Friday, October 2, 2009

Dungeness Campground

Dungeness Campground
Camping
Location: Near Port Angeles, Washington
Duration: Varies
Season: Year round
Distance: N/A
Difficulty: Easy


Dungeness Campground is located along the shoreline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, surrounded by a National Wildlife Refuge and within walking distance of the Dungeness Spit (the longest sand Spit in the world). All these unique features make for an excellent camping spot.
 
Dungeness campground has 65 campsites with picnic tables and fire rings, along with hiking, biking, and horse back riding trails. There is an RV dump station, paved roads, registration/information board, playground, and restrooms with water fountains and showers (showers have a fee).
 
Camping is permitted in designated campsites on a first come-first serve basis. No more than 6 people to a site or 1 nuclear family, along with 2 automobiles or 4 motorcycles.
 
Pets are allowed on leash. No firearms, fireworks or explosives are allowed. And, there are handicap accessible campsites available.
 
Directions: From Port Angeles take 101 east, until you see the signs for the turn off to Dungeness Recreation Area. At the sign, head North on Kitchen Dick Lane, then west (right) on Lotzgesell Rd. and the entrance for Dungeness should be on your left or north side of the road (look for the sign).

For a map, pictures and more info click on Dungeness Campground


See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Deception Pass Campground

Deception Pass Campground
Camping
Location: Whidbey Island, Washington
Duration: Varies
Season: Year round
Distance: N/A
Difficulty: Easy



Deception Pass is one of Washington's favorite spots with visitors flocking to see the spectacular bridge and Pass, making it one of the most visited parks in the nation.
 
Because of Whidbey Island's temperate climate, many birds and waterfowl winter here, including an abundance of bald eagles. Fishing is popular in the area and tent and RV camping are available year round.
 
This area boasts giant old growth forests, 30 miles of hiking trails, 19 miles of saltwater shoreline, and 3 freshwater lakes. Deception Pass campground has 246 campsites with picnic tables and fire pits, along with an RV dump station.
 
The campground has paved roads, restrooms with water fountains and power hookups for RV's. Camping is permitted in designated campsites on a reservation basis. No more than 8 people to a site, along with 2 automobiles or 4 motorcycles, except for group campsites.
 
Pets are allowed on leash. No firearms, fireworks or explosives are allowed. And, there are bicycle and handicap accessible campsites available.
 
Directions: From Seattle, drive 64 miles north on Interstate 5 to exit 230 (Anacortes/Burlington). Turn west on State Highway 20 and drive about 12 miles to the Whidbey Island junction. Proceed about six miles south on State Highway 20 to the Deception Pass Bridge. Cross the bridge onto Whidbey Island and drive south down the hill and at the bottom take a right into the campground.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Deception Pass Campground


See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Dalles Campground

Dalles Campground
Camping
Location: East of Missoula, Montana
Duration: Varies
Season: Spring - Fall
Distance: N/A
Difficulty: Easy


Dalles campground is located in the Lolo National Forest of Western Montana. This National Forest contains several major tributaries to the Clark Fork River of the Columbia River Basin.
 
Dalles campground is located on the banks of one of these tributaries, known as Rock Creek a blue-ribbon trout stream. Listed by Trout Unlimited as one of the top 100 streams in the US, Rock Creek winds its way through some of the most stunning terrain in Western Montana.
 
Dalles campground is a small campground along Rock Creek and bordering the Welcome Creek Wilderness. The location of this campground makes for easy access to numerous outdoor resources with opportunities for fishing and water sports, not to mention the numerous hiking and biking trails in the forests nearby.
 
The campground has 10 campsites with fire rings and tables. The camp has fairly nice toilets, running water from 5/15 to 9/30 (though a little colorful, so you may want to bring your own) and access to the river (steep).
 
This campground is not handicap accessible and is classified as a tent campground because of the lack of power hookups for trailers. There's a pack-in/pack-out garbage policy and all campsites are free on a first-come, first-served basis (no reservations).
 
Directions: 23 miles east of Missoula, MT take I-90 exit 126 and head South on Rock Creek Road for 14 miles until you reach the sign for Dalles campground.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Dalles Campground

See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Cascade Falls Overlook Trail

Cascade Falls Overlook Trail
Hiking
Location: Near St. Regis, Montana
Duration: Duration
Season: Spring - Fall
Distance: ~ 3 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Easy


Cascade Falls Overlook Trail is located in the Lolo National Forest of western Montana. At 2.1 million acres of spectacular mountainous country, this forest is estimated to be the third largest National Forest in the northern region of the USDA Forest Service and contains several major tributaries to the Clark Fork River of the Columbia River Basin.
 
The Cascade Falls Overlook Trail is an easy day hike to an overlook above Cascade Falls. Cascade Falls is a 250ft waterfall that eventually runs into the Clark Fork River.
 
The trail follows the old Iron Mountain Road, an old mining road. It is well maintained and incorporates a 27 station interpretative trail. The hike is constantly climbing but holds a reasonable gradient. There are several benches along the way to take a rest and enjoy beautiful vistas.
 
You also have the option of continuing up the trail all the way to Nine-Mile Divide, which is a 14-mile round trip. Also, there's a trail to the base of the falls that is steep and wet for a bit more adventure.
 
You may want to stay at the campground that is located at the trailhead. This is a beautifully maintained campground with approximately nine sites and one group site. Each site offers a fire ring with a grill, picnic table, parking and even chopped wood.
 
Overnight stays cost and groups of 10 and up cost more. There is a self-pay station located at the obvious information sign with day use and parking free. Bears do not seem to be a significant problem, but they do inhabit the area. However, the squirrels on the other hand, may make off with you lunch if you do not pay attention.
 
