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Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Southern Coast Trip report

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor North

Saturday we were heading home, but before we headed north we had one more hike to do. We had hiked much of the southern portion of the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor on Thursday and now we were going to spend some time in the northern portion.

There had been chances of rain for the previous couple of days and this morning we were greeted by a rainbow as we left the hotel.
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We hadn’t been rained on yet but driving down to the trailhead we were getting rained on pretty good so when we arrived at the Arch Rock Picnic Area we donned our rain gear.
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The rain pants helped keep the moisture that was on the plants at bay, but the jacket wound up being overkill since it never actually rained on us while we were hiking.

A short loop trail from the parking area led past picnic tables to a viewpoint of Arch Rock.
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After completing the loop we headed south on the Oregon Coast Trail.
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A short distance from the Arch Rock Picnic Area we came to the Spruce Island Viewpoint parking area.
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The next marker was supposed to be a pair of viewpoints before reaching Thunder Rock Cove. We arrived at a first viewpoint along with a small snail.
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We got ourselves confused here when we came to a junction with a wide path coming downhill from our left. A gentleman was doing trail maintenance on that section. We had spoken to him on Thursday during our other visit to the park and just assumed that he was working on the trail we wanted to take. We ignored the trail that appeared to be leading down to the little beach we had seen from the viewpoint thinking it was just a way down to the ocean. We followed the wide path up to an unsigned parking area.

The problem was no visible trail continued south from there. We thought that the trail might follow the road for a bit as it would do a little further along so we began walking along Highway 101 looking for some sign of the Oregon Coast Trail. It wasn’t until we reached the Thunder Rock Cove Viewpoint Parking area that we picked up the trail again.
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We should have gone right down to the beach instead of uphill at the previous junction but we were back on the trail now and after a short climb around a hill we arrived at another parking area. This one was for the Natural Bridges Viewpoint.
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The next 1.1 mile section of trail alternated between grassy meadows along the highway and forest with an occasional viewpoint.
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Red valerian
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After a short walk along the Highway the trail reappeared heading downhill toward China Beach.
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We spent a little time down on this beach. There were plenty of rocks in the water including one tall pillar covered in birds. It was just far enough out that we couldn’t tell what kind of birds they were, just that there was a lot of them.
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To continue on the trail we would have needed to follow the beach south around a small headland that was already pressed by the ocean. We didn’t want to get stuck on the far side where we would be forced to walk along the highway to get back, so we stopped here and got ready to head back. On our way back we stopped at a couple of viewpoints we had passed by initially.
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We also managed to stick to the section of Oregon Coast Trail we’d missed when we took the wrong turn earlier near Thunder Rock Cove.
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Along this section we discovered an option for a loop trail to the beach and waterfall.
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The loop trail passed more nice viewpoints before dropping down to a view of the waterfall.
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The trail then climbed up past another stunning viewpoint before returning to the Oregon Coast Trail.
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We followed the trail back to the Arch Rock Picnic Area ending our vacation hikes. This hike ended up being 9.2 miles according to the GPS bringing our total for the 7 days to 95.2 miles. It had been a great vacation despite being our “Plan B” option. The weather wound up great and the views and wildflowers were spectacular. It was another good reminder of just how much our State has to offer in the way of great hiking. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157668656866396

Categories
Hiking Klamath/Siskiyou Mountains Oregon Oregon Coast Southern Coast Trip report

Illinois River Trail and Indian Sands

Our wildest hike came Friday. We had planned on a 17.2 mile hike along the Illinois River Trail going 8.6 miles to Silver Creek and back. The description in our guidebook said to look out for poison oak and to check for ticks at the end so we were prepared for a bit of an adventure. Our hike began at a trailhead near the end of Oak Flat Road. To get there we took Jerrys Flat Road from Gold Beach 27 miles then turned right on Oak Flat Road road for another 3.1 miles.
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The trail set off through an open forest with lots of yellow and purple wildflowers and some poison oak.
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As we neared our first marker, Nancy Creek, we spotted a pair of deer that had already seen us and were heading back into the forest. Just beyond Nancy Creek we came upon a nice patch of columbine flowers. The only ones we would see during our vacation.
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Other flowers here included catchfly and henderson’s stars.
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The next creek up was Rattlesnake Creek. A short distance before reaching this small stream we spotted a black bear in the woods below the trail. It saw us at about the same time and promptly turned around. For some reason I failed to even reach for the camera as we watched it go back downhill through the trees.

