Mother Lode Loop
Low Point: 2400'
High Point: 5300'
Season: All Year
DirectionsFrom Estacada, drive Highway 224 to Ripplebrook, where it turns into Forest Service Road 46. Continue for 3.5 miles turning right onto Forest Service Road 63. Follow this road south, continuing left at a the sign for Bagby Hot Springs, and over the Collawash River. Past the river crossing, stay right at all intersections, where it eventually turns into Forest Service Road 6380 as it drops down to cross the Collawash River (about 15 miles from the intersection with Road 46). Immediately turn left and follow this road for a half mile to the trailhead at its end. All roads are pasable with normal passenger cars.
This loop trip travels through a variety of terrain within the Bull of the Woods Wilderness, from the beautiful Elk Lake Creek, to the higher elevation ridgetops with views of the surrounding wilderness and the rest of the Cascades. Unfortunately a wildfire had a large impact on much of this route, so some of the hiking can be a bit rough with trees down. The area around Welcome Lakes was quite damaged -- while the trails seemed to be in good condition in this area (with the exception of the trail leading to the lower lake), campsites around the lakes are now non-existent. We completed this trip in July of 2012.