Throwback Thursday – Elkhorn Ridge Trail

Today’s Throwback Thursday hike is the last of the hikes we did prior to starting this blog that are currently not on our schedule of future hikes. On July 10, 2011 we made our second attempt to visit Phanton Bridge (post).

This hike wasn’t included in any of our guide books (we would discover why) and only came to our attention as I was researching possible routes to reach Phantom Bridge. On the Willamette National Forest website I noticed that it appeared possible to follow the Elkhorn Ridge Trail east to the natural bridge. The route appeared a bit longer than the others I knew of but the road to the trailhead was open unlike Forest Service Road 2223 which was closed by a washout at the time.

The shot up remains of a trail sign marked the beginning of the trail as it set off along a forested ridge line with views of Rocky Top and Henline Mountain.
Elkhorn Ridge Trailhead

Rocky TopRocky Top

Henline MountainHenline Mountain

The trail was a bit faint with occasional patches of snow remaining from an unusually late melting snowpak that year.
Elkhorn Ridge Trail

Snow along the Elkhorn Ridge Trail

As we continued to make our way along the ridge we spotted Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson through the trees.
Mt. HoodMt. Hood

Mt. JeffersonMt. Jefferson

The further along we went the fainter the trail got and we found ourselves relying on pink flagging to mark the way. We had a map but it wasn’t an adequate map and even if we’d had a proper topographic map we were not yet experienced enough to have been able to use it properly. We also didn’t have a GPS unit yet. Shortly after the trail emerged from the trees and began to drop along the north side of the ridge we wound up losing it.
Elkhorn Ridge Trail

After a couple of minutes searching from the next flagging we decided to call it and turned around. This was one of several outings in 2011 that really helped hammer home just how important having the proper tools and knowledge of how to use them was going to be if we were serious about this hiking thing.

We estimate that we only went a little over a mile of the approximate 3 miles to Phantom Bridge before turning back. I have no doubt that if we were to attempt this hike with the experience we have now we’d have no trouble reaching Phantom Bridge, but turning around that day was the right call. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Elkhorn Ridge Trail

Peavy Arboretum – McDonald Forest

We are in the middle of an extremely mild winter. Aside from some freezing rain on Christmas Weekend we’ve experienced no other snow or icy conditions. That of course changed when we decided that we would take our February hike on Presidents Day. After making that decision the weather forecast immediately called for a snow event that same weekend with Sunday night expected to be the worst of it. After double checking the forecast Saturday afternoon we moved our hike up by one day and changed destinations to something closer to Salem, the McDonald Forest. The forest has become our go to destination in inclement weather having visited McCulloch (post) Peak in October 2016 and Dimple Hill (post) in December of that same year.

For this visit we chose the trails around the Peavy Arboretum. The arboretum is located at the northwestern end of the forest and can be reached by driving Highway 99W north of Corvallis 5 miles and turning left on Arboretum Road for .8 miles to the Peavy Arboretum entrance sign on the right. There are several potential parking areas to choose from and we stayed to the left at forks for .3 miles to a trailhead sign where the road ahead was gated.
Peavy Arboretum Trailhead

John H. Beuter Road

After picking up a trail map we headed up John H. Beuter Road for .3 miles to the OSU Forestry Club Cabin.
OSU Forestry Club Cabin

We turned left onto the Section 36 Loop Trail at the start of the lawn and crossed a small stream on a footbridge.
Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

We had woken up to a small amount of snow and as we gained a little elevation on the trail, we began to encounter some on the vegetation. It was a strange mix of Winter and Spring as some of plants were starting to blossom.
Spring blossoms with a dusting of snow on the leaves behind

The trail continued to climb through a foggy forest and past benches to more and more snow covered ground.
Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

Snowy hillside

Snow along the Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

Section 36 Loop Trail

We stuck to the Section 36 Loop ignoring side trails for 1.4 miles. Then we came to a T-shaped junction with the Powder House Trail where we turned left.
Powder House Trail

