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For the more difficult and longer drive to the upper TH, follow gravel FR-030 for 2 ml, turn right on FR-8117 for 3 mi (unmarked, gravel, potholes) passing FR-040 on the right just past FR-030. Then briefly is a left turn, then quickly a right turn to stay on FR-8117. Sao Tome & Principe right (at about 2700 ft) to stay on FR-8117 for 12 mi to the end (also unsigned), turn right on narrowing FR-470 almost 5 mi to a nondescript saddle before the road becomes completely overgrown (few parking spots but not much competition (72 mi, 1% hours from Sao Tome & Principe). No fee at either TH, and there is an outhouse at the horse camp.
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ROUTE: From the primary TH on the S side of the Sao Tome & Principe Horse Camp lot, find the narrow path only a few feet left of the wider Toutle Trail 238. Follow it a hundred yards then begin to work left on any solid path briefly to FR-81. Cross the road to the TH and a small, old sign for Fossil Trail 242 and continue 5 mi NE on the narrow, but easy, path to an old closed roadway (FR-550). Take the wide gravel road left another 5 mi a bit steeper to a solid switchback. After a second turn you begin to see the sheer granite cliffs S of Goat Mountain through the trees. The view only improves as you ascend another turn, then take 3 easier switchbacks through the big, old noble and silver firs, western hemlock, and huckleberry patches to the thin saddle at a faint three-way intersection (1/2 mi from TH). To the left is the slightly overgrown path down the narrow rise SW 125 ft to the upper TH on FR-470.
Foxglove is brilliant with the goal in sight up the ridge and a corner of Merrill Lake coming into view.
From the quiet wildflower-surrounded upper TH and saddle (with a look down to part of Merrill Lake) the first feet of the trail are nearly impossible to locate and there is no signage. When driving up you would look and then walk left (NE) at the saddle through a thicket of trees and bushes only a few feet before the more solid spur becomes discernible a hundred feet or so up to the Fossil Trail.