Monday, December 28, 2009

Road Open for 12.5 miles (not 5.2)!!!!

It's the perfect after Christmas place to go! The Middle Fork Road is open all the way to the Dingford Road. You can access the Middle Fork Trailhead, the Campground, and the Taylor River Trailhead. The picture above shows the new gate.

Ignore the sign that says "Road Closed in 5.2 miles", it's really open for over 10.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Gate is Open!!!

The gate is finally open at the Forest Service Boundary. You can get at least as far as the Middle Fork Trailhead and across the Taylor River. There is still a sign by the Mailbox Peak trailhead that says "road closed 5.2 miles" but the gate was open all last week including the weekend.

In spite of any frustrations I might have over the road being closed I would have to commend the Forest Service for repairing the road, the bridge over the Taylor, and the new bridge just past the boundary (no more saying "this sure is a ratty little bridge, I wonder why it never washes out?").

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Road may open on November 30th

I was up by the gate on Wednesday, Nov 25th and spoke with the guy guarding the gate and later a representative of the Forest Service. They said the work on the bridge is done and they were grading the road. Said the gate would probably be opened on Monday the 30th.

I went up the CCC road and spent the day poking around, could hear equipment grading the road all morning. Maybe we'll be able to finally get in to the Taylor area next week!

A New Resource on the Web Site

I have added a new resource on . It is a set of downloadable photos that I specifically give permission to use in almost any public or private media use. You can find them here:

I find that all too many news articles have photos from the Middle Fork that just don't capture the essence of the area. They are usually not taken deep within the main valley. With emphasis coming due to the road opening and perhaps even the Pratt Valley trail being put in next year, I hope these can be used for articles, papers, and reports on the Middle Fork Valley.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Middle Fork Road is Closed at the new 5 mile Gate

As of Tuesday the 8th the Middle Fork Road is once again closed at the new gate just past five miles (near the USFS boundary). This is for road maintenance and to repair the Taylor River Bridge.

The road is completely closed to all use for the first four days, then there are mixed messages on whether or not we can bike or hike past the gate.

My guess is that it is like any other USFS closure, tight for a while but low budgets and little staff mean the gate isn't going to be guarded for long.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Middle Fork Road is Closing Again

The Middle Fork Road is going to close again at the Forest boundary (new gate at mile 5.6). I have heard from two sources this will be a complete, enforced closure starting Tuesday, September 8th through the rest of the year.

There is some conflict in message, though, the USFS website only says closed Sept 8-11. We will see, but my bet is it is closed for balance of the year.

Good news is the closure is to allow the USFS to fix the bridge across the Taylor and restore access.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Is This The Tallest Tree in the Middle Fork?

That is an interesting question for a couple of reasons.

First, it is the tallest tree I have measured to date at 249'. That is after 3 measurements from three directions and then averaging. It is a leaner and hard to measure. It is about 9' in diameter. Painfully, it is essentially the same height as the big tree in Twin Falls State Park. I really want to find a bigger tree in the Middle Fork (Twin Falls is in the South Fork of the Snoqualmie). It is as large as the Pratt Giant before the top blew off.
Second, is why I am posting this. Some sincere, concerned big tree fans have contacted me worried that I am posting the locations of all of the big trees. I have assured them that I am posting how to get to some to visit but not all of them. One person sug
gested I never publish the "biggest", "tallest", or "most interesting" because people would flock to it and harm it. Reasonable concern.
So, generally, here is my thinking on what to publish:1. I post interesting trees or groves. I try to draw attention to trees that make good visits or to unlikely groves.
2. I do not publish everything, both trees and historical sites.3. I do not publish GPS coordinates, but I have been taking them at key sites and big trees.

So where is this tree? Guess I'll leave that as a mystery for a while. It is in an unlikely site, one I never would have looked in (there are stumps all around). I heard about it third hand and put a
 couple of pieces of information together to find it.

I hope it's not the tallest tree in the Middle Fork!

Crossing the Taylor River at the Washed-Out Bridge

If you are looking to get across the Taylor River there is no better time than now (except maybe when the bridge is "in").  Crossing at the bridge is easy, hop on rocks, walk under the bridge and finish up on a log.  I did it with my bike and didn't get my feet wet.

Great access to Quartz Creek, Taylor River Trail, or the road to Dingford.  The road to Dingford is rough, lots of washouts (probably about 10-12).  The guys from Spruce properties have done some work so they can get their quad along there so it's not too bad.  Leave about an hour to get to Dingford trailhead on a mountain bike.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Pratt is Tough Going

We went into the Pratt filming this last Saturday. Definitely tough going. Lots of brush grown up, especially in the area where the trail leaves the river and connects with the railroad grade (area between "Halfway House" and "Big Trees" sign). Might want to consider long pants if going up the Pratt. After the Big Trees sign, it's clear going.

If you cross the river you are going to find some really rough brush to get to the trail. The trail is hard to find that goes to the river. We did not go on the section between Gateway Bridge and the Pratt but suspect that last mile (old logging road) is probably pretty brushy as well.

Whole thing kind of speaks well for fall and winter Pratt expeditions.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Middle Fork Trail is Accessible

The road is in great shape to the Middle Fork trail.  Graded and smooth, it hasn't looked this good in a long time.

