Category Archives: Oregon Coast

Cascade Head, Whalen Island, and Sitka Sedge – 6/25/2019

As we finished up a four day stretch of hiking to start a week of vacation we were looking for the best chance of decent weather which brought us to the Oregon Coast for our second visit to Cascade Head. I had originally had a grandiose plan to hike from the lower trailhead all the way over to Harts Cove (post) but I hadn’t paid close enough attention to detail and we wound up going with a plan B.

We started the morning at Knight County Park.
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IMG_0776Salmon River at Knight County Park

It had rained throughout most of our drive through the Coast Range but we were pleased to have been able to see the meadows on Cascade Head as we drove to the trailhead. We set off on the Nature Conservancy Trail which quickly crossed Three Rocks Road.
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The trail climbed through the forest along Savage Road popping out of the trees at a field where we could see that the meadows were not nearly as clear as they had been just a bit earlier.
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The fact that we could see the ocean was a bit encouraging though.
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After crossing to the other side of the road the trail passed an active slide and recrossed to the original trailhead.
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The trail continued to climb through the forest before leveling out for a bit as it crossed a series of overgrown streams on footbridges.
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IMG_0801One of the bridges.

IMG_0804Overgrown stream

When we finally popped out of the trees around the mile and a half mark we found ourselves in some pretty thick fog.
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We had hoped to see some of the elk herd that lives on Cascade Head but we couldn’t see much of anything, although we did spot a few birds.
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There were just a few flowers scattered about as we made our way through and up the grassy meadow.
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Parsley-leaf Lovage
Parsley-leaf Lovage

IMG_0853Foxglove with a spider web

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With no views from the meadows when we finally reached the upper viewpoint we headed into the forest.
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When we came to Siuslaw National Forest boundary my lack of attention to detail became apparent. I had seen where the road to the Upper Trailhead was closed annually from January 1st through July 15th, but I hadn’t noticed that the entire area starting at the boundary was closed to all traffic during that time period.
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So much for that plan. We gathered under the awning over the Nature Conservancy signboard and mulled over our options. We decided that it might be a decent time to check out a couple of other nearby hikes – Whalen Island and Sitka Sedge. These two hikes would be just a little less mileage than our original plan with quite a bit less elevation gain, plus they were close to Pacific City which gave us a great excuse to have lunch at the Pelican Brewing Company.

With a new plan we headed back to the upper viewpoint where the conditions had improved slightly. We could make out the trees and even a bit of the ocean in the distance through the fog.
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The problem seemed to be that the clouds/fog wasn’t coming in from the Pacific but was instead coming from inland up the Salmon River. We paused for a moment wondering if the view might clear up. While we were watching we spotted a doe walking along the tree line.
IMG_0877Look for the head to the right of the tall foxglove stalk.

We decided to keep descending figuring that we would still have a good view if the fog did happen to lift.
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As we were headed in the direction of the Salmon River the fog did indeed clear in a span of just over a minute.
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It was a remarkable change. As we were admiring the new, clearer view we noticed a pair of deer feeding in a gully far below us.
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As we continued downhill we were encourage to see an actual pocket of blue sky.
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We stopped to take in the view from the lower viewpoint.
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From the lower viewpoint the trail turned back inland where things were taking another turn. It was now beginning to rain.
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It was a fairly quick, damp, descent back to the car. We were briefly followed by a young fawn who quickly ran the other way when we turned around and spotted it. We had heard a couple of odd noises which caused Heather to turn and notice it. Were aren’t sure what prompted it to follow but hopefully it got back to it’s bed and mother.

