Categories
Coastal Range Eugene Hiking Oregon Trip report Willamette Valley

Clay Creek Trail and Fern Ridge Wildlife Area – 11/20/2021

A dry forecast on my birthday provided a great excuse to head out on our November hike. We had an unusually loose plan for this outing which consisted of a stop at the Clay Creek Trail followed by a visit to the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area with a third possible stop at Meadowlark Prairie. While the 2 mile hike on the Clay Creek Trail was covered in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” we had very little information on the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area. There was enough information available on line to know that it was open to hiking but it was unclear just how long of a hike was possible which is why we were keeping the option of Meadowlark Prairie on the table. The mostly paved 14 mile long Fern Ridge Path passes along Meadowlark Prairie on its way into Eugene, OR which would have provided some extra hiking time if we’d felt that we needed it.

We started our morning by driving to the BLM managed Clay Creek Recreation Site. The hike here is one of two hike Sullivan lists under his Siuslaw Ridge Trails entry (featured hike #65, 4th edition). We had done the other hike at nearby Whittaker Creek in 2016 (post) and while we considered that earlier hike enough to check off the featured hike from our list completed this second short hike would complete it. We parked at a small pullout on the south side of the Siuslaw River.
IMG_7207The trailhead sign for the Clay Creek Trail is ahead on the opposite side of the road.

It was a foggy morning, much like it had been on our earlier visit to the Wittaker Creek Recreation Area.
IMG_7209Siuslaw River

IMG_7211Clay Creek on the left emptying into the Siuslaw.

A short use trail led down to Clay Creek and a small gravel bench.
IMG_7213Stairs at the Clay Creek Recreation Area across the river.

After checking out the creek we walked the short distance up the road to the start of the trail. Sullivan described the hike as a 2 mile out and back but the map on the sign at the trailhead showed a lollipop loop. (Sullivan does mention the loop in his “Trail Updates” on oregonhiking.com.)
IMG_7215

The existence of the loop at the top was a pleasant surprise. We crossed Clay Creek on a footbridge and began the 600′ climb to the ridge top.
IMG_7216

IMG_7218The Clay Creek Trail climbing above Clay Creek.

IMG_7223

We passed a bench at the second swtichback and continued climbing to a junction 0.6 miles from the parking area.
IMG_7224

IMG_7227

IMG_7225It’s hard to tell size here but the diameter of this tree was well over 5′.

IMG_7238The junction for the loop.

We turned right and continued to climb through the fog to the ridge top where the trail turned left.
IMG_7240One of several reroutes we encountered.

IMG_7243On the ridge top.

The trail passed several madrone trees before arriving at a bench at the high point of the ridge.
IMG_7245Madrone trunk and bark, always fascinating.

IMG_7246Lots of mushrooms pushing up through the forest floor.

IMG_7251Good sized trees near the high point.

IMG_7254No idea what you might see on a clear day.

The trail then began to descend to another bench at a switchback where the map indicated there was a view.
IMG_7255

IMG_7257

IMG_7258The viewpoint.

The trail continued switchbacking downhill while it wound back to the junction.
IMG_7259

IMG_7262

Just before reaching the junction I nearly went head over heals trying to avoid stepping on a rough skinned newt that I spotted at the last minute.
20211120_080637

After having a one sided conversation with said newt we continued downhill to the car.
IMG_7271Nearing the footbridge.

IMG_7275The fog had lifted off the river at least.

While Sullivan indicates in his update that the loop makes this a 3.6 mile hike others still list it as 2 miles and both Heather and my GPS units logged 2 miles for the hike. Despite the fog not allowing for any view it was a pleasant little hike. Sullivan does also mention that the BLM is considering a $5 parking fee for the area in the future so be sure to check the BLM site before heading out.

We spent just over an hour on the Clay Creek Trail after driving over 2 hours to get there so a second stop was a must in order to not break our rule against spending more time driving than hiking. That’s where the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area came in. Located just west of Eugene the area consists of a dozen units broken up around Fern Ridge Reservoir. We had driven by the reservoir numerous times on the way to hike in the Coast Range and around Florence and seen signs for the wildlife area which had piqued at least my curiosity. After some online research it appeared that parking at the end of Royal Avenue between the Royal Amazon and Fisher Butte units was our best bet. The ODFW website mentions possible seasonal closures but finding detailed information on them wasn’t easy. I was eventually able to determine that these two units were open to the public from 10/16 thru 1/30 from until 2pm each day (presumably starting at sunrise). Even with the earlier hike we had arrived before 9:30am so we had plenty of time to explore. There is a $10 daily fee to park in the lots which is typical for ODFW wildlife areas (although it appeared most people simply parked along the shoulder of Royal Ave to avoid the fee).
IMG_7279

IMG_7277Note that Royal Ave and the trail to the viewing platform are open year around with the other restrictions listed below.

