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Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast

Cascade Head Rainforest Trail – 9/28/2019

With the weather forecast for the Cascades calling for a mix of snow and rain we decided to dial up another coastal hike where a chance of showers was a bit more appealing. While hiking in a little snow can be a lot of fun the snow/rain combo is much less so. We decided it might be a good time to check out the Rainforest Trail at Cascade Head.

Earlier this year we had hiked to the meadows on Cascade Head (post) hoping for some nice views and flowers but spent most of the time in the fog with a little rain thrown in. We thought we might be in for more of the same when we did a final weather check before leaving in the morning and saw that the 40% chance of showers/mostly sunny forecast had been replaced by a 90% chance of showers decreasing to 40% later in the day. At least this time there weren’t going to be any viewpoints and rain almost seemed fitting since we would be on the Rainforest Trail.

We arrived at the Cascade Head Trail – South Trailhead a little too early and had to sit for about 20 minutes waiting for enough light to start hiking. We’d driven through a few showers through the coastal range but there was no precipitation falling as we set off on the Rainforest Trail, which is also part of the official route of the Oregon Coast Trail.
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The trail set off uphill following an old logging road that was crowded with vegetation.
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The trail was a little muddy and slick in spots but given the recent rain we’d had it wasn’t as muddy as we had expected. It also wasn’t nearly as cloudy as we’d expected with a few breaks visible to the west.
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There are no real viewpoints and no trail junctions over the first 3.5 miles, just the rain forest which transitioned to a more open forest with some mature trees toward the latter end. The most obvious marker along the way was a boardwalk over the headwaters of Calkins Creek approximately 2.7 miles from the trailhead.
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IMG_0078Ferns on a tree trunk.

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IMG_0085Lichen overhanging the trail.

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IMG_0097The boardwalk

IMG_0099Nursery stump

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About 3.7 miles (and 1200′) from the trailhead we arrived at Forest Road 1861.
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Up until 2008 the trail continued 2.4 miles on the far side of this road and descended to Highway 101 near Neskowin (post) but storm damage that year prompted the Forest Service to abandon that section forcing Oregon Coast Trail hikers to follow FR 1861 1.2 miles to Highway 101 and follow its shoulder into Neskowin. In March of this year volunteers from Trail Keepers of Oregon (TKO) began work to reopen the abandoned trail. We had heard that completion of the repairs should take place by 2020 so we thought we would check on the progress.

Pink flagging marked a path on the far side of the road so we began following it.
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IMG_0117There is a flag in there.

This path led us to a junction at an old sign near the road.
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A better path was coming up from the road here. (If we had turned right on FR 1861 for a short distance we’d have found it.)
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We weren’t sure how far we’d be able to go and kept our eyes out for an sign of closure but we found the trail to be in good shape. Flagging was present in many areas and the time and effort of the TKO trail crews was evident.
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IMG_0133Flagging along the trail.

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IMG_0137Elk had obviously been on the trail recently.

IMG_0138Fern covered hillside.

There was a brief break in the trees along the way which gave us a view of Cascade Head’s high point.
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There were also some impressive fungi along the section.
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A mile and a half from FR 1861 the trail began a steeper descent via some switchbacks as it approached Fall Creek. There was evidence of quite a bit of tree fall in the area.
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Near the bottom of the switchbacks we spotted a TKO crew.
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They were a bit surprised to see actual hikers since the trail hadn’t officially been reopened (they said we were more than welcome there though). They indicated that the final .7 miles of trail was still pretty rough as they had done work on that section yet. We thanked them for their hard work and let them know that the upper section that they had worked on was probably in better shape than parts of the trail that hadn’t been abandoned. We turned around and headed back up to FR 1861 and then dropped back down to our car enjoying the forest along the way.
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We never did have a shower pass over and actually wound up under a mostly sunny sky after all. The 10.4 mile hike gained approximately 2000′ total but most of that was gradual. It was an enjoyable hike even though there wasn’t much in the way of viewpoints or other “features”. It was also fun to see the trail crew doing their thing. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Cascade Head Rainforest Trail

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Central Coast Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Niagara Falls and Neskowin

We took advantage of a favorable forecast and headed out for our February hike to visit a pair of coastal waterfalls and then the beach near Neskowin.  We’ve had a lot of snow and rain this winter making it a good time to catch the waterfalls assuming you can reach them.  The storms have left their mark on some of the trails and roads so we weren’t sure what to expect as we prepared to head out, but a quick check of the Forest Service website listed the Niagara Falls Trailhead as open so we were optimistic.