Directions: LocationTake I-90 to the St. Regis exit #33. Drive North on Highway 135 for 16.5 miles. There is a well-marked sign on your right.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Cascade Falls Overlook Trail


See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Carthew Pass

Carthew Pass
Hiking
Location: Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada
Duration: 1-2 Day
Season: Summer - Fall
Distance: ~15 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Moderate


Known for it's spectacular views and diverse terrain, the trail from Cameron Lake to Carthew Pass is a must-see hike. Approximately 15 miles round trip with an elevation gain of approximately 2000 feet, it's a challenging hike that affords spectacular views, cool lakes and a sense of accomplishment.
 
Most people begin the hike at Cameron Lake. Walk through the visitor's center and turn left to get to the trail. It is well marked and well maintained. The trail begins to climb along the south shore of the lake.
 
Groomed switchbacks make the assent fairly easy. At about 3 km the trail flattens out and .5 km later you reach Summit Lake. This is a small lake with nice scenery in the background. Moose frequent this lake and are often seen mostly submerged, foraging for lake bottom vegetation.
 
The trail splits at the lake with the left fork climbing steadily to the top of the pass. This trail moves through the trees for about 1 km and then enters an open talus slope for another 2+ km to the summit.
 
This trail is well maintained and fairly wide. However, a few hikers will have anxiety with the steepness of the slope. The view from the Pass is spectacular in all directions. A small peak to the east along the ridge provides a better view.
 
From the pass, the trail descends to a chain of 3 lakes that are fed from a large snowfield. There are good picnic spots at the head of each lake. The trail winds around the left side of all the lakes and then drops steeply several km to Alderson Lake this lake is located in the trees with a rock wall around one side.
 
There is a backcountry campground here with corrals for horses and a bear platform. There is a trail that leaves Alderson Lake and descends through the trees to the Waterton town site, but most people prefer to backtrack over the Pass and return to Cameron Lake (The section of trail from Alderson Lake to Waterton is in very dense vegetation with limited views and lots of bugs).
 
Directions: The Waterton Park town site is located off of highway 5 about 45 km due west of Cardston Alberta. The park may also be approached from the north from Pincher Creek along highway 6 or from the south from the Chief Mountain Highway. The trailhead is at Cameron Lake located at the end of the Akimina Parkway. There is a shuttle that leaves the Tamarack Mall each morning. Check with visitor information for departure times.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Carthew Pass


See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery
Hiking
Location: Makah Indian Res., Neah Bay, Washington
Duration: 1 Day
Season: Year round
Distance: ~2 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Easy


Hiking Cape Flattery offers approximately 6 miles round-trip, through a temperate rain forest and along the top of sea cliffs and giant caves, climaxing with a view of Tatoosh Island and lighthouse (the most Northwestern point of the continental United States).
 
From the many vantage points along the cliffs, hikers can view otters, sea lions, giant ocean caves and occasionally migrating whales. Part of an ecosystem stretching from Oregon to Alaska, the rain forest seldom sees temperatures below freezing in the winter or exceeding 80 degrees in the summer.
 
Travel is through a jungle like forest, along a mix of trail, stepping stone paths and moss covered boardwalk. Navigation is simple, the only clear path is on the main trail (you would have a tough time making it without a maintained trail) and vantage points are protected with guard rails.
 
The trail receives regular maintenance, but with so much rain (140 to 167 inches annually, bring rain gear), the trail can still wear down, so watch out for broken planks and worn sections.
 
Also, beware of slippery spots, Vibram soles do not give traction on wet or moss covered planks, roots or rocks. Pets are allowed on leash.
 
Directions: From Port Angeles take 101 west to Highway 112, go west on 112 to Neah Bay and on the west end of town there are signs for the Cape. Take a left at the sign and follow this road around the hill and past the tribal center, until it turns into a dirt road. At the dirt road, continue uphill until you see the signs and parking area for the trailhead.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Cape Flattery


See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Boulder River

Boulder River
Hiking
Location: Boulder River Wilderness, Washington
Duration: 1 Day
Season: Year-round
Distance: ~ 7 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Easy


Boulder River is located in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest of Washington State. This immense forest ranges from Mt. Rainier National Park north to the Canadian border. This trip also falls within the Boulder Wilderness area of this forest which was established in 1984, with 49,000 acres of land. It includes six peaks that are above 5,600 feet in elevation. With an old Lookout on Three Fingers, lots of sheer rock cliffs on surrounding mountains and a total of about 25 trail miles.
 
Boulder Wilderness is the only virgin valley with old growth forest left in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Sitting on the western boundary of Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, it has the ice-clad summits of Whitehorse Mountain and Three Fingers, to the dense, mossy, old growth forests of the valley. All travelers should be aware that the Cascade Mountains create their own weather. Check local weather stations and pack for a wide variety of conditions, from sun to rain, to the possibility of year-round snow at higher elevations.
 
As for the trip, Boulder River Trail was once a Forest Service trail over Tupso Pass to Canyon Creek. Also, being the shortest route at that time, up to Three Fingers Fire Lookout, the trail is now abandoned from Boulder Ford to Tupso Pass.
 
The trail begins on an old railroad-logging road. Traveling along the road/trail there are signs of old trees that were used to build the original road. About 3/4 mile in the road ends and you enter into a magnificent old growth forest. This marks the start of the Boulder Wilderness Area. The trail is very rooty and rocky, rolling up and down as you travel along with the river on your right.
 
The first of the two waterfalls are in about 1-1/4 miles, where there is a nice bench to sit for a view of the double waterfalls. There are several side paths that lead down about 100 feet to the river. One of the only two mountains, Mt. Ditney, is visible just after the falls on your right, and Three Fingers, which is at the end of the trail. As you travel through the old growth forest, one can't help but ogle at the huge Cedar and Fir trees. Over the years, quite a few have fallen to the ground.
 
