Summer Solstice at Camp Sherman

Summer solstice, a full moon and warm weather … 3 days rambling around Camp Sherman were practically perfect in every way. Last year, I hiked Alpine Trail on Summer Solstice; no comparisons. Camp Sherman and the Metolius River are just magical, and when Clear Lake is added, … a great solstice!

Day 1 and 2 were both from my favorite Camp Sherman campground, Pine Rest on the Metolius’ east bank. Pine Rest has two FF sites, and 6 to reserve via; it’s quiet, small, and all tents right on river’s edge. Pine Rest was full both nights and other campgrounds around the Metolius were ~75% capacity – the summer crowds have entered the woods.

Around the River

Both long hikes started along the river, and both nights found me wandering around the river after dinner. Fly fishing folks were thick, but nobody I talked to was catching fish. If one walked 100 yards from any campground the traffic lessened to fishing folks finding better spots.

Camp Sherman continues my great luck in hiking where wild flowers are blooming. They were everywhere along the river, along the trails and even up Black Butte. Find the bug in the flower?

Metolius to Black Butte

I checked the campsite reservations the day before leaving, and thought that my reserved spot would be empty, so rather than starting from a trailhead, I parked at my campsite. Arriving at Pine Rest around 7:00 and placing a few items to secure my campsite I was off up-river to the Metolius Windigo Trail and then up Black Butte. I took the Black Butte Upper Loop from Windigo Trail to Black Butte Trail – an old logging twin track.

Once on the Black Butte Trail, it’s all up and up. My objective was two fold: first, I’d never been close to top of Black Butte and I wanted good photos looking west at the cascades from close up. Up until Black Butte Trail, 0 humans; this trail however had hikers but only 1 car at the lower trailhead – most drive 2/3 up and hike the last bit. After reaching the limit of my time (and endurance 14 miles 1 way), I turned around and took a short cut following Forest Roads back from the lower TH to Metolius River.

Black Butte Trail is dry and hot – would not want to do when >80 in the afternoon sun. This guy didn’t mind though.

Being so close and not fully at Black Butte’s top, South Sister and Jefferson were out of my view: Middle and North Sister upper left; Washington upper right; and 3 Finger Jack lower left.

Metolius to Dark Lake via Suttle Lake and Lake Creek Trail

I had a notion that the water from Metolius flows through lava tubes from the lakes above – e.g., Suttle, Scout and Dark lakes. Why not walk that distance and see?

I left Pine Rest cg and then crossed the river and found the Lake Creek trail that goes all the way to Suttle Lake passing through the “Metolius Preserve” which was a really nice area. This trail, however, is also a twin track with signs along the way “Bikes left and horses right”. It is much better for a bike, or a horse.

I arrived at Suttle lake early in the morning. Fishing folks were there too – mostly on non-powered flotation devices of some sort or another. Suttle Lake was surprisingly quiet and beautiful early. Suttle Lake has an outlet stream (Lake Creek) so an outlet via lava tubes doesn’t make sense.

I walked along the north side of the lake to Scout Lake which also had a campground on it. The water level here was low, and reminded me of the Mathieu Lakes at McKenzie Pass. I found it not worth the visit.

Continuing on up the hill on the Dark Lake trail, an old burn with some recovery surrounds Dark Lake and a Forest Service camp – Tamarack – takes up one entire side of the lake.

Oddly, all three lakes have development on them – resort, campground and forest service camp. I would avoid going up past Suttle Lake on a future hike – the other two lakes are just not that interesting.

Clear Lake and McKenzie River Trail on way home

Originally, I was going to hike from Camp Sherman (a bit up 3 Finger Jack) to Minto Pass, but after reviewing the map and day 1 and 2, I decided to pack up very early on last day and stop at Clear Lake and the upper McKenzie River trail. A bonus would be checking in with the osprey that live on Clear Lake – what a great decision! I arrived at Clear Lake Resort before 5:00 and was hiking shortly thereafter.

Clear Lake Trail is a loop with the south side the McKenzie River Trail; the north east section from the resort to the McKenzie River Tr junction is the worst section, and I avoid it. I went down river on the north side of the lake and then looped back up river along the lake’s north bank. … that’s where the magic happened!

Sunrise was spectacular and not just 2 osprey, but 4 osprey were fishing … all making noises without fighting for territory. My camera just wouldn’t capture the birds in flight …

The river just slowly wanders out … until later.

After the lake, I took the Waterfalls loop down river and being so early had the falls all to myself.

I went back around the south side of the lake on the return and again watched osprey fish, and the light showed how clear lake got its name.

Data Geek Corner

There were really 4 hikes: Black Butte, Suttle / Dark Lakes, River Loop and Clear Lake. The first two were new hikes; and the second two were done already this year. Just short of 70 miles over the 3 days – plus driving from / to Eugene; and one day >30 miles. Trails were in great condition and soft.

Black Butte Hike

Suttle / Dark Lakes Hike

River Loop Hike

Clear Lake Hike

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