Corvallis Hiking Oregon Trip report Willamette Valley

Fitton Green Natural Area – 03/11/2023

Since mid-February we’ve had several rounds of snow, lots of rain, and a stretch of cool (cold) temperatures. We are more than ready for Spring to arrive. A well-timed break in the weather pattern gave us an opportunity to get back to hiking with a trip to Benton County’s Fitton Green Natural Area. While the Fitton Green Natural Area is managed by Benton County a network of trails also allows access to land managed by the Crestmont Land Trust, Greenbelt Land Trust, and the City of Corvallis (Bald Hill Natural Area).

We had visited Bald Hill in 2016 (post) so for this visit we chose to start at the Wren Trailhead (Cardwell Hill West TH) and visit the Crestmont Land Trust and Fitton Green trails.
Wren Trailhead

The signboard at the trailhead had a good map which revealed two trails that were not present on the map I’d downloaded from the County’s website, the North and Bridge Trails.
Fitton Green Map

Of the two the North Trail most interested us as it would allow us to avoid repeating a section of the Cardwell Hill Trail. The Bridge Trail would have been an option had we been looking for a shorter loop. After settling on our route we set off on the Cardwell Hill Trail.
Cardwell Hill Trail

From the trail we had a brief view of Marys River.
Marys River

We followed the gravel roadbed turned trail for half a mile, crossing into the Crestmont Land Trust area, to the well signed junction with the North Trail.
Fog on a hillside from the Cardwell Hill TrailThe forecast was for patchy morning fog with a chance of light showers between Noon and 3pm and partly sunny skies. They got the patchy morning fog part right.

Abandoned car in a fieldThe first of three abandoned cars we’d pass on the day. This one was in a field on a hillside before entering the Crestmont Land Trust.

Cardwell Hill Trail

Signs along the Cardwell Hill Trail in the Crestmont Land TrustInterpretive signs greeted us as we entered the Crestmont Land Trust.

North Trail (left) junction with the Cardwell Hill Trail
The North Trail junction.

We turned uphill on the North Trail at the junction where we encountered the first of several “Shovel Stations”.
Shovel station along the North Trail

The shovels can be used to remove cow pies from the trails during periods of cattle grazing in the land trust. Thankfully there was no grazing happening currently so there was no need to carry the shovel to the next station, but we thought it was a neat idea. The North Trail gained approximately 200′ in the first third of a mile where we came to a viewpoint with a fairly new looking gazebo and a unique set of table and chairs that had been carved from stumps.
North Trail

North Trail

Gazebo with benches and a table along the North TrailThe gazebo housed a small table with benches. A particularly nice touch was the lack of back on the bench that wasn’t facing the view which allows you to sit facing the view.

Cloudy view from the gazeboThe view from the gazebo.

Chairs and a table along the North Trail
The stump table and chairs.

Makeshift table along the North TrailNot sure what the most recent gathering was but there was an interesting variety of items around the table.

After admiring the gazebo and odd table setting we continued on the North Trail which began a half mile descent back to the Cardwell Hill Trail.
Bench along the North TrailAnother bench along the trail.

North Trail

Turkey tailsTurkey tails

North TrailThe Cardwell Hill Trail in the valley below the North Trail.

North Trail approaching the Cardwell Hill TrailDropping down to the Cardwell Hill Trail.

We turned back onto the Cardwell Hill Trail which quickly entered the Fitton Green Natural Area. We ignored two spurs of the Fitton Green North-South Trail on the right and followed this trail up and over its high point a total of 1.5 miles to the Cardwell Hill East Trailhead.
Cardwell Hill Trail junction with the Fitton Green North-South TrailThe first spur didn’t have any signage

Cardwell Hill Trail with the Fitton Green North-South Trail on the rightThe second spur had a marker naming it the Fitton Green North-South Trail.

Fitton Green North-South TrailTrail marker

Memorial plaque at Fitton Green

Cardwell Hill Trail

Dimple Hill to the left from the Cardwell Hill TrailDimple Hill in the McDonald Forest (post).

Abandoned cars along the Cardwell Hill TrailThe other two abandoned cars, these were outside of the natural area.

Cardwell Hill Trail arriving at the Cardwell Hill East TrailheadArriving at the east trailhead.

Cardwell Hill East Trailhead

We turned around at the trailhead and regained the 250+ feet that we’d dropped from the trail’s highpoint. The out and back to east trailhead wasn’t necessary but it was some good hill training for the hiking season to come. We then descended 300′ to the Fitton Green North-South Trail where we veered left.
Big tree above the Cardwell Hill TrailOne of the more impressive trees along this section of the Cardwell Hill Trail

Fitton Green North-South TrailThe Fitton Green North-South Trail.

