We hope everyone had a happy Easter weekend. After attending a Saturday worship service we took advantage of some great weather and headed South to Fall Creek. This was our second hike in a row along a creek in the Willamette National Forest East of Eugene.
The forecast had been for a few showers throughout the day but lucky for us the weatherman was way off. Temps were in the low 50’s when we set off and it wound up being a warm and sunny day. The trail sets off on the Southern bank of Fall Creek through an old growth forest. The first few miles follow Fall Creek through this damp and mossy forest crossing several scenic side creeks on footbridges. This portion of the trail was fairly muddy in spots. Fall Creek was much larger than Larison Creek (our previous hike) with many deeper pools, and the clear water made for some great views. Our timing was good as many of the spring flowers were in bloom carpeting in the forest floor in yellow, purple, and white. The Trillium blooms were particularly pretty.
After 3.5 miles the old growth gives way to a section of forest that was burned in 2003. This burnt section housed many different wildflowers that prefer the direct sunlight afforded by the fire. It wasn’t long before that direct sunlight had us needing to remove some clothing layers. After a brief pit stop we were off again, now on the Northern side of the creek after crossing on a bridge.
Our goal had been Slick Creek Cave but we decided to continue another half a mile to Bedrock Campground just in case anyone wanted to use the facilities. When we first crossed Slick Creek we completely missed the side trail up to the cave despite my taking several pictures of the cliffs that housed it. When we reached the trail fork for the campground loop we realized we had missed it. The creek bed near the campground was very colorful and worth the extra distance.
When we reached Slick Creek on our way back the side trail had magically appeared. We took the short obvious (this time) trail up to the cave which is basically a recess in the cliff. Apparently it was used by Native Americans for shelter at one point and made for a nice side trip.
Overall this turned out to be a really nice hike. In addition to the various wildflowers we saw a decent amount of wildlife. In the old growth section we came across several snails, slugs, birds, and a Rough Skinned Newt. The burnt section offered geese, ducks, an osprey, several lizards, and a snake. Although this is a heavy use trail we only ran into a handful of people on the trail on this day. Due to the various campgrounds along Big Fall Creek Road which follows the creek on the opposite side there was some car traffic and a number of campers across the water.
As usual I took way too many pictures which can be viewed in full on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633132796203/
or in condensed version on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200914954943312.1073741826.1448521051&type=3