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Corvallis Hiking Oregon Willamette Valley

McDonald-Dunn Forest via Sulphur Springs – 10/02/2021

Sometimes the main purpose of a hike isn’t to see a sight but rather to step away from things and find a peaceful place in nature to reflect. My Grandmother turned 97 on 9/30/21, her last birthday after suffering a massive stroke just days earlier. We were able to drive up to her home in Portland on her birthday to visit and while she couldn’t speak she was able to respond and interact with her family that had gathered. We would be returning on Saturday afternoon to visit again when my Brother and his family arrived from Missouri but that morning we felt like getting outside and taking a nice long walk would be good. Since we were heading to Portland later we wanted a hike that was close to home to cut down on driving time so we decided to revisit the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest near Corvallis, OR.

This would be our fourth hike in McDonald Forest having previously hiked to McCulloch Peak (post), Dimple Hill (post) and Peavy Arboretum (post). Each of those three hike had been entirely unique with no steps retracing an earlier path. They had also mostly avoided the center and northwestern portions of the forest. For this hike we planned on visiting those two areas and had originally hoped to connect all three of our previous hikes. We were only able to connect two of the three though due to an active logging operation which closed a portion of the loop we’d planned.

We started our hike at a pullout by the Sulphur Springs Trail along Sulphur Springs Road.
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We visited the springs first by following the Sulphur Springs Trail for a tenth of a mile.
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IMG_5535Sulphur Springs

IMG_5536Soap Creek near Sulphur Springs.

We then returned to Sulphur Springs Road and turned left (west) following it for 0.4 miles through some residences to the Sulphur Springs Road Trailhead.
IMG_5539Sulphur Springs Road from the pullout.

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IMG_5542Sulphur Springs Road Trailhead.

Our plan had been to combine a pair of hikes described in the Oregonhikers.org field guide, the McCulloch Peak Loop Hike and the Sulphur Springs via Alpha Trail Hike by connecting them using the gravel roads in the forest.
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We continued on Sulphur Springs Road (Road 700) past an orange gate to the left of the signboard.
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Approximately 1.5 miles beyond the gate we came to an intersection below a clearcut where pointers in both directions were labeled McCulloch Peak.
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We followed the Oregonhikers guide and went right on Road 760. We followed this road for 0.4 miles to an the unmarked, unofficial Rocky Road Trail.
IMG_5559We stayed right at this junction with Road 761.

IMG_5561The Rocky Road Trail.

The sheer number of roads and trails (both official and unofficial) makes it really easy to get turned around in the forest so having plenty of maps and a plan handy helps. Roads and trails come and go as the forest is used for research purposes by Oregon State University. The Rocky Road Trail is an unofficial trail that follows an old road bed half a mile uphill before rejoining Road 760.
IMG_5564A good sized cedar along the trail.

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IMG_5570Road 760 ahead.

We turned left on Road 760 and followed it for another quarter mile to a junction with Road 700 where we again turned left. Road 700 followed a ridge briefly providing views of the surrounding area then wrapped around a hillside and arriving at a junction with Road 7040 which was the first familiar sight to us.
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IMG_5580Interesting patchwork of trees. We would have liked to have been able to see when each section had been harvested and replanted.

IMG_5583We couldn’t see much to the east due to the Sun’s position.

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IMG_5594Road 7040 on the left.

We had returned down Road 7040 as part of our previous hike to McCulloch Peak but now we stuck to Road 700 for another quarter mile to a 4-way junction where we turned right on Raod 790.
IMG_5598Pointer for McCulloch Peak at the junction. We had come up from Road 700 on the right.

IMG_5597The rest of the 4-way junction. After visiting the peak we would head downhill following the pointer for Oak Creek.

We followed Road 790 a half mile to its end at the peak.
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It was just a little hazy to get much of a view from the peak so we headed back by following an unofficial trail down from the summit to a spur road not shown on the maps which connected to Road 790 a tenth of a mile from the summit.
IMG_5606Trail to the spur road.

At the 4-way junction we followed Road 700 downhill for a little over three quarters of a mile to a junction with Road 680.
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IMG_5614Fading pearly everlasting.

IMG_5615We stayed left here which was the shorter route.

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IMG_5619Tree island at the junction with Road 680.

