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Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Trip report Willamette Valley

Silver Falls Perimeter Loop – 10/29/2022

With October and our official hiking season coming to an end I was hoping to go out with a bang by doing a long loop around Silver Falls State Park. I had gotten the idea during our 2021 hike in the backcountry of the park (post). While looking at the map for that hike I had started doing the math for the loop and it appeared to be a little over 20 miles which would be a long day but doable. Heather was not as enthused as I was about the possibility, so I had originally planned on attempting the loop on a day off while she was working. With her knee ending her season early it seemed like a good way to put an exclamation on the end of mine.

As the day neared I started second guessing myself. Some much need wet weather had moved in, and Friday was the wettest day we’ve had in months. The forecast for Saturday was for more rain in the morning, a 70% chance, followed by several hours of patchy fog then mostly cloudy skies. Twenty plus miles with wet feet wasn’t my ideal way to spend a hike but I decided to give it a try figuring I could cut the loop short by using one of the many trails running through the park. I packed some extra pairs of socks in a dry sack and had my rain gear ready as I made the 40-minute drive to the South Falls Trailhead.

It was a dark and raining when I left home but shortly after turning onto Highway 214 I popped out of the low clouds and left the rain behind. Things were trending positive. When I got to the South Falls Day Use Area entrance I was reminded that by the gate that the Park opens at 8am and not 7am from October through March and it was only 7:30am. I needed to purchase a pass so I drove to the North Falls Trailhead where I knew there was a pay kiosk, only I had forgotten that the station there only accepts cash which I didn’t have. After using the restroom there I drove back through the park to the campground entrance remembering that there was a station along the entrance road that did take cards. I decided that I would get a pass there and then park at the 214 Trailhead like we had in 2021 since there was no gate blocking that one. At the kiosk I immediately inserted my card into the cash slot. Things were trending down. I managed to retrieve the card using a pair of travel nail clippers and finally got my pass. It was nearly 8am as I came to the turn into the trailhead at Lookout Mountain Road. Given the time I changed my mind here and decided to revert back to my original plan and drove back to the now ungated South Falls Day Use Area.
IMG_3949A lot more blue in the sky than I had expected to see.

The route I had penciled out was to take the paved bike path from the parking lot to the campground where I would pick up the Nature Trail. I could take that trail to the 214 Trail followed by a portion of the Newt Loop to the Catamount Trail. I hoped to take that trail up to Buck Mountain then take the Perimeter Trail down to the Trail of Ten Falls near the North Falls Trailhead. I planned on visiting all ten falls and returning to the parking area via the Canyon Trail portion of the Trail of Ten Falls. I crossed South Fork Silver Creek on a footbridge to pick up the Bike Path on the far side where I turned left.
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IMG_3964Crossing Highway 214 to the campground.

IMG_3965I detoured left to check out this bridge over Howard Creek.

IMG_3967Howard Creek

With the Nature Trail being a loop I could have gone either direction from the campground to reach the 214 Trail. Going left was a tenth of a mile shorter but I really wanted to make the loop as wide as possible so I went right at a pointer for the trail and Ampitheater.
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We had been on the Nature Trail in 2021 so it was familiar surroundings as I made my way to the 214 Trail where I turned right.
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IMG_3977Sign at the 214 Trail junction to let people know that there are no waterfalls in the backcountry.

I followed the 214 Trail for 1.3 miles to the Newt Loop.
IMG_3986Just a little fog but no rain.

IMG_3987Passing the Smith Creek Trail (left) after 0.6 miles on the 214 Trail.

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IMG_3992Rough skinned newt on the 214 Trail. (Probably headed for the Newt Loop too.)

IMG_3994Big nursery tree along the 214 Trail.

IMG_3996The trail post at the junction shows the Catamount Trail instead of the Newt Loop but the map at the junction labels it the Newt Loop.

IMG_3997Map check.

I turned right onto the Newt Loop and arrived at a junction with the Catamount Trail after 0.4 level miles.
IMG_4000This second post included the Newt Loop along with a pointer for the Catamount Trail.

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IMG_4005Crossing a CAT road along the Newt Loop.

IMG_4008Turning onto the Catamount Trail.

The Catamount Trail was new trail for me having not used it on our loop in 2021. The park map showed this trail extending 4.6 miles to a junction with the Lost Creek Trail then continuing another 0.9 miles to Buck Mountain. As a mountain bike trail the Catamount wound steadily uphill through the forest.
IMG_4016Lots of nursery stumps along the trail.

IMG_4020Another nursery stump.

IMG_4023Side trails were well marked.

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IMG_4034Did not expect to see that overhead today.

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IMG_4065I believe this short section of fire scar was from the 2020 Beachie Fire.

After 3.8 miles on the Catamount Trail I came to a 4-way junction with a maintenance road.
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The Catamount Trail continued on the far side the road only there was a “Do Not Enter One-Way” sign on the post.
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This was the first I’d heard of the trail here being one-way and I haven’t had a lot of luck since my hike in finding that information online or maps, but I honored the sign and turned left on the maintenance road following a Catamount Trail pointer.
IMG_4069Turning onto the road.

IMG_4070The opposite side of the post had a pointer for the Lost Creek Trail.

I followed the road for half a mile to the Lost Creek/Buck Mountain Trail junction.
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IMG_4074I veered uphill to the right here.

IMG_4075The Lost Creek/Buck Mountain junction.

On our previous visit we had arrived at this same junction having come down the Buck Mountain Trail. To make this hike as different as possible (and to remain as far to the outside of the park as possible) I turned right on the Lost Creek Trail.
IMG_4077The Lost Creek Trail doubles as a fire road.

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I followed this trail for 0.8 miles to a junction with the Catamount Trail at the edge of a clear cut.
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IMG_4083Here is where I would have come up had the Catamount Trail did not have the on-way section. (Note that on some mountain biking maps the one-way section is labeled “Upper Catamount Trail.)

I turned left onto the Catatmount Trail at the junction and quickly found myself walking through the clear cut.
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IMG_4085The treeless section wasn’t long. It appeared to have been an area impacted by the 2020 Beachie Fire.

IMG_4088Still some bleeding heart blooming.

IMG_4089There wasn’t a lot of bright Fall colors in the backcountry, but this maple stood out.

IMG_4090Was a bit surprised to see a few violets along this section.

IMG_4091Nearing the end of the logged area.

At the tree line the trail split unexpectedly (another feature not shown on the park map) into two one-way trails. The right hand fork (in this direction) was one-way uphill while the left down. I was going down at this point so I stayed to the left.
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It wasn’t long before the two trails rejoined. The trail continued downhill to the Buck Mountain Loop near its crossing of Howard Creek.
IMG_4095The rejoining of the trails.

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IMG_4099There were several bridges along this section of the trail. I also ran into the only mountain bikers that I would encounter all day in this area, a group of five.

IMG_4105The Buck Mountain Loop junction.

I turned right at the junction and crossed Howard Creek then turned right again back onto the Catamount Trail.
IMG_4107Bridge over Howard Creek.

IMG_4108The continuation of the Catamount Trail on the right.

The trail now climbed uphill for 0.2 miles to the large trail junction on Buck Mountain, a total of 1.1 miles from the Lost Creek Trail junction.
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IMG_4113The map showed the section I had just done as 0.9 miles, but my track was a bit more twisty than the map.

From the junction I took the Perimeter Trail.
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The park map lists this trail as 5.9 miles in length and has a “Steep” warning not far from the Buck Mountain junction. The trail was in good shape and although it lost over 350′ of elevation in just under a mile to a crossing of South Fork Silver Creek the grade was reasonable. Compared to some of the other trails we’d been on this year it didn’t seem all that steep.
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IMG_4123A small opening on the way down.

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IMG_4128Footbridge over South Fork Silver Creek.

IMG_4134South Fork Silver Creek

If I had paid better attention to the elevation numbers shown on the park map I might not have been so surprised when the trail began to climb on the other side of the creek. Over the next 2.1 miles the trail gained over 650′ before arriving at junction with the Rackett Ridge Trail. Up until the Rackett Ridge junction I had only encountered 8 people, the group of 5 mountain bikers and three trail runners (one solo and two together). The number of people seen doubled at this junction.
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IMG_4143I’m a hiker so I went right here.

IMG_4146Big fungus on the tree ahead.

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IMG_4155Map at the Rackett Ridge junction.

I continued on the Perimeter Trail which now began a nearly 3-mile descent that was at least as steep as the section before with the warning. The use of switchbacks allowed the grade to stay reasonable though.
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IMG_4159Another impressive nursery log.

IMG_4161I stopped in this area to change out of my sweaty socks and into one of the extra pairs I’d brought expecting rain.

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IMG_4163The vegetation went through several changes as the trail lost elevation.

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IMG_4169This was a big tree in the midst of much smaller ones.

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IMG_4174Roemer’s Meadow Trail (left) isn’t shown on the park maps yet, but it was completed in 2021 with help from the Salem Area Trails Alliance. (They do a lot of good work in the park and the area.) The trail is approximately 1.7 miles from the Rackett Ridge junction.

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IMG_4185The Trail of Ten Falls junction near Highway 214.

IMG_4184Looking back up the Perimeter Trail.

For the hike to be a true loop I would have turned left onto the Trail of Ten Falls, but in order to see Upper North Falls I needed go right for 0.3 miles so that’s what I did.
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IMG_4196Upper North Falls

After visiting the falls I headed back and passed under the highway to a large map at a “T” junction.
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IMG_4208A left would have taken me to the North Falls Trailhead.

