We made the mistake of doing this hike in the rain. The rain lasted the full 7 hours it took us to hike.
Around the first rock slide near the ridge we missed the continuation of the trail and back tracked a bit. But eventually found the correct trail.
I was expecting the hike to be a lot more strenuous based on reviews/ impossible in the rain. But, it turned out not to be bad at all in the rain. Even the catwalk was mostly easy to do with only one part that took more concentration to make sure that footing was stable.
Overall, I would've enjoyed the hike more if I wasn't freezing from the rain and the rain/ fog limited the views of the gorge.
If you like to scramble and climb rocks, then this will be an enjoyable hike!
Did this a week and a half ago with my friend and my girlfriend. She is not an experienced hiker, only having gone on Angels Rest and Munra's point. She was exhausted and scared at the cat walk but with some talking thru she traversed safely. Do not be deterred by what you have read, can be a couple's hike if you are in good shape. It's fun the different types of climbing you get to do and even got to walk across a 25' fallen log over the dried riverbed! Don't be confused by the gradual, but persistent climb up as you will soon be on flat ground trudging thru an eerily silent wooded area, and prepare for your descend on the second half of the loop. After doing Defiance yesterday for the first time, and a 25 pound pack, Ruckel now seems like a cake walk.
Also, Pierre, that is extremely misleading to type. If you took the normal to ascend and descend for Defiance, there is no way Ruckel is harder. Defiance climbs over 3000' in a 3 miles stretch, and then there's another steep set before the top. Ruckel stands 3700 total, is shorter, and never gets as steep as Defiance. I'll acknowledge that Ruckel has more fun and different types of hiking/climbing that Defiance doesn't, but if you have done Ruckel, please do not assume you can conquer Defiance, again my moderately active at hiking girlfriend did Ruckel but she would not have been able to do Defiance, no doubt in my mind.
4th time hiking this trail now its a beast it has everything for a training hike Ups Downs Crawling around bring your gloves the views are kinda limited Ruckle Creek at the top is beautiful and a good rest spot before heading back down its mostly a forested hike this is personally my favorite hike in the Gorge its harder than Dog or Defiance so if your looking to step it up this is the trail for you the start point is in between camp site 5 and 6 Buck point trail
Rewarding! Mental challenge on the ascent but the basalt catwalk(s) are pretty special and the landscape on the descent- as soon as you are at 3,700 changes drastically with a beautiful creek and is so beautiful! And you are rewarded with not so steep descent with treats along the way. Old growth trees, a variety of wildflowers (I did this in late July), grassy hillsides and not to mention the pits. It's also pretty awesome to come out of the trail with the creek and if you're lucky the blackberry bushes are still going if you take a left down the road between the creek and campsites.
This is by far one of the toughest hikes I have done. If you want a great leg workout, this one is for you.
You get to climb 3700' in elevation, walk over scree, climb lots of scrambles, carefully trek over cliffs, walk a catwalk, go up-up-up and then down-down-down.
This trail is NOT for you if you are: an inexperienced hiker, not in optimal health, a child or a dog.
Ruckle Ridge is an unmaintained trip up the ridge of Ruckle creek. Caution, there is some exposure on this hike. If you want something pretty nasty with some adrenaline this will work. The notorious 'catwalk' lies about 2/3rd's of the way up and sure intimidated me my first time over. Now it's a twice a year hike. Sollid. Watch for poison oak.
Some reviews are deceiving here. There are good views along the trail but the peak of it is actually a large flat wooded area with a small creek running through it and no sweeping views or overlooks. For me the best parts of hikes around here are reaching the top and looking out over the mountains, you do not get this with Ruckle Creek and that actually left me pretty unaccomplished feeling when at the top. That being said there are plenty of good views on the hike up, and for challenging terrain it's up here with the hardest in the area.
Climb with a friend and be careful, there are a few spots where the slightest misstep will be your last step. Plenty of people resort to climbing on there butts or hands and knees at a few parts. The hardest part of the trail though is that it is straight up and then straight down. The peak is the only flat part so eat lunch and rest there!. The downhill at the end is honestly one of the most painful parts of a hike I've done. After the brutal climb up, constantly holding yourself back from running downhill takes a serious toll on your knees. Be sure to wear tight shoes and socks to as any shifting in your shoes will lead to brutal blisters. Consider this a hike purely to challenge yourself physically with a few good views early on in the hike. The last 2/3rds of it are purely just a test of willpower and endurance rather than scenic views and scenic hiking outside of being in treed mountain side.
Definite challenge. Getting to the top is leg burner! I recommend getting your legs in shape before taking on this one. Plan 5 to 7 hours depending on how fast you hike. Your hike is mostly UP hill and DOWN hill with very few level stints. The view is incredible of course. Take lots of water and be prepared to sweat.
One of the most difficult yet rewarding hikes that I've done. The first half (around 4.5 miles) was much steeper than expected, still providing incredible views of the gorge, dam, and ridge along on the way up. The second of the hike, aside from maybe a mile at the top, was downhill, boasting beautiful creeks and forested areas as well as meadowed plains, allowing for breathtaking views of the gorge. Although the 9 mile distance wouldn't seem too daunting, the 3700 elevation gain definitely took it's toll and I would recommend being in good physical shape before hiking. Definitely worth the views though. Huzzah!
