Shellrock Lake and Hideaway Creek Falls

On Sunday, I took my roommate’s dog, Besa, and headed up to Shellrock Lake, in the Clackamas Ranger District. The trailhead is near Hideaway Lake. When I arrived (and when I left too), mine was the only car there.

Before I had left in the morning, I had done a quick search on this site for any additional information about this hike. What I found was potentially exciting: two pictures that Tom posted of an (officially) unnamed, yet gorgeous, waterfall right by the trailhead. Tom dubbed it Hideaway Creek Falls. It’s not on the topo maps or the forest service map, and the only other thing a Google search turned up was this page on Greg Lief’s site, with more beautiful photos enticing me to try and find this waterfall.

It was damp and cold and gray up there in the mountains (approx. 4,000 feet). But I tried to ignore it, and headed off in search of the falls. There was an obvious trail heading downhill from the trailhead, along the creek, but it was very steep and my descent was more like a controlled fall. Why did I leave my hiking poles in the car? I could definitely hear the waterfall, somewhere in amongst all those bushes. I managed to get to a place where I could peek out and see the top of the falls. I worked my way further down, trying to find a place where I could get a view of the falls from below. Thick rhododendron bushes stood between me and the creek, and the terrain remained steep and difficult. Also, all the vegetation was dripping with water from an overnight shower, and I was rapidly getting soaked. I had my rain jacket on, but had not brought my rain pants, so my hiking pants were getting pretty wet. Without full rain gear, and without my hiking poles to help me move around on the steep hill, I gave up and scrambled back up to the trailhead. I’ll admit I didn’t try very hard. I could have gotten there with a little more effort. But not getting soaked and not breaking my neck won out. I did get this view of the clearcut that I would soon be walking through, though. It was speckled with brilliant vine maple.

Speckled with color

And here it is up-close from the Shellrock Lake trail:

The colors of sunset

Shellrock Lake is only a half mile walk from the trailhead and we were there in no time. Clouds swirled around the surrounding hilltops.

Shellrock Lake

Besa has been cooped up a lot lately, so I let her go for a swim in the lake, despite the chilly day. She had a blast, plunging into the lake time after time for that silly stick. And then she kindly shared the lake water with me as soon as she got out. Every time. My pants had started to dry out and now I was wet again!

And then Besa seemed to hurt herself on a plunge into the lake. A yelp and whine and she aborted her jump and came limping back. I could see nothing wrong with her foot or her leg, and after she walked around for a little bit she seemed okay. I had intended to continue further, all the way up to Rock Lakes. But it so gray and gloomy and chilly that I had lost my enthusiasm for being out there. Besa’s potential injury was all the excuse I needed to call it a day (by the time we got home, she seemed completely fine and hasn’t limped since, but I’m not sorry we turned back when we did).

So, I drove all that way and hiked a grand total of: ONE MILE. I think that’s a personal record for me for shortest hike ever. We ate lunch at Hideaway Lake, where a very cute little campground sits (probably one of those that will get the ax if the Forest Service has its way). And then I drove back towards town, stopping to take pictures of colorful vine maple along the way:

All ablaze

And weird signs:

Strange sign

And lovely rivers:

Roaring on

All pictures here.

The maples along Highway 224 are JUST starting to turn, but there’s more color to see on Road 58 and 5830, mostly vine maple. It was a gorgeous drive, even if the hike was a bust! And now I know that even if there is no rain in the forecast, always bring rain jacket AND rain pants.