Corvallis Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Trip report Willamette Valley

Albany Parks and Snag Boat Bend – 04/22/2023

The delayed arrival of Spring weather has begun affecting the timing of the hikes that I’d planned for us this year. We had originally planned a wildflower hike for this weekend, but they are running at least two weeks behind so we turned to a pair of wildlife hikes instead. Our first stop was at the Snag Boat Bend unit of the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge.

This 341-acre unit is located a across the Willamette River to the East of the 5,325-acre refuge. The unit has several miles of trails although the amount accessible fluctuates due to flooding.
IMG_6048Not sure how “official” the writing is on the map, but it wasn’t wrong about the Turtle Loop being “closed” (high water).

The Snag Boat Bend Loop Trail begins as a boardwalk that passes over the North Beaver Pond. Oddly there wasn’t much, if any, water in this pond despite other areas later being flooded.

After the short boardwalk section the trail became a combination of grass/mud as it followed a swollen Lake Creek toward the Willamtte River.

IMG_6054A swollen Lake Creek

IMG_6056A third of a mile from the trailhead is a picnic table overlooking a former channel of the Willamette River that is now an oxbow lake filled by Lake Creek.

IMG_6058The oxbow lake.

The trail makes a hard left at the picnic table passing along the water.
IMG_6061Lots of water in the lake.

DSCN2912Woodpecker hiding in the trees.

Just under 0.2 miles from the picnic table, during low water, is said to be a path that makes it possible to connect the Snag Boat Band and Turtle Loop Trails.
IMG_6062Note the sign on the far side vs the closer sign barely sticking up out of the water.

A quarter mile from the picnic table the Snag Boat Bend Loop turns left at a junction. We stayed straight and visited the Observation Blind before setting off on the Blue Heron Trail.
IMG_6100Oregon grape

20230422_071830Red flowering currant


IMG_6100Signs at the junction.

IMG_6071The observation blind.

There wasn’t a whole lot to observe from the blind since the morning fog limited visibility.


DSCN2927Spotted towhee

DSCN2928Mallard drake

IMG_6075The Blue Heron Trail followed the boarder of the refuge and some private farmland.

It was approximately another quarter mile from the blind to a 4-way junction. Here the Blue Heron Trail began and finished a theoretical loop using the left most forks and the Turtle Trail split off to the right along a dike.
IMG_6077Blue Heron Trail to the left and Turtle Trail on the right.

We turned right onto the Turtle Trail and as we got onto the dike we could see that the area below, where a loop shown on the Oregonhikers page joined back up, was likely flooded. We followed the dike a quarter of a mile to another junction where the Turtle Trail made a hard right and descended from the dike into an open area where several rabbits were busy having their breakfast.


American widgeonAmerican widgeon




We followed this grassy track for a third of a mile back to the swollen Lake Creek where, during low water, the Turtle Loop would turn right along the creek and loop back around.

IMG_6086Another sign out in the middle of the water.

We turned back and returned to the junction with the Blue Heron Trail.
IMG_6088The start of a possible loop using the Blue Heron Trail. The fainter track on the right heading downhill was flooded just 100 feet or so away.

IMG_6089The flooded area where the loop would end.

I had gone down to the flooded section to see if there was possibly a way across without having to wade but there wasn’t. The good news was that my heading down to this spot had caused a great horned owl to move trees which allowed both Heather (on the other section of the Blue Heron Trail) and myself to spot it.

Since we knew that we would be able to make the Blue Heron Trail into a loop we followed it a half mile from the junction, making a sharp right near the 0.4-mile mark and decided to turn around. The trail had gone from gravel to wet grass and our feet were getting pretty damp which helped make the decision to turn around.
IMG_6095Cottonwood with red flowering currant, Oregon grape, and Indian plum blooming in front.

IMG_6096We were able to keep our feet dry on the gravel surfaces.


DSCN2984Rufous Hummingbird

DSCN2985Hawk preparing for takeoff.

IMG_6097We had started to go past the turn for the Blue Heron Trail so this photo is as we headed back toward the turn. We came from the right-hand side so the path straight ahead would have been the “sharp right”.


IMG_6098Our turn around spot. The trail was beginning to bend back to the East here.

We headed back along the Blue Heron Trail following it to the Snag Boat Bend Loop where we turned right in order to finish that loop.
DSCN2992A chipping sparrow among the golden-crowned sparrows.

IMG_6101On the Snag Boat Bend Loop

IMG_6103The trail turned left to follow this gravel roadbed for the final third of a mile.

IMG_6106The gate in the distance is at the trailhead.

Our hike at Snag Boat Bend came in at 3.9 miles with maybe 50′ of elevation gain. Had some of the loops not been flooded it might have been a bit shorter.

