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Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Mt. Hebo and Munson Falls

Mt. Hebo was another hike on our list of do-overs. Our previous visit had been on May 30, 2011 which normally would be a good time for a visit to the meadows that dot the top of the mountain. 2011 was not a normal year though and our visit that day turned out to be a cold and foggy trek past patches of lingering snow to a view-less summit. We decided this was the year for the re-hike and we were even able to do it on the same day as before May 30, 2015. This time we threw in a second short stop at Munson Falls State Park to check out 266′ Munson Falls. Both of these hikes are located near Tillamook, OR.

We started the morning at Hebo Lake Camp Ground at the Pioneer Indian Trail trailhead. When we arrived we were having a bit of deja-vu as fog filled the forest much like our first visit. We knew there would be no snow this year, but would we get any views. The trail starts near the far end of the lake and heads into the forest.
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Not too far along the trail we came to an unsigned junction that neither of us recalled from our first visit. It wasn’t marked on the map in our field guide either and we at first turned left which is incorrect. Luckily Heather spotted a “Trail ->” sign pointing back the way we’d come which caused me to double check with our GPS (which I should have done at the junction anyway) and we realized we needed to go back and take the right had fork.
Unsigned jct.
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As we continued along the sun began to burn through the clouds which was a welcome sight.
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The trail passes several interpretive signs before reaching a plantation of trees which had been planted by the forest service in the early 1900s. The contrast between the two sections of forest is really interesting.
Forest before the plantation.
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Some of the plantation trees.
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The trail crosses a gravel road then at the 2.9 mile mark after a good climb crosses paved road 14. I had taken a photo at this crossing on our first visit allowing for a good comparison of just how different things were this time around.
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After crossing the road the trail follows an old road bed which is where we had encountered the first of the snow in 2011. This time around we encountered flowers instead.
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Just over a mile from the road 14 crossing the trail enters the first meadow. Here again we found a vastly different scene than on our previous visit.
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There was a wide variety of flowers dotting the meadow and the view was much improved. We still could not see the ocean or any of the cascade peaks but much of the coast range was visible above the clouds.
Paintbrush
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Violet
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Columbine
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Wild Iris
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Lupine
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The trail passes through the first meadow then a short section with some trees before emerging in a much larger meadow.
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We had turned around in this meadow after being blasted by a cold wet wind in 2011 but on this beautiful day we continued on recrossing road 14 and reentering the forest.
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There were new flowers to discover on this section of the trail including bunchberry, anenome, and camas which we were really surprised to see.
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We also crossed a little stream coming from a marshy wetland area. As we took a quick look we noticed some frogs hopping into several pools and a number of birds in the area. We didn’t get any pictures of wildlife on the first pass but on our way back by we were luckier.
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Western Tanager
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Band-tailed Pigeon
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This little area would have made a good turnaround point but we continued on a bit further looking for a viewpoint that was shown in our guide book. We passed a couple of smaller meadows filled with camas and found some nice penstemon in bloom but not a particularly nice viewpoint before the trail began to descend toward North Lake.
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We weren’t interested in having to climb back up from the little lake so we turned around and headed back to the meadows. The clouds to the west had really retreated when we arrived back at the meadows revealing more of the coastal foothills.
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As we were passing back through the forest along the lower portion of the trail Heather spotted a really good sized Pacific-Tree Frog.
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After finishing the Mt. Hebo hike we headed north on Highway 101 toward Tillamook to Munson Falls State Park. Here a quarter-mile path leads to a view of the tallest water fall in the Coast Range. Unfortunately it is virtually impossible to get a clear view of the entire 266′ cascade due to a narrow canyon full of downed logs and thick brush. Still the waterfall was one of the more impressive we’ve seen and well worth the visit.
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After our brief visit to the falls we took a little detour on the way home through Pacific City in order to stop at the Pelican Pub & Brewery which has become on of our favorite post hike places to grab a meal. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157653321256339
flickr 2011 visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157632953522057

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Mary’s Peak, Beazell Memorial Forest & Ft. Hoskins County Park

Every once in a while it can be fun to change things up a bit. For our latest day of hiking we did just that. Instead of one longer hike we decided to knock a few shorter hikes off our to-do list. We had a graduation open-house that we wanted to stop in at that afternoon in Dallas, OR so we headed down to the central coast range for a trail triple header.

We started at Mary’s Peak, the highest peak in the Oregon coast range. We had visited the peak in 2009 when we were just starting to get into hiking. That day we had taken a 2.5 mile route from Conner’s Camp to the 4097′ summit. It was the most challenging hike we’d done up to that point and we felt every bit of the 1530′ climb. Our plan was to redo that hike (at least on the way up) to see how we would fare now that we’ve been hiking for several years.

