As soon as the gate opened on the 15th we were off to check out the new look of the Mustang Hills. Had the yellow and orange striped flagging put up by SLS to protect the two main trails actually worked? The answer is YES and YES. The summit trail where it leaves the old highway has a cutblock on the right side of it and you cross a logging road halfway up the steep bit, but after this it’s the same as it ever was to east hill. In fact, it is only on the summit of the hill that one sees the logging in the shallow valley below you to the south.
Diehards making a return loop with the trail between Beaver Flat and Cobbles Flats, will encounter a lightly logged area on the trail down the south ridge, but it’s easy enough to follow the edge of the forest and pick up the trail lower down in trees just above where a cairn signals a left turn.
If looking for other return routes from the east top, you have a few years in which to use the logging roads in the valley below before tree planting and reclamation starts. From the east top descend the open SW slope to the end of a logging road and head across the flat valley floor. At a 4-way after a bridge crossing, the higher road returns you to the summit trail, the lefthand road to a 4-way on the old highway where you turn left to descend to Cobble Flats. Interestingly, just before this junction a yellow sign warns loggers of a trail ahead.
The old highway is also untouched and available to people making a loop back to Rainy Summit from Cobble Flats. Once considered a rather boring plod, it has been transformed into something quite scenic and is well worth walking just for the views. Lower down, two legs of it run through a cutblock, but fringes of trees on either side delineate the track quite nicely. Now we just need to have the trees fallen across it removed.