20211120_092412We took a picture of this map to assist us with our route.

From the signboard we continued on the gated extension of Royal Avenue. It was a lot foggier than we had expected so the visibility wasn’t good and it was in the mid 30’s so it was chilly too.
IMG_7284

We passed a grassy path leading to the viewing platform at the 0.4 mile mark.
IMG_7282

We opted to pass on the platform for now hoping that visibility would improve as the morning wore on and we could stop by on our way back. We continued on the old road bed watching for birds and any other animals that might be about.

IMG_7285White crowned sparrow

IMG_7289Northern harrier on the hunt.

IMG_7293

IMG_7301Wetlands in the Royal Amazon unit.

As we neared sub-impoundment one a large bird flew up from the reeds. It was our first encounter with an American bittern which was on my bucket list of animals we’d yet to see.
IMG_7302The bittern taking off.

IMG_7304Not the greatest photo but enough to identify it.

We turned right on a levy/old roadbed on the other side of the sub-impoundment and followed it for 0.7 miles to Gibson Island. The highlight of this stretch was a pair of bald eagles hanging out in a snag.
IMG_7310

IMG_7311A hawk on a stump.

IMG_7313American coots

IMG_7317Gibson Island (with the eagles in the snag to the far left)

IMG_7335

IMG_7337

IMG_7339

IMG_7340

A short trail at the end of the levy led onto the island before petering out.
IMG_7343

IMG_7344

We turned around and headed back to Royal Avenue where we turned right and continued west just to see how far we could go.
IMG_7351A flock of geese above the coots.

IMG_7352

IMG_7355There were a number of these small birds pecking around in the mud.

IMG_7357Continuing west.

IMG_7360We used the stones to the right to cross the water here.

IMG_7361Great blue heron (with Highway 126 in the background).

DSCN1182Little bird in the roadway.

IMG_7364

DSCN1183

IMG_7366End of the line.

We imagined that much of this stretch would be under water by late Winter/early Spring but we had managed to make make it 1.7 miles from the trailhead before being turned back. We headed back past sub-impound one to the grassy path near the viewing platform where we left the road bed.
IMG_7369

IMG_7371

DSCN1203Seagull

DSCN1206Perhaps the same northern harrier.

DSCN1211The harrier taking a break.

IMG_7376The path to the platform.

IMG_7378

DSCN1218

DSCN1222The platform.

From the platform dikes led west and south. Since we had just come from the west we decided to go south along a body of water in Field 5.
IMG_7380

IMG_7384The first signs that the fog/clouds might be breaking up.

IMG_7387Looking back at a little blue sky and a visible Gibson Island

We watched a group of shore birds as the alternate between foraging in the mud and performing areal acrobatics.
DSCN1233

DSCN1236

DSCN1238

A little over three quarters of a mile from the viewing platform we arrived at a 4-way junction.
IMG_7390

We turned left continuing around Field 5 for a third of a mile before arriving at a “T” junction just beyond a ditch.
IMG_7391Fisher Butte is the low hill ahead to the right.

IMG_7392

According to the map we’d taken a picture of at the trailhead continuing straight at the junction would lead us to the area’s boundary near Fisher Butte while the right hand path led past Field 2 to Field 1 and then to a parking area off Highway 126. We turned left walking between the ditch and Field 3.
IMG_7395Gibson Island was now lit by direct sunlight.

In another third of a mile we faced another choice. Another dike headed to the right (east) between Field 3 and Field 4.
IMG_7396The dike running between Fields 3 & 4.

IMG_7398Looking back over the ditch.

