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Surprise Lake
Bryon Boyce
Clackamas River
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10/01/2014 - 8:39 pm
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Paul_D_K said

 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?

Right now there is the potential for a route which, if a useable route can be found, could become a trail. The area is a mix of open and brushy areas so it will take a little looking around to see if this 4 or 5 tenths of a mile of terra incognito is a reasonable route. Reports in this forum state that some areas have devils club and others the dread rhododendron. I plan on going sometime in the next week or so to do some looking.

Donovan
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10/02/2014 - 9:16 am
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Those lakes are probably not stocked anymore. So it wouldn't take long to fish them out.

 

Lost Creek Meadows has a short trail to it. The trail in from the road is re-routed slightly higher than the old. The old runs under the road and down to the meadow. My impression was that the openings were grown in with an invasive grass of some kind.

 

D2

Paul_D_K
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10/02/2014 - 1:27 pm
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Bryon Boyce said 

Right now there is the potential for a route which, if a useable route can be found, could become a trail. The area is a mix of open and brushy areas so it will take a little looking around to see if this 4 or 5 tenths of a mile of terra incognito is a reasonable route. Reports in this forum state that some areas have devils club and others the dread rhododendron. I plan on going sometime in the next week or so to do some looking.

I am now even more curious about this route and will try to fit in at least a day trip this month to have a look. Have my roll of marking tape if it works out.

Rob Williams
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10/02/2014 - 6:13 pm
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From this document from ODFW:

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/res.....7-2012.pdf

It doesn't list Surprise Lake as one that they stocked.  The Surprise Lake they do mention appears to be the one over by Fish Lake.

Dylan
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10/11/2014 - 3:02 pm
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I headed up here yesterday to try and do some exploring.

Sadly, I didn't make it very far to Surprise lake until turning around in frustration. I tried to roughly follow the bushwhack route I posted earlier on here to no avail. The area was choked thick with a nearly impenetrable thicket of devils club, rhododendron, and saplings.

However I think failing just makes me want to try even harder for next time. With 224 likely closed for a while, I'll likely come in from the Lost Creek Meadows TH again and try to climb up and over Bracket Mountain, and then follow the ridge to spur road 025. There appears to be a trail to at least Bracket.

7dYQf1k1.jpg

 

I was surprised to see a pickup upon arrival and another parked at the TH when leaving. I ran into the second pickup group that had to squeeze off the road to park on my way back. One had a nice rifle and was looking to hunt and the other guy was basically showing him around the area. He mentioned something about helping to open the area to dirtbikes a while back and not being back since 5 years ago. I think probably a lot has already changed since then as it seems like it would be virtually impossible to get a quad up to Skookum. 

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Bryon Boyce
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09/08/2015 - 10:18 pm
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Sunday I and a good friend started from the Lost Creek Meadows trailhead over the side of Baty Butte and onto Skookum Lake via the obliterated road and back on the old South Fork Trail.

We took time to investigate what may have been the long lost Camelsback Way. Some distance before the junction with the now obliterated 350 road, we found a clear series of blazes on the trees. Little is visible from the trail, but they were north of the trail close to where the vegetation along the trail opens up as noted in the Undated Trail Log available on this site. That trail also mentions Camelsback Way at approximately this location.

If you try this, pick a dry day. There are some small benches the trail follows at first, but then its steep hillside. Judging from Google Earth, its half a mile to the next obliterated road, which will take you to Surprise Lake. The tread we found was very vague, with needle and ash fall, limbs and tree trunks, not to mention soil creep on the steep slope making recognizing tread difficult. The undergrowth where we were was open and not an obstacle. Not far downhill to the east were springs and shrub thickets.

Conditions were wet and footing was slippery. We thought the better of the endeavor after a few near falls and falls. The last blaze we found indicated a sharp bend in the trail. These all are the double blazes - a short upper mark and a longer lower one made in the direction of the trail. One showed two times the ax cut directly deeply into the tree, with the bark between then peeled. There is no way these are accidental marks.

We did establish that long ago there was a well-blazed trail decades ago. It heads out Camelsback Ridge near the elevation of Surprise Lake.

The 1946 Firemans map of the area clearly shows a minor trail from Bracket Mountain to a overlook above Surprise Lake. It does not show it continuing past that overlook.

