Categories
Cottage Grove Hiking Oregon Trip report

Row River Trail – Mosby Creek TH to Harms Park -12/18/2021

A combination of a busy December both at work and home and uncooperative weather left us with one final day to get our December hike in before the holiday weekend. Short of an ice storm we planned on hiking somewhere but the exact hike would depend on the weather forecast. As we got closer to the day, rain was the consensus everywhere within our day hiking radius. I looked through the hikes we hadn’t done yet for options for this time of year where a day of rain would have least impact on the hike. After coming up with a couple of possibilities, each a different direction from Salem a I looked again at the forecast for each area to see if any looked better than the others. The Row River Trail just East of Cottage Grove was the clear winner with just a chance of showers in the morning increasing to rain as the day went on.

A converted rail road, the Row River Trail is a 14 mile long paved National Recreation Trail. We hiked a portion of the trail last June during a multi-stop day (post). On that day we started at Bake Stewart Park which is on the eastern side of Dorena Lake and hiked west to Rat Creek which is just beyond Harms Park. Our plan for this outing was to park on the other side of Dorena Lake at the Mosby Creek Trailhead and hike east to Harms Park. It was overcast but not raining when we pulled into the trailhead parking area.
IMG_7411

The trail begins in Cottage Grove approximately 3 miles to the west of this trailhead it passes through town then closely follows Mosby Creek Road to the trailhead. While the trail beyond Mosby Creek crosses several roads and follows Row River Road around Dorena Lake it is more scenic than the first 3 miles would have been. Starting at the Mosby Creek Trailhead also offers the chance to make a quick 50 yard detour to the 1920 Mosby Creek Covered Bridge which was restored in 1990 and is still in use.
IMG_7418

IMG_7424

The Row River Trail crosses Mosby Creek on a nearby trestle bridge.
IMG_7420

IMG_7427

The trail is basically as straight as an arrow for 1.3 miles from the Mosby Creek bridge to a second bridge over the Row River. The scenery along this stretch is farmland and trees.
IMG_7430

IMG_7432

IMG_7433

IMG_7434Ivy disguising itself as a tree.

IMG_7442Mallards and Christmas lights.

IMG_7444Layng Road crossing. The lights on the signs were activated when sensors picked up something approaching.

IMG_7446

IMG_7454

IMG_7457Currin Covered Bridge on Layng Road.

IMG_7459Cormorants flying overhead.

IMG_7460Approaching the bridge over the Row River.

IMG_7469Row River

Lesser scaupLesser scaup. I would have liked a better picture but it was still early and not very light and the little guy was a ways away on the river.

A short distance beyond the river we passed under Row River Road.
IMG_7471

20211218_113536_HDRThis was a new sign to us.

Shortly after passing under Row River Road the trail began a small climb above some farms as it made a sweeping curve to the right.
IMG_7473Row River Road with some snowy hillsides in the distance.

IMG_7477Arrows and other yellow markings identified bumps and holes in the trail for equestrian and bike users.

IMG_7478

IMG_7484Jelly fungus

IMG_7487Hamblen Creek

IMG_7490Turkeys in a field.

IMG_7495Sign along a private driveway.

IMG_7503Not very many mushrooms but these were good sized.

The trail crossed Row River Road again as it passed along the shoulder of Cerro Gordo, a 2112′ butte.
IMG_7504

From the road crossing We descended slightly passing the unmarked site where the campfire scene was filmed for the 1986 movie Stand By Me before arriving at the Dorena Lake Dam.
IMG_7507

IMG_7508Do squirrels jog?

IMG_7509Madrone along the trail.

IMG_7511Row River Road was overhead to the left along this rocky section.

IMG_7658

IMG_7515Nearing a bench along the trail facing Dorena Lake Dam.

IMG_7516

IMG_7521Interpretive sign near the bench.

IMG_7522

A short distance beyond the bench we took a short detour down to the reservoir.
IMG_7527

IMG_7529

Calapooya MountainsSnow in the Calapooya Mountains.