We had originally planned on taking Road 680 from the junction but a short distance up that road there was an unofficial trail showing on the Oregonhikers Field Guide Map which looked like it would cut some distance off our hike. The trail was obvious and had even been recently brushed.
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This trail began with a short climb then headed downhill reaching a junction with the Uproute and Extendo Trail near Road 680.
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IMG_5629Nearing the trail junction.

IMG_5630Poison oak climbing trees.

IMG_5631Signs for the Uproute and Extendo Trails.

IMG_5633Road 680

We turned right onto Road 680 and followed it a half mile to a signboard at Road 600.
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At this signboard was a notice that a portion of Road 600 was closed so we spent some time reviewing the map to come up with an alternate route.
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We had planned on following Road 600 all the way to the Ridge Trail at Lewisberg Saddle which we had visited on our Peavy Arboretum hike but the closure was going to force us onto the Bombs Away Trail which would hook up with the Ridge Trail half a mile from Lewisberg Saddle. We didn’t feel like adding another mile to our hike so we would only be connecting two of our three previous hikes this time. We followed Road 600 uphill for a mile and a half to yet another 4-way junction.
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IMG_5647A few larger trees in the forest.

IMG_5652A sea of green grass.

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IMG_5654The 4-way junction.

We had been to this junction during our hike to Dimple Hill and hadn’t originally planned on making the 0.4 mile side trip to that viewpoint but with the upcoming detour and a couple of shortcuts we’d already taken we decided to revisit the hill. We turned right on Road 650.
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After two tenths of a mile we left the road and followed a pointer for Upper Dan’s Trail.
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IMG_5660Summit of Dimple Hill.

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The view here was a bit better than it had been at McCulloch Peak. We could at least see Mary’s Peak by walking just a bit downhill.
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IMG_5666Mary’s Peak

After a short break we followed Road 650 back to the 4-way junction and turned right back onto Road 600. Three quarters of a mile later we arrived at the closure. Along the way the road passed through a clearcut where we could just make out the tops of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters.
IMG_5673Approaching the junction on Road 650.

IMG_5675Junco

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IMG_5684Mt. Hood

IMG_5680Mt. Jefferson

IMG_5687The Three Sisters

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We made a hairpin turn at the closure onto the unsigned High Horse Trail.
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Things got a little confusing at this point. The maps on the signboards (we had taken photos with our phones) showed the Bombs Away Trail as a planned trail for 2020. From the placement on the map it appeared that it split off of the High Horse Trail very close to Road 600 but we wound up climbing a series of switchbacks for half a mile before arriving at an unsigned 4-way junction.
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IMG_5697The High Horse Trail and another trail heading uphill at the 4-way junction.

IMG_5698What we assume is the Bombs Away Trail on the left and the High Horse Trail on the right at the 4-way junction.

We took the first trail on the right since it was headed in the correct direction hoping it was indeed the Bombs Away Trail. What we found was a braided mess of trails coming and going on each side. We relied on our GPS to make sure we stayed headed in the right direction and after a confusing 0.6 miles we arrived at Road 640.
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IMG_5706Left or right? More often than not both ended up in the same spot.

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The trail continued on the far side of the road. This stretch was more straight forward ending at Road 620 after 0.4 miles.
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On the far side of Road 620 we found the Ridge Trail which we followed for a tenth of a mile to a junction with the Alpha Trail.
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IMG_5721Junction with the Alpha Trail.

We turned left here onto the Alpha Trail.
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After 0.4 mile the Alpha Trail dropped us out onto Road 810 which we followed downhill 0.6 miles to Road 800.
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IMG_5730Looking back at the Alpha Trail from Road 810.

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IMG_5735Road 800 below Road 810.

We turned left on Road 800 for three tenths of mile then turned right onto the Baker Creek Trail.
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IMG_5739Baker Creek Trail ahead on the right.

The Baker Creek Trail followed Baker Creek (heard but not seen) for two tenths of mile before crossing Soap Creek on a 1923 Pony Truss Bridge.
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The Baker Creek Trailhead was just on the other side of the bridge as was Sulphur Springs Road. We turned left and walked 100 yards up the road back to our car.

Our 13.1 mile hike with approx 2800′ of elevation gain.

After a brief stop at home to clean up we headed to Portland to say our last goodbyes to Grandma. She always enjoyed hearing about our hikes and looking at the pictures, and she eagerly anticipated the calendar we made each year with them. She passed the following Monday night and is with the Lord now. We’ll think of her often when we’re out exploring. Happy Trails Grandma!

Flickr: McDonald Forest via Sulphur Springs

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