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Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Killin Wetlands & Elk & Kings Mountain Loop

The weather finally cooperated enough for us to get back to our originally planned 2022 hikes. For this outing we were heading back to one of our earliest hikes, Elk & Kings Mountains (post) to see how much we remembered from that first visit. When we made the conscious choice to take up hiking in 2010 the loop over Elk and Kings Mountains was our eighth hike. One of only a handful of hikes rated “Very Difficult” in all five of Sullivan’s “100 Hikes” guidebooks, and the only one in the Oregon Coast book, this had been quite the challenge for us. We were curious how nearly 12 years of additional hikes, and age, might change our experience this time around. We were also hiking the trail at a better time of the year having tackled it in the heat of mid-August the first time around. Our hope was that the earlier visit would provide a different experience with wildflowers and with the streams and creeks along the route.

Before we started the difficult loop though we stopped at Killin Wetlands Nature Park just outside of Banks, OR for a short warmup hike on the 0.7 mile loop. An unintended result of having altered the plan for our two previous outings was that this stop would mark our third straight outing visiting an Oregon Metro managed park. (Orenco Woods)(Chehalem Ridge)
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We set off on a clockwise loop on the Peat Swamp Trail then stayed left at its junction with the Waterfowl Way Trail.
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IMG_9959Peat Swamp Trail.

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Our 6am start time paid off as we were not only the only ones at the park but we spotted a deer (too quick for a photo), two otters, several families of Canada geese, and a gadwall and a mallard.
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IMG_9963One of the two otters that were swimming in the wetlands.

IMG_9974Mallard

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IMG_9972The gadwall amid a family of Canada geese. When we got home and looked closer at the picture we realized that one of the round shapes we took for a clump of mud was actually an animal. We can’t make out the tail to know for sure whether it was a beaver or a nutria but we’d like to think it was another beaver.

IMG_9973The beaver? turned a bit in this photo but we still couldn’t make out the tail. It does appear relatively large when compared to the adult goose though.

Waterfowl Way made a 180 turn and headed uphill through some small trees to return to the Peat Swamp Trail.
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We stayed left again and completed the short but eventful loop.
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From Killin Wetlands we headed west on Highway 6 to Elk Creek Campground and the Elk Mountain Trailhead.
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We set off on the Wilson River Trail which began a 0.2 mile climb to a junction with the Elk Mountain Trail.
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IMG_9998Fairy bells and bleeding heart.

IMG_0003Elk Creek below the trail.

IMG_0005Junction with the Elk Mountain Trail

While it had been sunny at the wetlands we had dropped under some clouds as we descended to the Wilson River Valley and found ourselves hiking steeply up into fog.
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IMG_0014Paintbrush

IMG_0015Parsley

IMG_0016Blue-eyed Mary

IMG_0022Viewpoint along the Elk Mountain Trail.

IMG_0029The blue sky is up there.

IMG_0033Snow queen

IMG_0035The trail was as steep and rough as we’d remembered.

We did climb out of the cloud to find that blue sky again.
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IMG_0043White service berry blossoms and a huckleberry plant.

The trail made a series of ups and downs along a ridge crossing four saddles before climbing to the 2788′ summit of Elk Mountain.
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IMG_0062Violet

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IMG_0076Red-flowering currant

IMG_0083Trillium

IMG_0087Anemone

IMG_0092Monkeyflower

IMG_0100One of the saddles.

20220521_084754Chocolate lily

IMG_0116Elk Mountain summit.

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We spent a little time resting at the summit where we found a lone blooming beargrass with more to come.
IMG_0134Kings Mountain from Elk Mountain.

IMG_0123Wilson River

IMG_0124Pacific Ocean

IMG_0129The blooming beargrass below some red-flowering currant.

IMG_0131Beargrass

While the 1.5 mile climb to this summit had been hard the next mile of trail beyond the summit took it up a notch. The trail dropped nearly straight down the rocky west face of Elk Mountain requiring us to use our hands as we climbed down the damp rocks.
IMG_0136Looking down the trail.

IMG_0137Heather on her way down.

After navigating the rocky descent the trail passed along some cliffs then climbed atop a narrow rocky ridge which it followed to an old roadbed where the hiking became temporarily much easier.
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IMG_0153On the ridge.