It was a nice first visit though and we are now interested in returning in late Summer/early Fall when some of the flooded trails might be accessible. While the fog made it a bit hard to see we still managed to see a few ducks, a goose, several rabbits, the owl, a hawk, lots of smaller birds, and one bald eagle that flew overhead. From the trailhead we drove North to the city of Albany where we’d plan to visit a series of the city’s parks. The idea was to start at Monteith Riverpark and hike East along the Willamette River to Simpson Park and then continue along the river there past First and Second Lakes if the trail wasn’t flooded. If it was flooded, we could turn inland at Simpson Park and re-visit the Talking Water Gardens (post).

I had two reasons for putting this urban hike on our schedule. First it was close to home and secondly Monteith Riverfront Park sits at the confluence of the Calapooia and Willamette Rivers, and the Calapooia is one of Oregon’s rivers that we had yet to see on a hike. This 80-mile long tributary of the Willamette begins in the Willamette National Forest near Tidbits Mountain (post) and flows Northwest through Brownsville, OR before turning North to the East of Interstate 5. It was disappointing to arrive and find that the entire park was closed for a large waterfront project by the City of Albany. (Normally I would check the status of our destination prior to heading out, but I didn’t expect an entire city park to be closed, and after looking online when I got home, I’m not sure I would have found the information anyway.)
IMG_6107We wound up parking East of the Riverfront Community Center and hoping on the Dave Clark Trail there.

Less than 100 yards from where we’d parked we came to an observation platform that led out over the Willamette River. From this platform we could at least see the mouth of the Calapooia emptying into the Willamette.

IMG_6111The confluence ahead to the left.

IMG_6112Highway 20 passing over the Willamette to the left. Fun fact about U.S. Highway 20 – It runs from Newport, OR to Boston, MA and is the longest road in the USA according to the Federal Highway Administration. Click here for more information and an interesting write up of the drive from Boston to Newport by Boots on the Trail.

We followed the Dave Clark Trail East passing under both bridges of the highway and then later under the Union Pacific Railroad.

IMG_6119Orange crowned warbler. One of many small birds we saw along this trail.

DSCN3009We thought it was a little odd to see two occupied nests atop the railroad so close together until we realized that the occupants weren’t both birds of prey.

DSCN3006Canada geese were using one of the nests.

DSCN3013Might be the mate looking acting as lookout from the bridge.

DSCN3012Osprey occupied the other and appeared to be in the process of renovations.

We also encountered a beautiful male Anna’s hummingbird but for the life of me I couldn’t get either one of the cameras I was carrying to focus on the little guy so the only picture we wound up with was a cropped shot from Heather’s phone.
20230422_095150His bright pink head was more impressive in person.

After ducking under the railroad and passing some apartments the trail passed the Willamette Community Garden and climbed to NE Oak Street.
IMG_6123The community garden (not pictured) was on our right.


IMG_6128Pretty tulips at the sign.

Here the trail follows several blocks of sidewalk before reaching its end at Bowman Park. The official route of the trail turned right on Oak St for a block then left for 5 blocks NE Water Ave to Geary St where it turned left and descended 3 blocks to Bowman Park. We stayed straight on Front Ave NE though and followed it 3 blocks to Harrison St. NE where we turned right for a block to NE Water Ave to rejoin the Dave Clark Trail.
IMG_6129Not a lot to see in the residential neighborhoods but we did cross Pettyjohn Creek along the way.

IMG_6130Sign for Bowman Park at Geary St.

IMG_6133Bowman Park on the left and the paved path we took on the right.

A paved path led East from Bowman Park behind a new apartment complex where it turned to a wood chip surface.


DSCN3018Cormant in the middle of the Willamette.

At the far end of the apartment complex the trail suddenly turned into a slick, muddy single track.


Things got started getting interesting here, and not in the good way. We quickly started passing vacant and/or abandoned homeless camps and the trail surface was just a mess. At this point we were only about a half mile from the Simpson Park Trailhead though so we pressed on.
IMG_6139Seen near a homeless camp which sort of captures the situation. A combination of unaffordable house, drug abuse, and mental illness has created a crisis up and down the West Coast with no simple (or quick) answer.

IMG_6140We initially mistook all the footprints and bike tracks as a sign that the trail saw good recreational use.

According to the Field Guide entry for the Albany Riverfront Hike there is a concrete bridge over Cox Creek near Simpson Park. We never made it that far though as after a quarter mile we came to small pond over the trail. There was no foreseeable way around and we didn’t want to do to much searching for an alternate route for fear of stumbling upon an occupied camp so we turned around.

Prior to reaching the impassible puddle we had already decided to forgo trying to hike further along the Willamtte from Simpson Park and had planned instead of visit Talking Water Gardens and return via roads instead of the muddy trail. Now that we’d been stymied though we trudged back through the mud and past the homeless camps to the apartments where we turned left on a path that led a short distance uphill into Eads Park.


