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Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Killin Wetlands & Elk & Kings Mountain Loop

The weather finally cooperated enough for us to get back to our originally planned 2022 hikes. For this outing we were heading back to one of our earliest hikes, Elk & Kings Mountains (post) to see how much we remembered from that first visit. When we made the conscious choice to take up hiking in 2010 the loop over Elk and Kings Mountains was our eighth hike. One of only a handful of hikes rated “Very Difficult” in all five of Sullivan’s “100 Hikes” guidebooks, and the only one in the Oregon Coast book, this had been quite the challenge for us. We were curious how nearly 12 years of additional hikes, and age, might change our experience this time around. We were also hiking the trail at a better time of the year having tackled it in the heat of mid-August the first time around. Our hope was that the earlier visit would provide a different experience with wildflowers and with the streams and creeks along the route.

Before we started the difficult loop though we stopped at Killin Wetlands Nature Park just outside of Banks, OR for a short warmup hike on the 0.7 mile loop. An unintended result of having altered the plan for our two previous outings was that this stop would mark our third straight outing visiting an Oregon Metro managed park. (Orenco Woods)(Chehalem Ridge)
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We set off on a clockwise loop on the Peat Swamp Trail then stayed left at its junction with the Waterfowl Way Trail.
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IMG_9959Peat Swamp Trail.

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Our 6am start time paid off as we were not only the only ones at the park but we spotted a deer (too quick for a photo), two otters, several families of Canada geese, and a gadwall and a mallard.
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IMG_9963One of the two otters that were swimming in the wetlands.

IMG_9974Mallard

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IMG_9972The gadwall amid a family of Canada geese. When we got home and looked closer at the picture we realized that one of the round shapes we took for a clump of mud was actually an animal. We can’t make out the tail to know for sure whether it was a beaver or a nutria but we’d like to think it was another beaver.

IMG_9973The beaver? turned a bit in this photo but we still couldn’t make out the tail. It does appear relatively large when compared to the adult goose though.

Waterfowl Way made a 180 turn and headed uphill through some small trees to return to the Peat Swamp Trail.
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We stayed left again and completed the short but eventful loop.
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From Killin Wetlands we headed west on Highway 6 to Elk Creek Campground and the Elk Mountain Trailhead.
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We set off on the Wilson River Trail which began a 0.2 mile climb to a junction with the Elk Mountain Trail.
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IMG_9998Fairy bells and bleeding heart.

IMG_0003Elk Creek below the trail.

IMG_0005Junction with the Elk Mountain Trail

While it had been sunny at the wetlands we had dropped under some clouds as we descended to the Wilson River Valley and found ourselves hiking steeply up into fog.
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IMG_0014Paintbrush

IMG_0015Parsley

IMG_0016Blue-eyed Mary

IMG_0022Viewpoint along the Elk Mountain Trail.

IMG_0029The blue sky is up there.

IMG_0033Snow queen

IMG_0035The trail was as steep and rough as we’d remembered.

We did climb out of the cloud to find that blue sky again.
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IMG_0043White service berry blossoms and a huckleberry plant.

The trail made a series of ups and downs along a ridge crossing four saddles before climbing to the 2788′ summit of Elk Mountain.
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IMG_0062Violet

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IMG_0076Red-flowering currant

IMG_0083Trillium

IMG_0087Anemone

IMG_0092Monkeyflower

IMG_0100One of the saddles.

20220521_084754Chocolate lily

IMG_0116Elk Mountain summit.

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We spent a little time resting at the summit where we found a lone blooming beargrass with more to come.
IMG_0134Kings Mountain from Elk Mountain.

IMG_0123Wilson River

IMG_0124Pacific Ocean

IMG_0129The blooming beargrass below some red-flowering currant.

IMG_0131Beargrass

While the 1.5 mile climb to this summit had been hard the next mile of trail beyond the summit took it up a notch. The trail dropped nearly straight down the rocky west face of Elk Mountain requiring us to use our hands as we climbed down the damp rocks.
IMG_0136Looking down the trail.

IMG_0137Heather on her way down.

After navigating the rocky descent the trail passed along some cliffs then climbed atop a narrow rocky ridge which it followed to an old roadbed where the hiking became temporarily much easier.
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IMG_0153On the ridge.

IMG_0156Dropping down to a saddle along the ridge.

Near the start of the road bed we spotted a hermit warbler eating something off of some huckleberry bushes.
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This was the first time we’d seen one of these pretty little birds, at least that we are aware of. Who knows how many we’ve seen fly by and not been able to identify them.

IMG_0163Mercifully on the old roadbed.

We followed the old roadbed for about a mile as it climbed to a junction at a saddle.
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IMG_0170A clump of trillium.

IMG_0171Little moth.

IMG_0180Getting closer to Kings Mountain.

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IMG_0187Paintbrush

IMG_0189Coming up to the junction.

We turned left onto the Kings Mountain Trail which according to the pointer was 1.3 miles away.
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The trail continued to follow an old road bed for a little over half a mile before dropping steeply to a ridge and switchbacking around an outcrop and finally crossing over a saddle.
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IMG_0198Phlox, paintbrush, and chickweed.

IMG_0203Still on the old road.

IMG_0206At the ridge end above the saddle, the trail dropped down to the left then through the saddle.

IMG_0208Below the outcrop headed to the saddle.

Probably the most memorable part of our first hike here was needing to use a rope that had been affixed to a stump to descend a steep chute. While we both remembered that we had forgotten at what point we’d encountered the rope and after the steep drop off of Elk Mountain we convinced ourselves that the rope had been there. As we passed over the saddle we realized our mistake as the stump and rope were here and the 12 years had not been kind to the trail here.
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IMG_0210Heather getting ready to start down.

Kings Mountain TrailThe chute in 2010.

The rope was quite a bit longer this time, out of necessity, but we made it down and continued on. From here the trail passed below some sheer cliffs which had been a very nerve wracking experience in 2010. Apparently somewhere during the 549 outings that we’d done between visits I’d gotten much more comfortable with narrow trails with steep drop offs because this time there were no nerves but there were a couple of spots that required the use of hands to get up.
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IMG_0216The trail is down there somewhere.

20220521_110629Trillium

20220521_110646Bleeding heart

IMG_0225Fringed kitten-tails

20220521_114513Glacier lily

The trail then climbed to a high point along the ridge which Heather initially mistook for the summit of Kings Mountain. She was less than thrilled when I pointed out the actual summit a short distance, and one saddle, away.
IMG_0229Coming up to the high point.

IMG_0230Kings Mountain

IMG_0231View SE from the high point.

We dropped down to the saddle then made the final climb to Kings Mountain. We had seen a small number of other hikers up to this point but found several others here having come up from the Kings Mountain Trailhead.
IMG_0237Dropping to the last saddle.

IMG_0238Summit register at Kings Mountain.

IMG_0239Pacific Ocean in the distance.

IMG_0241View north.

IMG_0245Other hikers at the summit.

IMG_0244Valerian

IMG_0248Saxifrage, possibly Saddle Mountain saxifrage.

IMG_0250Phlox, paintbrush, parsley, blue-eyed Mary, and chickweed.

From Kings Mountain the Kings Mountain Trail dropped steeply downhill for 2.5 miles to a 4-way junction with the Wilson River Trail. While the trail is steep and rough in a couple of spots it’s nowhere near as gnarly as the Elk Mountain Trail. We had remembered the descent as having given us trouble but in those days we hadn’t used hiking poles. Armed with proper poles this time the descent went much smoother.
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IMG_0255One of the rougher sections.

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IMG_0272Wood sorrel

IMG_0279Woodland buttercup and candy flower.

IMG_0281The 4-way junction.

We turned left on the Wilson River Trail to make the 3.5 mile hike back to the Elk Mountain Trailhead. While the hike had been challenging we’d been doing pretty well but we’d forgotten to bring any electrolytes with us and while we had plenty of water we both started feeling a bit off. We paused at Dog Creek which is right near the junction for a bit of a break before continuing on the final stretch.
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IMG_0285Dog Creek

The Wilson River Trail passed a wetland fed by several small streams before making a long gradual climb up to the junction with the Elk Mountain Trail.
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The wetlands

IMG_0295One of the smaller streams.

IMG_0302Monkey flower

IMG_0305Lily that will bloom in a few weeks.

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IMG_0309Fringecup

IMG_0314Coming up on a footbridge across Big Creek.

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IMG_0319Big Creek

IMG_0322Pacific waterleaf

IMG_0325Steadily climbing.

IMG_0327A pea or vetch.

IMG_0329Unnamed stream crossing.

IMG_0332Miterwort

IMG_0338Rosy Birdsfoot Trefoil

IMG_0344The third type of monkey flower we saw on the day.

IMG_0349The junction is on the saddle ahead.

From the junction we dropped down to the trailhead where we thankfully had some meat sticks waiting that provided some much need salt and protein.
IMG_0352Cars to the left through the trees, we made it.

So what did we learn revisiting this challenging hike after 12 years? One is that we are more comfortable with sketchy trails and exposure after having experienced both many times since then. Secondly our bodies are 12 years older and they reminded us of that toward the end of the hike. Finally we were reminded that as much as we have learned about hiking such as the advantage that trekking poles can provide we are still prone to making mistakes and underestimating what we might need such as the electrolytes. It will likely be quite a while before you find us on a hike without some handy.

