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The elusive 511 trail has been found
Rob Williams
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08/31/2014 - 7:42 am
Member Since: 09/20/2009
Forum Posts: 1370
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Last year (I think), Eagle Eye Don and noticed a clear horizontal line going across a rock field from the 1933 lookout photo from Frazier Mountain.  That started this quest to see if we could find remnants of the elusive 511 South Fork Roaring River trail.  Here is a closeup of the image that started the quest:

FrazierMtnLookoutPhotoZoomIn.jpg

 

With that info, and info from previous explorations, we were able to find the first part of the 511 (South Fork Roaring River) trail.  I think the reason it has been hard to find is that all the maps have it in the wrong place.  The maps that I've seen all show it right next to the river - the trail is actually about half way up the hill at the beginning, and kinds of works its way down to the river as it heads down the canyon.

It was a VERY rainy, foggy day yesterday when Kirk, Zack and I set out from the Shellrock trailhead to try and find any remnants of this trail.  Once up at Frazier Turnaround, I made them go up to Frazier Fork so I could see the old outhouses for myself (I hadn't ever noticed them before).  Once that was complete, we headed cross country over to the Serene Lake trail to where we had been told the 511 took off from.  It took us a while to find it, but we (Kirk) finally found a blaze and we headed down the trail.  The tread is faint and VERY brushy at that point, with LOTS of huckleberry.  We headed above Lower Rock Lake and kept finding blazes and what appeared to be faint tread. 

What the trail looked like above Lower Rock Lake:

IMAG0357.jpg

The first really interesting thing we got to was a HUGE Blaze on a tree - never seen one this big:

IMAG0359.jpg

 

And right next to this tree was a nice spring - we nicknamed this spring "Big Blaze Spring":IMAG0361.jpg

 

We continued down the trail and shortly we arrived at the first rock field - we were most definitely on the trail!:IMAG0362.jpg

 

And then on the other side of the rock field, the tread through the trees - other than the downed logs it was in pretty good shape:IMAG0365.jpg

 

And what little view we got - on a clear day this would be great:

IMAG0366.jpg

Here is a good shot of one of the (few) clear sections in a rockslide:

IMAG0367.jpg

 

Most of them looked like this - a tangled mess of vine maple:

IMAG0372.jpg

We got as far as we could, but figured we should turn around - it was about 4:00 and we still needed to hike back out - we were soaking wet and pretty tired from going over/around all the downed logs and vine maple and the rain wasn't letting up, so we headed back out.  The good news is that the trail didn't show any signs of disappearing.  Future explorations will hopefully find out how far it does go.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a good track of our day - I got a partial track but my GPS ran out of battery and I didn't get the whole thing.  Here is the part of our track I did get - I marked our estimated end point - we got about 2 miles from Frazier Turnaround:

SouthForkRoaringRiverMapRoute.jpg

 

Truly an epic day if there ever was one - bad weather, a long hike and a great discovery!

Paul Turner
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08/31/2014 - 10:50 am
Member Since: 09/20/2009
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Rob et.al., A most excellent outing, I admit to being skeptical about the trail being so high, I was wrong. Great find!

Thx,

--Paul

Rob Williams
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08/31/2014 - 11:08 am
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It definitely was a most excellent outing!  A very WET outing, but excellent.

I think (but we will find out later) that the trail slowly makes its way down to the river - at least that is how the path appears to be headed.  What would be even more amazing is if this trail were accessible all the way to the roaring river.  According to the old maps (which were wrong on its initial location), it is supposed to meet up with Corral Springs across the river.  Wouldn't that be cool if you could take this down and then go across to Corral Springs on the other side?

OK, so I'm a dreamer... But this trail definitely deserves more exploration.

One cool tidbit - Zack reminded me that the book by F. Alton Everest - "Tales of the High Clackamas Country" had a chapter talking about building this trail.  Midway down the trail, they established a camp - I think we almost got to the midway point of the trail.  It would be interesting to see if there is any evidence of a camp along the trail.  That would have been over 85 years ago, but it would be interesting to see if anything was evident.

Paul Turner
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08/31/2014 - 11:18 am
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Rob Williams said
It definitely was a most excellent outing!  A very WET outing, but excellent.