Tragedy nearly struck on this trail when a slow-moving slug barely avoided a foot.
Slug on the Fitton Green North-South TrailWatch your step.

We followed this trail a total of 1.1 miles where we turned right onto the Allen Throop Loop Trail. Along the way we passed Amy’s Trail at the 0.4-mile mark, a private road at the 0.9-mile mark, and the western end of the Allen Throop Loop at the 1-mile mark.
Amy's TrailAmy’s Trail

Fitton Green North-South TrailThe clouds were beginning to break up as we climbed up this trail.

Allen Throop Loop from the Fitton Green North-South TrailThe western end of the Throop Loop.

Fitton Green North-South Trail junction with the eastern end of the Allen Throop LoopThe eastern end of the Allen Throop Loop. Continuing on the Fitton Green North-South Trail would have brought us to the Panorama Drive Trailhead.

We turned onto the Allen Throop Loop Trail which brought us to an oak savannah hillside.
Marker for the Allen Throop Loop TrailThere seems to have been a spelling error (Alan vs Allen) on the trail marker.

Allen Throop Loop Trail

Plaque along the Allen Throop Loop TrailPlaque at a viewpoint along the Allen Throop Loop. Note that it is Allen not Alan on the plaque.

Marys Peak hiding behind some clouds.Despite the clouds breaking up we didn’t have a view of Marys Peak, the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range (post).

View from the Allen Throop Loop TrailThe trail overlooks the cities of Corvallis (to the left/east) and Philomath (straight/south).

Bald Hill from the Allen Throop Loop TrailBald Hill with Corvallis beyond from the Throop Loop.

Allen Throop Loop TrailEast toward the Coast Range.

We were too early for any wildflowers, especially this year with the lingering cold weather but we did spot some lupine leaves along the trail before we came to a bench at a junction with the Mulkey Ridge Trail.
Allen Throop Loop Trail

Bench along the Allen Throop Loop Trail

Mulkey Ridge Trail junction with the Allen Throop Loop TrailThis is the trail that connects Bald Hill with Fitton Green.

The trail made a slight climb from the bench arriving back at the Fitton Green North-South Trail less than a quarter mile later.
Allen Throop Loop TrailThe junction from the Throop Loop Trail.

We turned left and retraced our steps on the Fitton Green North-South Trail to its junction with Amy’s Trail where we turned left (West) dropping into a denser forest.
Map at Amy's Trail junction with the Fitton Green North-South TrailMap at the start of Amy’s Trail.

Amy's Trail

IMG_5492Gate at the Fitton Green-Crestmont Land Trust border.

Creek along Amy's TrailCreek along Amy’s Trail. With all the wet weather there was a fair amount of water in all the streams/creeks in the area.

After a third of a mile on Amy’s Trail we came to a junction with Creek Road.
Amy's Trail junction with Creek Road (straight)

We turned left crossing over the little unnamed creek to a T-junction near a picnic table. To the right was the Creek Trail while the Upper Forest Trail went left.
Creek in the Crestmont Land Trust

Picnic Table near the creekOn the hillside above the picnic table is the Creek Trail.

Our plan was to make as wide a loop as possible through this area so we went left following the Upper Forest Trail uphill.
Upper Forest Trail

Upper Forest TrailSwitchbacks along the Upper Forest Trail.

After a fairly stiff climb the Upper Forest Trail descended more gradually arriving at High Road 0.4-miles from the Picnic Table.
Upper Forest Trail

Upper Forest Trail junction with High RoadArriving at High Road.

According to the maps High Road continued to the left a short distance then became the Lookout Extension before dead ending in the forest. Something to check out on another trip. Today we turned right following this roadbed 100 yards before once again turning left, this time onto the Mid Forest Trail at a 4-way junction.
The Creek Trail arriving on the right along High Road and the Mid Forest Trail heading left behind the treeThe Mid Forest Trail is hidden behind the tree on the left. To the right is the Creek Trail while High Road continues straight ahead.

Another 0.4-mile descent brought us to a junction in an oak savannah with the Lower Forest Trail and Middle Road.
Mid Forest Trail

Moss covered tree holeLots of green moss along this trail.

Mid Forest TrailA little snow on the ridge in the distance.

Rabbit along the Mid Forest TrailRabbit that Heather spotted.

Mid Forest TrailThe junction was at the far end of this open space.