About a quarter mile from the junction the Powder House Trail crossed a series of three gravel roads. We had been planning to turn left on the first road (Road 500) and follow it to the Vineyard Mountain Trail and down to a trailhead at Lewisburg Saddle where we would then take a different series of trails and one of the other roads (Road 580) back up to the Powder House Trail. On the far side of Road 500 was a cougar sighting warning.
Cougar warning along the Powder House Trail

We were so distracted by the sign and our conversation that we forgot to turn onto the road. It wasn’t until we were about to cross the third road and we were looking at the map that it dawned on us that we should have turned left back on the first road.
Powder House Trail

Fortunately we had only passed Road 500 by a tenth of a mile so we backtracked and turned right onto the road.
Road 500

We didn’t see any cougars but we did see a whole bunch of juncos.
Junco invasion

We followed Road 500 for just over a mile and a half to a junction at a saddle.
Road 500

Here the Vineyard Mountain Trail began at a signpost.
Vineyard Mountain Trail

This trail climbed for .4 miles to a point near the some towers at the summit of Vineyard Mountain.
Radio tower on Vineyard Mountain

Vineyard Mountain

The trail then began descending along the southern ridge of Vineyard Mountain.
Vineyard Mountain Trail

Vineyard Mountain Trail

Just under a mile and a half from the summit we arrived at the Lewisburg Saddle Trailhead.

Here we briefly followed William A. Davies Road aka Road 580 before turning left onto the unsigned New Growth Trail.
New Growth Trail

An interpretive sign a little ways down the trail let us know that we were on the right path.
New Growth Trail Sign

The New Growth Trail lost enough elevation that we were soon on a snow free trail. Although snow melting from the tops of the trees made the stretch somewhat wet.
New Growth Trail

New Growth Trail

After a half mile we arrived at a junction. Here the half mile Old Growth Trail lay straight ahead or for a short loop back to the Lewisburg Saddle TH the right fork led back uphill to Road 580.
Old Growth Trail junction with the New Growth Trail

We took the Old Growth Trail which led us back into the snow.
Footbridge along the Old Growth Trail

The Old Growth Trail ended further up along Road 580 where we turned left and continued uphill.
Road 580

And into a decent snow flurry.
Snowing on Road 580

There had been a couple of quick breaks in the clouds earlier in the day but after this snow flurry passed the largest patch of blue sky yet appeared.
View from Road 580

View from Road 580

It just so happened that the section of Road 580 that we were on at the time passed by a clearcut which allowed us a nice view across the valley to peaks on the other side of the McDonald Forest.
View from Road 580

View from Road 580

The road then passed through a brief stand of remaining trees before entering another clearcut where the views had mostly disappeared.
View from Road 580

Approximately 2.5 miles from the end of the Old Growth Trail we arrived back at the Powder House Trail where we turned left.
Powder House Trail

This time we crossed the third road and headed uphill through a clearcut to a bench where we imagined the views would be pretty good on a clearer day.
Powder House Trail

Snow covered bench along the Powder House Trail

View from the snowy bench

The trail then curved back downhill to the Cap House where the Civilian Conservation Corps had once stored blasting caps.
Cap House

Interpretive sign at the Cap House

The trail continued to the right of the Cap House and descended a short distance to rejoin the Section 36 Loop Trail. Along the way we encountered several snow queen plants in bloom.
Snowy snow queen

Powder House Trail

We turned left onto the Section 36 Loop.
Powder House Trail junction with the Section 36 Loop Trail

The trail gradually descended as it passed through the forest for almost a mile to Cronemiller Lake.
Section 36 Loop Trail

Signs for the George W. Brown Sports Arena

Cronemiller Lake

Cronemiller Lake

We followed the lake shore all the way around to the right until we reached the signed Calloway Creek Trail.
Calloway Creek Trail

