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Old 08-09-2018, 12:19 PM   #1
JohnnyVirgil
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Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead to Spruce Lake

A couple of questions regarding this out and back trip I'm contemplating. Anyone know current trail conditions? Also, I've never been to spruce lake before. I loved doing the west canada lakes loop a couple of years ago, but was thinking if spruce was worth a visit, I'd do that instead of repeating the loop in the opposite direction, which was my other plan. Thanks!
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Old 08-09-2018, 01:28 PM   #2
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From W. Canada Cr. to Spruce along the NPT is clear. The trail steward just went through at the end of July. Some new bog bridges were also installed. From Pillsbury to the NPT, I cannot give a recent update.
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Old 08-09-2018, 01:31 PM   #3
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Have you seen Rob's (Backpacking Adventures) YT video of his his trip by Spruce Lake? If not, take a look. I was also wondering about the trail conditions from the Pillsbury trail head to the connection with the NPT; I spoke with the ranger about a week ago and he said there's some blowdown since the crew couldn't get in this spring because of the late snow. Supposedly it's not too bad. I don't know if anything has changed since I spoke with him. I am planning on doing the French Louie loop next week and hope to visit Spruce on another trip starting from the Spruce Lake trail head.
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Old 08-09-2018, 02:00 PM   #4
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Have you seen Rob's (Backpacking Adventures) YT video of his his trip by Spruce Lake? If not, take a look. I was also wondering about the trail conditions from the Pillsbury trail head to the connection with the NPT; I spoke with the ranger about a week ago and he said there's some blowdown since the crew couldn't get in this spring because of the late snow. Supposedly it's not too bad. I don't know if anything has changed since I spoke with him. I am planning on doing the French Louie loop next week and hope to visit Spruce on another trip starting from the Spruce Lake trail head.
No, I have not! I'll check it out. I just don't want to go there if its easy to get to from some other direction and is a busy place.
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Old 08-09-2018, 03:36 PM   #5
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No, I have not! I'll check it out. I just don't want to go there if its easy to get to from some other direction and is a busy place.
I have no first hand experience with Spruce, but since it's on the NPT, I would expect to see more people.
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Old 08-09-2018, 03:54 PM   #6
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... I just don't want to go there if its easy to get to from some other direction and is a busy place.
Just an FYI... It’s only about a 3 mile hike to the southern end of Spruce Lake from the trailhead at the end of Jessup River Road. Lean-to #2 used to be my favorite, until they moved it up the hill with no view whatsoever. #3 is a nice spot, but the lean-to is rather small. I believe lean-to #1 was just renovated by lean2rescue, but I haven’t been back there in years.
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Old 08-09-2018, 10:23 PM   #7
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Just an FYI... Itís only about a 3 mile hike to the southern end of Spruce Lake from the trailhead at the end of Jessup River Road. Lean-to #2 used to be my favorite, until they moved it up the hill with no view whatsoever. #3 is a nice spot, but the lean-to is rather small. I believe lean-to #1 was just renovated by lean2rescue, but I havenít been back there in years.
Thanks, I didn't realize that. #3 might be good. Our plan was to get to the pillsbury mtn trailhead on a sunday, late morning, then spend 3-4 days exploring, so we'd probably hit spruce for a monday or tuesday night. Hopefully less highly trafficked during the week?
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Old 08-09-2018, 02:32 PM   #8
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I didn't do the exact trip you are planning, but a few days ago I section hiked the NPT starting in Piseco and traveling north, stopping at Spruce the first night, then on to West Lake, past Cedar Lakes, and finally ending at Wakely Dam.

I remember the section from Spruce to the area near South Lake which you're going to be hiking as being in good shape. I can recall only a small number of blow-downs and just a few muddy sections, all to be expected just about anywhere.

The only truly "bad" section of trail I went through was the handful of miles between West Lake and the southern end of Cedar Lakes (which, obviously, you won't be hiking unless you change your itinerary). As per normal there were numerous deep, wide and messy mud pits all through that stretch.

FWIW, and if they are still there, there was a group of very active loons (read: beautifully loud ) repeatedly serenading me during my time at Spruce Lake. The only thing which somewhat spoiled that was the group of very active teens (read: obnoxiously loud and impaired) staying on a point just down the lake from me. For a reason I can't begin to fathom, they thought it necessary and acceptable to very loudly bark, yip, howl and carry on in response to the loons. Over and over and over again.

Hopefully for you the loons remain and the loud party does not.

Enjoy!

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Old 08-09-2018, 10:36 PM   #9
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The only thing which somewhat spoiled that was the group of very active teens (read: obnoxiously loud and impaired) staying on a point just down the lake from me. For a reason I can't begin to fathom, they thought it necessary and acceptable to very loudly bark, yip, howl and carry on in response to the loons. Over and over and over again.