There are several ways to get to the summit varying in length from just over a mile to almost 11 miles round trip. The East Ridge trail would be our route up from Conner’s Camp. The trail sets off from the parking area in a forest of old-growth Douglas Fir which tower overhead. The forest is very open despite the giant trees due to the lack of lower branches which allows for an abundance of green undergrowth. Vine maple, salal, fern, and many other plants contribute to a lush green understory. Low clouds were hanging in the tree tops while many white woodland flowers dotted the forest floor.

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The trail climbs steadily for 1.1 miles to a junction where the East Ridge Tie trail continues on to the North ridge trail making a loop possible. We would be retuning from that direction but in order to recreate our 2009 climb we turned left to continue up the East Ridge trail. The trail steepens after the junction and it was this section that seemed to go on forever the first time we hiked it. It proved to be a stiff climb but we quickly reached a second junction, this time with the North Ridge trail. Forking to the left we continued up a short distance to the lower meadow and blue(ish) skies. 🙂

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The trail wraps around a hillside through the meadow, which was yet to really start blooming, before reaching a gravel service road in a saddle. The clouds were lapping up over the hillside from the north creating what can only be described as a “fog rainbow”.

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The gravel road winds up to the summit around the south side of Mary’s Peak, but a more direct (and steeper) trail leads up to the upper meadow from the far side of the road. Since that was the way we had gone before we crossed the road and headed up again (and again wondered why). When we emerged from the narrow swath of trees that divides the two meadows we found that the upper meadow was also yet to bloom. Clumps of lupine had yet to even begin to bud and only a few scattered flowers dotted the slope.

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The sky was blue though and we had the peak to ourselves so we climbed through the meadow to a picnic table at the summit. We were above the clouds but it appeared that Mary’s Peak was the only peak which had managed to rise above them. Even the 10,000′ Cascade peaks to the east were hidden. To the west the Pacific Ocean blended in so well with the layer of clouds and blue sky that it was difficult to make out where one ended an another began.

The view west:
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After setting our stuff down at the table we began exploring the summit. To the west where the road came up from below we began to find flowers. Purple larkspur and yellow biscuit root covered the ground.
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We started to head down the road following the flowers and as we rounded a bend we were greeted with a color explosion. We’d found the flowers. They were all on the south side of the peak. Phlox, larkspur, paint, and various yellow wildflowers covered the slopes on this side.
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After taking a few pictures (okay lots) we went back to the table to gather our packs and headed back down the road. As we made our way down we found some blooming lupine and penstemon as well.
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To get back to the car we took the 1 mile section of the North Ridge trail from the upper junction to the East Ridge Tie trail and turned right on it for 1.2 miles back to the first junction and finally back to Conner’s Camp.

From there we drove back to U.S. Highway 20 and headed west to the Kings Valley Highway Junction. Turning right we continued 4.8 miles on Highway 223 to the Beazell Memorial Forest. The forest consists of 586 acres gifted to Benton County by the former owner, Fred Beazell, as a memorial to his late wife Dolores. Our plan here was to hike a 3.2 mile loop using the South Ridge trail.

The trail begins at a footbridge behind a restored barn which was being readied for a wedding reception on this day. After crossing Plunkett Creek on the bridge the trail joins an old road for half a mile. The forest is dense and scenic in a narrow valley. At the .5 mile mark the trail splits off to the right and recrosses the creek twice before rejoining the road at a junction in another half a mile.

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Here the South Ridge trail leads to the right up the side of the valley. A sign was posted warning of a logging operation and trail closure from October 2013 through April 2014. Being that it was June we continued on. The trial switchbacked up 350′ through increasingly open forest with wild iris and some flowers we had not seen before.
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At the top of the hill a short spur trail leads to a small meadow with a nice view across the valley.
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After leaving the meadow the trail drops down over the west side of the hill where signs of the logging operations could be seen. After joining a logging road for a bit the trail again split off to the right, passing an old cistern before returning us to the barn and our car.
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We had one more hike planned for the day so we hopped back into the car and continued another mile and a half north on Hwy 223 to Hoskins Rd. Following signs to the left for Fort Hoskins County Park we drove another 1.8 miles to the park entrance on the right. The park is at the site of an 1856 outpost.
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We started our hike here by taking the half mile interpretive loop past the old fort site and historic buildings. This path looped around a lovely meadow where daisies and foxglove bloomed and a few apple trees remained from an old orchard.
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While we were inspecting the Commander’s House a Bald Eagle flew past and began circling overhead.
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The path then passed the foundation of the Hoskins School before climbing back to the parking area where a longer loop began on the far side of the road.
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The longer 1.3 mile loop climbed over 300′ through a hillside meadow filled with wildflowers.
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The day turned out better than I had expected. We managed to get 12.3 miles of hiking in while visiting some interesting places and still made it to the graduation party on time. Happy Trails!

flickr photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157644555553479/
facebook: Mary’s Peak https://www.facebook.com/deryl.yunck/media_set?set=a.10204131646278585.1073741879.1448521051&type=1
Beazell Memorial Forest https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204132717145356.1073741880.1448521051&type=3
Ft. Hoskins County Park https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204132785187057.1073741881.1448521051&type=3