Aside from both stops being loops our two hikes for the day couldn’t have been much different from one another. The 0.7 mile loop at Killin Wetlands was short with a well graded trail that gained a total of 60′ of elevation while the Elk and Kings Mountain Loop and been over 11 miles (It’s just under 11 if you don’t wander around with over 4000′ of elevation gain. The gains were often steep, as were the losses, requiring the use of hands at times and included steep exposed drop offs. It was obvious from the number of other trail users that we encountered that most people stick to the out and back up to Kings Mountain but if you’re an experience hiker looking for a challenge or an early season training hike this is a great option. Happy Trails!

Our track for the Elk & Kings Mountain Loop

Flickr: Killin Wetlands and Elk & Kings Mountain

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report Willamette Valley

Chehalem Ridge Nature Park – 05/14/2022

May continues to be wet this year despite being in the midst of a drought. Hopefully these rainy days will help with that to some extent but in the meantime for the second week in a row we found ourselves looking for a “Plan B” hike that was more inclement weather friendly. We decided on the recently opened (December 2021) Chehalem Ridge Nature Park. Located in the Chehalem Mountains this 1260 acre park is managed by Metro which also manages Orenco Woods where we had started last week’s hike (post). Chehalem Ridge offers a network of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails but does not allow pets/dogs. The park website states that the park is open from sunrise to sunset which I mention because Google seemed to think it opened at 6:30am and entries in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide (Iowa Hill & Chehalem Ridge) give the hours as 8am to 7pm. With sunrise being a little before 6am this time of year we gambled on the Metro website hours and arrived at the large Chehalem Ridge Trailhead at 6am to find that the gate to the trailhead was indeed open.
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We had spent most of the hour drive passing through rain showers but there was no precipitation falling as we prepared to set off. We stopped at the signboard to read up on the park and to study the map to confirm out plan for the hike.
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Simply put the plan was to stay right at all junctions. This meant taking the Timber Road to the Ammefu (mountain in Atfalti (Northern Kalapuya)) Trail back to the Timber Road then to the Ayeekwa (bobcat in Atfalti) Trail to Witches Butter to the Chehalem (outside place in Atfalati) Ridge Trail. We would then follow the Chehalem Ridge Trail (detouring on a small partial loop) to the Madrona Trail and follow it to it’s end at a loop near some madrone trees. Our return would be back along the Madrona Trail to the Chehalem Ridge Trail (skipping the partial loop this time) to the Mampaꞎ (lake in Atfalati) Trail then right on the Zorzal (Spanish for thrush) Trail back to the Mampaꞎ Trail to Iowa Hill where the Mampaꞎ Trail ends in a loop around the hill. From Iowa Hill we would return to the Timber Road via the Mampaꞎ Trail and follow the road downhill to the Woodland Trail which we would follow back to the trailhead. The route could have been confusing but Metro has done an excellent job with not only placing posts identifying the trails at all of the junctions but also including maps on top of the posts.
The other nice touch is that the maps on these posts were oriented differently to align with the direction of the trail with north identified in the legend which made them quicker to read.

We set off down the Timber Road past the first of three figures located throughout the park representing the traditional storytelling of the Atfalti.
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IMG_9691The Castor (Spanish for beaver) Trail on the left, this was the only trail in the park that we didn’t hike on during our visit. It was always a left turn.

IMG_9695Fawn lilies

IMG_9697Our first right turn (left was a short connector to the Woodland Trail).

IMG_9698Again the posts and accompanying maps were some of the best trail identifiers we’ve run across.

IMG_9700Bench at the viewpoint along the Ammefu Trail.

IMG_9701We had to imagine the view today.

IMG_9702The second figure.

IMG_9708Back at the Timber Road and another short connector to the Woodland Trail.

IMG_9709Fog on Timber Road

IMG_9712Passing the Woodland Trail on the left which would be our right turn on the way back.

IMG_9713Christensen Creek

IMG_9714Right turn for the Ayeekwa and Witches Butter Trails.

IMG_9715Witchs Butter on the left and Ayeekwa on the right.

IMG_9716Trillium

Some of the trails were gravel which helped keep mud from being an issue given the damp conditions. In fact there was only one spot (along the Madrona Trail) where mud was an issue at all.
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IMG_9719Another bench, this one overlooked Christensen Creek.

IMG_9720Common blue violet

IMG_9722Pioneer violets and a strawberry blossom.

IMG_9726Mushrooms under a fern.

IMG_9727Popping out on the Witches Butter Trail.

IMG_9728Witches Butter Trail

IMG_9737Witches Butter Trail winding through Douglas firs.

IMG_9742Turning right onto the Chehalem Ridge Trail.

IMG_9745There was a little more mud on the Chehalem Ridge Trail.

IMG_9754Spring green carpet.

IMG_9756A good example of the differently oriented maps, on this one north is down.

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IMG_9759Another fir plantation. The land had been owned by a timber company prior to being purchased by Metro in 2010.

IMG_9760Start of the Chehalem Ridge Loop. We went right which simply swung out along the hillside before dropping down to the Madrona Trail in 0.4 miles.

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IMG_9763The loop continued to the left but we turned right onto the Madrona Trail.

The one thing that was hard to distinguish on the maps was the topography so we were a little surprised when the Madrona Trail continued to descend the hillside. (Had we read the Oregon Hikers Field Guide more closely we would have been prepared.) The trail switchbacked a total of 11 times before arriving at an old roadbed which it continued along to the right.
IMG_9769Still cloudy and gray but we’d experience very little if any precipitation yet.

IMG_9772Lots of tough-leaved iris along this trail.

IMG_9773One of several blooming dogwood trees.

IMG_9774View on the way down.

IMG_9775Madrone trees began to be a common sight as we descended.

IMG_9776One of the 11 switchbacks.

IMG_9777We hadn’t seen a lot of mushrooms recently but this hike had plenty.

IMG_9781Following the roadbed.

The trail left the roadbed at a post and dropped down to the 0.1 mile loop at the end of the Madrona Trail.
IMG_9783Aside from one other very small (3 in diameter) tree this was the only obstacle we encountered all day.

IMG_9784The start of the loop along with several madrones.

As we started back from the loop Heather mentioned that there should be a deer in the brush nearby and I jokingly said that there probably was and pointed out a game trail heading down to a small stream. As soon as I had finished my remark Heather spotted a doe that emerged from the bushes along the game trail. The doe made her way to the far hillside before we could get a good look at her.
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After watching the deer for a while we began the climb back up to the Chehalem Ridge Loop. It had felt like we’d come a long ways down but the climb back wasn’t any where near as bad as we expected it to be (In reality we’d only lost about 400′). It was as we were hiking back up that the first vestiges of blue sky appeared.
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IMG_9811The Tualatin Valley and Coast Range.

We stayed right at the Chehalem Ridge Loop to finish that loop and then retraced our steps on the Chehalem Ridge Trail back to Witches Butter Trail junction where we stayed right on the Chehalem Ridge Trail to its end at a three way junction. We had only seen 3 other people all morning, a trail runner on our way to the Madrona Trail and two hikers as we were coming back. We did however need to keep our eyes out for other trail users.
IMG_9819Either these worms were racing or it was a bird buffet. The rain had brought a lot of earthworms onto the trails.

IMG_9821Another trail user a rough skinned newt.

IMG_9824A closer look at the rough skinned newt.

We also spotted a pileated woodpecker at the top of a dead tree. Between the distance and other trees in between I couldn’t get a good picture.
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IMG_9831It had been so foggy when we had come up the Witches Butter Trail that we hadn’t realized that there was a giant green field nearby.

IMG_9834The end of the Chehalem Ridge Trail with the Mampaꞎ Trail to the right and a very short connector to the Timber Road to the left.

We briefly followed the Mampaꞎ Trail then turned right onto the Zorzal Trail.
IMG_9836Sunlight hitting the Mampaꞎ Trail.

IMG_9837Fairy slippers

IMG_9842Squirrel

IMG_9845The Zorzal Trail to the right.

IMG_9847Toothwort along the Zorzal Trail.

IMG_9848Stripped coralroot

The Zorzal Trail swung out and then rejoined the Mampaꞎ Trail near the Timber Road. We yet again turned right, crossed the Timber Road near a gate and continued on the Mampaꞎ Trail.
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The Mampaꞎ Trail passed along Iowa Hill before turning uphill and entering a wildflower meadow on the hilltop where a loop began.
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There was a large amount of lupine in the meadow but we were several weeks early and only a few plants had any blossoms. There were a few other flowers blooming and many more to come over the next few weeks.
IMG_9860An assortment of smaller flowers.

IMG_9861One of the few lupines with blossoms.

IMG_9865Camas buds

IMG_9870Oak tree on Iowa Hill. Most of the larger green clumps are lupine.

On the western side of the loop was a horse hitch, bike rack and stone circle where we sat and took a break.
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IMG_9873The third and final figure was also located near the stone circle.

As we sat and enjoyed the sun breaks and views we began spotting a few other wildflowers hiding in the lupine.
IMG_9874Yarrow

IMG_9876More lupine starting to blossom.

IMG_9877Tualatin Valley

IMG_9880Plectritis

IMG_9886Believe this is a checker mallow.

IMG_9888Parsley

IMG_9894Camas

IMG_9899Iris

IMG_9906White crowned sparrow

Buttercups in the lupine.

After a nice rest we finished the loop and headed back to the Timber Road which we followed downhill for six tenths of a mile to the Woodland Trail.
IMG_9913Turning down the Timber Road.

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IMG_9919I’m not good with these little yellowish birds. It could be an orange-crowned warbler.

IMG_9921Black capped chickadee

IMG_9924Approaching the Woodland Trail on the right.

IMG_9927Woodland Trail

We followed this trail for 1.4 winding miles back to the trailhead.
IMG_9930Candyflower

IMG_9932Coming to a switchback.

