July 5th, Jeff Acorn and I completed the loop trail highlighted in the July 3, 2008 PI. It was Jeff’s idea to do a 15-mile hike, and my idea to do it on a Saturday. We both got what we wanted. We were hobbling by the end, but enjoyed it a lot.
Having missed the suggested starting point (I wonder why hike descriptions and trail maps don’t use highway mile posts to describe the vicinity of trail heads), we started from the Camp Shepherd parking lot — a very roomy one, though due to missing signs (another mystery to fair-weather hikers like me), finding the White River Trail (#1199) was not easy — at 9AM and got back to the car at 6:15PM.
I always read the PI suggestions with interest, but resist trying them in the weeks immediately after publication, assuming that the publicity would send droves of other hikers to the same destination. Perhaps that might have been true in the days of $2 gas. We saw a total of nine mountain bikers (one was trying to repair a rear wheel flat) and two dogs (with one of the bikers), but no other hikers. One of the bikers told us he had seen one “runner” earlier in the day.
We found no snow patches on the trails. Some of the blown-down trees obscuring the trails made for hard crossing — we wondered how the bikers dealt with the more difficult ones… The condition of the Ranger Creek trail seems to be taking serious damage from bikers.
If I were doing it again, I’d skip the Ranger Creek part of the loop and return via the Palisades Trail (#1198) in order to enjoy the excellent view points a second time, despite the fact that narrow and wobbly water crossing are a psychological terror for me.