IMG_0156Dropping down to a saddle along the ridge.

Near the start of the road bed we spotted a hermit warbler eating something off of some huckleberry bushes.
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This was the first time we’d seen one of these pretty little birds, at least that we are aware of. Who knows how many we’ve seen fly by and not been able to identify them.

IMG_0163Mercifully on the old roadbed.

We followed the old roadbed for about a mile as it climbed to a junction at a saddle.
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IMG_0170A clump of trillium.

IMG_0171Little moth.

IMG_0180Getting closer to Kings Mountain.

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IMG_0187Paintbrush

IMG_0189Coming up to the junction.

We turned left onto the Kings Mountain Trail which according to the pointer was 1.3 miles away.
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The trail continued to follow an old road bed for a little over half a mile before dropping steeply to a ridge and switchbacking around an outcrop and finally crossing over a saddle.
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IMG_0198Phlox, paintbrush, and chickweed.

IMG_0203Still on the old road.

IMG_0206At the ridge end above the saddle, the trail dropped down to the left then through the saddle.

IMG_0208Below the outcrop headed to the saddle.

Probably the most memorable part of our first hike here was needing to use a rope that had been affixed to a stump to descend a steep chute. While we both remembered that we had forgotten at what point we’d encountered the rope and after the steep drop off of Elk Mountain we convinced ourselves that the rope had been there. As we passed over the saddle we realized our mistake as the stump and rope were here and the 12 years had not been kind to the trail here.
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IMG_0210Heather getting ready to start down.

Kings Mountain TrailThe chute in 2010.

The rope was quite a bit longer this time, out of necessity, but we made it down and continued on. From here the trail passed below some sheer cliffs which had been a very nerve wracking experience in 2010. Apparently somewhere during the 549 outings that we’d done between visits I’d gotten much more comfortable with narrow trails with steep drop offs because this time there were no nerves but there were a couple of spots that required the use of hands to get up.
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IMG_0216The trail is down there somewhere.

20220521_110629Trillium

20220521_110646Bleeding heart

IMG_0225Fringed kitten-tails

20220521_114513Glacier lily

The trail then climbed to a high point along the ridge which Heather initially mistook for the summit of Kings Mountain. She was less than thrilled when I pointed out the actual summit a short distance, and one saddle, away.
IMG_0229Coming up to the high point.

IMG_0230Kings Mountain

IMG_0231View SE from the high point.

We dropped down to the saddle then made the final climb to Kings Mountain. We had seen a small number of other hikers up to this point but found several others here having come up from the Kings Mountain Trailhead.
IMG_0237Dropping to the last saddle.

IMG_0238Summit register at Kings Mountain.

IMG_0239Pacific Ocean in the distance.

IMG_0241View north.

IMG_0245Other hikers at the summit.

IMG_0244Valerian

IMG_0248Saxifrage, possibly Saddle Mountain saxifrage.

IMG_0250Phlox, paintbrush, parsley, blue-eyed Mary, and chickweed.

From Kings Mountain the Kings Mountain Trail dropped steeply downhill for 2.5 miles to a 4-way junction with the Wilson River Trail. While the trail is steep and rough in a couple of spots it’s nowhere near as gnarly as the Elk Mountain Trail. We had remembered the descent as having given us trouble but in those days we hadn’t used hiking poles. Armed with proper poles this time the descent went much smoother.
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IMG_0255One of the rougher sections.

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IMG_0272Wood sorrel

IMG_0279Woodland buttercup and candy flower.

IMG_0281The 4-way junction.

We turned left on the Wilson River Trail to make the 3.5 mile hike back to the Elk Mountain Trailhead. While the hike had been challenging we’d been doing pretty well but we’d forgotten to bring any electrolytes with us and while we had plenty of water we both started feeling a bit off. We paused at Dog Creek which is right near the junction for a bit of a break before continuing on the final stretch.
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IMG_0285Dog Creek

The Wilson River Trail passed a wetland fed by several small streams before making a long gradual climb up to the junction with the Elk Mountain Trail.
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The wetlands

IMG_0295One of the smaller streams.

IMG_0302Monkey flower

IMG_0305Lily that will bloom in a few weeks.

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IMG_0309Fringecup

IMG_0314Coming up on a footbridge across Big Creek.

