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pula58
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PostSun Feb 07, 2021 2:22 pm 
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Is the trail clear all the way to Pratt Lake (in terms of brush, in summer conditions)?

Are their any decent campsites along the old railroad grade part of the trail? Not necessarily with water, but flat enough for a tent or two?
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hunterofelke
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PostSun Feb 07, 2021 3:14 pm 
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I've only day hiked that trail so I have only gone maybe a quarter of the railroad grade.  If you are looking for a campsite and you are still on the grade, just plop down there.  Probably the flattest spot around.  The trail reports I've read say the crossing of Pratt River is the brushiest.  I know the horse crew worked the trail last summer and a work crew from the lake was on the trail.
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thuja
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PostSun Feb 07, 2021 5:56 pm 
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I did this trail just after Christmas and there were multiple creek crossings that were raging torrents we had to wade through. In several places the trail was a stream.  Started from the Middle Fork. There was one campsite area about a mile or two down the trail, near the Mid Fork, but it was covered in big pools of water.
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FredV
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PostMon Feb 08, 2021 7:16 am 
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The comments in this WTA trip report mentions  campsites
WTA Trip Report

"some new campsites around mile 5.5 up near the first waterfall on the upper trail."
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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PostTue Feb 09, 2021 11:28 pm 
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Once you reach the wide old RR grade there should be multiple places to camp. I haven't ever been up in the winter. Thanks to thuja for the warning about creek crossings -- I can imagine which ones those are. But they won't be nearly as bad as crossing the Pratt itself if that's your plan.

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Mid Fork Rocks • flickr
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JimK
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PostWed Feb 10, 2021 11:36 am 
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I concur with puzzlr. Lots of flat spots along the old grade. Both Kaleetan Creek and the Pratt River would be difficult to cross when the water is deep and fast. Here is a photo from the railroad grade.

Pratt River Trail
Pratt River Trail

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Hiking Northwest
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philfort
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PostWed Feb 10, 2021 11:55 am 
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Wow, how did they get a railroad up there? Did there used to be a bridge across the Middle Fork, or did it come up the south side of the river from North Bend?
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FiveNines
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PostWed Feb 10, 2021 12:14 pm 
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North Bend Timber Co built a bridge across MFK in 1936?

http://hikingwithmybrother.blogspot.com/2014/10/shortcut-to-pratt-river-trail-1035.html

hike w/my bro wrote:
In 1934 the North Bend Timber Company acquired the rights to log the Pratt River Valley and quickly began constructing a logging railroad largely following the Pratt River Trail route. A bridge across the Middle Fork was completed in 1936 and the railroad stretched the length of the valley by 1937. Over the next several years, the valley walls were logged up to 300 feet on either side of the tracks, which was the furthest reach of the cables. By 1941 the easy timber had been harvested and the North Bend Timber Company began pulling out the rails, leaving the wooden ties behind. Aside from some intermittent truck logging in the 1950s, this was the end of the major logging operations along the Pratt.
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Mike Collins
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PostWed Feb 10, 2021 12:46 pm 
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philfort wrote:
Wow, how did they get a railroad up there?

This map has some of the answers. https://snoqualmievalleymuseum.pastperfectonline.com/archive/8BDFEBAE-EEC8-41D7-B2F9-807362741830
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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Mid Fork Rocks
PostWed Feb 10, 2021 2:22 pm 
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This yellow gate at ~MP 7.8 was installed just before Big Blowout creek in 2009 to close the road for months while repairs from the big flood in that year were done. The gate is long gone now, but this is where the Pratt RR split off from the main line to cross the Middle Fork. If you walk off the road you can still see the built-up berm, although it was obscured somewhat when the road was paved.

Gate before Big Blowout creek
Gate before Big Blowout creek

The remains of the trestle bridge still poke up out of the river bed at low water

Trestle remains
Trestle remains

This is the RR grade running through the flats near the Pratt confluence

Pratt RR grade
Pratt RR grade

The map Mike Collins linked to showed the huge switchback the grade had to make to gain elevation in a short distance. Along the RR grade was a site called the "Sand Shed" where a crew was constantly drying out sand that would be dribbled in front of the locomotive drive wheels so they had enough traction to climb even when the rails were wet (which was often).

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Mid Fork Rocks • flickr
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Kim Brown
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PostThu Feb 11, 2021 9:29 am 
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philfort wrote:
Wow, how did they get a railroad up there?

Jim, Gwen and I did a key exchange with Puzzlr several years ago; Puzzlr started at the MidFk ford, and we started at the Ollalie trail head. We picked up the rail road grade not too far below the Pratt Lake outlet. That's how far in it went.

From the outlet is a nice old trail with puncheon that switcbacks down to the Pratt ford.

The entire length of the grade is a wonderful haven for ground hornets, so watch where you pitch camp.

Puzzlr and Jim have much better statistical detail; I just sorta go and do stuff.

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" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
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philfort
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PostThu Feb 11, 2021 1:02 pm 
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Thanks for all the historical context!

I've spent quite a bit of time in the Middle Fork area last fall (after not having been back there after they paved it), and have gradually become interested in the history of the area as I've discovered various weird things back there ;-).

Also interested in the future of the area after coming across a trail that isn't on any maps, and yet was cleared and had colored trail markers on it (didn't have time to follow it for more than a mile though). Does anyone know where I can find out info on what future plans are for the middle fork? It changed so much after they paved it. There was some website (can't seem to find it now) that had a bunch of info and blog posts, but it stopped being updated after the Garfield Ledges trail was opened several years ago. Seems like there's a lot of opportunity for that area to absorb backcountry users if there were more trails.
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zephyr
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PostThu Feb 11, 2021 1:54 pm 
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philfort wrote:
There was some website (can't seem to find it now) that had a bunch of info and blog posts,

Are you referring to Mid Fork Rocks?  That's puzzlr's wonderful resource.     ~z
.
.
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philfort
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PostThu Feb 11, 2021 2:17 pm 
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Yup, that was it!
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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PostThu Feb 11, 2021 9:08 pm 
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That's my site. I'm ok writing trip reports but a failure as a website author. I don't update the site much but still have hopes that someday I will. There's so much to say and show!

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Mid Fork Rocks • flickr
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