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

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon

Banks-Vernonia State Trail – Buxton Trestle to Tophill Trailhead – 01/16/2021

We kicked off our 2021 hiking year by revisiting the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. We had run the entire trail in April 2014 as part of an ill fated marathon and I had hiked a short section between the Buxton Trestle and Manning Trailhead in April 2016 while Heather ran a half-marathon (post). We had used the marathon as our “hike” to check off hike #23 in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range”4th edition, but the Banks-Vernonia Trail was only part of a longer lollipop loop through L.L. Stub Stewart State Park that he describes. With this visit we planned on doing the rest of his described hike as well as continuing on to the Tophill Trailhead where we plan to someday start another section hike of the trail.

We began our hike at the Buxton Trailhead where I had started my 2016 hike as well.
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From the far end of the parking lot we took a path down to Mendenhall Creek below the Buxton Trestle.
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The path then took us up to the Banks-Vernonia State Trail where we turned right and crossed the trestle.
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We followed the paved former railroad north approximately 3/4 of a mile into L.L. Stub Stewart State Park.
IMG_0281Leaving the Buxton Trailhead area.

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IMG_0296Entering Stub Stewart State Park.

We continued through the park for another mile and a half passing two marked trails to the right before arriving at a third just north of Williams Creek
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IMG_0308This trail was just north of Logging Creek and appeared to just loop back to the Banks-Vernonia Trail a bit further north.

IMG_0309The Caddywhomper Way(s) Trail was signed better. We skipped the viewpoint given the amount of fog/clouds and not wanting to add another 2 miles to the days total. The Oregonhikers field guide also mentions that there isn’t much of a view left due to the presence of trees.

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IMG_0318Trail junction just north of Williams Creek

This was our first wrong turn of 2021 although it may have been correct back in 2016 when our guidebook was released. The map in the book showed a single trail splitting off to the right just beyond the creek so we turned down what turned out to be the Shoofly Trail.
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After .2 miles we arrived at a signboard with a map (it would have been more helpful up at the junction).
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It was here that we realized that it was the wrong trail and that the Hares Canyon Trail was just a tenth of a mile further north.
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Since we were already down there we checked out Williams Creek stopping before the bridge which was clearly marked “no hikers”.
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I say that it may have been the correct trail at one point because Sullivan’s description says that “after 100 feet a spur down to the right dead ends at the creek bank” and there was a closed fork up to the left that may have at one time been part of the Hares Canyon Trail. It wasn’t now though so back up we went to the Banks-Vernonia Trail where we continued north the the signed Hares Canyon Trail.
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A barricade next to the trail had signs for active logging that was occurring Monday – Friday closing the trail on those days.
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We headed up this trail through the forest where we ran into a pair of rough skinned newts.
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We passed a signed junction with the Brookecreek Trail and then arrived at a new logging road three quarters of a mile from the Banks-Vernonia Trail.
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There were no indications of where the Hares Canyon Trail went so we used the map to decide that it must be somewhere to our right and we followed the logging road a short distance before spotting an obvious trail splitting off of it.
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The trail passed through a thinned forest before popping out on another logging road.
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We stayed right on the road at junctions and dropped to another barricade at the Widowmaker Way Trail.
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IMG_0361Sign for the Widowmaker Way and Harse Canyon Trails.

Passing through the logging operation was a bit depressing to be honest. We’ve been on several trails in the last year that have passed through active or recently logged areas and combined with the trails that we’ve lost to wildfires in the last few years and other trails that are being lost to lack of funding for maintenance it’s a bit of a bummer. Ironically this is all at a time when more people then ever are heading out to the trails overloading the most popular and causing issues with litter and human waste. Enough of the doom and gloom though and back to the hike.

The Hares Canyon Trail followed a roadbed of indeterminate age through a disc golf course arriving at a signboard in a mile marking the northern end of the Mountain Bike Area at North Caddywhomper Way.
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IMG_0378No flowers yet but plenty of mushrooms and fungi.

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IMG_0383The trails were well signed so it was easy to stay on the Hares Canyon Trail.

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IMG_0388Comming up on North Caddywhomper Way

We turned left here following pointers for the Hares Canyon Trail until it crossed a service road (3/4 of a mile from the signboard).
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At a junction on the far side of the service road we veered left following the Unfit Settlement View Trail and pointers for the Skycar View and Boomscooter Trail.
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IMG_0402Wet webs in the trees.