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IMG_0319Big Creek

IMG_0322Pacific waterleaf

IMG_0325Steadily climbing.

IMG_0327A pea or vetch.

IMG_0329Unnamed stream crossing.

IMG_0332Miterwort

IMG_0338Rosy Birdsfoot Trefoil

IMG_0344The third type of monkey flower we saw on the day.

IMG_0349The junction is on the saddle ahead.

From the junction we dropped down to the trailhead where we thankfully had some meat sticks waiting that provided some much need salt and protein.
IMG_0352Cars to the left through the trees, we made it.

So what did we learn revisiting this challenging hike after 12 years? One is that we are more comfortable with sketchy trails and exposure after having experienced both many times since then. Secondly our bodies are 12 years older and they reminded us of that toward the end of the hike. Finally we were reminded that as much as we have learned about hiking such as the advantage that trekking poles can provide we are still prone to making mistakes and underestimating what we might need such as the electrolytes. It will likely be quite a while before you find us on a hike without some handy.

Aside from both stops being loops our two hikes for the day couldn’t have been much different from one another. The 0.7 mile loop at Killin Wetlands was short with a well graded trail that gained a total of 60′ of elevation while the Elk and Kings Mountain Loop and been over 11 miles (It’s just under 11 if you don’t wander around with over 4000′ of elevation gain. The gains were often steep, as were the losses, requiring the use of hands at times and included steep exposed drop offs. It was obvious from the number of other trail users that we encountered that most people stick to the out and back up to Kings Mountain but if you’re an experience hiker looking for a challenge or an early season training hike this is a great option. Happy Trails!

Our track for the Elk & Kings Mountain Loop

Flickr: Killin Wetlands and Elk & Kings Mountain

Categories
Cottage Grove Hiking Oregon Trip report

Row River Trail – Mosby Creek TH to Harms Park -12/18/2021

A combination of a busy December both at work and home and uncooperative weather left us with one final day to get our December hike in before the holiday weekend. Short of an ice storm we planned on hiking somewhere but the exact hike would depend on the weather forecast. As we got closer to the day, rain was the consensus everywhere within our day hiking radius. I looked through the hikes we hadn’t done yet for options for this time of year where a day of rain would have least impact on the hike. After coming up with a couple of possibilities, each a different direction from Salem a I looked again at the forecast for each area to see if any looked better than the others. The Row River Trail just East of Cottage Grove was the clear winner with just a chance of showers in the morning increasing to rain as the day went on.

A converted rail road, the Row River Trail is a 14 mile long paved National Recreation Trail. We hiked a portion of the trail last June during a multi-stop day (post). On that day we started at Bake Stewart Park which is on the eastern side of Dorena Lake and hiked west to Rat Creek which is just beyond Harms Park. Our plan for this outing was to park on the other side of Dorena Lake at the Mosby Creek Trailhead and hike east to Harms Park. It was overcast but not raining when we pulled into the trailhead parking area.
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The trail begins in Cottage Grove approximately 3 miles to the west of this trailhead it passes through town then closely follows Mosby Creek Road to the trailhead. While the trail beyond Mosby Creek crosses several roads and follows Row River Road around Dorena Lake it is more scenic than the first 3 miles would have been. Starting at the Mosby Creek Trailhead also offers the chance to make a quick 50 yard detour to the 1920 Mosby Creek Covered Bridge which was restored in 1990 and is still in use.
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The Row River Trail crosses Mosby Creek on a nearby trestle bridge.
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The trail is basically as straight as an arrow for 1.3 miles from the Mosby Creek bridge to a second bridge over the Row River. The scenery along this stretch is farmland and trees.
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IMG_7434Ivy disguising itself as a tree.

IMG_7442Mallards and Christmas lights.

IMG_7444Layng Road crossing. The lights on the signs were activated when sensors picked up something approaching.

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IMG_7457Currin Covered Bridge on Layng Road.

IMG_7459Cormorants flying overhead.

IMG_7460Approaching the bridge over the Row River.

IMG_7469Row River

Lesser scaupLesser scaup. I would have liked a better picture but it was still early and not very light and the little guy was a ways away on the river.

A short distance beyond the river we passed under Row River Road.
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20211218_113536_HDRThis was a new sign to us.

