Snowy Day On Lookout Creek Old-Growth Trail

Massive Douglas-firs near the crossing of Lookout Creek
When I've made up my mind on where I'm hiking there are few things that can get in the way. The drive to Lookout Creek nearly stopped this hike from happening. Shortly after the pavement ended the road was covered in snow, thankfully a snowcat had compressed the snow. Only about one mile from the trailhead the snow became impassable even with chains and four wheel drive, so we parked the truck as far out of the snowcats tracks as possible and headed up the road to find the trail.

Josh and Eddie working hard...

Lookout Creek Old-Growth Trailhead
I've come to realize that the mile marker signs on Forest Service roads aren't even close to being accurate. They will give you a general idea, but you should use either your car odometer or a GPS. After continuing past mile marker 7 we came to the trailhead. The snow was about 2 feet deep at this point, though we weren't really sinking down very much. We steeply descended down the trail over patchy snow until we crossed Lookout Creek on a bridge.  

Small foot bridge over a marsh area near Lookout Creek

Lookout Creek upstream from the bridge crossing
Oddly as we gained elevation and moved away from the creek there were large areas without snow. Though right along the creek there were fairly substantial amounts of snow. It somewhat obstructed the trail, but cut trees always guide you to the trail. The forest here has to be one of my favorite anywhere in Cascadia. Absolutely massive Douglas-fir, western red-cedar and western hemlock cover this area. It's one of the most impressive native forest left in the foothills of the cascades, sadly the majority of native forests in this area have been cut, many times.

Snowy section along Lookout Creek Trail

Old-growth Douglas-fir and western red along Lookout Creek Trail
The time consuming drive ended up making it so we couldn't hike the whole trail. We hiked uphill until we came to a point where the trail started going down hill. It seemed like a good place to have a snack and start the trek back to the truck before it was dark. Driving out in the dark didn't really seem like a very intelligent idea given the trouble we had getting there.

Myself between two old-growth Douglas-fir

Old-growth Douglas-fir along Lookout Creek Trail
Lookout Creek Trail is definitely one that I would like hike again once some of the snow melts. If you're looking for an adventure and you have a truck, hiking here in the snow is an awesome time. Alternately if driving in the snow isn't really an option hiking here in early spring would be great.  

Shoes of choice: FiveFingers KSO Trek
Snow will cut you

Directions from Springfield: Follow Highway 126 east for 44 miles, turn left onto FR 15, veer right onto FR 1506, follow for approximately 7 miles, veer right onto road 350 towards hiking sign. Trailhead is on the right.

Trailhead Elevation:
Approximately 2,260 feet

Hike Distance: 5 miles according to Garmin Oregon 550

Hike Type: Out and Back 

Elevation Gain: Less than 800 feet

Usage:
Light in winter, summer weekends can be busy. 

Difficulty: 4 out of 5, because of the snow, otherwise 2 out of 5

Fees: None

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