The rain had ended by the time we arrived back at Knight Park and we headed north along Highway 101 for 12.7 miles to a sign for Pacific City and Sand Lake where we turned left. This was Brooten Rd. which we followed for 3.5 miles before turning left onto a bridge across the Nestucca River and into Woods. After 2.3 miles on what was now Sandlake Rd. we turned right at a T-shaped junction remaining on Sandlake Rd. for 2.9 more miles to the Clay Myers State Natural Area at Whalen Island on the left.
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It was overcast here but not raining or foggy so that was a plus. We began our loop hike here by taking a trail near the southern end of the parking area.
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The 1.5 mile loop here passes several viewpoints of Sand Lake and the Lillian Parker Craft wetland. Near the first viewpoint we spotted a rabbit.
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The trail was nice and there were a few flowers along with the views.
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IMG_0974Cape Lookout (post)

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At the wetlands a curious hummingbird came to check us out.
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After completing this short loop we drove back south along Sandlake Rd a mile and turned right into the Sitka Sedge State Natural Area. Purchased by the State in 2014 this is a relatively new hiking area offering a couple of loop options.
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We followed the Beltz Dike Trail to the start of the loops.
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With water and wetlands on both sides of the dike we were a bit surprised by the lack of wildlife which was basically just a few ducks, some crows, and a number of smaller birds.
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There appeared to have been quite a display of roses a bit earlier in the year.
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On the far end of the dike we turned right onto the Estuary View Loop.
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This trail passed through a typical coast forest and climbed to a viewpoint above the Sand Lake Estuary.
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We scanned the estuary for any interesting wildlife but didn’t spot anything so we continued on. As the trail looped around and began heading south it became quite a bit sandier requiring a little extra effort.
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At a rise in the trail there was a view south to Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock (post).

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We missed the the pointer for beach access where the Woods and Estuary View Loops met and continued south on what was now the Kinnikinnik Woods Loop.
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This section was much less sandy which made it easier to walk on.
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At the next trail sign we did follow the beach access pointer but we mistook it on the map for the one we had already passed.
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This path was a slightly longer route to the beach as it first paralleled it for nearly two tenths of a mile before a short spur trail to the right led out to it.
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Cape Lookout lay to the north while Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock were to the south.
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When we left the beach we turned right thinking that this was still the Kinnikinnik Woods Loop but a quick look at the Garmin showed that we were quickly approaching the outskirts of Pacific City so we promptly turned around and headed back to the junction and got ourselves back on the correct path.
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We took a final short detour at the pointer for the Elk Knoll Trail.
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This 500′ long path led to a bench atop a small knoll, there were no elk present.
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After sitting briefly on the bench we completed the loop but not before Heather did one of the craziest dances I’d ever seen as we were walking along the trail. She had suddenly seen something right in front of her and thought it was some kind of big insect coming for her. It wasn’t.
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We both got quite a laugh out of her fancy moves and chuckled all the way back to the trailhead. Despite our detour the hike here was still under 4 miles bringing the days total to 11.1 miles.

After a quick change we drove into Pacific City and stopped at the Pelican Brewery before heading back to Salem. The food and drink were a nice way to end four days of hikes. With more rain in the forecast over the next couple of days we’ll see when and where our next hike takes us. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Cascade Head, Whalen Island, and Stika Sedge

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Siltcoos River, Siltcoos Lake & Honeyman State Park – 12/08/18

The first week of December greeted us with some beautiful weather. Unfortunately the forecast called for the arrival of rain Friday evening and we were unable to get time off of work during the week to take advantage of the sunny conditions.  We kept our eyes on the forecast though and by Friday there was a window of time Saturday morning where it looked like it might be dry along the coast south of Florence so we made a last minute call to take our final outing of the year.

Our plan was to end the year much as it started (post), with a three stop day along the Oregon Coast.  For this trip we’d picked three hikes just south of Florence, OR in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  Our first stop was at the Stagecoach Trailhead, eight miles south of Florence, in the Siltcoos Area.

Stagecoach Trailhead

Map at the Stagecoach Trailhead

From the trailhead we followed signs for the Waxmyrtle Trail which led us across the Siltcoos River on bridge on the entrance road to the Waxmyrtle Campground.
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Siltcoos River

Once across the bridge we turned right along the river bank on the Waxmyrtle Trail.
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Siltcoos River

It was a mostly cloudy morning, but it was dry and there was a least some breaks which gave us hope that it would turn out to be a nice day after all.
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Our guidebook had mentioned that this area was one of the best areas for bird watching in the State. Although we didn’t see a large number of birds on this morning we did spot a few along the estuary here.
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Great blue heronGreat blue heron