IMG_9936We ignored a couple of shortcuts that would have led back to the Timber Road.

IMG_9943We also skipped the Castor Trail which would have slightly lengthened the hike.

IMG_9946Lupine along the Woodland Trail as we neared the trailhead.

IMG_9947Much nicer conditions than we’d had that morning and way nicer than anything we had expected.

Our hike came to 12.1 miles with approximately 1200′ of elevation gain utilizing portions of all but one of the parks trails.

Again we had been fortunate enough to avoid any significant precipitation. The weather forecast had kept the crowds away though and we only encountered about 15 other hikers all day, the majority of which had been during the final hour of our hike. We were very impressed by the park and have put it on our list of nearby go to destinations when weather or other factors keep us from going someplace new. The number of different trails provide for hikes of various lengths with none of the trails being too challenging. There was also a decent variety of scenery in the park and it looks like the wildflower display on Iowa Hill toward the end of May will be amazing. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Chehalem Ridge Nature Park

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Willamette Valley

Orenco, Noble & Miller Woods and Erratic Rock State Natural Site – 05/07/2022

A wet weather system along with a small chance of thunderstorms led us to look for a plan “B” for our second outing in May. Looking ahead to the hikes on our 2023 list for April/May gave us a suitable alternative so we moved a 2022 hike to next year and moved up an outing to visit four parks, two in Hillsboro and two SE of McMinville. These hikes were all located within an hour of Salem allowing to stay relatively close to home and we figured that the less than ideal weather might make for less crowded trails. We decided to start at the northern most trailhead and work our way south.

We arrived at the Orenco Woods Trailhead (open dawn to dusk) just before 6am and headed past the restrooms to an interpretive sign in front of the McDonald House.
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Beyond the house the path forked with the right hand fork leading to the Rock Creek Trail while the left fork led to the Habitat Trail which is the way we went.
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20220507_060901Camas

IMG_9282Lupine

IMG_9275Habitat Trail

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After a third of a mile we arrived at the Rock Creek Trail near NW Cornelius Pass Road where we made our first wrong turn of the morning. We initially turned right which would have led us back into Orenco Woods.
IMG_9292We’ll blame our inability to read this sign on it still being early in the morning. We started down the path ahead before quickly questioning the direction and correcting course.

IMG_9295He probably knew which way he was going.

IMG_9296Heading the right way now.

From Orenco Woods the Rock Creek Trail follows the sidewalk along NW Cornelius Pass Road north 150 yards to a crosswalk where it crosses the road and follows NW Wilkins Street west another third of a mile.
IMG_9299NW Wilkins

The trail crosses NW Wilkins St below some power lines at a crosswalk and resumes as a paved path.
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While there are no more sidewalk stretches of the trail until the Rock Creek Trailhead at NE Rock Creek Boulevard there are three other road crossing; NE Walker, NE Cornell, and NE Evergreen Parkway. Fortunately all of these road crossings are at signaled crosswalks.

A little over a half mile from Wilkins Street we arrived at the start of a loop in Orchard Park
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We stayed left planning on completing the loop on our return.
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IMG_9313Another trail user

Two tenths of a mile from the start of the loop the trail split. We didn’t see a sign/map here and didn’t consult the maps we had on our phones and mistook the left hand fork as simply a spur trail to a parking lot in the park and we stayed right. This was our second wrong turn of the morning.
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This path led downhill and crossed crossed Rock Creek without realizing that we had curved a full 180 degrees.
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IMG_9324Fringecup

The trail split again two tenths of a mile later and here we veered left thinking it was the continuation of the Rock Creek Trail.
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After a short distance the pavement ended at a circle of stone benches.
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A well worn dirt path picked up here along a fence line behind some apartements
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IMG_9332Spotted towhee

IMG_9334Stellar’s Jay

This dirt path ended after a tenth of a mile at what turned out to be NW John Olson Avenue but we didn’t figure that our right away. We didn’t see any signs for the trail here so we finally consulted the maps we had in our phones but even then didn’t realize our mistake. On the map there was a slight jog right coming out of Orchard Park before crossing NE Walker so we headed right to the next street corner where we read the street sign realized this was NE Walker. The full extent of our mistake still wasn’t clear though as we followed the dirt path back past the stone benches to the fork where we’d veered left. It was here that we made our third and final wrong turn of the morning. We were actually on the Orchard Park Loop and not on the Rock Creek Trail which had veered left up to the parking lot while we had gone downhill to the right. Not realizing this we took the right hand fork which recrossed Rock Creek and then climbed back up to the Rock Creek Trail at the start of the loop
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We almost made our fourth mistake here as we didn’t initially realize that we had made the full loop. It wasn’t until we spotted some familiar looking camas nearby that the light bulb went off.
IMG_9343Second time staring at this sign.

Having finally figured it out we headed north through Orchard Park again but this time hiked uphill through the parking lot to NE Walker.
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IMG_9347

IMG_9349Not sure exactly how to interpret this scene – mourning, a murder, or breakfast?

IMG_9350The slight jog right along NE Walker.

We crossed NE Walker and a tenth of a mile later crossed NE Cornelius Pass.
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The next three quarters of a mile proved to be the most active for wildlife even though portions of it were between the creek and residences.
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IMG_9361Bridge of Rock Creek

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IMG_9363Look a pointer for John Olsen Avenue (just a lot further north).

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IMG_9366Mallards (A pair of wood ducks flew off at the same time the mallards headed downstream.)

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We had stopped while I attempted to get a photo of a small yellow bird that was bouncing around in a tree when we heard a branch/tree crack nearby. While I continued to try and get a picture Heather went over to the creek to investigate. It turned out to be a beaver which had been one of the animals left on our list that we hadn’t yet seen on a hike (or drive to one). Before she could get my attention (or a photo) it disappeared underwater so I still haven’t seen one in the wild.
IMG_9368Here is the only photo that I could even get with the little yellow bird visible at all.

IMG_9374NE Evergreen Parkway

Two tenths of a mile beyond NE Evergreen the trail passed under Highway 26 and in another 400′ arrived at the Rock Creek Trailhead.
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This was our turn around point so we headed back the way we’d come. We checked again for the beaver but it was no where to be found. Since we had inadvertently completed the Orchard Park Loop earlier we went straight back through the park and made our way back to Orenco Woods. At the entrance to the park we forked left staying on the Rock Creek Trail. (Retracing the short distance that we had hiked in the morning when we had made our first wrong turn.)
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Two tenths of a mile into the park we came to a footbridge over Rock Creek.
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After crossing the bridge we forked left and then took another left back on the Habitat Trail.
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IMG_9396Checkermallow

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The trail looped around and downhill to pass under the footbridge before arriving at small pond with a viewing platform.
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Beyond the pond the trail climbed back uphill near the McDonald House. We turned left here and made our way back to the trailhead.
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While it had remained cloudy all morning there had not been any noticeable precipitation during our 7.5 mile hike here.

The orange portion is the wrong turn on the Orchard Park Loop

From Orenco Woods we drove to the Baseline Road Trailhead at nearby Noble Woods.
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Our plan here was to make a counterclockwise loop using the outer most trails.
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From the trailhead we headed downhill to the right behind the rest rooms.
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Even though we were less than a mile from Orenco Woods we spotted a few flowers that we hadn’t seen during that hike.
IMG_9424Trillium

IMG_9426Solmonseal

20220507_092026_HDRFawnlilies

The trail leveled out to cross Rock Creek.
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20220507_092158Aven

A short spur trail on the other side of the creek theoretically led to Rock Creek but the recent rains had swollen it enough that the trail ended before the actual creek.
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We continued on the loop climbing toward Borwick Road Trailhead but before reaching the grassy park at that trailhead we turned right leaving the paved path for a compacted gravel/dirt trail
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This trail swung to the west before making a 180 degree turn and leading to the Borwick Road Trailhead. Near a viewpoint and bench Heather spotted a barred owl being harassed by a robin.
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IMG_9462Rock Creek from the viewpoint.

20220507_093329_HDRThe back of the owl (middle tree 2/3 of the way up)

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The viewpoint was near the turn of the trail so we got some more glimpses of the owl through the trees after the turn. A second owl began hooting and this one wound up flying off to have a conversation. We hiked past the parking area at the Borwick Road Trailhead and hopped on a the trail the map called a “wood-chip” trail. In truth it was mostly mud at this point.
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IMG_9474Violets

We stuck to the outer trail when this trail forked.
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We arrived back at the paved loop near Rock Creek. We turned right onto it, crossed Rock Creek, and then climbed back up to the Baseline Road Trailhead.
IMG_9481Swollen creek

20220507_094724Fairy bells

20220507_095156Cinquefoil

IMG_9482Nearing the trailhead.

The loop here was just over a mile.

We had once again been sparred any precipitation and as we drove to our next stop at Miller Woods found ourselves under blue skies and bright sunshine. Miller Woods however was under cloud cover but we were feeling pretty confident and put all our rain gear into our packs before setting off from the trailhead. While it had been our first visit to Orenco and Noble Woods we had hiked here in March, 2020 (post).
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On our previous visit we had taken the yellow Outer Loop and had considered taking one of the other trails this time but a portion of the Discovery Loop was closed due to hazardous conditions (appeared to be a slide/washout) and the Oak Summit Trail didn’t look as interesting as the Outer Loop so we followed our route from 2020 except for a short section that had been rerouted.
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From the kiosk we followed the yellow pointers downhill through the grass passing camas and birds along the way down.
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IMG_9493A wren and a white-crowned sparrow

IMG_9496American goldfinches

IMG_9499Tree swallows

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As we neared the tree line the precipitation finally arrived and a light rain began to fall.
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We stopped in the trees to put our rain jackets on and then began descending through the forest to an unnamed stream.
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IMG_9511Bleeding heart near the stream.

