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Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Lincoln City Parks – 01/01/2023

It has been a couple of years since we kicked off a new year with a hike but January 1st, 2023 was forecast to be a lone dry day in the foreseeable future. Not only was the day supposed to be rain free, it was also going to be at least partly sunny. While Heather works back from her injury we are targeting shorter hikes that don’t involve too much elevation gain. Specifically looking for hikes that fit these criteria has led us to some hikes that we might have otherwise overlooked. We discovered several such trails in Lincoln City.

I put together a plan to visit five of the city’s open space areas over the course of four stops. The four stops would be just under six and a half miles with approximately 800′ of cumulative elevation gain. Following the hikes our plan was to have lunch at the newly opened Pelican Brewing Siletz Bay Brewpub.

Since the brewpub is located just south of Lincoln City we planned to start at the northern most trailhead and worked our way south. This meant that the Friends of Wildwoods Trailhead. The hike here was supposed to be a 1 mile out-and-back with a short side spur to a platform overlooking a swamp.
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We somehow managed to turn it into a 1.5-mile hike including a loop that isn’t shown on any maps. It’s worth noting that in all of these open space areas we visited on this day there were multiple use trails leading off in different directions. We used our GPS a surprising number of times throughout the day. One nice feature was that there were QR codes available at the trailheads which accessed maps for our phones. Even so we somehow managed to not find the viewing platform but instead wound up overlooking the wetlands from a different spot.
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IMG_5056Junction with the spur Wetlands Trail. The larger sign on the left is a Trail Challenge sign. We would see several more over the course of the day. The challenge, we learned later, is to visit all eight of the Open Spaces.

IMG_5058End of the trail at East Tide Ave.

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IMG_5067The wetlands.

We may have overlooked the trail down to the platform due to debris left over from a big storm the week before which packed wind gusts over 70 mph. We had been prepared for the possibility that some of the trail might be inaccessible due to damage but overall they were in good shape.

After finishing our hike we hopped in the car and drove less than a mile south to our second stop at Regatta Park.
IMG_5095Devil’s Lake from Regatta Park.

From this trailhead we would visit two open spaces, Regatta and Spring Lake. Before hitting the trails though we walked down to the shore of Devil’s Lake to get a closer look.
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From the lake we walked back uphill across the parking lot to a large Nature Trail sign.
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Once again the plethora of trails got the best of us and our route through the Regatta Open Space was not how we’d meant to do it, but we managed to see what we had wanted to.
IMG_5100Pointer for a heritage tree.

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Sitka Spruce. This approximately 400-year-old Oregon Heritage Tree is 212′ tall with a 32 1/2′ diameter.

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IMG_5107Another Trail Challenge sign.

After looping through the Regatta Open Space we walked uphill out of the park to West Devil’s Lake Road where we turned left for 400′ to a trail on the far side of the road.
IMG_5109Heading out of Regatta Park

IMG_5110Neat dragon sculpture.

IMG_5113West Devil’s Lake Road. The trail is ahead on the right just beyond the driveway on that side.

IMG_5114There was no sign along the road but there was a trail marker just uphill.

This was the Spring Lake Trail which made a short steep climb to a ridge top.
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IMG_5118The trail briefly leveled out atop the ridge before diving down the other side.

The area around Spring Lake was by far the most confusing of the day with numerous trails crisscrossing and intersecting seemingly every few feet. We used the GPS quite a bit here as we made our way counterclockwise around the lake.
IMG_5120This junction is where our loop began and ended.

IMG_5122Another fork just beyond the one in the previous photo.

IMG_5125Footbridge over the northern arm of the lake.

IMG_5127Spring Lake from the footbridge.

IMG_5131Found another one.

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IMG_5137Small trailhead at 14th Street.

IMG_5139Spring Lake from the 14th Street Trailhead.

IMG_5140We had to walk a few feet along 14th Street to find the trail on the east side of the lake.

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IMG_5143Approaching the junction at the end of our loop.

After completing the loop around the lake we returned to our car and drove another 2.7 miles south to the Agness Creek Open Space.

There are two trailheads here, a north and a south, separated by 200′. We parked at the South Agness Creek Trailhead and started with the 0.3-mile loop there.
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IMG_5154This forested loop was full of bright green mossed covered ground.

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After completing the loop we took a connector trail between the two trailheads to reach the North Agness Creek Trailhead.
IMG_5163The connector trail at the south trailhead.

IMG_5166Two short out-and-back trails begin at the north trailhead. We started with the left hand trail.

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IMG_5172The left hand spur abruptly ends on a ridge above what we assume was Agness Creek although we couldn’t really make out an actual creek.

IMG_5174Agness Creek?

We returned to the trailhead and took the right hand fork which led a third of a mile to SW 19th Street.
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IMG_5184Approaching SW 19th Street.