Common mergansersCommon mergansers

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A little under a half mile from the bridge we came to an old fork in the trail. The right hand fork had been a seasonal trail sticking closer to the river, but it has been closed due to erosion.
Closed portion of trail along the Siltcoos River

We stayed left and shortly arrived at a sandy road leading between the campground and the beach. A sign here pointed right for the continuation of the Waxmyrtle Trail.
Sign for the Waxmyrtle Trail

Waxmyrtle Trail

We followed this sandy track 3/4 of a mile to Waxmyrtle Beach. Along the way we passed through Waxmyrtle Marsh where the morning colors reflected off the still waters on either side of the trail.
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Interpretive sign for the Waxmyrtle Marsh

Waxmyrtle Marsh

Waxmyrtle Marsh

Waxmyrtle Marsh

Waxmyrtle Beach

For a longer hike here we could have walked along the beach, but with two other stops ahead of us we simply stopped for a moment to enjoy the Pacific Ocean. It was a perfect morning for a visit, the temperature was in the upper 40’s, there was no breeze at all, and the sky above seemed to compliment the waves below.
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Pacific Ocean at Wax Myrtle Beach

Pacific Ocean

Sanderlings

After enjoying a peaceful moment on the beach we headed back the way we’d come, careful to not step on any of the numerous rough skinned newts that were out and about.
Tiny rough skinned newt

After recrossing the Siltcoos River and before returning to the Stagecoach Trailhead we crossed the main road to take the .7 mile Lagoon Trail.
Lagoon Trail

On the far side of a boardwalk the Lagoon Trail began a .7 mile loop around a campground in the middle of the Siltcoos Lagoon.
Lagoon Trail map

Siltcoos Lagoon

Siltcoos Lagoon

Interpretive sign along the Siltcoos Lagoon

Siltcoos Lagoon

Squirrel

Sparrow

After finishing the loop we returned to our car. The hike here had only been 3.3 miles but had offered a nice variety of scenery and wildlife. We drove back to Highway 101 from the trailhead and crossed directly over it to reach the Siltcoos Lake Trailhead.
Siltcoos Lake Trailhead

The Siltcoos Lake Trail with a .9 mile climb inland through a second growth forest to the start of a loop.
Siltcoos Lake Trail

Siuslaw forest along the Siltcoos Lake Trail

Siltcoos Lake Trail

Siltcoos Lake Trail

A wide variety of mushrooms grew along the forest floor where there were also more newts to watch out for.
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Mushrooms

Mushroom along the Siltcoos Lake Trail

Mushroom along the Siltcoos Lake Trail

Rough skinned newt next to an upturned mushroom

We turned right at the start of the loop and followed the trail a little over three quarters of a mile to another junction.
Sunbeams in the forest along the Siltcoos Lake Trail

Siltcoos Lake Trail

We had lost nearly all the elevation we had gained and the trail to right continued downhill for another quarter mile to South Camp, a tent site along the lake shore.
Siltcoos Lake

Siltcoos Lake

The lake was very pretty and full of birds but the nearly constant sound of gunfire took a little away from the enjoyment.
Birds on Siltcoos Lake

Birds on Siltcoos Lake

We climbed back up to the Sitlcoos Lake Trail and continued a half mile on the loop which dropped to a small creek crossing before arriving at a sign for the tent sites at North Camp where we again turned right and visited the lake shore.
Siltcoos Lake Trail

Siltcoos Lake

American coot

Birds taking flight from Siltcoos Lake

Following paths north along the shore led us past all the sites and back to the Siltcoos Lake Trail.
Sunbeams in the Siuslaw National Forest

Siltcoos Lake Trail

Just under a mile and a quarter from North Camp we finished the loop and then returned the .9 miles to the trailhead to complete the 4.4 mile hike.

Next we drove north on Highway 101 just over 4.5 miles to signs for Jessie M. Honeyman State Park where we turned east on Canary Road. We followed this road for a half mile before turning right into the East Woahink Day Use Area.

