to Surprise Lake (shown). As this is high elevation old growth it might be possible to route-find with little whacking. The Google Earth path tool shows about .4 mile bushwhack and 1.4 mile road, which may be brushy. The trail up to the jumpoff is around 2 miles of easy going.

If any of you want to give this a try, I'm ready to go and have pruning equipment. I will say that I haven't done but a little pruning off trail or on old roads in this area.

Surprise_Route2R.png

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Rob Williams
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09/28/2014 - 7:08 am
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Bryon

That is an interesting route - maybe the most direct I have seen.  I think your plan of going thru that old growth is promising, and the fact that it is relatively short helps a lot.

I'm interested in exploring this route, but with all the roads closed, it will be a LONG drive out to Thunder Mountain - unless you have a good detour route?

Bryon Boyce
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09/28/2014 - 10:23 am
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Thats actually the best thing about this route - a nice drive up the Molalla to the Lost Creek area, with the TH close to the forgotten Lost Creek Meadows.

No fires on the Molalla this year, no closures.

irishharmon
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09/28/2014 - 12:47 pm
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 Paul and I looked at that route you are proposing we looked at it from the bottom. As far as we could tell the terrain is very steep in there especially at the head water area of Fish Creek. There is also a huge amount of Devils club and the area is thick with rhododendron which is worse then alder for bushwhacking through. One route we are thinking may work better is to either head straight over Batty butte and then down along the south side of Bracket Mtn to the old quarry and spur road that drops into Surprise lake. We followed it up from Surprise to Bracket Mtn and it was fairly easy going.

If anyone is interested I am planning on going back to Surprise lake this upcoming weekend, as long as the weather holds out, Leaving Friday morning 10/3/14 and heading in over Thunder Mtn to Surprise lake. Staying to Sunday. I plan on exploring the ridge north of Surprise lake and maybe even looking at a route up to Bracket and Batty. Any one interested in joining me?

Donald Presley
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09/28/2014 - 6:16 pm
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Bryon Boyce said
Thats actually the best thing about this route - a nice drive up the Molalla to the Lost Creek area, with the TH close to the forgotten Lost Creek Meadows.

No fires on the Molalla this year, no closures.

Hey Bryon, a couple of friends and I are going to hike to Skookum Lake this week and was wondering how the road into Lost Creek Meadow is for we are going in a Subaru car?

Don

Doug Firman
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09/29/2014 - 11:22 am
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Don,

I was up there the week before last, doing the same hike over to Skookum Lake as well as up Thunder Mtn.  The road into Lost Creek Meadow is in good shape.  Some washboarding in places and a few potholes here and there, but you shouldn't have any problem in a car.

What I want to know is where are the meadows at Lost Creek Meadows?  All I saw were trees.

Doug

Bryon Boyce
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09/29/2014 - 2:17 pm
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The route up is quite Subarooable. No need for the 4WD. Back when I owned a series of Subarus I drove up there many times.

Like Doug Firman I never thought the meadows existed as all you can see are trees. Lost Creek Meadows is not far from the trailhead to the other direction across the road. Once you get past the conifer seedling thicket near the road you can see treeless areas just ahead. I haven't found any blazes but it would have attracted packteams for horse / mule grazing. There are alternating areas open and brushy so use your best routefinding skills. I have yet to take time to throughly explore and find them but the maps show ponds.

The recently uploaded UndatedTrailLogs.pdf calls the trail to Skookum / Thunder the East Mountain Trail. It starts the log where it forks off the South Fork / Boundary Trail. This is less than half a mile from the current trailhead. There is a section more than a mile long between old roads 350 and 370 that is your shortest route if you know where its hiding. I'd like to find the sections past Skookum Lake - They hook up with Fish Creek Trail.

Paul_D_K
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09/29/2014 - 4:51 pm
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irishharmon said
 Paul and I looked at that route you are proposing we looked at it from the bottom. As far as we could tell the terrain is very steep in there especially at the head water area of Fish Creek. There is also a huge amount of Devils club and the area is thick with rhododendron which is worse then alder for bushwhacking through. One route we are thinking may work better is to either head straight over Batty butte and then down along the south side of Bracket Mtn to the old quarry and spur road that drops into Surprise lake. We followed it up from Surprise to Bracket Mtn and it was fairly easy going.

Yes it was fairly easy from the old rock quarry to the side of Bracket Mtn, but we never went to the top from that direction. As I recall the trail from the Lost Creek Meadow on the Molalla up to Bracket Mtn was kind of sketchy and hard to follow. And then from the top down about a 1/4 mile or so I never done so I can't speak to that.

Paul_D_K
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09/29/2014 - 5:06 pm
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Bryon Boyce said
Pulling more-or-less figures from Google Earth, the trailhead is at 44 59 15 / 122 12 33 and the jumpoff point at 44 59 48 / 122 11 43.

I'm Guessing that the first set of coordinates is the Lost Creek Meadow Trailhead, and looking at the second set this is the exact spot described to me by another Geocacher. He had said right about where Napping Penguin (name of a geocache) is would be a good spot. So You say there's a trail of sort there already?

Paul_D_K
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09/29/2014 - 5:14 pm
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And while we're on the subject of Surprise lake, has anyone out there been fishing at Surprise lately? This year when I was there, both in July and the end of August not even a nibble. the previous two years they were biting on anything and I could have trout for dinner two nights in a row. I'm just wondering if they could have died off that quickly or is there a hidden pocket that they hang out at. I know I didn't fish it out as I didn't eat that much fish. if they're gone will they come back on their own as I think they were stocked in the first place. And they weren't the little guys like at Skookum Lake, these were 10 to 12 inch rainbow trout. Just wondering.

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