Florence Area Trails

It’s been over a month since our last hike and I was beginning to go a bit stir crazy so when the forecast called for a mostly sunny Saturday we jumped on the chance and hit the trails.  We try and make sure our hikes are long enough so that we spend as much or more time hiking rather than driving.  On this day we did this by visiting several shorter trails near Florence, OR.

We started the day at the Whittaker Creek Recreation Site just off Highway 126.
Whititaker Creek Recreation Site sign

From there we walked through the campground and headed across Whittaker Creek on a footbridge.
Footbridge over Whittaker Creek

Whittaker Creek

A young bald eagle had flown over our heads and landed in a tree along the creek and allowed us to get fairly close before taking flight again.
Bald Eagle flying over Whittaker Creek

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle taking off

Meanwhile some common mergansers were floating the creek.
Mergansers

From the NW end of the campground we took the Old Growth Trail 1.2 miles up to the summit of the ridge. A mix of sunlight and morning fog created some interesting lighting in the forest.
Old Growth Ridge Trailhead sign

Old Growth Ridge Trail

Old Growth Ridge Trail

Along the way up we spotted a number of little snow queen flowers and stopped at a tall Douglas fir tree that had been struck by lighting at some point.
Snow Queen

Sign along the Old Growth Ridge Trail

Lightning struck Douglas fir

At the summit were benches and a sign giving the history of the trail. The low clouds and fog hid much of the view on this day.
Summit of the Old Growth Ridge Trail

Interpretive sign at the summit of the Old Growth Ridge Trail

View from the summit of the Old Growth Ridge Trail

On the way back down we turned on the signed Armantrout Loop Trail which led back to the campground in 1.5 miles.
Armantrout Loop Trail

There were a few spots of blowdown along this trail that were easily passed and numerous interpretive signs to stop and read.
Just a little blowdown along the Armantrout Loop Trail

After returning to our car we continued west on Highway 126 to Mapleton and turned west on Sweet Creek Road for 10.2 miles to the Homestead Trailhead.
Swee Creek Trailhead

There are a total of four trailheads that access the Sweet Creek Trail with the Homestead Trailhead being the most northerly. From there we followed the Sweet Creek Trail south for .9 miles to a junction with the connector trail from the second trailhead. Both the creek and surrounding forest were beautiful. A series of small falls and cascades line this section of Sweet Creek and on this day there was plenty of water flowing over them.
Sweet Creek

Small fall on Sweet Creek

Sweet Creek

Sweet Creek

Sweet Creek Trail

Sweet Creek Trail
Annice Falls
Sweet Creek and Annice Falls

Sweet Creek

Small cascade along Sweet Creek

Unnamed waterfall (possibly seasonal) on the far side of Sweet Creek

Unnamed waterfall (possibly seasonal) on the far side of Sweet Creek

Elk Wallow Falls
Elk Wallow Falls

Trail sign along the Sweet Creek Trail

From the junction another scenic half mile of the Sweet Creek Trail brought us to Sweet Creek Falls and the end of the trail.
Sweet Creek Falls

Sweet Creek Falls

A short trail leads up to an upper viewpoint.
Sweet Creek Falls from the upper viewpoint

It is possible during lower flow times to cross the creek below the falls and pick up the continuation of the Sweet Creek Tail on the far side, but that wasn’t going to happen given the volume of water that was currently flowing over the falls. After returning to the Homestead Trailhead we drove to the Wagon Road Trailhead 1.3 miles further south along Sweet Creek Road.
Wagon Road Trailhead for the Sweet Creek Trail

The Sweet Creek Trail heads away from the road in both directions from this trailhead. We began with the segment on the west side of Sweet Creek Road which would lead bus back down to Sweet Creek Falls on the opposite side of the creek.
Sweet Creek Trail

Sweet Creek Falls

Sweet Creek Falls

Sweet Creek Falls

Near the bottom of this trail were a number of skunk cabbage flowers.
Skunk cabbage

After visiting the base of Sweet Creek Falls we returned to the Wagon Road Trailhead and took the .6 mile segment of the Sweet Creek Trail to Beaver Creek Falls.
Sweet Creek Trail

Beaver Creek Falls

Beaver Creek Falls

We left the Wagon Road Trailhead and headed back to Highway 126 and headed toward Florence. We made a quick stop at Florence Yamaha to pick up a Northwest Forest Pass which we needed for our final hike at the Holman Vista Day Use Area just north of Florence.
Sutton Creek Trailhead

We started this hike by taking a short paved path to an overlook of Sutton Creek and a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.
Sutton Creek

Sutton Creek and the Pacific Ocean

Next we set off on the Sutton Creek Loop Trail which led along Sutton Creek through a coastal forest .8 miles to a trail junction near Bolduc’s Meadow.
Sutton Creek Trail

Sutton Creek Trail

Crazy tree along the Sutton Creek Loop Trail.
Crazy tree along the Sutton Creek Trail

Sutton Creek

Sutton Creek

We kept straight at the junction passing Bolduc’s meadow where we spotted a lone daffodil and a single grape hyacinth.
Bolduc's Meadow

Daffodil in Boluduc's Meadow

Grape Hyacinths

We were now on the South Sutton Creek Trail which continued to follow the creek for 1.5 miles of short ups and downs. This trail brought us to the Sutton Campground where we picked up the continuation of the trail at a footbridge near site B16.
Footbridge across Sutton Creek

After crossing the footbridge we had the option to go left or right on the North Sutton Creek Trail. The left hand trail led a quarter mile to a dune while the right and would have brought us to the same dune on a .6 mile loop.
Sutton Creek Trail

At the dune we found a swing which Heather made use of.
Sutton Creek Trail

Dune along the Sutton Creek Trail

Swing break along the Sutton Creek Trail

From the swing we followed the North Sutton Creek Trail for 1.3 miles back to the trail junction near Bolduc’s Meadow. This section of trail passed dunes with a less dense forest. Common gorse and manzanita was beginning to bloom along the trail and some areas were covered in a light green moss that reminded us of snow.
Sutton Creek Trail

Moss

Common Gorse
common gorse

common gorse//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Common manzanita
Common manzanita

Sutton Creek Trail

Bearberry
Bearberry

Dunes along the Sutton Creek Trail

Footbridge across Sutton Creek to the trail junction near Buldoc’s Meadow
Fottbridge over Sutton Creek near Buldoc's Meadow

After crossing the footbridge we turned right and then quickly turned left on an unsigned trail which led us .5 miles back to the parking lot at the Holman Vista Day Use Area.

We had a great time on these trails and it was nice that they were all very different from one another. We wound up doing a little over 13 miles of hiking but each of these trails are worthy of doing on their own. The Old Growth Ridge/Armantrout Loop hike was approximately 3.5 miles with about 800′ of elevation gain. Our first hike along Sweet Creek from the Homestead Trailhead was a little under 2.5 miles with 350′ of elevation gain while the segments from the Wagon Road Trailhead totaled just under 3 miles and 300′ of elevation gain. The hike on the Sutton Creek Trails was 4.5 miles with only about 100′ of total elevation gain. Happy Trails!

flicker: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157662585681453

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2 thoughts on “Florence Area Trails”

  1. That shot of the trail slung over the creek reminded me of the Catwalk in the Gila area of New Mexico. It is one of the more unique trails in the West and definitely worth checking out!

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