Ascent of Lincoln County High Point on 2017-05-21

Climber: Daniel Mick

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, May 21, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Lincoln County High Point
    Elevation:3401 ft / 1036 m

Ascent Trip Report

As Jobe Wymore has pointed out, LiDAR has confirmed this as the true CoHP at ~3406 feet and Saddle Bag Mountain is at a lower ~3386 feet. You can check it for yourself. Download the data or poke around with the pointer.

I came from Laurel Mountain (Polk CoHP) in the morning. For some driving variety, I took Oakdale Road just East of Falls City rather than the more direct 223 through Dallas and had a VERY enjoyable drive through the countryside. Lots of nice vacation homes in the area.

I didn't like any of the existing Trip Reports that require 20+ miles and 3000 feet gain from Hwy 22 on Murphy Rd., so I investigated my maps in detail for a national forest approach and easily found one.
--Sorry for the GPS quality on the access drive. I lost the phone track and had to recreate it and used less accurate track data. It maps close enough to the roads.--

Continue on Hwy 22 to Rose Lodge and turn South on NF-17/N Bear Creek Rd at 45.0057, -123.8874. The road is paved for several miles with lots of cabins in the area. It is all national forest when the road splits and turns East. The road is completely passable for any car except for one small section at 44.9624, -123.8005 (if I remember correctly) but any Subaru or SUV would handle it fine.

There is a gate at 44.9580, -123.7918, elevation ~2725 a bit West of the USGS boundary line. Head East on the main logging road from here for ~3.5 miles over some up and down but with general elevation loss. There is a sharp right South at 44.9740, -123.7547. I chose to then turn East again a quarter mile further at 44.9703, -123.7553 BUT in hindsight, though this is a slightly shorter approach, the final push includes 1000 feet+ in 1 mile, not a fun finish. By continuing on the road SW, you get around the ridge and have a much longer and more gentle approach on the South side of the ridge.

On the route I took, I continued East, including a clear road bed at 44.9683, -123.7411 rather a circuitous loop further North. The final climb South is brutally steep but clear all the way to the North side of the summit in an old borrow pit. No need to scramble! Follow the old road bed as it spirals around the East and South side up to the summit. Enjoy the great views!

Return the way you came (original "Four Cabin Corner" route or "South-of-Ridge" alternate), OR continue West at 44.9612, -123.7722 and veer up onto the NW ridge and follow this directly back to the car. BUT this ridge is very narrow, very steep, and very brushy. Surprisingly, there is a well established boot path on this ridge though. Maybe used regularly by logging surveyors? I was able to carry my bike down it without much problem, but it would be a nightmare to go up with a bike, and dangerous either direction if muddy. One final option would be to hike this "Elk Wallow" ridge and South-ridge road as an out and back for a total 9.5 miles, ~1400 feet gain.

So, complete stats:
~11 miles my route, ~2000 feet gain (more direct but steep summit and scramble finish)
~15.5 miles South ridge alternate, ~2000 feet gain (longer, but more gentle rise)
~9.5 miles Elk Wallow ridge, ~1400 feet gain (most direct but steep start/finale scramble)

Finally, NF-178 North at 44.9625, -123.8006 ends in a logging gate and does not allow access across the valley to Saddle Bag Mountain.

It was a beautiful Spring day and I was glad I had found an alternate route to save me time, distance, and elevation. I was glad I had the bike along, especially for the first several miles of descent, and most of the descent from the summit. It ended up being a 3 hour trip rather than a ~5 hour hike.

I had the entire area completely to myself. I could see logging operations far off to the North but they weren't active. I spent a lot of time consulting my maps trying to derive the best route. I'm confident the options above are all the reasonable routes from this start point.

The summit was a fun finish considering the approach is more clear cut logging. There's a nice alpine meadow on the South side, a small rock outcropping for the summit, and multiple viewpoints through the trees.

The descent was very welcome on a bike. There is a small climb up the Elk Wallow NW ridge, and carrying the bike down the very steep, narrow, brushy ridge was annoying but wasn't much of a bother since I could see the car so close.

1/1 ACCESS - well-maintained logging roads
1/2 REMOTENESS (Popularity, Sight/Sound) - completely alone, but clearly a busy logging area
1/1 CONDITION - well-maintained logging roads
1/3 VARIETY (Flora and Fauna, Geological, Terrain) - tiny scramble at the end
1/3 VIEWS - some nice clear cut views
TOTAL 5/10
(does not include difficulty since hikers may prefer opposite extremes)

Ultimate OR & WA Lists: CoHP, CoPP, Top e100, Top p100
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3476 ft / 1058 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3476 ft / 1058 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10.9 mi / 17.5 km
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2076 ft / 632 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 676 ft / 206 m; Extra: 1400 ft / 426m
    Loss on way in:1400 ft / 426 m
    Distance:6.1 mi / 9.8 km
    Route:Four Cabin Corner
    Start Trailhead:Elk Wallow Gate  2725 ft / 830 m
    Time:2 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2076 ft / 632 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 676 ft / 206 m; Extra: 1400 ft / 426m
    Gain on way out:1400 ft / 426 m
    Distance:4.8 mi / 7.7 km
    End Trailhead:2725 ft / 830 m
    Time:1 Hours 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Daniel Mick
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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