Stayed left at the junction on what was now the Lower Forest Trail which descended another quarter mile to Lower Meadow Road.
Lower Forest Trail arriving at Lower Meadow RoadThis was by far the most confusing junction we’d encountered all day. It was one of only a couple that was unsigned and none of the maps that we’d seen or had brought with us showed the road continuing to the left. Since we’d planned on staying left at all junctions except for at High Road we initially turned left here thinking it was the River Trail, but it just didn’t feel right so we turned to the Garmin which did show the road continuation. It didn’t look anything like the River Trail route so we promptly turned around and returned to the 4-way junction and took a left downhill through the meadow.
Lower Meadow at Crestmont Land TrustLower Meadow

The River Trail brought us to Marys River then turned north along the river for a 0.2-miles.
River TrailGate along the River Trail just before Marys River.

Marys RiverMarys River

Male common merganser floating Marys RiverMale common merganser floating Marys River. I only had a brief second to try and get a picture as he floated by thus the poor focus.

Marys RiverA short spur trail led down to the river bank.

We had spent all morning watching for wildflowers knowing that everything was running late this year but holding out hope that we’d spot an early bloomer. One of the first to bloom each year in the forests around the valley is snow queen and finally along the river here we spotted a few of the small purple flowers.
Snow queen

Snow queen

Snow queen

The River Trail veered away from Marys River and back into the meadow before ending at Lower Meadow Road. We turned right on the road which crossed an unnamed creek before meeting the Cardwell Hill Trail.
River Trail

MushroomsNot flowers but mushrooms are always fun to spot.

River Trail

Lower Meadow Road junction with the Cardwell Hill TrailLower Meadow Road crossing the creek and ending at the Cardwell Hill Trail.

We turned left onto the Cardwell Hill Trail. We had missed this 0.4-mile section which followed Marys River earlier when we’d turned up the North Trail.
Marys River along the Cardwell Hill Trail

Willamette and Pacific Railroad Trestle over Marys RiverThe short Trestle Extension led to a view of a railroad trestle over Marys River.

Cardwell Hill TrailThe signboards at the North Trail junction from the Cardwell Hill Trail.

RobinRobin near the North Trail junction.

We retraced our steps from the North Trail junction under the partly sunny skies that had been promised.
Cardwell Hill TrailNo more fog.

Today’s hike came in as 9.3 miles on the Garmin with approximately 1200′ of cumulative elevation gain.

While it hadn’t felt at all like Spring when we’d set off that morning by the end of the hike, and after seeing the snow queen blossoms, we could convince ourselves that it might not be too far off. The forecast had been spot on with the patchy fog giving way to partly sunny skies, and we did have two very light showers pass over while we were looping through the Crestmont Land Trust.

This was a nice hike and an area that we will definitely be back to. There are trails that we didn’t take this time to come back and explore and the possibility of longer or shorter loops make it an attractive option when we were looking for something open year-round and not too far home. Happy Trails!

Corvallis Hiking Oregon Willamette Valley

McDonald-Dunn Forest via Sulphur Springs – 10/02/2021

Sometimes the main purpose of a hike isn’t to see a sight but rather to step away from things and find a peaceful place in nature to reflect. My Grandmother turned 97 on 9/30/21, her last birthday after suffering a massive stroke just days earlier. We were able to drive up to her home in Portland on her birthday to visit and while she couldn’t speak she was able to respond and interact with her family that had gathered. We would be returning on Saturday afternoon to visit again when my Brother and his family arrived from Missouri but that morning we felt like getting outside and taking a nice long walk would be good. Since we were heading to Portland later we wanted a hike that was close to home to cut down on driving time so we decided to revisit the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest near Corvallis, OR.

This would be our fourth hike in McDonald Forest having previously hiked to McCulloch Peak (post), Dimple Hill (post) and Peavy Arboretum (post). Each of those three hike had been entirely unique with no steps retracing an earlier path. They had also mostly avoided the center and northwestern portions of the forest. For this hike we planned on visiting those two areas and had originally hoped to connect all three of our previous hikes. We were only able to connect two of the three though due to an active logging operation which closed a portion of the loop we’d planned.

We started our hike at a pullout by the Sulphur Springs Trail along Sulphur Springs Road.

We visited the springs first by following the Sulphur Springs Trail for a tenth of a mile.


IMG_5535Sulphur Springs

IMG_5536Soap Creek near Sulphur Springs.

We then returned to Sulphur Springs Road and turned left (west) following it for 0.4 miles through some residences to the Sulphur Springs Road Trailhead.
IMG_5539Sulphur Springs Road from the pullout.


IMG_5542Sulphur Springs Road Trailhead.

Our plan had been to combine a pair of hikes described in the field guide, the McCulloch Peak Loop Hike and the Sulphur Springs via Alpha Trail Hike by connecting them using the gravel roads in the forest.

We continued on Sulphur Springs Road (Road 700) past an orange gate to the left of the signboard.