Beyond Rattlesnake Creek the trail entered an area where the trees had been lost to the 2002 Biscuit Fire.
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There continued to be a lot of flowers as well as the occasional patch of poison oak.
Pink honeysuckle
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chaparral false bindweed
chaparral false bindweed

Bridges’ brodiaea
Bridges' brodiaea

With the trees mostly burned this section of trail was crowded by brush.
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The amount of poison oak increased in the area of Ethels Creek and we started picking up ticks. Heather was the first to notice. She made an alarmed sound behind me and I turned around to see several ticks climbing up her legs. Looking down at my own I immediately spotted three. We brushed them all off and started to hike again. We had not gone far at all before Heather exclaimed again. We both had multiple ticks on our legs again. This had gone on for about a mile when we reached the Buzzards Roost, a rocky outcrop, at the 2.5 mile mark of our hike.
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A short scramble path went out onto the Buzzards Roost but we could see poison oak along that path and were too preoccupied with looking for and knocking off any additional ticks. We were discussing what to do as the number of ticks that we’d already brushed off was more than we could have imagined and it was giving us the willies. Things didn’t get any better when one of my trekking poles slid off the log I had propped it on. I had made the mistake of leaning it on the log without checking the area around the log. We watched it fall and bounce on some little poison oak plants. We used some wipes to pick it up (along with yet another tick) and then wiped it down as best as we could. I had also left my gloves in the car which would have come in handy since it was the grip that had made contact with the poison oak.

After a thorough cleaning we decided to at least try and go another 2 miles to Indian Flat and Indigo Creek and see if the tick and poison oak situation got any better.

It did improve some beyond the Buzzards Roost where the trail had rounded the hillside and was now on the southern facing slope which was drier with less brush crowding the trail. The flower display along this section was impressive.
Henderson’s Stars
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Silver puff
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Paintbrush
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Blue gilia in the foreground
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Balsamroot
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Mariposa lily
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Fleabane
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Madia
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Penstemon
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Narrowleaf blue eyed mary
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California lady-slippers
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Western wallflower
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Ookow
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About 1.7 miles from the Buzzards Roost an old roadbed split off to the left. This led .2 miles to the meadow at Indian Flat.
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We continued on the Illinois River Trail and descended to the bridge across the lovely Indigo Creek.
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On the far side of the creek we stopped to do a more intensive tick check. There were just a couple of stragglers to knock off and we decided to try and continue at least another .7 miles to Fantz Ranch. The trail began to climb uphill to reach a saddle above the ranch. As we climbed the switchbacks the amount of poison oak began to increase again. When it appeared that there was going to be no way past one patch without going through it we finally gave in and decided to call it. We’d made it a little over 5 miles and had seen a lot of neat stuff despite everything.

As we made our way back we stopped regularly to brush off the inevitable ticks. There were other more enjoyable critters out along the trail as well including a large number of alligator lizards. We hoped that they were filling up on the little blood suckers. 🙂
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Back at the trailhead we wiped everything down in an attempt to remove an urushiol we might have picked up from contact with poison oak and did a final tick check before heading back to Gold Beach. We stopped by our room to shower and soak in the hot tub to try and relax.

We decided that since we had cut our hike short we should go back out in the evening to check out Indian Sands in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. We had not gone that far on Thursday when we were hiking in the southern portion of the park so we drove back down and parked at the Indian Sands pullout.
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We set off on the wide Oregon Coast Trail.
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A confusion of paths led off toward the ocean and the dunes of Indian Sands from the trail. We weren’t sure which was the “correct” one but we just kept heading toward the Pacific until we could see sand and then headed for that.
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We followed a path out to a wildflower covered viewpoint of a rock arch.
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Sea figs
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Seaside daisy
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Sea thrift and paintbrush
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Mariposa lilies
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The sandstone cliffs here create the dunes making it an interesting area unlike anything else we’d seen in the park.
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We made our way north following footprints in the sand.
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We came to a saddle with a great view where a trail to the right led up through a brush covered slope back into the forest and onto the Oregon Coast Trail.
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Turning right on the Oregon Coast Trail would have taken us back to the car but we decided to turn left and check out the Thomas Bridge Viewpoint. We’d driven over the bridge multiple times already and read that it was the highest bridge in Oregon at 345′. We left the Oregon Coast Trail at a split in the trail where it headed uphill toward the parking area for the viewpoint. We headed downhill to the left to find the viewpoint. The first viewpoint we came to was partly blocked by trees.
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The trail continued out along a ridge so we followed it looking for a better view. We noticed another trail along the right that hopped over the ridge and headed steeply down into the trees. We ignored that and continued heading for the ocean. No view of the bridge had appeared as we rounded the end of the ridge but the trail kept going now heading downhill back inland. It did wind up leading to a better, but not great, viewpoint.
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From this viewpoint we followed a path uphill that wound up being the same trail we had seen going over the ridge and down into the trees. When we crested the ridge we met another couple looking for the viewpoint. We pointed them in the right direction before heading back to Indian Sands.