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After reaching the neighborhood at the end of this trail we returned to the south trailhead and drove 1.8 miles to our final stop at the Spyglass Open Space.
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Sticking with the theme for the day we got turned around a bit here as well and instead of doing a 1.4-mile loop around the perimeter we followed an old roadbed directly up the middle of the open space. We had planned on doing a counterclockwise loop but didn’t see the trail we actually wanted which was right next to a chain link fence.
IMG_5188This should have been the end of our loop, not the beginning. Had we realized we weren’t on the perimeter trail we would have taken the first left hand trail which would have allowed us to do our planned loop in reverse (clockwise). Instead we headed straight up the ridge.

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IMG_5193The Trail Challenge sign here was located at a second junction, near the ridge top. A short distance beyond was another junction with an unsigned trail veering off to the right. We still hadn’t figured out our mistake and thought that the right hand trail was a spur trail shown on the map leading to a neighborhood so we went left.

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The trail never quite reached the ridge top as it veered left in the forest below.
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I scrambled up one of several use trails to see what kind of a view the ridge offered.
IMG_5197A lot of clearcuts is what I could see.

When the trail made a sharp turn left and suddenly headed downhill we began to realize that we hadn’t been where we thought we were. We pulled up the map and GPS track and began comparing and figured out what we’d done. We weren’t sure where we had missed the right turn at the beginning of the hike though. When we reached another split in the trail we went left, leaving the perimeter to cut back uphill to the junction at the Trail Challenge sign.
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We turned left at the junction and then took the right hand spur that we’d mistook for the spur to the neighborhood. We followed this trail uphill, encountering our first and only downed tree for the day, to a junction with the actual spur. This section was fainter and a little harder to follow but we stayed left along the ridge as much as possible.
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IMG_5212We were really surprised that this was the only real obstacle we encountered all day given the recent storm.

IMG_5215An example of the fainter tread along this section.

IMG_5218The spur to the left led to a neighborhood so we turned right.

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IMG_5221The trail arriving at the trailhead entrance road. The chain link fence at Taft High is on the left.

Our hike here was just over 1.5-miles long with a little over 300′ of elevation gain which was the most of the fours stops. We changed at the car and drove on to the Pelican Brewery arriving just before they opened at Noon. We watched the birds in Siletz Bay while we waited for the restaurant to open then enjoyed a great lunch before heading home.
IMG_5222Siletz Bay from the brewpub.

IMG_5225A gull and an egret.

Once we were home we did a little research on the Trail Challenge which is when we learned that the challenge involves eight open spaces. The five we visited on this day plus The Knoll which we had visited back in 2020 (post), Cutler Wetlands, and Nesika Park. It looks like we have a couple of reasons to head back to Lincoln City (and the Pelican Brewpub) sometime soon. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Lincoln City Parks

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High Cascades Hiking Oregon Three Sisters Area Throwback Thursday Trip report

Throwback Thursday – Horse Lake

We are throwing back once again to our August 2011 vacation in Central Oregon.  On 8/4/11, the day after our mosquito infested attempted hike at Benson Lake, we were headed back out to another lake. We had originally planned on visiting the Green Lakes but after reading the snow report and our experience on the previous day we turned our attention to Horse Lake instead.  Although the elevation for the Horse Lake hike was only slightly lower than that of the Benson Lake Trail it’s location on the east side of the Cascade Crest meant less snow.

The trailhead is located across the Cascade Lakes Highway from the Elk Lake Resort just under 33 miles from Bend. On the drive that morning from Bend we spotted a number of deer in a meadow along the highway near Sparks Lake. Broken Top rose behind the trees completing an amazing scene.
Deer in a meadow below Broken Top

Deer in a meadow below Broken Top

Mule Deer

On the south side of the highway Mt. Bachelor loomed over the meadows around Sparks Lake where the heads of canada geese popped up out of the grasses.
Mt. Bachelor

Canada Geese

After enjoying the impromptu wildlife show we continued to the trailhead where we set off on the Horse Lake Trail.
Horse Lake Trail sign

Horse Lake Trail

The trail passed through a nice forest gaining 300′ in just under a mile and a half to a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail then lost 350′ over the next 2 miles to another trail junction near Horse Lake. We were not able to take many pictures along this first portion of the hike. Although there was much less snow along this trail there were just as many mosquitoes. Their high pitched whinny buzz was an ever present annoyance, and after Heather’s experience of having one fly into her eye neither of us wanted them anywhere near our heads. We hurried along and came upon a pair of Forest Service employees doing some trail maintenance decked out in mosquito netting. We paused for just a second and they asked us how we were able to deal with the bugs to which we answered that we were covered in Deet and moving as quickly as possible.
Snow on the Horse Lake Trail