I turned right at the signboard then veered right onto the Canyon Trail at a congested fork in the trail.
IMG_4209The Rim Trail to the left and Canyon Trail to the right, both part of the Trail of Ten Falls.

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The Canyon Trail descended some stairs then wound its way behind North Falls in approximately a tenth of a mile.
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The trail followed the creek arriving at Twin Falls a little over three-quarters of a mile from North Falls.
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IMG_4240I’m always impressed by the size of this rock in the creek.

IMG_4244Not Twin Falls, but a nice little cascade nonetheless.

IMG_4247This post could be a little confusing without a map. The Twin Falls Trail climbs uphill to a group camp and does not lead to Twin Falls. The falls are the opposite side along a very short spur trail that connects at either end to the Canyon Trail.

IMG_4248Twin Falls isn’t very easy to see from the spur trail either even though you’re right next to it.

I was able to find a better viewpoint of Twin Falls further along the Canyon Trail.
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IMG_4254Twin Falls

My next detour came 0.3 miles beyond Twin Falls when I turned left onto the Winter Falls Trail.
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The Winter Falls Trail crosses the creek on a footbridge then climbs gradually to the base of Winter Falls before steepening to climb up to the Rim Trail. I turned around before the steep part.
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IMG_4261North Fork Silver Creek

IMG_4263Winter Falls, as the name suggests it’s not much of a waterfall outside of Winter when rain and snowmelt provide more water.

IMG_4267With the dry Summer it isn’t a great Fall color year but there was a decent display along this trail.

After saying hi to Winter Falls I returned to the Canyon Trail and continued toward the South Falls Day Use Area. Next up was Middle North Falls and another detour to go behind this one as well.
IMG_4270I turned left here on the spur trail behind Middle North Falls.

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I again returned to the Canyon Trail and quickly arrived at the Drake Falls viewing platform.
IMG_4298Middle North Falls from the Canyon Trail.

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IMG_4301The 27′ Drake Falls.

Approximately a quarter mile beyond Drake Falls I turned right onto the Double Falls Trail.
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Much like Winter Falls, Double Falls is on a side creek which has a low flow much of the year.
IMG_4313The hiker at the base gives a good idea of the fall’s height, you just have to use your imagination to add water.

On my way back to the Canyon Trail I ran into one of Heather’s friends which allowed me to pause for a moment to talk and update her on our new kittens. Just beyond the Double Falls Trail I passed the eighth waterfall of my hike, Lower North Falls.
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It was about here that my feet started to let me know that this was a long hike. It was almost a mile from Lower North Falls to my next marker, a junction with the Maple Ridge Trail.
IMG_4330The Canyon Trail crosses the creek just downstream from Lower North Falls then makes a short climb to get above the canyon cliffs.

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A quarter mile from the Maple Ridge junction was Lower South Falls, another that the trail passes behind.
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After passing behind the falls the trail climbs a number of stairs which at this point of the hike was a mean trick.
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After conquering the stairs it was another 0.6 miles level miles to a footbridge at a fork in the trial within sight of the tenth and final waterfall, South Falls.
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IMG_4376I walked out onto the bridge for the view then returned to the junction to take the right hand fork and go behind this fall as well.

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I stayed right at junctions as I climbed to the top of South Falls then followed a paved path to a footbridge where I crossed the creek.
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IMG_4410View toward South Falls from the footbridge.

I followed the paved path to the Bike Path where I recrossed the creek then made my way along the parking lot to the car.
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IMG_4412Not sure what this old building was, possibly restrooms by the doors.

IMG_4413One of several picnic shelters in the park.

IMG_4414Approaching the Bike Path where I recrossed the creek.

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IMG_4417I can see the car!

The hike turned out to be close to 22 miles with somewhere around 2900′ of cumulative elevation gain. The GPS originally said 22.4 miles but that was partly due to it jumping around when I was behind the different falls and it didn’t have a good connection to the satellites. Removing some of the points put the total down to 21.5 miles but doing that lost the out-and back behind Middle North Falls and some of the switchbacks up from South Falls. Whatever the actual distance it was a lot for me but overall everything held up pretty well. A couple of small blisters on one heel were the worst consequence. The fact that it hadn’t rained surely helped with the feet.

Track prior to trying to remove some of the jumps in data points.

The lack of people in the backcountry is almost a shame as the forest is lovely and the trails well maintained. I say almost a shame because for those of us who do take the time to explore it, the solitude only adds to the beauty. The Trail of Ten Falls was busy comparatively, but it wasn’t the zoo that it would have been on a Summer weekend which was nice. Doing the loop in reverse would have resulted in less folks at the falls but we’d been to the falls in the morning on all our other visits so this gave me a chance to see them with the Sun at a different angle. The only minor bummer was not being able to hike the full Catamount Trail due to the one-way section. If I were to do it over I would probably start at the North Falls Trailhead and go clockwise so that I would have been going the right way for that section and still would have ended with most of the Trail of Ten Falls. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Silver Falls Perimeter Loop

Categories
Corvallis Hiking Oregon Willamette Valley

Peavy Arboretum to Dimple Hill – 10/22/2022

We finally saw some much needed wet weather arrive which started to push out the smoke that had caused the air quality in NW Oregon to be some of the worst in the world for a few days. I was more than happy to alter my plans if it meant the beginning of the end of the nearby fires. With anywhere from a 40 to 90 percent chance of precipitation (and the possibility of an isolated thunderstorm or two) the most promising forecast was for the McDonald-Dunn Research Forests north of Corvallis. Heather and I had visited the McDonald Forest four time already, the most recent in 2021 when we attempted to connect the previous three hikes via a big loop from the Sulphur Springs Trailhead (post). Due to some closures for active logging operations we were only able to connect two of the three hikes, McCulloch Peak (post) and Chip Ross Park to Dimple Hill (post). My plan for this outing was to connect the other hike, Peavy Arboretum (post), as well as checking out a few trails in the forest that we hadn’t been on previously.

After checking online to make sure there were no current closures that might affect me I decided to start my day at the Peavy Arboretum’s Woodland Trailhead
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I had left my route for the day fairly open as I wasn’t sure how wet I might get. I knew that I wanted to start by hiking the 0.4 mile interpretive Woodland Loop Trail which began at the far end of the Woodland Trailhead and then I’d planned on making my way to the Lewisburg Saddle Trailhead where I would follow Road 600 (Patterson Road) SW at least three quarters of a mile to a junction with the Ridge Trail where we had turned onto that trail on our 2021 hike (coming from the other direction). I didn’t get many photos on the interpretive loop since the Sun hadn’t quite risen yet and it was fairly dark under the trees.
IMG_3618The Woodland Loop at the end of the parking lot.

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IMG_3626Starting to get a little lighter near the end of the loop.

After warming up on the sort loop I walked a short distance along the entrance road toward the entrance then crossed the road at a post for the Red Cedar Run Trail.
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What followed was a 19.2 mile (19.6 including the Woodland Loop Trail) reverse lollipop loop utilizing parts of 29 different trails and roads in the forest, not all of them on purpose. This is a good time to mention that having maps is extremely helpful when exploring this forest, but due to the active management by the Oregon State University Forest Department new trails are occasionally constructed while others may be closed or rerouted (the same for roads). Some trails are also closed seasonally or, as we saw on our previous visit, due to active logging operations. Finally the map/brochure available online from the Forest website, at least as of this writing, does not show all of the existing roads/trails. This was an issue that I ran into late in my hike today. Other online resources such as Trailforks show some of the missing roads/trails but may also omit others. (Trailforks is a mountain biking site so some of the hiker only trails such as the Woodland Loop are not included on their map.) My recommendation is to have as many maps handy as possible and a sense of adventure if you’re going to start exploring the area. I had my Garmin and the Forest map but really wish I had had the Trailforks map with me as well.

Back to my hike though. My route went like this (TF indicates that the trail was shown on the Trailforks map but not on the Forest map.):
Woodland Trail, Red Cedar Run Trail, Peavy Arboretum Road, Maritime Meander Trail, Forest Discovery Trail, CFIRP Trail, Section 36 Loop, Road 550, Road 500 (Nettleton Road), Dave’s Trail, Road 5010, Vineyard Mountain Trail, Road 600, Road 650, Upper Dan’s Trail, Road 650, Road 600, High Horse Trail (TF), Upper Bombs Away (TF), Road 640, Road 600, Ridge Trail, Road 600, Road 580 (Davies Road), New Growth Trail, Old Growth Trail, Road 580, Dave’s Trail, Banzai Trail (TF)*, Road 543, Road 540, Section 36 Loop, Road 540, Calloway to Cronemiller Trail, Calloway Creek Trail, Intensive Management Trail, Pond Trail.

*Instead of the Banzai Trail I had intended on taking the Powder House Trail but this section of the Banzai Trail wasn’t on the Forest Map and I went left when I should have gone right at an unsigned junction.

If that sounds a little confusing it was. As you may have guessed the weather turned out much better than forecasted with only one shower that lasted less than a minute near the end of my hike. I suspected I might be in for a nicer day as I made my way up the Red Cedar and then Maritime Meander Trails.
IMG_3629Cedars along the Red Cedar Run Trail.

IMG_3633A brief stint on Peavy Arboretum Road between the Red Cedar Run and Maritime Meander (on the left ahead) Trails.

I took a quiet detour to Randall Pond before hopping onto the Maritime Meander Trail.
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IMG_3640Sunrise from the Maritime Meander Trail.

IMG_3642Forest Discovery Trail junction with the Maritime Meander Trail.

I stayed left at trail junctions along the Forest Discovery Trail, crossing Road 510 along the way, then turned left onto the CFIRP.
IMG_3648The trails were well signed in the Arboretum.

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IMG_3663I had been on the Forest Discovery Trail just under a mile when I reached the CFIRP Trail.

I followed the CFIRP Trail for half a mile uphill across Road 514 and ignoring a spur trail back to Road 510 to the Section 36 Loop.
IMG_3665Road crossing.

IMG_3670The Section 36 Loop junction.

I turned left onto this trail, the first section of trail that I had been on previously, and continued uphill 0.4 miles to Road 550. I left the Section 36 Loop here and took a left onto the road.
IMG_3677Section 36 Loop

IMG_3679A bench along the trail faces this tree.

IMG_3681Road 550 from the Section 36 Loop.

Most of the 0.3 mile road is closed to motorized traffic so Road 550 was fairly overgrown compared to the other roads/trails in the forest but there was still clear tread. I did question my choice though when my feet started to feel the moisture from the grass start reaching my socks.
IMG_3682Looking back down Road 550.

IMG_3683My feet started to dry when I reached the section open to motorized vehicles.

Road 550 ended on a saddle at Road 500 where I again turned left following this road just under half a mile to Dave’s Trail where, you guessed it, I turned left.
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IMG_3691Lots of sparrows, towhees, and wrens were out this morning but most wouldn’t sit still at all.

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IMG_3699Dave’s Trail

I continued to climb gradually on Dave’s Trail crossing Road 590 near the quarter mile mark then dropping slightly to Road 5010 at a 3-way road junction after 1.3 miles.
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IMG_3712A gated road on the left led back up the hill I had just passed under some radio towers while Road 500 was to the right. Road 5010 was ahead on the left heading up Vineyard Mountain.

On our previous hike we’d taken the Vineyard Mountain Trail uphill from this junction (having come up Road 500 instead of on Dave’s Trail) so this time I followed Road 5010. When I reached the radio towers atop the mountain I discovered that we’d completely missed the remains of the 1930’s Dean George Peavy Cabin.
IMG_3714The Vineyard Mountain Trail at the junction.

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IMG_3722The foundation, fireplace and chimney are all that remain of the former OSU Dean’s cabin.

After visiting the cabin remains I continued slightly downhill on Road 5010 to a post marking the Vineyard Mountain Trail.
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It was approximately 1.5 downhill miles to the Lewisburg Saddle Trailhead where there were a decent number of cars.
IMG_3729Some twisted trees along the Vineyard Mountain Trail.

IMG_3732After numerous tries I finally caught a spotted towhee.

IMG_3733The Vineyard Mountain Trail briefly follows an old roadbed.

IMG_3735The section of trail between the roadbed and the Lewisburg Saddle Trailhead is one of the trails subject to seasonal closures. This section is closed when it is wet enough that you’d leave tracks in which case you could follow the roadbed to the right to Road 500.

IMG_3736Close up of the seasonal closure notice. It wasn’t wet so I continued on the Vineyard Mountain Trail.

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At the trailhead I crossed Sulphur Springs Road and passed an orange gate on Road 600 (Patterson Road). After gradually climbing for three quarters of a mile I arrived at a junction with Road 620 on the right. The Ridge Trail started from Road 620 near the junction so I could have turned there and followed it back to the Lewisburg Saddle I would have accomplished my goal of connecting all of our hikes here. The weather was so nice though that I decided to push on and try to reach Dimple Hill.
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IMG_3750Looking back at the towers on Vineyard Mountain from Road 600.

IMG_3753Road 620 on the right.

I stayed on Road 600 for another 1.4 miles (the first 0.6 being new to me) then turned left onto Road 650 at a saddle.
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A tenth of a mile up Road 650 I veered onto Upper Dan’s Trail and made way to the summit of Dimple Hill.
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IMG_3771Mary’s Peak (post) with a cloud just blocking the summit.

The view was nice but there were enough clouds and lingering haze to the SE that I was a bit disappointed. Someday I will make it a point to get to Dimple Hill on a bluebird afternoon/evening but for now I settled for the blue sky overhead and headed back to Road 600.
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If I would have had the Trailforks map handy I would have seen that I could cross Road 600 at the saddle and follow it uphill to Road 662 which would have brought me to what is shown on that map as the High Horse Trail. I then could have followed that to Upper Bombs Away but those two trails weren’t on the McDonald Forest map. I hiked back down Road 600 just over three quarters of mile to a trail crossing where I turned left on the unsigned High Horse Trail. (Not sure if that is the “official” name but it is the name on the TF map.)
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IMG_3788The High Horse Trail. Not shown to the right coming up from below is the Upper Horse Trail.

Despite the High Horse and Upper Bombs Away Trails not being shown on my map or Garmin we had taken these on our 2021 hike so I was familiar with them.
IMG_3789Bikers on Road 600 below.

IMG_3790Moss covered tree.

IMG_3792Lichen

IMG_3794Unsigned junction where the High Horse Trail continues to the left to Road 662 and Upper Bombs Away veers right.

IMG_3796Another connector trail on the left coming down from Road 662 to join the Upper Bombs Away Trail.

The Upper Bombs Away Trail can get a little confusing as it switchbacks downhill but the forest along the trail is some of my favorite in the McDonald Forest. There is another well established trail that basically shoots straight downhill and a couple of use trails that appeared to possibly be coming downhill from Road 600. I basically stayed left and/or downhill until I arrived at Road 640 (0.6 miles from the High Horse Trail).
IMG_3797Will the real trail please stand up?

IMG_3798Switchback near Road 640.

On our previous visit we had crossed Road 640 (it was closed between the trail and Road 600 at the time) and followed Lower Bombs Away to the Ridge Trail at Road 620. Since I’d been on that section of trail before and not Road 640 I took the road 0.3 miles back to Road 600 then turned left on Road 600 for 100 yards to Road 620.
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I hopped onto the Ridge Trail and followed it up and over a knoll to Road 600 near Lewisburg Saddle.
IMG_3806The Alpha Trail on the left at the quarter mile mark. This is where we had turned on the 2021 hike.

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IMG_3815Road 600 ahead.

At Lewisburg Saddle I took Road 580 for a tenth of a mile to the New Growth Trail and headed downhill.
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IMG_3819The New Growth Trail.

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A connector trail at the 0.4 mile mark led back up to Road 580 and marked the start of the Old Growth Trail.
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IMG_3828Old growth

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IMG_3837The end of the Old Growth Trail at Road 580.

After a mile on those two trails I was back on Road 580 which I followed for almost two miles to Dave’s Trail.
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IMG_3845One of three spur roads to the left that I passed.

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I turned left onto Dave’s Trail which paralleled Road 580 for 0.6 miles where it met the road again.
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IMG_3867Blackberries

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It was here that things got a little messy for me. I was already at approximately 15.7 miles and my plan was to head back as directly as possible. The plan was to take the Powder House Trail on the other side of Road 580 which was the only trail shown on the McDonald Forest map (no trails were on the GPS topo map). When I crossed the road though there were were two trails. One heading slightly downhill to the left and one uphill to the right and no signs on this side of the road.
IMG_3873The proverbial fork in the road.

I went left (I chose poorly) and followed what I thought was the Powder House Trail a third of a mile to a sign with a pointer for the Banzai Trail.
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IMG_3875Madrone

IMG_3878A few clouds starting to move in.

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The McDonald Forest map showed a small section old road between Roads 562 and 543 as the Banzai Trail which I was not close to according to the GPS. The Trailforks map shows the Banzai Trail starting where I had left Road 580 so my guess is that it has been somewhat recently added. I decided to forge ahead knowing that whatever I was on would eventually hit one of the forest roads that I could use to reach Cronemiller Lake and get back on course. I followed signs when available and after a mile found myself at a road with no apparent signage.
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IMG_3883The Banzai Trail likely continued on the other side but without a pointer I wasn’t about to find out and turned right here which took me uphill for a tenth of a mile to the Road 560 and Road 562 junction.
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IMG_3885This is the start of what is labeled the Banzai Trail on the McDonald Forest map.

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Road 562 went straight downhill and steeply.
IMG_3888The photo doesn’t do the steepness justice but the trail lived up to its name here.

IMG_3891At some point the road became 543 before reaching a fork where I stayed right.

IMG_3892Another closed roadbed on the left. This is where I stayed right on Road 543.

In another quarter mile I found myself at a 3-way junction.
IMG_3893Road 540 to the left and 541 to the right.

I turned right on Road 541 which brought me to Cronemiller Lake in half a mile.
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IMG_3898George W. Brown Sports Arena near Cronemiller Lake.

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IMG_3903Not that kind of a lake.

I went right around the lake on the Section 36 Loop where for the first time all day a very brief shower passed overhead.
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IMG_3905A few drops hitting the lake.

IMG_3912Kingfisher on the far side of the lake.

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The trail hit Road 540 on the far side of the lake where I turned left and walked back along the lake on the road a short distance to the Calloway to Cronemiller Trail.
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I turned right onto this trail following it downhill for 0.2 miles to a junction with the Calloway Creek Trail.
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I turned right and then turned right again a short distance later onto the Intensive Management Trail.
IMG_3931Second right.

I crossed three roads in the next 0.3 miles before arriving at a signboard map at a split in the Intensive Management Trail.
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I veered right following the Intensive Management Trail for another 0.3 miles to the Peavy Arboretum Trailhead.
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A 100 yard road walk brought me to the Pond Trail at Randall Pond which I briefly followed before cutting across two roads to the Woodland Trailhead where I’d started almost 7 hours earlier.
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In the end the wrong turn onto the Banzai Trail had only added a mile or so to my day and it was trail that I hadn’t been on before so that was a plus. There was enough up and down to put the cumulative elevation gain right around 3000′ feet but none of the climbs were too long or steep. The weather couldn’t have been much better and the trail/road conditions were very good which made a hike like this a bit easier. The amazing thing is that there are still roads and trails that I’ve yet to explore which makes the thought of returning that much more exciting. Happy Trails!

Blue is today’s track, red 2021, purple 2018, and yellow 2016

Flickr:Peavy Arboretum to Dimple Hill

Categories
Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Trip report Willamette Valley

Spring Valley Greenway – 09/10/2022

September has always been a bit tricky for planning hikes. Historically it seemed there was always at least one weekend where snow returned to the mountains while other weekends might see rain or 90 degree temperatures. In recent years extreme wildfire behavior has entered into the mix resulting in some devastating fires and some very unhealthy air quality as was the case with the Labor Day fires in 2020. A rare east wind event that year caused a number of wildfires to explode.

A similar, but not nearly as strong, wind event was forecast for Friday & Saturday which coincided with our third attempt at using a Central Cascade Overnight Wilderness Permit. We had planned on trying to reach Goat Peak in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness after having failed to do so in September 2018 (post) but the combination of extreme fire danger and forecast for wide spread smoke resulted in our once again deciding not to utilize the permit we’d obtained. (An early snowstorm in 2021 and thunderstorms in July of this year were the reasons we’d changed our permit plans.)

We were still hoping to sneak some sort of hike in so I started looking for another idea. We didn’t want to go too far from home due to the potential for fast spreading fires but at the same time the Saturday forecast for Salem was a high in the mid-90’s and widespread haze/smoke. I turned to the Oregon Hikers Field Guide for inspiration and noticed the Spring Valley Loop in the Willamette Valley State Parks section. It was less than a 20 minute drive from home and at less than four miles would allow us to be done hiking by mid-morning and avoid the warmer part of the day.

Prior to leaving in the morning I checked up on a fire that had started the day before in South Salem along Vitae Springs Road and stuck my head outside to see if the air smelled of smoke. Everything seemed okay so we proceeded to get ready and headed out at about a quarter to 7am. While the air didn’t smell of smoke the sky had a familiar hauntingly orange hue to it. As we prepared to set off on the first of three short loops from the Spring Valley Trailhead we remarked at how dark it still was due to the layer of smoke overhead. (The majority of the smoke was likely from the Cedar Creek Fire near Waldo Lake (post) which had grown rapidly overnight toward Oakridge and Westfir prompting evacuations although there was also a new fire to the NE at Milo McIver State Park (post).)
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For the first loop we walked back up the park entrance road approximately 400 feet to the Rook Trail on the left.
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We followed this trail as it wound through the woods for nearly a mile before ending at the entrance road a short way from Highway 221 (Wallace Rd NW).
IMG_1426The combination of low light and orange hue made for some poor photography conditions.

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IMG_1440Approaching the entrance road. The gate is for the road which is only open during daylight hours.

We turned right onto the road and followed it for a tenth of a mile to the unsigned Generator Trail (there was some pink flagging present) and took a left onto this one-way trail.
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IMG_1449The Generator Trail.

The 0.4 mile Generator Trail brought us back down to the entrance road between the trailhead and where we had turned onto the Rook Trail.
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As we followed the road back to the trailhead we were discussing which loop to try next. That decision was made by the couple having an intimate moment in the back of a pickup parked at the start of the Perimeter Trail. We turned right, away from the show, and cut across the mowed field surrounding the vault toilet to pick up the also unsigned Upper Spring Valley Trail.
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IMG_1466Spring Valley Creek passing under the entrance road.

IMG_1467The mowed field.

IMG_1472Upper Spring Valley Creek Trail.

The 0.7 mile Upper Spring Valley Creek Trail simply loops back to the trailhead so we hopped that by the time we had finished the short loop the couple was finished as well.
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IMG_1475A few Autumn colors starting to show, now we just need some Fall rain.

IMG_1476Brief glimpse of the Willamette River.

IMG_1477The tailgate was up on the pickup, a good sign for us.

IMG_1478Some of the various non-native wildflowers in the area.

Before setting off on the Perimeter Trail we decided to make the quick detour down to the Willamette.
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IMG_1480Mile 74.2 of the Willamette Water Trail.

We didn’t quite make it to the river though as the couple had apparently decided to switch locations, but at least they were taking turns. We made a hasty retreat and set off on the Perimeter Trail.
IMG_1484The Perimeter Trail begins to the right of the gate.

The Perimeter Trail loops around another mowed field but after 0.2 miles the signed TCC Trail splits off to the right into the woods (assuming you are hiking counter-clockwise).
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IMG_1487Invasive common tansy but the beetle was cool looking.

IMG_1488We were initially fooled by this side-trail at the 0.1 mile mark which was not the TCC Trail, but did provide access to the Willamette.
IMG_1491Willamette Mission State Park (post) is located on the opposite side down river.

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IMG_1494There’s the TCC Trail.

After just a tenth of a mile on the TCC Trail it appeared that we were going to be led right back out to the field but the TCC Trail made a hard right and stayed in the woods for an additional four tenths of a mile.
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IMG_1500Back to the field after half a mile.

At the field we turned right onto what in theory was the Perimeter Trail following it another 0.4 miles back to the trailhead.
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Canada thistleInvasive Canadad thistle.

IMG_1504Common toadflax – non-native.

IMG_1505Moth mullein – you guessed it, non-native.

IMG_1506The Sun behind a layer of smoke.

IMG_1509Pigeons (or doves) in a snag.

The three loops came to a grand total of 3.5 miles with a little over 200′ of elevation gain.

While the conditions weren’t ideal there was a cool (mostly) breeze and it never smelt like smoke. Early Spring would be a much better time to visit or maybe a little later once more of the leaves have had time to change color but given the circumstances it was a suitable destination. It was nice to find another option so close to home too. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Spring Valley Greenway

Categories
Hiking Oregon Roseburg Area Trip report

Fall Creek and Wolf Creek Falls – 08/07/2022

For the second set of hikes during our weekend near Glide, OR we had a pair of short waterfall hikes planned which we hoped would be less eventful than our hikes had been the day before. We started our morning by heading east on Highway 138 to the recently reopened (following the 2020 Archie Creek Fire) Fall Creek Falls Trailhead. This is one of three stops that make up Sullivan’s featured hike #2, Fall Creek Falls edition 4.2 “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California”. We had visited Susan Creek Falls in June this year before this trail reopened (post). The third hike to Fern Falls is still inaccessible due to still being under a closure order from the fire.

From the small parking area the trail immediately crosses the creek on a footbridge.
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The trail passed between some interesting rock formation in the first third of a mile.
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IMG_9035Scarlet monkeyflower

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The terrain opened up a bit as we neared the waterfall.
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The trail first passes near the splash pool of the lower tier before switchbacking uphill to a viewpoint of the upper tier.
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IMG_9064Heading for the viewpoint.

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IMG_9070The upper tier from the viewpoint.

Our 6am start allowed us to have the trail and falls to ourselves which was nice because it is a popular trail. (There was a couple sleeping on the pavement in the parking lot surrounded by empty Mike’s Hard Lemonade bottles. To their credit they did pack everything into their car when they left.)

After returning to the car we drove to the Wolf Creek Falls Trailhead along Little River Road. The 1.2 mile trail here is part of featured hike #3 – Little River Waterfalls in Sullivan’s book and is overseen by the BLM and begins with a crossing of the Little River on an arched footbridge.
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The forest along the trail combined with Wolf Creek made this our favorite scenery of the weekend. It was a perfect mix of forest, creek, and rock formations.
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Wolf Creek Falls solidified this as our favorite hike of the weekend. The trail first passes above a lower fall then leads to a viewpoint above that cascade and of the larger 70′ fall at trails end.
IMG_9107First good view of the lower fall from the trail. The upper fall was visible but somewhat blocked by trees.

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IMG_9116We really liked how the water curved and narrowed as it cascaded down.

IMG_9120The pool appeared to be extremely deep.

After a nice break admiring the upper fall we headed back and I detoured downhill on a use trail to get a closer look at the lower falls.
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Even though it was still early (we were at the falls a little after 8am) we were surprised no one had been on the trail. There hadn’t been any cars at the trailhead either time we’d driven by the day before either which we found a bit odd considering how nice the trail and waterfall were. We did finally encounter a couple of other hikers as we made our way back to the car. This had been a perfect hike to end our trip on. The two hikes combined for just 4.5 miles and 630′ of elevation gain, which was about all my feet could take, and we were able to make it home before noon giving us plenty of time to unpack and get ready for the work week ahead. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Fall Creek and Wolf Creek Falls

Categories
Coastal Range Corvallis Hiking Oregon Trip report Willamette Valley

Alsea Falls and E.E. Wilson Interpretive Trail

The Central Cascade Wilderness Permit system has been in place for 2 years now and for the second year in a row we gambled early and secured permits in April for a weekend backpacking trip. For the second year in a row weather prompted us to leave the purchased permits unused. Last September it was an early snow storm and this year it was a heat wave accompanied by the threat of thunderstorms. We had planned on hiking around Three Fingered Jack but after checking the forecast the morning of our departure we went to Plan B. The combination of nearly 90 degree temperatures (with an overnight low pushing 70) on trails that are 95% exposed due to passing through the 2008 B & B fire scar and the possibility of thunderstorms throughout the entire weekend just didn’t sound appealing.

We had gotten up at 4am and most of our packing already done but we needed somewhere to go. It needed to be nearby so we could get onto the trail early and short enough that we wouldn’t be out as the day warmed up. As I was trying to come up with ideas Alsea Falls came to mind. We had hiked to the falls in December 2011 (post) and had wanted to see them again when there was less water as the volume in December had been too much to see. With 3.5 miles round trip to visit both Alsea and Green Peak Falls this fit the criteria nicely and it would give us time to make a quick stop at E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area if we felt like it on the way back home.

We were the first car at the Alsea Falls Day-Use/Picnic Area and after paying the $5 fee (In 2012 we avoided this fee by parking along Miller Road which lengthened the hike.) we set off following pointers for Alsea Falls.
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IMG_8545We stayed left here following the pointer. We later crossed the bridge on the way to Green Peak Falls.

A quarter mile from the trailhead we came to the top of Alsea Falls. The trail continued downhill providing a few different vantage points of the falls.
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IMG_8559Heather in front of the falls.

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Alsea FallsDecember 2012

After checking out the falls from several spots we headed back up to the bridge and crossed the river.
IMG_8575Looking down river from the bridge.

On the far side of the bridge we turned left following the pointer for McBee Park and Green Peak Falls.
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We followed trail pointers to stay on the correct path which brought us to a road near McBee Park (Privately owned by Hull-Oaks Lumber Company).
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IMG_8594Fireweed

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We turned off the main gravel road at another sign for Green Peak Falls. Here a spur road led through a large campsite to a trail.
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IMG_8601Green Peak Falls

Green Peak FallsGreen Peak falls in December 2012.

It was interesting to see how differently the lower water levels affected the visuals of the two falls. For Alsea Falls less water allowed us to see more of the bedrock and gave the falls a little more definition and character. Green Peak on the other hand just had less water, it was still a nice waterfall but it wasn’t the thundering cascade that we’d experienced in 2012.

On the way back we crossed the river at McBee Park and explored one of the empty sites there.
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IMG_8616Covered picnic table.

IMG_8618The table is one solid plank.

Instead of back tracking through the park to the trail and returning the way we’d come we decided to road walk back to the Alsea Falls Picnic Area.
IMG_8619Sign for McBee Park along South Fork Road.

IMG_8621Trail down to the picnic area along South Fork Road.

This wound up being a 3.3 mile hike which was just what we were looking for. It had been warm when we started at 6:15am and it was already noticeably warmer when we got back to the car at 8am. It was still early enough though that we did decide to stop on our way home and finally check out the E. E. Wilson Wildlife Area.

The area, located just north of Corvallis, is one of several Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife managed areas that requires a $10/day parking perming ($30 for an annual permit). Hiking options are limited here with just a 1.5 mile Interpretive Trail to a fishing pond and a 1.7 mile out-and-back to Coffin Butte. The $10 price tag for such sort hikes had kept us away but we had come into possession of an annual permit (They come with certain hunting and/or fishing licenses.) which eliminated that obstacle.

We parked at the Camp Adair Trailhead and promptly forgot to put the permit on the dashboard. Instead we got out, threw our packs on (we looked crazy for a 1.5 interpretive loop but we wanted the water that was in them), and started checking out the pheasants being raised in nearby cages.
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IMG_8634Silver pheasant

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After looking at the birds we walked through the Camp Adair Memorial Garden. Camp Adair was established approximately 6 months after Pearl Harbor and housed up to 40,000 personnel at a time comprising four infantry divisions.
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IMG_8655Red-breasted sapsucker

Parking for the fishing pond is located on the opposite side of the memorial and at that parking lot we turned left on a road passing through a gate to a signboard.
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We followed this road 0.2 miles to a “T” where we turned left.
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Less than 100 yards later we came to a sign for the Fishing Pond on our right at another road junction.
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We made it about a tenth of a mile up this road before I thought to ask Heather if she had put the permit on the dashboard since I’d completely forgotten about it. She had forgotten too so I left my pack with her at a bench and jogged back to the car, put the permit in the window, and (mostly) jogged back to her. We then continued on to the Fishing Pond.
IMG_8675Bunnies in the grass near one of the benches.

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IMG_8676Coffin Butte on the other side of Highway 99.

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IMG_8680Turkey vulture

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IMG_8686Wetlands on the other side of the pond.

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IMG_8692Great blue heron

After walking a little way up along the western side of the pond we backtracked and started around the southern end where we picked up the continuation of the Interpretive Loop.
IMG_8699The loop trail to the right.

IMG_8702Skipper

The loop passed through some wetlands before entering a series of fields and finally arriving back at the road.
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IMG_8711Tadpole

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IMG_8717We stayed left at any junction like this.

IMG_8716Dragon fly

IMG_8719Bindweed

IMG_8721Arriving back at the road.

We took a left on the road and retraced our steps to the memorial and then back to our car. Between our wandering and my return trip to the car to put the permit out I managed to turn this into a 2.8 mile outing but it should have been closer to 1.5. We still managed to be done just after 10am which was a good thing because it was already pushing 80 degrees. These two short hikes turned out to be a great option given the circumstances. Unfortunately as I write this several fires are burning in Northern California and the Oregon Cascades with more red flag warnings for lighting through Monday. Hopefully things won’t get too bad and we pray for the firefighters as they do their best to keep things in check. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Alsea Falls and E.E. Wilson Loop

Categories
Hiking Old Cascades Oregon Rogue-Umpqua Divide Roseburg Area Trip report

Illahee Rock & Twin Lakes – 06/14/2022

Our original plan for this vacation was to do a pair of hikes on the way down to Roseburg on Monday, Illahee Rock and Twin Lakes but the weather hadn’t cooperated with that plan. Monday was cloudy so doing two viewpoint hikes didn’t make sense. Instead, we had spent Monday visiting various waterfalls along Highway 138 (post). The plan for Tuesday had been a hike along Cow Creek on the way south to Ashland but during one of the many drives between trailheads on Monday we had decided instead to do the Illahee Rock and Twin Lakes hikes on Tuesday, weather permitting, and to save Cow Creek for another year. There were two reasons for this change. First Twin Lakes is one of Sullivan’s featured hikes while Cow Creek is not. The second reason was that we were both still dealing with blisters from our 17.5-mile outing at the Columbian White-Tailed Deer Refuge three days earlier (post) and with at least four creek crossings on the Cow Creek Trail the probability of us having to ford the creek and soaking our feet didn’t sound like the best idea. Before going to sleep Monday, we checked the forecast which was “Becoming Sunny”. I don’t think we’d ever come across that particular forecast, but it sounded hopeful so Tuesday morning we packed up the car and headed east once again on Highway 138.

Our first stop was at Illahee Rock, a former featured hike that was hit with fires in both 2017 and 2021. Two lookout towers sit atop Illahee Rock and the Umpqua National Forest website listed the Illahee Lookout Trail as open but gave no update on conditions. We wound up cutting the drive short by three quarters of a mile due to a decent amount of debris in the road due to damage caused by the fires.
IMG_3119We parked in a pullout just before this section.

The “becoming sunny” forecast was obviously not for the morning as we found ourselves in heavy fog as we hiked along FR 100.
IMG_3125The Boulder Creek Wilderness (post) under the slowly rising clouds.

After 0.75 miles on FR 100 we came to FR 104 on the left which led to the Illahee Rock Trailhead. Before heading up to the lookouts though we wanted to make an attempt to reach nearby Wild Rose Point which Sullivan described in his book.
IMG_3135FR 104

We passed FR 104 and continued on FR 100 for another 0.2 miles to a fork.
IMG_3136Rabbit on FR 100

IMG_3140Lots of fawn lilies along the road and trails.

IMG_3147Red flowering currant

IMG_3149Is this an apple tree? Whatever it is it seemed very out of place.

IMG_3148FR 105 on the left and FR 100 on the right.

We could see a post for the trail on the hillside in brush but had a bit of trouble figuring out where the trail began at the fork. We first looked for it right at the fork then a bit down FR 100 but it was actually just up FR 105 next to the post for the road.
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This little path brought us to the post in the brush where it was already obvious this was going to be an adventure.
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The 2021 fire had burned over this area as well and it didn’t appear that any maintenance had been done aside from some occasional flagging and cairns. We decided to give it a go though since it was under 1.5 miles to Wild Rose Point. We picked our way uphill and found some decent tread in some trees that had been spared by the fire.
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Another uphill through a burned area brought us to another short section of better trail before fallen trees began to be a problem. A little over half a mile in near Illahee Spring we decided to turn back. Several larger trees blocked the trail head and looked like more trouble than it was worth to try and navigate around and even if we did manage there wasn’t going to be a view due to the fog.
IMG_3160A cairn on the left.

IMG_3166Damp trillium

IMG_3167Downed trees across the trail near Illahee Spring.

We returned to FR 100 and walked back to FR 104 which we now turned up.
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IMG_3180Gooseberry

Two tenths of a mile up FR 104 we came to the Illahee Rock Trailhead.
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This trail was in much better shape and we had no problem following it the three quarters of a mile up to the lookouts.
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IMG_3183The tread was a little faint but otherwise in good shape.

IMG_3195Lots of cool rock outcrops along the trail.

IMG_3200Fawn lilies

IMG_3201Typical trail condition.

IMG_3221Ragwort and blue-eyed Mary covered hillside.

20220614_083925Blue-eyed Mary

20220614_083942Ragwort

IMG_3224Rocky hillside below the lookouts.

20220614_084842Larkspur

IMG_32311925 Cupola style lookout.

IMG_32361956 L-4 tower lookout

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IMG_3243Paintbrush

We spent some time exploring the summit and checking out the lookouts while we waited for it to become sunny. We eventually gave up on that and headed back down.
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IMG_3247Illahee Rock

IMG_3249A sliver of hope for blue sky at some point.

It wasn’t more than 10 minutes after we started down before the blue sky started appearing.
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IMG_3271Back at the trailhead.

IMG_3275On FR 100

IMG_3278Wallflower

IMG_3286The Boulder Creek Wilderness

We’d missed out on a view from Illahee Rock but we had another opportunity coming up on our hike to Twin Lakes. We drove back down FR 100 to Highway 138 and turned left (east) for 2.25 miles to FR 4770 where we turned right at a sign for the Twin Lakes and North Umpqua Trail. We followed FR 4770 to the Twin Lakes Trailhead . (The east trailhead not the west.)
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The same 2017 fire that burned Illahee Rock affected the Forest here as well although many large trees did survive. We followed the Twin Lakes Trail for 0.6 miles to a junction.
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IMG_3307Meadow along the trail.

IMG_3310Trillum

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IMG_3319Becoming sunny in action. From this viewpoint Diamond Peak, Mt. Thielsen, and Mt. Bailey are visible sans clouds.

IMG_3320A carpet of blue-eyed Mary at the viewpoint.

IMG_3325Illahee Rock was visible from the viewpoint despite the clouds.

IMG_3326The lookout tower on Illahee Rock.

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IMG_3334Indian plum

IMG_3338Hellbore starting to sprout in a meadow.

IMG_3344Waterleaf

IMG_3348Nearing the junction.

At the first junction we stayed right then veered left at the next, avoiding the Deception Creek Trail, and descended through a meadow to the Twin Lakes Shelter.
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IMG_3353Woodpecker

IMG_3356Gray jay

IMG_3357The second junction where we turned left.

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IMG_3368Mushroom near the shelter.

After a short break at the shelter we started around the bigger of the two lakes going counter-clockwise. We passed a walk in campground and continued along the lake shore.
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The lake was very colorful and it was easy to see into the water which allowed us to watch fish as they swam around.
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IMG_3381No fish but it was easy to see them when they were present.

IMG_3382This big rock added to the scenery.

IMG_3385We couldn’t decide if that was an old bridge or dock in the water.

IMG_3386Passing behind the big rock.

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IMG_3388The rock turned out to be split.

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IMG_3396There was a lot of water in the section between the two lakes. Fortunately there didn’t seem to be any mosquitos which was really surprising but in a good way.

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We weren’t entirely sure where the trail between the two lakes was and we started thinking that we’d missed it so when we saw an opportunity we headed cross country toward the smaller lake.
IMG_3398This looked like it could be a trail.

IMG_3399How were there not any mosquitos in here.

IMG_3401A local wondering what we were up to.

We spotted more large rocks with a bit of a shelter underneath and were headed for it when we spotted an actual trail running by the rocks.
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We followed this trail to the second lake and made our way around it counter-clockwise as well.
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IMG_3408The outlet creek.

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IMG_3413Yellow-rumped warbler

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IMG_3425Red-breasted sapsucker

IMG_3429Stellar’s jay

There was still snow in the basin on the south side of the lake making this side very wet.
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A 1995 log shelter used to be located on this side of the lake but was lost to the 2017 fire. A small outhouse and a whole lot of garbage (people are awful sometimes) is all that was left.
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After completing the loop we followed the trail back toward the larger lake passing the boulder shelter and a balancing rock.
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IMG_3446This cracked us up, someone just nailed the planks into the tree that broke the bridge.

This trail led back to the trail around the larger lake.
IMG_3447A small sign at the junction.

We finished the loop around the larger lake and stopped again at the shelter.
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A 1.1 mile climb from the first junction that we’d come to earlier would take us to a viewpoint above the lakes.
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We had been waiting to see if it really did become sunny before deciding on this optional side trip but now that there was quite a bit of blue sky overhead we decided to head up.
IMG_3473Another meadow along the 1.1 mile section.

IMG_3484The 2017 fire hit this section pretty hard.

There was a bit more snow over 5400′ but not enough to cause any problems.
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A well established use trail led out to the viewpoint where we met another pair of hikers enjoying the view.
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IMG_3499The larger lake.

IMG_3504The smaller lake.

IMG_3506Illahee Rock from the viewpoint.

IMG_3509The lower flanks of Howlock Mountain, Mt. Thielsen (post), and Mt. Bailey (post).

We chatted with the other hikers long enough that we could almost see all of Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey by the time we were headed back.
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20220614_143125Bee on an anemone.

20220614_143956Glacier lily

IMG_3529Moth and a violet.

When we passed by the lower viewpoint the views had improved even more.
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IMG_3536Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey

IMG_3540Black Rock on the right.

IMG_3534Highrock Mountain

IMG_3538Howlock Mountain

IMG_3539Cowhorn Mountain (post)

It truly had become sunny and was supposed to stay that way at least for the next couple of days. After driving back to Highway 138 we followed it east to Diamond Lake then took Highway 230 south to Highway 62 and followed it into Medford to I-5 and took the freeway south to Ashland where we would be staying for the next four nights. We’d hoped to stop by Becky’s Cafe in Union Creek but when we drove by it was closed so instead we wound up with Wendy’s after another long day (sigh) of driving.

The hikes were 5.2 miles and 6.2 miles with 650′ and 850′ of elevation gain respectively giving us an 11.4 mile 1500′ day.

Illahee Rock Track
Twin Lakes Track
Categories
Hiking Mt. Theilsen/Mt. Bailey Area Oregon Roseburg Area Trip report

Highway 138 Waterfalls – 06/13/2022

The last two years have created a bit of urgency to our goal of completing the 100 featured hikes in all five areas covered by William L. Sullivan in his 100 hikes guidebook series (post). Between the pandemic and 2020 wildfire season it became clear that taking our time could create issues down the road so starting last year we refocused our efforts on finishing the 500 hikes as soon possible. As we started 2022 we were down to just the Eastern and Southern Oregon (and Northern CA) areas to complete (post). The majority of the remaining hikes were from the southern book where a number of planned trips had been canceled in recent years due to weather and/or the effects of wildfires. We spent a week in Medford earlier in June checking off Roxy Ann Peak (post) and the Jack-Ash Trail (post) and we headed back south a couple of weeks later to hopefully check off more.

A cool and wet Spring has left parts of Oregon, in particular the northern and central Cascade Mountains with a lot of lingering snow. Many trails and trailheads in those areas that in recent years would be open are still snowed in but Southern Oregon had been dealing with an extreme drought, so the recent weather has not had as much of an impact leaving trails accessible. While accessibility wasn’t an issue the weather forecast was a bit of one. More wet weather was forecast for the start and end of our six-day trip with the possibility of snow at higher elevations. After some substituting and rearranging of hikes we settled on a tentative plan that gave us some flexibility in case the forecast tried to pull a fast one on us. Since Monday was supposed to be mostly cloudy with a chance of showers off and on all day we decided to combine a number of stops east of Roseburg along Highway 138 to check out seven different waterfalls.

We started our morning off at Susan Creek Falls. This waterfall is one of three stops listed in featured hike #2, Fall Creek Falls (4th edition). This area was burned in the 2020 Archie Creek Fire and to date the other two stops at Fall Creek Falls and the Tioga Segment of the North Umpqua Trail remain closed. The BLM has managed to get the 0.7 mile Susan Creek Trail open although the trailhead on the north side of the highway was full of logs forcing us to park across the street at the Susan Creek Picnic Area.
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After dashing across the highway we set off on the trail through the burned forest.
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IMG_2741Checkermallow

IMG_2743A slug and a bug on a flower.

IMG_2745Pea

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IMG_2753Approaching the falls.

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20220613_081135Columbine

20220613_080719_HDRSusan Creek Falls

This short trail only gained about 150′ and was a nice leg stretcher after the drive down from Salem. After admiring the falls we returned to the car and continued east on 138 to milepost 59 and turned left onto Forest Road 34 to the Toketee Falls Trailhead. One of two stops that make up featured hike #9 (edition 4.2) a 0.4 mile trail leads to a platform above the falls which spill out of gap in basalt cliffs.
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IMG_2800Evidence of overnight rains on the trail.

IMG_2806A very faint rainbow over the North Umpqua River.

IMG_2815Stairs down to the viewpoint platform.

IMG_2810Toketee Falls

We spent some time admiring this waterfall which is one of Oregon’s more recognizable falls before returning to the car and continuing on FR 34 to FR 3401 and following it to the Umpqua Hot Springs Trailhead.
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The hike starting here is not the second part of featured hike #9 but rather its own entry (featured hike #8, edition 4.2). Sullivan gives two 0.6 mile round trip options starting from this trailhead. The first is a 120′ climb to Umpqua Hot Springs overlooking the North Umpqua River. To reach the hot springs we crossed the river on a footbridge and turned right to make the climb up to the springs.
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IMG_2851Candy sticks along the trail.

Just before the hot springs I veered downhill on a side trail to visit the river.
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IMG_2857During lower flow there is another hot spring along the river bank in the area.

I climbed back up to find Heather sitting near the springs. There were a number of people enjoying a soak and with clothing being optional pictures were very limited.
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We climbed down from the hot springs and returned to the trailhead where we took a short trail up to FR 3401 and turned left following a short distance to the resumption of the North Umpqua Trail.
IMG_2867Heading up to the road.

IMG_2870The North Umpqua Trail on the left leaving the FR 3401.

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Approximately a quarter mile along this segment we arrived at Surprise Falls, a cascade created by cold springs bursting from the hillside below the trail.
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The mossy cascade was beautiful and we spent quite a while enjoying the lush green surroundings. A very short distance further we arrived at our turn around point at another spring fed waterfall, Columnar Falls.
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This fall gets its name due to the columnar basalt that the water both cascades down and spouts right out of.
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IMG_2907The hot springs across the river from Columnar Falls.

We returned the way we’d come and hoped back into our car and drove back to Highway 138 where we again turned east. Our next stop was the second waterfall in featured hike #9, Watson Falls. Another short (0.4 mile) trail leads from the Watson Falls Trailhead to Southern Oregon’s tallest waterfall.
IMG_2914The top of Watson Falls from the trailhead signboard.

This trail gains 300′ as it climbs to a viewpoint part way up the 272′ waterfall.
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20220613_113355Watson Falls from below.

IMG_2932Footbridge over Watson Creek.

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IMG_2953Heather at the viewpoint.

IMG_2946The splash pool.

On the way back down we took the loop back trail which splits off just before the creek crossing.
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This trail follows Watson Creek down to FR 37 where a right turn and short road walk completes the loop.
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IMG_2969Watson Creek at FR 37.

IMG_2971A little bit of blue sky and sunlight along FR 37.

Once again we returned to Highway 138 and continued east. Our next three stops were in the Lemolo Lake Recreation Area so we turned off of the Highway onto FR 2610 at a pointer for the Recreation Area. Our first stop was at the Warm Springs Trail.
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Yet another short trail (0.3 miles) that led to a scenic waterfall.
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IMG_2982Viewing platform above the falls.

IMG_2986We both really liked the angled basalt cliff on the far side of these falls.

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This waterfall surprised us a bit with how much we both liked it. We headed back to the car and drove back the way we’d come until reaching a canal bridge along FR 2610 where we turned across it to the North Umpqua Trail.
IMG_3069The canal bridge is 5.6 miles from Highway 138 on FR 2610.

IMG_2991Sign near the canal bridge.

IMG_2992The North Umpqua Trail.

IMG_2993The section between Lemolo Lake and the Umpqua Hot Springs Trailhead is called the “Dread and Terror Segment” but both sections we hiked were beautiful.

This would be our longest hike of the day at 3.5 miles round trip. The trail followed the North Umpqua River providing numerous views while losing 400′ to a viewpoint above Lemolo Falls.
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IMG_3006Numerous seasonal streams and seeps flowed across the trail.

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IMG_3017Unnamed fall along the river.

IMG_3031Trillium

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IMG_3037Ouzel

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IMG_3054Lemolo Falls

We took a short break at the viewpoint then headed back. We had one final stop to make on the other side of the river to visit a better viewpoint below Lemolo Falls.
IMG_3060Red flowering currant along the trail.

IMG_3063Bleeding heart.

From the canal bridge we drove back toward Lemolo Lake crossing the dam then in half a mile turned right on FR 3401 for another half mile to FR 800 where we again turned right. We followed FR 800 for 1.6 miles to a spur road (FR 3401-840). The trailhead is located approximately a quarter-mile down this road but we parked as soon as we had a chance due to this road being in the worst condition we’d experienced this day.
IMG_3070Approaching the trailhead.

This old trail/trailhead was recently reopened and aside from the poor access road the trail was in good shape. The first 0.6 miles follows an old roadbed to a former picnic area where the Lemolo Falls Trail used to begin. Three quarters of a mile later the trail arrives at the North Umpqua River below Lemolo Falls.
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IMG_3083The former picnic area (Note the picnic table in the trees to the right.)

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IMG_3098Valerian along the trail.

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IMG_3113One of many brief appearances of blue sky during the day.

This was by far the superior view and a great way to end the day. We climbed back up the 500′ that we’d descended to the falls and called it a day. Our seven stops was a new personal record (previously six on a trip down the Oregon Coast). With most of the hikes being rather short our mileage for the day was just a smidge over 11 miles with a little over 1800′ of cumulative elevation gain. It was a long day made longer by a couple of delays due to road construction so it was later than we’d planned when we pulled into our motel in Roseburg but we had managed to finish three more featured hikes (and one third of a fourth) and although it had sprinkled off and on all day we’d also had a few sun breaks which made it a perfect day for chasing waterfalls. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Highway 138 Waterfalls

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report Willamette Valley

Chehalem Ridge Nature Park – 05/14/2022

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

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

IMG_9695Fawn lilies

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

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

IMG_9700Bench at the viewpoint along the Ammefu Trail.

IMG_9701We had to imagine the view today.

IMG_9702The second figure.

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

IMG_9709Fog on Timber Road

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

IMG_9713Christensen Creek

IMG_9714Right turn for the Ayeekwa and Witches Butter Trails.

IMG_9715Witchs Butter on the left and Ayeekwa on the right.

IMG_9716Trillium

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

IMG_9720Common blue violet

IMG_9722Pioneer violets and a strawberry blossom.

IMG_9726Mushrooms under a fern.

IMG_9727Popping out on the Witches Butter Trail.

IMG_9728Witches Butter Trail

IMG_9737Witches Butter Trail winding through Douglas firs.

IMG_9742Turning right onto the Chehalem Ridge Trail.

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

IMG_9754Spring green carpet.

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_9772Lots of tough-leaved iris along this trail.

IMG_9773One of several blooming dogwood trees.

IMG_9774View on the way down.

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

IMG_9776One of the 11 switchbacks.

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

IMG_9781Following the roadbed.

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

IMG_9784The start of the loop along with several madrones.

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

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

IMG_9821Another trail user a rough skinned newt.

IMG_9824A closer look at the rough skinned newt.

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

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

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

IMG_9837Fairy slippers

IMG_9842Squirrel

IMG_9845The Zorzal Trail to the right.

IMG_9847Toothwort along the Zorzal Trail.

IMG_9848Stripped coralroot

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

IMG_9861One of the few lupines with blossoms.

IMG_9865Camas buds

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

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

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

IMG_9876More lupine starting to blossom.

IMG_9877Tualatin Valley

IMG_9880Plectritis

IMG_9886Believe this is a checker mallow.

IMG_9888Parsley

IMG_9894Camas

IMG_9899Iris

IMG_9906White crowned sparrow

Buttercups in the lupine.

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

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

IMG_9921Black capped chickadee

IMG_9924Approaching the Woodland Trail on the right.

IMG_9927Woodland Trail

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

IMG_9932Coming to a switchback.

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

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

IMG_9946Lupine along the Woodland Trail as we neared the trailhead.

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

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

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

Flickr: Chehalem Ridge Nature Park

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Willamette Valley

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

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

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

IMG_9282Lupine

IMG_9275Habitat Trail

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

IMG_9295He probably knew which way he was going.

IMG_9296Heading the right way now.

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_9334Stellar’s Jay

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

Having finally figured it out we headed north through Orchard Park again but this time hiked uphill through the parking lot to NE Walker.
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IMG_9349Not sure exactly how to interpret this scene – mourning, a murder, or breakfast?

IMG_9350The slight jog right along NE Walker.

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

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

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

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

IMG_9374NE Evergreen Parkway

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

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

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

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

IMG_9426Solmonseal

20220507_092026_HDRFawnlilies

The trail leveled out to cross Rock Creek.
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20220507_092158Aven

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

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

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

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

20220507_094724Fairy bells

20220507_095156Cinquefoil

IMG_9482Nearing the trailhead.

The loop here was just over a mile.

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

IMG_9496American goldfinches

IMG_9499Tree swallows

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

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

IMG_9516There was a lot of wild ginger on the hillside.

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

IMG_9546Buttercups

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

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

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20220507_114520 Striped coralroot

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

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

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

IMG_9586Spotted coralroot

IMG_9589K.T. Summit

IMG_9591A very cool madrone tree.

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IMG_9598Two more deer with a third off camera.

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

A couple of examples.
IMG_9614Western white pine

IMG_9616Western larch

IMG_9623Vanilla leaf

20220507_124234Fairy slippers

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

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

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

2022 track in orange

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Trip report Willamette Valley

Ankeny Wildlife Refuge – 04/23/2022

For the last six months we’ve been having projects done around the house and while everything at home has seemed to be in a state of upheaval work has felt just as chaotic. The end of our projects is in sight just barely overlapping with our hiking season. This is the most I’ve looked forward to a hiking season yet. I am a very introverted person and while hiking can be physically exhausting, for me it provides a mental recharge. Spending time relaxing at home is typically another way that I recharge but with all the projects going on I haven’t been able to get that same relaxed feeling this off-season.

Part of being an introvert is that socializing, especially in larger groups, is draining. It’s not that it isn’t enjoyable, it certainly can be, but it is exhausting and I haven’t been in a place where I’ve felt like I had the energy to interact with people beyond work recently (close family excluded). Heather on the other hand is more extroverted than I am. She still has some introvert traits but on a scale of introvert to extrovert she is closer to the extrovert than where I land. Before hiking season started she wanted to have a few friends over to see the progress thus far on the home. I thought it was a great idea but I also didn’t personally feel up to it despite how much I enjoy the group she was planning on inviting. To Heather’s credit she understood so in the interest of mental health I got an early jump on hiking season.

After doing a few last minute chores to help get the house ready for guests I headed out the door a little before 6am to make the 25 minute drive to Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. I had made a solo trip here last April (post) during a vacation week that Heather didn’t share. While I (we) typically don’t revisit places/hikes that close together the opening of the Ankeny Hill Nature Center in February was a good excuse for another visit. The website for the Nature Center listed “dawn to dusk” as the hours but I arrived just minutes before sunrise (6:14am) to find the gate still closed. A lower parking lot along Buena Vista Rd S was also gated closed with a sign stating it was due to ongoing construction. After reading the sign I wasn’t sure if I was too early or if the center was actually closed even though the website indicated it was open. A mystery that I would solve later though as I had some hiking to do.

The trail system at the Nature Center is less than a mile so I had planned on re-hiking some of my routes from the previous year and any areas that had been closed on that visit that might be open this time around. It had been a clear morning at our house and remained that way all the way to the Nature Center but as soon as I passed the lower parking lot I entered a fog bank which covered my first stop at Eagle Marsh.
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I could hear geese and ducks on the water but seeing much let alone taking pictures would require the fog to relent a bit. I set off along the dike road around the marsh hoping that the rising Sun would simultaneously take care of the fog and raise the temperature from the mid-30’s.
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IMG_8745Camas

IMG_8748Black phoebe in the fog. It’s the only one seen all day so despite the poor quality I kept the photo.

IMG_8761Wet spider webs are the best.

IMG_8758There was a brief respite in the fog before it rolled in again.

IMG_8765The fog bank waiting to move back in.

The section of the Eagle Marsh Trail on the SE side of Willow Marsh had been closed last year making the lollipop loop showed on the Refuge Map impossible but this year there were no signs indicating it’s closure. Like last year I headed clockwise around Willow Marsh passing between it and Teal Marsh.
IMG_8764Teal Marsh

The grassy track here was very damp and my feet and lower legs were soon soaked (and cold!) but I distracted myself by watching for birds.

IMG_8771Northern flicker

IMG_8772A very grumpy looking spotted towhee

IMG_8775I have a hard time identifying some of these little birds. This one may be an orange-crowned warbler.

DSCN1310A bald eagle that was across Willow Marsh.

DSCN1317Female red-winged blackbird

DSCN1313Buffleheads

DSCN1324A less grumpy looking spotted towhee

As I came around Willow Marsh I took a very short detour to check out the Sidney Power Ditch before continuing around the marsh.
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DSCN1331Here comes the fog again.

DSCN1335Black capped chickadee

Yellow-rumped warbler (Audubon's)Yellow-rumped warbler (Audubon’s)

DSCN1342Red-winged blackbird

Marsh wrenWrens can be tricky too, I think this is a marsh wren.

DSCN1349White-crowned sparrow

DSCN1360Song sparrow

IMG_8779Eagle Marsh, still can’t see much.

I had considered driving back to the Nature Center to see if it was open but in the end decided to make that my last stop and instead drove to the Pintail and Egret Marshes Trailhead.
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I started by taking the 0.13 mile boardwalk to the blind overlooking Egret Marsh where there wasn’t anything to see at the moment.
IMG_8783Bashaw Creek

DSCN1369Egret Marsh from the blind.

After the obligatory boardwalk I walked west along the shoulder of Wintel Road just over 150 yards to a small pullout on its south side where I passed through a green gate to find another damp grassy track. I had passed through the same gate on my prior visit and taken the right hand fork away from the road. This time I went left following the track along the road for three tenths of a mile to the entrance road for the Rail Trailhead.
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Up to this point I had encountered a total of 3 people but at this trailhead there were several cars and a half dozen people milling about. I headed out on the rail trail and skipped the boardwalk portion where most of the people were headed and continued straight through more wet grass to the dike near Killdeer Marsh.
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DSCN1375Lots of fringecup along the trail.

DSCN1376Purple deadnettle and field mustard

DSCN1377Common yellow-throat

I looped counter-clockwise around Killdeer Marsh forgetting how muddy it was on the western side.
DSCN1380Looking back along the eastern side of the marsh. There was a lot less water this year.

Killdeer MarshWater level on 4/13/21.

There were also fewer birds than on either of my previous two visits but I did see the only norther pintails of the day here.
DSCN1385Seeing them was a lot easier than getting photos.

After looping around that marsh I headed east along the dike where again there was a lot less water in Dunlin Pond this year compared to last.
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I followed the dike around what was left of Dunlin Pond to the eastern end of the boardwalk.
DSCN1397Canada flamingo?

DSCN1399American robin

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DSCN1403Dunlin Pond from the boardwalk.

I could hear people approaching on the boardwalk so after a quick stop I continued north on the grassy track returning to the gate at Wintel Road and followed it back past the Pintail and Egret Marshes Trailhead to the Pintail Marsh Overlook.
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I turned right from the parking area following a sign for the seasonal photo blind. On last years hike I had attempted to go around Egret Marsh but had been turned back by a closure sign just beyond the blind and had to return to the parking area via a short loop around Frog Pond. There were no closure signs this time so I continued on past the short loop passing the blind at the end of the boardwalk trail.
DSCN1424Egret Marsh

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DSCN1436Ring-necked ducks.

DSCN1433Anyone know if this is a female cinnamon or blue-winged teal?

DSCN1432Another yellow-rumped warbler (Audubon’s) showing off its yellow rump.

DSCN1430Egret Marsh

DSCN1431The trail around Egret Marsh.

When I arrived at the service road between Egret and Mallard Marshes I passed a sign saying the area was indeed closed. I don’t know if that sign was left over or if the sign at the other end had gone missing. In my defense the refuge map shows it as part of the trail system and there is nothing online or posted at Pintail Marsh stating that there is a closure but had I been coming from this end I would have respected the sign. This is not the first time that we’ve been on a trail with no indications of any closure only to pass a closure sign at the other end. For the land managers out there could you please post at both ends of closed sections (or remove the signs from both ends if it has been lifted)? It would sure help those of us that are trying to do the right thing.

Back to the hike though. The service road ended a short distance away to the right in a flooded field.
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There was a lot of activity near the end of the road.
DSCN1441I think these might be long-billed dowichters. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

I turned left and then quickly turned right on the dike between Mallard Marsh and Mohoff Pond. There were lots of geese, ducks and coots here but they did there best to keep plenty of distance between themselves and me.
DSCN1460Heading to the right turn. Egret Marsh is on the left and Mallard Marsh on the right. A huge flock of geese had just taken to the sky.

DSCN1466Killdeer

Yellow-rumped warbler (Myrtle)Today I realized that there are two yellow-rumped warblers, this one is a Myrtle, note the white throat compared to the yellow throat of the Audubon’s above.

DSCN1473Northern shoveler

DSCN1477Mohoff Pond and Mallard Marsh

DSCN1479Canada goose with various ducks in the background. At least one of the ducks is a ruddy duck which is one I hadn’t seen yet (that I know of). They were too far to get clear photos of though.

DSCN1482Canada geese and northern shovelers giving a good size comparison.

DSCN1486The black dots in the sky here aren’t geese, they are little insects that followed me along the dike.

DSCN1483Not Canada geese flying over.

DSCN1489Immature bald eagle.

DSCN1498Sandpiper

When I reached the end of Mohoff Pond I turned left around it and headed back toward the Pintail Marsh Overlook.
DSCN1510Greater white-fronted geese, another first.

DSCN1513Bushtit. Several flew in here but I couldn’t make them out once inside so I took a few pictures hoping to get lucky.

On my way back a hawk and an immature bald eagle put on an areal display.
DSCN1517Can anyone ID the hawk? Another thing that I find difficult.

DSCN1534Swimming lessons, Canada goose style.

From the overlook I walked back along Wintel Road to the Pintail and Egret Marshes Trailhead to retrieve my car then drove back to the Nature Center where I had attempted to start my day. The lower trailhead was still gated but the entrance road along Ankeny Hill Road was no longer gated. There were just a handful of cars here as I set off on the short loop trail.
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The loop offered nice views, interpretive signs, and a surprising variety of flowers. As a bonus a pair of great blue herons where stalking the hillside in search of snacks.
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DSCN1540Buttercups

DSCN1543Meadow checker-mallow

DSCN1547Columbine

DSCN1550Yarrow

DSCN1552Possibly Nelson’s checker-mallow

IMG_8810Lupine that will be blooming soon.

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DSCN1573Iris

DSCN1575Swallows

DSCN1578Mary’s Peak (post) in the distance, the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range.

The Nature Center is a really nice addition to the Refuge providing a great opportunity for kids to get out on a short educational trail. The rest of the refuge as usual did not disappoint, plenty of wildlife and a great variety to boot. The three stop, 11.3 mile day was just what I needed and Heather had a great time entertaining. With any luck the home improvements will be over in a couple of weeks and we will both have started our official hiking seasons. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Ankeny Wildlife Refuge 2022