Shortly after passing under Row River Road the trail began a small climb above some farms as it made a sweeping curve to the right.
IMG_7473Row River Road with some snowy hillsides in the distance.

IMG_7477Arrows and other yellow markings identified bumps and holes in the trail for equestrian and bike users.

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IMG_7484Jelly fungus

IMG_7487Hamblen Creek

IMG_7490Turkeys in a field.

IMG_7495Sign along a private driveway.

IMG_7503Not very many mushrooms but these were good sized.

The trail crossed Row River Road again as it passed along the shoulder of Cerro Gordo, a 2112′ butte.
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From the road crossing We descended slightly passing the unmarked site where the campfire scene was filmed for the 1986 movie Stand By Me before arriving at the Dorena Lake Dam.
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IMG_7508Do squirrels jog?

IMG_7509Madrone along the trail.

IMG_7511Row River Road was overhead to the left along this rocky section.

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IMG_7515Nearing a bench along the trail facing Dorena Lake Dam.

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IMG_7521Interpretive sign near the bench.

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A short distance beyond the bench we took a short detour down to the reservoir.
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Calapooya MountainsSnow in the Calapooya Mountains.

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IMG_7536White pelicans on the other side of Dorena Lake.

We returned to the Row River Trail and continued another half a mile to a small parking area at Row Point where we again detoured to the reservoir.
IMG_7547Still no rain despite the clouds.

IMG_7555Red-tailed hawk

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IMG_7568A kingfisher and a great blue heron.

White pelcians and other waterfowlPelicans and other waterfowl on the move.

IMG_7576Cerro Gordo from Row Point.

After visiting Row Point we continued east on the trail for another 1.3 miles before arriving at the Rat Creek Bridge which had been our turn around point on our previous hike.
IMG_7582Not much water at all in the eastern end of the reservoir.

IMG_7586A great blue heron on the far left with a bunch of white pelicans and cormorants.

IMG_7597Actual sunlight hitting the dam.

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IMG_7601Spotted towhee

IMG_7605Rat Creek Bridge

IMG_7606Rat Creek

It was a very different view from the bridge versus last time.
Dorena LakeJune 2020 from the Rat Creek Bridge.

We continued the short distance into Harms Park to use the facilities and take a short break at a picnic table and then started back.
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IMG_7614Gold tree in front of Cerro Gordo.

When we were nearing the dam again we could see a number of cormorants lining the boom.
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I decided to detour over to the dam itself to check out the view.
IMG_7618The little hill to the left provides access to the north end of the dam.

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Heather had semi-reluctantly followed me but as it turned out we were both very happy we’d made the short side trip. Along with the group of cormorants making use of the boom were 4 river otters.
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IMG_7626Just drying out.

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IMG_7645Trying to play.

IMG_7646No luck.

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After not having seen any otters during our hikes prior to 2021 this was now the 4th time we’d seen one but the first where we were able to watch them for any extended period. It elevated what had already been a good hike into the great category. After watching the otters for awhile we headed back to the Mosby Creek Trailhead keeping our eyes open for other wildlife along the way.
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IMG_7667Rabbit

IMG_7673American wigeons

IMG_7684Nature slowly reclaiming an old farm truck.

IMG_7689Red breasted sap sucker.

IMG_7695Mosby Creek

The hike came in a 12.4 miles after all of the little side trips with only about 150′ of elevation gain.

There are numerous possible starting/turnaround points which make it possible to break the trial up into several smaller sections and we passed a few people doing just that with their dogs/children. The rain showers never materialized making it a much more pleasant day than we’d expected to have and the variety of wildlife, especially the otters, was a great way to finish off our 2021 hikes. Happy Trails and Merry Christmas!

Flickr: Row River Trail – Mosby TH to Harms Park

Categories
Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Oregon Trip report

Heritage Landing – 09/13/2021

After spending two days hiking in the Blue Mountains NE of Pendleton it was time to head home. We typically look for a short hike that can act as a leg stretcher when we are facing long drives to or from a vacation spot. Driving from Pendleton to Salem meant looking for something along I-84 preferably closer to Pendleton than Salem. Looking through our hiking books gave us the perfect answer, Heritage Landing. The hike along the Deschutes River from Heritage Landing is included in Matt Reeder’s “PDX Hiking 365” guidebook (Hike #9). There is also an entry for the hike on Oregonhikers.com as well. Heritage Landing is primarily used by rafters and fishermen but the fishermen and other users have created a series of trails up river at least as far as Rattlesnake Bend.