Horse Lake Trail

At the junction near Horse Lake the lake was not readily visible. We turned right watching for the lake on our left following a boot path to the water after we spotted it.
Horse Lake

Thankfully the mosquitoes were not nearly as bad at the lake and we were able to take our time and enjoy it. Mt. Bachelor was visible from the NW side of the lake.
Mt. Bachelor from Horse Lake

We followed a fisherman’s path around the lake which brought us to a rocky peninsula with a view of the South Sister as well.
Horse Lake

We spent some time on the peninsula eating lunch and watching fish swim by.
Me. Bachelor form the Horse Lake peninsula

Island in Horse Lake

Horse Lake

Trout in Horse Lake

After lunch we finished going around the lake turning left on a good trail past some nice meadows.
Horse Creek

Meadow near Horse Lake

We quickly came to another trail junction and turned right following a sign for Dumbbell Lake. About a quarter mile later we came to yet another junction. This time we did not follow the pointer for Dumbbell Lake which was to our right but instead stayed straight following a pointer fro Sunset Lake. A short distance from this junction an unmarked path to the left led to little Colt Lake.
Colt Lake

We had found the mosquitoes again so we stopped at Colt Lake just long enough to get a picture then hurried on. Sunset Lake was off the trail to our right and once again we were not able to stop for long.
Sunset Lake

Beyond Sunset Lake the trail passed several (mosquito producing) ponds before joining the Pacific Crest Trail.
Unnamed snowmelt lake

We turned left on the PCT for just over a mile to a trail junction where we followed a point for the Elk Lake Trailhead. Just before the junction the PCT entered a burn area where the mosquitoes once again relented. We were able to enjoy the mountain views as we passed through the burn which took up the majority of the final mile of trail back to the trailhead.
Mt. Bachelor

Trail sign for the Elk Lake Trailhead

South Sister and Broken Top

Mt. Bachelor

Middle and South Sister

We made two stops on the way back to my parents house. The first was along the Cascade Lakes Highway near Devils Lake to look at its spectacularly green water
Devil's Lake

The second was at REI to by Heather a mosquito head net. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Horse Lake

Categories
High Cascades Hiking Oregon Three Sisters Area Trip report

South Sister & Moraine Lake

After a great hike along Tam McArthur Rim it was finally time to tackle the South Sister. At 10,358′ the South Sister is the third highest peak in Oregon behind only Mt. Hood (11,235′) & Mt. Jefferson (10,497′) and the only one of the three that doesn’t require technical climbing skills. We had tried to do this hike a couple of times in 2012, but the Pole Creek fire in the Three Sisters Wilderness kept us from being able to do it. We had been looking forward to this hike all year and most of our earlier hikes were chosen in part to help us prepare for the demands of the climb.

We knew this was a popular weekend for a popular hike so we expected a large crowd would be joining us so we got to the trial head at Devils Lake early and were ready to go just as the Sun began to rise.

South Sister's summit from the trail head parking lot.
South Sister’s summit from the trail head parking lot.

There was just enough light for us to not need to use our headlamps as we set off across Tyee Creek and the Cascade Lakes highway and entered the Three Sisters Wilderness.

Entering the wilderness.
Entering the wilderness.

The first mile and a half of the trail climbs through the forest in a narrow valley before cresting on a large plateau. Brief views behind us revealed Diamond Peak, Mt. Bachelor and distant Mt. Thielsen but it wasn’t until we reached the plateau that we could see our target, the South Sister.
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Travelling along the plateau was an easy walk with gentle rolling hills and mountains on three sides. The South Sister loomed ahead while Mt. Bachelor sat behind and Broken Top welcomed the rising Sun to our right.
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After nearly 3/4 of a mile we spotted Moraine Lake in a sandy bowl below us to the right. A trail joined here and we decided that we would head down there on the way back if we felt up to it. To our left a large lava flow covered a portion of the plateau.

The first 1.8 miles along the plateau had only gained 500′ of elevation putting us at 7200′ when the trail began to climb with a purpose. We were 2.2 miles from the summit and still over 3000′ below it. Not only did that mean a steep trail but the trail consisted of sand and loose rocks making footing challenging. To add to the challenge was the clear view to the top reminding us of just how much further we had to go :).

Looking up the South Sister
Looking up the South Sister

The first section of steep climbing was amid larger gray rocks. There seemed to be an endless number of possible routes braided among these rocks, but sticks and rock cairns marked the correct path. A ridge blocked the view to the east, but to the south the Cascade range was unfolding and lakes dotted the forest. To the west the Willamette Forest stretched beyond the lava mesa.
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The first section ended atop a sandy saddle at the base of the Lewis Glacier. Below the saddle was Lewis Tarn, a pretty glacier melt lake. I had arrived at the saddle before Heather so I headed down to the lake to get a couple of pictures and feel the water (yes it was cold).
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Broken Top was now visible to the east as we sat at the saddle to take a break and get some food before the final ascent.

