My interest had been piqued when I had previously spotted a new trailhead parking area that had been constructed just 4 miles up the Teanaway River Road from SR 970. Yesterday, my Sunday hiking cronies and I decided to check it out. Here's a map of our 4.5 mile hiking route.
TCF map 2
The trailhead parking lot looked newly built with fresh gravel covering its surface. It is adminsitered by the DNR and a Discover Pass is required to use it. There was a reader board with nothing posted on it. The only vehicle parked there was a truck with a horse trailer. Beyond a dubious-looking homemade bridge over a dry creek, we found the start of a trail which soon led to an expansive meadow that should be pretty in spring. The trail became increasingly faint as it crossed the meadow and climbed a grassy slope beyond. In a pine grove atop the meadow, we found the start of a fairly well-used path, marked by a scattering of flag tape. This trail climbed through the pine woods on an old road remnant -unmapped logging roads in various states of decay go everywhere in the TCF.
We soon reached a junction with a better quality (but unused by motor vehicles) road bed. Left or right? We chose right and followed the road as it did a gentle climbing traverse east to join the Mason Creek Road, a maintained and well-used lane. This we followed uphill until we hit a section of private property with a unwelcoming sign saying that the road was private and trespassers would be prosecuted. Other than that, there was no gate, fencing or other postings marking the boundary.
What to do? We decided to head into the woods to the left and skirt the private section of road. In the woods we saw a horse rider and dog heading downhill - was he doing the same skirting maneuver that we were? At length we reached a 3000' hill top with a bit of a view, then resumed hiking on the road as we exited the private property's north edge. There were no signs marking the edge- the only way I knew where the location of the property line was that it showed up on Gaia Topo on my smart phone.
We followed the road as it climbed and traversed north to a prominent ridge. At this point, we realized that it was getting a bit late in the day and decided to begin the return to the trailhead. So we left the main road and traversed the hillside on old road bits and animal trails, passing meadows and aspen groves, to reach a road shown on Gaia Topo that went downhill. This road turned out to be faint and unused by anybody for a long time. It took us steeply downhill to a deep brushy ravine, then abruptly ended, leaving us in the lurch. We traversed left to get out of the ravine and soon found some brushy old road beds leading downhill. We eventually found a somewhat better roadbed with hoof prints- had our horse riding friend we saw today gone this way? This trail of sorts/road bed could offer a way to avoid the private property problem that we encountered on our uphill route.
The horse route led us down to a grassy flat with logging debris strewn about, and below that we soon picked up a more defined road bed that took us back to our uphill route. There we retraced our steps down to the big meadow and back to the trailhead.
All in all, a fun ramble in some fine pine wooded country. I will definitely come back. With more time, it should be easy to reach a major ridgeline with 4000' summits that should offer good views. The meadows and aspen groves will look great in spring.
You're welcome. I looked at the area using Google aerial photography and was surprised to see what looked like a house at the current trailhead. Someone recently must have bought the property, turned it over to the TCF and removed the buildings. There must be some big plan for this trailhead.
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