We turned left and passed through this small park then turned right onto Burkhart St NE and began our second stint of neighborhood hiking. After a block on Burkhart we made a left on Willamette Ave NE and followed it 0.2-miles to its end at the Albany/Millersburg Water Reclamation Facility where we turned right onto Davidson St. NE. A block on Davidson brought us back to Front AVE NE and a sign for the Talking Water Gardens.

Front Ave became Waverly Dr NE and we followed it until we finally crossed Cox Creek three tenths of a mile later.

We made our way to the gated entrance to the Talking Water Gardens happy to see that the man-made waterfall in the Beaver Marsh was flowing this time.




We turned right and headed for the main sign board to get a picture of the map and decide on our route.
20230422_105035We decided to loop around the West Beaver Marsh and Central Oak areas before heading back.

There was obviously a lot more water present now then there had been in November and while there were less ducks present there was a larger variety of birds and best of all a bunch of western pond turtles.

IMG_6159View from above the waterfall.

IMG_6160The first set of turtles we spotted.

IMG_6162Western pond turtles.

DSCN3041Female red-winged blackbird

DSCN3055Green-winged teal

DSCN3057Yellow-rumped warbler (Audubon’s)

DSCN3060More turtles

DSCN3063Mallard drake

DSCN3064Turkey vulture


DSCN3070Another bale of turtles. (I had to look up “bale” because I had no idea what a group of turtles was called.)

IMG_6165Another man-made waterfall.

IMG_6168This had been full of ducks on our previous visit.

DSCN3076Yet another turtle.

DSCN3081Black phoebe

DSCN3084Acorn woodpecker


Northern shovelerNorthern shoveler


20230422_111554Red-winged blackbird

IMG_6180Bench along the Central Oak area.

DSCN3103The first goslings we’ve spotted this year.

DSCN3108Very zoomed in shot of a hawk seen in the distance.


DSCN3126Marsh wren

DSCN3129Final set of turtles.

DSCN3141Mallard pair


DSCN3152Yellow-rumped warbler (Myrtle)

We took about an hour to hike a little over 1.25-miles through the gardens. There was a lot of stopping to watch the wildlife and attempt to get photos. After exiting the gardens we made our way back to Front Ave via Waverly Drive and this time followed signs for the Dave Clark Trail back to it.


We followed the Dave Clark Trail back to our car, but not before spotting a bit more wildlife.
DSCN3157A couple ahead of us on the trail spotted this guy for us.


Our Albany Parks hike wound up being just 6.3 miles with under 100′ of elevation gain bringing our total for the day to 10.2 miles and maybe 100 total feet of elevation gain. All the hiking on paved surfaces in Albany combined with having wet shoes and socks made it feel like more though.

At the end of the day we were glad that we wound up in Talking Water Gardens given how much fun wildlife we spotted there but I probably would not do the rest of this hike over. The Dave Clark Trail along the Willamette was nice enough and if I was in Albany for another reason and had some time it would be a fine place for a stroll but necessary neighborhood walk to reach Simpson Park/Talking Water is not nearly as nice as either simply starting at the Simpson Park Trailhead or hiking along Cox Creek from Waverly Lake as we had done in November. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Snag Boat Bend and Albany Parks

Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Trip report Willamette Valley

Ankeny Wildlife Refuge – 04/23/2022

For the last six months we’ve been having projects done around the house and while everything at home has seemed to be in a state of upheaval work has felt just as chaotic. The end of our projects is in sight just barely overlapping with our hiking season. This is the most I’ve looked forward to a hiking season yet. I am a very introverted person and while hiking can be physically exhausting, for me it provides a mental recharge. Spending time relaxing at home is typically another way that I recharge but with all the projects going on I haven’t been able to get that same relaxed feeling this off-season.

Part of being an introvert is that socializing, especially in larger groups, is draining. It’s not that it isn’t enjoyable, it certainly can be, but it is exhausting and I haven’t been in a place where I’ve felt like I had the energy to interact with people beyond work recently (close family excluded). Heather on the other hand is more extroverted than I am. She still has some introvert traits but on a scale of introvert to extrovert she is closer to the extrovert than where I land. Before hiking season started she wanted to have a few friends over to see the progress thus far on the home. I thought it was a great idea but I also didn’t personally feel up to it despite how much I enjoy the group she was planning on inviting. To Heather’s credit she understood so in the interest of mental health I got an early jump on hiking season.

After doing a few last minute chores to help get the house ready for guests I headed out the door a little before 6am to make the 25 minute drive to Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. I had made a solo trip here last April (post) during a vacation week that Heather didn’t share. While I (we) typically don’t revisit places/hikes that close together the opening of the Ankeny Hill Nature Center in February was a good excuse for another visit. The website for the Nature Center listed “dawn to dusk” as the hours but I arrived just minutes before sunrise (6:14am) to find the gate still closed. A lower parking lot along Buena Vista Rd S was also gated closed with a sign stating it was due to ongoing construction. After reading the sign I wasn’t sure if I was too early or if the center was actually closed even though the website indicated it was open. A mystery that I would solve later though as I had some hiking to do.