We took a detour to the Skycar View despite the fog since it was only 150 yards away.
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We returned to the Unfit Settlement View Trail and followed it downhill to a junction with the Boomscooter Trail where we turned right.
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The Boomscooter Trail descended past Boomscooter Pond and ended in three quarters of a mile at the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.
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IMG_0415Chatty squirrel

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Sullivan’s description would have had us turn left here and return to the Buxton Trailhead but we turned right instead in order to visit the Tophill Trailhead. There were two reasons for this, one was that if we did do more sections of the trail in the future we didn’t want to have a non-hiked gap in between our section hikes, don’t know why but we prefer them to connect. The second reason was that the Tophill Trailhead had been the halfway point of the 2014 marathon which was also the point at which the train went off the tracks. The section of trail just beyond that trailhead was the only significant uphill of the whole route and we had thought walking it would keep it from doing too much damage, but we hadn’t planned on it being 20 plus degrees warmer that day than it had been during any of our training runs. None of us recovered after the hill and the remainder of the race included a lot of walking and cramping. We were both interested in revisiting that hill and seeing if it really was a bad as it had seemed that day.

It was about 2 miles to the Tophill Trailhead where we walked to Highway 26 then turned around and headed up the hill.
IMG_0435Passing over Highway 47 on the way to the Tophill Trailhead.

IMG_0437Orange jelly fungus on a tree.

IMG_0441Heading up from the hill from the less steep south side.

IMG_0445Highway 47 at the Tophill Trailhead.

The climb back up the couple of switchbacks was underwhelming. It made us work but it also reinforced that it wasn’t the hill that had done us in that day, it had been the heat. We followed the Banks-Vernonia Trail back to the Buxton Trailhead passing back through L.L. Stub Stewart State Park along the way. The trail was fairly busy by the afternoon with joggers, hikers, bikers, and a couple of equestrians enjoying the dry day (with a bonus sighting of blue skies).
IMG_0451Chestnut-backed chickadee

IMG_0460Pond along the trail.

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IMG_0464Entrance road to Stub Stewart.

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IMG_0476Back at the Buxton Trailhead

IMG_0478Bench at the Buxton Trailhead

We had expected the hike to be around 13 miles but our GPS (and time) put it at 15.5 miles. Although not the most exciting or dramatic hike there was a nice variety of sights and the trails (except for the area being logged) were in great to good shape. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Banks-Vernonia State Trail – Buxton to Tophill TH

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Lost, Spruce Run, and Bloom Lakes – 09/26/2020

The tragic wildfires that claimed lives and wreaked havoc on several towns and communities had kept us home since Labor Day. Several forests and parks still remain closed but things have been slowly reopening and some much needed rain arrived to help slow the fires and clear the air. One of the forests that had reopened was the Clatsop State Forest between Portland and Seaside. Hike #12 in William L. Sullivan’s 4th edition “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” consists of three short hikes to lakes in that forest. We had visited Soapstone Lake on a previous outing (post) With many forests and parks still closed due to the tragic wildfires that claimed lives and wreaked havoc on several towns it seemed like a perfect time to check out the other two lakes, Lost and Spruce Run. We also added nearby Bloom Lake whose trailhead along Highway 26 we’d driven by a number of times.

We began our morning at the Spruce Run Creek Trailhead at Henry Rierson Campground.
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The winds that had caused the fires to explode throughout Labor Day night had also toppled thousands of trees across the forests of Oregon so we we weren’t sure what conditions we might encounter. Nearly immediately after setting off on the trail we were met with a jumble of recently downed limbs.
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They were passable with care due to the slick condition of the wood which was damp from passing showers. Encountering this so early in the hike made us even more concerned about the conditions further on but as it turned out this would be the biggest obstacle of the day. There were a couple of downed trees which we simply stepped over and the rest was just smaller debris.