The second waterfall is less than a mile further down the trail. At about 2 1/2 miles in, there is a huge old growth cedar down across the trail at least 5 feet in diameter. You have to scramble over, under, or around it. At this point, Boulder River goes through a gorge. After the huge log there are numerous fallen trees that block your way. Most of the creeks flowing into the river are forded using trees for bridges. These trees can be slippery. There is also a rockslide across the trail, which leads you on the side of a cliff, so caution is needed when navigating through here.
 
The trail winds down to the river about 4 1/4 miles from the trailhead, where there are a few campsites along the river. You can look up river and see Three Fingers or look across the river and see the flags for the trail on the other side. The trail ends here at Boulder Ford.
 
NOTE: Use caution if crossing during spring thaw. A faint trail does continues on up to Tupos Pass from the other side of the river.
 
Directions: Take Highway 530 east to Arlington; drive 19.8 miles, to French Creek Road # 2010. Turn right follow road for 3.6 miles to the end of the road. Boulder River Trailhead is there.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Boulder River

See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ross Lake

Ross Lake
Canoe/Kayaking
Location: North Cascades NP, Washington
Duration: 6 Day
Season: Summer - Fall
Distance: 50+ miles, round trip
Difficulty: Moderate


Located in the North Cascades this is an incredible setting for a canoe trip. Surrounded by towering mountains and waterfalls this makes for a great week multi-day trip for the more experienced paddler.
 
From the Colonial Creek Boat Launch, paddle north on Diablo Lake hugging the right shore. As you reach the larger part of the lake at about the 2 mile mark, remember to stay against the right shore and you will turn east into the canal leading to the Ross Lake Dam.

As you paddle toward the dam, be very cautious of the power boats moving quickly around the blind corners, we nearly got ran over.
 
At the 4 mile mark you will see a glimpse of the dam and some buildings owned by Seattle City Lights, the Portage landing is on your right 100 yards before you reach the buildings. Be careful not to park your boats on the large concrete slab, that is for the barge they use to ferry vehicles with. Instead just around the floating dock is a nice gravel landing spot.
 
From here you need to hike up the road to the power building and use the phone to call and have them bring down the trucks to portage you up to the lake.
 
Be prepared to wait a while. Also, check the More Info Link for details on the portage fees. Once you portaged up onto Ross Lake, the rest of your trip depends on what you have pre-determined and your trip permit.
 
The authors trip is laid out on the map. There's plenty of campsites and lots of water for however long you want to stay.
 
Directions: From Diablo Washington follow North Cascades Highway #20 east about 4 miles till you reach the right turn for Colonial Creek Campground & boat launch (mile mark 130). The turn is directly before you reach the bridge that crosses Diablo Lake.


For a map, pictures and more info click on Ross Lake


See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Pend Oreille Lake

Pend Oreille Lake
Canoe/Kayaking
Location: South of Sandpoint, Idaho
Duration: 2 Day
Season: Summer
Distance: 5 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Easy


Located in North Idaho, a land of dense forests and giant cedars, lies the state's largest lake, Lake Pend Oreille. Once the second largest U.S. naval training center in the world, with a surface area of 94,600 acres and numerous forested coves, it's a flat-water paddlers dream.
 
Starting at the put-in, paddle past the boat docks on your left (there is usually a little head wind as you pull out of Garfield Bay). As you round your first point heading East, on your left is the cave you can paddle into and explore, depending on the water level.
 
As you round each point heading North-East, there are many areas to camp along the shoreline, many of which are accessible by road.
 
The further you go, the better your chances of solitude. For a variation, some paddlers head South, where more camping spots can be found. It's a big lake, so explore, but be cautious of wind and waves. In the afternoon the waves usually get pretty big and then die down by the evening, so depending on what you like paddle early, mid-day or late.
 
Directions: From Coeur D'Alene drive 38 miles North on Highway 95 to Sagle. Watch for the sign on the right pointing to Garfield Bay (right after the flea market). Stay on Garfield Bay road as it winds East for another 7.5 miles, until you reach the lake. Pay attention some people go the wrong way at the "Y" in the road, about a mile before the lake. As you reach the lake, go a little bit past the large state run campgrounds. Park your car off the South side of the road, giving you easy access to the beach.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Pend Oreille Lake


See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Little Spokane River

Little Spokane River
Canoeing
Location: Spokane, Washington
Duration: 1 Day
Season: Spring - Fall
Distance: ~3.5 miles, one way
Difficulty: Easy


The Little Spokane River Natural Area is about 6 miles northwest of downtown Spokane. The natural area roughly parallels Rutter Parkway, and encompasses 7.3 river miles within its 1,993 acres.
 
Washington State Parks and Spokane County Parks have both acquired lands in the area to guarantee its protection. The area is managed as part of Riverside State Park under a joint interagency agreement with Spokane County Parks. To learn more about the area and Natural history look under our Resources link or visit the Spokane House Interpretive Center, off Highway 291, North of Nine Falls.
 
This trip is an easy 3.5-mile paddle through a rare freshwater marsh environment, that is home to a wide variety of songbirds, woodpeckers, raptors, and waterfowl. Not to mention, that a Great Blue Heron rookery can be found in the tall cottenwoods by the riverbanks, along with beaver, muskrat, porcupines, raccoons, coyotes, marmots, white-tailed deer and moose.

At the parking lot near the put-in spot there is an informative sign telling you a little bit about the area. There is also a small outhouse for your convenience.
 
To begin, haul your canoe or kayak down the narrow portage trail to the river edge where you can launch into the slow moving current. As you let the river carry you downstream, the first thing you'll notice is the endless numbers of waterfowl. We were also fortunate to see 2 moose grazing near the riverbank as we came around a corner.
 
The trip can take anywhere from 1 hour if your paddling, to 3 hours if you just let the current take you. A little after you pass under the bridge and when you see your first small rapids, you're at the end of the trip, the parking lot and take-out point are just before the rapids on your left. If you go over the rapids, you have gone too far.
 