IMG_7535

IMG_7536White pelicans on the other side of Dorena Lake.

We returned to the Row River Trail and continued another half a mile to a small parking area at Row Point where we again detoured to the reservoir.
IMG_7547Still no rain despite the clouds.

IMG_7555Red-tailed hawk

IMG_7557

IMG_7561

IMG_7564

IMG_7568A kingfisher and a great blue heron.

White pelcians and other waterfowlPelicans and other waterfowl on the move.

IMG_7576Cerro Gordo from Row Point.

After visiting Row Point we continued east on the trail for another 1.3 miles before arriving at the Rat Creek Bridge which had been our turn around point on our previous hike.
IMG_7582Not much water at all in the eastern end of the reservoir.

IMG_7586A great blue heron on the far left with a bunch of white pelicans and cormorants.

IMG_7597Actual sunlight hitting the dam.

IMG_7598

IMG_7601Spotted towhee

IMG_7605Rat Creek Bridge

IMG_7606Rat Creek

It was a very different view from the bridge versus last time.
Dorena LakeJune 2020 from the Rat Creek Bridge.

We continued the short distance into Harms Park to use the facilities and take a short break at a picnic table and then started back.
IMG_7609

IMG_7611

IMG_7614Gold tree in front of Cerro Gordo.

When we were nearing the dam again we could see a number of cormorants lining the boom.
IMG_7617

I decided to detour over to the dam itself to check out the view.
IMG_7618The little hill to the left provides access to the north end of the dam.

IMG_7619

IMG_7620

IMG_7621

Heather had semi-reluctantly followed me but as it turned out we were both very happy we’d made the short side trip. Along with the group of cormorants making use of the boom were 4 river otters.
IMG_7622

IMG_7624

IMG_7626Just drying out.

IMG_7639

IMG_7645Trying to play.

IMG_7646No luck.

IMG_7651

After not having seen any otters during our hikes prior to 2021 this was now the 4th time we’d seen one but the first where we were able to watch them for any extended period. It elevated what had already been a good hike into the great category. After watching the otters for awhile we headed back to the Mosby Creek Trailhead keeping our eyes open for other wildlife along the way.
IMG_7657

IMG_7667Rabbit

IMG_7673American wigeons

IMG_7684Nature slowly reclaiming an old farm truck.

IMG_7689Red breasted sap sucker.

IMG_7695Mosby Creek

The hike came in a 12.4 miles after all of the little side trips with only about 150′ of elevation gain.

There are numerous possible starting/turnaround points which make it possible to break the trial up into several smaller sections and we passed a few people doing just that with their dogs/children. The rain showers never materialized making it a much more pleasant day than we’d expected to have and the variety of wildlife, especially the otters, was a great way to finish off our 2021 hikes. Happy Trails and Merry Christmas!

Flickr: Row River Trail – Mosby TH to Harms Park

Categories
Cottage Grove Hiking Old Cascades Oregon

Bohemia Mountain – 8/15/2020

A busy weekend provided us with a good excuse to cross the short hike to Bohemia Mountain off our to-do list of featured hikes.  We had been putting this one off due to the 2:30 hour drive time just to reach the trailhead for what was listed in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide in the Central Oregon Cascades” as a 1.6 mile hike. For a hike that short we would typically look for a longer option or additional hikes in the area to do the same day. This weekend a short hike was perfect though, in particular one south of Salem. We were going to be celebrating our nephew Tyler’s second birthday that afternoon in Lebanon so a quick hike in the morning was perfect. It was also supposed to hit triple digits in many areas so a long hike would have been hot even in the mountains.

We were still looking at 1.6 miles being a little too short so we decided to park approximately three quarters of a mile from the trailhead at a small pullout below the Musick Guard Station just before a fork in Road 2460.
IMG_3920

IMG_3988

We chose to park here so that we could hike down the road to the left to the ghost town of Bohemia City, once the center of the Bohemia Mining District, which formed after the discovery of gold in the area in 1858. A nearly level .6 mile walk down the rough (and private) road led to the old post office.
IMG_3942Bohemia Mountain from the road.