The trail then turned NNW leveling out a bit above Berry Creek as it traversed the hillside.
IMG_9514Berry Creek down to the right.

IMG_9516There was a lot of wild ginger on the hillside.

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Not long after donning our rain jackets the rain stopped and sunlight began to break through again.
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The trail climbed as it came around the hill and we spotted a deer in the distance.
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It was a young one that was munching on plants along a service road. As we made our way by on the trail Heather noticed the mother bedded down on the road.
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After leaving the deer the trail soon began to descend and leave the trees.
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It was here that the trail had been rerouted since our 2020 visit. In 2020 the trail veered left to a service road and made a right turn along the road back to the tree line before reaching a bridge across a creek. Now the trail simply headed downhill sticking to the treeline.
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IMG_9544Iris

IMG_9546Buttercups

One of the neat features at Miller Woods is the wildlife survey covers which are liftable metal covers that could house wildlife. We had yet to lift one and see anything more than ants though until the cover near the creek. Lifting this cover revealed a small snake.
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IMG_9549Small garter snake

We gently replaced the cover and continued on the loop which reentered the trees after crossing the creek.
IMG_9552Approaching the bridge and creek.

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20220507_114520 Striped coralroot

It was shortly after crossing the bridge that we discovered the trail closure which ended the question of whether we would do the different, shorter loop this time or repeat our previous hike.
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Doing the longer 4.5 mile loop turned out to be great as the weather stayed dry and we spotted several more deer and some birds along the way.
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IMG_9574Sparrow

IMG_9583Doe just hanging out in a patch of poison oak. (It doesn’t bother deer.)

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IMG_9585Nearing the high point of the trail at K.T. Summit

IMG_9586Spotted coralroot

IMG_9589K.T. Summit

IMG_9591A very cool madrone tree.

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IMG_9598Two more deer with a third off camera.

Another neat feature that was new for us this visit were a number of signs along the trail identifying different evergreen trees in the Miller Woods Diversity Area.
IMG_9613There was at least one identifier for each tree listed on this sign. The signs were particularly nice because many were next to younger trees which made it easier to see the needles and bark instead of just look at a trunk and having to look up to try and see other details of the trees.

A couple of examples.
IMG_9614Western white pine

IMG_9616Western larch

IMG_9623Vanilla leaf

20220507_124234Fairy slippers

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The trail passes above the entrance road and swings out before dropping down to what you expect to be the parking area (there is a signed short cut to it along the way) but the Outer Loop actually loops back behind the parking area and pops out of the trees near a the pond that the Discovery Loop goes around.
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IMG_9649Frog near the pond.

Another new feature was a platform over the pond.
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IMG_9656Red-winged blackbird

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After taking a break on the platform we hiked uphill to the parking area and headed for our last stop.

2022 track in orange

The Erratic Rock State Natural Site is located just off Highway 18 between McMinville and Sheridan. There are no amenities at the site, just a quarter mile paved trail uphill to the rock from a small pullout along Oldsville Road. While it is less than 30 miles from our house that is a stretch of highway that we never find ourselves on. I realized when I was planning this outing that it would only add about 10 minutes to our drive home from Miller Woods to detour to the site so I added it to the plans.

We missed the little pullout but found a wide section of shoulder to pull off on and walk back to the signed trail.
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The Erratic Rock is a 90 ton rock from the Northern Rocky Mountains that wound up over 500 hundred miles away on a hill in Oregon after being deposited here after one of Lake Missoula’s floods.
IMG_9666Interpretive sign at the start of the trail.

We were in a pocket of mostly blue sky as we headed up the trail.
IMG_9667Vineyard along the trail.

Although short the trail gains over 100′ in the quarter mile to the rock and we had already hiked over 13 miles, we were relieved when we saw the trail begin to crest.
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Seeing the rock there and knowing how far it had to travel to wind up there made it an impressive sight. The views from the hill were also quite nice making it a worthwhile detour.
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Our total for the day came to 13.8 miles with only 920′ of cumulative elevation gain. Individually each of these hikes are worth a stop and they all have things to offer young hikers. It turned out to be a fun combination with a unexpected amount of wildlife sightings and aside from the 10-15 minutes of light rain had been a surprisingly dry day. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Orenco, Noble & Miller Woods and Erratic Rock State Natural Site

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon

Crown Zellerbach (CZ) Trail – East Fork Nehalem River Section 03/05/2022

So far in 2022 the first Saturday of every month has come with a dry and at least partially sunny forecast which meant for the third month in a row we took our hike on the first weekend. We tend to take for granted the opportunities we have to get out and enjoy nature but this outing was different. For more than a week we’ve watched as the Ukrainian people have been forced to fight for their freedom and country. We continue to pray for their safety and an end to Russian aggression.

For our March hike we decided to check out the Crown Z Linear Trail, also known as the CZ Trail or Crown Zellerbach Trail. The 24.8 mile long CZ Trail runs between the cities of Vernonia and Scappoose following former (and sometimes active) logging roads open to hikers, bicycles and horses. Multiple trailheads make it possible to hike shorter segments as either out-and-backs or between trailheads using a second car. For our first visit we used the Oregon Hikers field guide which breaks the trail up into five sections. We picked section four, the East Fork Nehalem River Section, which runs between the Nehalem Divide and Wilark Trailheads.

We began at the Nehalem Divide Trailhead which provided the shorter drive of the two and also allowed us to begin the day with a downhill.
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A 100′ path leads downhill from the trailhead to the CZ Trail which passes under the Scapoose-Vernonia Highway (if you’re heading toward Vernonia).
IMG_8227Heading down the connector trail.

IMG_8228Trial sign at the jct with the CZ Trail.

IMG_8230CZ Trail passing under the highway.

We followed the road downhill for approximately 3/4 of a mile to an interpretive wildlife sign where a path behind led downhill to the East Fork Nehalem River. The river isn’t much as it isn’t far from the headwaters, but a short distance up river is a pair of small waterfalls with the western end of the Nehalem Divide Railroad Tunnel.
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IMG_8244Light from the eastern portal is visible at the other end but the tunnel is not safe to enter without at least a hard hat.

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After checking out the old tunnel we returned to the CZ Trail and resumed our hike toward the Wilark Trailhead.
CZ Trail

East Fork Nehalem RiverThe East Fork Nehalem River next to the trail.

We detoured again briefly to check out a small seasonal fall just off the trail.
Season fall along the CZ Trail

CZ TrailIt was a little muddy in places.

Interpretive sign along the CZ TrailAnother of several interpretive signs along the trail.

Indian plumNot much in the way of flowers yet but there were a few indian plum starting to blossom.

A little under four miles from the Nehalem Divide Trailhead we arrived at the Floeter Trailhead.
CZ Trail arriving at the Floeter Trailhead

Interpretive sign along the CZ Trail

Beyond this trailhead the CZ Trail immediately crossed an unnamed creek on a bridge.
Footbridge near the Floeter Trailhead

Unnamed creek

After crossing the bridge we detoured here yet again passing over the highway to a small trail sign for Scaponia Park.
Scaponia Park across the Vernonia-Scappoose Highway

Trail to Scaponia Park

This short path dropped us into the 7 acre park which has 12 campsites and a short network of trails. We turned right on the park entrance road then crossed the East Fork Nehalem River on a footbridge to do a short 0.4 mile loop utilizing a second footbridge to return to the road near the campground.
Scaponia Park

East Fork Nehalem River in Scaponia Park

One of two footbridges in Scaponia Park

Trail in Scaponia Park

Second footbridge in Scaponia Park

East Fork Nehalem RiverEast Fork Nehalem River

After our little loop we returned to the CZ Trail and continued west.
Sign for the CZ Trail in Scaponia ParkPointer for the CZ Trail in Scaponia Park

CZ Trail

For the next three quarters of a mile the trail parralled the highway.
Log home across the highway

American kestralAmerican kestral

The trail veered away from the highway again after the highway crossed the river putting it between the road and the trail.
East Fork Nehalem River

Just over two miles from the Floeter Trailhead we arrived at the former site of Camp 8, a logging camp established in the 1920’s.
CZ Trail nearing Camp 8

Interpretive sign along the CZ Trail

Interpretive sign along the CZ Trail

Robin at Camp 8Robin in the meadow that once was Camp 8.

Beyond the Camp 8 site the trail crossed the East Fork Nehalem River then climbed to the highway passing mile marker 19 along the way.
CZ Trail crossing the East Fork Nehalem River

East Fork Nehalem River

CZ Trail mile 19The orange mile marker 19 ahead.

This short section was full of birds.
JuncosJuncos

Varied thrushAnother not great picture of a varied thrush.

SparrowSparrow

Vernonia-Scappoose Highway at the Wilark Trailhead

We turned around at the highway and headed back.
CZ Trail at the Wilark Trailhead

The clouds finally began to break up after we passed Camp 8 and soon we found ourselves under a bright blue sky.
Blue sky begining to emerge

Grey jayA grey jay enjoying the emerging sunlight.

CZ Trail

CZ TrailBlue sky near the Floeter Trailhead.

Surprisingly until the final tenth of a mile we hadn’t seen a single other trail user when a lone mountain biker zoomed past us heading downhill. Including our three detours our hike came in at 12.7 miles with a little over 650′ of elevation gain. A good early season workout with some nice scenery and interesting history.

At some point down the road we will return to do another section of the trail but for now this was a fun introduction to CZ Trail. Happy Trails and Slava Ukraini.