NOTE: The are area restrictions such as NO: alcohol, air mattresses, inner tubes, pets, swimming, motor boats, bicycles, camping, fires, horses, hunting, or off-road vehicles
 
Directions: From I-90 at Spokane, WA take the Division Street exit and drive north, across the bridge and up the hill to Francis Ave. Turn left at Francis Ave. and follow it West until it ends and turns into Highway 291. Follow State Route 291 North past Nine Mile Falls. A mile past Rutter Parkway road is the turn off for the boat pick up area. You should leave a car here and then backtrack to Rutter Parkway road. Follow Rutter Parkway Rd. East until it intersects Indian Trail road, then head North across the Little Spokane River. The parking lot is your first left just after you cross the river and the portage trail is just out the back of the parking lot. (If you cross the river and start to go up the hill, you've gone too far).

For a map, pictures and more info click on Little Spokane River

See you on the trail,
--Greg

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How to Get a Campfire Started

By Jim Johnson

It has long been the custom to have a campfire when tent camping and sometimes it is a necessity. The size you make the fire will depend on whether you are going to use it for warmth or cooking, maybe you are going to do both. This article will show you an easy and fairly quick way to make your campfire.

First you have to find out if you are allowed to have a campfire in your campsite or your area of family tents. It is also true that one of the main causes for forest fires are campfires. So before light your fire up get permission to do so either from the park attendant or the forest ranger.

After getting permission, the next thing to do is select where to build your fire. Expert campers always say that the best and safest areas are those located some 10 feet away from the area where you put up your family tents as well as other things that will easily catch fire such as hung clothes, trees, and the like. This is because in the outdoors, anything can happen. One minute, the air is still and the next, the wind is blowing in the direction of your family tents.

When you have chosen the right area for your fire then you will need to go get some wood to burn. Big sticks, pieces of bark, and twigs will be good and you won't have to chop any wood that way. Just make sure all the wood is dry that you pick up.

After you have all the fuel for this campfire, then you need to place a tarp on the ground of the selected spot. This stops any mess from being left after the fire and when you leave the camping spot. Once you have the tarp on the ground you need to place a layer of dirt on it and even it out. This dirt acts as insulation for the tarp so the fire won't burn through it, so be certain to have a thick enough layer.

The next thing you need to do is make a teepee using your gathered wood. To do this correctly, put a good amount of dried leaves and twigs in the center of the teepee and put the bigger pieces of wood around them. The smaller pieces in the middle easily lights up and will consequently light the bigger pieces on its outsides after a few minutes.

Once the bigger pieces have caught fire, put more similarly sized pieces around them. In fact, it is always a good idea to completely cover the teepee wall with big pieces of wood. The only thing to remember though is to never cover the teepee. This area allows the oxygen in and thus be able to circulate in the tepee. As long as you allow a steady supply of oxygen into the campfire, the steadier your fire will be.

When constructing your campfire, be sure to always make it to a size, where you can maintain complete control of it. In the event you are going to be using the fire to cook with, just make the fire a bit bigger and strong by adding more wood to it. For warmth the fire can be a smaller one. The campfire should always be completely put out prior to people going to their family tents for the night.

About the Author:
About the author: Camping guru Jim Johnson loves to spend his free nights sleeping in a camping tent. He's offering a free download of his Camping Cookbook with 101 Camping and Outdoor Recipes and see the family tents that are among the best.


See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Hiawatha Trail

Mountain Biking
Location: Idaho/Montana Border, near Lookout Pass
Duration: 1 Day
Season: Spring - Fall
Distance: ~15 miles, one way
Difficulty: Easy


The Hiawatha Rail-Trail has been called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad grade in the country. The Route of the Hiawatha is a scenic section of abandoned railroad grade from the Milwaukee Road that The Taft Tunnel Preservation Society and the U.S. Forest Service have turned into a world-class non-motorized trail.

A truly unique and historic experience everyone can enjoy, the trail takes you back to the turn of the century when the Milwaukee Road constructed the last transcontinental railroad in the United States. This magnificent rail-trail winds over the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana, along one of the most scenic routes in the Pacific Northwest.

The trial passes through eleven tunnels and over nine trestles, towering hundreds of feet above the valley floor. The Route of the Hiawatha is best known for the long, dark St. Paul Pass or "Taft" Tunnel, which burrows for 1.8 miles under the state line. The best part of this trail, IT'S ALL DOWNHILL!

Currently, fifteen miles of trail are now open to the public with another 31 miles under construction. When finished, a rider will be able to ride from St. Regis, Montana to Pearson, Idaho (46 miles total). You can ride or hike the trail any time between 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. from May to October. The trail is operated and maintained with fees collected from all users.

All users are required to purchase and display their tickets at all times. Tickets can be purchased on the trail from the Trail Marshal or at Lookout Pass Ski Resort. There is a shuttle bus to transport you and your bike between Roland & Pearson trailheads.

Tunnels are very dark, so all users must have lights and helmets to ride the trail. Adult supervision is required for children under the age of 14. Dogs and pets are not allowed on the trail.

NOTE: Bike rental is available at Lookout Pass. At last check prices were for complete package: bike, helmet, and light.

Directions: From Lookout Pass, Montana take I-90 East to the Taft exit #5. From the Taft exit, go past the pavilion and take the Rainy Creek Road #506 approximately 2 miles to the East Portal Trailhead.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Hiawatha Trail


See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Grand Gulch

Backpacking
Location:
Cedar Mesa Plateau, Utah
Duration:
5-7 Day
Season:
Year round
Distance: ~38 miles, one-way
Difficulty:
Moderate


In the Cedar Mesa Plateau of southeastern Utah's red rock canyon country lies Grand Gulch, a major tributary of the San Juan River. Invisible from the plateau, Grand Gulch is a hidden canyon, hundreds of feet deep that stretches south towards the San Juan River.

