We were back on the trail again today. This time, for something really flat, we walked along the Wild River. However, this hike didn’t turn out to be quite as carefree as we expected.
With the guidebook and map, Gene had created a loop for us by hiking up river on the Wild River Trail, crossing over at Spider Bridge to connect with the Highwater Trail for our hike down river. While driving to the trailhead, we came to the conclusion that we really didn’t know if there was a bridge at the beginning of our hike to allow us to cross back over to the trailhead parking lot from the West side of the river. The guidebook didn’t mention a bridge in its single statement about using these two trails to make a loop. Gene found the hike listed on Trails.com and they rated it as an entry level hike. Fording a river would not be something a beginner should tackle, so we assumed there would be a bridge.
We came up with a plan--do the Highwater Trail upstream instead of down. That way, if there was no bridge, we’d know it at the beginning of the hike.
We parked the truck, pulled on our packs and headed toward the river. To our surprise, there was no bridge. Well, that answers that question. So instead of a loop, we’d just go up and back on the same trail. We headed out. Within a half mile we came to a trail junction for a trail we knew went up the mountain on the other side of the river. We walked over, and low and behold there was a bridge. Wonderful. We walked over the bridge and headed up the Highwater Trail.
I was a little confused by the “highwater” trail. I figured it was an alternative to the Wild River Trail during spring and other times when the river might be higher than normal. Apparently, I was wrong about that because the Highwater trail followed much closer to the river and at a much lower level along the bank than what we had seen of the Wild River trial.
We walked about a quarter mile and came to a stream crossing. There were rocks for somebody with long legs to hop across, but my little short legs just wouldn’t reach. The water was too swift for me to feel comfortable crossing. The guidebook mentioned two stream crossings. If I forced myself to get across this one, would I be able to cross the next? Better to be safe than sorry, so we went back to the Wild River Trail.
After the trail junction on the Wild River trail we quickly passed into Wild River Wilderness area. The trail veered back toward the river and followed closely even though we were up twenty feet or so from the water. The trail was an old forest service road and was wide, flat, and free of large rocks. We had one small brook to cross, but it was not a problem.
|All that's left of Spider Bridge|
We finally came to Spider Bridge, but there was no bridge. There was nothing left but the concrete pillars it had rested on. Good thing we didn’t need it to cross the river. Apparently, when this area was designated a Wilderness area, the bridge was removed. It would really have been nice to know that ahead of time.
We went on up the trial and quickly found a trail junction where the trail had been rerouted to a safer crossing area. While we sat on a rock for our lunch, I surveyed the river and the row of rocks meant to be used for crossing. I don’t think I could have gotten across without getting wet feet.
Even with all those surprises, we still enjoyed the hike. The trail was easy, the sound of the water was pleasant, and the forest was lovely. It turned out great even if we didn’t get to make a loop.