We parked in a gravel lot on the left side of the road just uphill from the boat ramp and hiked down past a gate.
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We followed an old road bed upstream past Moody Rapids. We had hiked the Deschutes River Trail on the other side of the river in 2018 (post)
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IMG_5256Sunlight on Haystack Butte in Washington.

IMG_5260Part of Moody Rapids.

IMG_5258Gum weed

IMG_5262The last petals on a blanket flower.

IMG_5265We saw several of these large beetles, all prepared to defend themselves.

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IMG_5267Snow buckwheat

IMG_5275Chicory

IMG_5281Seagull

IMG_5282Mergansers

The trail passed by a spring where thick blackberry bushes and other green vegetation hosted a number of small birds (and a few fishermen).

IMG_5285Sparrow

Shortly after passing the spring both Heather and I noticed something that looked out of place down by the water but we both decided it was another fisherman. After a few more steps we realized it was a river otter grooming itself on a small rock or patch of grass. I tried to grab my camera but it somehow knew I wanted a photo and disappeared into the water. The next thing we knew there were three otters swimming with the current and heading downstream but they were close enough to the bank that my camera kept focusing on the grass or limbs between them and us so I still don’t have a decent picutre of an otter. 😦
IMG_5292One blurry otter head and another partial otter on the right.

IMG_5293A bunch of tree branches, oh and an otter in the water.

After the exciting and yet disappointing otter encounter we continued up river. We planned on hiking until either the tread petered out or we reached Rattlesnake Rapids. The tread petered out a little before the rapids but we had a nice view of them from Rattlesnake Bend.
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IMG_5302At times there were multiple trails to choose from.

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IMG_5314Rattlesnake Bend is up ahead but we stopped here for a bit to watch a heron getting breakfast.

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IMG_5320A sparrow, possibly a Savannah sparrow.

IMG_5322The trail climbed higher on the hillside for a bit to avoid some thick vegetation below.

IMG_5330Rattlesnake Bend

IMG_5337Railroad tracks above the trail.

IMG_5338Looking back from Rattlesnake Bend near where we turned around.

IMG_5339Rattlesnake Rapids

On our way back we tried to choose the fishing trails closer to the river.
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IMG_5343Killdeer

IMG_5345An older channel?

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IMG_5348Had to go back up to avoid the vegetation here.

IMG_5350Ground squirrel

IMG_5354Heron flying up river.

IMG_5359Old rock wall along the way.

IMG_5360Typical use trail.

IMG_5363Merganser

IMG_5364Aster

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IMG_5366Osprey showing up the fishermen.

IMG_5370Finch

IMG_5372More birds near the spring.

IMG_5373Little yellow birds, maybe warblers?

IMG_5377One of the yellow birds on a blackberry plant.

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IMG_5384Moody Rapids

IMG_5390Haystack Butte

IMG_5391A line of mergansers.

This turned out to be an excellent hike with great scenery and plenty of wildlife (and no rattlesnakes). We got in a little over 4 miles round trip. Reeder listed it as a 3.2 mile out and back while Oregonhikers has it at 3.8 miles but a lot depends on where you turn around and how much back and forth you do down to the river.

Our track for the day.

It hadn’t been the vacation that we’d originally planned but our three days of hiking were beautiful and we were thankful to have been able to enjoy them so much. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Heritage Landing

Categories
Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast

Alder Island, God’s Thumb & Roads End – 3/13/2021

We were hoping for some nicer weather on the Saturday before the dreaded “Spring forward” which always seems to be the harder of the two time changes to adjust to. In addition to adjusting to the struggle, adjusting to the change springing forward also meant losing an hour of light in the morning when we like to do our hiking. We got our nice weather so we headed out to Lincoln City to explore some of the nearby trails and cross off another of Sullivan’s featured hikes at Roads End Beach. The hike at Roads End (#35 in the 3rd edition “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range) was one nine remaining featured hikes in his third edition which we reverted back to this year due to not knowing when (if) the final featured hike in his 4th edition, the Salmonberry Railroad, will reopen to hikers (post).