Flickr: CZ Trail – East Fork Nehalem River Section

Categories
Coastal Range Eugene Hiking Oregon Trip report Willamette Valley

Clay Creek Trail and Fern Ridge Wildlife Area – 11/20/2021

A dry forecast on my birthday provided a great excuse to head out on our November hike. We had an unusually loose plan for this outing which consisted of a stop at the Clay Creek Trail followed by a visit to the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area with a third possible stop at Meadowlark Prairie. While the 2 mile hike on the Clay Creek Trail was covered in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” we had very little information on the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area. There was enough information available on line to know that it was open to hiking but it was unclear just how long of a hike was possible which is why we were keeping the option of Meadowlark Prairie on the table. The mostly paved 14 mile long Fern Ridge Path passes along Meadowlark Prairie on its way into Eugene, OR which would have provided some extra hiking time if we’d felt that we needed it.

We started our morning by driving to the BLM managed Clay Creek Recreation Site. The hike here is one of two hike Sullivan lists under his Siuslaw Ridge Trails entry (featured hike #65, 4th edition). We had done the other hike at nearby Whittaker Creek in 2016 (post) and while we considered that earlier hike enough to check off the featured hike from our list completed this second short hike would complete it. We parked at a small pullout on the south side of the Siuslaw River.
IMG_7207The trailhead sign for the Clay Creek Trail is ahead on the opposite side of the road.

It was a foggy morning, much like it had been on our earlier visit to the Wittaker Creek Recreation Area.
IMG_7209Siuslaw River

IMG_7211Clay Creek on the left emptying into the Siuslaw.

A short use trail led down to Clay Creek and a small gravel bench.
IMG_7213Stairs at the Clay Creek Recreation Area across the river.

After checking out the creek we walked the short distance up the road to the start of the trail. Sullivan described the hike as a 2 mile out and back but the map on the sign at the trailhead showed a lollipop loop. (Sullivan does mention the loop in his “Trail Updates” on oregonhiking.com.)
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The existence of the loop at the top was a pleasant surprise. We crossed Clay Creek on a footbridge and began the 600′ climb to the ridge top.
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IMG_7218The Clay Creek Trail climbing above Clay Creek.

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We passed a bench at the second swtichback and continued climbing to a junction 0.6 miles from the parking area.
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IMG_7225It’s hard to tell size here but the diameter of this tree was well over 5′.

IMG_7238The junction for the loop.

We turned right and continued to climb through the fog to the ridge top where the trail turned left.
IMG_7240One of several reroutes we encountered.

IMG_7243On the ridge top.

The trail passed several madrone trees before arriving at a bench at the high point of the ridge.
IMG_7245Madrone trunk and bark, always fascinating.

IMG_7246Lots of mushrooms pushing up through the forest floor.

IMG_7251Good sized trees near the high point.

IMG_7254No idea what you might see on a clear day.

The trail then began to descend to another bench at a switchback where the map indicated there was a view.
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IMG_7258The viewpoint.

The trail continued switchbacking downhill while it wound back to the junction.
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Just before reaching the junction I nearly went head over heals trying to avoid stepping on a rough skinned newt that I spotted at the last minute.
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After having a one sided conversation with said newt we continued downhill to the car.
IMG_7271Nearing the footbridge.

IMG_7275The fog had lifted off the river at least.

While Sullivan indicates in his update that the loop makes this a 3.6 mile hike others still list it as 2 miles and both Heather and my GPS units logged 2 miles for the hike. Despite the fog not allowing for any view it was a pleasant little hike. Sullivan does also mention that the BLM is considering a $5 parking fee for the area in the future so be sure to check the BLM site before heading out.

We spent just over an hour on the Clay Creek Trail after driving over 2 hours to get there so a second stop was a must in order to not break our rule against spending more time driving than hiking. That’s where the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area came in. Located just west of Eugene the area consists of a dozen units broken up around Fern Ridge Reservoir. We had driven by the reservoir numerous times on the way to hike in the Coast Range and around Florence and seen signs for the wildlife area which had piqued at least my curiosity. After some online research it appeared that parking at the end of Royal Avenue between the Royal Amazon and Fisher Butte units was our best bet. The ODFW website mentions possible seasonal closures but finding detailed information on them wasn’t easy. I was eventually able to determine that these two units were open to the public from 10/16 thru 1/30 from until 2pm each day (presumably starting at sunrise). Even with the earlier hike we had arrived before 9:30am so we had plenty of time to explore. There is a $10 daily fee to park in the lots which is typical for ODFW wildlife areas (although it appeared most people simply parked along the shoulder of Royal Ave to avoid the fee).
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IMG_7277Note that Royal Ave and the trail to the viewing platform are open year around with the other restrictions listed below.

20211120_092412We took a picture of this map to assist us with our route.

From the signboard we continued on the gated extension of Royal Avenue. It was a lot foggier than we had expected so the visibility wasn’t good and it was in the mid 30’s so it was chilly too.
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We passed a grassy path leading to the viewing platform at the 0.4 mile mark.
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We opted to pass on the platform for now hoping that visibility would improve as the morning wore on and we could stop by on our way back. We continued on the old road bed watching for birds and any other animals that might be about.

IMG_7285White crowned sparrow

IMG_7289Northern harrier on the hunt.

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IMG_7301Wetlands in the Royal Amazon unit.

As we neared sub-impoundment one a large bird flew up from the reeds. It was our first encounter with an American bittern which was on my bucket list of animals we’d yet to see.
IMG_7302The bittern taking off.

IMG_7304Not the greatest photo but enough to identify it.

We turned right on a levy/old roadbed on the other side of the sub-impoundment and followed it for 0.7 miles to Gibson Island. The highlight of this stretch was a pair of bald eagles hanging out in a snag.
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IMG_7311A hawk on a stump.

IMG_7313American coots

IMG_7317Gibson Island (with the eagles in the snag to the far left)

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A short trail at the end of the levy led onto the island before petering out.
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We turned around and headed back to Royal Avenue where we turned right and continued west just to see how far we could go.
IMG_7351A flock of geese above the coots.

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IMG_7355There were a number of these small birds pecking around in the mud which, with some help from Molly in the comments, are American pipits.

IMG_7357Continuing west.

IMG_7360We used the stones to the right to cross the water here.

IMG_7361Great blue heron (with Highway 126 in the background).

DSCN1182Sandpiper in the roadway.

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IMG_7366End of the line.

We imagined that much of this stretch would be under water by late Winter/early Spring but we had managed to make make it 1.7 miles from the trailhead before being turned back. We headed back past sub-impound one to the grassy path near the viewing platform where we left the road bed.
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DSCN1203Seagull

DSCN1206Perhaps the same northern harrier.

DSCN1211The harrier taking a break.

IMG_7376The path to the platform.

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DSCN1218Dunlins (thanks again to Molly)

DSCN1222The platform.

From the platform dikes led west and south. Since we had just come from the west we decided to go south along a body of water in Field 5.
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IMG_7384The first signs that the fog/clouds might be breaking up.

IMG_7387Looking back at a little blue sky and a visible Gibson Island

We watched a group of shore birds as the alternate between foraging in the mud and performing areal acrobatics.
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A little over three quarters of a mile from the viewing platform we arrived at a 4-way junction.
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We turned left continuing around Field 5 for a third of a mile before arriving at a “T” junction just beyond a ditch.
IMG_7391Fisher Butte is the low hill ahead to the right.

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According to the map we’d taken a picture of at the trailhead continuing straight at the junction would lead us to the area’s boundary near Fisher Butte while the right hand path led past Field 2 to Field 1 and then to a parking area off Highway 126. We turned left walking between the ditch and Field 3.
IMG_7395Gibson Island was now lit by direct sunlight.

In another third of a mile we faced another choice. Another dike headed to the right (east) between Field 3 and Field 4.
IMG_7396The dike running between Fields 3 & 4.

IMG_7398Looking back over the ditch.

We opted to turn right having misread the map for the first time. For some reason we ignored the difference between the symbols for the dikes and boundary lines (although some online sights showed paths along the boundary lines). At first everything was fine as the dike gave way to a cut mowed track wrapping around Field 4 along the boundary. There was a pond in Field 4 where several species of ducks were gathered as well as a great blue heron and a kingfisher.
DSCN1248California scrub jay

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DSCN1262Northern shovelers and a bufflehead.

DSCN1266Buffleheads and two hooded merganser females.

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DSCN1286Kingfisher

DSCN1288American robin

After wrapping around the pond for half a mile the track we were following became increasingly muddy with standing water in areas. We were very close to a gravel road so we hopped onto it for a tenth of a mile where we were able to get back onto a grassy track at a signpost.
IMG_7404The gravel road and another small portion of the wildlife area on the other side.

DSCN1290Noisy geese.

IMG_7405Back on the mowed track.

We went straight here looking for a trail on the right that would leave us back to the parking area. The clouds were really breaking up now and lots of little birds were out enjoying the warmer weather.
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DSCN1291A sparrow

DSCN1295Spotted towhee and friend.

DSCN1300Finch

DSCN1302As of yet unidentified little bird.

We found what we were looking for, at least what we thought we were looking for and turned right on a clear trail that dropped down into a mowed field then mostly disappeared. We skirted along the edge of the field toward the parking area and as we neared the trailhead a clear trail emerged, or more like submerged. We followed the wet trail almost to the signboards near the trailhead where a ditch of standing water stood in our way. Our only choice (aside from backtracking) was to get wet so get wet (or wetter) we did. Luckily our hike was over and we had a change of socks and shoes waiting in the car. We finished hiking just before 1pm and managed to get a full 7 miles in while leaving parts of the area unexplored. It was nice to find another option in the valley that offered a potential destination when getting up into the mountains is possible. While we did hear occasional gun shots from hunters we only saw two duck hunters, but we also saw some families and bird watchers.
IMG_7410This path headed north from the trailhead, something to explore on our next visit.