Approximately 1.5 miles beyond the gate we came to an intersection below a clearcut where pointers in both directions were labeled McCulloch Peak.


We followed the Oregonhikers guide and went right on Road 760. We followed this road for 0.4 miles to an the unmarked, unofficial Rocky Road Trail.
IMG_5559We stayed right at this junction with Road 761.

IMG_5561The Rocky Road Trail.

The sheer number of roads and trails (both official and unofficial) makes it really easy to get turned around in the forest so having plenty of maps and a plan handy helps. Roads and trails come and go as the forest is used for research purposes by Oregon State University. The Rocky Road Trail is an unofficial trail that follows an old road bed half a mile uphill before rejoining Road 760.
IMG_5564A good sized cedar along the trail.


IMG_5570Road 760 ahead.

We turned left on Road 760 and followed it for another quarter mile to a junction with Road 700 where we again turned left. Road 700 followed a ridge briefly providing views of the surrounding area then wrapped around a hillside and arriving at a junction with Road 7040 which was the first familiar sight to us.


IMG_5580Interesting patchwork of trees. We would have liked to have been able to see when each section had been harvested and replanted.

IMG_5583We couldn’t see much to the east due to the Sun’s position.

IMG_5589Mary’s Peak (post)

IMG_5594Road 7040 on the left.

We had returned down Road 7040 as part of our previous hike to McCulloch Peak but now we stuck to Road 700 for another quarter mile to a 4-way junction where we turned right on Raod 790.
IMG_5598Pointer for McCulloch Peak at the junction. We had come up from Road 700 on the right.

IMG_5597The rest of the 4-way junction. After visiting the peak we would head downhill following the pointer for Oak Creek.

We followed Road 790 a half mile to its end at the peak.


It was just a little hazy to get much of a view from the peak so we headed back by following an unofficial trail down from the summit to a spur road not shown on the maps which connected to Road 790 a tenth of a mile from the summit.
IMG_5606Trail to the spur road.

At the 4-way junction we followed Road 700 downhill for a little over three quarters of a mile to a junction with Road 680.


IMG_5614Fading pearly everlasting.

IMG_5615We stayed left here which was the shorter route.


IMG_5619Tree island at the junction with Road 680.

We had originally planned on taking Road 680 from the junction but a short distance up that road there was an unofficial trail showing on the Oregonhikers Field Guide Map which looked like it would cut some distance off our hike. The trail was obvious and had even been recently brushed.

This trail began with a short climb then headed downhill reaching a junction with the Uproute and Extendo Trail near Road 680.



IMG_5629Nearing the trail junction.

IMG_5630Poison oak climbing trees.

IMG_5631Signs for the Uproute and Extendo Trails.

IMG_5633Road 680

We turned right onto Road 680 and followed it a half mile to a signboard at Road 600.





At this signboard was a notice that a portion of Road 600 was closed so we spent some time reviewing the map to come up with an alternate route.

We had planned on following Road 600 all the way to the Ridge Trail at Lewisberg Saddle which we had visited on our Peavy Arboretum hike but the closure was going to force us onto the Bombs Away Trail which would hook up with the Ridge Trail half a mile from Lewisberg Saddle. We didn’t feel like adding another mile to our hike so we would only be connecting two of our three previous hikes this time. We followed Road 600 uphill for a mile and a half to yet another 4-way junction.

IMG_5647A few larger trees in the forest.

IMG_5652A sea of green grass.


IMG_5654The 4-way junction.

We had been to this junction during our hike to Dimple Hill and hadn’t originally planned on making the 0.4 mile side trip to that viewpoint but with the upcoming detour and a couple of shortcuts we’d already taken we decided to revisit the hill. We turned right on Road 650.


After two tenths of a mile we left the road and followed a pointer for Upper Dan’s Trail.

IMG_5660Summit of Dimple Hill.


The view here was a bit better than it had been at McCulloch Peak. We could at least see Mary’s Peak by walking just a bit downhill.

IMG_5666Mary’s Peak

After a short break we followed Road 650 back to the 4-way junction and turned right back onto Road 600. Three quarters of a mile later we arrived at the closure. Along the way the road passed through a clearcut where we could just make out the tops of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters.
IMG_5673Approaching the junction on Road 650.



IMG_5684Mt. Hood

IMG_5680Mt. Jefferson

IMG_5687The Three Sisters


We made a hairpin turn at the closure onto the unsigned High Horse Trail.

Things got a little confusing at this point. The maps on the signboards (we had taken photos with our phones) showed the Bombs Away Trail as a planned trail for 2020. From the placement on the map it appeared that it split off of the High Horse Trail very close to Road 600 but we wound up climbing a series of switchbacks for half a mile before arriving at an unsigned 4-way junction.

