Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Mary’s Peak via the North Ridge Trail – 06/05/2021

After a week of 90 degree temperatures much needed rain arrived just in time for the weekend. Most of the west is in the midst of a drought so the the rain is welcome but it meant looking for a plan B for our hike. We decided to stick relatively close to home and revisit Mary’s Peak (previous post), this time via the North Ridge Trail. In addition to only being about an hour away the forecast for the area was better than any of the other alternatives that I had looked at with NOAA calling for a 30% chance of showers and partly sunny skies over the Woods Creek Trailhead. We figured that gave us the best chance for a dry hike (lol) and if the weather wasn’t great at least we had been there before when it was better.

While we were encouraged by a good sized patch of blue sky between Monmouth and Philomath the trailhead was under the cover of low clouds.
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A couple of trails led into the trees from the parking area on Woods Creek Road. The trails led to what was the Old Peak Trail which was abandoned for a time but appeared to be in good shape now. The Siuslaw National Forest page for the trailhead indicates that this is now part of the North Ridge Trail extending downhill (northeast) 2.2 miles to Peak Road although they do not show said trail on their map.

IMG_6977We took this trail from the parking area to the North Ridge Trail where we turned right at a signboard.

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We followed the trail for approximately 100 yards before popping out onto Woods Creek Road just uphill of the gate near the parking area (on our return we simply followed the road down to the car).
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The North Ridge Trail continued on the other side of the road and began a 3.5 mile climb to a junction with a tie trail connecting the North and East Ridge Trails. On our last visit in 2014 we had come down the North Ridge Trail to the junction and taken the tie trail to get back to the East Ridge Trail and our car at Conner’s Camp. The North Ridge Trail gained 1400′ over the 3.5 miles using a number of switchbacks to keep the grade from ever being very steep. The green forest was filled with fog which was depositing moisture on the trees that was then falling to the forest floor so even though it wasn’t “raining” it may as well have been.
IMG_6986Signboard along the North Ridge Trail at Woods Creek Road.

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IMG_6998Near the half mile mark we ignored this pointer to the left. Looking at the map there are roads looping back to Woods Creek Road and also to Conner’s Camp but what their conditions are we don’t know.

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IMG_7005Wren

IMG_7009Thimbleberry

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IMG_7019Pacific coralroot

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IMG_7026Vanilla leaf along the trail.

IMG_7027Lots of vanilla leaf.

IMG_7030Douglas squirrel.

IMG_7034The higher we went the foggier it got.

IMG_7041Bench at the junction with the tie trail.

We stayed right at the junction continuing uphill on the North Ridge Trail for another 0.7 miles to the Mary’s Peak Overlook parking area. We were starting to get pretty wet, and so was the trail, by this point.
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IMG_7043Some of the trillium still had petals.

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IMG_7050Signboard for the overlook on the hillside to the right.

When we exited the trees below the overlook we were able to confirm that it wasn’t raining despite all the water falling from the trees. It was however windy and that wind combined with damp skin/clothes and upper 40 degree temperatures made it cold at the overlook.
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We quickly dropped downhill on the East Ridge Trail, which also ended at the overlook and were going to then head uphill on Summit Trail but we forgot what that junction looked like and when we came to a set of old steps after just 500′ we got confused. The steps led uphill into a jumble of downed trees. This was apparently an older route and the actual Summit Trail junction was just another 100 feet or so away.
IMG_7169The junction from later in the morning with the Summit Trail heading uphill to the right and the East Ridge Trail down to the left.

Since we were unsure we headed back to the overlook and took the gated road uphill.
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IMG_7075Going to be a beargrass year.

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IMG_7077Larkspur in the wet grass.

After 0.3 miles on the road we came to the Summit Trail/Summit Loop Trail junction. We stuck to the road opting to do the loop clockwise.
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The road cut between the junction and the summit host a nice display of flowers including large patches of paintbrush, larkspur, phlox, and penstemon. Lupine, parsley, field chickweed, blue eyed mary, buttercups and ragwort were also present.
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IMG_7094Ragwort in front of lupine that had yet to bloom.

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The wind was once again an issue at the summit (the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range at 4097′).
IMG_7126Heather hiding behind the summit signboard to try and keep out of the wind.

Needless to say there was no break taken at the picnic table here and instead we headed downhill on the Summit Loop Trail.
IMG_7127Lots of lupine yet to bloom.

At an unsigned fork we went left descending further through the meadows then reentering the forest before coming to a junction with the Meadows Edge Trail after 0.2 miles.
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We turned left here to take the Meadows Edge Trail which we had not been on before. The 1.6 mile trail makes a loop around a grove of old growth noble fir losing and regaining 450′ in elevation along the way.
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IMG_7138As the name implies the Meadows Edge Trail occasionally entered the meadows before returning to the forest.

