Categories
Corvallis Hiking Oregon Willamette Valley

Finley Wildlife Refuge Loop – 4/14/2021

A day after visiting the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge (post) I headed out to the William L. Finely National Wildlife Refuge for another attempt at spotting wildlife. Heather once again was working so I was on my own again. We had done two previous hikes here, one in 2017 visiting the Cabell Marsh and hiking the Woodpecker and Mill Hill Loops and the other in 2020 starting near Pigeon Butte. My plan was to combine most of those two hikes and add a few new short stretches to make a big loop through the refuge starting from the Woodpecker Loop Trailhead. One item to note is that some of the refuge is closed from November 1st through March 31st making this loop impossible during the seasonal closure.

The refuge is open from dawn to dusk and I arrived at the trailhead just as the Sun was beginning to rise behind Mt. Jefferson.
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From the Woodpecker Loop Trailhead I walked down to the refuge road and followed it to the left back to the Cabell Barn then turned right on a road at a season trail sign for the Cabell Marsh Overlook. I followed the roadbed to the Cabell Lodge and past the overlook down to Cabell Marsh.
IMG_1824Mt. Hood from the refuge road

IMG_1826The Three Sisters from the road

IMG_1832Yellow paintbrush

IMG_1841Cabell Barn

img src=”https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51116225393_9feb61f994_c.jpg” width=”800″ height=”600″ alt=”IMG_1860″>Cabell Lodge

IMG_1852Rabbit at the lodge

IMG_1865Cabell Marsh Overlook

IMG_1871White crowned sparrows

IMG_1878Deer in a field near Cabell Marsh

IMG_1879Cabell Marsh (the marsh had been drained when we visited in 2020)

I slowly walked along the dike at the marsh using binoculars to try and identify how many different ducks were out on the water.
IMG_1880Norther shovelers

IMG_1887American coots

IMG_1889Ring-necked ducks

IMG_1892Buffleheads

IMG_1908Black pheobe

IMG_1910American wigeons

IMG_1915_stitchCabell Marsh

IMG_1921Canada geese

Wood duck, ring-necked ducks and a pie billed grebeWood duck, ring-necked ducks and a pied billed grebe

IMG_1951More northern shovelers

IMG_1953Ring-necked ducks

IMG_1955Green winged teal

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At a junction on the SW end of the Marsh I stayed left following a roadbed past a huge flock of geese and some ponds to a junction with the Pigeon Butte Trail.
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IMG_1983Killdeer

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IMG_1991Red-winged blackbird

IMG_2003Junction with the Pigeon Butte Trail (grassy track heading uphill)

Originally I had planned on skipping the half mile trail to the top of Pigeon Butte but it was a beautiful morning and it had been too cloudy to see much on our hike in 2020 so I turned uphill an tagged the summit before returning to my originally planned loop.
IMG_2004Tortoiseshell butterfly

IMG_2012Spotted towhee serenade

IMG_2020Bewick’s wren

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IMG_2027Mourning dove

IMG_2029Camas blooming near the summit

IMG_2034View from Pigeon Butte

IMG_2036Scrub jay spotted on the way down.

IMG_2038One of the “blue” butterflies, maybe a silvery blue

IMG_2043Acorn woodpecker

When I got back down to the junction I continued south on the Pigeon Butte Trail to a junction at a pond below Cheadle Barn.
IMG_2050Looking back at Pigeon Butte, the yellow paintbrush was starting its bloom on the hillside.

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Instead of heading for the barn and the Cheadle Marsh Trail which we had used on our 2020 visit I went right following a roadbed to Bruce Road across from the Field 12 Overlook.
IMG_2068Looking back at Pigeon Butte and the Cheadle Barn

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IMG_2070Bruce Rd and a sign for the overlook.

IMG_2071Swallows at the overlook

IMG_2075Mary’s Peak and Pigeon Butte from the overlook.

IMG_2076Mary’s Peak (post)

I then walked west on Bruce Road to the trailhead for the Beaver Pond and Cattail Pond Trails passing the Mitigation Wetland along the way. I paused at the wetland to watch a great blue heron and egret along with a number of ducks in.
IMG_2083Ground squirrel on Bruce Rd.

