Work has begun on the new Granite Creek shortcut trail. This trail will start at a new parking lot the DNR plans to build near the concrete bridge and will wind up the ridge west of Granite Creek to join the old road, recently converted to a trail. The new trail starts out on an old logging road but leaves about 1/3 miles in on a new track that stays along the ridge line. For a number of years there has been a little know user-built trail that some hikers have used to shorten the distance to Granite Lakes by about 1 1/2 miles each way. Sections of that trail have always been steep and muddy and the new trail looks like it will be a big improvement when completed. But as of December 26 with recent rains and snow, the new trail is also very muddy and slippery and does not yet connect with the main trail above.In a 2009 planning document the DNR said “The new trail will follow the old logging road for half a mile, but then leave the road and wind its way up to the east amongst the various stream drainages west of the Granite Creek Canyon. Once above these deeply cut drainages, the trail will climb the dry ground available west of Granite Creek to meet the Granite Road-Trail, utilizing as few climbing turns and switchbacks as possible.”
An old deteriorating log stringer bridge crossing Granite Creek was pulled out last year during the DNR road-to-trail conversion of the Granite Lakes trail last fall. Concrete pads were poured for a pedestrian bridge that will sit far above the creek even at high water, but it will not be installed until this fall, or possibly spring 2014. In the meantime, a temporary bridge constructed from pieces of the old log stringers was put into place. Last winter it was at times a hazardous crossing, especially when icy. Now railings have been added which should provide for a secure crossing until the new bridge arrives.
These are the two oldest cars I know of still sitting and rotting in the Middle Fork. Most of the junkers have been hauled out, but these are not very accessible. With help from experts at nwhikers.net I was able to get probable model identification leading to photos of what these cars looked like in their prime. Not that they looked that way when driven into the Middle Fork, because as stated by a valley veteran “Some logger/miner/decrepit somebody just drove an ol’ junker ’til it died, then they just left them. Then maybe somebody shoved the junk out of the way.”
The left car is below the road near the Big Snow trail head. The right one is just across Granite Creek where the overgrown logging/mining road cuts back and up to the Horseshoe Mine site.
The Granite Lakes road-to-trail conversion is underway, with work currently being done on the road segment between the Granite Lakes fork and where the Thompson Lake trail took off. A large excavator is digging up the old road bed and removing culverts, leaving a roughed-in trail instead of a road. It will take a number for years for vegetation to re-establish itself along this trail, but it’s currently mostly willows and slide alder that will come back fast.