After parking in the large parking area we walked back toward the entrance to a large sign for Cleawox Lake Day Use Areas.
Trail from the East Woahink Lake picnic area

This path led briefly through a forest before joining Canary Road to cross a portion of the lake.
Trail between Woahink and Cleawox Lake

Woahink Lake

After passing over the water along the road the trail dipped back into the forest and immediately forked. The right hand fork led directly into the West Woahink Day Use Area while the left fork (which we took) looped around the day use area along the lake shore passing picnic tables and a small beach.
Beach along Woahink Lake

Woahink Lake

On the far side of the West Woahink Day Use Area we once again found ourselves on the shoulder of Canary Road passing over more of the lake. The trail again veered away from the somewhat busy road and we followed pointers for Cleawox Lake to a paved bike path leading over Highway 101.
Trail between Woahink and Cleawox Lake

Trail between Woahink and Cleawox Lake

Path over Highway 101 in Jesse M. Honeyman State Park

Rough skinned newts had become the theme for the day and even the bike path was not free of them.
Rough skinned newt

Shortly after crossing over the highway we turned right off the bike path at a trail sign.
Trail between Woahink and Cleawox Lake

This path led downhill past a small stone structure and across a couple of paved roads before reaching Cleawox Lake.
Stone structer in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

Trail between Woahink and Cleawox Lake

Cleawox Lake

On the far side of lake was the day use area complete with a very nice bathhouse. We turned right at the lake and made our way around the water to the bathhouse and swimming area.
Cleawox Lake

Bathhouse at Cleawox Lake

Cleawox Lake

We could imagine that this would be a very busy place at other times of the year but on the second weekend in December there were only a few other people that we could even see and they were all across the water in other areas. We found a dry bench and sat a for a bit listening to a sparrow sing.
Sparrow

As we started to head back an Anna’s hummingbird zoomed by and landed in a nearby tree.
Anna's hummingbird

Anna's hummingbird

We passed by the trail that we had come down to the lake on and continued along the water to a large parking area on the opposite side of the bathhouse.
Cleawox Lake

At the end of the parking lot a path led to a dune along the lake, but before we headed out onto the sand we took a very short side trip on the signed Nature Trail to visit Lily Lake.
Nature Trail

Lily LakeLily Lake

After seeing the small lake we headed up the sand dune overlooking Cleawox Lake.
Dunes Trail

Dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

Cleawox Lake

We climbed to the top of the dune and surveyed the surrounding area.
Dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

Cleawox Lake

Pacific Ocean from a dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State ParkThe Pacific Ocean from the dune.

To the south we could see our goal, the largest sand dune (at least in that area) in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park.

Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

It was a half mile of sandy up and down walking between the two dunes.
Trail through the dunes at Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

Dune Trail

After a nearly 150′ climb we arrived at the top of the dune and its 360 degree view.
View from the tallest dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

View from the tallest dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

View from the tallest dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

View from the tallest dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

Although off road vehicles are allowed in much of the park this dune (and our route to and from it) are off limits. After soaking in the view (and watching a couple of motorcycles in the distance) we followed footprints steeply downhill to the east.
Path down the dune

Dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

After a short stint through trees we followed tracks around a sandy bowl reentering the trees just above the park’s campground.
Dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

Once in the campground we headed north following the paved roads to Loop “B”.
Campground in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

We turned east along the northern end of Loop B which brought us to the bike path that we had crossed Highway 101 on earlier.
Trail to East Woahink Lake Day Use Area

We followed path back up and over Highway 101 and returned to the East Woahink Lake Day Use Area. The path was full of birds now, mostly robins but we also spotted a nice spotted towhee.
Robins

Spotted towhee

The only thing we did differently on the way back was that we went through the West Woahink Day Use Area instead of around it which allowed us to use the facilities there before our drive home. This was our longest hike of the day at 5.2 miles bringing the days total to 12.9.