The Niagara Falls Trailhead is located east of Mt. Hebo in the Siuslaw National Forest. There was good signage along the route which took us  5 miles east of Blaine, OR on Upper Nestucca Road (Forest  Road 85) where we turned right onto Niagara Road (Forest Road 8533). A small herd of elk were grazing in the field at this turn.
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We followed this gravel road for 4.3 miles. The road was in pretty good shape and had obviously been cleared recently. At the 4.3 mile mark we forked right following signs for the trail for another .7 miles to the trailhead.
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The mile long Niagara Falls Trail led downhill through a fern filled forest crossing a small creek three times on footbridges.
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This small creek was flowing well enough to create its own decent, albeit hard to see little fall.
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As the trail leveled out along Pheasant Creek the first fall to come into view was Niagara Falls.
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As the trail neared Niagara Falls an opening to the left revealed Pheasant Falls.
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A footbridge below Pheasant Falls brought us to a picnic table at the end of the Niagara Falls Trail.
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We returned the way we’d come. The 2 mile hike had been a nice warm up and now we were headed back to Highway 101 and then south to Neskowin.

We stared our second hike of the day at the Winema Road Beach Access which is located near the Wi-Ne-Ma Christian Camp. The beach access can be reached by driving .6 miles on Winema Road which is 4 miles north of Neskowin along Highway 101.
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From the beach the view south extended to Cascade Head and to the north to Cape Lookout beyond Haystack Rock.
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Our timing wasn’t great as it was a little before 10am when we started and high tide would be just after 12:30 so it was already coming in. This meant we would not be getting to a couple of places that would have been accessible at lower tide. We headed north first for .4 miles to some rocks jutting out onto the beach. Along the way we passed a small waterfall that we had not been expecting.
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At low tide it is possible to continue .6 miles to the mouth of the Nestucca River across from Bob Straub State Park but the waves were already reaching the rocks and we knew if we continued we’d be stuck until the tide went back out so after playing around on the rocks for a minute we turned around and headed south.
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We hadn’t gone too far to the south when we reached the outlet creek of Daley Lake which wasn’t mentioned in our guidebook. The only way across was to ford the creek, but luckily it was only ankle deep and not too cold.
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On the other side of creek was a picnic table that seemed really out of place. Heather noted that it appeared to be close enough that the ocean would reach it, although it wasn’t very close at that time. The rest of the sights were pretty typical of a beach walk. Driftwood, rocks, pieces of shells, seaweed, boats, sea birds, and lots of washed up garbage.
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There was something we couldn’t recall seeing before though. Large numbers of pickle shaped jelly fish looking things of various sizes.
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A little under 2.5 miles from the Winema Beach Access the beach became impassable due to the tide reaching the rock wall protecting the houses at Neskowin. Luckily the Mt. Angel St. access was located at the north end of the rock wall so we left the beach and walked inland to Breakers Blvd.
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We turned right on the paved street and walked for .7 miles to Carlton Ave. where we turned left toward the Proposal Rock Inn which was on the far side of Neskowin Creek. At the creek we turned right and followed it to Proposal Rock.
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Our guidebook indicated it was possible to continue another .6 miles south to Cascade Head but the creek was far too swollen for us to ford it. Likewise we were unable to reach Proposal Rock due to it’s being surrounded by water.
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With the tide in we couldn’t walk back along the beach from there so we took the paved streets of Neskowin once again back to the Mt. Angle St. access. We then hiked back along the beach where we discovered that Heather had been right about the ocean reaching that odd picnic table.
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You just never know what you’re going to see along the Oregon Coast. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Niagara Falls & Neskowin