In the end it worked out really well to have turned back on the Illinois River Trail in time for us to get the hike in at Indian Sands. It was definitely worth the visit. We appear to have escaped the poison oak without any ill effects (at least not yet) and haven’t had to brush off any ticks since leaving the Illinois River Trail. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157666245754163

Categories
Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Southern Coast Trip report

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor South and Wheeler Ridge Bomb Site

On Thursday we headed for another State Park south of Gold Beach. The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor covers a 12 mile long stretch along the Pacific Ocean. Numerous day use areas and trails including the Oregon Coast Trail make the area very easy to explore. We planned on spending two days hiking in the park starting near the southern end at the Lone Ranch Picnic Area.
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From the parking area we headed north on a paved path toward Cape Ferelo.
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The Oregon Coast Trail crossed Lone Ranch Creek and headed up through the meadows of Cape Ferello before reaching the beach. We opted to visit the beach and take a different path up to Cape Ferrelo. We walked along the creek crossing on some drift wood nearer to the ocean.
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We found the path leading up and followed it along the cape’s edge.
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The open meadow allowed for great views to both the north and south and wildflowers dotted the grassy hillsides.
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Lupine
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sticky monkey-flower
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Violets
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Possibly a ragwort
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Coastal manroot
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Clover
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Catchfly
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The path we were following rejoined the Oregon Coast Trail on Cape Ferrelo which then brought us to the Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint.
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From that parking area, the Oregon Coast Trail passed through a more forested section of the park.
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The views opened up again as we approached the House Rock Viewpoint (We never were sure which was House Rock).
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Continuing from the House Rock Viewpoint the next .9 miles of the Oregon Coast Trail passed through a surprising variety of forest scenery.
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The trail then split with a sign pointing us to the right.
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We suspected that the left fork led down to the beach which we planned on walking along on our return trip so we made a mental note to see if this was indeed the spot where we would rejoin the Oregon Coast Trail later. A little further along was a sign for a “Waterfall Loop”.
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We like waterfalls so we turned onto the loop trail. The first fall we passed was a bit hard to see from the trail but we wondered if we would have a better view when we were down on the beach.
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The next waterfall was actually a series of three small cascades. These were more visible from a short side trail.
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Next up was Whaleshead Viewpoint where an amazing field of foxglove was blooming.
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From this viewpoint the trail dropped steeply down .2 miles to Whaleshead Beach.
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We kept heading north passing through the Whaleshead Beach Picnic Area in .3 miles, crossing the entrance road to the picnic area in another .2 miles, and finally stopping at a viewpoint overlooking Whaleshead Island.
Buttercups in the picnic area.
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Approaching the entrance road crossing.
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The viewpoint.
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Sea thrift and paintbrush
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Looking north from the viewpoint.
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Whaleshead island and sea figs
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We headed back to Whaleshead Beach and headed south through the sand.
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There were several highlights on the beach walk starting with a small opening passing through some rocks.
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Then we followed Bowman Creek along the beach.
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The first fork of the creek coming out of the forest was where the smaller cascades were located. We couldn’t see them from the beach but it looked like a more determined person could have hiked up the creek to a view.
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At the second fork the larger waterfall that we hadn’t had a good view of was clearly visible.
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The beach ended shortly after the third creek coming down to the ocean.
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There were a bunch of oyster catchers on a rock here.
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A post on the hillside on the far side of this creek marked the trail that would take us back up to the Oregon Coast Trail.
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We hiked up the creek a bit to pick up the faint overgrown trail.
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We just kept aiming for the posts as we passed some pretty wildflower displays.
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We did wind up back on the Oregon Coast Trail at the junction we had suspected earlier and headed back toward Cape Ferrelo. This time we followed the Oregon Coast Trail over the cape. This led us to another viewpoint with a bench and some flowers we hadn’t seen along the other portion of trail.
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Bachelor button
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brodiaea
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We had a little trouble finding the correct route through the vegetation near Lone Ranch Creek and wound up popping out in between the Oregon Coast Trail and the route we had taken that morning.
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After returning to the car we drove into Brookings and headed for our second hike of the day at the site of a WWII bomb dropped by a Japanese pilot on Wheeler Ridge. To reach the trailhead we took South Bank Road for 5.2 miles and turned right following a pointer on Mt. Emily Road (road 1205) for 3.7 miles forking left at that point to stay on road 1205 until we reached the signed trailhead.
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The trail is only a mile long but the interesting history behind the site makes the trip well worth it. The pilot, Nobou Fujita, took off from a Japanese submarine on September 9th, 1942 and flew inland to drop two bombs in hopes of starting a forest fire. One of the bombs did start a small fire that was spotted by the lookout,Howard Gardner, stationed on nearby Mt. Emily. He and a couple of other forest service staff located the fire and extinguished it finding the bomb crater and remnants of the ordinance.

Nobou Fujita traveled to Brookings in 1962 for the town’s Azalea Festival and presented his family’s samurai sword to the citizens as a token of peace. In 1992 he returned to plant a redwood seedling which unfortunately did not survive due to trampling by visitors. After his death a group of Japanese naval veterans planted a second tree at the site which still survives today.
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The highlight of the trail was the bomb site and interpretive signs but there were also some big redwoods and a nice set of candysticks along the trail.
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When we got back to Brookings we stopped for dinner at Kuhn Thai. We really enjoyed the food here once we finally settled on some choices. Another tasty end to a day. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157666232501494