The Spruce Run Creek Trail began with a series of ups and downs, sometimes surprisingly steep, as it followed along Spruce Run Creek.
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It was a fairly dark morning as passing showers kept the Sun behind clouds but none of the showers lasted long nor were very heavy and the clouds breaking up made for some nice views.
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A little over a mile along the trail we were surprised to enter a recently logged area.
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The trail was in relatively good shape and easy to follow through this area.
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Another small surprise came near the 2 mile mark where we expected to find a short spur trail on the left leading to Lost Lake Road. Instead we arrived at a newer logging road.
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We momentarily wondered if we had somehow taken the spur trail without realizing it but after consulting the map it was clear that this was a new road and we were still on the Spruce Run Creek Trail. We turned right onto the road and spotted the continuation of the trail at a 3-way junction after 100 yards or so.
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We had actually planned on taking the spur trail to Lost Lake Road and hiking up that road 1.1 miles to Lost Lake instead of driving to the Lost Lake Trailhead after finishing our hike to Spruce Run Lake so at the 3-way junction we turned left. We followed this road downhill approximately .2 miles past a gate to Lost Lake Road where we turned right.
IMG_6215The open gate and Lost Lake Road from a logging road.

As we climbed up the road the alternating showers and blue sky created a nice rainbow behind us.
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From the parking lot of Lost Lake we headed clockwise around the lake on a nice trail.
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There were several opportunities for views of the little lake along the 1 mile loop.
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IMG_6253Hardhack

After completing the loop we returned on the roads to the continuation of the Spruce Run Creek Trail.
IMG_6255Spruce Run Creek Trail on the left.

The trail descended through logged forest for the next half mile before passing the timber sale boundary.
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IMG_6264Leaving the logged area.

In another quarter mile we arrived at a pair of benches near the end of Spruce Run Lake.
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20200926_094603Rough skinned newt near Spruce Run Lake.

The lake was created by a landslide that backed up Spruce Run Creek. The water level fluctuates with the season and was little more than a pond at this point of the year.
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The rest of the lake bed was a marshy green meadow with Spruce Run Creek flowing through.
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IMG_6280One of many damp spider webs in the meadow.

IMG_6283The meadow from the bank of Spruce Run Creek

After exploring the meadow for a bit we headed back to our car under increasingly blue skies.
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IMG_6296Bleeding heart

IMG_6299Scouler’s bluebell

IMG_6307A little butterfly

When we had passed through the logged area we got a better look at the forest along the first part of the trail now that it was lighter. It looked and felt like Autumn.
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Combining these two hikes was a little over 9 miles with 1600′ of elevation gain. We drove back to Highway 26 and headed toward Portland stopping at the Bloom Lake Trailhead just west of the Quartz Creek Bridge for a final quick hike.
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The blue skies that we had enjoyed on the earlier hike were nowhere to be found at this trailhead even though it was only 3 miles from Spruce Run Lake as the crow flies. The heaviest shower of the day passed overhead as we crossed South Fork Quartz Creek on a footbridge.
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Fortunately this shower was like all the rest had been, brief. The Bloom Lake Trail climbed along an old road cut for a mile to the start of a loop around little Bloom Lake. We stayed left at the fork and in another .3 miles crossed an inlet creek on a slick looking piece of wood.
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IMG_6340Fall means mushrooms start replacing wildflowers.

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Beyond the creek crossing we turned right another another old road bed then right again on August Fire Road (on which one can drive to Bloom Lake).
IMG_6346August Fire Road

We turned right off of this road at another old road bed that was blocked by cut tree trunks.
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This led us down to Bloom Lake.
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IMG_6356Snail near Bloom Lake.

We continued around the lake on a trail which crossed the outlet creek on an old log.
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We completed the loop around the lake then headed back downhill to our car.
IMG_6366Mushrooms

IMG_6360More mushrooms

This hike was 3.2 miles with 675′ of elevation gain making our days tally 12.4 miles and 2275′. It was nice to get back out and this had turned out to be a good choice. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Lost, Spruce Run, and Bloom Lakes

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Little Luckiamute River and Valley of the Giants – 05/16/2020

As we continue to navigate this COVID-19 reality we decided to finally make an attempt at visiting the Valley of the Giants, a stand of old growth forest in the Coastal Range. Even though the Valley of the Giants is a featured hike in Williams L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” and we would need to complete this hike someday if we were ever going to complete our goal of hiking all 500 of the featured hikes (post) we had thus far avoided this hike for a two reasons. The first reason was that at only 1.5 miles long this hike violated our made up rule of not spending more time driving than hiking on a day trip. Despite only being 31 miles, as the crow flies, from our houseĀ  the drive to the trailhead would be around an hour and forty-five minutes.

