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Nasty Rock Trail #3356 - Review

Though the trail is named Nasty Rock, it does not come near that place. To do that, you have to approach from the Clackamas River drainage on Trail #4463. Our subject trail is in the Little North Fork drainage, about one mile past the Henline Mountain trailhead (#3352).

Trail #3356 starts out gently, but after crossing a creek bed that carries water only after heavy rains, the trail reveals its true self. Relentless is the fitting word to describe your hike from here to the top. The trail is 1.6 miles long and gains 2300′. That’s pretty steep. Be prepared.

You ascend a ridge, often going right up it instead of switchbacking. Though there are 19 switchbacks, several of them are within a few steps of each other, and several others offer little relief to the effort you have to make to gain elevation.

The trailhead is at 1940′. A brief flat area at 2830′ provides a welcome break to your ascent. You cross a small rockslide at 3600′, and a larger one at 3700′. At 3930′ you enter another flat area. From there, you climb easily along the ridge top with only one steep pitch, a short one, between you and the summit at 4220′.

At one spot in this final push, the trail plays a joke on you. It looks like it should go straight, but if you do, you’ll find no more trail after about twenty feet. Where did it go? Back up and look to the right. That’s where the trail went, but it’s obscured by bear grass and easy to miss.

The summit of the hike is a small clearing on top of the ridge, surrounded by trees and rhododendron bushes. A trail takes off downhill to the right from the summit to another high point that offers some view, but not what you think you have earned.

Back on the summit and taking off a bit to the left instead, in the same direction you approached from, you will find a rudimentary trail that goes west along the ridge top from which you can, with some keen navigating, descend on the south side to two small lakes that are easy on the eyes.

Trail #3356 has for years been known only to those with a topographic map and a searching eye. In the summer of 2014, the Forest Service put up a marker on the roadside, and a booth for filling out a party registration form. Hopefully this will give the trail more attention. I have hiked it seven times without ever seeing anyone else on the way up or down.

This trail is an excellent conditioner, but lacks viewpoints. You are in forest almost the entire time, with only a few clearings that give you limited views of the Little North Fork valley. In its conditioning role, however, it’s first-rate.

Plan on taking about 1h 50m to get to the top if you are in adequate condition. Those of you in good hiking condition can make it in 1h 20m.

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