The trail system at the Nature Center is less than a mile so I had planned on re-hiking some of my routes from the previous year and any areas that had been closed on that visit that might be open this time around. It had been a clear morning at our house and remained that way all the way to the Nature Center but as soon as I passed the lower parking lot I entered a fog bank which covered my first stop at Eagle Marsh.

I could hear geese and ducks on the water but seeing much let alone taking pictures would require the fog to relent a bit. I set off along the dike road around the marsh hoping that the rising Sun would simultaneously take care of the fog and raise the temperature from the mid-30’s.


IMG_8748Black phoebe in the fog. It’s the only one seen all day so despite the poor quality I kept the photo.

IMG_8761Wet spider webs are the best.

IMG_8758There was a brief respite in the fog before it rolled in again.

IMG_8765The fog bank waiting to move back in.

The section of the Eagle Marsh Trail on the SE side of Willow Marsh had been closed last year making the lollipop loop showed on the Refuge Map impossible but this year there were no signs indicating it’s closure. Like last year I headed clockwise around Willow Marsh passing between it and Teal Marsh.
IMG_8764Teal Marsh

The grassy track here was very damp and my feet and lower legs were soon soaked (and cold!) but I distracted myself by watching for birds.

IMG_8771Northern flicker

IMG_8772A very grumpy looking spotted towhee

IMG_8775I have a hard time identifying some of these little birds. This one may be an orange-crowned warbler.

DSCN1310A bald eagle that was across Willow Marsh.

DSCN1317Female red-winged blackbird


DSCN1324A less grumpy looking spotted towhee

As I came around Willow Marsh I took a very short detour to check out the Sidney Power Ditch before continuing around the marsh.

DSCN1331Here comes the fog again.

DSCN1335Black capped chickadee

Yellow-rumped warbler (Audubon's)Yellow-rumped warbler (Audubon’s)

DSCN1342Red-winged blackbird

Marsh wrenWrens can be tricky too, I think this is a marsh wren.

DSCN1349White-crowned sparrow

DSCN1360Song sparrow

IMG_8779Eagle Marsh, still can’t see much.

I had considered driving back to the Nature Center to see if it was open but in the end decided to make that my last stop and instead drove to the Pintail and Egret Marshes Trailhead.

I started by taking the 0.13 mile boardwalk to the blind overlooking Egret Marsh where there wasn’t anything to see at the moment.
IMG_8783Bashaw Creek

DSCN1369Egret Marsh from the blind.

After the obligatory boardwalk I walked west along the shoulder of Wintel Road just over 150 yards to a small pullout on its south side where I passed through a green gate to find another damp grassy track. I had passed through the same gate on my prior visit and taken the right hand fork away from the road. This time I went left following the track along the road for three tenths of a mile to the entrance road for the Rail Trailhead.


Up to this point I had encountered a total of 3 people but at this trailhead there were several cars and a half dozen people milling about. I headed out on the rail trail and skipped the boardwalk portion where most of the people were headed and continued straight through more wet grass to the dike near Killdeer Marsh.

DSCN1375Lots of fringecup along the trail.

DSCN1376Purple deadnettle and field mustard

DSCN1377Common yellow-throat

I looped counter-clockwise around Killdeer Marsh forgetting how muddy it was on the western side.
DSCN1380Looking back along the eastern side of the marsh. There was a lot less water this year.

Killdeer MarshWater level on 4/13/21.

There were also fewer birds than on either of my previous two visits but I did see the only norther pintails of the day here.
DSCN1385Seeing them was a lot easier than getting photos.

After looping around that marsh I headed east along the dike where again there was a lot less water in Dunlin Pond this year compared to last.

I followed the dike around what was left of Dunlin Pond to the eastern end of the boardwalk.
DSCN1397Canada flamingo?

DSCN1399American robin


DSCN1403Dunlin Pond from the boardwalk.

I could hear people approaching on the boardwalk so after a quick stop I continued north on the grassy track returning to the gate at Wintel Road and followed it back past the Pintail and Egret Marshes Trailhead to the Pintail Marsh Overlook.


I turned right from the parking area following a sign for the seasonal photo blind. On last years hike I had attempted to go around Egret Marsh but had been turned back by a closure sign just beyond the blind and had to return to the parking area via a short loop around Frog Pond. There were no closure signs this time so I continued on past the short loop passing the blind at the end of the boardwalk trail.
DSCN1424Egret Marsh


DSCN1436Ring-necked ducks.

DSCN1433Anyone know if this is a female cinnamon or blue-winged teal?

DSCN1432Another yellow-rumped warbler (Audubon’s) showing off its yellow rump.

DSCN1430Egret Marsh

DSCN1431The trail around Egret Marsh.

