This week we are throwing back to an 8 mile loop we hiked at Cape Mountain north of Florence on Labor Day weekend in 2011. This hike appealed to us for two reasons at the time, it was in the 6 to 10 mile range and it was a loop. Another draw was the possibility of seeing an elk for the first time on a hike.
We began our hike at the Dry Lake Horse Camp located 3 miles off of Highway 101 along Herman Cape Road which is 7 miles north of Florence. From the trailhead we set off on the Princess Tasha Trail.
After .4 miles we came to a 4-way junction. Here we took a right onto the Scurvey Ridge Trail. After another .4 miles we came to a viewpoint with a bench.
We followed the ridge for another mile where we arrived at a replica of a hitsi, Siuslaw Indian hunting cabin.
A short distance from the hitsi we arrived at another junction near the Horse Creek Campground
We kept left at junctions following pointers for “Horse Water” for a quarter mile to the Berry Creek Trail. We turned left onto the Berry Creek Trail and followed this trail a total of 2.2 miles. It began on an old roadbed but quickly left that and switchbacked down to Berry Creek.
After rock hopping across the creek the trail a short distance to another 4-way junction. We left the Berry Creek Trail here turning right on the Nelson Ridge Trail which gently climbed uphill to the ridge crest.
On top of the ridge is a meadow that the Forest Service created in an attempt to simulate the elk friendly habitat that the Native Americans created by setting fires.
Unfortunately we didn’t see any elk on this day but we took a seat on a bench and enjoyed a somewhat limited view due to low clouds.
After passing through the meadow we kept right at junctions for 1.8 miles back to our car, stopping briefly to take a look at Dry Lake.
We were done early enough in the day that we decided to drive up Highway 101 three miles to the Sea Lion Caves. While it isn’t exactly a hike the cave tour does require walking along a path to viewpoints and is a worthwhile stop.
Inside the cave sea lions lounged on the rocks.
Windows in the cave walls also allow a look outside to seabirds on the rocky cliffs.
While driving home we spotted a herd of elk grazing in a field on a farm. It figured. It would be another 55 hikes (2 years) before we finally saw elk during a hike. Never the less it had been another nice hike at the coast. Happy Trails!
Flickr: Cape Mountain