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IMG_7143For a brief moment a bit of sunlight hit the forest and we thought maybe the sky would clear up.

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IMG_7145Salmonberry bushes near Parker Creek.

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IMG_7153Spur trail to the Mary’s Peak Campground.

IMG_7156Fairybells and star flower solomonseal

IMG_7157The sky was in fact not clearing up.

IMG_7161Bleeding heart and sourgrass.

IMG_7164Fawn lilies in the meadow.

When we had finished this lovely loop we returned to the Summit Trail and followed it for 100 yards to the 4-way junction on the gated road.
IMG_7167Signs at the road junction.

We could have crossed the road and followed the Summit Trail down to the East Ridge Trail but we still were under the mistaken impression that the trail might be impassable so we returned to the Overlook via the road and picked up the East Ridge Trail there. Shortly after having turned onto that trail we passed the actual Summit Trail junction and realized that we could have indeed taken it from the road. We followed the East Ridge Trail beyond the Summit Trail junction for 1.2 miles where signs and a bench marked the junction with the tie trail.
IMG_7171The wet conditions were starting to really hinder picture taking at this point.

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We turned left onto the tie trail and followed it another 1.2 miles to the North Ridge Trail junction.
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IMG_7195North Ridge Trail junction

It was 3.5 miles back downhill to the car and the gentle grade made for a pleasant return trip. The clouds also began to finally lift and we finally did see some patches of blue sky.
IMG_7196Heather descending in the fog.

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IMG_7213Not much but it is blue.

Our hike came in at 13.1 miles with around 2500′ of elevation gain. We could have shaved a tenth of a mile or two off by taking the Summit Trail down to the East Ridge Trail and skipping the Meadows Edge Loop would have saved another 1.6 (but that was a really nice loop).

Track for Mary’s Peak via the North Ridge Trail

Despite the wet conditions and lack of “partly sunny skies” it was a nice hike and the conditions kept the popular trails from being too busy, although we did see a couple dozen other users. Hopefully we won’t have to do too much more shuffling of our planned hikes but if we do I always have a few options standing by. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mary’s Peak via the North Ridge Trail

Categories
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.
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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!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157678011347405

Categories
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.
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As the path began to curve through the wetlands Bald Hill came into view.
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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.
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We followed a faint path up through the field to the barn where we picked up the correct trail.
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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.
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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.
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Various fruit trees lined the trail at the summit drawing birds to the area.
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The second bench looked to the SW towards Mary’s Peak which was mostly hidden by clouds.
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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.
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Northern Flicker
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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.
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We followed Patterson Road from the gate just over half a mile to a junction with road 6020.
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Near the junction was the beginning of the Extendo Trail.
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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.
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Some of that fall color was attributable to poison oak which we were keeping a close eye out for.
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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.
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We followed road 680 uphill to a clearcut saddle with an interpretive sign and a bit of a view to the NW.
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Beyond the saddle Road 680 came to an end at Road 700 where we followed another pointer for McCulloch Peak.
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Just before reaching the junction with Road 770 we got a clear look at our destination, McCulloch Peak.
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We passed closed road 770 1.1 miles from the Extendo Trail.
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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).
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We reached the summit a little over a mile from Road 770 where a small bench awaited.
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Although it wasn’t wide, the view was nice enough.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157674433573180

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Mary’s Peak, Beazell Memorial Forest & Ft. Hoskins County Park

Every once in a while it can be fun to change things up a bit. For our latest day of hiking we did just that. Instead of one longer hike we decided to knock a few shorter hikes off our to-do list. We had a graduation open-house that we wanted to stop in at that afternoon in Dallas, OR so we headed down to the central coast range for a trail triple header.

We started at Mary’s Peak, the highest peak in the Oregon coast range. We had visited the peak in 2009 when we were just starting to get into hiking. That day we had taken a 2.5 mile route from Conner’s Camp to the 4097′ summit. It was the most challenging hike we’d done up to that point and we felt every bit of the 1530′ climb. Our plan was to redo that hike (at least on the way up) to see how we would fare now that we’ve been hiking for several years.

There are several ways to get to the summit varying in length from just over a mile to almost 11 miles round trip. The East Ridge trail would be our route up from Conner’s Camp. The trail sets off from the parking area in a forest of old-growth Douglas Fir which tower overhead. The forest is very open despite the giant trees due to the lack of lower branches which allows for an abundance of green undergrowth. Vine maple, salal, fern, and many other plants contribute to a lush green understory. Low clouds were hanging in the tree tops while many white woodland flowers dotted the forest floor.