Track at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

It was a good birthday hike and we were done early enough for my parents to treat us to a great birthday dinner at The Manilla Fiesta, a restaurant I’d been dying to try. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Clay Creek Trail and Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon

Devil’s Staircase Wilderness – 07/10/2021

In 2019 Congress designated the 31,107 acre Devil’s Staircase Wilderness adding another Oregon wilderness area for us to visit in order for us to reach our goal of visiting each of the State’s wilderness areas open to the general public (post). (The Three Arch Rocks and Oregon Islands wilderness areas managed by the Fish & Wildlife service are closed to the general public.) The Devil’s Staircase Wilderness is managed jointly by the Bureau of Land Management (east side) and the Siuslaw National Forest. The area is named after a cascade/waterfall on Wassen Creek known as The Devil’s Staircase.
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There are no official trails in this wilderness area and everything we’d read from the Forest Service, BLM, Oregon Wild, Oregonhikers.org and William L. Sullivan’s “Atlas of Oregon Wilderness” described the area as having steep terrain, dense vegetation and unstable soils. Because of this we are not going to go into much detail of our visit, these descriptions are accurate and our outing was one of the most difficult we’ve undertaken to date. If you do decide to visit bring a map and compass (and the skills to use them) and be prepared to crawl, scoot and probably swear at least once. Also make sure you give yourself plenty of time or plan on spending the night. We came out muddy, bruised and a little bloodied. Our dream was to actually reach the Devil’s Staircase but realistically we didn’t expect to be able too.
IMG_9958Wilderness boundary

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IMG_9962Varied thrush

IMG_9969Blackberries, we found a couple of ripe ones later as well as ripe salmonberries, thimbleberries, and red huckleberries.

IMG_9972There was a lot of Himalayan blackberry to get through which caused many a scratch.

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20210710_080520Salamander, possibly a Dunn’s.

IMG_9991Snail on a fern.

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IMG_0001A few rhododendron were still blooming.

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IMG_0008Huckleberries

IMG_0009This was the only open spot the whole day. There were some thistle and yarrow blooming here along with a bit of poison oak.

IMG_0011Bees sleeping on thistle.

IMG_0013Yarrow

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IMG_0022The rhododendron was often so tall we could walk through them.

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IMG_0027The morning fog burned off by 9:30am.

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IMG_0032Wild cucumber (coastal manroot)

IMG_0034Monkeyflower

IMG_0035Although this picture doesn’t really convey it this section of exposed wet rock was at a fairly steep angle and was quite the challenging both coming and going.

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A lot of planning and a little luck allowed us to actually reach Wassen Creek at the staircase (Bruce you had the right idea) but we didn’t wind up seeing it from the bottom. We reached it at it’s upper end and were unsure if we’d be able to get back up if we climbed all the way down to the bottom. After watching a video on YouTube and seeing them go down where we had been thinking we still weren’t convinced that we wouldn’t have been stuck on a ledge.
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IMG_0047An ouzel

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IMG_0054This was the ledge that we decided to not drop down off of.

IMG_0051That pool is said to be approximately 20′ deep!

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IMG_0061We checked the little pools for rough skinned newts and this one had four and a crawdad.

The other factor for not attempting to go down was the presence of a couple who had backpacked in and were camped on the gravel below the staircase. We think they came in from the same place we did but aren’t 100% sure. In any case neither of us could imagine hauling full packs in and out of this area. After a nice long break we began the arduous hike back.
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IMG_0084A chickadee came to check on me as I was catching my breath under a rhododendron.

We didn’t see any large animals but signs of their presence abounded.
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IMG_0100Thimbleberries

IMG_0106Salmonberries

20210710_135206Swallowtail on a blackberry blossom.

The hike took us almost 8 hours and according to my GPS was 7.7 miles long although Heather’s only showed 6.7 miles. (Might be the first time ever where hers was less for essentially the same hike.) With the dense trees and deep canyon I’m sure they are both a bit off but around 7 miles is probably accurate. On a typical hike we average around 2mph with a moving speed between 2 1/4 and 3mph. This was about half of those speeds. The elevation gain, which was mostly on the way back, was in the neighborhood of 2000′.

We now have just 2 remaining wilderness areas in Oregon to visit, Black Canyon and Monument Rock. If our plans aren’t derailed by wildfires we should be done by the end of Summer. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Devil’s Staircase

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Mary’s Peak via the North Ridge Trail – 06/05/2021

After a week of 90 degree temperatures much needed rain arrived just in time for the weekend. Most of the west is in the midst of a drought so the the rain is welcome but it meant looking for a plan B for our hike. We decided to stick relatively close to home and revisit Mary’s Peak (previous post), this time via the North Ridge Trail. In addition to only being about an hour away the forecast for the area was better than any of the other alternatives that I had looked at with NOAA calling for a 30% chance of showers and partly sunny skies over the Woods Creek Trailhead. We figured that gave us the best chance for a dry hike (lol) and if the weather wasn’t great at least we had been there before when it was better.

While we were encouraged by a good sized patch of blue sky between Monmouth and Philomath the trailhead was under the cover of low clouds.
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A couple of trails led into the trees from the parking area on Woods Creek Road. The trails led to what was the Old Peak Trail which was abandoned for a time but appeared to be in good shape now. The Siuslaw National Forest page for the trailhead indicates that this is now part of the North Ridge Trail extending downhill (northeast) 2.2 miles to Peak Road although they do not show said trail on their map.

IMG_6977We took this trail from the parking area to the North Ridge Trail where we turned right at a signboard.

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We followed the trail for approximately 100 yards before popping out onto Woods Creek Road just uphill of the gate near the parking area (on our return we simply followed the road down to the car).
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The North Ridge Trail continued on the other side of the road and began a 3.5 mile climb to a junction with a tie trail connecting the North and East Ridge Trails. On our last visit in 2014 we had come down the North Ridge Trail to the junction and taken the tie trail to get back to the East Ridge Trail and our car at Conner’s Camp. The North Ridge Trail gained 1400′ over the 3.5 miles using a number of switchbacks to keep the grade from ever being very steep. The green forest was filled with fog which was depositing moisture on the trees that was then falling to the forest floor so even though it wasn’t “raining” it may as well have been.
IMG_6986Signboard along the North Ridge Trail at Woods Creek Road.

IMG_6984Iris

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IMG_6998Near the half mile mark we ignored this pointer to the left. Looking at the map there are roads looping back to Woods Creek Road and also to Conner’s Camp but what their conditions are we don’t know.

IMG_7002Monkeyflower

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IMG_7005Wren

IMG_7009Thimbleberry

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IMG_7019Pacific coralroot

IMG_7021Anemones

IMG_7026Vanilla leaf along the trail.

IMG_7027Lots of vanilla leaf.

IMG_7030Douglas squirrel.

IMG_7034The higher we went the foggier it got.

IMG_7041Bench at the junction with the tie trail.

We stayed right at the junction continuing uphill on the North Ridge Trail for another 0.7 miles to the Mary’s Peak Overlook parking area. We were starting to get pretty wet, and so was the trail, by this point.
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IMG_7043Some of the trillium still had petals.

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IMG_7050Signboard for the overlook on the hillside to the right.

When we exited the trees below the overlook we were able to confirm that it wasn’t raining despite all the water falling from the trees. It was however windy and that wind combined with damp skin/clothes and upper 40 degree temperatures made it cold at the overlook.
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We quickly dropped downhill on the East Ridge Trail, which also ended at the overlook and were going to then head uphill on Summit Trail but we forgot what that junction looked like and when we came to a set of old steps after just 500′ we got confused. The steps led uphill into a jumble of downed trees. This was apparently an older route and the actual Summit Trail junction was just another 100 feet or so away.
IMG_7169The junction from later in the morning with the Summit Trail heading uphill to the right and the East Ridge Trail down to the left.

Since we were unsure we headed back to the overlook and took the gated road uphill.
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IMG_7075Going to be a beargrass year.

IMG_7076Beargrass

IMG_7077Larkspur in the wet grass.

After 0.3 miles on the road we came to the Summit Trail/Summit Loop Trail junction. We stuck to the road opting to do the loop clockwise.
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The road cut between the junction and the summit host a nice display of flowers including large patches of paintbrush, larkspur, phlox, and penstemon. Lupine, parsley, field chickweed, blue eyed mary, buttercups and ragwort were also present.
IMG_7082Paintbrush

IMG_7083Penstemon

IMG_7084Field chickweed

IMG_7085Parsley

IMG_7091Blue-eyed Mary

IMG_7094Ragwort in front of lupine that had yet to bloom.

IMG_7100Phlox

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IMG_7112Lupine

IMG_7120Buttercups and larkspur

The wind was once again an issue at the summit (the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range at 4097′).
IMG_7126Heather hiding behind the summit signboard to try and keep out of the wind.

Needless to say there was no break taken at the picnic table here and instead we headed downhill on the Summit Loop Trail.
IMG_7127Lots of lupine yet to bloom.

At an unsigned fork we went left descending further through the meadows then reentering the forest before coming to a junction with the Meadows Edge Trail after 0.2 miles.
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We turned left here to take the Meadows Edge Trail which we had not been on before. The 1.6 mile trail makes a loop around a grove of old growth noble fir losing and regaining 450′ in elevation along the way.
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IMG_7138As the name implies the Meadows Edge Trail occasionally entered the meadows before returning to the forest.