Paul_D_K
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09/09/2015 - 6:12 am
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Last July I packed in from the Lost Creek Meadows trailhead and then over Bracket Mtn. This was a short trip reaching Surprise Lake early afternoon, but not for the average hiker. I would be interested in the 1946 Firemans map, do you have a like. I leave today on a trek following fish creek from the Clackamas River to Surprise and then on to Skookum, then out on Sunday over Thunder Mtn. Going to be a fun five days. Mainly I enjoy exploring this area and all the points that I can access it from.

Bryon Boyce
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09/09/2015 - 7:50 am
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Ahoulda attached this already - this is just a scanned snippet and the original covers a lot of ground. I will be trying get more of this. This came to me as a pdf which this site would not accept so I had to convert it to something it does.1946-Firemans-Map-Thunder-Mtn_R.jpg

BrianEdwards
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09/09/2015 - 9:07 pm
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Byron, thx for sharing. 

So what I'm gathering from these posts, part of the Camelsback trail is still followable? Im quite interested in more info, location. I did check out the attached map. 

Surprise Lake could really use a better way to it than the crazy bushwacks required currently. 

-B

Rob Williams
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09/10/2015 - 7:26 am
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Bryon Boyce said
This came to me as a pdf which this site would not accept ...

Bryon, if you send it to webmaster@trailadvocate.org I can post it here. I may see if I can enable .pdf files for upload as well on the forum. I'll have to investigate how to do that.

That map is very interesting. 

Bryon Boyce
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09/10/2015 - 6:37 pm
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Rather than say the tread is present, I should say that the original blazes are findable. A few feet at a time of what may well have been the tread are visible here and there. It could not be clearer by the grown-over blazes that a trail once was here. It has been unknown decades since it has seen use, despite the fact that it goes where there are no other routes. This may not have been active long. I only followed a few hundred feet due to the steep, wet and slippery conditions.

I would like to get a group of willing participants to find this route and even a small group could do this in a day to Surprise Lake.

The clue that lead to finding this was in the "Undated Trail Logs" from the Historical Items page on this site. One waypoint is called "Camel's Back Way" on the section "East Mountain Trail". I suspect a 'way' was something less than a 'trail'.

honeybeemaria
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09/11/2015 - 8:59 am
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Our group has made it in following the old 350 road and they also tried other routes. It is a difficult path and it is not worth it. The lake is shallow and no fisk in it anymore. If you want to go in there is a geocache group who hikes it every year and you could go with them. Thanks all for the info and I wisk you luck on this route.

Paul_D_K
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09/15/2015 - 8:31 pm
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I printed the map before I left for Fish Creek, Surprise Lake, and Sookum Lake. Talking with some of my fellow Geocachers about the 1946 Firemans map and we believe that the dotted line across the North shoulder of Bracket Mtn is a fire brake cut at one time, but probably not a trail. That said I believe the shortest route to Surprise Lake is via Bracket Mtn and follow the ridge line north staying high until you make it to the old quarry about where the dotted line ends. You can then follow the old road around and down to Surprise Lake.

In the past six years Ive been here and the surrounding area three to four times a year. True there is not fish left in the lake, I don’t know what happened to them. But They were there and biting real good one trip in and the next trip in they were gone. That said I still enjoy the peace and quiet of the lake, its a place only the few willing to make the trek in could enjoy.

I will as I have time look into the “Camels Back Way”, but as one who has stood on the highest hump of the Camels Back, the name implies to me a trail that follows the ridge line. I thought I new the area you described finding the blazes and on Saturday I spent some time searching, but I found nothing. Possibly a better description of where it was. Maybe even marking the trees with some flagging tape.

I don’t know if I will make another trip in this year, but I will keep it in mind for next time I’m there.

Rob Williams
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09/20/2015 - 7:00 am
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Paul_D_K said
That said I believe the shortest route to Surprise Lake is via Bracket Mtn and follow the ridge line north staying high until you make it to the old quarry about where the dotted line ends. You can then follow the old road around and down to Surprise Lake.

I can attest that this is a doable route, however it is not easy. We took this route back from Surprise Lake a few years ago.

I think the reason Surprise Lake appeals to some people is because it is hard to get to.  Although it doesn't have fish in it anymore, it is still an interesting place I think.  Kind of frozen in time.

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