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The trail climbs steadily for 1.1 miles to a junction where the East Ridge Tie trail continues on to the North ridge trail making a loop possible. We would be retuning from that direction but in order to recreate our 2009 climb we turned left to continue up the East Ridge trail. The trail steepens after the junction and it was this section that seemed to go on forever the first time we hiked it. It proved to be a stiff climb but we quickly reached a second junction, this time with the North Ridge trail. Forking to the left we continued up a short distance to the lower meadow and blue(ish) skies. 🙂

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The trail wraps around a hillside through the meadow, which was yet to really start blooming, before reaching a gravel service road in a saddle. The clouds were lapping up over the hillside from the north creating what can only be described as a “fog rainbow”.

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The gravel road winds up to the summit around the south side of Mary’s Peak, but a more direct (and steeper) trail leads up to the upper meadow from the far side of the road. Since that was the way we had gone before we crossed the road and headed up again (and again wondered why). When we emerged from the narrow swath of trees that divides the two meadows we found that the upper meadow was also yet to bloom. Clumps of lupine had yet to even begin to bud and only a few scattered flowers dotted the slope.

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The sky was blue though and we had the peak to ourselves so we climbed through the meadow to a picnic table at the summit. We were above the clouds but it appeared that Mary’s Peak was the only peak which had managed to rise above them. Even the 10,000′ Cascade peaks to the east were hidden. To the west the Pacific Ocean blended in so well with the layer of clouds and blue sky that it was difficult to make out where one ended an another began.

The view west:
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After setting our stuff down at the table we began exploring the summit. To the west where the road came up from below we began to find flowers. Purple larkspur and yellow biscuit root covered the ground.
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We started to head down the road following the flowers and as we rounded a bend we were greeted with a color explosion. We’d found the flowers. They were all on the south side of the peak. Phlox, larkspur, paint, and various yellow wildflowers covered the slopes on this side.
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After taking a few pictures (okay lots) we went back to the table to gather our packs and headed back down the road. As we made our way down we found some blooming lupine and penstemon as well.
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To get back to the car we took the 1 mile section of the North Ridge trail from the upper junction to the East Ridge Tie trail and turned right on it for 1.2 miles back to the first junction and finally back to Conner’s Camp.

From there we drove back to U.S. Highway 20 and headed west to the Kings Valley Highway Junction. Turning right we continued 4.8 miles on Highway 223 to the Beazell Memorial Forest. The forest consists of 586 acres gifted to Benton County by the former owner, Fred Beazell, as a memorial to his late wife Dolores. Our plan here was to hike a 3.2 mile loop using the South Ridge trail.

The trail begins at a footbridge behind a restored barn which was being readied for a wedding reception on this day. After crossing Plunkett Creek on the bridge the trail joins an old road for half a mile. The forest is dense and scenic in a narrow valley. At the .5 mile mark the trail splits off to the right and recrosses the creek twice before rejoining the road at a junction in another half a mile.

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Here the South Ridge trail leads to the right up the side of the valley. A sign was posted warning of a logging operation and trail closure from October 2013 through April 2014. Being that it was June we continued on. The trial switchbacked up 350′ through increasingly open forest with wild iris and some flowers we had not seen before.
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At the top of the hill a short spur trail leads to a small meadow with a nice view across the valley.
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After leaving the meadow the trail drops down over the west side of the hill where signs of the logging operations could be seen. After joining a logging road for a bit the trail again split off to the right, passing an old cistern before returning us to the barn and our car.
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We had one more hike planned for the day so we hopped back into the car and continued another mile and a half north on Hwy 223 to Hoskins Rd. Following signs to the left for Fort Hoskins County Park we drove another 1.8 miles to the park entrance on the right. The park is at the site of an 1856 outpost.
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We started our hike here by taking the half mile interpretive loop past the old fort site and historic buildings. This path looped around a lovely meadow where daisies and foxglove bloomed and a few apple trees remained from an old orchard.
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While we were inspecting the Commander’s House a Bald Eagle flew past and began circling overhead.
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The path then passed the foundation of the Hoskins School before climbing back to the parking area where a longer loop began on the far side of the road.
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The longer 1.3 mile loop climbed over 300′ through a hillside meadow filled with wildflowers.
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The day turned out better than I had expected. We managed to get 12.3 miles of hiking in while visiting some interesting places and still made it to the graduation party on time. Happy Trails!

flickr photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157644555553479/
facebook: Mary’s Peak https://www.facebook.com/deryl.yunck/media_set?set=a.10204131646278585.1073741879.1448521051&type=1
Beazell Memorial Forest https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204132717145356.1073741880.1448521051&type=3
Ft. Hoskins County Park https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204132785187057.1073741881.1448521051&type=3