We opted to turn right having misread the map for the first time. For some reason we ignored the difference between the symbols for the dikes and boundary lines (although some online sights showed paths along the boundary lines). At first everything was fine as the dike gave way to a cut mowed track wrapping around Field 4 along the boundary. There was a pond in Field 4 where several species of ducks were gathered as well as a great blue heron and a kingfisher.
DSCN1248California scrub jay

IMG_7400

DSCN1262Northern shovelers and a bufflehead.

DSCN1266Buffleheads and two hooded merganser females.

DSCN1267

DSCN1280

DSCN1286Kingfisher

DSCN1288American robin

After wrapping around the pond for half a mile the track we were following became increasingly muddy with standing water in areas. We were very close to a gravel road so we hopped onto it for a tenth of a mile where we were able to get back onto a grassy track at a signpost.
IMG_7404The gravel road and another small portion of the wildlife area on the other side.

DSCN1290Noisy geese.

IMG_7405Back on the mowed track.

We went straight here looking for a trail on the right that would leave us back to the parking area. The clouds were really breaking up now and lots of little birds were out enjoying the warmer weather.
IMG_7405

DSCN1291A sparrow

DSCN1295Spotted towhee and friend.

DSCN1300Finch

DSCN1302Another sparrow?

We found what we were looking for, at least what we thought we were looking for and turned right on a clear trail that dropped down into a mowed field then mostly disappeared. We skirted along the edge of the field toward the parking area and as we neared the trailhead a clear trail emerged, or more like submerged. We followed the wet trail almost to the signboards near the trailhead where a ditch of standing water stood in our way. Our only choice (aside from backtracking) was to get wet so get wet (or wetter) we did. Luckily our hike was over and we had a change of socks and shoes waiting in the car. We finished hiking just before 1pm and managed to get a full 7 miles in while leaving parts of the area unexplored. It was nice to find another option in the valley that offered a potential destination when getting up into the mountains is possible. While we did hear occasional gun shots from hunters we only saw two duck hunters, but we also saw some families and bird watchers.
IMG_7410This path headed north from the trailhead, something to explore on our next visit.

Track at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

It was a good birthday hike and we were done early enough for my parents to treat us to a great birthday dinner at The Manilla Fiesta, a restaurant I’d been dying to try. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Clay Creek Trail and Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

Categories
Eugene Hiking Oregon Trip report Willamette Valley

Spencer Butte, Shotgun Creek, and Horse Rock Ridge – 2/9/2020

We jumped on a favorable forecast and headed for Eugene for our February outing. On our itinerary was a trio of stops that would allow us to check two more of Sullivan’s featured hikes off our to-do list. The three stops were short enough that even with doing them all the total mileage would remain under 10 miles.

We chose to start off with Spencer Butte (Hike #74 in the 5th edition of “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Oregon Cascades”). We started here in hopes to avoid crowds as we’d read that this was a popular hike. We started at the Spencer Butte Trailhead which provides the shortest routes up to the viewpoint atop Spencer Butte.
Spencer Butte Trailhead

Other trailheads and longer hikes are possible using Eugene’s Ridgeline Trail System but we stuck to Sullivan’s described hike this time.
Map for the Ridgeline Trail System

At a fork at the top of some stairs leading uphill from the trailhead we veered left following a sign for the “West (Difficult) Route to Spencer Butte Summit”.
Spencer Butte Summit West Route

This route gained nearly 800′ in less than 3/4 of a mile climbing steeply over exposed rocks and mud. There was a fair amount of fog in the forest which was helping to keep things nice and damp which made the rocks a little slick.
Spencer Butte Summit West Route

Spencer Butte Summit West Route

As we neared the summit we began to break out of the thicker fog and gain some views. A mass of clouds covered the lowlands to the West.
Cloudy, foggy view from Spencer Butte

The trail left the trees a little below the summit and a confusion of trails headed up into the rocks. To fine the recommended route keep left on the main trail to a big switchback in the trees. We turned up a bit early on one of the other, steeper trails which eventually joined the better route above the switchback.
Looking up toward Spencer Butte's summit ridge

A word of warning for this hike (in addition to it being steep) is that there is a fair amount of poison oak in the exposed grassy areas and the butte is home to some rattlesnakes. It was way too cold to be worried about any snakes on this visit but apparently in warmer weather they could be about.

At an elevation just over 2000′ the summit was above most of the clouds although there was some thin fog lifting from the thicker clouds below impacting the views a bit.
Spencer Butte's summitSpencer Butte’s summit high point.