The Roads End hike is a roughly 2.8 mile out and back along Roads End Beach at the north end of Lincoln City which gave us an opportunity to add some mileage to our day and check out two other nearby destinations. The first of which was a quick stop at the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge just south of Lincoln City. With the time change not yet happening we were able to arrive early and start hiking by 6:30am and more importantly drive through Lincoln City without any traffic to speak of.
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The refuge offers a single trail, a short lollipop loop (just under a mile) around Alder Island. Canoeing and kayaking is a popular activity here. It was in the mid 30’s as we set off from the small parking area so there were no human paddlers out yet but the frosty temperature didn’t dissuade others.
IMG_0632Mallard pair

IMG_0635Canada geese

IMG_0642Goose and a mallard in the channels.

While the Sun wasn’t quite above the Coast Range great blue herons were already busy working on building a nest in some trees across a channel.
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It wasn’t just the bigger birds that were busy. A ruby-crowned kinglet was busy in the brush.
Ruby-crowned kinglet

Approximately .2 miles north of the parking area we made a hard right turn crossing over some water to Alder Island and the start of the short loop.
IMG_0656Several interpretive signs were placed along the loop.

IMG_0657A reminder that COVID-19 is still an issue.

The trail passed through stands of alder as it followed a small branch of the Siletz River for .3 miles before reaching a bench facing the main branch of the river. There were a number of ducks a geese in the channel but the highlight came when Heather spotted something heading down to the water on the far side ahead of us. It was a river otter! This had been one of, if not the, most wanted animal sightings on our list of critters we’d yet to see while hiking (or driving to a hike). Unfortunately the otter was too quick and far enough away in the low morning light to get more than a blurry photo of it swimming across the channel.
IMG_0662The larger muddy area along the bank ahead on the right is where Heather spotted the otter.

IMG_0665Alder lined trail.

IMG_0659Blurry photo of a non-breeding male hooded merganser.

Blurry River OtterThe blurry river otter.

IMG_0670Another mallard

IMG_0672Canada geese

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IMG_0681Siletz River

The bench might have been a nice place to sit for awhile had it been a little warmer but we needed to keep moving so we continued on the loop which led us back along the main river channel,
IMG_0685Western grebe

IMG_0688Goose and a bufflehead (the duck not the post)

IMG_0689Bufflehead

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IMG_0701Spring is coming!

We completed the loop and headed back to the car just as the Sun was cresting the foothills.
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We then drove back through Lincoln City (still with very little traffic) and made our way to the parking lot at the Roads End Recreation Site.
IMG_0703Sentry at the Roads End entrance.

We weren’t quite ready to head out along the beach though. Before doing the featured hike we planned on visiting the increasingly popular God’s Thumb. We were hoping that 7:30am was still early enough to avoid the crowds that were sure to show up later in the day. While there are two closer trailheads (The Villages and the Sal La Sea Trailhead), parking at Roads End meant having access to bathrooms and not having to move the car again.

God’s Thumb (arrow) from the Roads End parking Area

We followed the Oregon Hikers Field Guide directions (see link for God’s Thumb above) to make our way up through the neighborhood between Roads End and the Sal La Sea Trailhead.
There weren’t any people but the neighborhood was fairly active.
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We passed a single car parked at the trailhead as we continued on by a gate across an old roadbed.
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We had walked up some steep hills through the neighborhood and that theme continued on the old road bed for .4 miles before leveling out at a ridge top junction.
IMG_0722It’s hard to tell just how much uphill this is. Fortunately it wasn’t very muddy.

IMG_0723A little easier to see the uphill here, this was near the top.

IMG_0724The junction.

We turned left at the junction following the ridge out to The Knoll, an open space overlooking Lincoln City to the south.
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IMG_0733The Roads End parking area is the open green space in the center along the ocean.

IMG_0731The Pacific Ocean.

IMG_0735Roads End Point jutting out to the north.

IMG_0737The Knoll

We returned to the junction and continued straight following the ridge north.
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IMG_0740Snow queen

IMG_0744More signs of Spring, salmonberry blossom and buds.

IMG_0749Sitka spruce and ferns along the ridge.

At the far end of the ridge (after approx 1/3 of a mile) we came to another junction with a trail coming up from the trailhead at The Villages.
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Here we turned left and began a short descent that looked to be in some doubt due to several large downed trees.
IMG_0751The downed trees ahead in the distance.

