August 2-4 2008
Here's a quick overview of my backpacking trip to Wahtum Lake, OR. It was about a 30 mile loop from Eagle Creek Trail Head up to Wahtum Lake over to the Benson Plateau and then down Ruckel Creek Trail.
Day One: 6:30am I started from the main parking lot at Eagle Creek Park and made my way up the Trail. I stopped at 7 mile camp for a quick lunch to boost my energy. (The coffee had worn off hours earlier) I made it to Wahtum Lake at 2:30pm. It is an estimated 14 miles up to Wahtum Lake. When I ran into the trail marker I took an immediate left and set up camp in a designated spot on the SW side of the lake where the creek exits at the log jam. There is a much better camping spot by taking a right that looks directly over the lake.
Day Two: The next morning I tried to do a little fly fishing but all the trees around the edges made it was next to impossible without having a float tube or boat. I did managed to catch one little brookie. I forgot how awesome the colors look on those little guys. I let the little guy go and trekked out of Wahtum Lake about 11:00am towards Chinidere Mountain. The trail to Chinidere Mountain is right at the log jam which will also take you to the PCT. I hiked up to the top of Chinidere Mountain 4673ft, took a few pics and headed off toward the Benson Plateau. You will want to take the short cut when reaching the plateau and take trail 405B. After you pass Scout Camp (One Mile?) keep an eye open for the 405B trial marker sign to be nailed to a tree on the right and the trail in on the left. Hunters camp is very obvious and there is plenty of water right next to the camp from Ruckel Creek. I think I hiked about 6-8 miles from Wahtum Lake to Hunters Camp.
Day Three: I started hiking about 7 or 8 in the morning. Ruckel Creek Trail was way harder then I thought. It just kept going and going and going. Stock up with water because there wasn't any water until you exited the trail. I reached the road and exited the trail head at about 1pm. Guessing I hiked about 6 miles.
From Portland, take Interstate 84 to Eagle Creek exit 41, turn right and keep right along the creek for a mile to the road's end. Because the Eagle Creek exit is only accessible from the west, travelers from Hood River have to take Bonneville Dam exit 40 and double back on the freeway for a mile. The trail is so popular the parking lot fills by 10 am on sunny weekends, leaving latecomers to park half a mile away. Leave nothing of value in your car as break-ins are a problem at the trailhead. It's safer to park in the main parking lot by the restrooms where there is lots of people and lights at night.
You must have a NW trail Pass. $30 a year or $5 per car per day.
The mosquito's were the worst part of the entire trip up on the Plateau. Bring good bug spray for the Benson Plateau. Mosquitoes were absolutely horrible.I was told there was bears in the area so I hung my food just in case. I have to admit I was disappointed when I didn't see one.
There is so may places to camp along the way I'm not even gonna begin to list them all. Do some research the ones listed above all have acess to water. Many above 7 mile camp and on the plateau do not.