Wallowa Mountains Hells Canyon Trails Association

Trailkeepers of Oregon at Falls Creek

August 5-9, 2018

From Sunday, August 5 through Thursday, August 9, 2018, Trailkeepers of Oregon (TKO) worked on the Falls Creek Trail (USFS #1753) in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Here is the report from Chip Andrus of TKO:

Thanks to you and all the others for helping us have an enjoyable and productive work party on the Falls Creek Trail. We finished on perhaps one of the hottest days ever in the County but we had fun nevertheless. A special thanks to Mary Kay for joining us for a first day of tread busting and to Wendy and Jake for joining us the last day when we needed the extra horsepower. We also greatly appreciated the BBQ you sponsored at the beginning of the trip — we enjoyed getting to knowing those who are part of the Wallowa Mountains Hells Canyon Trails Association.

We worked mostly on the middle section between the Dug Peak Trail and the first stream crossing. The last day we worked from the trailhead to just beyond the rock outcrop.

We took on the worst of the worst segments. Mostly, these were sections where the tread had narrowed (or was missing) to the point that hikers were mostly walking on roots or balancing on a narrow ledge with lots of empty space below. A good part of what we were doing was total trail rebuild. Where the trail had migrated down the hill a good distance, we just blazed a new trail at the original grade. Lots of roots, rocks, and earth moving with this approach. Elsewhere, we just moved the trail into the hillside through excavation and built rock supporting walls and steps where needed to get adequate trail width.

We also spent some effort moving the deep muck uphill of the large windfall (just short of the first stream crossing) and building a boulder causeway on mineral soil. It was a cool location for a hot day but much more work than I anticipated. Nevertheless, there should no longer be any reason for a hiker to sink into the muck to their knees when crossing the swamp. Perhaps a better connection from there to the stream could be developed in the future. The fall line trail that currently connects the two is substandard. But, then again, the remainder of the trail from the stream to the miner’s cabin is also quite a mess. It would be interesting to tackle that upper section next year. Yet, so many segments defy any solution.

Many thanks to the TKO volunteers for the prodigious amount of work they accomplished.

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