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frog lake buttes or (via trails 530 and 484) | october 2022

K7WXW's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Good digi echos

Summary - Frog Lake Buttes doesn't have views but is a nice hike in the summer and a good snowshoe or ski destination in the winter.  Park at the Frog Lake Sno Park and you have a choice of three routes: a 2.5 mile service road (the usual winter route), a 4.5 mile trail hike that starts on the PCT and winds around to the northwest side of the butte, or a 2.5 mile trail hike up the east side.  Two meter contacts into Portland and Vancouver will be tough without a yagi or j pole, self-spotting is easy, and APRS digis ping.

TL;DR - This was my second activation of Frog Lake Buttes. The first time I snowshoed up the service road (ATT has a cell tower on the summit) that turns off of the road to the Frog Lake campground.  This time I went up by way of trail 530 on the southwest side of the butte and came down along trail 484 which winds around Lower Twin Lake and connects to the Pacific Crest Trail.  The hike up, through bands of old and new forest, was 2.5 miles and a 1500 foot climb. The hike back was 4.5 miles with a 300 foot climb. Both are very pretty hikes.

From the parking lot, hike along FR2610 for half a mile and pick up trail 530 on the left. The trail is a steady climb that steepens as it crosses the service road and up to the junction with trail 484. There you turn southeast and climb to the summit of the butte (roughly .75 miles) on 484.  (Note: trail numbers on some maps, including gaiagps, are wrong but the trails are signed.)  There is an ATT cell tower on the tree-covered summit, so self-spotting is easy, and you will find a couple of nice operating positions north of the tower.

Though I could hear a couple of SOTA chasers calling me with my HT, they could not hear me. If you want to work two meters, bring along a good antenna! After setting up a mast and EFRW sloper, I started on 40 meters and worked my way up the dial. It was a very good day on 40 and 18 meters but pretty quiet on the other bands. There weren't a lot of other ops out today, so S2S contacts were scarce, though I managed three chases. My longest distance contact was with N1AW, in MA. After ninety minutes or so on the summit, I broke down my gear, packed up and hiked down.

I decided to make the hike a loop, and stayed on trail 484 rather than turning on to 530. Trail 484 goes north to Lower Twin Lake, connects to trail 495, which loops around the lake and joins the Pacific Crest trail.  About 1.5 miles later, you are back at the Sno Park, for a total of 4.5 miles and about 300' of climbing.  I really like this loop and other than the folks you'll encounter on the PCT (who rarely go past Twin Lakes), you will have the place to yourself, at least on a Thursday.