Closed from April to November to bike traffic we followed the Calloway Creek Trail a total of 2.5 miles staying left at most junctions except for the signed trail to Road 547 where we stayed right.
Calloway Creek Trail

Calloway Creek Trail

The trail crossed Calloway Creek twice and passed a small meadow with a bench.
Calloway Creek

Calloway Creek Trail

After the 2.5 miles we turned left onto the Intensive Management Trail.
Calloway Creek Trail junction with the Intesive Management Trail

At the next junction was a signboard map which could have been a little more descriptive.
Trail sign along the Intesive Management Trail

We stuck to this trail following pointers for the Arboretum Parking to a different parking lot a tenth of a mile from where we had started.
Intesive Management Trail

From here we took the .1 mile Firefighters Memorial Trail past a nice shelter and back to our car.
Firefighter Memorial Trail

Shelter along the Firefighter Memorial Trail

The hike turned out to be an approximately 14 mile loop with around 2000′ of elevation gain. A little more than we had planned for the day but a nice hike none the less. Alternating between being above and below the snow line added to the variety of the hike. It had turned out to be a good choice and another fun hike in the McDonald Forest. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Peavy Arboretum

Throwback Thursday – Devil’s Punchbowl and Beverly Beach

On May 12th, 2012 we were in Newport scouting out the route of the Newport Marathon which we would be running the next month and while we were there we took a short hike along Beverly Beach starting at the Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area.
Devil's Punchbowl Trailhead

From the parking area we headed down to the beach on the north side of the Devil’s Punchbowl. The large Gull Rock rose out of the Pacific just offshore.
Gull Rock

We turned south to explore what we could of the punchbowl.
Devi's Punchbowl

Devil's Punchbowl

We hadn’t looked up the tide table so we played it safe and didn’t go in too far but were still able to get a nice look. In addition to the rock formations there was plenty of wildlife to see.
Harlequin DucksHarlequiin ducks


Oyster catchersOyster catchers


After exploring down on the beach we headed back up to a viewpoint overlooking the Devil’s Punchbowl.
Devil's Punchbowl

Devil's Punchbowl and Gull Rock

We then descended to the beach on the south side of the punchbowl. Our plan was to follow the beach for 1.5 miles to Beverly Beach State Park. There we hoped to hike a .7 mile nature loop. The hike along the beach included views south to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse (post) and back north to the Devil’s Punchbowl. It also required an easy crossing of shallow Johnson Creek.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse from Beverly Beach

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Gull Rock and Devil's Punchbowl

Johnson Creek

We turned inland at Spencer Creek and passed under Highway 101. A footbridge spanned the creek to a picnic area but we kept straight into the park campground.
Spencer Creek

The nature trail began at campsite C5 but we were disappointed to find signs indicating that it was temporarily closed just beyond a bench.
Trail in Beverly Beach Campground

We turned around and briefly wandered through the campground. Our first camping trip together had been at this park and we were wondering if we would recognize the site we’d stayed at over 17 years before. We were unsuccessful in making a positive id and headed back to the Devil’s Punchbowl parking lot. From there we headed to Newport and drove the marathon course to see what we’d gotten ourselves into. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Devil’s Punchbowl and Beverly Beach.

Throwback Thursday – Drift Creek Wilderness and Cape Perpetua

This week’s Throwback Thursday hike is another we completed fairly earl on in our hiking days. On September 15th 2010 we set off on our 18th hike into the Drift Creek Wilderness NW of Yachats, OR.

The wilderness is home to impressive stands of old growth trees but in all honesty we had not yet come to fully appreciate what that meant. Like too many hikers we were focused on big views, massive waterfalls, vast wildflower meadows, or glistening lakes.