Hopefully for you the loons remain and the loud party does not.

Enjoy!
Thanks -- this kind of idiocy is what I'm trying to avoid by going in on a Sunday.
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Old 08-10-2018, 02:30 AM   #10
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Thanks -- this kind of idiocy is what I'm trying to avoid by going in on a Sunday.
This happened on a Thursday night actually, but as I said hopefully you have better luck.

Not sure if you are a tent/hammock camper or one who stays exclusively in LTs, but if you don't require a lean-to and are looking for a little extra seclusion I would suggest Whitney Lake. If you follow the side trail which leaves the French Louie Trail a little west of Pillsbury Lake you will find campsites immediately upon reaching the lake.

The spur trail can be a bit tricky to see and very easy to walk right by (especially with summer foliage) if you've never found it before. That being said, if you're interested and need/want them I could give you some tips on where and what to look for in order to spot the turn off more easily- just PM me.

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Old 08-10-2018, 08:33 AM   #11
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This happened on a Thursday night actually, but as I said hopefully you have better luck.

Not sure if you are a tent/hammock camper or one who stays exclusively in LTs, but if you don't require a lean-to and are looking for a little extra seclusion I would suggest Whitney Lake. If you follow the side trail which leaves the French Louie Trail a little west of Pillsbury Lake you will find campsites immediately upon reaching the lake.

The spur trail can be a bit tricky to see and very easy to walk right by (especially with summer foliage) if you've never found it before. That being said, if you're interested and need/want them I could give you some tips on where and what to look for in order to spot the turn off more easily- just PM me.
Awesome, thank you. When we did the loop, we were specifically looking to stay in LTs so we bypassed Whitney since it didn't have any, and spent our first night at Sampson. Whitney might be a better option instead of Spruce because of what Justin pointed out. I grabbed a map and I wasn't remembering that it was so close to the Jessup River Road trailhead. From the map though, it almost looks like you should be able to camp at Whitney, then do a shorter loop going from Whitney to Cedar, then back to the NTP, and out where you started, but there appears to be a really steep bit of terrain and no trail back to the NTP from where that trail terminates.
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Old 08-10-2018, 05:04 PM   #12
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Sorry to butt in here...
You're saying the old trail from Pillsbury Lake to Cedar Lakes is relatively clear?
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Old 08-10-2018, 05:29 PM   #13
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Sorry to butt in here...
You're saying the old trail from Pillsbury Lake to Cedar Lakes is relatively clear?
yes.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:02 AM   #14
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Sorry to butt in here...
You're saying the old trail from Pillsbury Lake to Cedar Lakes is relatively clear?
What a difference a few years & a few internet posts can make.
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Old 08-11-2018, 08:45 AM   #15
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What a difference a few years & a few internet posts can make.
Justin,
I actually struggle with this...Have you noticed that I haven't been posting much.
In some cases, more exposure could be a good thing, improving some carries, for example. But on the flip side, too much exposure can invite too many of the less conservative minded, witness the constant growth of "flowers" on high peaks trails.

Then again, many of the spots I prefer don't attract any others. When is the last time anyone paddled up the Newcomb River??
MDB is spending a few days in FL with her sisters, so I'll have some midweek time to check out stuff that no one else wants to do...like Pillsbury to Cedar Lakes.
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:23 PM   #16
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What a difference a few years & a few internet posts can make.
I struggle with this too. On one hand, I know that most if not all of the members of this forum are like-minded and leave places better than they found them, and are considerate of others when out in the forest. On the other, I know that when someone does a google search for a particular location, posts here show up pretty near the top, so it's not always the intended audience that is seeing what you posted.
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Old 08-10-2018, 08:30 PM   #17
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Thanks russ
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Old 08-12-2018, 06:07 PM   #18
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I for one appreciate the tips and information you guys have shared. I have always done my part to limit impact and try to leave the places I stay better than they were.
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Old 08-20-2018, 11:15 PM   #19
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My son and I had the pleasure of meeting fellow forum member jblaser out on the French Louie loop and sharing camp sites and a few days of hiking with him. West Canada Lakes is a really beautiful spot, a few wet sections and some others with blow downs didn’t really detract from the experience for us at all. Except for wanting to check out other sections of the park, we’d go right back and do it again. My son would have had us resupply at the nearest grocery and go right back in to do it again!

We found the last half mile or so driving to the Pillsbury trailhead tough going in my old Saab, but ultimately passable. They actually dragged that section of road while we were hiking, and it’s better now.

Will (and Liam) S
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