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Dry River Wilderness - 7/28-7/30/2002


Staff member
Jul 1, 2001
Date(s) Hiked: Sunday - Tuesday, 7/28 - 7/30/02

Trails(s) Hiked: Dry River Trail, Isolation Trail (West), Davis Path

Total Distance: 18 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Conditions: Warm, humid, wet trails, 50+ MPH winds above treeline

Special Required Equipment: The usual...and a good attitude

Trip Report: We reached the Dry River Trailhead around noon on Sunday. There were five other cars in the parking area along Route 302. The goal was to camp close to the Dry River Trail/Isolation Trail junction about 5 miles in. We passed a WMNF ranger who reminded us of the Backcountry rules as well as keeping our campfire small and to be sure it's fully extinguished. She said she found some that were still 'warm'. We passed a few more groups of hikers before taking a break at the Mount Clinton Trail Junction. We made our way to the Isolation Trail and decided to camp at the designated site just up from the junction. We made it to camp in about three hours.

We set up camp on a well-used designated site on a nice rise. It looks like a previous visitor's campfire got a bit out of hand. This was ironic especially after our chat with the forest ranger. The rest of the day we relaxed pondering the next day's hike. The goal was Bootspur via Isolation (West) and the Davis Path. Then on to Lakes via Davis Path and the Camel Trail. We would then descend Oakes Gulf back to camp via the Dry River Trail.

Monday morning looked promising. It was mostly cloudy but we hoped the morning cloudiness would lift off the summits. We started up the Isolation Trail around 7:30 AM. It was immediately apparent that this trail is not widely used. The overgrown vegetation and light mist made for a damp hike to the Davis Path junction. The trail ascends steadily rising almost 1,600' in 2.6 miles. We passed one woman who asked our intentions. She recommended thinking hard about it. She was the last person we saw for the rest of the trip. We pressed on noticing the wind picking up.

After a short break at the junction with the Davis Path, we started towards Bootspur. We quickly reached treeline where the winds were very strong. The ridge was fully engulfed in clouds and the travel was slow. The winds steadily intensified as we ascended the ridge and we decided to turn back. We estimated the winds at at least 50 MPH when we were very close to the Glen Boulder Trail junction at about 5,000'. There are really no bail-out routes between Bootspur and Lakes and weren't too keen on fighting 50 MPH winds in poor visibility the entire way. At about 11:30 AM we started back down the ridge, not particularly looking forward to descending the Isolation Trail.

We took a lunch break just below treeline and then started our journey back to the junction. The light rain and vegetation made for a wet descent. We arrived at camp about 1:30 PM and spent the rest of the day drying things out. We took note of the clouds racing off the Southern Presidential ridge all afternoon and felt comfortable with our decision to bail.

Woke up around 6:00 AM on Tuesday, about 20 minutes before the rains came. We packed up and left camp just before 8:00 AM. A long 5 mile slog to the car ended this two night base camp. We reached the car at 10:20 AM.

Images from this hike.