View from Spencer ButteView north from the high point towards Mary’s Peak (post) which was above the clouds.

There is said to be a nice view of the Three Sisters from the summit, but by avoiding the crowds (we hadn’t seen another hiker yet) we were staring directly at the rising Sun which effectively stymied any hopes of a mountain view.
View east from Spencer Butte

The lack of a view was partially mitigated by a really good “glory” or Brocken spectre which is the magnified shadow of an observer cast upon clouds opposite the Sun’s direction surrounded by a rainbow-like halo.

After a short rest we started getting chilly so we began our descent. We headed down a path on the east side of the butte.
Descending Spencer Butte

This longer route was a little less steep and definitely an easier descent than trying to go down the West Route would have been. After a series of stone steps the trail reentered the foggy forest.
Fog in the forest at Spencer Butte

Descending Spencer Butte

A little over 3/4 of a mile from the summit we came to a junction with the Spencer Butte Tie Trail which connects the loop to the Ridgeline Trail.
Trail junction at Spencer Butte

We stayed right here to complete the loop back to the trailhead passing a grassy picnic area near the end.
Picnic tables near the Spencer Butte Trailhead

We passed quite a few more hikers on the way back to the trailhead. Given that we were back at the car by 8:35am we could only imagine how crowded the summit would be later, so even though the view could have been better we were happy with our choice to start here.

Our next stop was at the Shotgun Creek Recreation Site. There is a $3 fee listed on the BLM website but that appears to only be enforced during busier months although be prepared to pay the fee at any time. We began the hike from the Shotgun Creek Trailhead and immediately started up a trail next to the signboard with a pointer for the Tiki Trail.
Tikit Trail

Not far up this trail we spotted our first wildflower of the year, some little snow queen.
Snow queen

We also quickly realized that we were going the wrong way (at least for the hike Sullivan describes in Hike #76 of the 5th edition. We had only gone about a tenth of a mile so we turned around and returned to the trailhead where we crossed the parking lot and took a paved path past the recreation sites amenities.
Shotgun Creek Recreation Area

We followed paved paths to Shotgun Creek and then along the creek to the signed Upper Shotgun Trail.
Shotgun Creek

Upper Shotgun Trail

This trail followed along the creek for a mile before turning into the forest to loop back toward the recreation site.
Shotgun Creek

Upper Shotgun Trail

We spotted our second variety of wildflower as we began to loop back around, a lone skunk cabbage near a small seasonal stream.
Skunk cabbage in the forest

Skunk cabbage

After a little over 2 miles on the Upper Shotgun Trail we came to a 4-way junction.
Upper Shotgun Trail junction with the Tiki and Drury Trails

The trails straight ahead and to the right were labeled for the Tiki Trail with the right hand trail being the one that we had started out on earlier which would have allowed for a short loop of approximately 2.5 miles. Sullivan’s description of the hike would have had us go straight here on the Tiki Trail loop resulting in a nearly 3.5 mile loop. This time we decided not to stick to Sullivan’s hike and instead turned left past a pointer for the Drury Trail.
Drury Trail

This route was the suggested route in the Oregonhikers.org Field Guide. This trail climbed nearly 500′ over the next mile as it passed through the forest. The climb provided no views but simply began dropping back down after reaching its high point near a BLM road. The second mile of the trail approached a clear cut where there were views out of the forest but the view consisted of clear cut scars which are frankly just depressing to look at. That being said along the 2 mile Drury Trail there were a few nice sights include some older trees and our first yellow violet of the year bringing our wildflower variety county up to three.
Drury Trail

Big tree along the Drury TrailAn older tree along the trail.

Tree mushroomsMushrooms on a trunk near the clear cut view.

Wood violet along the Drury TrailViolet

When we arrived back at the Tiki Trail we turned left.
Drury Trail junction with the Tiki Trail

Initially we were headed back toward the clear cuts but then the trail did a 180 degree turn heading back toward the trailhead. Shortly before arriving back at the recreation site we again had a look at Shotgun Creek.
Shotgun Creek

The loop that we did came in at 5 miles. We were just under 7 miles for the day with one stop to go, Horse Rock Ridge. The Horse Rock Ridge Trailhead was only about 6 miles away but 1400′ higher in elevation than Shotgun Creek. We followed the windy narrow paved roads to find that while we’d seen no other hikers at Shotgun Creek that was not going to be the case here. There were a number of cars here so we parked on the side of the road at a pullout and walked up to the start of the trail behind some boulders and a wire fence.
Horse Rock Ridge Trailhead

