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Hiking McKenzie River Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

McKenzie River Trail (Blue Pool TH south to NF-610) – 11/21/2020

A combination of a day off, a favorable forecast and a need to drive to Bend to pick up some Christmas items provided the perfect excuse to check out a section of the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail. This would be our third hike on this 26.4 mile long trail, all on different sections (Tamolitch Pool and Clear Lake).

We started our hike at the popular Tamolitch Blue Pool Trailhead where we had also started our hike to the Blue Pool.
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This time though we headed south (left) on the McKenzie River Trail away from the Blue Pool and the crowds that would surely be arriving later in the day (we were the 2nd car at the TH on this morning).
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The Sun wasn’t quite up yet, and it was still under 30 degrees, as we set off on the trail.
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The trail climbed a forested hillside and crossed a forest road above Trail Bridge Reservoir (2 miles from the TH).
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IMG_8455Forest road crossing.

The trail then descended to Forest Road 730 and a crossing of Smith River which feeds into the reservoir.
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Another brief climb followed before dropping down to the Trail Bridge Dam.
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IMG_8495The top of Three Fingered Jack is visible in the distance.

We continued on the trail which now began to follow the McKenzie River more closely.
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IMG_8499Fall means mushrooms.

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There were a couple of opportunities to get down to the river bank which we took advantage of and just over a mile and a half from the dam we stopped to admire Olallie Creek joining the river.
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IMG_8533Anderson Creek joining the McKenzie.

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IMG_8541Olallie Creek across from the trail.

A half mile beyond Olallie Creek the river split leaving a large forested island briefly in its center.
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Beyond the island the trail passed some rocky cliffs where icicles dripped before dropping to a crossing of Deer Creek at the 5.5 mile mark of our hike.
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IMG_8572Turning up Deer Creek to reach the footbridge.

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Shortly after crossing the creek the trail arrived at Deer Creek Road (NF 782) where there is parking for the trail and Deer Creek (aka Bigelow) Hot Springs. We knew the hot springs were somewhere along our route but we didn’t know for sure where until we got home after the hike. There was no sign for the small hot spring that sits along the river bank but we did see an obvious trail heading south down to the river here. Not knowing that the hot springs were down there we visited the bridge over the McKenzie and then continued on the McKenzie River Trail.
IMG_8586Up river from Deer Creek Road.

IMG_8588Deer Creek Hot Springs would be somewhere along the right hand side of the river.

The trail briefly climbed above the river before switchbacking down and arriving at Frissel Creek just over a mile from Deer Creek Road.
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IMG_8592We had to go around this bridge due to frost and it being at an angle.

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IMG_8606Footbridge over Frissel Creek.

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We had planned to turn around between 10 and 10:30 at either the hot springs or Forest Road 610 which the trail briefly follows. Since we didn’t realize we’d passed the hot springs we wound up making FR 610 the turnaround which was approximately three quarters of a mile beyond Frissel Creek. We arrived at the road just after 10:30.
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We turned around at the road and headed back keeping our eyes open for any sign of the hot springs and any other things we missed on the first pass. We still didn’t realize that the hot springs were where they were but we did spot a lot more mushrooms and the tops of the Middle and North Sister on the way back.
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IMG_8624We missed this sign for slough creek the first time by.

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IMG_8633Missed this survey marker too.

IMG_8631We also completely missed this sign at Deer Creek.

IMG_8638Still cold

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IMG_8679Without the use of the zoom on the camera they are hard to make out but the tops of the North and Middle Sister are visible over the hills.

The Garmin showed 14.6 miles for this out and back (Google maps had indicated it would be 13.4 miles) and there was between 800 and 1000′ of cumulative elevation gain. What climbs there were weren’t ever steep and didn’t last long. We encountered a half dozen other trail users but when we arrived back at the trailhead it was full and cars were stretched all they way down the road with people heading for the Blue Pool. It has become one of “those” hikes and is getting loved to death. After changing we drove to Bend for a quick visit with Heather’s parents and then headed back over the pass to Salem. Happy Trails!

Flickr: McKenzie River Trail

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California Hiking Klamath/Siskiyou Mountains Northern California Coast Oregon Trip report

Shrader Old Growth, Myrtle Tree, Lower Rogue River, and Yontocket

On the fourth day of our vacation we were changing our base of operations from Gold Beach, OR to Crescent City, CA. We planned on checking out of our motel in Gold Beach in the morning and doing three hikes along Jerry’s Flat Road before heading down to our next motel. So far the vacation had been going okay but each day had thrown some kinks our way and this day would do the same.

