Eugene to Pacific Crest Trail: Part of a Partial Trail
The Eugene to Pacific Crest Trail has long been a dream of hikers in Cascadia, especially those in Eugene. Trail work was done on it until 1994 and the trail was 'offically' open despite being only approximately 90% done. Trailhead Info
I wanted to go on an epic snowshoeing/hiking trip before all the snow melted and I start school. After hours of staring at books and maps I noticed a nearly unbroken string of trails that connected Westfir, Oregon to Lookout Point Reservoir. After making a call to the Middle Fork Ranger Station about trail conditions I was somewhat confident we could make the approximately 18.5 miles from 8am to 6pm, I was wrong.
The Alpine Trail was the first leg of the hike. It started off with an unrelenting climb of about 900 feet over a mile. After the climb the trail nearly flattens and walks along side a Forest Service nursery. The flat is somewhat strange given the predominate tree is not the Douglas Fir.
Don't become accustom to flat walking, the trail begins a seemingly unending climb until the Buckhead Shelter. You are rewarded with outstanding views of the valley that is home to the Middle Fork Willamette. The only down side to this are very visible scars of logging on Public Land both past and present.
Your second and better reward is some very impressive native forest( old growth). If you take some time and look toward the tops of the large Douglas Firs you will notice some very strange branch growth.
The Buckhead Shelter could definitely be used to escape a storm or to sleep for the night. The floors were dirt and there wasn't a stove, but a fire pit was just outside the front of the shelter.
The snow was becoming more and more prevalent as we neared our junction with the Tire Mountain trail at 6.50 miles in. I was somewhat concerned the Tire Mountain trail would be covered in snow, but luckily there was small stream running down it at the junction.
Snow was much deeper along the Tire Mountain trail because of several steep and nearly treeless hillsides. The going was slow across these. After fighting knee deep snow we finally put our snowshoes on and it made the walking much easier, but still somewhat slow given the increasing elevation and the steep hillside.
While eating lunch on a windy open peak we talked about whether or not we could make Lookout Point in time for our ride, or even by dark at this point. We decided that we probably couldn't and with the fairly ominous looking clouds rolling in we decided to turn back.
|Nice View For Lunch|
I was actually somewhat glad we had to turn back, because it gave us a more time to check out the native forest we had rushed through earlier. The distance round trip ended up being 15 miles. If we would have pushed to Tire Mountain it would have been about 17.
This section of the Eugene to Pacific Crest Trail was definitely fairly strenuous when you factor in the snow, without snow I would say it was moderate. I will be back here when fairer weather persists. Likely it will be when I hike the 108 mile Eugene to Pacific Crest Trail. Or when I feel the urge to return the Mason jar to Brewers Union Local 180. . .