The second reason was that we’d heard it was sometimes difficult to reach the trailhead if you could even find it at all. The area (and much of the Coast Range) is a checkerboard of public and private land with most of the private land being owned by timber companies and heavily logged. From time to time the timber companies close the roads used to reach the trailhead due to logging activity. The logging activity also means that there are often new roads or changes to existing roads that are not on maps making them unreliable.

With social distancing in mind we thought now was as good as a time as ever to finally give this hike a go. First we needed to make sure that the hike was indeed open so during the week I contacted the Northwest Oregon District Office of the BLM via email to confirm. They responded that same day saying that it was open and also attached two pdfs. One was a brochure for the trail as well as detailed driving directions and the second contained phone numbers for the timber companies to check on any potential closures they might have in place. We didn’t wind up calling the timber companies opting to just take the chance that the roads would be open.

With the hike being only 1.5 miles we also looked for some other options along the way and in the back of Sullivan’s book was an additional hike just outside of Falls City, which we would be driving through, along the Little Luckiamute River. He described the hike as an “easy mile and an additional 1.5 faint miles to a brushy clearcut”. The guidebook had us park at a locked gate at a bridge over the Little Luckiamute River along Blackrock Road.
Blackrock Road

IMG_3715Little Luckiamute River from the bridge.

The book then mentions crossing the bridge on foot and continuing up the road 200 yards to the trail on the left and shows the BLM as the land manager. When we walked up to the gate though we were met with posted signs from Weyerhaeuser stating that permits were required for all recreation beyond that point. We did walk up the road a bit to see if we could find the start of the trail to see if maybe the it was in fact on BLM land and it was only the road and possibly the land on the right hand side that was Weyehaeuser owned. Our Garmin appeared to show the location of the trail but we walked a little past where it was showing and never saw any signs of one so we quickly returned to our car. Heather had noticed another gated road just before the spot where we parked heading in the same direction that the trail on the opposite side of the river would have taken us so we walked over to it to check it out. There were signs here too but it wasn’t Weyerhaeuser land it was owned by Hancock Forest Management and they didn’t require permits for recreational use.
Informational signs at a gated logging road

We decided to hike up this road instead. We wanted to kill some time before heading to the Valley of the Giants because the Oregon Hikers Field Guide entry for the hike mentioned visiting between 8am and 5pm to avoid gates that might be opened and closed daily. It was a little before 6am when we’d discovered that our plan A was a no go so to kill enough time we set a 45 minute goal for hiking out along this road before turning around.
Logging road along the Little Luckiamute River

A quarter mile up the road we followed a well developed use trail down to the river.
Trail down to the Little Luckiamute River

Little Luckiamute River

Little Luckiamute River

SalmonberrySalmonberry blossoms along the river.

After checking out the river we continued up the road until we arrived at a 1.5 mile marker spray painted in orange on a stump. We were at almost 43 minutes and in the middle of an uphill climb so we decided that the marker was a good definitive turnaround spot.
Mile marker along the logging roadOur turnaround spot.

We returned the way we’d come arriving back at the car close to 7:20. Even though it wasn’t the trail that we’d planned on hiking this was a pleasant little hike and probably very similar to what we would have seen on the trail itself. There were a number of different flowers, slugs, a snail, a millipede, and a rough skinned newt along the way not to mention the sounds of the river and lots of signing birds.
Logging road along the Little Luckiamute River

Cinquefoil and youth-on-ageCinquefoil and youth-on-age

Snail

Small creekOne of several little creeks along the road.

IrisIris

FairybellsFairybells

Forest along the Little Luckiamute RiverForest along the road.

Bleeding heartBleeding heart

Rough skinned newtRough skinned newt escaping into the grass.

LupineLupine

ColumbineColumbine

We drove back into Falls City and stopped at a viewpoint along Parry St. to check out the Falls City Falls.
Falls City Falls viewpoint

Unfortunately you can’t get a good look at the waterfall from this side of the river and it wasn’t any apparent access on the opposite side where a clearer view could have been had.
Little Luckiamute RiverLittle Luckiamute above the falls.

Falls City FallsFalls City Falls

Falls City FallsLower end of Falls City Falls.

That quick stop killed a little more time before we began our quest for the Valley of the Giants. The entry in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide for the trailhed begins with “Here follows one of the most convoluted approaches to a trailhead you will ever endure:”. We were primarily using the BLM directions with Sullivan’s being secondary. (All three provided similar directions although they were worded differently.) The trailhead was 31.5 miles from the Falls City Post Office with all but the first .6 on gravel roads. As crazy as the directions appeared the drive turned out to be fairly straight forward. The directions were spot on and we found that at many of the intersections the BLM had pointers for VOG.
BLM pointer for the Valley of the Giants

We weren’t expecting to see these pointers and aren’t sure how new they might be (or how long they will last given some peoples penchant for causing mischief) but they proved to be very helpful.

