What do Musical Youth, Peter Tosh and April 20th have to do with backpacking, you ask? That’s correct, after doing some research I have confirmed with the Estacada Ranger Station that access to High Lake is open and an alternative trail was clear as of Fall 2007. Somewhere, Mola Ram is freaking stoked.
Trail is currently being restored. Consequently there are a couple of rough spots. The upper trail head was isolated by road closures after the floods of 1996. The access is now from an older trail head abandoned in 1969.
Follow the 4620 Road from Hwy 224 (Indian Henry) for 7.8 miles. You will pass a red (literally) road on the left just before another left which has been closed off by piles of rock. This was the continuation of 4620 towards Thunder Mt lost by land slides. The trail head is at this former junction of 4620 and 4622. Follow a cat road parallel to the abandoned road for a slight way and trail departs to the right.
Follow up a couple of switchbacks to an apparent end of trail at a tumble of large blow down. Climb uphill and slightly left and follow a clearing through the rhododendrons about 200′ to resume the original trail. There may be flagging marking the way. The passage though here is becoming clearer as use increases.
Continue up the hill into a stand of 35 year old trees to another apparent end of trail. There will soon be a bit of a grassy opening on your right. At this point climb up a steep set of short switchbacks in thimble berries (yum) to the decommissioned road. There may be some flagging marking the spot where you come out on to this road. Make sure you are confident you will be able to find your way back the way you have come. We have begun scratching out new tread here but it will take another season or two to complete.
Once on the road proceed north about a third of a mile to a fork in the road. The trail head lost to the road closures is at the junction rising up the ridge between the two roads. From here onwards the trail is easy to follow. The High Lake junction is in a saddle between the two summits 2.35 miles from the trailhead. It is a half mile down to the lake. A descent of a little over 300′ in elevation. The trail to the summit is seriously brushed in at places. Down to High Lake the route is also brushy in places. High Lake has two nice camp sites. Be careful over the large log on the way to the east shore camp. We used to walk it for years, but the bark has recently begun to slip away.
Mileage to High Lake: 2.87 miles, to the summit: 2.5 miles.
High Lake is ideally suited for field testing as an overnight trip, though the hike itself is steep, but short. Nostalgia value very high indeed. The elevation however may make Spring access impossible as Fish Creek Mtn. has an elevation of 4993 feet and will likely be snow covered for another month or more.