The first part of the trail follows an old roadbed which is banned to OHVs and other motorized vehicles. The boulders, fence, and logs laying across the old road are unfortunately necessary because despite having miles of OHV friendly roads and trails in the area some of those folks just can’t respect the fragile habitats set aside for preservation such as Horse Rock Ridge.
Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Horse Rock Ridge Trail

After .7 miles the trail entered the first of a series of meadows along the ridge where a reportedly impressive display of late Spring wildflowers occurs in May and June. Being February we were treated to frost :).
Frosty meadow along the Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Frosty meadow

Steam rose from the wet hillsides as we followed the trail through the meadows past exposed basalt formations.
View from the Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Horse Rock Ridge Trail

About halfway through the meadows the trail passed to the north of a large rock outcrop. It had to drop beneath the rocks which proved to be the trickiest part of this hike because the outcrop shielded the north facing side from the Sun leaving the rocks icy and slick.
Frost on the backside of a rock formation along the Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Horse Rock Ridge Trail

I picked on the OHV folks earlier but they aren’t the only ones that can cause damage. Despite signs at the trailhead to remain on the trail to not damage the vegetation it was obvious many “hikers” had been walking on the grass and other vegetation, especially along this section. In a case like this if the condition of the trail is such that you feel it is not safe or possible to use it then it probably should be your turn around point. We took an inventory of the trail and decided that there were enough exposed footholds that we could carefully navigate the icy conditions and continued.
Horse Rock Ridge TrailHeather emerging from behind the outcrop.

More sunny meadows awaited (as did another little climb) and we passed a small pool of water and the only wildflowers we would see here today on some manzanita.
Small pool along the Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Manzanita

Near the top of the meadows the trail approached a basalt dike which we are taking to be Horse Rock although we couldn’t confirm that.
Horse Rock Ridge Trail

From this area the view extended to the snowy Cascade Mountains although the clouds that had been covering the valleys from Spencer Butte had lifted and moved east enough to now be interfering a bit with those views. We still managed to get nice looks at Mt. Jefferson and North & Middle Sister.
View from the Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Mt. Jefferson

North and Middle Sister from the Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Three Fingered Jack was also somewhat visible above the clouds.
Three Fingered Jack

At the end of the dike was a rock overhang.
Small overhang at the end of Horse Rock

The trail continued on into the trees ending near some towers. We went ahead and followed it finding a reminder that despite the sunny green hillsides it was still Winter for a bit longer.
A little snow near the top of Horse Rock Ridge

A little snow near the top of Horse Rock Ridge

We returned the way we’d come ending this hike just under 3 miles giving us 9.8 total miles for the day. While there were quite a few hikers on Horse Rock Ridge it didn’t seem like as many as the cars at the trailhead suggested. All three of the hikes were relatively short but Spencer Butte was not an “easy” hike. The slick rocks on Horse Rock Ridge made that a little tricky although we saw a child around six and another hiker that was easily in their 80’s on the other side of that tricky section. For kids though the Shotgun Creek Recreation Area would probably be the best with the creek and other amenities. We will probably look at getting to Horse Rock Ridge during wildflower season somewhere down the line, but for now it’s another hike checked off our to-do list and we couldn’t have really asked for a much nicer day. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Spencer Butte, Shotgun Creek, and Horse Rock Ridge

Categories
Eugene Hiking Oregon Willamette Valley

Mount Pisgah – 10/05/2019

We were going to be in Eugene for a joint celebration birthday celebration for our Son and Heather’s Dad at 1pm so if we were going to sneak a hike in it needed to be one close enough to Eugene to make it to the restaurant in time. It seemed like the perfect time to hike at Mt. Pisgah which is located SE of Eugene and just minutes from its downtown. The area is home to Buford Park and the Mount Pisgah Arboretum and offers many miles of trails.

We had been on some of these trails in December 2013 when we were participating in the Frozen Trail Fest 15k. That day had lived up to the race’s name, but now we were heading back to officially check off another of Sullivan’s Featured Hikes.
02 The Trail BeginsNorth Trailhead in 2013.