IMG_2080Sparrows

IMG_2085Western bluebird

IMG_2088Mitigation Wetland

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IMG_2103Egret

IMG_2098heron flying by the egret

IMG_2125Northern shoveler

IMG_2126Green winged teals

IMG_2129Trailhead off of Bruce Road

I turned off of Bruce Road at the trailhead and followed the grassy track to a fork where I veered left on the Beaver Pond Trail. This trail led briefly through the woods before arriving at the Beaver Pond where I startled a heron and a few ducks but an egret and a few other ducks stuck around.
IMG_2132Ground squirrel

IMG_2136Entering the woods

IMG_2142Giant white wakerobin

IMG_2144Fairybells

IMG_2162Startled heron

IMG_2169Egret and a cinnamon teal pair and maybe an American wigeon

As I was watching the egret I noticed something else in the water but I wasn’t sure if it was an animal or a log/rock in disguise. Even with binoculars I could decide but after looking at the pictures it was in fact a nutria that appeared to be napping.
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The egret finally flew off and I continued on to a junction just beyond the pond where I turned left heading slightly uphill toward the Refuge Headquarters and the Mill Hill Loop.
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At a signed 4-way junction I followed a pointer for the Mill Hill Trail to the left but not before I checked out a patch of pink along the trail straight ahead.
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IMG_2188The pink turned out to be shooting stars.

I hiked the Mill Hill Loop (which led back to the junction right past the shooting stars) and then turned left on the Intertie Trail. The Mill Hill Loop was full of surprises with a number of different wildflowers blooming and a turtle sighting. The turtle was on a log in a wetland quite a bit below a bench along the trail and I only spotted it with the help of the binoculars but that counts.
IMG_2196Iris

IMG_2201Bleeding heart

IMG_2220One of many fairy slippers

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IMG_2218It took some work to get the camera to stop focusing on the brush in the foreground.

IMG_2230Buttercups

IMG_2232Violets

IMG_2238Fawn lilies

IMG_2244Back at the junction and onto the Intertie Trail

I followed the Intertie Trail to the Woodpecker Loop ignoring side trails to the Refuge Headquarters.
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IMG_2257The Woodpecker Loop

I turned left opting to head uphill on a slightly longer route back to my car so that I could check out the view from a hilltop viewing structure.
IMG_2259Norther flicker along the Woodpecker Loop

IMG_2263Amphibian pond and interpretive kiosk.

IMG_2267Viewing structure

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IMG_2272Mt. Jefferson

IMG_2273The Three Sisters

I watched a pair of raptors chase each other around but couldn’t get a clear enough view to tell what kind they were (maybe Cooper’s hawks?).
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IMG_2279This was the best shot I could get at 40x zoom with the sun in front of me.

After accepting that a clearer picture wasn’t possible I left the shelter and hiked downhill to my waiting car. While I only passed two other hikers on the trails there were a number of folks at the trailhead either just arriving or getting ready to leave. My loop with the mile detour up and down Pigeon Butte came in at 11.3 miles. The great thing about Finley is the diversity it offers with forest, woodlands, marshes and fields each supporting different plants and wildlife. The possibility of long, medium and short hikes is also nice. The one drawback is that there is a lot of poison oak in the area but they keep the trails wide enough that it really isn’t much of a problem.

Happy Trails!

Flickr: Finley Wildlife Refuge Loop

Categories
Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Yachats – 12/05/2020

We ended our 2020 hiking year by hiking a section of the Oregon Coast Trail from Yachats to Waldport (and back). Our final outing of the year also marked the 500th day with a hike since an ill prepared jaunt at Silver Falls State Park in 2006 gave us the hiking bug (post). I was extra excited for this outing having just received a replacement for our camera and looking forward to trying it out.

We started our hike at Smelt Sands State Recreation Site where the 804 Trail doubles as the Oregon Coast Trail route.
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We headed north on the trail which passed between the rocky shore of the Pacific Ocean and several hotels.
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IMG_0042Looking back south as the sunrise paints the clouds.

IMG_0058A house on the cliffs.

After three quarters of a mile, and crossing the private driveway of the house pictured above, the trail descends to a 6.3 mile stretch of beach between Yachats and the mouth of the Alsea River at Waldport.
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It was a beautiful morning, chilly but not too cold. A slight chance of rain was in the forecast after 10am but that bank of clouds looked far off on the horizon as we struck off on the sand.
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IMG_0066Seagulls outnumbered people in the early part of the day.

