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Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Southern Coast Trip report

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

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

IMG_3828Salmonberry

IMG_3833McLeod Creek

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IMG_3849One of the sharp turns.

IMG_3840Fairy bells

IMG_3853Columbine

20210513_073907Bleeding heart

20210513_074116Monkeyflower

IMG_3864Sourgrass

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IMG_3861Trillium

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20210513_074727Star flower solomonseal

20210513_074801Twisted stalk

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

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

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

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

IMG_3946Canada geese

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IMG_3964Cormorants flying above the lake.

IMG_3965Cormorant

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IMG_3972Ring necked ducks

IMG_3982Rhododendron

IMG_3986Boardwalk at the south end of the lake.

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IMG_3999Sparrow

IMG_4002Coming up on the bridge at the north end.

IMG_4010Yellow rumped warbler

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

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

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

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

IMG_4034Sparrow near the junction.

IMG_4035Heading to the observation structure.

IMG_4036Looking toward Coos Bay along the Coos River.

IMG_4037McCullough Memorial Bridge spanning Coos Bay.

IMG_4038Wetlands from the end of the spur.

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

IMG_4042Crow

IMG_4044Turkey vulture

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IMG_4048Cormorants overhead

IMG_4052Canada goose with goslings

IMG_4056Buttercups

IMG_4058Pale flax

IMG_4059Arriving back at the field.

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

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

IMG_4067Twomile Creek

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

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

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

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

IMG_4105A cormorant off Fivemile Point

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

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

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

Flickr: Southern Oregon Coast

Categories
Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Southern Coast Trip report

Oregon & Tahkenitch Dunes

Happy New Year. It didn’t take us long to get our first hike of 2015 in. We had planned on visiting the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area later this month, but a day off from work and a forecast for clear skies on New Years Day was too tempting to pass up. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is nearly 40 miles of dunes, creeks, lakes, and forest along the Oregon Coast between the cities of Florence and Coos Bay.

The area offers numerous hikes, most of which are fairly short. Our plan was to combine three of these shorter hikes into a longer trek. We started off from the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area 10 miles south of Florence.
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The sun had just risen in the east as we set off creating a colorful scene from the dunes overlook.
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A .3 mile descent brought us to the dunes where we followed footprints and posts toward the ocean.
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Between the dunes and the ocean the trail passed through the deflation plain, an area created by a non-native beachgrass introduced in the early 1900s which has cut off the supply of sand to the dunes. In the deflation plain marshes and a forest have formed.
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After crossing the plain we arrived at the foredune where the European beachgrass gives way to the beach.
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We turned south and headed down the beach. The beach was quite except for the sound of the ocean waves. We were the only people on the beach as far as we could see. Snowy Plovers and gulls were the only company we had.
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There was quite a bit of debris on this section of beach. There were plenty of the usual pieces of shell and sand dollars along with many items that may have been washed up from the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan.
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Our original plan was to hike the beach to Tahkenitch Creek then cross the creek and pick up another network of trails on the other side. These other trails would take us on a loop past Threemile Lake, through the Tahkenitch Dunes and back across Tahkenitch Creek further inland where we would then finish the Oregon Dunes Loop. We abandoned that plan upon arriving at Tahkenitch Creek. It was wider and deeper than I had anticipated and neither of us were willing to wade across with the temperatures hovering around freezing.
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We turned to Plan B which was to backtrack to the continuation of the Oregon Dunes Loop, return to the car and then drive to the Tahkenitch Dunes Trailhead. We turned around and made our way back up the beach to a hiker sign marking the loop.
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This section of trail passed by a bend in Tahkenitch Creek before returning to the dunes and completing the loop.
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We had wound up hiking a little over 8 miles by the time we reached our car (We didn’t realize we had gone that far until later when I reviewed the GPS information.) and were glad for a short rest while we drove the 3 miles to the next trailhead.
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The trail here started in a nice forest leading .2 miles to the start of our next loop.
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We went right at the junction and headed for the dunes.
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The trail passed over the dunes and then through a more substantial forest before reaching Tahkenitch Creek near the ocean.
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The trail led down to the beach where we again turned south for a mile (the final few tenths of beach are open to vehicles) to another sign marking the loop. The sign was a bit hard to spot as it was back away from the foredune a bit. The beach on this side of the creek was much less cluttered.
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After heading inland for half a mile we arrived at an overlook of Threemile Lake. The lake was 200 feet below us and we decided not to head down the sandy hill to visit it because neither of us felt like climbing back up that much sand. We opted to take a short snack break above the lake before continuing on our loop.
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The loop continued for 2.7 miles passing through an impressive forest before arriving back at the junction .2 miles from the car.
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It had been a beautiful day on the beach despite the cold temperatures so we were surprised to have only seen a total of three other people during the day. Two were just heading down on the Oregon Dunes Trail as we finished that loop and the other had driven his pickup down onto the beach south of Tahkenitch Creek. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to start our 2015 hikes. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157650068860795/