Unlike the Frozen Trail Fest the forecast for our hike was for patchy fog but otherwise sunny conditions with a high in the mid 60’s. During our drive we passed through several of the foggy patches but at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum parking lot the conditions were good.
IMG_0179

There is a $4/day parking fee which can be paid online or at a kiosk at the trailhead.
IMG_0178

We didn’t have a set route planned out. Sullivan suggests a 3 mile round trip to the 1529′ summit of Mount Pisgah and/or a 1.7 mile loop in the arboretum. We were looking for something closer to 10 miles. With reportedly over 30 miles of trail in the area, getting in 10 miles wouldn’t be a problem, it was just a matter of coming up with a route that included both the summit and the arboretum. We formulated a plan at the large map on the trailhead signboard.
IMG_0181

The trails in Buford Park are number with the main trails being 1-7 and with connector trails being a combination of the numbers of the main trails on either end of the connector. For instance we started our hike on Trail 17 which connects trails 1 & 7.
IMG_0182Trail 17 to the left with Trail 1 straight ahead.

The route we decided on included trails 17, 7, 3(with an out and back on 30), 4, 14, 1, 2, 24, 4 again, back to 2, 6(briefly), 3, and 5 which would bring us back to the arboretum where we would then decided which trails to take there among the various possible loops. The trails were all well marked so following the route was no problem.

Trail 17 climbed uphill for approximately half a mile to Trail 7. Like much of the park it passed through sections of forest and open oak woodlands.
IMG_0184

IMG_0187

IMG_0188

IMG_0191

At the junction we turned left opting for a longer trek to the summit.IMG_0192

We now headed back downhill on Trail 7 to the North Trailhead where we had started the Frozen Trail Fest race.
IMG_0193

IMG_0194

IMG_0196Some of the patchy fog in the valley over Eugene.

IMG_0195Swing Hill

IMG_0205Deer high up on the side of Swing Hill.

IMG_0208Geese flying in front of the fog.

At the North Trailhead we followed a pointer for Trail 3.
IMG_0212

Trail 3 wrapped around the base of Swing Hill to its northern side where it started to climb in earnest up to a saddle.
IMG_0214There were a lot of wet spider webs shining in the brush.

IMG_0217

IMG_0218

IMG_0221

IMG_0222

IMG_0224The north side of Swing Hill was very forested.

IMG_0228Saddle below Swing Hill

At the saddle we turned right on the .1 mile Trail 30 which ended at a bench and swing atop Swing Hill.
IMG_0229

IMG_0231

IMG_0232View from Swing Hill

We returned to the Saddle and continued on Trail 3 until we came to the junction with Trail 4.
IMG_0238

We could get to the summit going either way but chose the slightly longer (1.3 vs 1.0 mile) Trail 4 which traversed around a forested hillside to a junction with Trail 14.
IMG_0240

IMG_0246

IMG_0249

Trail 14 was only a few hundred feet long, ending at a junction with Trail 1 at a saddle with a bench where we turned left.
IMG_0253

We ignored Trail 2 when we came to it in order to visit Mount Pisgah’s summit which was just another tenth of a mile up Trail 1.
IMG_0256

IMG_0268

It was a beautiful day to be at the summit although being so early in the day the position of the Sun limited the ability to get a good look to the east at the snowy Diamond Peak and the tops of the Middle and South Sister. It’s the one consistent issue with hiking early in the morning on the west side of the Cascades.
IMG_0258Diamond Peak on the horizon.

IMG_0260Diamond Peak

IMG_0281Diamond Peak

IMG_0264Middle and South Sister.

IMG_0280Middle Sister

IMG_0278South Sister photobomb by swallows

IMG_0279South Sister without swallows.

IMG_0283Spencer Butte to the west.

IMG_0284Eugene and the Coast and Middle Fork Willamette Rivers.

After taking the views from the summit (and watching the swallows) we backtracked the .1 miles to Trail 2 and turned downhill.
IMG_0286

After a short stint in the trees Trail 2 entered an open hillside with additional views of Diamond Peak.
IMG_0297Looking back uphill.

IMG_0298Sun still causing problems with the view.

After .4 miles on Trail 2 we turned left at a pointer for Trail 24.
IMG_0300

Trail 24 was a narrower track that headed steeply downhill through the forest. We had to be a little more careful to avoid the occasional poison oak that is present throughout the area.
IMG_0301Some red leaves of poison oak along Trail 24.