IMG_5697The High Horse Trail and another trail heading uphill at the 4-way junction.

IMG_5698What we assume is the Bombs Away Trail on the left and the High Horse Trail on the right at the 4-way junction.

We took the first trail on the right since it was headed in the correct direction hoping it was indeed the Bombs Away Trail. What we found was a braided mess of trails coming and going on each side. We relied on our GPS to make sure we stayed headed in the right direction and after a confusing 0.6 miles we arrived at Road 640.


IMG_5706Left or right? More often than not both ended up in the same spot.

IMG_5709Road 640

The trail continued on the far side of the road. This stretch was more straight forward ending at Road 620 after 0.4 miles.



On the far side of Road 620 we found the Ridge Trail which we followed for a tenth of a mile to a junction with the Alpha Trail.

IMG_5721Junction with the Alpha Trail.

We turned left here onto the Alpha Trail.

After 0.4 mile the Alpha Trail dropped us out onto Road 810 which we followed downhill 0.6 miles to Road 800.


IMG_5730Looking back at the Alpha Trail from Road 810.



IMG_5735Road 800 below Road 810.

We turned left on Road 800 for three tenths of mile then turned right onto the Baker Creek Trail.

IMG_5739Baker Creek Trail ahead on the right.

The Baker Creek Trail followed Baker Creek (heard but not seen) for two tenths of mile before crossing Soap Creek on a 1923 Pony Truss Bridge.




The Baker Creek Trailhead was just on the other side of the bridge as was Sulphur Springs Road. We turned left and walked 100 yards up the road back to our car.

Our 13.1 mile hike with approx 2800′ of elevation gain.

After a brief stop at home to clean up we headed to Portland to say our last goodbyes to Grandma. She always enjoyed hearing about our hikes and looking at the pictures, and she eagerly anticipated the calendar we made each year with them. She passed the following Monday night and is with the Lord now. We’ll think of her often when we’re out exploring. Happy Trails Grandma!

Flickr: McDonald Forest via Sulphur Springs

Corvallis Hiking Oregon Trip report Willamette Valley

Peavy Arboretum – McDonald Forest

We are in the middle of an extremely mild winter. Aside from some freezing rain on Christmas Weekend we’ve experienced no other snow or icy conditions. That of course changed when we decided that we would take our February hike on Presidents Day. After making that decision the weather forecast immediately called for a snow event that same weekend with Sunday night expected to be the worst of it. After double checking the forecast Saturday afternoon we moved our hike up by one day and changed destinations to something closer to Salem, the McDonald Forest. The forest has become our go to destination in inclement weather having visited McCulloch (post) Peak in October 2016 and Dimple Hill (post) in December of that same year.

For this visit we chose the trails around the Peavy Arboretum. The arboretum is located at the northwestern end of the forest and can be reached by driving Highway 99W north of Corvallis 5 miles and turning left on Arboretum Road for .8 miles to the Peavy Arboretum entrance sign on the right. There are several potential parking areas to choose from and we stayed to the left at forks for .3 miles to a trailhead sign where the road ahead was gated.
Peavy Arboretum Trailhead

John H. Beuter Road

After picking up a trail map we headed up John H. Beuter Road for .3 miles to the OSU Forestry Club Cabin.
OSU Forestry Club Cabin

We turned left onto the Section 36 Loop Trail at the start of the lawn and crossed a small stream on a footbridge.
Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

We had woken up to a small amount of snow and as we gained a little elevation on the trail, we began to encounter some on the vegetation. It was a strange mix of Winter and Spring as some of plants were starting to blossom.
Spring blossoms with a dusting of snow on the leaves behind

The trail continued to climb through a foggy forest and past benches to more and more snow covered ground.
Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

Snowy hillside

Snow along the Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

We stuck to the Section 36 Loop ignoring side trails for 1.4 miles. Then we came to a T-shaped junction with the Powder House Trail where we turned left.
Powder House Trail

About a quarter mile from the junction the Powder House Trail crossed a series of three gravel roads. We had been planning to turn left on the first road (Road 500) and follow it to the Vineyard Mountain Trail and down to a trailhead at Lewisburg Saddle where we would then take a different series of trails and one of the other roads (Road 580) back up to the Powder House Trail. On the far side of Road 500 was a cougar sighting warning.
Cougar warning along the Powder House Trail

We were so distracted by the sign and our conversation that we forgot to turn onto the road. It wasn’t until we were about to cross the third road and we were looking at the map that it dawned on us that we should have turned left back on the first road.
Powder House Trail

Fortunately we had only passed Road 500 by a tenth of a mile so we backtracked and turned right onto the road.
Road 500

We didn’t see any cougars but we did see a whole bunch of juncos.
Junco invasion

We followed Road 500 for just over a mile and a half to a junction at a saddle.
Road 500

Here the Vineyard Mountain Trail began at a signpost.
Vineyard Mountain Trail

This trail climbed for .4 miles to a point near the some towers at the summit of Vineyard Mountain.
Radio tower on Vineyard Mountain

Vineyard Mountain

The trail then began descending along the southern ridge of Vineyard Mountain.
Vineyard Mountain Trail

Vineyard Mountain Trail

Just under a mile and a half from the summit we arrived at the Lewisburg Saddle Trailhead.