As it turned out there was just one tree to duck under while the rest looked to have been recently taken care of.
IMG_0752The last of the tree fall.

The trail then dipped into an open meadow before rising again on the far side.
IMG_0754Mud had begun to be a bit of an annoyance at this point.

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After reaching the top of the hill the trail briefly continued north before turning left in a grassy meadow.
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IMG_0764Busy woodpecker

IMG_0766The trail getting nearing the turn left.

IMG_0769Lone tree in the meadow.

IMG_0771Lone robin in the lone tree.

From the meadow there was a view of Cascade Head (post) to the north and to God’s Thumb jutting out into the Pacific to the west.
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The trail to God’s Thumb crosses a narrow saddle before climbing steeply to the top of the thumb. We were thankful that it hadn’t rained for a few days which eliminated any issues that mud might have made with footing. We were also pleased that we didn’t see any other hikers in the area that we might have to pass on the way there.
IMG_0779Heather crossing the saddle (left of the big bush)

IMG_0801Cascade Head from the saddle.

IMG_0800Final pitch up to the top.

The view of Cascade Head was great from the thumb and we were able to enjoy it by ourselves.
IMG_0788Not quite to ourselves, we shared the space briefly with some chestnut backed chickadees.

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IMG_0795Cascade Head and the mouth of the Salmon River.

IMG_0792Roads End Point and Lincoln City

IMG_0790Rocks below God’s Thumb

We did actually see another hiker but he wasn’t coming down the trail to God’s Thumb, he was heading down to the ocean in the cove north of us.
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After enjoying the view for a bit we headed back. We finally passed some other hikers just as we started down into the valley before climbing back up to the junction at the ridge end. It was beginning to be a fairly steady stream of hikers as we reached the junction where we forked left to make a loop out of the middle of the hike. The old road bed on this side of the ridge was much muddier than what we’d come up, but we also spotted quite a few yellow violets and a single toothwort along this route.
IMG_0807A reasonable representation of the wet/muddy conditions on this part of the hike.

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IMG_0815Toothwort

A mile and a half from the junction we arrived at the very crowded trailhead at The Villages. Here we turned left on a little path which quickly joined another old roadbed.
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Less than a half mile later we were passing another gate along Sal La Sea Drive.
IMG_0828The gate and Sal La Sea Drive in the distance.

IMG_0829It’s not a hike at the coast without some skunk cabbage.

At Sal La Sea Drive I suggested turning left as it looked like the road would take us back downhill almost directly to the Roads End Recreation Site but Heather wasn’t sold on that. (She was sure there was a hidden uphill that would be worse than what we were facing to get back to the Sal La Sea Trailhead.) Never one to pass up a climb we turned right and headed up Sal La Sea Drive. It was a little over 3/4 of a mile back to that trailhead (where there were now 9 cars) and somewhere in there Heather realized she had chosen poorly. We then retraced our path from earlier back down to Roads End. Along the way we saw over a half dozen more deer among the houses which we found humorous, in the woods we saw no deer and a bunch of people and in the neighborhood we saw no people and a bunch of deer.
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While our plan to avoid people had worked well at Alder Island and for our visits to The Knoll and God’s Thumb there was no chance for privacy along the beach at Roads End. While it was busy it was a nice walk along the beach for almost a mile and a half to Roads End Point where continuing is only possible during low tides.
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IMG_0849Coltsfoot

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IMG_0853An immature bald eagle flew overhead at one point.

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IMG_0863Little waterfall along the beach.

IMG_0866Roads End Point

IMG_0871Not going around that today.

We headed back saying one last goodbye to God’s Thumb and The Knoll before driving back home to Salem.
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IMG_0879God’s Thumb on the right.

IMG_0880Hikers on The Knoll

Our mileage for the day was right around ten with a mile coming at Alder Island, two and three quarters at Roads End and the remaining six and a quarter being The Knoll and God’s Thumb. There was 1420′ of elevation gain all of which was during the portion from Roads End to God’s Thumb and back. While we’ve had good weather for all three of our hikes thus far in 2021 this hike was the first to truly feel like Winter is coming to an end. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Alder Island, God’s Thumb & Roads End