The SMC crew is comprised of seven college interns and two crew leaders. Mechanical tools are prohibited in federally-designated wilderness, so the crew used traditional cross-cut saws and other non-mechanized hand tools to complete the work, making the trail passable for the first time since the 2002 Biscuit Fire.
This is not the first time this group has worked in this ruggedly wild part of southwest Oregon. Trail work on this route began in 2014, when the crew completed the restoration of a 26-mile route that travels from Babyfoot Lake to Vulcan Lake. When combined with those trails, the 16 miles completed this week form a series of nine Forest Service trails in the area that interconnect to form the 42-mile loop, which is sometimes referred to as the Trans-Kalmiopsis Route. Gabe Howe, the Executive Director of the SMC, said that the Northwest Youth Corp also participated in the restoration of this trail, working on approximately eight miles of trail in the summer of 2014.
The route runs along the ridge dividing the Chetco and Smith River watersheds, and descends into the rugged Chetco River canyon. It features five botanical areas and two high-country lakes, and offers hikers opportunities to see remote vistas that are otherwise inaccessible. Visitors to the trail should be aware that many trail junctions are not signed, and the route has long, steep sections more appropriate for those hikers more comfortable with arduous treks. This trail also has long stretches with no available water sources, and the area may be susceptible to extreme changes in weather patterns.
The project was funded through a three-year Challenge Cost-Share Agreement with the Forest Service, and with grant money, community member support, and other funding procured by the SMC, including support from the Carpenter Foundation, the Autzen Foundation, the Herbert A. Templeton Foundation, and the Fourway Community Foundation.
More information can be found at www.siskiyoumountainclub.org and http://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/rogue-siskiyou/recreation, or by calling the Forest Service’s Wild Rivers Ranger District at (541) 592-4000.