This trip documents the backpacking section between Collins Spring and Kane Gulch. A 38-mile weeklong trip, where you will camp under sandstone cliffs and discover the cliff dwellings and pictographs of the ancient Anasazi Indians civilization. Campsites can be found all over with only one major concern being water. Note: it's recommended that you check with the Kane Gulch Ranger Station when you purchase your permit for good water sources (individual seasons and times of the year can effect sources).

The route is pretty straight forward with canyon walls on either side and only 2 main navigation points to be aware of. The first is when you enter Grand Gulch from Collins Canyon, just go straight. The second is at Bullet Canyon, where you need to stay left to continue up the Gulch, although Bullet Canyon can be a possible variation for a shorter trip or a bail out point if someone turns an ankle, etc. All other side canyons are pretty much dead ends.

As for the trail, it starts at Collins Spring and quickly enters this immense drainage system with 600ft high canyon walls, freshwater pools and countless ancient ruins (opportunities abound for exploration of the side canyons and ancient ruins throughout the trip). Follow the trail 2 miles down Collins Canyon to the intersection with Grand Gulch. To the right leads you down through the Narrows to the San Juan River, go straight ahead to continue up Grand Gulch and you're on your way.

About 2.25 miles after the junction you should come across Bannister Ruin with its characteristic exposed beams (very fragile). Bannister Spring is located about a quarter mile below Bannister Ruin on the left. Next, you should come to Polly's Island on your left with Polly's Canyon on your right, just continue straight past the Island. About 1.5 miles past Polly's Island you should see the Big Man pictograph on the right about 200ft above the canyon floor.

From here you will pass 3 canyons on your left called Dripping Canyon, Step Canyon (the half way point) and Green Canyon, until you finally reach Bullet Canyon on you right with a heavily used campsite and water. Note: when you get to Bullet Canyon you're over halfway there with another 15 miles to go. Bullet Canyon is about 8 miles long and has two major ruins within its walls called Jailhouse and Perfect Kiva. The ruins are located about 2.5 miles up the canyon and make a nice side excursion from camp.

After Bullet Canyon stay to the left and continue up Grand Gulch. About a mile up the canyon, the first canyon on your right is Sheiks Canyon and contains an abundance of rock art called the Green Mask along with a spring. After you leave Sheiks Canyon, you should pass the rock formation called The Thumb Pour Off. About 4 miles past the Thumb Pour Off, you will come to Split Level Ruin on your left, considered one of the major houses in this canyon.

About 3 miles farther you'll come to Todie Canyon. You'll want to go left to continue up Grand Gulch, but up the canyon to the right about a hundred yards is water. As you continue up Grand Gulch Canyon from Todie Canyon, you will pass two major ruins on your left, the first is called Turkey Pen and the second called Junction. Junction is located about 3 miles after Todie Canyon and a mile after Turkey Pen.

Junction Ruin is a huge alcove that bears John Wetherill's inscription. It marks the junction of where Grand Gulch meets Kane Gulch. Stay right and follow Kane Gulch 4 miles and 500ft in elevation gain to the trail end at Kane Gulch Ranger Station.

You must have a backcountry permit to hike in Grand Gulch. Groups of 8 to 12 must reserve a permit in advance through the Monticello Field Office. DO NOT show up at the trailhead, the ranger station or the Monticello Field Office with a group of 8 or more and expect to get a permit. Some walk in permits (for groups of less than 8 people) for overnight use of the canyons will be available at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station.

Day hikers do not need reservations and can register and pay their fee at the ranger station or the in the fee tube at the appropriate trailhead before entering the canyon. As for safety, be careful of slippery surfaces from water or ice. Know where to find dependable water sources. Watch out for scorpions, black widow spiders and rattlesnakes. The scorpions and black widow spiders have a tendency to hangout in the dry overhangs and dark ruins.

During July, August, and September there is a higher danger of flash floods, but whenever it rains you should always seek high ground. If trapped by a flash food just wait until the water recedes and then be careful of quicksand in the stream channels.

Directions: From Blanding, Utah (about 75 miles south of Moab) head south on 191 ~ 4 miles to the Hwy 95 junction and then take a right on 95 (west). From the junction head west for ~ 28 miles to Hwy 261. At 261 take a left and head south for ~ 4 miles to the Kane Ranger Station and drop off a vehicle. From the Kane Ranger Station backtrack to Hwy 95 north for ~ 4 miles, then take a left on Hwy 95 (west). Drive west on Hwy 95 for ~ 9.5 miles, then at the junction with Hwy 276 take a left and head southwest for ~ 6.5 miles and the Collins Spring turn-off on your left. After the turn-off, travel ~ 2.4 miles to a fork in the road, at the fork stay right. After another ~ 4 miles you will arrive at the Collins Spring trailhead (there is a sign). Make sure to ask for directions at the Kane Ranger Station.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Grand Gulch


See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bonnie Lake - Canoeing

Canoeing
Location: Near Cheney, Washington
Duration: 2 Day
Season: Spring
Distance: 5 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Easy


Bonnie Lake is a unique lake located in a deep canyon among the rolling hills and sagebrush of Eastern Washington. On the way in all you can see is rolling grass hills forever and then suddenly you drop into this deep canyon to find an incredible little gem of a canoe trip.

The land all around the lake is private, except for an island in the middle of the lake. Because the land all around the lake is private, the only way to gain access to this lake is where the public road crosses over the outlet to the lake.

You must paddle up the outlet to get to the lake and then follow this long narrow lake deep into the canyon until you reach the public island. This is a nice overnight canoe trip for beginner to advance during the spring to early summer when the water is up.

