Lincoln County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: November 1, 2008
Author: Edward Earl

A few other HPers have driven a short-cut between the Polk and Lincoln county on back roads deep within logging country, rather than drive the much longer (but also faster) way back the way one came from the nearest paved road, then way around on highways 18, 22, and 223 through Dallas before reentering the backcountry. I had just been to Laurel Mountain of Polk county; I had no detailed maps of the logging backcountry but I did have a DeLorme and a GPS, so I decided to give it a try. The result was a very mixed success. I made as far as the Lincoln-Polk county line a mere 1/4 mile south of the eastern HP before being blocked by a locked logging gate. There was no through passage but I was already so close to the eastern HP (point 3401) that it was definitely worth climbing it from here.

I backtracked from the gate to the road junction at (44.96039,-123.71949) and headed north on the rough, half-rocky, half-grassy side road, OK for my pickup truck but a low-clearance vehicle would probably not make it. I proceeded as far as the switchback on the ridge just 1000 feet east of the HP, parked, and hiked a long-abandoned grassy jeep road that traverses the south side of the ridge before striking up an open grassy field to the HP.

After that, however, I faced a tough choice: hike to the other possible HP from here (a 5 to 6 hour round trip), or approach it by vehicle from OR-18 to the north. In either case, I'd have to drive 25 miles back out to Falls City on gravel logging roads. I wasn't sure if foot travel was allowed past the locked gate, so I opted for the vehicle approach to the western HP.

From Murphy Hill Summit on OR-18, which is 4.4 miles west of Grand Ronde Road at an antique shop, I headed south on Murphy Road. Call this point mile 0.0. I went left at forks at 3.4, 3.6, 4.5, 5.6, and 6.8 miles. At 6.9 miles, I went straight at a 3-way fork. Somewhere amidst all of this, the road begins to be signed as Road 100. At 7.1 miles a sign says a gate is 300 feet ahead. The sign was true and the gate was locked. I parked at a wide spot before the gate, which had no sign against entry on foot.

My ascent and descent routes were different. The route I used for my descent is the one I would recommend that future HPers use. Directions for it are as follows. Hike past the gate and in a few minutes reach the junction (44.98775, -123.73897). The left branch is Road 300 and goes to the eastern HP candidate, which I had already climbed. For the western HP, take the right branch. After a few more minutes, turn right on Road 200, which climbs slightly across a clear-cut and then gets steeper as it enters the forest. After about 1/4 mile on Road 200, turn right on Road 230 (44.9853,-123.7577). After another 1/2 mile, turn left on Road 232 Loop (44.9880,-123.7633). After another 3/4 mile, turn left on a 44 spur (44.9899,-123.7677). After another 800 feet, turn right (44.9889,-123.7700). The topo map shows that this road ends about 1000 feet east of the HP but it actually continues several hundred feet farther as an overgrown slot in the trees. When it begins to peter out, head uphill to the right; it's a bushwhack at first, then it emerges into open evergreen forest for the last few hundred feet to the HP.

Due to the risk of being skunked by a locked gate, as I was, I do not recommend that anyone attempt to make a shortcut between the Lincoln and Polk county HPs. In hindsight, I would have preferred the longer hike to the eastern HP (from the same starting point as the western HP) over a short hike to the eastern HP plus a long, slow additional drive on unpaved logging roads.