The roads had a few potholes but were in relatively good shape and passable for lower clearance vehicles. The scenery alternated between the bleak landscapes of clearcuts and beautifully green forests surrounding the South and later North Forks of the Siletz River.
South Fork Siletz RiverSouth Fork Siletz River along Valsetz Road.

Confluence of the North and South Fork Siletz RiversConfluence of the North and South Forks of the Siletz River.

North Fork Siletz RiverNorth Fork Siletz River.

The route also took us past the historical site of Valsetz, an unincorporated community and timber company town. In 1983 the timber company announced the halting of operations there and in 1984 all structures were removed leaving just some foundations. We drove by the foundations but didn’t stop due to some sort of gathering occurring (which we were pretty sure wasn’t within the current COVID-19 guidelines).

An hour and fifteen minutes after passing the Post Office in Falls City we arrived at the Valley of the Giants Trailhead.
Valley of the Giants Trailhead

A signboard at the trailhead provided a brief history and a map of the 51 acre area.
Interpretive sign at Valley of the Giants

We followed the trail downhill to a footbridge over the North Fork Siletz River.
Trail at Valley of the Giants

Bleeding heartBleeding heart

FairybellsFairybells

Star-flowered slomonseal and false lily of the valley getting ready to blossomStar flowered solomonseal and false lily of the valley getting ready to bloom.

Footbridge over the North Fork Siletz River

North Fork Siletz River

North Fork Siletz River

At the far end of the footbridge was a lone picnic table.
Picnic table at the Valley of the Giants

The trail climbed a bit to the start of a .7 mile loop which itself climbed approximately 160′ to the “Big Guy”, a huge Douglas Fir that fell in a 1981 storm. At that time the tree is believed to have been 230′ tall and approximatley 600 years old.
Trail at Valley of the Giants

Valley of the GiantsOld growth giants.

Valley of the GiantsAnother huge Douglas fir.

Valley of the GiantsStanding among the giants.

FernsUnfurling ferns.

“Big Guy”

Standing in between a cut in “Big Guy”. For reference I am a little under 5’9″.

Bench at “Big Guy”

Beyond “Big Guy” the trail descended back down to the start of the loop.
Trail at Valley of the Giants

Oregon grapeOregon grape

Old growth at Valley of the Giants

TrilliumThe only trillium we saw all day that still had any petals.

Old growth at Valley of the Giants

Valley of the Giants

We returned to the trailhead to find a second car there now and the only other hikers we’d seen that day. We chatted with them for a bit (from over 6 feet away). His grandfather had been working at Valsetz when it was shut down so he had spent time there as a child and all around the area.

Driving back past the clear-cuts after having just visited the pocket of old growth just reinforced how important it is to us to protect any wild areas lucky enough to have yet been spared from development or resource extraction. There are not that many of them left and those that aren’t yet protected deserve to be. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Little Luckiamute River and Valley of the Giants

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon

Miller Woods & Trappist Abbey – 3/15/2020

We had decided to make 3/15 (Sunday) the day for our March hike to take advantage of a clear, albeit cold, forecast and to get it in before COVID-19 becomes any larger an issue. We started our day by visiting Miller Woods, a conservation area maintained by the Yamhill Soil & Water Conservation District. The 130 acre property was donated to the district in 2004 and is open from dawn to dusk for hiking (no pets). Although there is no fee, donations are welcome and can be made online (the option we used). These donations appear to be put to good use based on the amount of obvious work that has been put into the area.