Beginning at the bridge over Rock Creek paddle north, honing your paddling skills on this very narrow creek. At about 1 mile you will reach Bonnie Lake and a large section of lillypads, known for housing lots of turtles. There is no road access to this lake, so everyone you see came in the same way you did.

Paddling out onto the lake, there is a great place for camp in a wooded spot at the south end of the lake, however it's private land and the owner has posted NO CAMPING signs on most of the trees, so please respect the area. The only legal place to camp is on the island about another 1.5 miles up the lake.

There are several spots for a good camp on the island, I prefer the very north end of the island. If your feeling adventurous and have a few more hours of daylight, you can take the scenic portion of this trip to the very north end of this 4.5 mile lake.

As you near the north end of the lake, hug the right side and find the inlet that you can navigate for about another .25 miles. When it becomes too shallow to paddle portage your canoes and find the trail on the right side of the creek. Follow this trail for another .75 miles to the 200ft waterfall. The land owners don't mind the day visits to the waterfall, but be respectful of the land for future use and don't leave any litter.

For pictures, map and more info click on Bonnie Lake


See you on the trail,
--Greg

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Falls Creek Trail

Backpacking
Location: Near Athol, Idaho
Duration: 2-3 Day
Season: Summer - Fall
Distance: ~ 16 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Moderate



If you're looking for a trip during hot weather than this is a "cool" backpacking trip along a mountain stream with shade from the dense canopy of the trees. Located in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, a land of dense forests, abundant wildlife, scenic mountains and giant cedars, Falls Creek Trail #229 is a great little trip. It starts along the banks of Lake Pend Oreille, the state's largest lake at 94,600 acres and climbs its way up to the summit of Packsaddle Mountain at 6405 feet.

As for the trail, it’s a pretty clean trail that makes approximately a 3700ft elevation gain over 7.5 miles to the summit. There are plenty of primitive campsites along the way and being located in the Falls Creek drainage makes for a nice trip on those hot summer days. You can also drive in part way and start your trip at Falls Creek Mine, shaving about 2 miles off the route.

On the trail, you start out hiking up old logging roads until you reach the Falls Creek Mine. From here the trail dives into the deep forest canopy, winding along the creek and crossing numerous little streams. A little ways after the Mine, the trail begins to narrow down from an old logging road to more like a trail. As it works its way up the drainage it crosses over Falls Creek twice and the second time tit leaves the Creek and begins to switchback up the hill to the top. This is where the climbing really begins.

As you finally near the top, you will come to a few trail junctions. Just read the markers and keep going up hill and you’ll soon be there. At the summit saddle just climb the biggest boulder pile and you’re there.

NOTE: There’s a nice tent spot at the top, but make sure you have some water because there’s none to be found on top of this peak. Fill-up at your last crossing of Falls Creek. Also, if you want, you could combine this trip with the Packsaddle hike and just climb up the eastside of Packsaddle and then descend the westside for an easier ascent, but longer trip.

Directions: From I-90 in Coeur d’Alene Idaho, head north on Highway 95 towards Athol Idaho. Approximately 3 miles before Athol, you will come to Silverwood Theme Park on your right (westside of Hwy 95), there’s a road just before the Park, turn right at this intersection onto Bunco Road (there are signs indicating this turnoff as the Bunco Rd entrance into the National Forest).
  • Follow the road for about 2.3 miles and the signs will direct you to turn left, continue down this road for 1 mile as it then turns right and now 4 more miles to the entrance into the National Forest and the end of the pavement. There’s a big parking lot here for snowmobiles in the winter, just head past it and up the hill on FSR #332. Travel up the hill and along the ridges on FSR #332 for approximately 6 miles until you come to the intersection of FSR #278.
  • Now go left on FSR #278 as it winds its way through the mountains, all the way to the turnoff for Falls Creek Trail, approximately 25 miles. You will drive past Lakeview and about 2.5 miles past Whiskey Rock Bay, you will cross over Falls Creek, the turnoff is just 50ft past it. If you’ve make it to Granite, you’ve gone too far.
For a map, pictures and more info click on Falls Creek Trail


See you on the trail,
--Greg

All Day Energy Runners


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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Deschutes River - Canoeing

Canoeing
Location: Deschutes River, Bend, Oregon
Duration: 1 Day
Season: Spring - Fall
Distance: ~3 miles, one way
Difficulty: Easy


The Deschutes River winds it's way down ancient lava canyons and through grassy meadows. This canoe route is just minutes from Bend, OR and suitable for young and old. Navigation is simple with class 1 water (this one could be floated in a tube).
 
This trip is the section between the Slough Access and Dillon Falls (approx. 3 miles).
 
CAUTION: Dillon Falls cannot be run, pay attention for the sign after you pass the big meadow. If you miss the take-out you do have some time to still get out before the Falls, but don't push it.
 
You will need to shuttle, so drop a vehicle at the Dillon Falls parking lot on your way in. There is a hiking trail that parallels the route, so if you have boat problems you can hike out.
 
Pets are allowed on leash and the trail is shared use with mountain bikes and horses. Also, depending on the time of day and season, mosquitoes can be a problem, so bring bug juice.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Deschutes River


See you on the trail,
--Greg

All Day Energy Runners


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Monday, August 24, 2009

Cascade Campground

Camping
Location:
Near St. Regis, Montana
Duration:
Varies
Season: Spring - Fall
Distance:
N/A
Difficulty:
Easy



Cascade Campground is located in the Lolo National Forest of western Montana. At 2.1 million acres of spectacular mountainous country, this forest is estimated to be the third largest National Forest in the northern region of the USDA Forest Service and contains several major tributaries to the Clark Fork River of the Columbia River Basin.

The location of this campground makes for easy access to numerous outdoor resources including the Clark Fork River with opportunities for fishing and water sports, not to mention the numerous hiking and biking trails in the forests nearby.