I think (but we will find out later) that the trail slowly makes its way down to the river - at least that is how the path appears to be headed.  What would be even more amazing is if this trail were accessible all the way to the roaring river.  According to the old maps (which were wrong on its initial location), it is supposed to meet up with Corral Springs across the river.  Wouldn't that be cool if you could take this down and then go across to Corral Springs on the other side?

OK, so I'm a dreamer... But this trail definitely deserves more exploration.

That would be a nice trail to have available for a loop with Grouse Point. I'm really curious about the Corral Springs connection. If there's room, invite me along next time now that I'm a believer.

--Paul

Rob Williams
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08/31/2014 - 11:40 am
Member Since: 09/20/2009
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If the weather is nice, it would be a BEAUTIFUL trail - the views from the rockslides would be tremendous - not peak views, but great views of the South Fork Drainage.  The route through the timber is nice as well - a lot more big trees than I thought there would be.

Next time we will make the horrible trek down the Frazier road to cut 3-4 miles off the trip.  I read your trip report from several years ago, and you said the same thing.  We could have used the additional time to explore the trail further.  But we found enough to make it worth going back for.  I will let you know when we plan on another trip.  I'm hoping we can do another one this year.

Rob Williams
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08/31/2014 - 1:20 pm
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While looking thru my photos, I ended up finding evidence on the google earth aerial photos of the tread thru one of the rockslides - the one rockslide where it was clear all the way across:

http://www.mappingsupport.com/.....0&t=s

I copied the screen and added green dots showing where the tread crosses that rockslide:

SouthForkTrailGoogleAerial.jpg

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Rob Williams
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08/31/2014 - 2:53 pm
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Paul:

I took a look at your posting on PH from 2009 (almost exactly 5 years ago - wow!), and looking at your track and our track, it looks like we were on the same trajectory until about the top of that un-named creek that feeds into the south fork - I think that is just about the location of that spring (Big Blaze spring).  It looks like you headed down that creek, while we continued more or less along the contour line.

Just curious - did you see that spring with the big blaze?

Paul Turner
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08/31/2014 - 7:05 pm
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Rob Williams said
Paul:

I took a look at your posting on PH from 2009 (almost exactly 5 years ago - wow!), and looking at your track and our track, it looks like we were on the same trajectory until about the top of that un-named creek that feeds into the south fork - I think that is just about the location of that spring (Big Blaze spring).  It looks like you headed down that creek, while we continued more or less along the contour line.

Just curious - did you see that spring with the big blaze?

Rob,

Yes, the upper part is easy to locate but I just lost it at that point and figured the trail would be near the creek based on the maps. I don't recall the spring with the big blaze, might look at my photos.

I'm looking forward to another visit to this place with y'all. One of the greatest finds ever.

--Paul

Donald Presley
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09/01/2014 - 2:43 am
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Great job guys. You beat me to that one! I knew that trail had to be there, just don't get out to Frazier that often these days. Cheers!

kirk
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09/01/2014 - 8:42 pm
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I was really impressed by the trail where it goes through the rock fields.  The tread must be at least four feet wide.  Those trail builders literally moved hundreds of tons of rocks to build this trail.

 

For those of you who've read the account of the building of this trail, do you recall if it was mentioned how big of a trail construction crew they had?

Rob Williams
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09/02/2014 - 5:40 am
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The book says it was 10 men plus a cook.  And the book says there was only 3 miles of trail to build, but by my calculation it is about 5 miles from Frazier Turnaround to the Roaring River.

kirk
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09/02/2014 - 7:07 am
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Rob Williams said
The book says it was 10 men plus a cook.  And the book says there was only 3 miles of trail to build, but by my calculation it is about 5 miles from Frazier Turnaround to the Roaring River.

I wonder, why the difference?  Perhaps they were connecting to an existing trail, or maybe someone decided that they only had resources to build that much trail that year?

Maybe the trail ends at 3 miles.

Rob Williams
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09/02/2014 - 9:00 am
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kirk said

I wonder, why the difference?  Perhaps they were connecting to an existing trail, or maybe someone decided that they only had resources to build that much trail that year?
Maybe the trail ends at 3 miles.

 Hopefully we will find out the answer soon.

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