When I arrived at the service road between Egret and Mallard Marshes I passed a sign saying the area was indeed closed. I don’t know if that sign was left over or if the sign at the other end had gone missing. In my defense the refuge map shows it as part of the trail system and there is nothing online or posted at Pintail Marsh stating that there is a closure but had I been coming from this end I would have respected the sign. This is not the first time that we’ve been on a trail with no indications of any closure only to pass a closure sign at the other end. For the land managers out there could you please post at both ends of closed sections (or remove the signs from both ends if it has been lifted)? It would sure help those of us that are trying to do the right thing.

Back to the hike though. The service road ended a short distance away to the right in a flooded field.

There was a lot of activity near the end of the road.
DSCN1441I think these might be long-billed dowichters. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

I turned left and then quickly turned right on the dike between Mallard Marsh and Mohoff Pond. There were lots of geese, ducks and coots here but they did there best to keep plenty of distance between themselves and me.
DSCN1460Heading to the right turn. Egret Marsh is on the left and Mallard Marsh on the right. A huge flock of geese had just taken to the sky.


Yellow-rumped warbler (Myrtle)Today I realized that there are two yellow-rumped warblers, this one is a Myrtle, note the white throat compared to the yellow throat of the Audubon’s above.

DSCN1473Northern shoveler

DSCN1477Mohoff Pond and Mallard Marsh

DSCN1479Canada goose with various ducks in the background. At least one of the ducks is a ruddy duck which is one I hadn’t seen yet (that I know of). They were too far to get clear photos of though.

DSCN1482Canada geese and northern shovelers giving a good size comparison.

DSCN1486The black dots in the sky here aren’t geese, they are little insects that followed me along the dike.

DSCN1483Not Canada geese flying over.

DSCN1489Immature bald eagle.


When I reached the end of Mohoff Pond I turned left around it and headed back toward the Pintail Marsh Overlook.
DSCN1510Greater white-fronted geese, another first.

DSCN1513Bushtit. Several flew in here but I couldn’t make them out once inside so I took a few pictures hoping to get lucky.

On my way back a hawk and an immature bald eagle put on an areal display.
DSCN1517Can anyone ID the hawk? Another thing that I find difficult.

DSCN1534Swimming lessons, Canada goose style.

From the overlook I walked back along Wintel Road to the Pintail and Egret Marshes Trailhead to retrieve my car then drove back to the Nature Center where I had attempted to start my day. The lower trailhead was still gated but the entrance road along Ankeny Hill Road was no longer gated. There were just a handful of cars here as I set off on the short loop trail.



The loop offered nice views, interpretive signs, and a surprising variety of flowers. As a bonus a pair of great blue herons where stalking the hillside in search of snacks.




DSCN1543Meadow checker-mallow



DSCN1552Possibly Nelson’s checker-mallow

IMG_8810Lupine that will be blooming soon.





DSCN1578Mary’s Peak (post) in the distance, the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range.

The Nature Center is a really nice addition to the Refuge providing a great opportunity for kids to get out on a short educational trail. The rest of the refuge as usual did not disappoint, plenty of wildlife and a great variety to boot. The three stop, 11.3 mile day was just what I needed and Heather had a great time entertaining. With any luck the home improvements will be over in a couple of weeks and we will both have started our official hiking seasons. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Ankeny Wildlife Refuge 2022

Bull of the Woods/Opal Creek Hiking Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Henline Falls and Henline Mountain – 06/14/2020

While 2010 is the year we consider the year we started hiking there were a few outings prior to 2009 that prompted our desire to become hikers. It took us a while to find our groove and 2009 was a good example of this. We were interested in hiking but didn’t really know what we were doing. We had a single guidebook (printed in 2004) that contained 280 hikes throughout the state but was light on the details of each hike. The book did have a very helpful 10 page section on hiking tips though that we took to heart. We had hoped to hike more regularly in 2009 but had a hard time deciding on where to go, often leaving it up to the day before of even the day we were thinking of hiking to decide where to go. That often resulted in a deferral to “next weekend” leaving us with only a couple of outings.

The only 2009 outing that we have photos from was our hike to Henline Falls in the Opal Creek Wilderness. Ironically this hike wasn’t in our guidebook but was suggested by a co-worker. At 2 miles round trip this was a hike we knew we could do, but being new to hiking it didn’t occur to us at the time that a July 27th outing was a little late in the year to see Henline Falls with anywhere near peak water volume.
Henline Falls

We were less than impressed with the waterfall that day and decided to also try the nearby Henline Mountain Trail which was also mentioned by my co-worker. We didn’t get far up that trail at all before the climb took it’s toll on certain members of our group (I won’t name names but you know who you are. :)) balked at the difficulty and we turned around.

