Actually, it’s a replacement trail. Do you remember Link trail, the section that connected Volcano Ridge trailhead to the pass between Volcano Ridge and the rocky knoll which is South Volcano Ridge? — a long boringly straight cutline lined with alder, followed by a horrendously steep and stony cutline up onto a ridge? Well, the new Link trail is the anthisus of straight; it winds A LOT up an east-facing ridge to the south of the old route. A few other facts: It starts 820 m south of the old junction on what was Gorge-Link trail. It’s 2.6 km long, has bridges over every creek starting from Volcano Ridge trailhead, and joins the old route almost midway between Volcano Ridge Summit trail and the pass.
It was flagged back in 2009 by Don Cockerton (now retired) who saw the desperate need for a better trail. As I write this, the contractors have reached the meadows about 200 m away from its flagged junction with the old Link. So. though not quite finished, the trail is definitely followable. Right now it’s a wide track, which I found a little off-putting, but I know that in time the grass creeping in over the edges will make it a more aesthetic trail. It would be interesting to get other people’s opinions of the new route on the blog. I think the bikers will love it.
To get there, we parked at Gorge Creek trailhead and biked the closed section of Gorge Creek road to the old Volcano Ridge trailhead. The road is still in excellent shape and is being driven on a regular basis by the contractors who have keys to the gates. If you don’t want to bike the road (and returning up that hill is NOT something to look forward to after a day’s hiking), you can make a 12.5 km loop from Gorge Creek trailhead with South Volcano Ridge trail and the new Link trail. If you want to visit Volcano Ridge summit, add on 5 km. OK, so getting to Volcano Ridge still requires a lengthy walk. But it’s so worth it: Volcano is the best viewpoint in the foothills, the flowers are full out, the access trail is still clear.