Saturday, August 6, 2022

Hike: Butte Camp Trail via Red Rock Pass Trailhead, Cougar, WA

AllTrails map

Getting There

Take I-5 North to Woodland. Then take WA-503 (Lewis River Road) to Yale Lake. One way to get to the Red Rocks Pass Trailhead, take the left turn for Merrill Lake - NF 81. If you reach Cougar, you've gone passed it. It's a peaceful drive along Merrill Lake (even though you can't really see from the road.) Watch out for a 90-deg right turn just after Goat Mountain because if you go straight, it becomes Forest Road 8123 (dirt) and if you turn right you continue on NF-81 (paved) (Merrill Lake Road).

Another way to get there is pass through Cougar and take the left turn for Ape Caves/Ape & Lava Canyons (NF-83). Then, take that for awhile. After passing through a huge clear cut area, take a left toward Climber's Bivouac (NF-81). Follow that road (partly paved until NF-830, then it's dirt/gravel) until you reach Red Rocks Pass Trailhead.

There is room for about 4-5 cars to perpendicular park near the sign and then, plenty of room for parallel parking on the shoulder. Be sure to show your WA Discover Pass (or equiv).


The Hike

Length: 7.74 mi
Elevation gain: 1,736 ft
Moving time: 2:53:55
Avg. pace: 22:28
Calories: 1,532
Total time: 3:11:06
Steps: 23,122
Calories: 3,409
Miles: 10.62
Floors: 215

It was good to be back out here. I came in late spring via Merrill Lake and had to turn around somewhere around the Kalama Horse Camp due to heavy snow on the road and I was traveling solo.

A few months ago I had a weird David Lynch-esque dream that was loosely based on this location. I was kind of surreal to see it IRL and still be able to conjour the dream imagery and see how different it really was but how some of the topographical elements were distorted and represented.

I hiked trail last year on Oct 30, 2021 minus the off-trail detour/oopsie. It was warm but not terrible I was in long pants in case of bugs and long sleeved Kuhl shirt w/ 40 UPF coverage. Also, I was sporting my signature straw hat. I had about 4L of water to boot.

I bought a new pair of Keen Targhee III on Friday for $20 from the Keen HQ Garage Yard Sale. It benefited Love Is King ("Love Is King squashes the fear in the outdoors and provides equitable access and resolute safety to ensure an enriching and exhilarating experience in nature.") and Forest Park Conservancy ("Forest Park Conservancy's mission is focused on protecting Forest Park's ecological health while encouraging responsible recreation and access.").

When I got my first pair of Tarhee IIIs in 2020, I drove from the REI in Tualatin to the Grouse Vista Trail and hiked to Silver Star mountain. They worked out of the box: no blisters and minimal discomfort. The same was mostly true for this new pair. I did have some issues w/ my right foot. The left side was dialed in perfectly but I noticed an issue w/ the left side that I couldn't seem to fix; either too loose or too tight and slipping inside a little. I must have stopped 4-5 times to re-adjust and still wasn't happy with the fit. I know as the shoe is less stiff and form-fitting, it'll be good.

I didn't see enough people to correspond to the cars at the trailhead. There are a bunch of route options like heading west towards Blue Lake or doing the whole loop via Sheep Canyon. There was a couple camped before the big climb/switchbacks so probably others campers out there. 

It was pretty hazy in the distance which made it difficult to see Mt Hood. Still gorgeous panoramic views as you can see below.