Little Silver Creek Lake (Oregon) 10-Nov-2019

We enjoy hiking to the extent that almost any hike makes us happy. 🙂 This includes hikes that induce happiness only in retrospect (Are you sure that’s the last tick?). And those that shall never, ever be done again. So the happiness bar is pretty low when it comes to a hike. But sometimes a hike disappoints and a happiness deficit ensues. Sadly, a planned hike to Little Silver Creek Lake in the mountains west of Grants Pass resulted in such a deficit.

Ceaseless map gazing for new, unexplored (by us) trails in our area had turned-up this particular trail. Per the Forest Service, it leads to one of the only landslide lakes to survive on the Rouge River-Siskiyou National Forest. Such a lake is usually ephemeral in that the landslide that forms it is typically washed away (along with the lake) during the next rainy season. Judging from the mature trees growing out of the slide that formed the lake, this little water body may have survived for 100 or more years. Obviously a feature worth seeing. And at 4 miles round trip with 900 feet of gain, the trail to the lake was also well within my current hiking limitations.

Owing to The LovedOne’s entanglement in the Friends of the Library’s budget, I had to embark on this adventure alone (which only added to the happiness deficit). After a convoluted drive on mostly unsigned, but otherwise pretty good forest roads, I arrived at the trailhead or at least at its charred remains. While the Forest Service website does mention that this area was burned by 2002 Biscuit Fire, it fails to mention that it was burned yet again by the 2018 Klondike Fire. After some poking around, I found pieces of the trailhead sign and, after more searching, the now faint start of the trail. The entire trail is within the footprint of the Klondike Fire and that fire didn’t do it any favors. It’s tread is now barely discernible, covered with leaves and fire debris, and extremely vague across some very steep and loose terrain. I followed it gingerly for a quarter mile or so. Then, with great reluctance, I had to accept that trying to reach the lake on this wreak of a trail was an adventure beyond my current condition. 😥

The remains of the trail

So I turned back, seriously depleting my happiness reserves in the process. It’s so sad to lose a trail, particularly one to a unique location. But I was buoyed by the possibility of coming back in the future for another try. Maybe the Forest Service will find the wherewithal by then to repair the trail? 🙂 Or maybe I’ll just plan and prepare for what will likely to be, at least partly, a route-finding, cross-country adventure? o_O And maybe I can get The LovedOne to come along? 🙄 Hope springs eternal…

Blue dotted line is the trail to the lake as mapped; the red line is how far I got. The dark shading is the footprint of the 2018 Klondike Fire.
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7 comments

    1. Thanks! You can display “fire history” (and a lot of other information) as a map overlay in CalTopo. The history can lag a bit because first the fire has to be put out and all the after action reports filed by the responding agencies. The “Fire Activity” overlay, is, however, near real-time as it is a direct download from the viirs and modis satellites.

    1. They’ll be closing the access road soon for the winter, so this little lake is going on the to do list for next year. Another something to look forward to. 🙂

  1. That’s a bummer but I’m looking forward to your return trip down the road, the little lake sounds interesting. Any chance the repeated fires might have an affect on the lakes ability to remain? Wondering if the loss of vegetation could increase the impact from the rains?

    1. It’s hard to say. The loss of ground cover could lead to more landslides or to larger volumes of runoff that eat away at the existing slide. But the current slide is reported to be anchored with 100 year old trees, so likely it’ll survive till next year. It would be nice, however, to get some rain here soon.

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