The rock composition changed here and now we were traveling along a red cinder ridge between the Lewis & Clark Glaciers. The Lewis Glacier had some interesting crevasses.
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The trail was just a little steep here, but the footing was better making this section a little easier than below the saddle. The views were also even more spectacular as we were now looking down across the Lewis Glacier all the way to the peaks surrounding Crater Lake to the south.
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Upon reaching the lop of South Sister’s rim a vast snowfield filled the crater on top of the mountain.
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Across the snowfield was the high point and actual summit of the South Sister. Even though it wasn’t a perfectly clear day, where a view of Mt. Shasta would have been possible, we could see all the way to the tip of Mt. McLoughlin in southern Oregon. In addition to the over half dozen mountain peaks to the south many lakes were clearly visible dotting the forest.
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The trail continued around the rim to the right on it’s way to the summit. Along the way views to the east improved revealing the Green Lakes below the Prouty Glacier between Broken Top and the South Sister, Paulina Peak to the SE, and Tam McArthur Rim where we had hiked the day before. The best views still lay ahead though.
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As we continued around the rim we toward the north side of the mountain the most dramatic views began to unfold. Lined up was a parade of Cascade peaks, the Middle & North Sister, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams. Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams were only barely visible even with binoculars due to haze but they were there like ghosts on the horizon. Below the South Sister lay the Chambers Lakes in a multitude of colors, from brown Carver Lake to blue Camp Lake like an artists palette.
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Several of the Chambers Lakes
Several of the Chambers Lakes

We’d finally reached the summit!

Heather at the summit
Heather at the summit
My summit pic
My summit pic

We decided to try and continue around on the rim loop after noticing what appeared to be a well worn path. Mt. Washington was hiding behind the Middle Sister and I thought we might be able to find the missing mountain from the western edge of the rim. The path turned out to be much less of a trail and more of a scramble as we climbed over rock piles along the edge of the mountain. A strong wind was blowing across the snowfield making us feel like we could be blown right off the edge. We did manage to get a glimpse of Mt. Washington’s spire over the shoulder of the Middle Sister and got views of of the Lost Creek and Eugene Glaciers as well as several creeks and lakes below the Husband, but I don’t know that I would take that portion of trail again.

Mt. Washington over the left shoulder & Three Fingered Jack over the right of Middle Sister
Mt. Washington over the left shoulder & Three Fingered Jack over the right of Middle Sister
Lost Creek Glacier and the Husband
Lost Creek Glacier and the Husband

After a short stint on the snowfield below we managed to complete the rim loop and arrived back at the climber trail which had become much more crowded. A line of hikers could be seen making their way up as some of the early hikers were making their way back down.
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Surprisingly the descent was much easier than we had anticipated. Despite the numbers heading up there was plenty of room on the braided paths and the deep loose sand helped keep the descent under control. The views were just as impressive going this direction. In fact Broken Top looked even better now that the Sun had risen over head bringing out the colors of the old volcano. On the way down we got a little separated. Heather ended up falling in with two young ladies that shared a similar pace. They quickly formed a trail bond looking out for each other. In her shyness, Heather failed to introduce herself or get their names, but she was very thankful for their company and the feeling of camaraderie. It was nice for her to enjoy the company of women on the trail for a change, even if it was only for a short time.
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When we reached the junction for the trail down to Moraine Lake we decided to head down. I blame the lack of oxygen for that decision. Actually the lake was lovely and only added about 3/4 of a mile and 500′ of additional elevation gain. We sat at the edge of the lake across from the South Sister and had another snack. I think we both would have been happy to stay there, but we would have gotten a little cold that night.
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We pulled ourselves away from the peaceful lake shore and returned to the climber trail via a trail that had come to the lake from Green Lakes and continued on to Wickiup Plain. The intersection was very close to where the climbers trail first crested the plateau so we were quickly back in the forest heading down the final 1.5 miles back to the trail head. Now that it was light we could see this portion of the trail much better. A nice creek ran beside the lower portion of the trail and we spotted some aster blooming in a meadow along side it. After crossing the highway we reached the bridge over Tyee Creek which was lovely.
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Then we were back at the large parking area where we had started. It had been a beautiful day, and we really couldn’t have asked for any more out of this hike. We got one last look at the South Sister before loading up the car and heading back into Bend.

Parting shot of the South Sister
Parting shot of the South Sister

Happy Trails!

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/deryl.yunck/media_set?set=a.10202027388473455.1073741854.1448521051&type=3
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157635348248051/