Our hike began at the Horse Creek North Trailhead where we followed the trail for .6 miles along an old roadbed to the boundary of the Drift Creek Wilderness.
Drift Creek Trailhead

Drift Creek Wilderness sign

From the wilderness boundary the trail gradually descended for 3.2 miles to a campsite near Drift Creek.
Drift Creek Wilderness

Drift Creek Wilderness

Interestingly there was no easy path down to the creek which one could ford to the Harris Ranch Trail to the north. We have plans to hike this trail in the future.
Drift Creek

Drift Creek

We returned the way we’d come, climbing back up to the trailhead wondering what the point of that was. Looking back on the hike now we realize we weren’t really paying attention to the forest along the way. If we were to repeat this hike now I think we would come away with a whole different view.

Given that the hike was only 7.6 miles we had the time and energy to make a second stop somewhere. We were hoping for something with a little more “bang” to it so we pulled out our guidebook and began looking for another short hike nearby.

We landed on the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. Located three miles south of Yachats the area offered several trails to choose from and we picked the Captain Cook Trail.
Infromation for the Captain Cook Trail

The Captain Cook Trail leads to a viewpoint of one of the Oregon’s Coasts more famous attraction – Thor’s Well. Unfortunately our visit occurred at time when the tide was out and the well quite.
Looking toward Thor's Well

There was also a view to the north of the Cape Perputua Shelter which we would visit a couple years later (post).
Cape Perpetua stone shelter

Thor’s Well may have been quiet due to the tide being out but that also meant that we could see quite a few of the tide pools.
Tide pool



Tide pool

After touring the tide pools we headed back toward the parking area but turned left before passing under Highway 101 to take the Cape Cove Trail. This path crossed over Cape Creek on a bridge before leading down to more tidepools along the Devil’s Churn, a 50 slot carved into lava rock by the Pacific.
Cape Creek

Devil's Churn

Devil's Churn

Again with the tide out there wasn’t much action occurring in the Devil’s Churn but it was still an interesting feature. Our hike here was just under 2 miles making it a reasonable hike for almost anyone. In addition to our plan to revisit the Drift Creek Wilderness we have one more trail to take at the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area so we will also be returning there someday to hike the Giant Spruce Trail. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Drift Creek North and Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

Throwback Thursday – Clackamas River Trail

It’s time for another throwback Thursday hike. This week we’re covering our 6/30/2012 visit to the Clackamas River Trail. This was a strange hike for us. For some reason we were really dragging on this hike. Of the hikes where we’ve had our GPS with us our average moving speed for this one was our 9th slowest. All eight of the slower hikes had extenuating circumstance such as snow or extended off-trail stretches which contributed to the slower pace but this hike had none of that.

We began our hike at the Fish Creek Trailhead. The steep hillsides in the Clackamas River Canyon are prone to slides and rockfall which close the trail from time to time so as always it pays to double check the trail status before heading out.
Fish Creek Trailhead

The trail contoured along the hillside above the Clackamas River often within sight of Highway 224 on the opposite side. A half mile from the trailhead the trail spent some time near the riverbank before climbing away through a 2003 fire zone.
Clackamas River

Foggy forest along the Clackamas River Trail

Clackamas River

June flowers bloomed along the way including orange tiger lilies, purple penstemon, and red columbine.

The trail left the 2003 fire zone after 2 miles and entered a lush green forest passing several small side streams.
Stream along the Clackamas River Trail

Waterfall back in the trees

Skunk cabbage

Creek along the Clackamas River Trail

Rhododendrons were blooming along this section.

There was also a unique feature on a tree trunk, what appeared to us to be a face coming out of the wood.
Face in a tree

Just over 3.5 miles from the Fish Creek Trailhead we arrived at Pup Creek where a pointer to the right led us on side trail to 100′ Pup Creek Falls.
Pup Creek Falls

Pup Creek Falls

We had lunch by the falls before continuing. Our original plan had been to hike to Indian Henry Campground and back for a 15.6 mile round trip but the bridge at Pup Creek was out. We contemplated fording the creek but we had both felt pretty lethargic and knew we were dragging so we turned around and headed back leaving the other section for another time. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Clackamas River