IMG_0304

The trail was only about a quarter mile long ending at Trail 4 where we turned right.
IMG_0305

This stretch of Trail 4 followed an old road bed to some power lines where the road bed gave way to single track.
IMG_0307

IMG_0309

IMG_0312

IMG_0314More poison oak

IMG_0315Mushrooms

We went straight on Trail 2 when we arrived at that junction.
IMG_0316

Trail 2 reentered the oak grassland before arriving at a junction with Trail 6 near the East Trailhead.
IMG_0318

IMG_0321Bright red tree at a nearby farm from Trail 2.

IMG_0323

IMG_0324

We turned right on Trail 6 near a signboard and followed it a few hundred feet before veering left onto Trail 3.
IMG_0325

IMG_0326

Trail 3 passed through more grassland and crossed a couple of stream beds, one with flowing water.
IMG_0334

IMG_0340

IMG_0346

In between the stream beds we heard a ruckus as a few scrub jays sounded very agitated. We quickly spotted the reason, a hawk was in the area. It looked like it might have caught brunch but we couldn’t tell for sure until later; when looking at the pictures it became apparent that it had snagged a jay.
IMG_0336

IMG_0342

Just beyond the flowing stream crossing we left Trail 3 (which headed uphill) and turned left onto Trail 5.
IMG_0348

Trail 5 was posted for hikers only as it headed to the South Meadow and Mount Pisgah Arboretum.
IMG_0349

IMG_0351

Trail 5 followed the stream downhill then turned right as it approached the Coast Fork Willamette River. A very short unmarked path led down to the river bank here.
IMG_0353

IMG_0359

After visiting the river we returned to Trail 5 and continued toward the arboretum. Before reaching the arboretum we passed a blank signboard at the South Meadow.
IMG_0363

We opted not to explore any of the trails in that area this time and stayed on Trail 5. There were a number of birds along this stretch (there had been quite a few all over but most weren’t interested in having their pictures taken).
IMG_0364

IMG_0373

IMG_0366

IMG_0368Ladybug

IMG_0370A few late bloomers.

A post announced the boundary of the arboretum.
IMG_0379

We decided that prior to taking any other trail we needed to make a pit stop at the restrooms so we stuck to Trail 5 aka Quarry Road on the arboretum map until we passed an old barn.
IMG_0380

We veered left onto the Riverbank Trail here and followed it to the restrooms.
IMG_0381

IMG_0383

IMG_0385

After the pit stop we headed back following Meadow Road past a pavilion back to the barn.
IMG_0388

Near the barn we stayed on Meadow Road following a pointer for the Wetlands Exhibit.
IMG_0390

We continued to follow pointers for the Wetlands Exhibit which led us to the unique exhibit.
IMG_0392

IMG_0396

IMG_0397

IMG_0398

IMG_0399

There was quite a bit of information present in interactive displays. There was also a wolf spider with a sense of irony hanging out on one of the signs.
IMG_0407

IMG_0400

IMG_0401

IMG_0402

After checking out the exhibit we returned to the Water Garden Trails and followed them to the Vern Adkinson Bridge.
IMG_0410

IMG_0412

IMG_0413

IMG_0414

We crossed the bridge then promptly cross Quarry Road and headed uphill on the Jette Trail.
IMG_0417

The Jette Trail climbed uphill passing the Cedar Trail (We decided to save the Incense Cedar Exhibit for another visit.) and some memorials.
IMG_0418

IMG_0419Cedar Trail to the left.

IMG_0420

IMG_0421

We detoured left 100′ on the Buford Trail to check out the interactive Oak Woodlands Exhibit.
IMG_0423

IMG_0424

IMG_0429

IMG_0431

IMG_0425

IMG_0426

This was a really neat exhibit and would be great for kids. After playing around with the exhibit we continued on the Lower Plateau Trail.
IMG_0433

We paused briefly to locate the source of the sound of knocking on a nearby tree. It was a partially visible pileated woodpecker.
IMG_0434

IMG_0437Mount Pisgah from the Lower Plateau Trail.

