Fun on the Chetwoot Loop

I intend to go back and tackle some more of this mid next week as the weather is forecast to improve. Volunteers are welcome! Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday look to be the best weather at present.

This winter has been a weather challenge for hiking on the west side of the gorge so I’ve been heading east to avoid the rain. Snow, ice, cold – bring it on – but rain – not so much!
I hiked Wygant Peak back in March of 2015 and noticed a trail branching off to the east at about the 950′ level and hiked a few hundred feet. I marveled at the effort made to carve this route out of the solid rock cliffs and wondered where it went. Fast forward five years and here I am, back in the same place but this time I knew what this was: An abandoned trail called the Chetwoot Loop. What I had read indicated it was covered in fallen trees, hard-to-impossible to follow and much of the tread had slid down the steep slopes. A perfect challenge! I hiked in on Feb. 3rd to assess what it would take to resurrect this mile and a half scenic delight. Better prepared, I went back on the 7th armed with my saws, wedges, and determination to do what I could.

A couple of views of “good” sections of trail on the west side:

It turned out that the trail, heading south from the junction with the Wygant trail to the long-washed-out bridge over Perham Creek was in good shape – mostly. A couple of spots with missing tread were easily navigated and the trail was easy to follow. I sawed out about twenty trees and notched a foothold in the one too big for me to handle safely. Arriving at the creek, I cut 4 or 5 logs out of a handy cedar and placed them in the creek for a makeshift bridge. I called it a day, eager to get back and continue. Looking across the creek I could see that the west section of trail was going to be another problem altogether, with very large trees down and a steeper sidehill to deal with.


A few before and after views of the west side trail:














This last before and after is a view of a tree taken out on the main Wygant part of the trail:

On the 13th, I was back and this time I tackled the problem from the west side junction with the Wygant trail. On my recon a few days prior I counted 27 trees down in the first 750′ of trail so I knew I wasn’t going to get very far before both my saw’s and my own batteries ran out. After cutting out those 27 trees, I explored most of the rest of the route finding dozens of huge trees down, especially in the final 800′ of the trail before the creek crossing. Trees way too big for my skill set not to mention too big for my puny little battery powered saw! I took a few pictures, made a few notes and headed back. I cut out three more trees off the Wygant trail on the way back and on the final cut, my saw’s battery was done and so was I for this most productive day.

This was the only one too big for me to tackle on the east side of the loop – It’s easy to get over now


A workable bridge across Perham Creek:


Typical views on that last few hundred feet of the route:

The updated  map: I was back again on the 18th and nearly finished the job. Red with dashed white is the Wygant Trail, blue is cleared Chetwoot loop, dashed yellow over blue is cleared but a few trees and some brush yet to be removed.

My hike on the 7th: 3 hours, 5 minutes, 4.4 miles, 800′ EG

On the 13th: 4 hours, 45 minutes, only 5.0 miles and 1300′ EG, (but it should count for triple that!)

On the 18th: 4 hours, 35 minutes, 4.5 miles, 1500 EG. (This one should count for quadruple that!!)

I love my little battery powered Stihl saw. On the 18th, I took two batteries and a new chain and got nearly more done than the first two trips together.


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