A few posts ago I mentioned that the trail was a classroom. It seems as though we always learn something out on a hike, and our recent trip to Brice Creek was no different. During the hike we learned that rough-skinned newts love to play hide-and-seek, and they stink at it. 😀 We’ll get to that later, but first a little about the trail.
Brice Creek is located to the east of Cottage Grove, OR and flows into the Row River which in turns empties into the Willamette. There are several trailheads located along the creek in the Umpqua National Forest making it possible to choose the length of your hike. We chose to start at the West Brice Trailhead and hike to the other end of trail at the Champion Creek Trailhead. From there we could visit a pair of waterfalls on Trestle Creek.
There were a few flowers blooming, mostly white varieties that are typical in older/denser forests.
Most of the trillium was already finished but from the leaves and the few we did see it was clear they were very large in this area.
The trail had been up above Brice Creek until coming down to the bridge for the campground. From there the trail stayed closer to the creek for awhile providing a number of chances to get to the creek and get an up close view.
We then climbed up and away from the creek again before descending to another footbridge 2.6 mi from the last, this time to Lund Park.
We’d read that there was a meadow at Lund Park and were hoping that it might have some good wildflowers. We were a little disappointed when we arrived to find a couple of yellow flowers, some bleeding heart, and a lot of white wild strawberry blooms was all there was.
Someone had put together a somewhat substantive rock collection on one of the picnic tables though.
We started getting a few sun breaks after reaching Lund Park and in just another .5mi we reached a trail junction with Upper Trestle Falls trail. We would be returning down this trail after visiting the lower falls and taking the Upper Falls trail from the other end at the Champion Creek Trailhead. Before we get to that though this is where the hide-and-seek lesson comes in.
We had been seeing a lot of newts on the trail and noticed that when they were trying to get our of our way they tend to stick their head into or under something.
This wasn’t the first time we’d observed this behavior. From a 2011 hike:
Just after leaving Lund Park I passed by one of them and turned to Heather to have her stop to make sure it didn’t get stepped on. When we stopped it headed for the first thing it could stick it’s head under – Heather’s shoe 😀
All I could think of is a toddler playing hide-and-seek. Apparently if they can’t see us we can’t see them. Heather was able to move and leave the newt unharmed and we’d discovered natures worst hide-and-seek players.
In another .5mi we had reached Trestle Creek Falls trail which would take us to the lower falls. After a brisk quarter mile climb we could see our destination.
I got to the end of the trail where a pile of debris had collected and took another picture but the log was still interfering with the view.
Some careful log walking got me to the gravel bar on the other side of the debris where I was able to get an unobstructed photo.
There was another little island of exposed rocks just before the next set of logs but a 15 to 20 foot gap lay between them and my rocks. I decided that wet socks were worth a look at the splash pool and dashed across the water to the other set of rocks. I was getting over this set of logs so I declared victory there and did the splash and dash back and carefully picked my back to the trail.
As we were preparing to leave the falls we met a group of hikers coming up the trail. They were lamenting the fact that they had not brought their trekking poles with them and asked about the loop to the upper falls. We had both expected to see them again on the loop but never did. Returning to the Brice Creek trail we crossed Trestle Creek on a nice footbridge and finished the last half mile to the Champion Creek TH. The Upper Falls Trail starts just a bit down the road from the trailhead and climbs stiffly 1.4 miles to the Upper Falls. We both thought it was a pretty challenging 900′ climb but the reward at the top was well worth it. The upper falls was located in a wide bowl and was split into two levels. The trail wound around the bowl and behind the falls allowing us to experience the full force of the falls up close.
The Sun was out for our return trip which we made in pretty good time since I’d taken most of the pictures on the way by the first time. We had been discussing the lack of colorful flowers along the way, and when we got back to first exposed area we noticed that we had completely missed a field of plectritis. There was also a patch of what I believe to be giant blue eyed mary.
There was also a lone yellow flower.
It took us a lot longer than I had figured to complete the hike, but when we got home and looked at the GPS it had us going a couple of miles further than I had calculated. I’m not entirely sure what made up the difference, but it explained the extra time so we decided to just go with it since it made us feel better about getting back later than expected.