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Ranger Creek

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There are 22 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Ranger Creek #1197 — Jun 07, 2008 — Aging with wisdom
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Ranger Creek #1197(Dalles Ridge? Little Ranger Peak? Twentymile Lake?) #1198, (follow Hwy 410 past C...

Ranger Creek #1197(Dalles Ridge? Little Ranger Peak? Twentymile Lake?) #1198, (follow Hwy 410 past Camp Shepherd) #1199

Trails off of Highway 410 offer a great alternative to more northern trails early in the season.

A friend and I hiked the loop around Camp Shepherd in one day June 1, and another friend and I did it as an overnighter the next weekend. There was snow both times obscuring the trail nearer the top, but with a compass and map I was able to pick the trail back up on the other side (the southeast side of the loop, Ranger Creek Trail 1197). I am not very experienced at navigating, so anyone who's good should be able to do it. Another friend did it during the same period and he said it was easy for him to find the trail on the other side (it was a little outside my own comfort zone, however, but it felt great when it worked both times for me, in spite of different approaches).

The map is Green Trails 238. We started about one mile before Camp Sheppard, which is maybe 13 miles past (SE) of Greenwater. [My distance estimates are very rough.] On Green Trails ""The Dalles"" is printed right above the trailhead where we started, which was on Trail 1198.

The trail climbs northeast at first, then wiggles around a lot but heads mostly southeast. Eventually it heads almost north, then dips almost straight south (this north/south part forms a longish ""leg"" around a ridge), then more looping southish, and then back northwest to close the loop by following Highway 410.

The trail passes some gorgeous streams and waterfalls, and now is a great time to see them. The first time (June 1) the first stream crossing was flooded, but we found a downed tree not too far up and got across fine. The second time the boards/rocks thrown in the crossing were sufficient.

There is a lot of variation on this loop in terms of water, rock formations, terrain, views, forested/open, and type of vegetation, so it's always interesting. In several places the trail comes into the open and you can look out over the valley and see Mt. Rainier. On our overnight trip, we camped at the second overlook, the ""nose"" right next to the trail mile marker of 6.6 on the map. It was a perfect spot, just back into the woods, with trees to tie our tarp to, which was a good thing because there was a lightning and rain storm that night (June 7) -- oops. The sunset before the storm hit was astonishing. (We spent the night in a little tent with two huge wet dogs. Amazingly, it worked fine. They seemed to realize our predicament and held still.)

The snow obscured the trail starting at where it crosses the river that makes Snoquera Falls (shown on map). Both times (June 1 and 7) we headed directly upslope from the last snow-covered bridge and picked the trail up again at the top, cutting off a loop of the trail. (June 8 I explored part of the leg we cut off and it looked lovely -- an interesting rock overlook partway down.) However, the trail becomes obscured by snow again. June 1 we cut off a good chunk of the north/south ""leg,"" picking up the south-heading Ranger Creek Trail after going up and down the ridge. June 7 we went all the way to the foot of the leg (north end), where there is a black dot on the map and a trail heads off to meet Trail 1173. There is a big log shelter there. There is a sign right near the shelter pointing to the trail to Ranger Creek (heading southeast), but we didn't believe it at first because it looked like it was telling us to fall down a snowbank. We tried going across a snow-covered bridge and heading north upslope, but fairly soon felt wrong about that and turned back to the shelter (thank heavens). It turned out the sign was right but the trail might zigzag a lot; there were only occasional hints of where the trail was under the snow.

Both times (June 1 and 7) it was a little scary trying to find the south-heading trail in the snow, but it worked fine. We tried to head south in the snow on the east side of the ridge as much as possible before heading east to find the trail, so that when we crossed the trail it would have less chance of being obscured by snow. That worked.

The bushwacking part of this hike would only be good for adventurers. The slope coming down to find the Ranger Creek Trail is very steep and intermittently snow-covered. Other than the potential for getting lost long enough to get hypothermia, I didn't see anything that was in itself dangerous or exposed, though. You could slip and pull a muscle but I didn't see any place where you could slip and break a leg or something worse. (I'm terrified about slipping out of control so I think you can trust my judgment that the potential for serious falls wasn't an issue). It doesn't seem as though you could get long-term lost because you always know where 410 is; the trouble is figuring out how to get around the canyons and steep ridges to get back to it.

The slog back is pretty but uneventful, and walking parallel to 410 went on for awhile, although the forest is lovely and there are more streams to break up the walk. We actually opted to walk along 410 for the June 7 trip because I'd retwisted a sprained ankle (it held up just fine throughout all our rough adventures but twisted on the easy stretch down Ranger Creek Trail).

Overall, I loved this hike both times, and plan to do it a lot more. Can't wait to see what it looks like when I can actually see the trail.

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Dalles Ridge #1173,Ranger Creek #1197,Snoquera Pallisades — Jun 07, 2007 — whitebark
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns
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I did the Dalles Ridge Trail and Ranger Creek trails as a part of a Mountaineers mid-week hike. We s...