As hard as it may be to believe we were the first car in the parking lot. After stopping at the information kiosk (laminated maps were available) we set off on the Outer Loop Trail planning on going counter-clockwise around the approximately 4.5 mile loop.
Miller Woods Trailhead

Miller Woods

Miller Woods trail map

Morning at Miller Woods

Part of the work being done at Miller Woods is Oak Savanna restoration, which is what most of the Willamette Valley was made up of prior to development.
Interpretive sign at Miller Woods

Miller Woods

After passing some of the restoration work the trail entered a forest of Douglas firs.
Perimiter trail at Miller Woods

Miller Woods

We had our first covering of snow at our house when we awoke on Saturday and the near freezing temperatures had our hands stinging by the time we had made it to the trees but in the forest we were reminded that Spring is on the way as we began to notice several of the early wildflower varieties.
ToothwortSlender toothwort

Trillium at Miller WoodsTrillium

Violet at Miller WoodsViolets

The trail wound around a hillside above Berry Creek before looping back toward the old farm fields.
Miller Woods

Berry CreekBerry Creek

Nest along the trail at Miller WoodsBird’s nest that Heather spotted along the trail.

Miller Woods

After briefly passing through the edge of the field the trail reentered the forest after crossing an outlet stream from a pond.
Trail at Miller Woods

Creek at Miller Woods

A shorter loop was possible here by taking the green Discovery Loop back to the parking area.
Trail sign at Miller Woods

We stuck to the Outer Loop though and began a gradual climb to the loop’s high point at the 600′ K.T. Summit. As we were climbing we spotted what we thought was a pair of deer (it turned out to be three).
Deer up on the hillside at Miller WoodsThe first deer we spotted (up near the top of the hill at center).

Deer at Miller WoodsZoomed in shot of the second deer at upper left.

Deer at Miller WoodsFirst deer again.

The trail zigzagged up the hill and wound up taking us right past the deer who seemed less than worried about us.
Deer at Miller WoodsFirst deer crossing the trail ahead of us.

Deer at Miller WoodsThe second and third deer watching us pass.

After passing the deer we also passed a memorial to the Miller’s who had donated the property.
Memorial at Miller Woods

Memorial plaques at MIller Woods

Perimiter trail at Miller Woods

The summit was marked by a sign and a bench but lacked a view.
K.T. Summit sign at Miller Woods

Beyond the summit the trail began to descend back down to the fields. The forest here was a little more mature and we spotted another early wildflower getting ready for Spring when we noticed a fairy slipper emerging from some green moss.
Perimeter trail at Miller Woods

Fairy slipper staring to open at MIller Woods

We also noticed a little dusting of snow left on a few leaves and stumps.
A slight dusting of snow left on a stump at Miller Woods

The trail wound down to a crossing of the pond’s inlet creek where some skunk cabbage was putting on a nice display.
Trail at Miller Woods

Creek at Miller Woods

Skunk cabbage

We emerged from the forest and followed the trail to the pond where the trail split. We went left passing the pond on our right and made our way back to the trailhead.
Pond at MIller Woods

Miller Woods

Blackbird at MIller WoodsThe area around the pond was popular with the birds.

Robin at Miller WoodsThere were quite a few robins about.

From Miller Woods it was just a 15-20 minute drive to Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey

Book binding, a bakery, a wine warehouse and forestry all occur at here and a gift shop sells fruitcakes and honey. Given that “social distancing” is a thing right now we opted not to enter the gift shop or any of the other buildings on this visit and walked through the courtyard to a gravel path leading between two ponds.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey

Pond at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist AbbeyLarger of the two ponds

Footbridge by the pondLittle footbridge by the large pond

Pond at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist AbbeySmaller pond

Beyond the ponds we turned uphill on an old roadbed.
Trail at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey

We followed the road as it climbed up a tree thined hillside gaining views to the west of the snow covered coastal range.
Monk's Trail junctionWe ignored the signed trails sticking to the road which was also signed as the “Guadalupe Loop”

More snow on the Coast Range

View from the Guadalupe Loop

There were quite a few birds in the remaing trees. We watched a pair of acorn woodpeckers for a bit and a spotted towhee was busy picking through some grass while stellars jays could be heard but seldom seen.
Acorn woodpeckerAcorn woodpecker

Acorn woodpeckerSecond acorn woodpecker

Spotted towheeSpotted towhee

We soon left the thinned area and entered a forest where we spotted more toothwort and some sort of blooming tree.
Guadalupe Loop

Toothwort

Blossoms along the Guadalupe Loop

After about a mile we came to a fork in the road where the left side was gated (and posted no hiking beyond the gate). We forked right continuing uphill for a half mile to another fork. This time we went left which led a short distance to a viewpoint overlooking vineyards and Mt. Hood in the distance. (We should have taken a fork right shortly after taking the left but missed it and ended up having to backtrack a bit.)
Mt. Hood from a viewpiont at Trappist Abbey

