Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Edgar Rock

EDGAR ROCK (SOUTH CASCADES) Edgar Rock is a volcanic plug from an ancient volcano that serves as a landmark near the community of Cliffdell on State Route 410. You can also hike to Edgar Rock on a short, scenic trail. The rock was named for John Edgar, an Army Scout killed in the 1850s during the Indian Wars. Edgar Rock was also the site of an 8 by 8-foot fire-lookout cabin put up in 1938 (destroyed in 1978). You can still see where the structure was placed atop the peak as evidenced by four anchors that held the cabin to the rock. Finding the trailhead is more challenging than the hike but worth the effort. The trailhead, is a wide spot on a narrow, forest service road with limited parking – plus, the sign for Lost Creek is almost “lost” in vegetation at the trailhead. If you end up in someone’s back yard you’ve driven too far! Once you find the trailhead, park and head right (uphill) on the trail. The hike starts out on the Lost Creek Trail No. 964 - only the last stretch of the hike is designated as the Edgar Rock Trail No. 964A. The trail starts off climbing through grassy, Ponderosa-pine forest and is in great condition. Near the trailhead look for pinedrops and ghostly Indian Pipe – these parasitic plants lack chlorophyll and depend on a working relationship with other plants to survive (look for them under Ponderosa pines). Also notice the bluebird boxes and heritage trees as the trail gradually climbs out of the forest. Heritage trees are specifically left in place for wildlife habitat. In July the wildflower displays lit up the landscape with vivid color ranging from the shocking blue of larkspur to the subtle pink of Nootka roses. Yellow composites (too many to name) are scattered across the landscape like gold coins – there are many yellow composites and they are hard to tell apart without a field guide. In early July balsamroot had passed its peak bloom but other flowers were just emerging from winters sleep. We saw buckwheat, yarrow, pinedrops, Indian paintbrush, Hooker’s onion, Nootka rose, penstemon, blue bells and a few we couldn’t identify. About a mile up the trail you’ll come across an odd relationship between a tree and two boulders. Here the boulders seemingly hold a tree in place at the edge of the trail – or is it the tree holding the boulders in place? You be the judge. Though this trail is often lonesome you might not have it to yourself. The trail is also open to mountain bikes, motorcycles and stock (closed to ATVs) though we’ve never met anyone else on the trail. According to the Naches District trail guide only the last 1/3 mile of the trail is designated as the Edgar Rock trail (Trail No. 964A). Though the junction isn’t signed the junction is obvious and hard to miss. At the junction, stay right, heading uphill, continue to Edgar Rock and enjoy views of the Nile valley and the American river below. The open country invites further exploration where faint trails beckon. We explored a side trail that led to a rocky area with numerous wildflower displays and a small natural arch. Though at first glance the topography above tree-line may appear desolate, look again, there’s life everywhere – wildflowers spring from crevices in the rocks and the sky is constantly changing, serene and blue one moment, dark and tumultuous the next. Even on a cloudy day humidity can be high – be cautious when the sky darkens and thunder rumbles, especially near Edgar Rock where the trail is exposed as it winds between boulders, weathered snags and outcroppings. Though the hike is short when humidity is high, even a short hike can feel strenuous when it’s muggy outside. Since this is a short hike it’s also good opportunity to visit the nearby Boulder Cave Day-Use Area. The driving directions are the same as for Edgar Rock except that when you reach the forest service road turn right, rather than left (follow signs to Boulder Cave). There is a $5 fee per vehicle to visit Boulder Cave (bring a flashlight). Getting there: From Chinook Pass drive east on SR 410 to River Road (Forest Service Road No. 1706) and turn right to cross Naches River. At Road No. 1704 turn left, continue past private cabins to a fork in the road – take the right fork which says “dead end” and that is Road 311 that leads to the Lost Creek trailhead. Park on the shoulder of road (there are no facilities). Display your Northwest Forest Pass and keep party size small as parking is limited. Map: Green Trails Old Scab Mountain No. 272. For additional information contact the Naches Ranger District (Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest) at 509-653-1401. Karen Sykes

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this post. I've followed your blog for a while, but I was excited to see this hike because I used to live in a house that looked directly up at Edgar Rock! I was a kid and never made the hike, but my Dad hiked it regularly. It was great to see this, it brought back good memories. :)