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IMG_7143For a brief moment a bit of sunlight hit the forest and we thought maybe the sky would clear up.

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IMG_7145Salmonberry bushes near Parker Creek.

IMG_7147Western meadowrue

IMG_7153Spur trail to the Mary’s Peak Campground.

IMG_7156Fairybells and star flower solomonseal

IMG_7157The sky was in fact not clearing up.

IMG_7161Bleeding heart and sourgrass.

IMG_7164Fawn lilies in the meadow.

When we had finished this lovely loop we returned to the Summit Trail and followed it for 100 yards to the 4-way junction on the gated road.
IMG_7167Signs at the road junction.

We could have crossed the road and followed the Summit Trail down to the East Ridge Trail but we still were under the mistaken impression that the trail might be impassable so we returned to the Overlook via the road and picked up the East Ridge Trail there. Shortly after having turned onto that trail we passed the actual Summit Trail junction and realized that we could have indeed taken it from the road. We followed the East Ridge Trail beyond the Summit Trail junction for 1.2 miles where signs and a bench marked the junction with the tie trail.
IMG_7171The wet conditions were starting to really hinder picture taking at this point.

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We turned left onto the tie trail and followed it another 1.2 miles to the North Ridge Trail junction.
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IMG_7190Striped coralroot

IMG_7195North Ridge Trail junction

It was 3.5 miles back downhill to the car and the gentle grade made for a pleasant return trip. The clouds also began to finally lift and we finally did see some patches of blue sky.
IMG_7196Heather descending in the fog.

IMG_7205Cutleaf goldthread

IMG_7218Millipede

IMG_7215Is that some blue sky out there?

IMG_7213Not much but it is blue.

Our hike came in at 13.1 miles with around 2500′ of elevation gain. We could have shaved a tenth of a mile or two off by taking the Summit Trail down to the East Ridge Trail and skipping the Meadows Edge Loop would have saved another 1.6 (but that was a really nice loop).

Track for Mary’s Peak via the North Ridge Trail

Despite the wet conditions and lack of “partly sunny skies” it was a nice hike and the conditions kept the popular trails from being too busy, although we did see a couple dozen other users. Hopefully we won’t have to do too much more shuffling of our planned hikes but if we do I always have a few options standing by. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mary’s Peak via the North Ridge Trail

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Golden and Silver Falls – 05/16/2021

Our trip home from the southern Oregon coast was very different than our six stop drive that started our long weekend (post). We had only one stop planned at Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area. Only 24 miles from Highway 101 in Coos Bay the park felt further removed due to the winding back country roads to the trailhead.
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We started our morning off by heading for Golden Falls first. The trail led to a footbridge across Silver Creek and then forked.
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We took the right hand Lower Trail first which followed Glenn Creek to the base of 254′ Golden Falls.
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IMG_5105Rough skinned newt

IMG_5108Monkeyflower

IMG_5112Thimbleberry

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IMG_5149Wren below Golden Falls

After exploring the area below Golden Falls we returned to the fork and turned onto the Upper Trail. This trail climbed for .4 miles to a switchback below 259′ Silver Falls.
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IMG_5174Columbine

IMG_5178Ginger

IMG_5181Inside out flower

IMG_5186Iris

IMG_5191Anemone

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IMG_5215Ouzel

IMG_5225Marshall’s saxifrage

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Beyond the switchback the trail continued to climb along an long abandoned road over half a mile to cliffs at the top of Golden Falls.
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IMG_5237Plectritis

IMG_5240Manroot

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IMG_5254Stonecrop

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IMG_5252Upper portion of Golden Falls.

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IMG_5268Glenn Creek above Golden Falls.

The trail petered out after a short distance so we turned back. As we began our hike back down blue skies emerged overhead.
IMG_5270Despite a cloudy morning they stayed high enough to not obstruct the view of the falls.

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We returned to the trailhead where another car had joined ours and walked to the west end of the parking area to the Silver Falls Viewpoint Trail.
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This .3 mile trail led to the base of Silver Falls across from the switchback.
IMG_5278Epic battle between a rock and a tree.

IMG_5283Pacific waterleaf

I was treated to a single ripe salmonberry along this stretch of trail. It didn’t survive long enough for a photo but I found another that was almost ripe.
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IMG_5356Larkspur

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IMG_5349Ouzel (might be the same one as earlier)

We did some more exploring around the base of the falls before saying goodbye and heading back to our car.
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At 4 miles this was a perfect hike to end our trip on, even with 4 more hours of driving we made it home around 1:30pm giving us plenty of time to unpack and get ready for the work week ahead. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Golden and Silver Falls

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Southern Coast Trip report

Trail Hopping Down the Southern Oregon Coast – 05/13/2021

Our first big trip of the year was an extended weekend visit to the southern Oregon coast area to finish the remaining featured hikes from Sullivan’s “100 Hikes Oregon Coast & Coast Range” (3rd ed.) as well as a couple from his additional hikes section. For the first day of the trip we had set an ambitious goal of stopping at five different trailheads on the way to our motel in Gold Beach and after checking in continuing almost to the California border for a sixth hike on the Oregon Redwoods Trail. We got our typical early start driving from Salem to Eugene to take Highway 126 toward the coast and our first stop at the Mapleton Hill Pioneer Trailhead .
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The short loop (0.6 miles) on the Pioneer Trail here follows portions of the historic North Fork Trail and Mapleton Hill Road which were early routes connecting Florence and Eugene.
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The trail was in good shape and there were a some wildflowers in bloom to go along with the numerous interpretive signs along the loop.
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IMG_3827Thimbleberry

IMG_3828Salmonberry

IMG_3833McLeod Creek

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IMG_3849One of the sharp turns.

IMG_3840Fairy bells

IMG_3853Columbine

20210513_073907Bleeding heart

20210513_074116Monkeyflower

IMG_3864Sourgrass

20210513_074232Star flower

IMG_3861Trillium

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20210513_074727Star flower solomonseal

20210513_074801Twisted stalk

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IMG_3888Wren – We heard lots of birds but didn’t see many of them.

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IMG_3893Waterleaf

After completing the loop we drove west from the trailhead on Road 5070/North Fork Siuslaw Road to Road 5084 which we followed 5 miles to the Pawn Trailhead.
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This was another short loop hike (0.8 miles) which combined with the Pioneer Trail make up featured hike #57 in the 3rd edition (they were moved to the additional hikes section in the 4th edition). This trail suffered some storm damage over the Winter and as of our hike had only been 80% cleared. It is also an interpretive trail but instead of signs there are markers which correspond to information on a brochure that can be downloaded from the Forest Service here. The name “Pawn” was derived from the last names of four families that settled in the area in the early 1900’s – the Pooles, Akerleys, Worthingtons, and Nolans.
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While this trail was relatively close to the Pioneer Trail the presence of the old growth trees gave the hike a different feel.
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IMG_3912Marker for a fire scarred Douglas fir. According to the brochure the last major fire in the area was in the 1860s.

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The storm damage proved to be a bit tricky but it appeared the Forest Service had started a reroute of the trail which we were able to follow.
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IMG_3930We had to climb over this big tree.

We lost the reroute after climbing over the big trunk and had to bushwack our way through some debris before climbing up on a second downed trunk and walking along it to the resumption of the trail. At one point Heather bumped a limb and pine needles exploded over her head like confetti giving us both a good laugh.
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The loop ended shortly beyond the damage and we were soon back at the trailhead. From there we drove west on North Fork Siuslaw Road into Florence. From Florence we took Highway 101 south toward Coos Bay. We turned off a little north of North Bend at a sign for Horsefall Dune and Beach. Our next stop was yet another short loop trail, this time at Bluebill Lake. We parked at the Bluebill Trailhead and set off on the wide trail.
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We went clockwise around the loop. The water level of the lake varies throughout the year but there was a good amount of water now but no flooding which can be an issue in late Winter/early Spring.
IMG_3943Looking at the bridge at the north end of the lake.

IMG_3946Canada geese

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IMG_3964Cormorants flying above the lake.

IMG_3965Cormorant

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IMG_3972Ring necked ducks

IMG_3982Rhododendron

IMG_3986Boardwalk at the south end of the lake.

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IMG_3999Sparrow

IMG_4002Coming up on the bridge at the north end.

IMG_4010Yellow rumped warbler

IMG_4013Finch

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After completing the 1.5 mile hike here we returned to Highway 101 and continued south into Coos Bay where we detoured to our fourth stop of the day at Millicoma Marsh. This was an interesting trailhead given that it was right next to a middle school track and field.
IMG_4025The trail on the far side of the track.

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We followed the posted directions and kept to the outside of the grass as we walked around the track to the trail.
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IMG_4028One of three panels on a signboard at the start of the trails.

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<img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51186413813_b626e92da2_c.jpg&quot; width="800" height="600" alt="IMG_4030">Woodpecker

Two tenths of a mile from the signboard the grassy track came to a junction. The loop continued to the left but a quarter mile spur trail to the right led to an observation bench. We hiked out to the end of the spur trail before continuing on the loop.
IMG_4031This bench is at the junction.

IMG_4034Sparrow near the junction.

IMG_4035Heading to the observation structure.

IMG_4036Looking toward Coos Bay along the Coos River.

IMG_4037McCullough Memorial Bridge spanning Coos Bay.

IMG_4038Wetlands from the end of the spur.