IMG_3957

IMG_3960

IMG_3965

While the old post office is on federal land the road is private (no unauthorized vehicles) and so is much of the surrounding land where some mining still occurs so exploration here should be kept to a minimum.
IMG_3975Old mining structure from the road near the post office.

IMG_3979No miners were seen but I did spot a pika nearby.

IMG_3980

We returned the way we’d come after visiting the post office keeping our eyes out for wildflowers. Despite it being mid-August we spotted quite a few different varieties even though most were well past peak.
IMG_3931Fireweed

IMG_3937Beardtongue

IMG_3925Paintbrush, pearly everlasting, and some type of fleabane

IMG_3969Large boykinia

IMG_3944
Nuttall’s linanthus

IMG_3950Spreading dogbane

IMG_3953Blue head gilia

IMG_3970Bistort

IMG_3983False hellebore

IMG_3986Owl’s clover

After getting back to the road junction we started up Road 2460 (Sharps Creek Road) and took a quick look at the Musick Guard Station. Although not posted anywhere at the site the Umpqua National Forest Website still lists the Guard Station as closed due to COVID-19.
IMG_3997

We then continued up Sharps Creek Road .7 miles to Bohemia Saddle and the official Bohemia Mountain Trailhead.
IMG_4005Mountain parnassian butterfly on pearly everlasting.

IMG_4009A lone lupine still in bloom.

IMG_4010Skipper

IMG_4012Scarlet gilia

IMG_4014Bohemia Saddle

IMG_4015

IMG_4016Signage at Bohemia Saddle

The trail itself starts approximately 100 yards up the road to the left on the right hand side.
IMG_4019

IMG_4021Sign marking the start of the trail.

The trail climbs steeply up Jackass Ridge just over three quarters of a mile to the broad, flat rocky top of Bohemia Mountain. It was already in the mid 70’s as we made the climb which fortunately was at least mostly shaded as it stuck to the west side of the ridge.
IMG_4024Starting up Jackass Ridge

IMG_4028Rainiera

IMG_4030Paintbrush and fleabane

IMG_4036The rocky ridge provided shade during the climb.

IMG_4039A lingering anemone.

There were a couple of openings to the east where views could be had of the Cascade Mountains. Between haze and the position of the Sun we didn’t get the clearest views.
IMG_4045The Fairview Peak lookout tower to the left with the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor in the distance.

IMG_4043Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor in the distance.

IMG_4050Nearing the summit.

IMG_4052Mt. Bailey and Mt. Scott in the distance.

IMG_4055Mt. Bailey and Mt. Scott

IMG_4056

20200815_091026_HDRBohemia Mountain summit

There was a lot of space to explore up on the summit and despite the conditions we were able to identify Cascade peaks from Mt. Jefferson in the north to Mt. McLoughlin (barely and only with the naked eye) to the south.
IMG_4093Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack

IMG_4082Mt. Washington and the North & Middle Sisters

IMG_4074Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor

IMG_4070Mount Yoran and Diamond Peak

IMG_4066Tipsoo Peak, Howlock Mountain, Mt. Thielsen, Mt. Bailey, Mt. Scott, Hillman Peak and The Watchman.

We could also see Bohemia City’s post office below between the mountain and Fairview Peak.
20200815_091605_HDR

IMG_4099

IMG_4079Fairview Peak lookout

We returned the way we’d come, stopping to eat a few ripe huckleberries along the way.
IMG_4122A lot more yet to ripen.

20200815_094548We also found a few ripe thimbleberries.