We arrived at Starr Creek shortly after descending to the beach.
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One of the trickiest parts of beach hiking can be trying to judge the depth of the various creek crossings using satellite maps. This section of beach contained several named creeks so we had come prepared for barefoot fording if necessary. Starr Creek was narrow enough though that we were able to hop across with the assistance of our hiking poles.

Continuing north we passed some banded cliffs where the ocean had created a small arch.
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Beyond these cliffs the beach widened and we strolled along the hard packed sand looking for wildlife (both alive and not so much).
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IMG_0084Vinge Creek, about a mile down the beach, was crossable on small rocks.

IMG_0086Geese flying overhead, we couldn’t make out what kind.

IMG_0087At first we thought there were two weather vanes on the houses, a whale on the right and a heron on the left.

IMG_0088It turned out to be a real great blue heron (but the whale was a vane).

IMG_0102Looking south toward Cape Perpetua (post)

IMG_0103View north.

IMG_0109Sunlight on the wave tops.

IMG_0110Sunlight bursting through the trees.

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At Reynolds Creek (approximately 3 miles down the beach) we finally had to remove our shoes and socks for an ankle deep ford.
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IMG_0123Wavy sand.

One of the most interesting sights came about 4.75 miles up the beach when we passed the “Big Stump“. The remains of an ancient redwood. The origins of the tree are unknown, it may have been part of an ancient redwood forest that was once present here or a transplant brought by the Pacific.
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A mile beyond Big Stump brought us to a short section of grassy dunes at Governor Patterson Memorial State Recreation Site.
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IMG_0139Cape Perpetua from the dunes.

Not far beyond Governor Patterson we spotted the Alsea Bay Bridge spanning the Alsea River.
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IMG_0144Testing the 40 zoom feature on the Canon SX740HS.

We made our way to a driftwood log near the mouth of the Alsea and took a seat.
IMG_0147Heading for the log.

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IMG_0146View from the log.

IMG_0153More testing of the zoom function. Seagulls on the near sandbar and seals on the one on the other side of the bridge.

It was a little after 10:15am when we started back. The bank of clouds offshore came creeping in as we made our way back to Yachats but rain never materialized. We spent much of our return trip watching seals and a few birds bob along in the surf. We also decided not to worry about letting our shoes get wet so we just went straight through the creeks on the way back and may have let the ocean get us once or twice too for good measure.
IMG_0157Looking at the dark cloud bank over the Pacific.

IMG_0166Seal

IMG_0170A little more cloud cover to the south over Cape Perpetua.

IMG_0177Seagull shaking it off.

IMG_0181More cloud action.

IMG_0189Cormorant

IMG_0191Reynolds Creek after fording.

IMG_0200Finally starting to feel like it could start raining soon.

IMG_0202The advancing line of clouds.

IMG_0205Another look at the arch.

IMG_0216A kingfisher near the stairs up from the beach.

IMG_0220December blossoms on salal along the 804 Trail.

The tide was further in as we passed the rocky shoreline on the 804 Trail creating some dramatic wave crashes.
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If not for our bladders we could have sat on one of the many benches along the 804 and watched the waves crashing into the rocks for hours but the restrooms at Smelt Sands beckoned. The weather had held up nicely and the hike was an entertaining one with just enough wildlife and sights not to be a tedious beach walk. It also helped that the sand was packed well and we never felt like we were having to work hard walking over it. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Yachats

Categories
Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Southern Coast

New River and Bandon Islands

We had changed our mini-vacation plans from a four day backpacking loop around and up Diamond Peak to four days of hiking on the Oregon Coast due to the possibility of wet weather. Wet weather isn’t typically a big deal at the coast and drying off in a motel room is a lot more convenient than trying to keep your backpacking gear dry for multiple days. When we had looked at the forecast for Bandon the best looking day weather wise had been Friday with a forecast of mostly sunny and no chance of showers. We planned a pair of hikes for that day, first at the New River Recreation Area and then a walk along the beach starting at the Bandon South Jetty Park.

The BLM managed New River Recreation Area is located eight miles south of Bandon on Croft Lake Road. We parked near the New River Nature Center which hadn’t opened yet for the day.

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We headed north from the parking area onto the signed North Trail.

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A little over a quarter mile along this forested path we came to a junction with the Ridge Trail.

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We turned right onto this trail which made a .4 mile horseshoe along the top of an old dune now covered in vegetation including some madrone trees.