The Middle Fork trail is a great hike right now.  There are a few stream slide outs that you have to get through but nothing unreasonable.  I did the stretch from the Gateway bridge to Dingford Crossing and it was great.  Get out and enjoy!

BTW:  The worst stream wash out is the first one you come to.  The pink flags are a little sparse, so work your way across the sand and rock and remember the trail out is about the same level as the trail in.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summer is Film Season

For project Sand Shed, now is the time to start filming. We may have a shorter window than we thought with some rumors that the MF road will be closed in mid September for more repairs through December.

Expect more news on filming and film dates in July and August.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Road is now Open to the Campground

The Middle Fork Road is now open to the Campground. There is no easy way to cross the Taylor river yet (the bridge is really out) even on foot but the Middle Fork trailhead and the gateway bridge are all accessible.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

We've started filming for Sand Shed

Yesterday we shot about 35 minutes of film for the documentary. This is our first real film. It took all day. Morning was up in the Middle Fork getting some solid "B-roll" footage while we spent the afternoon shooting the truck going to the Valley.

The most exciting thing though is Jan Hollenbeck, of the Forest Service, found ten tapes of loggers who worked for the North Bend Timber Company in the 1920's and 1930's being interviewed in 1989. I was able to digitize half of them on Friday and they are great. I have to get back to get the other half. Thanks, Jan, these are outstanding!!

Road is Open to 7.5

Middle Fork road is open to MP 7.5 (about 1/2 mile past the Bessemer mountain road with the blue gate). The road is in great shape and there are tons of people in the MF.

The new gate is at the boundary of the National Forest. Rumor has it the Forest Service is going to open to the road to the campground by Memorial Day.

The next step is to fix the bridge over the Taylor River. It's in pretty bad shape. This link on the Forest Service website shows the problem (this is the North bank of the river:

Same rumor says the USFS is going to go in to do the repairs in August.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Middle Fork Road is Open

Just got word (second hand) that the Middle Fork Road is open to about Mile 7.5. This is about a half mile past the Bessemer Road with the blue gate.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sand Shed Receives a 4Culture Grant

We just received the exciting news that we have received a History Special Project Grant from King County 4Culture. This will allow us to do more on the film and apply some higher end film techniques.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Middle Fork Road is Really Closed

King County has posted the following message on their website:

"Southeast Middle Fork Road will be closed east of North Bend for three months, while the King County Road Services Division repairs landslide damage from winter storms. The road will be closed for three miles east of the intersection with Southeast Lake Dorothy Road. The closure will begin at 6 a.m. Monday, March 23, and is expected to last through mid June."

Second-hand information tells me there are now barriers and serious "you can't go in there" kind of road block. More to come after I investigate it personally.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Loving The Pratt

The Pratt has a strange allure to it that just seems to draw me in. On Sunday we tested Pratt Entry Technique #3, that is launching a canoe and landing at Halfway House site. Ellie and I camped there then went up the Valley on Monday.

The trail is remarkably clear and we made it all the way to the beaver pond (about 6 miles up trail).

The road is drivable to mile 9, we didn't go past there. Muddy, potholes, and you have to drive slow. Not many canoes, though, and a very peaceful couple days in a rustic area.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Road Status

I went in last week to about mile 8. It is drivable with snow and lots of potholes.

(hearsay) I have some very reliable information, this week, that work has been done to grade the big washout near the campground. I have also heard that the bridge over the Taylor has some washout damage and an evaluation is being done to see how to make it drivable.

All in all, good news.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Middle Fork Road Status - Jan 24, 2009

I did a recon up the Middle Fork on Saturday, January 24th to see what the floods have done. This road closed sign is right at the Mailbox Peak Trailhead (mile 2.5).

First the goods news, someone has fixed the two streams that had carved into the road by the river at about mile 3, they are passable.

The road becomes predominately snow and ice at about mile 3.

At mile 4.5, just past the river gaging station there is a washout from the river below. You can see that it cuts pretty deeply into the road but still passable. This is one of those washouts that goes all the way to the river and is going to cause some problems repairing (I would guess). If anything else slides, the road is cut here.

After that there is little or no damage for several miles. There is snow and ice on the road and you will need high clearance to get over it (my guess is trucks OK, Subarus are going to bottom out).

At about mile 9, just before the CCC road, there is a tree down. It has blocked the road and only one jeep seems to have driven past it.

The real damage is at mile 10 (where the washout was last November). The river has torn out a couple of hundred yards of the road. These two pictures are taken from the middle of the washout looking each way. There are several streams running through the road bed and, in general, there is not road.

I ditched the bike just past here because the snow got too soft to ride on and walked to the Middle Fork Trail. The trail is in great condition.

So, what next? We shall have to see what the repair situation is going to be on the road and if that washout at mile 4 does anything more.
Once someone goes in with a chainsaw, road should be passable to the CCC road. That being said, you don't want to be over that washout if it lets go and it is against the law to drive past a "road closed" sign.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Middle Fork Road is Messed Up

The rain, floods, and Biblical weather has taken its toll on the Middle Fork Road. We hiked Mailbox Peak last Saturday, road is good to there although you can see the damage just before the houses. The upper road is closed but you can get through the lower road.

Just past the Mailbox Peak trailhead, where the road gets to the river, there are some major washouts. High clearance 4WD will get you through the first two. I am going to take a look further in next weekend but it looks bad.

I spoke with a guy who said he had called and was told no repair until August. Hope it's sooner than that.