Our first stop was the Francis Shrader Old Growth Trail.
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The interpretive loop was just under a mile long. Brochures were available at the trailhead which we found to be very informative. It was probably the best interpretive trail we’d been on and would make a great hike for kids. Unfortunately our phones didn’t handle the low light conditions of the morning in the forest well so our photos were limited.
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To reach this trail we’d turned off of Jerry’s Flat Road 9.7 miles from Gold Beach onto Road 3300-090 for two miles. Our next stop was just across the Rogue River at the Myrtle Tree Trailhead. To get there we drove 100 feet further along Jerry’s Flat Road and turned left on Road 3310 crossing the river and turning right onto an unmarked road for less than a quarter mile to the signed trailhead.
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This trail was even shorter than the Old Growth Trail at just half a mile out and back. It climbed to Oregon’s largest known myrtle tree.
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Rough skinned newts and snails were numerous on the trail so we had to watch our steps.
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After visiting the tree we returned to Jerry’s Flat Road and followed it across the Rogue Rive to Road 375 where we turned left and followed it to Agness. We parked at the Agness Community Center/Library per the trail signs.
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We were a little nervous about our planned 6.2 mile hike here given it was almost the same time of year as our tick filled visit to the nearby Illinois River Trail the previous year.

The first part of the trail follows roads and paths through private property so following the trail signs was important.
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Candyflower and wild iris were in bloom along the trail.
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Poison oak was also a common sight.
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The trail had not been maintained yet this year and we encountered blowdown almost immediately after leaving the old roads. We were able to navigate the first few spots without having to deal with any of the poison oak but it meant being more in the brush and it wasn’t long before we’d each brushed off ticks.

After only a mile we came upon a large washout.
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I crossed it to see if I could easily pick out the continuation of the trail. It wasn’t obvious and no marking was visible so we considered our options and decided neither of us were too keen on continuing. We were unsure of the trail conditions further on so we turned around, went back to the car, and did a thorough tick check.

It was going to be too early to check in to our motel in Crescent City so we decided to pick out another hike from our guidebook that would be along our way. We chose to check out the the site of a former Native American village in Tolowa Dunes State Park.

We parked at a tricky trailhead to find along Pala Road. My best advice for finding it is to look at the park on Google Maps, find Pala Road near the NE end of the park and get driving directions. 🙂
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Pala Road passed through cow pastures which proved to be interesting on our drive out as we wound up in a heard of dairy cows on their way to be milked.
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As for the hike my left foot had gotten a little tender during the drive. I had been wearing an older pair of hiking shoes and they were really irritating a tendon or ligament on the outside of that foot. Every step shoved the shoe up against it and I was really having trouble walking.

We were headed for the village site which was located atop a small hill.
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We stopped at the picnic tables so I could put some bandages on my foot to try and cushion the contact before heading back downhill to a marked trail junction where we headed for the Smith River.
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The scenery in the area was great with several types of flowers blooming and many birds flying overhead including great white egrets and a bald eagle.
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The bandages weren’t helping so Heather came up with the idea of trading shoes. For the rest of the hike we each wore one of the others shoes which did provide some relief. We managed to make it to the Smith River which was less than a half mile from the village site.
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It was late enough now that we’d be able to check in to our room so we called it a day and I limped back to the car. When we got settled I iced my foot and we wondered what the next day had in store. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Shrader Old Growth, Myrtle Tree, Lower Rogue, and Yontocket

Categories
California Hiking Northern California Coast Trip report

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park – Stout Grove and Boy Scout Tree

On the second day of our vacation we woke up to rain which seemed fitting since our hike for the day was going to be in the rain forest of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We decided to start our hike at Stout Memorial Grove and planned on combining several trails leading us past Boy Scout Tree to Fern Falls and back.
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We started off on the .5 mile loop through the trees of Stout Grove.
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We once again found ourselves confused when we arrived at the Smith River where we couldn’t see a clear trail on the far side of Mill Creek. We had not brought our guide book due to the heavy rain and neither of us could remember from looking at the map at the trailhead where exactly the Mill Creek Trail was supposed to be. After following a faint path into the brush and deciding that was wrong we returned to the trailhead and reviewed the map where we realized that we needed to cross Mill Creek near it’s confluence with the Smith River. A bridge is placed over Mill Creek during the summer but had been taken down for the year so we were left to cross on what we refer to as a “hiker” bridge, typically a jumble of small logs and other pieces of wood.
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Once we crossed Mill Creek we easily spotted the continuation of the trail and the well marked Mill Creek Trail junction.
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It was nearly 4 miles from the Mill Creek Crossing to the Boy Scout Tree Trailhead. We could have driven to it on Howland Hill Rd but where is the adventure in that? The sights along the Mill Creek Trail were well worth the extra walking.
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When we reached Howland Hill Road we road walked for about a quarter mile to the Boy Scout Tree Trailhead.
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Had we had a current map with us we would have known that we could have avoided much of the road walk by continuing on the Mill Creek Trail as it recrossed the road twice more before the Boy Scout Tree Trail. The redwoods were magnificent along the Boy Scout Tree Trail but we also had to look down along the way as there were other, smaller sights to see in the forest.
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We took the short, unmarked, side trail to Boy Scout Tree at the 2.4 mile mark of the Boy Scout Tree Trail where we found the massive tree.
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The trail continued another half mile to the small but pretty Fern Falls.
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The rain was letting up as we began our return hike and it seemed to bring out the wildlife which we hadn’t seen much of yet.
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By the time we’d made it back to the Smith River the rain had stopped and the clouds began to break up.
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It had been a long hike, 15.4 miles, but we were glad we chose to hike the Mill Creek Trail instead of driving between the two trailheads. After all we don’t get to see redwoods everyday. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157660602039241/with/22625742012/