Chimney Peak Trail

HARD 4 reviews
#56 of 112 trails in

Chimney Peak Trail is a 23.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Cascadia, Oregon that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
23.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
7391 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

views

wildlife

snow

Directions from Sweet Home: Travel east on Hwy. #20 for 23.3 miles and turn left on Forest Road 2041 (Soda Fork.) Stay on 2041 for 12 miles to spur road 646 and turn right. The trailhead is at the end of the spur road.

backpacking
2 months ago

Tough hike. Start out at the trailhead (2400ft) and after about 5 minutes enter old-growth forest. Head downhill to the aptly-named Shedd Camp shelter. The Middle Fork Santiam River (2000ft) dives through a gap in the rocks and into a very deep, clear pool (A+). Took a quick swim. To continue, you have to head up over a hump to a point upstream to cross the river. I waded across; on the way back I found a few more rocks and a log and stayed dry.

50 feet up the trail there is a large tree across the trail, a hint of things to come (more huge logs across the trail). Scramble over the log, and head upward in a general northward direction. As the trail contours upward (peaking at 2800ft) it enters numerous small canyons/ravines with intermittent streams, some of which are, to the imagination, ancient gateways to where the gnomes and fairies live. Even though this section isn't in the wilderness it might as well be.

The trail then descends to wide and shallow Pyramid Creek (2000ft) where you have to wade again. Then you back head up to a decommissioned road and wilderness boundary (2500ft). It says 2.8mi to Donaca Lake at 2900ft. Piece of cake, except for a) increasing huckleberries, and b) 12 downed logs, both of which slow progress.

Donaca Lake is pretty nice, especially for a low-elevation lake. Deep, cold, not too brushy, not too muddy. Took a quick swim. Good campsites (3 at least). No people heading in, one person heading out.

At this point I was pretty tired and estimated hiking 7 miles or so. But it was a little buggy at the lake so I decided to continue to Fitt Creek (3500ft), where it is rumored there is a great camp site with a good stream. And it doesn't look too far on the map.

However, the trail isn't maintained past the lake, and so amongst beautiful small canyons, huge firs and cedars, there is copious trail-covering brush, creek jumps, and 34 more large logs across the trail to clamber, climb, or belly crawl over/under. The berries really get thick though; I think berry production must be related to downed timber. I arrived at Fitt Creek at about 7pm, after starting out at 1pm. Tired. Good camp with a great little stream.

The next day I decided to head for Chimney Peak without my pack. Right after Fitt Creek the trail is pretty much wiped out by a morass of blown down logs and small washouts on a steep slope of rhododendrons. No footprints, ribbons, or any obvious sign anyone had gone through. Oddly, after this barrier, the trail got much better, with only an occasional log. And more fairyland canyons, berries, and bears (two bear scats right on the trail). The trail comes to a saddle and junction with McQuade Cr. trail coming up from the Quartzville Creek canyon far below.

The trail to the summit bushwhacks through bushes and a rockpile, and circles around the peak to the backside (4800ft), to end at a pile of old wood that used to make up a set of stairs; I think a lookout existed up top at one time. Given fatigue, plus the fact that the view was obscured by the Whitewater fire burning not too far away, I eschewed the scramble up the final cliffs to the top and returned to camp.

The final day I reversed the route from Fitt Creek to the trailhead, loading up on huckleberries, which are a lot easier to spot with practice.

3 months ago

Thursday, October 01, 2015

1st day we hiked from 10:30-6. It took us too long to cross the middle fork of the Santiam river messing around for an hour looking to cross it without getting wet. Should have just jumped it at the top of the rock below the shelter.
Didn't make it all the way too the lake, we should have camped at pyramid creek in the nice little camp there, but we pushed on for another hour or so and camped in the old 2041 road at the trail head box where it says 2.8 miles to Donaca Lake. Next morning we got up on made it to the lake in about 2 hours. Tried fishing for awhile but no luck. We didn't have any worms to try as bait. Should have brought worms and bobbers. We saw a few fish jump and I've caught them here before so I know they are in there.
While we were at the lake about 5pm a couple with a dog and a fishing pole showed up, but as soon as they saw us they turned around and left?? Very odd. About 45 minutes later 6 more people showed up, 2 couples with 2 younger kids. Donaca lake has at least to good spots to camp, possible 1-2 other spots that you can make work if it too crowded. 3rd day we tried fishing again and so did a few of the other people, but no one had any luck. Different bait is definitely in order. Maybe some different weather might help, beautiful 85 degrees and sunny isn't that great for catching fish. We packed up and headed out, after about 2-3 hours we hit pyramid creek camp and decided to just push on out to the truck. About 3 more hours hi king and we hit the trail head and headed back to town. This time we jumped the river at the trail and got across much easier and quicker. I will up load the tracks, but the maps and GPS distances are WAY off. Map shows maybe 5-6 miles to the lake, Gps shows we hiked over 9 miles...

hiking
Sunday, April 19, 2015

Excellent trail, hiked it with my Dad about 30 years ago, Then took the wife a couple years later, she didn't like it much. So eventually, I got a new wife.
At the time several parts of the trail had slid out with many trees across it.

Now 25 years later I'm planning on taking the kids back to Donaca Lake for a 3-4 day camping/hiking trip. We've been scouting the best way back to the trail, since driving up to chimney peak and hitting the trail at the peak is no longer an option.