This is a beautifully maintained campground with approximately nine sites and one group site. Each site offers a fire ring with a grill, picnic table, parking and even chopped wood. There's potable water, two dumpsters for trash and a pit toilet.

Nearby activities include the Clark Fork River with fishing, rafting and floating. There’s even a kayak surf wave about one quarter mile upstream from the campground. Also, there’s an easy trail up to an overlook on the top of Cascade Falls, a 250’ waterfall. Along with the possibility of using the campground as a take off spot for a backpack trip up to Nine Mile Divide (14 miles).

Over night stays have a fee and groups of 10 and up cost more. There’s a self-pay station located at the information sign, day-use and parking are free with a 14-day limit on stays and all sites on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Bears don’t seem to be a significant problem yet, but they do inhabit the area. So, as always a clean campsite should be kept. However, the squirrels may make off with you lunch if you don’t pay attention.

Directions: Take I-90 to the St. Regis exit #33. Drive North on Highway 135 for 16.5 miles. There is a well-marked sign on your right.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Cascade Campground


See you on the trail,
--Greg

All Day Energy Runners


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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Deception Pass - Sea Kayaking

Sea Kayaking
Location: Whidbey Island, Washington
Duration: 1 Day
Season: Spring - Fall
Distance: Play boating spot
Difficulty: Difficult


Deception Pass is one of Washington's favorite spots with visitors flocking to see the spectacular bridge and Pass, making it one of the most visited parks in the nation.
 
Because of Whidbey Island's temperate climate, many birds and waterfowl winter here, including an abundance of bald eagles. Fishing is popular in the area and tent and RV camping are available year round.
 
This area boasts giant old growth forests, 30 miles of hiking trails, 19 miles of saltwater shoreline, 3 freshwater lakes, and 246 campsites. Notable for its unusual variety of water environments, what better way to explore it, than in a kayak?
 
Most people just hop out of the car and head to the center of the Deception Pass Bridge, which connects Whidbey and Fidalgo islands. From that vantage, they snap pictures of sweeping views west toward the Olympic Mountains and east to Mount Baker.
 
But kayaking the waters of the Pass is truly an adventure. Not a beginner paddle, the pass offers opportunities to paddle in strong currents and develop an appreciation for tidal influence.
 
Paddlers need to know how to read a tide chart and plan their excursion around the tidal currents. Currents in the Pass can get up to 8 knots. Some people feel it's similar to paddling a river. There are strong tide rips around the south side of Deception Island. But north and south of the Pass there is plenty of open water for easier paddling.
 
Caution: Deception Pass has a lot of motor boat traffic. Be aware of motor boats when crossing or playing in the current, otherwise stay close to the shoreline and explore the numerous coves.
 
If you are going through the Pass, most paddlers use the route between Pass Island and Fidalgo Island on the north side of the Pass (called Canoe Pass). Motor boat traffic is usually on the south side of the Pass.

Location: From Seattle, drive 64 miles north on Interstate 5 to exit 230 (Anacortes/Burlington). Turn west on State Highway 20 and drive about 12 miles to the Whidbey Island junction. Proceed about six miles south on State Highway 20 to the Deception Pass Bridge. Cross the bridge onto Whidbey Island and drive south down the hill and at the bottom take a right into the campground. Continue past Cranberry Lake to the day-use parking lot on the coast and the put-in.
 
For a map, pictures and more info click on Deception Pass


See you on the trail,
--Greg

All Day Energy Runners


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Friday, August 21, 2009

Blodgett Overlook Trail

Hiking
Location: Near Hamilton, Montana
Duration: 1 Day
Season: Spring - Fall
Distance: ~ 2.5 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Easy


The Blodgett Canyon Overlook trail is located on the edge of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the third largest Wilderness in the Lower 48. This Wilderness forms a rugged, glacier-carved border between Idaho and Montana.

A vast wild land with some of the roughest mountain areas on earth. A country of high ridges dropping off into steep-walled canyons. This trip affords a spectacular peek into one of those canyons. Namely, Blodgett Canyon with some of the largest balolithic spires in the Northwest.
Blodgett Canyon is not only spectacular to view, but it’s considered a rock climber’s paradise with hundreds of climbs.

As for this trip, it's an easy 2.5 mile trail, which ends in an overlook of Blodgett Canyon. The trail and area surrounding it were burned in the 2000 fire season. In fact, it was the Lolo Hotshots that built the trail in the first place, back in 1993.

The fires have made it very interesting to visit and watch the forest recover naturally. There is abundance of wildlife ranging from Elk to Chipmunks, even woodpeckers that are utilizing the burned trees.

But the main reason for coming is the view. The overlook is, in my opinion, the 2nd best overlook in the country (Glacier Point, Yosemite is the best). There are three benches to rest on along the trail and mountain bikes are allowed.

Directions: Drive Southwest on US Highway 93 for about 44 miles and then turn right (West) onto Bowman Road at the cement plant. If you cross the silver bridge on Highway 93, you’ve gone too far. Go 0.6 miles on Bowman Road and turn left (South) onto Ricketts Road, stay on rickets Road for 2 miles, taking a 90-degree turn to a four-way intersection. Continue straight on what becomes Blodgett Camp Road for 4 miles to Blodgett Overlook Trailhead and Canyon Creek Trailhead. There are signs.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Blodgett Overlook Trail


See you on the trail,
--Greg

All Day Energy Runners


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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blodgett Campground

Camping
Location: Near Hamilton, Montana
Duration: Varies
Season: Spring - Fall
Distance: N/A
Difficulty: Easy


This campground is located at the base of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the third largest Wilderness in the Lower 48. This Wilderness forms a rugged, glacier-carved border between Idaho and Montana.

