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Blowdown
Clearing Trails



Joined: 24 Aug 2011
Posts: 295 | TRs
Location: On the Summit
Blowdown
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Clearing Trails
PostSun Oct 18, 2020 9:20 am 
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Trail Scouting! I was fortunate to participate in a new process by WTA to equip volunteers to scout trails to evaluate general condition, note safety hazards, and set markers for maintenance required. Volunteers coordinate with WTA staff, and you’re able to do your scouting assignment on your own schedule.

We downloaded the mapping app Avenza, which is similar to Gaia, and works without cell service. We had a fun orientation with WTA staff member Ryan. Always mindful of safety, we were equipped with a WTA InReach and a Forest Service Radio.

My chosen assignment was Strawberry Mountain North, with access from Randle. Most people hike this long ridge trail from south to north, and for good reason. From the north, road 25 and 26 are paved and in good shape, but the 1.75-mile spur road 045 is pretty fugly, for high-clearance vehicles only, with a couple of nasty dropoffs.

Note that the Strawberry Mountain trail follows the ridge, but doesn't go to the summit. That would be a scramble for a couple of hundred feet. Not sure whether the summit would have better views.

I hiked the Strawberry Mountain Trail southbound from the 045 spur road to viewpoints about 6 miles south. Here’s my trail condition report:

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Overall, the north section of the Strawberry Mountain Trail is in fairly good shape and is easy to follow, with just one small step-over blowdown.
There are no apparent safety issues with the trail.
The more level sections are fine. The steep sections are badly cupped and need extensive drainage work to prevent further erosion and companion trails.

The spur road 045 to the trailhead is in poor condition, suitable only for high-clearance vehicles with all-wheel drive, and even for capable vehicles, some parts of the spur road 045 seem precarious, with deep ruts, slumping, dropoffs, and high center berms. Walking the 1.75 miles of spur road 045 to the trailhead is recommended.
The difficult access road likely causes this trail to be less heavily used.
The trailhead is just a turnaround at the road end, with no facilities.
Because it follows the ridge, there is no water available from the trailhead to the viewpoints 6 miles south.

Because it was originally a mining trail, some sections of the Strawberry Mountain Trail are significantly steeper than the recommended 3 percent grade.
This causes the main problem with this trail: These steep sections are badly cupped, with stream channels down the middle of the trail.
Even minor cupping is difficult to walk on, which could cause companion trails and trail braiding.
There isn't much braiding now, but the cupping is likely to cause braiding to increase.
Since much of the soil is pumice, it's easily displaced by running water.
The majority of the cupped sections could be fairly easily remedied with a series of drain dips.
But a few of the very steep sections have deep cupping and trenching, where the steepness would require significant check steps and water bars.
These areas are all within the first two miles of trail, with only minor issues beyond.

Sketchy access road
Sketchy access road
Ridge trail
Ridge trail
Ridge trail
Ridge trail
Yum!
Yum!
Ridge trail
Ridge trail
Ridge trail
Ridge trail
Mount Saint Helens
Mount Saint Helens
Saint Helens telephoto
Saint Helens telephoto
Mount Adams with lenticular cloud
Mount Adams with lenticular cloud
Strawberry Mountain (looking south)
Strawberry Mountain (looking south)
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Mikey
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Joined: 04 Sep 2003
Posts: 735 | TRs
Location: SW Washington
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PostSun Oct 18, 2020 1:37 pm 
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Before the Mt St Helens eruption, we hiked cross-country from Ghost Lake to Strawberry Lake for fishing.  Later after logging roads were built in the area, we accessed Strawberry Lake via a logging road that came from the NE to very near Strawberry Lake.
Eric Willhite has a website with information, photos, and maps of Strawberry Lookout and the area.
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Pyrites
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Joined: 16 Sep 2014
Posts: 1366 | TRs
Location: South Sound
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PostSun Oct 18, 2020 8:34 pm 
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I’d agree that parking at the start of -045 and walking up is better. Tearing up Port Blakley’s spur road to get a little ways up would just be bad manners.
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