I did the Dalles Ridge Trail and Ranger Creek trails as a part of a Mountaineers mid-week hike. We set up a car shuttle to avoid a four mile valley floor slog back to the Dalles Ridge trailhead. Even with the car shuttle, this is a strenuous 11 mile hike.

The west end of the Dalles Ridge Trail, where it climbs the steep canyon of Dalles Creek, is in fine shape, and a great example of trail engineering in difficult terrain. Dalles Creek Falls still has a good flow of water. The trail remains in good shape atop the Snoquera Palisades, but there are numerous blowdowns on the higher part of the ridgetop. When I hiked the trail, clouds obstructed the normally spectacular views here; on a clear day the views of Mt Rainier are glorious. Although the trail tops 5000 feet at its highest point, there is no snow left anywhere on the trail all the way to the Ranger Creek Trail junction.

Where the Dalles Ridge Trail meets the Ranger Creek Trail is a shelter that is in good condition. A pocket meadow and spring-fed creek grace the charming environs of the shelter.

The upper part of the Ranger Creek Trail is in o.k. shape, but there are many stretches of slumped trail and numerous blowdowns. The lower portion of the trail is in good shape, although excessively gentle grading may frustrate athletic hikers and certainly invites switchback cutting. This trail is almost as bad this way as the Lena Lake Trail.

The open forest of massive douglas firs that the trail passes through is magnificent.

The Dalles Ridge Trail to the top of the Snoquera Palisades is one of the finest late spring hikes there is; highly recommended!

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Noble Knob (backway) #1184,Ranger Creek #1197 — Jun 03, 2007 — katwilo2
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Washouts | Snow on trail
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Went to the back road entry for the Noble Knob trail up road 7222. The trail is faint and there is a...

Went to the back road entry for the Noble Knob trail up road 7222. The trail is faint and there is a lot of blowdowns. About a mile in there is so much snow that I couldn't figure out where the trail went. One of the biggest blow downs is right by the trail head. I was able to climb over it but it was not easy. It was about waist high on me.

Turned around and went to the Ranger Creek trail. The trail is in very good shape. We didn't make it all the way to Little Ranger Peak due to a wash out and hot weather.

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Little Ranger Peak #1198,Ranger Creek #1197 — May 23, 2007 — Rod and Chuck
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Snow on trail
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Did a loop up the Palisades Trail #1198 to Little Ranger Peak, then NE on the ridge to the shelter a...

Did a loop up the Palisades Trail #1198 to Little Ranger Peak, then NE on the ridge to the shelter and down the Ranger Creek trail #1197. Then we took the trail that parallels hwy 410 (didn't get the number) back to the car. It took about 7.5 hours to complete the loop. Was pretty tired when we got back to the car. Trails are in good shape except for several blowdowns, especially on the Ranger Creek Trail, some of which were over 2 feet in diameter. There was also one large tree near the top of the Ranger Creek trail that was uprooted next to the trail and took the trail with it. Nothing we couldn't get over, under or around, but some that were challenging! Ran into patches of snow starting about 4800 feet on the Palisades trail. Some of the patches were a couple of feet deep, but soft enough for decent footing.

I think I figured out the confusion with the sign that Dave H reported last year, although it still doesn't make sense. A short ways up the Palisades trail there is a sign that says 6.6 miles to the junction with the Ranger Creek trail (which is nearly a mile past the peak), and 7 miles to the peak. On the other side of the mountain, near the bottom of the Ranger Creek trail there is a sign that says 4+ miles to the junction with the Palisades trail and 2.6 miles to Little Ranger Peak. Having just come down that trail I knew there was no peak on it, but there is a ridge that extends S of Little Ranger Peak. The point where the trail makes a sharp switchback on the top of that ridge, at about 4100 feet, happens to match up pretty close to the mileage on the signs to Ranger Peak. Also, if I do a search on my TOPO! map for Little Ranger Peak, it points to that spot, even though the peak seems to be labeled correctly on the USGS map. The question is, why would anyone think that is the peak?

Dave H did a good job of describing the Palisades trail and getting to the summit. The Ranger Creek trail goes through some nice forest, but no views. It is probably a pretty easy trail to go up because it is not steep, but I would have liked it to go down a little faster because my feet were getting sore from the long hike. Didn't see anyone else on the trail all day. That is the advantage of being retired and hiking on weekdays!

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Palisades #1198,Ranger Creek #1197 — May 15, 2007 — wtaelaine
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Snow on trail
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Started at the Palisades/White River trail head. Hiked up past the waterfalls up to the ridge. Staye...

Started at the Palisades/White River trail head. Hiked up past the waterfalls up to the ridge. Stayed the night at the shelter at the trail junction of Ranger Creek trail (1197). Still a bit of snow on the ground near the top and on the trail on the back side but very passable. The way back down on 1197 there were many blow-downs but all are passable. All in all a great 17 mile hike. Great views at the top of Sun-Top, White River, Mt. Rainier and Crystal Mountain. Several waterfalls and good camping.

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Ranger Creek (#1197)
South Cascades

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