Trail:Henry Hagg Lake
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The trail around Hagg Lake is a close-to-portland Gem, with over 13 miles of single track, and a little over a thousand feet of climbing. The trail is generally muddy and unridable in the winter (in other words this is *NOT* a winter ride destination). The rest of the year it can be great, but sometimes gets overgrown with blackberries and other greenery. This is some Poison Oak present off-trail.
The NWTA Bike Patrol was first initially focused on patrolling this trail with Memorandum of Understanding with Washington County.
How to find it
The lake is about 5.5 miles SW of Forest Grove, as the crow flies. The turnoff for Hagg is about 4.5 miles south of Forest Grove on Highway 47, which runs North/South between Forest Grove and McMinnville.
Trail is generally very nice, but can be quite muddy in the winter (when it really shouldn't be ridden). There can be blackberries at times, and there can be Poison Oak off the trail (so TecNu or equivalent is advised after the ride).
12/23/2012 - trail patrol report: The Park is open, and the trail is in excellent condition. Overgrowth is not yet bad, and mud is almost gone. There are a few muddy spots on the south side of the lake, in the usual spots, but the reroutes on the North side are excellent, dry, and very ridable (thank Joe and Bruce!).
Seasonal Open/Close Schedule
The Park is technically closed in the winter, and when open is only open from Sunrise to Sunset (i.e. no camping). That just means no support from the staff, not that you'll get arrested (i.e. ride at your own risk during such times, if you so choose).
There is only one trail which circumnavigates Hagg Lake. Many folks prefer to ride clockwise, but those who ride it much seem to prefer counterclockwise.
Many folks like to go just across the Dam (left right after entering the park), but I prefer to go to the next (smaller) parking lot past the big dirt one. Then I ride back across the dam.
There are quite a few places where hiking/fishing trails cross the loop trail, but if you take a wrong turn you can't go very far.
NOTE: There is access fee. See misc section below for details.
This trail offers a lot of amazingly fun riding as well as a little taste of each of the worst things western oregon has to offer for mountain bikers. Fortunately, each of those worst things is generally easy to avoid or adapt to if you know what to expect and know what to avoid.
Things to Avoid:
1. Avoid open, sun drenched and low lying meadows at all costs during the summer growing season. It isn't humanly possible to keep up with the overgrowth in these areas. If there is a sign that says "Ecologically Sensitive" find the nearest spur and ride up to the road and bypass it. This isn't to protect the area, it's to protect you. In western Oregon, the ecology is sensitive like a rabid alley cat. It's easy for you to cause some damage, but you're going to get hurt in the process. The trail is heavily rutted through this area and the vegetation has grown in to conceal some very dangerous potholes and deep ruts. There are deep holes full of prickly things that'll swallow you and your bike no problem.
2. Watch out for spurs that descend to the lake. There are a lot of little fishing trails that are easy to get lost on.
3. Watch out for swimmers on the trail! These are not the typical savvy outdoorsman hikers you're used to running across on trails. These people don't get out in the woods a lot, they're wearing flip-flops, and they don't know trail etiquette. Just get out of their way, be very patient, and offer encouraging smiles and a good attitude. They're often blocking the trail on the North side near the overgrown ecologically sensitive meadow kind of close to where the creek enters the reservoir. That's one more good reason to just bypass that area by using the road. Also, as a side note, I would really suggest you DON'T offer these people your opinion about their behavior, no matter how stupid. Remember that they're also drinking and they're probably a bit more uptight than your average mountain biker.
4. Poison Oak: There is some. It's mostly on the south side under the trees. Be careful.
The Good Stuff
So, if you've managed to avoid the prickly and rutted open meadows, the rest of this trail is pretty sweet! All the tree covered parts are amazing. Just go clockwise, the trail undulates wildly with a pretty randomly even mix of rolling hills throughout. There are few sustained climbs but a lot of short steep ones. Keep your momentum up and make sure you're in the right gear and you'll be fine. There's still sporadic undergrowth encroaching on the trail under the canopy, but nothing that even approaches the disaster going on in the meadows. Seriously, the canopied parts of this trail are a blast! You'll probably have to bail and walk the bike quite a few times, which means you're having fun, right? The best way to enjoy this trail is to take the nearest spur up to the road every time you see a meadow, then drop back in where you think it goes through the forest. This is especially important right after the bridge that crosses the inlet creek. When you hit that bridge, stay on the road for a couple of miles until you see a tiny parking lot on the right side at 45.49498, -123.21833 and you'll hit what is by far the best part of the trail as it undulates for about 4-5 screaming miles back to the dam.
So, stay out of the meadows, and this is an awesome trail.
The Clockwise Loop - Go across the damn after entering the parking lot, then park at the large parking lot on your right, just across the damn. From there, ride down the road to a small paved pull-out parking area, and head down the trail.
Soon you'll cross a bridge that NWTA helped construct, then you will come to a picnic area and the large Boat Ramp C area, where there are bathrooms and a food vendor (and water).
Continue on the south side of the lake, going clockwise, until you come to the west end of the lake, where the trail dumps you out on the road. Continue around the west end of the lake, going about 1/4 mile until you see the trail jump into the woods again. This enters the Butterfly area. Be careful to stay on the trail here.
Continue until Boat Ramp A. You are dumped on the road a couple of times, but carefully ride along the right side of the road and jump back on the trail when you see it.
After Boat Ramp A it's only a mile or two to the damn, going behind the Ranger Station (fenced with chain link). Ride back across the damn and you are at your car with a smile!
The Counter-Clockwise Loop" - Start as you do for the CW loop, but ride the other direction. Be sure to be careful when on the road, since you will need to get off the trail, cross the road, go a little ways, cross the road again to the next section of the trail. Watch for cars, but this direction is preferred by some.
The Sain Creek Out and Back -- Drive on south side of lake to the Sain Creek area, park carefully off the road, and ride CCW on the trail, which enters from the road there. Head until the NWTA bridge, then back.
The Boat Ramp Loop -- Some like to park at Boat Ramp A, since it has water, bathrooms, and a bike wishing hose. Otherwise, the loop choices are the same.
NOTE: Always be careful of hikers and fisher persons when on this trail, especially on the weekends, and especially around the Boat Ramps and Picnic area.
Local Points of Interest
There is a very nice McMenamins in Forest Grove. If you go due north on Highway 47, then turn left at the first light in Forest Grove (Highway 8). The McM's is on the NW corner -- it's an old Forester's retirement home. [Check out their disc golf course!]
NOTE: There is a $5 per visit or $50 per year entry fee. If you are a volunteer bike patroller with NWTA, then you receive an annual pass if you sign-up to patrol this trail at least 3 times.
This trail was originally created with help from PUMP (our bike club before being rebranded) about 10 years ago. [NOTE: I'd love better history, if somebody has it, but I wasn't here then ...]
Contact email@example.com if you would like to get involved helping be trail ambassador rider or full bike patrol volunteer.
JOIN US TO HELP REPAIR TRAILS! For a trail maintenance work party/BBQ on July 28th! More info/sign-up (login required to view sign-up form)
--Gonzoleeman 12:18, 30 August 2011 (PDT)