We kept our eyes out for more pikas and while we didn’t see any others we did spot an alligator lizard and a lot of butterflies.
IMG_4129Alligator lizard

IMG_4111

IMG_4136

IMG_4142

IMG_4144

We were right on schedule for the birthday party when we started our drive to Lebanon but then things went off the rails. During the drive to the trailhead FR 2212 crossed two saddles, Helena Saddle (7.5 miles from FR 22) and Champion Saddle (8.3 miles from FR 22). At Helena Saddle we had forked right and Champion Saddle left but as we drove back we mistook Champion Saddle for the earlier saddle and forked left onto Champion Creek Road (BLM Road 2473). It took us a bit to realize we were on the wrong road. It became apparent when the road conditions became far worse than anything we remembered on the drive up and we also passed a sign that this road was not maintained. That sign at least gave us a fair amount of certainty that we knew which road we were on because we had passed the other end of the road on FR 22. It was signed for the Bohemia Mines but also warned that the road was not maintained and to use FR 2212. Call it stubbornness or stupidity but we were far enough along on the road that we just kept going and it kept getting worse. We did pass a couple of other vehicles parked at pullouts so at least in theory it was passable. Our Subaru Outback managed to make it through in one piece (which is more than I can say for our nerves) but it was not fun. It certainly isn’t a road that I’d take unless I was specifically looking to do some 4wd driving. Our little wrong way expedition added about 40 minutes to our drive so we were fashionably late to the party. Luckily Tyler didn’t seem to mind and we had nice visit before continuing home. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Bohemia Mountain

Categories
Cottage Grove Hiking Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Spirit, Pinard, & Moon Falls with the Swordfern and Row River Trails – 6/17/2020

Our knack for picking vacation weeks that coincide with wet weather was on display once again as we started a week of day hikes. In January the plan had been to travel to the Pendleton and John Day areas for this vacation but in February Umatilla County experienced severe flooding which damaged many roads and trails and then COVID-19 began shutting everything down so we settled on day hikes from Salem instead. Our vacation got off to a rocky start when Saturday’s forecast was for a lot of rain and so was Monday’s with less on Sunday and Tuesday then it looked like the rest of the week would be better. We bumped our hike to Henline Falls and Mountain (post) from Saturday to Sunday and planned our next hike for Tuesday.

By Monday afternoon the Tuesday forecast had gone from partly sunny to showers and a chance of thunderstorms so we adjusted our plans again bumping Tuesday’s hike to Wednesday. Wednesday morning we set off for Cottage Grove, OR to visit three waterfalls in the Umpqua National Forest. The hikes to Spirit, Pinard, and Moon Falls were one of Sullivan’s featured hikes that we still needed to do but for various reasons we had not been able to work them into our schedule yet.

We started our day at the Spirit Falls Trailhead.
IMG_5917

A short but muddy .4 mile path descended to the 40′ waterfall.
IMG_5931

The one positive of the recent rains was that there was plenty of water feeding the falls.
IMG_5952

Our next stop was the Pinard Falls Trail.
IMG_5961

The Pinard Falls Trail is just over a half mile long following an old road bed for the first .3 miles before turning into a true trail.
IMG_5977

Pinard Falls is a 65 foot tall horsetail waterfall.
IMG_5989

20200617_075801

Our last waterfall for the day was Moon Falls. The road to that trailhead was blocked by a large downed tree a little less than 100 yards from the trailhead.
IMG_5999Downed tree across the road.

IMG_6005

Like the trail to Pinard Falls the Moon Falls Trail was also just over a half mile long and followed an old roadbed for the first .3 miles.
IMG_6015

IMG_6023

We had unintentionally done the hikes in order of waterfall height from smallest to largest. Moon Falls is an 80′ fan which turned out to be our favorite of the three.
Moon Falls

The three waterfall hikes were excellent but short so by the time we were done with them we had hiked just a little over 3 miles. We took the opportunity to add a couple of additional stops to the day starting with the Swordfern Trail located at Rujada Campground. This 2-mile loop was on our way back from the waterfalls so we thought we’d give it a try.
The Forest Service website said the trail was open but the conditions were unknown as of 5/8/2020 but a sign at the trailhead cautioned about severe winter damage.
IMG_6048

We figured if it was still open it couldn’t be that bad and since the loop was only 2 miles a few obstacles wouldn’t hurt. The trail set off along Laying Creek and passed by a picnic area.
IMG_6056

IMG_6061

IMG_6060

It wasn’t long before we got a taste of the severe damage.
IMG_6073Looking back at some of the obstacles.