We had been all prepared for wet and rainy weather, but instead we had a nearly perfect day for hiking at the coast. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Siltcoos River, Siltcoos Lake, & Honeyman State Park

Amanda’s Trail to Cape Perpetua

As we approached the final hike of our official “hiking season” (May through October) we were playing a game of cat and mouse with the weather forecast. Our original plan had been a visit to Wahtum Lake between the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood but on Wednesday the forecast for Saturday was rain there so we began to look elsewhere. Our November hike (we try and do one a hike month in our “off-season”) was going to be a visit to Cape Perpetua via Amanda’s Trail so we checked the forecast for that area and it simply called for mostly cloudy conditions. We checked again on Thursday and the forecast for these locations had basically swapped and now Wahtum Lake looked better. Another check Friday night called for rain in both areas (more at Wahtum Lake) so we decided to check again in the morning before deciding where we would end up. The forecast the next morning was still calling for rain at both locations but not starting until 11am. With less precipitation expected at Cape Perpetua and views being less of a concern there we headed to Yachats on the Oregon Coast.

At the southern end of Yachats, after crossing over the Yachats River, we turned right on Ocean View Road which leads to the Yachats Ocean Road State Natural Site. The road passes along the natural site where there are several pullouts before looping back to Highway 101. We parked at a small dirt pullout near the southern end of the natural site and took our time getting going because we’d arrived a little before sunrise.
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Luckily there was a decent amount of light being provided by the Moon so it didn’t take long before we headed further south along Ocean View Road to a post marking the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT).
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We followed the posts south which brought us to the shoulder of Highway 101.
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A little under a quarter mile beyond the first OCT post the trail crossed over the highway at Windy Way Street. We then climbed a bit away from the highway before dropping back down to a driveway for a bed and breakfast.
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The first sign that this section of the OCT is Amanda’s Trail came on the far side of the B&B when the trail reentered the forest.
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The trail once again climbed away from the highway as it rounded a hillside with a few ocean views.
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Approximately a half mile from the bed and breakfast we came to a statue of two bears representing an Alsea Indian myth that bears dance when the salmon come. Norman Kittle, whose name is on the statue, along with his wife Joanne were the first private landowners to donate a trail easement in the State of Oregon.
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Beyond the bear statue the trail began a slight decent, crossing a gravel road, before arriving at the small grotto with Amanda’s Statue ( a quarter mile from the bears).
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Interpretive signs here told of the blind woman’s forced march to the reservation.
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The present statue is not the original statue as it and a nearby footbridge were washed away in a 2016 flood. The current statue is one of two others completed by the same artist and was provided by its owners when the original statue was lost. This version was placed a bit higher to avoid any subsequent floods. Other precautions to protect the statue have been taken as well.
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After visiting the statue we continued on across the replaced footbridge.
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Beyond the creek the trail climbed nearly 750′ as it turned inland up a forested ridge.
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A mile from the bridge we had left the ridge and traversed around a marshy area near the head of North Cape Creek.
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After a little additional climbing on the other side of the creek the trail began to descend along this ridge toward the ocean. A mile and a quarter from North Cape Creek we arrived at a signed junction.
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Here we stayed right following pointers for the Stone Shelter on what was now the Whispering Spruce Trail.
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We had visited the shelter in 2013 (post) on what was part of the first outing featured in this blog.

A little less than a quarter mile from the junction we arrived at the shelter.
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It was a surprisingly nice morning considering the forecast and we were happy to have a good view from the shelter.
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After a brief rest we continued on passing another viewpoint before reaching a junction with the St. Perpetua Trail.
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I mentioned that we had visited the stone shelter in 2013 but that had not been our first visit to the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. In 2010 we had stopped here to visit the tide pools on the way home from a hike in the Drift Creek Wilderness (post). One thing we had not seen on either of our previous trips was the Giant Spruce, a nearly 600 year old State Heritage Tree.

With that goal in mind we took the St. Perpetua Trail downhill toward the Cape Perpetua Campground.
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Shortly after crossing Overlook Road, which leads to a trailhead along the Whispering Spruce Loop, we arrived at the campground entrance road.
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Behind the restrooms the trail continues across Cape Creek.
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On the far side of the creek we turned left on the Giant Spruce Trail.
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This trail followed the creek upstream for .8 miles to the 185′ high tree with a trunk circumference of 40′.
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We are always awestruck when we visit any of the giant old trees in person. It’s nearly impossible to capture just how huge they really are in photos. In addition to their size their age always forces us to pause and try and picture the timeline of their growth. This tree would have likely been a sapling at the same time Christopher Columbus was lost looking for a route to Asia.