The area is dominated by ridges broken up with raw granite peaks. Below the ridges are deep canyons covered with thick coniferous forest. This vast wild land is one of the roughest mountain areas on earth, a country of high ridges dropping off into steep-walled canyons. The barren peaks don't hint at the dense forests below, where a number of streams and more than 100 lakes offer excellent trout fishing and wildlife habitat.

Blodgett Campground is a small beautifully maintained campground with approximately ten sites. Each site offers a fire ring with a grill, picnic table, and parking. There’s one pit toilet, no water except for Blodgett Creek (so treat it) and all garbage must be packed out.

Being located just outside the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness affords numerous activities. There’s wonderful trout fishing in the creek, an easy trail that hikes up the magnificent Blodgett Canyon, which boasts some of the largest balolithic spires in the Northwest.

The campground may be used as a take off spot for a backpack trip up Blodgett Pass into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness or as a base camp for any one of a hundred rock climbs. There are equestrian facilities and the trail is very horse friendly. Mountain bikes may only be taken up the trail to the wilderness boundary.

Camping, day use, and parking are free. There are bears in the area and they do frequent the campground, so as always keep a clean camp. The local bears still have fear of humans and quickly run away when you make your presence known. Also, fire restrictions may apply in late summer. Check the information board for any restrictions. This is a free campground with a five-day limit on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Directions: Drive Southwest on US Highway 93 for about 44 miles and then turn right (West) onto Bowman Road at the cement plant. If you cross the silver bridge on Highway 93, you’ve gone too far. Go 0.6 miles on Bowman Road and turn left (South) onto Ricketts Road, stay on rickets Road for 2 miles, taking a 90-degree turn to a four-way intersection. Continue straight on what becomes Blodgett Camp Road for 4 miles to Blodgett Campground and Trailhead. There are signs, however don’t take the left that leads to the Canyon Creek Trailhead.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Blodgett Campground


See you on the trail,
--Greg

All Day Energy Runners


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blodgett Canyon Trail

Hiking
Location: Near Hamilton, Montana
Duration: 1 Day
Season: Spring - Fall
Distance: ~ 6 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Easy


This trip is located at the doorway of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the third largest Wilderness in the Lower 48. This Wilderness forms a rugged, glacier-carved border between Idaho and Montana.

This vast wild land is one of the roughest mountain areas on earth, a country of high ridges dropping off into steep-walled canyons. The barren peaks don't hint at the dense forests below, where streams and lakes offer excellent trout fishing and wildlife habitat.

This trip affords a spectacular hike up one of those steep-walled canyons. Namely, Blodgett Canyon with some of the largest balolithic spires in the Northwest. The hike up Blodgett Creek offers an easy day trip up to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

It follows a beautiful creek that is choked with waterfalls and beaver ponds. Probably the most attractive reason for hiking this trail is the beautiful views of the Blodgett Spires. There are six major rock formations that vary in height from 500 to 1,500 feet tall. Blodgett Canyon is not only spectacular to view, but it’s considered a rock climber’s paradise with the trail being the approach to hundreds of climbs.

There’s wonderful trout fishing in the creek, the trail is very horse friendly and mountain bikes can be taken up the trail to the wilderness boundary only.

Also, there are bears in the area and they do frequent the campground and trailhead. Although, the bears still have fear of humans and quickly run away when you make your presence known.

Directions: Drive Southwest on US Highway 93 for about 44 miles and then turn right (West) onto Bowman Road at the cement plant. If you cross the silver bridge on Highway 93, you’ve gone too far. Go 0.6 miles on Bowman Road and turn left (South) onto Ricketts Road, stay on rickets Road for 2 miles, taking a 90-degree turn to a four-way intersection. Continue straight on what becomes Blodgett Camp Road for 4 miles to Blodgett Campground and Trailhead. There are signs, however don’t take the left that leads to the Canyon Creek Trailhead.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Blodgett Canyon Trail


See you on the trail,
--Greg

All Day Energy Runners


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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Benham Falls to Dillion Falls

Hiking
Location: Deschutes River, Bend, Oregon
Duration: 1 Day
Season: Spring - Fall
Distance: ~4 miles, one way
Difficulty: Easy


The Deschutes River trail is 8.7 miles total and just minutes from Bend, OR. The trail has many access points (with bathrooms and parking) and follows the Deschutes River as it winds it's way down ancient lava canyons and through grassy meadows.

This trail is suitable for young and old, very well kept with wide paths, easy grades and many unique features including water falls and lava flows. Navigation is simple with the river serving as a reliable landmark.

There are numerous trails that come in to the main trail, but if you keep to the river there should be know problems. This trip documents the section between Benham Falls and Dillon Falls (approx. 4 miles).

You will need to shuttle if you plan a one-way trip, so drop a vehicle at Dillon Falls on your way in or for an even shorter hike you can come out at Slough picnic area and boat launch.
From Benham Falls parking lot it's a downhill grade that over looks the Falls and gradually flattens out as the trail winds it's way along the banks of the Deschutes River through roaring rapids.

After you pass the Slough Picnic area and access point, the trail winds through open meadows and woods along calmer sections of the river (many places to take a dip).
Pets are aloud on leash and the trail is shared use with mountain bikes and horses. Also, depending on the time of day and season, mosquitoes can be a problem on the lower sections, so bring bug juice.

Directions: From Bend drive west on the Cascades Lakes Highway 46 past the Inn at Seventh Mountain Resort and Golf Course to Highway 41. Take a left onto 41 (there's a Deschutes River Recreation sign at the turn) and drive 3.4 miles to the Dillon Falls turn off sign, take a left and drive down to the parking lot and drop one car. From Dillon Falls get back on 41 and continue down 1 more mile to the turn off for Benham Falls, take a left, go past Slough and the road ends at Benham Falls parking lot.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Benham Falls to Dillion Falls


See you on the trail,
--Greg

All Day Energy Runners


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