Lawler Trail

October 29, 1983

Our party of eight in three cars drove to the lower trailhead of the Lawler Trail via Highway 58, Forest Service Road 5840, 531, and 535, about 15 miles from Lowell. We parked my pickup here. Then I moved into Lois’s car and we came back to 5840, drove to the top of the ridge, then around on the south side of Patterson Mtn. on FS road 1714 (Umpqua National Forest) to 5847555. About ½ mile up 555 is the trailhead for the Lone Wolf trail. Driving distance from 5840531 was about 8 miles.

We left the cars at 10 a.m., hiking up the Lone Wolf trail to Deception Meadow where an old post guided us off to the right. No trail tread is in evidence until entering the timber, a tattered orange tag is observable at the timber edge after going around a young tree. We found an old scrap of orange tape, and fastened it on this young tree as a future guide.

After entering the timber it was fairly easy to follow the trail because of the recent log cuts at least down to the first road crossing, 555, which dead ends on the trail. Below the road crossing the trail started to drop off the ridge and after checking a compass I found we were going east. I was about ready to go back to the top of the ridge when we spotted an obscure tread going uphill. Very shortly we saw an old porcelain sign on the lower trail, also a blank sign backboard. Two of us dropped down to see what the sign said:

DECEPTION CREEK TRAIL
PATTERSON MTN. TRAIL 1 M
DECEPTION MDW. ¼ M

In the meantime the others had lost the trail and were hunting for it. By the time I got the party together we had managed to find the trail on top of the ridge and were about ready to start zig-zagging down to road 543. Two of the party turned back here because they wanted to be back in town by 3:30 p.m. The rest of us (now 6) managed to make our way down to the road after missing a few switchbacks and getting across a marshy wet spot. By now it was noon so we took our lunch break by the side of the road. A few drops of rain fell on us before we were really ready to move on. Just below this crossing we found a patch of club moss which was very interesting to see and rather rare.

On we went to the next road crossing, 542. We were not even sure if we were on the trail as we approached this road. It looked like they had skidded logs down what we were using as a trail, but we found a tag. There was a large clear-cut on the lower side of the road, and we were uncertain where to go. Finally, we followed the edge of the cutting as we kept finding old log cuts which looked like trail cuts. It circled around to the left side of the cut where we finally found the trail tag line. Above us was a stack of logs and a loader.

Down we hiked, soon to pass a rock formation which was very interesting. There was a pillar of rock very much like the formations found along the little Cowhorn trail. Then we found good, clear tread, and a new road under construction beside the trail. It is an extension of road 216, which is going to a future, sale area called “Bilbo” clearcutting. To our right was a good flat area which will probably be their landing stage.

Finally we reached the open, rocky viewpoint, which I kept telling them about. After enjoying the view for awhile we started dropping down and promptly lost the trail again. I had been over this part of the trail from the bottom up this past spring, but must have missed a switchback for I seemed to be dropping off the ridge to the left too far so we had to hunt again. I finally found the trail back up on the ridge and called the party back up to me.

On we went across flats then down steep switchbacks, finally we saw the lower road, then the car. Hurrah! We had made it. The first of us arrived at 5 p.m. The rear guard about 5:25 p.m. One hiker had a knee giving trouble, another had both knees wrapped to make it down, another had leg muscles cramping, and several of us had fallen over trail obstructions, but no injuries.

Four people rode in the back of my pickup, and we made the drive back up to the Lone Wolf trailhead where they shifted to Lois’s car, and we all headed for home and supper.

It was a difficult trip due to obscure tread and steep grades. Old blazes are few and far between, orange tagging is tattered or down, some tags are white, others blue which makes you wonder what kind of a line you are following. These problems made it a very challenging trip but a rewarding one.

I enjoyed the trip and was glad to have the opportunity to make it. It was a sturdy group of five following me and I thank them for their patience and endurance. Hikers were Ruth Coffman, Judith Engles, Cindy Guminski, Norma Lockyear, Lois Schreiner, Ted Stern, Paula Vehrs, and leader Helen Smith. Norma and Judith turned back early.


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