Ten years and 10 1/2 months later it was finally time go back and finish the Henline Mountain Trail and revisit Henline Falls when there would be more water. The forecast called for a 30% chance of showers early, but later in the day for mostly sunny skies. Since starting early is what we do we were ready for some potentially wet conditions but it didn’t seem too bad as we drove through Elkhorn and to the junction of FR 2209 & 2207. The trailheads for Henline Falls and Henline Mountain are on FR 2209 but we had planned on making a quick stop at Sullivan Creek Falls along FR 2207 before starting our hikes.

We turned onto FR 2207 and followed it for 3.8 rough and wet miles to a pullout opposite Sullivan Creek Falls.

There were scramble trails on either side of the cascade with the one on the right hand side leading to a view part way up the falls.


IMG_5468The scramble trail.

It may have been possible to continue higher but it was really wet and slick so back down to the car I went. Heather was putting on her rain gear which I also did before driving back to FR 2209 and continuing to the Henline Falls Trailhead.

We set off on the Henline Falls Trails which quickly entered the Opal Creek Wilderness.

We were watching for the Ogle Mountain Trail which was approximately a half mile along the Henline Falls Trail. We were thinking of exploring this trail a bit after visiting the falls so we wanted to make sure we knew where it was. After passing a small trail that led into the brush we spotted the obvious Ogle Mountain Trail marked by an orange-red sign with an “X” on it.
IMG_5487Not the Ogle Mountain Trail.

IMG_5488The Ogle Mountain Trail on the right.

For now we kept left and continued another relatively level half mile to Henline Falls.



This time we could see why the falls were popular. The water was blasting down into the splash pool generating a lot of wind and mist. We skipped visiting the old mine shaft that is near the fall this time due to the slick rocks.
Abandoned mine shaft

After enjoying the falls we started back, briefly turning uphill on a steep trail that we thought might connect the Henline Falls and Ogle Mountain Trails, but we quickly turned around after consulting our GPS and seeing how much higher up the Ogle Mountain Trail was from where we were. We went back down to the Henline Falls Trail and followed it back to the junction with the Ogle Mountain Trail which we then turned up.

The Ogle Mountain Trail used to extend all the way to the Ogle Mountain, but the mine is on private property and the trail now effectively ends at the forest boundary. We were wanting to scout it out for a possible hike some other time to attempt to visit some of the “Family of Falls” located above Henline Falls on Henline Creek. The trail climbed much more steeply than we had anticipated but we seemed to be starting to level out a bit after .2 miles which is when I spotted a fair amount of poison oak encroaching on the trail. That combined with the climb convinced us to let the Ogle Mountain Trail remain a mystery, at least for now. We retreated to the Henline Falls Trail and returned to our car which we then drove to the Henline Mountain Trailhead.

It was still foggy but the rain had pretty much stopped as we started our climb up the Henline Mountain Trail. While there was some poison oak along the lower half of this trail it wasn’t crowding the trail like it had been on the Ogle Mountain Trial.
IMG_5559Penstemon with poison oak in the background along the trail near the trailhead.

This trail also quickly entered the Opal Creek Wilderness as it climbed relentlessly for 3 miles to the site of a former lookout.

At the lower elevations we spotted a couple of flowers that we had yet to see this year.
IMG_5563Little prince’s pine


After a little over three quarters of a mile we came to short spur trail that led to a viewpoint above a talus slope which we had crossed earlier.
IMG_5584Looking up at the viewpoint from the talus slope.

IMG_5606Spur trail to the viewpoint.

We still weren’t anywhere near the mostly sunny segment of the day so there was a very limited view from the rocky outcrop.

IMG_5611The trail passing through the talus slope below.

A quarter mile later we came to a second, larger viewpoint.

IMG_5624Penstemon at the viewpoint.

IMG_5628Oregon sunshine


IMG_5634I believe that is Rocky Top behind the clouds.

IMG_5639Blue sky to the west.

We continued climbing from this second viewpoint trading the occasional poison oak in for the more enjoyable beargrass and rhododendron blooms.


Despite the Sun making an occasional appearance we remained mostly in fog as we climbed. We kept our eyes out for different flowers along the way.
Neottia banksiana - Northwestern twaybladeNorthwestern twayblade








IMG_5705Penstemon (cliff beardtongue)

IMG_5708Oregon sunshine

At a switchback at the three mile mark we took a spur trail to the right to the former lookout site.

Instead of sitting at the summit of Henline Mountain the lookout was near a ridge end a mile from the summit and over 400′ lower.
IMG_5730The ridge end beyond where the lookout was.

IMG_5731Looking back toward the summit of Henline Mountain (it is beyond and above the visible trees).

There had been increasing breaks in the clouds, enough to give us some good looks at the seasonal Elkhorn Mountain Falls across the valley.
IMG_5734The falls are obsucred here by the clouds to the lower left.