After visiting the tree we returned to the junction near the footbridge at the campground. The weather was holding nicely so we decided to check out the Spouting Horn and Devil’s Churn areas. We followed the Giant Spruce Trail .2 miles to the visitors center where we picked up the Captain Cooks Trails.
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We followed this paved trail under Highway 101 to a viewpoint.
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From the viewpoint the Captain Cook Trail went left making a loop with views of the Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well while the Trail of Restless Waters was to the right leading to Devil’s Churn. We decided to visit them in the opposite order of our 2010 visit and went right first. This trail briefly followed the shoulder of the highway past a small parking area and vista before dropping toward the ocean.
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We crossed over Cape Creek and then followed the trail, keeping left at junctions, to a staircase down to Devil’s Churn.
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There was some decent wave action going on and we watched if for awhile.
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The crashing waves didn’t seem to bother a lone cormorant that was hunting for food in the churn.
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Speaking of food after we climbed back up the stairs we continued on a loop above Devil’s Churn to the Devil’s Churn Day Use Area where we wound up buying a lemon muffin from the concession stand there.
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After splitting the muffin we completed the loop and returned to the Captain Cook Trail.
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We stayed left at a fork in order to complete the loop clockwise.
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The tide had been out far enough on our previous visit that the Spouting Horn had not been spouting but today was different.
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We also hadn’t even noticed Thor’s Well that day but this time we knew what we were looking for and the Ocean was more cooperative.
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It was a bit of a zoo with people in the area though so we didn’t stay long and were soon heading back up the St. Perpetua Trail and past the shelter where the view had become much cloudier.
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The rain mostly held off as we made the two and a quarter mile horseshoe through the forest along the ridges above North Cape Creek between the shelter and Amanda’s Statue.
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By the time we reached the grotto, where we encountered a Boy Scout Troop, a steady light rain was falling. The rain continued to pick up as we made our way back to the Highway 101 crossing south of Yachats.
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Overall it had been an excellent day, the rain had held off long enough for us to get some nice views and stay relatively dry without having to put on our rain gear. We got to finish up the trails in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and had unintentionally timed it better for the Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well. Oh and we also had that delicious lemon muffin mid-hike so yeah it was a pretty good way to end our 2018 hiking season. We do plan on getting a couple more hikes in this year but from November through April we drop down to just one outing (or so) a month. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Amanda’s Trail to Cape Perpetua

Tahkenitch Creek

After three nights in Bandon it was time to say goodbye and head home. We woke up early on Sunday to find that it had rained overnight. As we headed north on Highway 101 we passed through a number of showers and began to think that it was going to be a wet hike at Tahkenitch Creek. In fact the heaviest shower began in Reedsport just nine miles south of the trailhead.

When we arrived at the small parking area we were happy to find that it wasn’t raining there, at least yet.IMG_2960

In 2015 (post) we visited the area on either side of this trail but had skipped over this particular trail. The Tahkenitch Creek Trail set off through the forest on the north side of Tahkenitch Creek which it quickly crossed on a footbridge.IMG_2961

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The wet morning hadn’t kept the wildlife from making appearances.IMG_2973

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Beyond the footbridge there was a short section of boardwalk then we came to a junction with a trail map.IMG_2967

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This junction was only three tenths of a mile from the trailhead and marked the beginning of a couple of loop options. We stayed to the right passing a couple of views of Tahkenitch Creek including the site of a possible ford. We had checked out the ford from the other side in 2015 and were no more interested in doing it this time around.IMG_2986

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Possible ford site

The trail spent quite a bit of time away from the creek before arriving at another junction a half mile from the start of the loops.IMG_2991

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A left here would have created a 1 mile loop and a 1.6 mile hike overall, but we stayed right opting for a longer option. The trail continued through the forest for another .8 miles to the next junction. We had been having to watch where we stepped all morning due to the presence of numerous slugs but along this section we also saw a rough skinned newt in the trail.IMG_3000