IMG_6082More obstacles ahead.

When there wasn’t nearly constant obstacles the trail was nice.
IMG_6084Ferns along the Swordfern Trail.

When the trail began to loop away from the creek we completely lost the tread under forest debris.
IMG_6085

We used the GPS to attempt to relocate the tread but to no avail which was probably for the best given the return would have been on the same hillside just a little higher up. We cut down from where we were to relocate the portion that we had already hiked and made our way back to the trailhead. Instead of a 2-mile loop we did a 1.8 mile out-and-back.

Knowing that even if we had done the 2-mile loop as planned we would still have only been around 5 miles for the day we had planned on a fifth and final stop on the way home at Bake Stewart Park.
IMG_6100

A wide path led through a meadow (with a little poison oak) to the Row River Trail, a converted rail line.
IMG_6102

IMG_6109Self heal

IMG_6117Pale flax

20200617_114902Poppy

IMG_6124Looks like something in the mallow family.

IMG_6127Red beetle

20200617_115015Sneaky poison oak

The .3 mile path brought us to the paved Row River Trail where we turned left.
IMG_6128

The trail passed several fields with flowers and butterflies before arriving at Dorena Lake, a reservoir created by damming the Row River.
IMG_6129

IMG_6138

IMG_6135

IMG_6141Approaching Dorena Lake

20200617_120844Bachelor button

IMG_6148No idea what this is, possibly non-native.

There seemed to be a good amount of water in the reservoir which made it look more like a lake than reservoirs often do.
IMG_6156

At the 1.5 mile mark we came to Smith Creek.
IMG_6162

IMG_6163

Beyond Smith Creek there were good views across a marshy wetland popular with geese, ducks and herons.
IMG_6174

IMG_6176Canada geese

IMG_6227A great blue heron with at least one duck in the grass.

The trail then passed through a few forested sections and past one rocky cliff where a viewpoint looked out across the lake.
IMG_6179

IMG_6188

IMG_6190You can see a bit of the rocks on the opposite side of the trail.

A mix of flowers, mostly non-native brightened the viewpoint.
IMG_6192

IMG_6199Brodiaea

IMG_6205Poppy

20200617_124801Scarlet pimpernel

We had decided to make Rat Creek our turnaround point which was 3.5 miles from the parking area in Bake Stewart Park. Just before reaching Rat Creek we passed through Harms Park, another possible trailhead.
IMG_6210

IMG_6211Dorena Lake from Rat Creek

IMG_6213Bug on the Rat Creek bridge.

We returned the way we’d come keeping our eyes out for anything new on the way back. In Bake Stewart Park we spotted some really tall bluehead gilia and a nice little clarkia.
IMG_6237

IMG_6240

With the 7+ miles on the Row River Trail we had finished our day with a total of 12.4 miles. The three waterfalls were great short hikes and each would be a worthwhile stop on its own. If the Swordfern Trail receives some much needed maintenance it also seemed like it would be a nice short hike although not as impressive as the falls. For a paved trail near town along a reservoir we were pleasantly surprised by the Row River Trail. We will certainly be keeping it in mind for another visit. Most likely when the higher trails are inaccessible. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Spirit, Pinard, & Moon Falls, Swordfern Trail, and Row River Trail

Categories
Cottage Grove Hiking Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Parker Falls and Adams Mountain Way

Our 2016 hiking season officially started with a pair of hikes in the Umpqua National Forest. Both trailheads are located along Brice Creek, SE of Cottage Grove, OR. We had visited the area in 2014 to hike the more popular Brice Creek and Trestle Falls Trails https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/brice-creek-trestle-falls/ and were back now to tackle some of the other nearby trails.