Elkhorn Mountain FallsElkhorn Mountain Falls

IMG_5738Sub-alpine mariposa lily

IMG_5740Mountain Ash

With no immediate end to the clouds in sight we returned to the Henline Mountain Trail. The official trail ends at the lookout but a volunteer maintained trail continues 1.1 mile to the actual summit so we turned right onto this trail and continued on. This section of trail finally had some downhill sections, which only meant uphill on the way back but we welcomed the change.

The reason for the ups and downs was that the trail followed a narrow ridge for a half mile. A section of the ridge was open offering views although we were still dealing with the clouds.

IMG_5749Oregon sunshine and cat’s ear lilies



raceme pussytoesRaceme pussytoes



The trail crossed from the east side of the ridge to the forested west side before crossing again to the east into a little meadow with a fair amount of phlox.





The trail steepened again for a bit before dropping one final time to a saddle before making its final ascent to the summit.
IMG_5802Heading uphill after the little meadow.

IMG_5806Snow in a basin below the trail.

IMG_5810Fawn lily

IMG_5814Jelly fungus

IMG_5816Heading down to the saddle below the summit.

The actual summit of Henline Mountain was a little rocky opening with lots of huckleberry bushes.

The trail continued an additional two hundred feet before petering out.
IMG_5824The end of the trail.

IMG_5822Bleeding heart near the end of the trail.

We took a decent break at the summit and had a snack. As we were just starting to leave a bit of a view broke out. It wasn’t much but it was something.

The cloud situation began to improve quite a bit as we headed back to the lookout site. By the time we arrived at the open section of ridge there was a good deal of blue sky overhead.


IMG_5847Looking west down the Little North Santiam River.

IMG_5852The high point to the left is Whetstone Mountain (post), the flat topped mountain straight ahead is Battle Ax Mountian (post), and to the right the double humps are the Marten Buttes (post)

IMG_5854Closer look at Battle Ax Mountain.

We stopped at the lookout site again and took another short break now that we could see a little more of the surroundings.

IMG_5861Rocky Top still with a little cloud and Elkhorn Mountain in the foreground.

IMG_5865Looking back at Henline Mountain’s summit.

IMG_5868Whetstone Mountain (center high point) with Bull-of-the Woods (post), Schreiner Peak, and North and South Dickey Peaks over its shoulder to the left.

IMG_5871Looking west

IMG_5875Yellow rumped warbler at the lookout site.

We continued down under increasingly blue skies.
IMG_5883Looking up at the ridge end of the former lookout site from below.

IMG_5889Chipmunk drying out on the rocks.

We also stopped again briefly at the larger viewpoint to see the difference there now.
IMG_5896Looking east

IMG_5902Looking south

IMG_5899Looking west

Rusty saxifrageRusty saxifrage at the viewpoint.

We had encountered three people between the Henline Falls Hike and the summit of Henline Mountain. It was a different story on our way down as we passed a number of hikers coming up. When we got back to the trailhead we noticed several cars illegally parked outside of the designated area along FR 2209 and it was the same at Henline Falls despite the presence of posted signs. It’s disappointing to see how many people are willing to ignore the rules. Please don’t be one of those people, either arrive at your hikes early or have backup plans if things don’t work out at your first choice. Disregarding the rules (even if you think they’re dumb) sets a bad example. Let’s do better. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Henline Falls and Henline Mountain

California Hiking Klamath Mountains Marble Mountains Trip report

Marble Mountains Wilderness Day 3 – Paradise Lake to Sky High Lakes

After being serenaded all night by the frogs around Paradise Lake we woke to the sounds of happy birds singing at the morning’s first light. I got out the tent and wandered around for a bit spotting a doe near the meadow full of shooting star flowers. It was still too dark to get a picture so I just watched her nibble at the plants as she walked north along the PCT.

As the sun light began to reach Kings Castle we heard a loud bird calling from behind our campsite. It turned out to be a mountain quail, a bird I had only seen in pictures. It was still too dark to get a clear picture of him.


We had originally planned on continuing north along the PCT then going down to either Bear or Tuck Lake but after hiking over 15 miles on the previous day and being pretty wiped out by the heat and cumulative elevation gain we decided we were going to see enough lakes during our trip. After breakfast we packed up and headed south on the PCT retracing our steps back to the Marble Valley Shelter. It was shaping up to be a hot day and we were already feeling the effects of the heat when we reached Box Rock Camp. We took a break there before continuing. At the shelter we took yet another break then set off on the Canyon Creek Trail before following a pointer for the Sky High Lakes.

We continued toward the Sky High Lakes for almost 2 miles passing small Gate Lake and entering the meadows of Sky High Valley.






We spotted the Sky High Shelter along the way which we would visit later after finding a camp site.


It was humid in the meadows which added to the heat from being exposed to the Sun and we were anxious to get our packs off. The first lake we arrived at was Lower Sky High Lake.


We followed the trail along the lake passing one possible camp site and another that was occupied.

