Indian Ridge Trail

June 30, 1991

Bill Burwell led a group of 21 Obsidians and friends over a portion of historic Native American trail which he has tended over the years because of his intense interest in the history of the Calapooya people. Thanks to his efforts and constant prodding of the USFS to protect this trail as a special interest resource area, it is now so designated in the new Willamette Forest Plan, at least the few miles which have remained intact here on Indian Ridge and a half-mile trail to Hidden Lake. Sadly, most of the Mollala trail, which extended for centuries between the Santiam and Deschutes Rivers has been obliterated by logging and other activities. No full-blooded Calapooya remain today, but the “saved” portion of their trail through the huckleberry camps is a vivid reminder of their activities through the thousands of years their moccasins trod this path. It is well worth following here. Another dividend of the trip is the spectacular view from the old fire lookout (at the end of F.S. Rd. #1080) facing Lowder Mountain far to the north, and familiar peaks on either side.

To reach the lookout, we drove to the head of Cougar Reservoir and ¼ mile past the trailhead to French Pete, crossed the concrete bridge and followed F.S. Rd. # 1080 which climbs five gravelly miles to the lookout. The signed trail starts somewhat below the lookout and continues for two miles through tall firs and hemlocks draped with lichen. Good views abound. The walking is easy along the ridge, thanks to Bill Burwell’s clearing of the trail in seasons past. Only a few patches of snow (off the trail) reminded us of the late spring. Bill’s fascinating commentaries on the life and lore of the Calapooya continued through lunch atop the ridge and through the lower trail to Hidden Lake, where the tall cedar grove still bears evidence of bark-stripping for the red cedar baskets which traditionally took place when a number of family groups met for the summer harvest. The goodwill of our congenial group was tested during the closing hour of the trip by the facilitator, who found after a return search on the trail to Hidden Lake that she had locked her keys in her car! Her thanks go to all the patient folk who put up with this, and especially to Hal Busby, who knew the “window trick”!!

Indian Ridg’ers were Mari Baldwin, Siegfried Bihler, Harold Busby, Emma Canizales, Ruth Galad, Gerhard Hoffman, Jo Ann and Bob Hill, Dot Leland, Mary Millman, Anne Montgomery, Karen Seidel, Velma Shirk, Cynthia Smith, Beverly Soule, Betty Staek, Ethel and Robin Steussy, Susan Thomas, Betty Jean Wylie and Bill Burwell (leader) and Dallas Cole (facilitator).

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