Here we briefly followed William A. Davies Road aka Road 580 before turning left onto the unsigned New Growth Trail.
New Growth Trail

An interpretive sign a little ways down the trail let us know that we were on the right path.
New Growth Trail Sign

The New Growth Trail lost enough elevation that we were soon on a snow free trail. Although snow melting from the tops of the trees made the stretch somewhat wet.
New Growth Trail

New Growth Trail

After a half mile we arrived at a junction. Here the half mile Old Growth Trail lay straight ahead or for a short loop back to the Lewisburg Saddle TH the right fork led back uphill to Road 580.
Old Growth Trail junction with the New Growth Trail

We took the Old Growth Trail which led us back into the snow.
Footbridge along the Old Growth Trail

The Old Growth Trail ended further up along Road 580 where we turned left and continued uphill.
Road 580

And into a decent snow flurry.
Snowing on Road 580

There had been a couple of quick breaks in the clouds earlier in the day but after this snow flurry passed the largest patch of blue sky yet appeared.
View from Road 580

View from Road 580

It just so happened that the section of Road 580 that we were on at the time passed by a clearcut which allowed us a nice view across the valley to peaks on the other side of the McDonald Forest.
View from Road 580

View from Road 580

The road then passed through a brief stand of remaining trees before entering another clearcut where the views had mostly disappeared.
View from Road 580

Approximately 2.5 miles from the end of the Old Growth Trail we arrived back at the Powder House Trail where we turned left.
Powder House Trail

This time we crossed the third road and headed uphill through a clearcut to a bench where we imagined the views would be pretty good on a clearer day.
Powder House Trail

Snow covered bench along the Powder House Trail

View from the snowy bench

The trail then curved back downhill to the Cap House where the Civilian Conservation Corps had once stored blasting caps.
Cap House

Interpretive sign at the Cap House

The trail continued to the right of the Cap House and descended a short distance to rejoin the Section 36 Loop Trail. Along the way we encountered several snow queen plants in bloom.
Snowy snow queen

Powder House Trail

We turned left onto the Section 36 Loop.
Powder House Trail junction with the Section 36 Loop Trail

The trail gradually descended as it passed through the forest for almost a mile to Cronemiller Lake.
Section 36 Loop Trail

Signs for the George W. Brown Sports Arena

Cronemiller Lake

Cronemiller Lake

We followed the lake shore all the way around to the right until we reached the signed Calloway Creek Trail.
Calloway Creek Trail

Closed from April to November to bike traffic we followed the Calloway Creek Trail a total of 2.5 miles staying left at most junctions except for the signed trail to Road 547 where we stayed right.
Calloway Creek Trail

Calloway Creek Trail

The trail crossed Calloway Creek twice and passed a small meadow with a bench.
Calloway Creek

Calloway Creek Trail

After the 2.5 miles we turned left onto the Intensive Management Trail.
Calloway Creek Trail junction with the Intesive Management Trail

At the next junction was a signboard map which could have been a little more descriptive.
Trail sign along the Intesive Management Trail

We stuck to this trail following pointers for the Arboretum Parking to a different parking lot a tenth of a mile from where we had started.
Intesive Management Trail

From here we took the .1 mile Firefighters Memorial Trail past a nice shelter and back to our car.
Firefighter Memorial Trail

Shelter along the Firefighter Memorial Trail

The hike turned out to be an approximately 14 mile loop with around 2000′ of elevation gain. A little more than we had planned for the day but a nice hike none the less. Alternating between being above and below the snow line added to the variety of the hike. It had turned out to be a good choice and another fun hike in the McDonald Forest. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Peavy Arboretum

Corvallis Hiking Oregon Trip report Willamette Valley

Chip Ross Park and Dimple Hill

A week of snow and icy conditions had kept us indoors much of the week so when the forecast for Sunday looked promising we decided to cash in our December hike and make the short drive down to Chip Ross Park in Corvallis.  The park offers a 1.5 mile loop trail as well as access to the more extensive trail network in Oregon State University’s McDonald-Dunn Research Forest.

