Several years ago, we were foolish enough to venture into this area in search of a quiet place to camp. We asked for advice at the Detroit Ranger Station. After puzzling a bit, the ranger pointed to a spot on the map. "Go here," he said, and we did. We found our own unnamed lake, one that doesn't even appear on many maps. We saw no one the entire time. It was quiet, the kind of quiet that presses on your eardrums. At one point, we heard a great ruckus and hurried to see what the noise was about, only to find that it was a medium-sized frog climbing onto a rock. All of this with a moderate hike from a well-marked trailhead at the end of a paved road. Sound too good to be true? Welcome to Pine Ridge Trail.
This unassuming little trail may not be as well-known as some in the area, but it offers several options for a variety of hikes. Take your kids on their first backpacking trip and camp at peaceful Temple Lake. Climb Marion Mountain and savor the panoramic views. Use the trail as an alternate route to Marion Lake, or continue into the Eight Lakes Basin for a longer trip. Just be aware that parts of the trail are typical lushly wooded Cascades forest, while other parts fell prey to the B and B Complex Fires of 2003. The burned areas are healing and worth hiking through, but warm days make for hot, dusty hiking, so bring plenty of water. As always, bring a map and compass and know how to use them. One snow-bent evergreen looks very much like all the others, so it's important to keep track of your location.
To find the trailhead, take Highway 22 (the North Santiam Pass) 26 miles past Detroit and turn left onto Forest Road 2261 (Twin Meadows Road), which leads to Camp Pioneer. Coming out Highway 20 (the South Santiam), take Highway 22 toward Detroit; FR 2261 is past the Big Meadows Horse Camp turnoff, but before Marion Forks.
The forest road climbs for five narrow, winding, but paved miles to the Boy Scout camp. Just past the camp, the road turns to gravel and becomes a small parking lot. Sometimes the cars are packed into every corner here, other times yours will be the only vehicle.
|Summit of Marion Mountain with Marion Lake behind
|Unnamed lake with Marion Mountain behind
|Temple Lake with Mt. Jefferson
|Tarn beside the trail to Marion Mountain
|Fireweed in the B&B Burn
|A final view from Marion Mountain