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At a bench at the end of the Ridge Trail we turned right onto the Huckleberry Hill Trail (If we had gone straight at the North/Ridge Trail junction we would have wound up here in less than a tenth of a mile.)

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We followed the Huckleberry Hill trail .4 miles down an increasingly sandy track to the Ocean View Trail where we turned left (the only choice).

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Huckleberries along the Huckleberry Hill Trail

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After just 430′ on the Ocean View Trail we took a signed spur trail to the right to a viewpoint.

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We arrived at the New River in less than 100 yards. The Ocean was barely visible on the other side of a low rise on the beach between the river and the Pacific.

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We returned to the main trail and continued an additional .2 miles before arriving at the New River Boat Ramp.

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It was a little foggy but we could see quite a few Canada geese and an egret in the river.

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From the boat ramp we followed the road for .2 miles to the Muddy Lake Trail.

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Two tenths of a mile from the road we turned right on the .1 mile New River Spur Trail.

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Instead of burning off we noticed that the fog was getting thicker when we arrived back at the river.

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Canada geese

We headed back to the Muddy Lake Trail which we followed for about 110 yards, crossing over a boardwalk, to a very short spur trail leading to a bird blind at Muddy Lake.

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We were fortunate enough to have a couple of different birds hunting their morning meal near the blind.

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The egret seemed to be having quite a bit of success.

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After watching the birds from the blind we continued on. A little over a quarter mile from the blind we came to another trail junction.

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This first junction wasn’t signed but just over the small hill was a signed junction letting us know that this was the Old Bog Trail.

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This .3 mile trail climbed up and over an old dune to the site of an old cranberry bog.

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After reading the history of the bog we returned to the Muddy Lake Trail and followed it another .2 miles back to the New River Nature Center. Even with all the side trips this was only a 3.6 mile hike making it a good option for the kiddos.

We drove back north to Bandon and used the GPS to guide us through town to the Bandon South Jetty Park located at the end of Lincoln Ave. SW across the Coquille River from the Coquille River Lighthouse.

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We headed down to the beach just south of the jetty. There was a little bit of blue sky to the north and inland to the east.

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That was not the case however to the south where we were headed.

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We would be passing by a series of ocean rocks and islands along a three and a half mile stretch of beach from the jetty to Devils Kitchen. We headed into the fog hoping that it would indeed burn off as the day progressed. In the meantime the tide was out allowing us to get a closer look at some of the rocks. Please note that climbing on any of the rocks and tidepooling is banned so keep your distance and use your binoculars or camera’s zoom.

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We got to see an actual live crab dig itself back into the sand.

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The rocky islands were neat but with the fog limiting visibility they weren’t as impressive as they should have been. For one thing we could only see the ones close by and couldn’t get a feel for just how many and how big they were.

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Near the two mile mark below the Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint there were a few sea caves present at Grave Point.

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Beyond Grave Point the number of sea stacks and islands dwindled as the beach flattened out. In the next 1.9 miles we crossed Johnson Creek and passed Fish Rock before arriving at Crooked Creek and Devils Kitchen.

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Fish Rock aka Haystack Rock

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Devils Kitchen

We climbed up to the Devils Kitchen parking lot.

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We made use of a bench at a viewpoint above Devils Kitchen where we had a snack and took a break.

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We were still hoping that the fog would burn off as promised as we headed back along the beach but alas it was not to be.

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By the time we’d gotten back to the car we had decided that we would be trying this hike again the next time we were in the area. We have a few more hikes left to complete between Bandon and Coos Bay and the Bandon Islands will be a part of that trip.

After cleaning up in the motel we walked across Highway 101 into Bandon’s Old Town and did a little shopping. They were having a farmers market where we came away with a few goodies. After a hitting the farmers market and a few of the shops we stopped into Bandon Brewing for a beer and an appetizer, at least that had been the plan. We ordered the small Spinach Artichoke Stix from the bradsticks section of the menu. We had expected a few breadsticks with some dip, but it turned out to be more like a pizza and was quite a bit larger than we’d anticipated. That wasn’t a bad thing as they were delicious and we had no problem finishing them off. It ended up being our dinner which was fine because we had also picked up some pastries from Pastries and Pizzas which was located dangerously close to our motel.

The pastries hit the spot that night and we went to bed satisfied and ready for another day of hiking on Saturday. Happy Trails!

