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South Fork Mountain, Oregon | June 2023

WJ7V's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Don't know
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Don't know

With the reopening of FR 45 in the Mt. Hood National Forest Clackamas Ranger District in Oregon, a set of previously closed peaks are available to activators again just in time for the summer SOTA season! I chose to activate South Fork Mountain, along with Wanderer's Peak (W7O/WV-052), in a single day double. The area was previously closed due to wildfire damage from the 2020 fires.

South Fork Mountain, along with Wanderer's Peak and Goat Mountain, are a set of peaks just SE of the Portland Metro area and within 1.5 to 2 hour drive on well maintained forest roads. FR 45 is accessible (at the time of writing) only via Hillockburn Road. (NOTE: If you were planning to access the 45 road via Hwy 224 at Memaloose, the bridge is CLOSED at the time of writing. Watch this site for road conditions in the area.)FR 45 is paved for a good distance, turning occasionally to gravel but is clear of trees and well maintained. 

Google maps gives good directions to the area. Start by setting your destination to 45.2307, -122.3258 or use S. Hillockburn Road as your destination. Proceed 4.9 miles on S. Hillockburn, which turns into FR 45 at a gate. Continue another 7.9 miles on FR 45. FR 45 is mostly paved but turns to gravel after 5-6 miles. Turn right onto 4540 which is paved again for 3 miles. In 1.7 miles, at the serene Helen Lake, pause here to reflect on the natural beauty and then take a sharp left, continuing uphill another 1.9 miles. From here, either park if you value your paint or bear left on the two track and continue to the summit (0.8 miles). This road is Subaru-able.

The summit has room for a couple cars, a fire ring and mucho broken glass. The summit is burned out but trees remain for throwing a wire. I set up a mast without issue. Excellent line of sight into Portland for 2m. No radio activity to speak of. ATT service was 2-3 bars of 5G. Spotting was no issue.