We began the day at the Parker Falls Trailhead which is 2.3 miles beyond the Upper Brice Creek/Trestle Falls Trailhead.
IMG_4033

The trail runs along Parker Creek up to Lower Parker Falls and finally Upper Parker Falls. Spring wildflowers lined the trail.
Fawn lillies
IMG_4037

Fairy slipper
IMG_4050

Anemone
IMG_4082

At a signed junction we took a short path down to Lower Parker Falls.
IMG_4053

IMG_4058

IMG_4060

After admiring the lower falls we went back to the junction and headed for the upper falls. The upper falls were more of a slide and the trail stayed up along the canyon wall above them.
IMG_4074

We were not entirely certain that this was indeed the upper falls as the trail continued on so we kept going. It led to the creek bank above the upper falls. At this point I checked our GPS and it appeared that the trail should have continued a short distance up the creek. There was a faint path leading further but it quickly vanished beneath debris that had fallen into the canyon. We were only able to go a short distance before facing the choice of getting wet or turning back. I decided to hop into the creek and continue. I had gone about a hundred yards when I came to a small slide in a narrow mossy drop.
IMG_4068

IMG_4069

I was on a small gravel bar inhabited by some coltsfoot.
IMG_4071

I could see a little way upstream and saw no signs of any additional falls and didn’t see an easy way past the small cascade ahead so I headed back to Heather and we returned to the car. We decided that Upper Parker Falls must indeed have been the slide we had passed before reaching the creek (That was confirmed by waterfallsnorthwest.com).

The signed mileage is 1/2mi to the lower falls and 3/4 to the upper falls while the Forest Service website lists it as 1.1 miles. Our GPS registered a round trip of 2.4 miles which, given my short excursion up the creek, makes the 1.1 miles more likely.

From the Parker Falls Trailhead we drove back the way we’d come to Lund Park which was about 10 minutes away.
IMG_4083

Our loop hike started here and we faced a choice. We could begin on any one of three trails- Adams Mountain Way, Marten Flume, or the Crawfish Trail. The Adams Mountain Way Trail started on the opposite side of Brice Creek Road just east of Lund Park while the Marten Flume Trail started just west of Lund Park and connected to Adams Mountain Way after .6 miles. The Crawfish Trail was 1.2 miles further west along Brice Creek Road meaning we would either start or end our hike with a road walk. We decided to start with the road walk thinking we were less likely to run into traffic since it was still before 9am and a road walk at the end of a hike is never very exciting.

As road walks go this one wasn’t too bad passing Marten Creek on the left and having Brice Creek off to our right.
IMG_4085

Brice Creek
IMG_4096

There were also plenty of wildflowers along the way.
Valerian
IMG_4086

Dogwood
IMG_4088

Bleeding heart
IMG_4090

Fairybells
IMG_4091

Skunk cabbage
IMG_4094

Red flowering currant
IMG_4095

Big leaf maple
IMG_4099

We made it to the Crawfish Trail without encountering any vehicles and began a 5.5 mile climb to the Knott Trail.
IMG_4103

IMG_4106

It was obvious that the lower portion of the Crawfish Trail is popular with mountain bikers as there were more tire tracks than footprints along the way. It probably is not a trail one would want to hike when bikes were barreling down the trail at you, but we were early enough in the day and season to not encounter anyone; hiker or bicyclist.

The trail was well signed along the way as it crossed a couple of roads (or the same road multiple times).
Crawfish Trail

IMG_4119

IMG_4120

There weren’t many places along the trail with opportunities for views but when the trail passed over a saddle to the SW side of a ridge there would have been some if not for the low clouds that were present.
IMG_4128

IMG_4129

Things got a little confusing when we came to National Forest Road 2234 where a trail sign pointed three different directions for the Knott Trail which was to be our connector between the Crawfish Trail and Adams Mountain Way.
IMG_4132

After consulting our map we decided that we wanted to follow the .7mi Knott Trial pointer and cross NF 2234. The other pointers were for the road itself which would have led us back to the Knott Trail in either direction but not after some needless travel.

