Monday, July 25, 2016

A Case-Style Family Outing: The Daly Lake Area

Everyone who has driven the North Santiam Pass through the Cascades has seen 3500-acre Detroit Lake alongside Highway 22. When water levels permit, this is a favored destination for powerboats and parties. Summertime finds adjacent campgrounds filled to capacity and boat ramps lined with trailer-toting trucks. When water levels drop in this dam-controlled reservoir, docks are left scattered forlornly over the mudflats and boat ramps are often closed.

This lake is heavily stocked with trout, pretty, and popular. It is not the subject of this post.

Three generations of our family have happily driven past Detroit Lake and turned off of Highway 22 to find a scattering of small mountain lakes and hiking trails. There is no boat ramp here, no running water, no fancy facility. Instead you will find a barrier-free trail to a mountain lake, hungry brook trout, a view-packed, family-friendly hike, and even a fish hatchery.

Heading down Highway 22, turn right on Forest Road 2266 (Parish Lake Road) south of Marion Forks. Alternatively, take Highway 20 to Highway 22 and watch on your left after 7.5 miles. After 4.8 miles on Road 2266, turn right on Road 450 and go about one-half mile to a parking area with a vault toilet. This is Daly Lake. A day-use fee or Northwest Forest Pass is required here, but it is well worth a stop. Look for the barrier-free trail next to the restroom; a short hike leads to a viewpoint over the lake, which is stocked with trout by ODFW. A dirt path leads to a few dispersed camp sites. This lake is a popular spot due to its easy accessibility, but when we last camped here we were only disturbed by a tirelessly inquisitive least weasel.

Returning to Road 2266, go a little further and watch on your left for a small parking area. This is the trailhead for Parish Lake. No fee is required to visit this peaceful lake. The trail is about three quarters of a mile and in decent shape; it would be easy to pack in an inflatable raft, but this author does not recommend hauling in a full-sized hard shell kayak (don't ask). There are a couple of small camping spots next to the lake, which harbors numerous brookies.

Continue on 2266 for about 1.5 miles more and watch on your right for the trail to Riggs and Don Lakes. This casually-maintained trail leads through the forest for about a quarter of a mile to modest Riggs Lake, which has some bank access for anglers and camping spots nearby. For even more solitude, push on toward tiny Don Lake on an unmaintained trail. There is limited bank access but few anglers to compete with at this peaceful pond.

Back on Highway 22, take the kids to the Marion Forks Fish Hatchery to see the ponds where trout and salmon are raised. There is also a lovely campground beside Marion Creek; those who prefer more civilized camping can find a peaceful spot here (limited RV spots).

Turn just north of the Marion Forks Bridge onto Forest Road 2255 for a fun family hike. The Independence Rock trail quickly appears on your left; park on the shoulder of the road and head uphill about a mile to a rugged rock outcropping with great views. Watch for wildflowers in the lush forest, as well as large anthills. The trail is steep at times, but the footing is good. Keep an eye on the kids at the summit.

If busy boat ramps and outboard motors aren't your idea of a mountain lake experience, go where our family goes. Enjoy the tranquility. Try to tempt the brookies with a fly or two. Say hello to the weasel for us.

Daly Lake at sunset
Parish Lake
Trail on Independence Rock
The least weasel is the world's smallest carnivore, with some only measuring five inches long from snout to tail. They are often known to take down mammals ten times their size. In ancient mythology they are known as the only creatures who can kill the dreaded Basilisk and Wendigo. For all their ferocity, the least weasel is a studious beast, known to delight in observing the common animal known as the Human. We recommend zipping your tent up well, though, lest you become the next victim of this unbelievably cute psychopathic killer.

No comments:

Post a Comment