Next up was Upper Sky High Lake. There weren’t any sites along this lake but there were some nice trout, some newts, and a duck in the lake.


The final lake in the valley was Frying Pan Lake (named after its shape).

The smallest of the lakes this one was swarming with dragon flies.

We found a spot for our tent on a small hill east of the lake.


We had camp set up before 11:30am and spent the rest of the day relaxing and exploring the area around the lakes. There weren’t many mosquitoes to speak of except for in the thicker stands of trees so we were able to really enjoy the scenery and wildlife.

Yellow-rumped warbler



Grand collomia

Mariposa lilies

Western tanager

Sky High Shelter

Black Marble Mountain from the Sky High Shelter

Fish in the outlet creek of Lower Sky High Lake

Newts in the outlet creek

Bog orchids


Dragon flies near Frying Pan Lake



Shooting stars along Frying Pan Lake

The afternoon turned out to be the cloudiest it would be during our whole trip.

We turned in that night well rested and looking forward to a day of hiking without our full packs on Thursday. It was quiet that night and we were awoken by the sound of something running nearby our campsite and a little later I heard something splash into Frying Pan Lake and move around in the water for a bit. Finally a frog began to croak and a few others joined in helping me fall back asleep. Happy Trails!


Hiking Oakridge Area Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Mount June

Ah the elusive view. One of my favorite rewards on a hike is reaching that spot where the view simply takes your breath away. It could be the sudden appearance of a giant snow covered mountain that looks so close that you could reach out and touch it or a wildflower meadow that seems to have been painted by the Creator himself or a panoramic view that is so immense that you can barely take it all in. We’re lucky enough to live in an area where there are plenty of places to hike where these types of views are possible. Possible but not guaranteed. We were reminded of that once again on our recent hike up Mount June.

There are a number of things that can end your chances to have the view you had hoped for. Hazy skies, forest fires, fog and clouds can all conspire against you. Unfortunately it was fog and clouds that proved our nemesis on Mount June. We had heard that the area is known for it’s fog but had also heard that often the rocky summit of Mount June rises above it to offer a view of a string of Cascade peaks. The forecast had called for a partly cloudy/mostly sunny morning with clear skies starting around 1:00pm.

We were the first to arrive at the trail head on this morning and were immediately struck by the darkness of the forest as soon as we stepped on the trail. Within a short distance we entered the fog which we had heard about.
We noticed a number of the same Spring flowers we had seen over a month earlier at lower elevations blooming here now. Trillium, sourgrass, and wood violets add color to the forest along with a good number of fawn lilies. Once again we were too early for the rhododendron & beargrass displays even though these were in bloom along the road at the trail head.

It appeared to be raining most of the time we were in the forest but upon reaching a series of meadows near Sawtooth rock we realized it was not in fact raining. The fog was so damp that the condensation was falling from the trees creating the rainy affect. The meadows here were filled with wildflowers glistening with water droplets. The foggy conditions meant no views and even made it hard to make out large Sawtooth rock at the far end of the meadows. We skipped a short side trail to it’s base hoping that on our way back the skies might be clearer.

We continued on the Sawtooth trail toward Hardesty Mountain. Our plan was to make a short loop on it’s summit and visit the sight of a former lookout tower. As we reached our furthest point a hint of blue sky seemed to be just a little further to the North just out of our reach. We had a snack at the former lookout site and then completed the loop and headed back hoping that blue sky might be waiting for us on Mount June.

This time we took the trail to the base of Sawtooth rock where the conditions were slightly improved. Many birds were now flying around the meadows and we spotted one with some bright yellow coloring. It turned out to be a yellow-rumped warbler.
The fog had lifted some and there was even a short lived opening giving us a view of the forest below, but Mount June was still hidden in the clouds.

We took the .5 mile climb to Mount June’s rocky summit which was for some reason particularly tough on this day. I don’t know if it was due to it being toward the end of the hike or the cumulative effect of a week of hiking but it was a trudge. Much to our disappointment the we found the same clouds and fog on the summit as we had been in all day. We decided to have some lunch and hope that the sunny skies that had been forecast would materialize since it was just now 1:00pm. The clouds kept rolling past us and all we managed were a couple of very short glimpses of Mt. Bailey and the ghostly outline of Mt. Thielsen to the SE.
The view had eluded us once again, simply teasing us with a small brief sample of what could have been.

It was a good example of just why the elusive view is one of the most rewarding things for me on a hike. The mountains and forests don’t move but there is never a guarantee that they will be there to be seen. The view must be pursued and caught to be enjoyed.

After lunch we returned to the car where fluffy white clouds floated by in the blue sky. As we drove away there was no missing Mount June, it was the only peak with a cloud draped over it’s summit. We have many more hikes planned where we will have a chance to capture the elusive view, and after Mount June it will be even sweeter when we finally do. Happy Trails

foggy photos on facebook: