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.
The trail passed between some interesting rock formation in the first third of a mile.
The terrain opened up a bit as we neared the waterfall.
The trail first passes near the splash pool of the lower tier before switchbacking uphill to a viewpoint of the upper tier.
Heading for the viewpoint.
The 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.
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.
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.
First good view of the lower fall from the trail. The upper fall was visible but somewhat blocked by trees.
We really liked how the water curved and narrowed as it cascaded down.
The 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.
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!
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.
We 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.
The 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.
We passed FR 104 and continued on FR 100 for another 0.2 miles to a fork.
Rabbit on FR 100
Lots of fawn lilies along the road and trails.
Red flowering currant
Is this an apple tree? Whatever it is it seemed very out of place.
FR 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.
This little path brought us to the post in the brush where it was already obvious this was going to be an adventure.
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.
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.
A cairn on the left.
Downed trees across the trail near Illahee Spring.
We returned to FR 100 and walked back to FR 104 which we now turned up.
Two tenths of a mile up FR 104 we came to the Illahee Rock Trailhead.
This trail was in much better shape and we had no problem following it the three quarters of a mile up to the lookouts.
The tread was a little faint but otherwise in good shape.
Lots of cool rock outcrops along the trail.
Typical trail condition.
Ragwort and blue-eyed Mary covered hillside.
Rocky hillside below the lookouts.
1925 Cupola style lookout.
1956 L-4 tower lookout
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.
A 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.
Back at the trailhead.
On FR 100
The 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.)
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.
Meadow along the trail.
Becoming sunny in action. From this viewpoint Diamond Peak, Mt. Thielsen, and Mt. Bailey are visible sans clouds.
A carpet of blue-eyed Mary at the viewpoint.
Illahee Rock was visible from the viewpoint despite the clouds.
The lookout tower on Illahee Rock.
Hellbore starting to sprout in a meadow.
Nearing 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.
The second junction where we turned left.
Mushroom 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.
The lake was very colorful and it was easy to see into the water which allowed us to watch fish as they swam around.
No fish but it was easy to see them when they were present.
This big rock added to the scenery.
We couldn’t decide if that was an old bridge or dock in the water.
Passing behind the big rock.
The rock turned out to be split.
There 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.
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.
This looked like it could be a trail.
How were there not any mosquitos in here.
A 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.
We followed this trail to the second lake and made our way around it counter-clockwise as well.
The outlet creek.
There was still snow in the basin on the south side of the lake making this side very wet.
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.
After completing the loop we followed the trail back toward the larger lake passing the boulder shelter and a balancing rock.
This 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.
A small sign at the junction.
We finished the loop around the larger lake and stopped again at the shelter.
A 1.1 mile climb from the first junction that we’d come to earlier would take us to a viewpoint above the lakes.
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.
Another meadow along the 1.1 mile section.
The 2017 fire hit this section pretty hard.
There was a bit more snow over 5400′ but not enough to cause any problems.
A well established use trail led out to the viewpoint where we met another pair of hikers enjoying the view.
The larger lake.
The smaller lake.
Illahee Rock from the viewpoint.
The 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.
Bee on an anemone.
Moth and a violet.
When we passed by the lower viewpoint the views had improved even more.
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.
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.
After dashing across the highway we set off on the trail through the burned forest.
A slug and a bug on a flower.
Approaching the falls.
Susan 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.
Evidence of overnight rains on the trail.
A very faint rainbow over the North Umpqua River.
Stairs down to the viewpoint platform.
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.
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.
Candy sticks along the trail.
Just before the hot springs I veered downhill on a side trail to visit the river.
During 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.
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.
Heading up to the road.
The North Umpqua Trail on the left leaving the FR 3401.
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.
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.
This fall gets its name due to the columnar basalt that the water both cascades down and spouts right out of.
The 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.
The top of Watson Falls from the trailhead signboard.
This trail gains 300′ as it climbs to a viewpoint part way up the 272′ waterfall.
Watson Falls from below.
Footbridge over Watson Creek.
Heather at the viewpoint.
The splash pool.
On the way back down we took the loop back trail which splits off just before the creek crossing.
This trail follows Watson Creek down to FR 37 where a right turn and short road walk completes the loop.
Watson Creek at FR 37.
A 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.
Yet another short trail (0.3 miles) that led to a scenic waterfall.
Viewing platform above the falls.
We both really liked the angled basalt cliff on the far side of these falls.
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.
The canal bridge is 5.6 miles from Highway 138 on FR 2610.
Sign near the canal bridge.
The North Umpqua Trail.
The 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.
Numerous seasonal streams and seeps flowed across the trail.
Unnamed fall along the river.
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.
Red flowering currant along the trail.
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.
Approaching 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.
The former picnic area (Note the picnic table in the trees to the right.)
Valerian along the trail.
One 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!
We recently headed down to Ashland, OR on vacation for a few hikes and to catch a play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. On our way down south we stopped at the BLM managed North Bank Habitat just north of Roseburg for a quick hike to break up the drive. The primary goal of the habitat is to provide secure habitat for the Columbia white-tailed deer and other special status species.
The 10-mile square area has several access points and trail possibilities, although some access points are only open during certain days/hours so check ahead. We started our hike at the West Access and headed up the Blacktail Ridge Road Trail.
The area which had been a farm/ranch? was very different than any of the places we have visited. Rolling hills of grass and oak trees along with valleys filled with forest.
There were also a lot of flowers, many that were unfamiliar to us. The only issue was having to watch out for the poison oak that seemed to be everywhere along the way.
Poison Oak lining the old road
Blessed Milk Thistle
Despite it being a cloudy day there were views all along the ridge. We kept our eyes open for deer on the surrounding hillsides but weren’t having any luck. The only signs of wildlife so far were some blackbirds at the trailhead and lots of birdsong from the trees.
We followed the Blacktail Ridge Road Trail to a junction with Middle Ridge Trail to a second junction the Thistle Ridge Trail. Some of the best views were along the Middle Ridge Trail (which we were now on) just after the Thistle Ridge junction. It was here that we began spotting wildlife. First a hawk
Then a small blue bird
and finally some deer.
They were a ways off but there appeared to be a pair of black-tailed deer not the Columbian white-tailed but they were deer none the less. We continued to spot new flowers as well including several Henderson’s stars which were really unique.
Eventually we reached a junction with the Chasm Creek Road Trail. Here we turned left and headed steeply down the old muddy road.
The trail eventually leveled off and we strolled through mores open grassland to the border of the Jackson Ranch where we turned left on the Jackson Ranch access road. This area was filled with birds including this beautiful western bluebird.
Just before reaching North Bank Road at the gated Jackson Ranch access road we turned left again along a short path lined with daisies and purple self-heal to return to the West Access Parking area.
Granted it was a Monday morning but we didn’t see another person during the 6.2 mile loop. It was a perfect way to kick off a week of vacation. Happy Trails!