It was a foggy morning when we arrived at the parking area at the end of Lester Rd.
Chip Ross Park Trailhead

Chip Ross Park had been closed part of the year as the City of Corvallis attempts to restore the area to it’s natural oak habitat. Many trees have been removed and some of the trails closed or rerouted. A small section of the loop remains closed but should be reopened in early 2017.
Chip Ross Park

We headed left along a wide tract passing many piles of debris left over from the tree removal.
Chip Ross Park<

After a quick half mile climb we arrived at a signboard and trail map for the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest.
Infromational signboard for McDonald-Dunn Research Forest

McDonald-Dunn Research Forest Trail Map

We had visited the forest in October when we hiked to the summit of McCulloch Peak and really enjoyed that hike so we were looking forward to checking out some of the other trails.

We set off on Lower Dan’s Trail following it through the forest just under a mile to a road crossing.
Lower Dan's Trail

Lower Dan's Trail

Road crossing of Lower Dan's Trail

We then took Upper Dan’s Trail which began on the far side of the road.
Upper Dan's Trail

This trail crossed Jackson Creek on a footbridge before climbing up toward the summit of Dimple Hill.
Upper Dan's Trail

Upper Dan's Trail

Junctions along the way were well signed making it fairly easy to stay on track.
Upper Dan's Trail

Trail map in the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest

As we followed Upper Dan’s Trail to the 1493′ summit of Dimple Hill we began to catch some glimpses of blue sky above the fog.
Blue sky above the trees

McDonald-Dunn Research Forest

Approximately 2.5 miles from the road crossing we arrived at the summit of Dimple Hill.
Dimple Hill summit

The summit was above the clouds and we had a great view of Mary’s Peak to the south.
Clouds below Dimple Hill

Mary's Peak from Dimple Hill

Mary's Peak from Dimple Hill

Mary's Peak from Dimple Hill

We took a short rest on the summit bench soaking in the sunshine before continuing on.
Bench on Dimple Hill

Trees on Dimple Hill

Frozen grass on Dimple Hill

We took Road 650 down and around the NE side of Dimple Hill where we found quite a bit more snow than there had been at the summit.
Looking west from Dimple Hill

Snowy trees on Dimple Hill

The combination of snow, fog, and sunlight created some beautiful scenery.
Sunlight in the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest

McDonald-Dunn Research Forest

At a fork in the road we headed right on Road 600 a.k.a. Patterson Road.
Road junction in McDonald-Dunn Research Forest

After about three quarters of a mile on Patterson Road we turned downhill on the Upper Horse Trail
Upper Horse Trail

This trail switchbacked downhill eventually reentering the fog.
Upper Horse Trail

At another junction we followed a pointer for the Lower Horse Trail.
Lower Horse Trail

We continued to follow pointers for the Lower Horse Trail passing a private residence in a meadow before turning right briefly on the road to that house.
Lower Horse Trail

Meadow along the Lower Horse Trail

Short road walk along the Lower Horse Trail

We forked left on this road which crossed Jackson Creek before leading us back to Lower Dan’s Trail at the road crossing. We then headed back to Chip Ross Park where we checked out it’s summit benches which were still in heavy fog.
Bench in Chip Ross Park

Bench in Chip Ross Park

The total hike was 9.1 miles with approximately 1650′ elevation gain. The view on Dimple Hill was wonderful and just what the doctor had ordered after the spell of bad weather we’d had. For what was possibly our final hike of 2016 it was a great way to end the year. Happy Trails!


Corvallis Hiking Oregon Trip report Willamette Valley

Bald Hill & McCulloch Peak

Our latest outing took us to the Bald Hill Natural area and the McDonald Dunn Forest. (Hike #48 in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” 4th edition.) This pair of hikes near Corvallis, OR was a recent substitution in our hiking schedule. We were looking for a hike closer to home for the day after attending the homecoming game at my alma mater – Western Oregon University (It was Western Oregon State College back in my day) with my college roommate and his family. My roommate Tim and his wife Erin had already been dating when Heather and I began seeing each other so the four of us had spent quite a bit of time together in those days. We spent all day Saturday reminiscing starting with an alumni breakfast and ending with dinner at Mendi’s Pizza.

We were able to sleep in a little on the day of the hike since the drive was just under an hour and it hadn’t been getting light out until almost 7:30am. We took Highway 99W to Corvallis then turned right (west) onto NW Walnut Blvd for 4.3 miles to NW Oak Creek Drive where we once again turned right. Both of the days trailheads were located along this road and we hadn’t yet decided which we were going to start with. We had been waiting to see what the weather was like. It had been extremely foggy the prior morning and we didn’t want to head up Bald Hill (the shorter of the two hikes) if there was no visibility because the guidebook indicated that it had the better views. The forecast for the day called for patchy morning fog and a 20% chance of showers before 11am, but as we neared the Bald Hill Natural Area .8 miles along NW Oak Creek Dr. there was no fog just some higher clouds so we pulled into the already busy parking lot.