Mt. Hood from a viewpiont at Trappist Abbey

We returned to the fork and went straight on what was still the Guadalupe Loop for just over a quarter mile to a sign for a shrine.
Snow along the Guadalupe LoopSnow along the Guadalupe Loop

Shrine at Trappist Abbey

A short spur led to the shrine and a viewpoint of the Coast Range.
Shrine at Trappist Abbey

Snowy Coast Range

Snow in the Coast Range

Snowy peak in the Coast Range

Our guidebook said to turn back here and return the way we’d come. We toyed with the idea of continuing on the Guadalupe Loop and started to do just that, but we weren’t certain if it was really in fact a loop or how long it might be. We decided not to tempt fate but then instead of going back the way we’d come we turned left at a sign for St. Juan Diego Pass and followed a grassy track downhill.
Trail at Trappist Abbey

A patch of purple caught our eyes on the hillside and it turned out to be an iris that was weighted down a bit with water.
Iris

ChipmunkThis chipmunk also caught our attention.

We followed the path for a little over half a mile before popping back out on the Guadalupe Loop near the fork with the gated road where we turned left and hiked the mile back down to the parking area.
Trappist Abbey

It turned out to be a beautiful day (once we thawed out from the initial frozen hands at Miller Woods) with a total of 8.2 miles of hiking (4.4 at Miller Woods and 3.8 at Trappist Abbey). There were very few folks out, we saw two trail runners at Miller Woods and passed a handful of groups at Trappist Abbey, had some wildlife encounters, and spotted a few Spring flowers along the way. Hopefully things will settle down sooner rather than later with the corona virus but until then stay safe and Happy Trails!

Flickr: Miller Woods and Trappist Abbey

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Henry Haag Lake – 9/13/2019

A cloudy forecast with a chance for showers and a weekday off during the school year provided the perfect combination to visit Henry Haag Lake. The man made lake is located in the eastern foothills of the Coastal Range near Forest Grove and would be our 92nd featured hike from Sullivan’s Oregon Coast & Coast Range guidebook. The lake tends to be crowded during the summer and on weekends from Spring to Fall. Additionally the trail around the lake reportedly gets very slick and muddy during the wet seasons so a mid-September visit seemed like a good time to minimize encountering those conditions.

After paying the $7 day use fee for Scoggins Valley Park we drove across Scoggins Dam and parked at the Elks Picnic Area Trailhead.
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There are several trailheads around the lake but we chose this one due to it being close to the park entrance and giving us an opportunity to start with the walk across the dam which we preferred to get out of the way early.

It was an overcast morning but it was free of precipitation as we began our dam walk.
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It turned out to be a fairly entertaining half mile as we were treated to several bird sightings including at least one osprey diving for fish, a kingfisher noisily flying around, and a great blue heron standing on the rocks.
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IMG_9000The osprey flying over the water (All my zoomed in tries were super blurry.)

IMG_9004The kingfisher (also fairly blurry)

IMG_8996The heron

We had been following a path on the opposite side of the guardrail from the road but had to step over it to go around a fence at the end of the dam to reach a trail marked by a post.
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The trail around Haag Lake is broken up by several road walks and parking lot crossings, but when it was trail it was often surrounded by nice forest. For example beyond the dam the trail spent just over a tenth of a mile in the forest before popping out on a road to a boat ramp and the Dam Overlook.
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The trail resumed at another post (the signage was very good all the way around the lake as long you ignore all the unmarked side trails down to the lake shore.
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For the next 1.2 miles the trail stayed in the forest before arriving at the Eagle Point Recreation Area.
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IMG_9032One of the side trails heading down to the left to the lake.

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The cloud cover was breaking already breaking up as we arrived at Eagle Point.
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After passing by an alien snag we once again entered the forest.
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The trail bowed out and around an arm of the lake. It took a little over two miles to hike around this arm.
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In the middle of the stretch was a brief stint on Scoggins Valley Road where a sign for Cedar Grove marked an abandoned section of trail.
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The current trail was a few hundred feet further along the road.
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IMG_9064Scrub jay

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This pattern was repeated four more times over the next 7 miles around arms at Tanner, Wall, Scoggins, and Sain Creeks. The scenery changed consistently with signs of former farmland amid the creeks and stretches of forest.
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IMG_9092Spider in the forest.

IMG_9100Starting around the Tanner Creek arm.

IMG_9103An egret and a heron.

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IMG_9116Apples

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IMG_9131Deer across Scoggins Valley Road

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IMG_9153Canada geese

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IMG_9163Herons and geese at Wall Creek.

IMG_9167Road walk over Scoggins Creek.

IMG_9168Scoggins Creek

IMG_9173Scoggins Creek

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IMG_9187Coming up to the fishing pier and Recreation Area C.

IMG_9191Pacific University building.

IMG_9195Sain Creek Recreation Area

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IMG_9212Sain Creek

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After rounding the Sain Creek arm we entered the “dangerous” disc golf course.
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IMG_9218One of the disc golf holes.

IMG_9224Poison oak

After passing a grassy hillside the trail entered the nicest section of forest of the day.
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About a quarter mile from the Elks Picnic Area and our car we passed the Rainbow View parking area where we had one more good look at Henry Haag Lake before finishing with a road walk back to our car.
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IMG_9245Geese and seagulls on an island.

Road walks are always hard on the feet so when we were finally done with what our GPS said was a 14 mile loop ours were really sore. The hard pavement hadn’t been the only hard surface as the trail was often also very hard. The clay that can be so slick and muddy when wet also gets very hard and packed when it’s dry. Despite the sore feet (and what seemed like unending uphill climbs, although it was only about 500′ of total elevation gain) it did turn out to be a great time for the hike. We didn’t run into anyone else using the trail all day. There were a number of folks fishing, boating and hanging out at the parking areas but that was it. With the numerous parking areas it would be easy to break this up into shorter hikes over several trips.

Happy Trails!

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon

Harris Ranch Trail (Drift Creek Wilderness) – 8/3/19

Our annual family reunion at the Oregon Coast always provides us an opportunity to work up an appetite by starting the morning off with a shorter hike on the way there. This year we chose to revisit the Drift Creek Wilderness.

This would be our second visit to the area with the first having been in 2010 (post), the year we really started hiking. At that point we hadn’t developed the appreciation for old growth forests that we have now so we were interested to see what our opinions of this hike would be compared to that first visit.

We began our hike at the Harris Ranch Trailhead which was located .3 miles down the rather brushy FR 346.
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It was a foggy morning which we expected to keep things a bit on the cooler side but instead it was a warm, humid morning as we set off on a decommissioned road.
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The first three quarters of a mile followed an old roadbed which gradually descended before ending just before the start of the Drift Creek Wilderness.
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Once the trail entered the wilderness it began a steeper 2.3 mile descent along a ridge down to Drift Creek. The trail was in good shape with signs of some recent clearing of brush near the top and only one muddy section (which is saying soemthing for a trail near the coast).
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IMG_5413Fern clippings in the trail showing some trimming had been done.

IMG_5419Whoever had done the brushing hadn’t made it down the whole trail.

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IMG_5433There were a few monkey flowers scattered about.

IMG_5445Obligatory coastal trail muddy section.

Several clumps of Monotropa uniflora aka Ghost Plant or Indian Pipe were present along the upper portion of the trail as well. We’d only seen this plant one or two other times so it was exciting to see so much of it.
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Near Drift Creek the trail reaches the site of the pre-world war II homestead pasture of Harris Ranch. A few campsites now occupy the area.
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Drift Creek was much more inviting from this side. There wasn’t a steep embankment to descend and a shelf of exposed bedrock made exploring easy.
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We watched several crawdads moving around in the water while we rested by the creek.
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The crawdads we saw in the water were greatly outnumbered by the remains strewn about the rocks though. Something had been dinning on them, perhaps the kingfisher that flew past twice while we rested.
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By the time we headed back up the fog had burned off which added a little extra heat to the 1300′ muggy climb back to the trailhead.
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IMG_5526Chickadee

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IMG_5559Woodpecker

Approximately a tenth of a mile from the trailhead there was an interesting tree above the road. It appeared that the tree had begun to fall but its root system stayed in tact so a couple of the original trees branches began to grow as their own trees. At first we thought it was a nursery log, but the two vertical “trees” don’t seem to have their own root systems.
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When we got back to the car we picked a handful of ripe thimbleberries to take to the reunion since they are one of my Dads favorites.
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With the creek exploration the hike was just over 6.5 miles and it had been much more enjoyable for us than our first visit now that we understood better what a special place the designated wilderness areas are. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Harris Ranch Trail