This trail is deceiving. The first 3/4 of the ridge trail is challenging but fun. I thought it was less challenging than Dog Mountain. But the last 1/4 of the trail is nasty and brutal, it made me eat my words.
This trail is not designed for inexperience hikers or folks not in moderate shape. The trail is not maintained, you need the ability to identify cairns (rocks) and blaze (trees) markers. You need to perform some hand-over-hand climbs, climb fallen trees, balance narrow ridge paths with extreme drops on both side, and endure the steep ascent to Benson Plateau. The last portion of the climb will take all of your mental and physical strength to push forward. Your motivation is you don't want to return the same way you arrived. It would be ugly when you're exhausted. But note- going down Ruckel Creek Trail is not a bed of roses, it's a very steep, but well established trail. Normally my knees don't bother me going down, but this trail was a knee grind.
The Ruckel Ridge Trail is difficult but you get several nice view points on your way up. It's not the best views in the gorge but good. You pick this trail for the challenge as much for the few views.
The Ruckel Ridge trail is right near the very busy Eagle Creek Trail, but we saw only 1 young couple on the Ridge trail all day on a Saturday. It's a testimony to its difficulty.
Take lots of water. We ran out 7/8 of the way up. All we could think about on a 95 degree day was a fresh bottle of cool water. We had to wait 2 more hours.
I very much enjoyed this scenic, quite diverse hike. There were many very steep, rocky parts requiring focus and concentration, but then it would level out and scenery would change. This hike differs greatly from other enjoyable hikes like Dog and Defiance, which are more straight up and less varied in scenery. I went with two friends and a boxer dog. In general, I would not recommend a dog unless she/he is fit and good with foot work and not likely to jump off ledges etc. You do want to be careful on this hike and not clumsy. I made the mistake of over-packing....my bag was way more heavy then necessary and I suffered in my upper back because of the awkward leaning forward that happens in the steep parts. You may also need to use your upper body slightly in these steep parts, but it's not all that bad. Pay attention to how much stuff you bring and don't over-pack for this hike!
Maximum solitude right next to a tourist mecca. Trail is a steep climb with multiple hand over hand sections, narrow catwalks along the spine, and precipitous ledges to mix. However, if you get a thrill out of sweat and adventure (like myself) you will enjoy. Rewards: Glorious views outward towards the Columbia, up the Eagle creek valley, "gnome like" basalt rock uplifts, and the top of mount hood poking above it's foothills. Several sections are exposed but the majority runs though treed areas with little underbrush. Hit this trail a bit early in the season and a short cross country traverse through the snow fields at Benson Plateau was necessary before crossing the creek and afterwards relinking to the Ruckel Creek trail. Going down is a toe jammer with little reward beyond a few nice views out towards the Columbia. Note that despite Ruckel Ridge not being a maintained trail, an experienced hiker will have little issue picking up the "scent".
What a SLOG!! This is a hard trail, lots of elevation gain, lots of switchbacks. We attempted this weekend, but one of our party couldn't finish the summit (even after we took his pack for him). We made it about a mile from the top before we had to turn around. It rained the whole time which made a tough hike even worse. We caught some awesome views of the river in between cloud breaks, I bet it would be spectacular with good weather. We will try again! Definitely don't recommend this for novice hikers or those that are not in shape. Pack light and pack plenty of water. There were creeks running but it was raining, so I don't know if they would always be there. Nice secluded trail, only saw 2 other people crazy enough to try it. The climb down was insanely painful on the knees, so take your time and don't push yourself. Trail was easy to follow and clearly defined.
Bring plenty of water to refuel and start early! The views are amazing! There was still snow up at Benson way. Great place to stop and grab some last protein for the way down. You just gotta keep pushing yourself up hill! I will say that going down I got my 4th wind but after awhile your ready for a small up hill or flat. going down can be as painful going up! We just kept motivating ourselves with the big idea of a nice juicy bacon cheeseburger as our reward for such an awesome work out! I'm pretty fit. My partner is a cross fit athlete and even the toughest guy I know was agreeing that this is one tough hike! Just don't give up! keep pushing! Finishing is the greatest feeling in the world!
I recommend hitting up Burnside brewery In Portland. 7th and Burnside! Excellent!
David C. on Ruckel Ridge & Ruckel Creek Loop Tr...
This trail is a great hike but NOT FOR BEGINNERS! The trail head is s bit hard to find but once you do the route is straight forward until you get to a scree slope where you have to ascend the find the trail again. If in doubt don't take the easy route...head uphill! It is a relentless, stead climb, 3700 vertical feet all the way to the plateau at the top. In early spring there can be snow on the plateau and trail finding can be a challenge to find the Ruckel Creek loop train for the decent. I have never tried decending Ruckel Ridge and personally don't recommend it.
One last word of advice. POISON OAK and cliffs. Watch what you grab onto and watch your step. I was treated to the worst case of Poison oak in my life on this hike the second time I did it. If you don't pay attention you could have a quick ride with a sudden stop at the end =:O
Still my all time favorite hike in the gorge. Very hard, very rewarding and because of the difficulty, very few people.