As we continued on the Crawfish Trail time seemed to move backwards and the flowers of Spring gave way to chilly winds and patches of snow.
IMG_4133

IMG_4137

IMG_4139

Orange jelly fungus
IMG_4140

When we finally reached the Knott Trail Junction we turned left and climbed some more.
IMG_4145

The trail led up to open meadow that might have had a decent view on a clear day and probably some nice flowers in a month or two.
IMG_4147

IMG_4149

IMG_4150

Beyond the meadow the trail began to descend along a ridge toward the Adams Mountain Way junction. On this side we encountered more snow.
IMG_4153

The trail was in decent enough shape with some blowdown and debris along the way, nothing too difficult to get around, but in several sections it needed to be brushed out.
IMG_4151

We reached the Adams Mountain way junction in a forested saddle.
IMG_4160

The Adams Mountain Way Trail began gently enough traveling along a ridge towards Brice Creek Road.
IMG_4164

Signs of Spring began to pop up again in the form of huckleberry blossoms, wild strawberry blooms, and even a pink rhododendron.
IMG_4162

Strawberry blossoms

IMG_4166

When the trail finally decided to head down, it did so with a vengeance. The descents rivaled some of the steepest trails we’d been on making us glad we hadn’t chosen to come up that way. We were feeling the elevation loss in our legs when we reached the Marten Flume Trail junction just a few hundred yards from Brice Creek Road.
IMG_4195

I had not been able to find much information on this trail so we were curious about it and decided to go ahead and check it out. It headed up Marten Creek and then forked. There was no sign at the fork and we weren’t sure which way to go so we took the right hand fork down toward the creek thinking that the flume might be down there. We had chosen poorly and would have needed to stay left at the fork to see the flume. At that point we were down at the creek where the loop trail crossed.
IMG_4196

We decided not to climb back up to the fork and waded the creek to finish up the loop.
IMG_4202

Trillium and Wood Sorrel bloomed along the path.
IMG_4200

IMG_4205

Near the end of the loop we encountered the only other trail users we’d seen all day. A pair of rough skinned newts.

One of the newts.
IMG_4208

This was a good conditioning hike given the 11.7mi distance and 3000+ feet of elevation gain/descent. It is definitely not a hike for those looking for big views or extensive wildflowers, and depending on the mountain bike traffic it could be a little dangerous given the steep narrow tread in sections. For our visit though we were able to enjoy the solitude of spending five and a half hours completing the loop without running into anyone else.

Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157667500424465

Categories
Cottage Grove Hiking Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Brice Creek & Trestle Falls

A few posts ago I mentioned that the trail was a classroom. It seems as though we always learn something out on a hike, and our recent trip to Brice Creek was no different. During the hike we learned that rough-skinned newts love to play hide-and-seek, and they stink at it. 😀 We’ll get to that later, but first a little about the trail.

Brice Creek is located to the east of Cottage Grove, OR and flows into the Row River which in turns empties into the Willamette. There are several trailheads located along the creek in the Umpqua National Forest making it possible to choose the length of your hike. We chose to start at the West Brice Trailhead and hike to the other end of trail at the Champion Creek Trailhead. From there we could visit a pair of waterfalls on Trestle Creek.

It was a little misty and cloudy as we set off on the trail.
DSC03803

After a brief stint on an exposed hillside the trail entered an old growth forest with plenty of lush green moss on the ancient trees. We also crossed several small but scenic streams.
DSC03841
DSC03859
DSC03880

There were a few flowers blooming, mostly white varieties that are typical in older/denser forests.
Anemone
DSC03886
Vanilla Leaf
DSC03900
Solomonseal
DSC04022
Most of the trillium was already finished but from the leaves and the few we did see it was clear they were very large in this area.
DSC04037

The trail had been up above Brice Creek until coming down to the bridge for the campground. From there the trail stayed closer to the creek for awhile providing a number of chances to get to the creek and get an up close view.
DSC03917
DSC03920
DSC03926
DSC03938