Flickr: New River and Bandon Islands

Categories
High Cascades Hiking Oregon Three Sisters Area Trip report

Sparks Lake

During our stay in Bend Dominique had his birthday and we planned on spending as much time with him as possible that day so we needed a nice short hike for the morning. We picked the 2.5 mile Ray Atkeson Memorial Loop at Sparks Lake which was only about 30 minutes from where we were staying.
Sparks Lake Trailhead

The weather had cleared up nicely from earlier in the week but that came with a cold front which left the temperature in the upper 20’s as we set off on the trail. The first views of the lake and the South Sister were amazing.
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South Sister and Broken Top from Sparks Lake

There weren’t any people to be seen but there were plenty of ducks, geese and herons present.
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The trail left the lake shore and passed through a lava flow and the Davis Canyon. A narrow lava slot which was an interesting feature.
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Davis Canyon

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A short climb on the back side of the loop produced views of Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top and the South Sister.
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South Sister

After completing the loop we headed down to the boat dock and peninsula to get a closer look at the lake. The sky was blue and the Sun shining but there was still a bit of ice water as the mountains reflected in the still water.
South Sister from Sparks Lake

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DSC07182 Stitch

A beautifully cold Central Oregon morning. It’s hard to start a day much better than that and ending with a family dinner celebrating Dominique’s 19th birthday was perfect ending. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157648195609306/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10205149230437553.1073741913.1448521051&type=1

Categories
Bend/Redmond Central Oregon Hiking Oregon Trip report

Central Deschutes River

We headed over to Central Oregon for the last part of our vacation to visit our families and get a couple more hikes in on the east side of the Cascades. Originally we had planned on combining two hikes in one day for our first hike. Tipsoo Peak in the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness followed by Mount Scott on the rim of Crater Lake. We had to abandon those plans for good when the Government Shutdown closed Crater Lake so we turned to a standby hike along the Deschutes River between Trout Creek Campground and Mecca Flats.

With a trail head at each end of this 7.6 mile segment it allowed us to set up a shuttle with Deryl’s parents where they would start at Mecca Flats with Nique while we started at the Trout Creek Campground. The idea was we would do the whole trail both ways while the went from their car to ours, then we would drive them back to Mecca Flats to pick up their vehicle. With the plan set Heather and I headed to Trout Creek and set off along the Deschutes through the rivers canyon.
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The trail follows an old railroad grade along the river surrounded by the scenic canyon walls. The river cut a colorful ribbon through the sagebrush desert. We spotted a heron standing on the river bank apparently watching for small fish.

Heron
Heron
Splashes of color in the sagebrush
Splashes of color in the sagebrush

We spotted quite a few birds along the way as well as some deer making their way up the canyon side.

Pair of ducks on the river
Pair of ducks on the river

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Deer near the top of the canyon
Deer near the top of the canyon
Kingfisher near Mecca Flats
Kingfisher near Mecca Flats
Finch
Finch
Hidden heron on the rocks
Hidden heron on the rocks
Merganser
Merganser

There was also still a number of flowers in bloom along the river.
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We met Dominique and my parents on the trail earlier than we had expected. They were moving a lot faster than they thought they would be. They gave us some info on what to expect on the trail ahead including to be watching for Scorpion Rock on the Warm Springs Reservation side of the river and a waterfall on our side of the river near a small creek.

Waterfall from an irrigation pipe way in the distance
Waterfall from an irrigation pipe way in the distance
Grassy creekside
Grassy creekside
Scorpion Rock
Scorpion Rock

Heather and I eventually made it to Mecca Flats where I accused my parents of hitching a boat ride with some of the many fishermen we’d seen. It was the only explanation of how they managed to make it that far that fast ;). We turned around at Mecca Flats and headed back toward our car and my family. Along the way we noticed a scenic red tree growing in the midst of a rock slide and several rock climbers high on the canyon cliffs.

The view from Mecca Flats
The view from Mecca Flats
Red tree
Red tree
Rock climbers on the canyon cliffs
Rock climbers on the canyon cliffs

It was a nice relaxing hike and a good time of year for it since the area is known for rattlesnakes in warmer weather. It was also nice to do a hike in the sagebrush landscape of Central Oregon. Ironically enough we were almost due east of our previous hike on the Red Lake Trail in the Mt. Hood National Forest and less than 50 miles as the crow flies. What a difference location and elevation makes. Happy Trails!

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/deryl.yunck/media_set?set=a.10202388684345626.1073741862.1448521051&type=1
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157636480343143/