We returned to the loop and continued counterclockwise around. There wasn’t much wildlife activity which was probably a matter of timing as it looked like an area where we might see quite a bit. In any case the hike was pleasant with nice scenery.
IMG_4039Bitter cherry

IMG_4042Crow

IMG_4044Turkey vulture

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IMG_4048Cormorants overhead

IMG_4052Canada goose with goslings

IMG_4056Buttercups

IMG_4058Pale flax

IMG_4059Arriving back at the field.

Up to this point we had only passed one other hiker all day (at Bluebill Lake) but this area was popular and we ran into over a half dozen other users on this 1.8 mile jaunt.

From Coos Bay we continued south on Hwy 101 for 14.6 miles before turning right onto West Beaver Hill Road at a sign for the Seven Devils Wayside, our next stop. We parked in the large lot where only one other vehicle sat and promptly headed down to the beach.
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IMG_4063Ground squirrel enjoying the view.

IMG_4067Twomile Creek

Our plan here was to hike south along the beach at least as far as Fivemile Point to complete another of Sullivan’s featured hikes. We hopped across the creek using rocks and logs and set off on what is considered possibly the windiest beach along the Oregon coast (it was windy).
IMG_4076Shore bird in the creek.

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The occupant of the other vehicle had headed north so we had this stretch of beach to ourselves, and a few feathered friends.
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The hillside was covered with yellow gorse, an invasive but colorful shrub.
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The gorse wasn’t the only yellow flowers present though.
IMG_4090Brass buttons (another non-native)

We were looking for a side trail up to a viewpoint bench that Sullivan showed as .7 miles from the trailhead just beyond a brown outcrop.
IMG_4078The brown outcrop a little way ahead with Fivemile Point further on.

We couldn’t pick out any trail just several stream beds and seeps so we kept going coming next to a rock spire a short distance from Fivemile Point.
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We passed the spire and continued to Fivemile Point where the ocean was coming up to the rocks effectively creating our turn around point.
IMG_4104Whiskey Run Beach lay on the other side of the rocks with another parking area 0.8 further south.

IMG_4105A cormorant off Fivemile Point

We turned back and headed north past the spire.
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We were now walking into the stiff wind but from this direction Heather was able to spot some stairs in the vegetation marking the side trail to the bench.
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We followed a good trail .2 miles to said bench.
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IMG_4130View from the bench.

After a short break at the viewpoint we descended to the beach and returned to our car.
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We returned to Highway 101 and drove south into Gold Beach where we checked into our motel and dropped our stuff off before hitting the road again. Our final stop of the day had us driving south of Brookings to the Oregon Redwoods Trailhead.
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A 1.2 mile barrier free lollipop loop trail starts at the trailhead.
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We were once again the only people on this trail which was especially nice given the setting amid the giant trees. Although the trees here aren’t as big as those found in California we were once again awestruck by them. We stayed right where the barrier free loop started which brought us to a hollowed out trunk with room for several people.
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IMG_4179Coming up on the hollow trunk straight ahead.

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Approximately a half mile into the loop portion of the trail the Oregon Redwoods Trail split off allowing for a longer (2.5 miles total) hike.
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We set off on the Pioneer Trail at 7:19am and stepped off the Oregon Redwood Trail at 5:51pm. We logged 9.8 miles of hiking but nearly 147 miles (as the crow flies) separated the Oregon Redwoods Trailhead from the Pawn Trailhead (and another 70 miles home) making for a long but great day. We had gotten to see a great variety of scenery all in one day. To top it off we could now check three more featured hikes off our yet-to-do list. The only thing that could have made the day better would have been an actual knob on the cold water handle in the motel shower. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Southern Oregon Coast

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

North Fork Nehalem River – 02/20/2021

Like much of the U.S. we’ve had some ugly weather so far in February so when we saw the potential for a “not too wet” window of time we decided to head out for this month’s hike. On our schedule for February was the North Fork Nehalem River in the Coastal Range. This hike came from the Oregon Hikers Field Guide, my favorite online source for ideas. This particular hike utilizes roads instead of trails which was actually a good thing after an unusually destructive ice and snow storm had come through just a week before our hike. We hopped that the combination of the roads and some clearcuts along those roads would mean we wouldn’t have to deal with much if any debris from the storm. As we drove west on Highway 26 from Portland we were amazed at how much damage there was to trees in the Coastal Range. Between the damage we saw and a couple of heavy rain showers we were wondering what we might be getting ourselves into as we turned south onto Highway 53. The rain let up as we wound our way down past more damaged trees to the Nehalem Fish Hatchery. We had planned to stop at the hatchery first for a quick stop to see Umbrella Falls but signs at the hatchery indicated it was closed to visitors due to COVID-19 (the ODFW website for the hatchery didn’t mention the closure). With access to the 1/8 mile path to the falls blocked we had to skip Umbrella Falls for now and we drove the short distance north on Highway 53 to Cole Mountain Road (just north of the bridge over the North Fork Nehalem River) where we turned west (right) and kept right at a fork to reach the North Fork Nehalem Trailhead.
Trailhead on North Fork Road

We parked at a pullout before a gate marking the start of private land owned by McCracken Woodlands LLC and set off on foot.
Informational sign from McMracken Woodlands LLC

After crossing over a small stream we started getting views of the North Fork Nehalem River on our right.
Stream along North Fork Road

North Fork Nehalem River

North Fork Nehalem River

We were soon passing one of several clearcuts.
Clearcut above North Fork Road

While we are always on the lookout for wildlife we rarely spot anything when we’re specifically looking for something. Today was no exception and after scanning the hillside and coming up empty we started walking again. I turned around to see what the view was like behind us and caught movement 2/3rds of the way up the hill. It was a pair of deer that were well aware of us and making their way in the other direction.
Deer in the clearcut

Deer moving away from us through the clearcut

A mile into the hike we crossed the river on a bridge.
North Fork Road crossing the North Fork Nehalem River

North Fork Nehalem River

North Fork Nehalem River

Just under a half a mile from the bridge we came to North Fork Falls where some steps led down to a fish ladder.
North Fork Falls

North Fork Falls

Fish ladder at North Fork Falls

North Fork Nehalem River

After checking out the falls and fish ladder we continued on North Fork Road passing twin seasonal waterfalls, a quarry, and a pond before crossing over Gods Valley Creek near the two and three quarter mile mark of the hike.
North Fork Road

Twin seasonal waterfalls along North Fork Road

Pond along North Fork Road

Gods Valley CreekGods Valley Creek

Just beyond Gods Valley Creek we spotted some old moss covered picnic tables. We’d be interested in the history here as there was also at least one former campsite with an old fire ring in the area as well. Our guess is that before the logging this was some sort of recreation area but we haven’t been able to find any information online about it.
Old picnic tables

FrogFrog near the old picnic tables.

After crossing the creek the road left the North Fork Nehalem as the river bent northward sticking to a straight line to another crossing of the River just before the 3.5 mile mark.
North Fork Road

North Fork Road crossing the North Fork Nehalem River

North Fork Nehalem River

A gate at the far end of this bridge marked the boundary of the private land and the start of the Clatsop State Forest. We followed North Fork Road through the forest another two miles to Fall Creek (just on the far side of another large quarry).
Skunk cabbageNot much in the way of flowers yet but there was a bit of skunk cabbage in bloom.

Skunk cabbage

North Fork RoadSome low hanging trees, presumably from the storm. The roads had been cleared but occasional damage along the side of the road was evident.

North Fork Nehalem River

Snail shell

Old stump amid younger treesThere were no recent clearcuts in the Clatsop State Forest section but there was evidence of past logging.

Fall CreekFall Creek

After crossing Fall Creek the road (which is shown on maps as Hill Road here) turned away from the river and followed Fall Creek. We took a short detour to the right toward the river where a gated suspension bridge led to another fish ladder.
North Fork Nehalem River

Path to a closed suspension bridge over the North Fork Nehalem RiverNot sure why I neglected to get a picture of the bridge from the locked gate but this is the only one I took of the bridge.

Upper North Fork FallsThe hike description in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide mentions walking along the bank to get a view of Upper North Fork Falls from the rocks below but that wasn’t going to be an option with the river level today.

After checking out the bridge we returned to the the road and continued uphill along Fall Creek to visit three more waterfalls.
Hill Road along Fall Creek

We came to the first fall after .3 miles, a side stream flowing into Fall Creek. The lack of leaves made it a little easier to see the falls than it would be later in the year.
Waterfall spilling into Fall Creek

I was able to make my way down to Fall Creek below the falls for a closer look. (I did however get slapped in the face a couple of times by the vegetation.)
Waterfall spilling into Fall Creek

Another quarter mile brought us to the final two falls. A stepped fall on Fall Creek and another side stream flowing into Fall Creek.
Falls on Fall Creek

Waterfalls on Fall Creek

Waterfall spilling into Fall Creek

Waterfall spilling into Fall Creek

We were pleasantly surprised at how nice these last three waterfalls were, especially the two on the side streams. We were also thankful that we hadn’t had any real precipitation to deal with. We headed back the way we’d come looking for anything we’d missed on our fist pass.
Thick moss on a treeWe both thought that this thick moss looked like some sort of hairstyle.

Mushrooms

Rough skinned newtRough-skinned newt

A brief mist passed over but that was it and we enjoyed some bright blue sky as we finished up our outing.
North Fork Road

The hike came in at a little under twelve and a half miles with just over 500′ of elevation gain. We passed three anglers on the road on the way back and saw two more (their fishing line anyway) down on river. This was a great winter hike and a thoroughly enjoyable outing despite being entirely on roads. It just goes to show that it’s the not the surface but the surroundings that make a good hike. Happy Trails!

Flickr: North Fork Nehalem River