At one point the trail disappears along a bedrock section. The wet weather made for some slipper footing but the exposed rock was home to the most colorful flowers we would see all day.
DSC03951
Larkspur
DSC03962
Larkspur

The creek had many moods in this section and the clear water made it easy to see what was underneath the surface.
DSC03977
DSC03985
DSC04006

We then climbed up and away from the creek again before descending to another footbridge 2.6 mi from the last, this time to Lund Park.
DSC04017
We’d read that there was a meadow at Lund Park and were hoping that it might have some good wildflowers. We were a little disappointed when we arrived to find a couple of yellow flowers, some bleeding heart, and a lot of white wild strawberry blooms was all there was.
DSC04046
DSC04045
Someone had put together a somewhat substantive rock collection on one of the picnic tables though.
DSC04049

We started getting a few sun breaks after reaching Lund Park and in just another .5mi we reached a trail junction with Upper Trestle Falls trail. We would be returning down this trail after visiting the lower falls and taking the Upper Falls trail from the other end at the Champion Creek Trailhead. Before we get to that though this is where the hide-and-seek lesson comes in.
We had been seeing a lot of newts on the trail and noticed that when they were trying to get our of our way they tend to stick their head into or under something.
DSC04028
This wasn’t the first time we’d observed this behavior. From a 2011 hike:
Rough-skinned Newt
Just after leaving Lund Park I passed by one of them and turned to Heather to have her stop to make sure it didn’t get stepped on. When we stopped it headed for the first thing it could stick it’s head under – Heather’s shoe 😀
DSC04052
DSC04053
All I could think of is a toddler playing hide-and-seek. Apparently if they can’t see us we can’t see them. Heather was able to move and leave the newt unharmed and we’d discovered natures worst hide-and-seek players.

Back to the trail junctions and sun breaks.
DSC04055
DSC04058
DSC04172

In another .5mi we had reached Trestle Creek Falls trail which would take us to the lower falls. After a brisk quarter mile climb we could see our destination.
DSC04080
I got to the end of the trail where a pile of debris had collected and took another picture but the log was still interfering with the view.
DSC04081
Some careful log walking got me to the gravel bar on the other side of the debris where I was able to get an unobstructed photo.
Lower Trestle Creek Falls
There was another little island of exposed rocks just before the next set of logs but a 15 to 20 foot gap lay between them and my rocks. I decided that wet socks were worth a look at the splash pool and dashed across the water to the other set of rocks. I was getting over this set of logs so I declared victory there and did the splash and dash back and carefully picked my back to the trail.
DSC04088

As we were preparing to leave the falls we met a group of hikers coming up the trail. They were lamenting the fact that they had not brought their trekking poles with them and asked about the loop to the upper falls. We had both expected to see them again on the loop but never did. Returning to the Brice Creek trail we crossed Trestle Creek on a nice footbridge and finished the last half mile to the Champion Creek TH. The Upper Falls Trail starts just a bit down the road from the trailhead and climbs stiffly 1.4 miles to the Upper Falls. We both thought it was a pretty challenging 900′ climb but the reward at the top was well worth it. The upper falls was located in a wide bowl and was split into two levels. The trail wound around the bowl and behind the falls allowing us to experience the full force of the falls up close.
DSC04126
DSC04147
Behind Upper Trestle Creek Falls

The Sun was out for our return trip which we made in pretty good time since I’d taken most of the pictures on the way by the first time. We had been discussing the lack of colorful flowers along the way, and when we got back to first exposed area we noticed that we had completely missed a field of plectritis. There was also a patch of what I believe to be giant blue eyed mary.
DSC04236
DSC04233
There was also a lone yellow flower.
DSC04237

It took us a lot longer than I had figured to complete the hike, but when we got home and looked at the GPS it had us going a couple of miles further than I had calculated. I’m not entirely sure what made up the difference, but it explained the extra time so we decided to just go with it since it made us feel better about getting back later than expected.

Happy Trails
flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157644537861295/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10203927284889678.1073741873.1448521051&type=1