The majority of cars seemed to belong to runners and the rest dog owners. The area offers numerous trails, some paved and some not, as well as an off leash dog area. It reminded us a bit of Minto-Brown Island Park in Salem except there were hills instead of a river.

We set off from the parking area crossing Oak Creek on a footbridge and heading straight out a wide paved path.


As the path began to curve through the wetlands Bald Hill came into view.

The route suggested by Sullivan turns right off the paved path after a half mile passing an old barn on the right. We wound up turning right one path too soon though and found ourselves passing through a field with the barn up on a hill to our left.


We followed a faint path up through the field to the barn where we picked up the correct trail.



With the aid of trail maps at junctions we were able to stay on Sullivan’s route climbing .8 miles to the summit of Bald Hill.



For a cloudy day the view was very nice. The first of two benches on the hill overlooked the southern end of Corvallis where trees blazed with fall colors amid the houses.


Various fruit trees lined the trail at the summit drawing birds to the area.



The second bench looked to the SW towards Mary’s Peak which was mostly hidden by clouds.


After passing the second bench we continued on our loop 1.9 miles passing farmland and more birds on the way back to the parking lot.

Northern Flicker





The loop was 3.3 miles which was a nice warm up for our next stop which was to be a 9.5 mile loop in the McDonald Dunn Forest with a stop atop 2154′ McCulloch Peak. From the Bald Hill parking lot we continued west on NW Oak Creek Drive following it to the right at a fork after 1.1 miles and continuing to a parking area at the roads






















gated end. The McDonald-Dunn Research Forest consists of approximately 11,250 acres largely used by Oregon State University for instruction and research. Various trails and roads are open to hikers, bikers, and equestrians although occasional closures do occur due to forestry activities. Despite having checked the forest website the night before we noticed a sign at the trailhead stating that our planned return route (Road 770) was currently closed due to a timber harvest. The route up to McCulloch Peak was open though and there appeared to be a couple of other ways to return using different roads and/or trails so we sallied forth.


We followed Patterson Road from the gate just over half a mile to a junction with road 6020.

Near the junction was the beginning of the Extendo Trail.

The Extendo Trail is open to Bikes, horses, and hikers from April through October and then to hikers only from November through March. We followed this trail across Oak Creek and then uphill for almost 1.5 miles. Fall was on full display in the forest along the trial with colorful leaves and plenty of mushrooms to be seen.







Some of that fall color was attributable to poison oak which we were keeping a close eye out for.


The Extendo Trail ended at a 4-way junction. To the left was the Uproute Trail which headed back downhill to Road 6020. An unofficial (illegal) path continued straight uphill and to the right was gravel Road 680 and a pointer for McCulloch Peak.

We followed road 680 uphill to a clearcut saddle with an interpretive sign and a bit of a view to the NW.




Beyond the saddle Road 680 came to an end at Road 700 where we followed another pointer for McCulloch Peak.

Just before reaching the junction with Road 770 we got a clear look at our destination, McCulloch Peak.

We passed closed road 770 1.1 miles from the Extendo Trail.


We passed several roads sticking to Road 700 until we reached Road 790 which was also signed Marvin L. Rowley Road (named after the former Forest Manager).

We reached the summit a little over a mile from Road 770 where a small bench awaited.

Although it wasn’t wide, the view was nice enough.



After a brief break we headed back downhill. Since our planned return route was closed we decided to look at the map and see what other options we had. First we turned left when we got back to Road 700 following it for a quarter mile to Road 740 which looped around a small knoll before rejoining Road 700 after another quarter mile. Near the end of Road 740 we passed a stump covered with Chicken of the Woods mushrooms.



We then retraced our path down Road 700 to Road 680. At the clearcut viewpoint on Road 680 we spotted a faint Mt. Jefferson against the clouds.


We had a choice when we reached the junction with the Extendo and Uproute Trails. We could return on either of those trails or stay on Road 680 and follow it down to Patterson Road. We decided on following the road which swung out to the west for .6 miles to Patterson Road just over a mile from where we had turned off it earlier to take to Extendo Trail uphill. It was a pleasant walk through the woods back to the trailhead.

The hike wound up being a little over 9 miles giving us a total of 12.4 miles for the day. The trails (and roads) in both of the areas were in excellent shape and the number of options and year round accessibility makes them nice options anytime of the year. They will be on our list of nearby alternatives when we want to get outside but don’t want (or can’t get) too far from home.

Happy Trails!