We turned left when we reached a post for the Zig Zag Trail which did just that as it headed downhill.
IMG_0438

IMG_0439

This trail brought us down near the pavillion. They were setting up for a wedding there so we stayed right on the Creek Trails which led through a picnic area to the arboretum entrance near our car.
IMG_0441

The route had worked out well coming in at 10.5 miles and taking just over 4 hours and 45 minutes leaving us nearly an hour to change and drive the 15 minutes to the restaurant in Eugene. The route also managed to incorporate at least part of each trail numbered 1-7 albeit only very briefly on Trail 6. (We ran walked up this trail during the Frozen Trail Fest so we’d seen enough of that one.)

With the numerous trails and loop options available the Mount Pisgah area offers a lot of options and the exhibits in the arboretum make it a good place to bring the kiddos. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mount Pisgah

Categories
Hiking Oakridge Area Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Goodman Creek to Eagles Rest

500 miles! Heather and I reached that hiking milestone for 2013 this past weekend. We hadn’t started out with that accomplishment in mind but as the year progressed added hikes and added distances (What’s down that trail?) made it a reachable goal. It’s amazing to us to think that all that hiking isn’t even 1/5 of what it would take to complete the entire 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Even so it was a nice feeling to hit that mark before the year was over.

On to the hike that put us over the top. We headed back down to the Eugene area for another creek hike. We had hiked both Larison and Fall Creek in the same area back in March, and this time we had our sights set on Goodman Creek in the Willamette National Forest. This trail offered a chance to climb up Eagles Rest to a viewpoint overlooking the Lost Creek Valley. We woke up to some pretty heavy morning fog and weren’t sure what we would find at the trail head, but shortly after leaving Eugene on Highway 58 we rose above the fog to a nice bright morning. The Goodman Creek Trail actually starts on the Hardesty Mountain Trail near milepost 21 on Hwy 58.

The trail set off in an old growth forest full of moss and mushrooms and soon split with the left fork heading up to Hardesty Mt. and the right fork to Goodman Creek.

005

The trail slowly climbed at a distance from Goodman Creek for 2 miles where a small creek joined the main branch of Goodman Creek. Just before the confluence there was a side trail at the back of a campsite leading down to the small creek and a pair of scenic small falls.

022

034

After visiting the falls we crossed Goodman Creek on a log footbridge and continued another 2.2 miles to another trail head on Goodman Creek Rd.

Goodman Creek Crossing
Goodman Creek Crossing
Trail leading to a log crossing on a branch of Goodman Creek
Trail leading to a log crossing on a branch of Goodman Creek

From the road the trail then continued to climb through the forest to the Ash Swale Shelter. We saw several rough skinned newts in this section. The shelter was in good shape and offered a nice spot to sit and have a bite to eat.

Approaching the shelter
Approaching the shelter
View from the Ash Swale Shelter
View from the Ash Swale Shelter

From the shelter it was another mile to the former lookout site atop Eagles Rest. The trail crossed paved Eagles Rest Road just .3mi from the shelter. The forest changed dramatically after crossing the road. Until then the forest had been damp and full of moss, ferns, and various mushrooms and fungus. On this side of the road the forest was much drier and the undergrowth more sparse. Sunlight began filtering through the trees and soon we reached a viewpoint overlooking the Lost Creek Valley.

108

109

We continued up the trail to the better viewpoint atop Eagles Rest. Here we could see Hardesty Mountain and Mount June to the east (A hike we had done at the beginning of June). To the west the valley still appeared to be fogged in. There were several burns taking place in what looked to be clear cut areas in the valley leaving a bit of a haze but it remained a decent view.

Hardesty Mountain and Mount June (from left to right)
Hardesty Mountain and Mount June (from left to right)
Valley clouds
Valley clouds
Lost Creek Valley
Lost Creek Valley

We hadn’t seen any people all day and the forest had been full of peace and quiet up until the target shooting began down in the valley. With that we decided it was time to head back down the trail and make our back to the car. The forest had brightened as the Sun passed overhead making the forest colors even more striking.

139

140

The trail was in good condition and well used although we didn’t run into very many people until the final two miles. Given it’s low elevation (starting @ 1000′ and topping out @ 3024′) and easy trail head access this hike is an option much of the year making it a good choice for late fall or early spring.

Our other goal for the year was to do at least one hike a month (January was lost due to our passing the flu around) so we’re hoping to get out at least once more this year. Until then Happy Trails.

Facbook Photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202612354697245.1073741864.1448521051&type=3
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157637535657125/