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We faced another choice at this junction. Simply turning left would create a two mile loop, but a right hand turn would lead us to the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail in just under a mile. We had hiked the dunes trail to the beach in 2015 so we decided to go to that junction to link up the two hikes.IMG_3005

This stretch of trail remained in the forest until the junction. A brief right hand turn onto the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail provided a bit of a view of the creek and of the Pacific Ocean in the distance.IMG_3006

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It would have been another .8 miles to reach the beach on the dunes trail, and since we had hiked that stretch before we decided to turn back here and get home earlier.IMG_3012

We kept right at junctions on the way back passing briefly though a sandy landscape.IMG_3015

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As we exited the sandy area we met a gentleman who was looking for a good view of sand dunes to the south. He said he was working on a photography book of the Oregon Coast and had hoped to get some photos of the fog on some of the nearby lakes but due to the rain there was no fog over the water. We suggested he try the Oregon Dunes Overlook just north of where we were. We wished him luck and continued on.

The rain finally started to come down as we completed the loop so we hustled back to the trailhead and got into the car before we got too wet.IMG_3022

Even with the side trip to the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail this was only a 4.3 mile hike, and the shorter loop options make it a great leg stretch stop or hike for the younger kids. For us it was a nice way to end our mini-vacation and one more featured hike checked off from William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” guidebook. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Tahkenitch Creek

Barklow Mountain and Bullards Beach

When we changed our plans from a backpacking trip in the Diamond Peak Wilderness to a long weekend in Bandon one of the more exciting prospects was being able to check off a visit to our 38th Oregon Wilderness Area – the Copper-Salmon Wilderness. We had attempted to visit that particular wilderness in 2017 but a washed out road denied us access to the Barklow Mountain Northeast Trailhead (post)

For this trip we would be using the Barklow Mountain West Trailhead. We used the Oregonhikers.com field guide entry here to reach the trailhead. The guide mentions that the road is prone to rockfall and slides and that it is best to wait for the dry months of Summer to attempt to reach the trailhead. Based on the conditions we encountered along the roads that is not an understatement.
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Prior to reaching the vehicular obstacle course that was the Forest Service Roads we spotted a small elk herd and a number of deer along Elk River Road. It was still a bit dark for pictures but we did our best from the idling car.
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We parked at the small pullout that is the trailhead after a long drive (time wise) that included stopping a couple of times to remove small trees from the road and also at the junction with FR 390 because the 390 post was in the center of a fork and we didn’t want to be on that road but we couldn’t tell which one the post was referring to. (Hint – The left fork was FR 390 so we went right.)
IMG_2791Barklow Mountain West Trailhead

The Barklow Mountain Trail dropped slightly from a closed road bed and quickly entered the Copper-Salmon Wilderness.
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The forest along the trail was a mix of tanoak and madrone and some sections with fir and pine.
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Not unlike the roads to the trailhead there were a few obstacles to maneuver around.
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After a mile and a half of climbing, the trail arrived at a saddle junction.
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The trail to the left led to Johnson Creek Road.
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The trail to the right was the one we wanted. This trail would lead up up to the old lookout site atop Barklow Mountain.
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Approximately .3 miles beyond the junction we came to an unmarked side trail heading downhill to the right.
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This short spur trail led down to the site of a now collapsed shelter.
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Beyond the shelter the trail steepened a bit as it wound beneath Barklow Mountain.
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We passed through a patch of manzanita where we had a nice view south of nearby Copper Mountain.
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A total of .4 miles from the old shelter we arrived at an unsigned junction on a ridge. Here we turned left to visit the lookout site.
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From the lookout site we could barely make out the Pacific to the SW along with Grassy Knob (post).
IMG_2836Grassy Knob is on the horizon just to the left of the near trees.

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After a break we headed back to the car and navigated the obstacle course again. Fortunately we did not encounter any other cars until we were clear of the mess. We then drove back to Bandon, passed through town, and continued north on Highway 101 for three miles to the signed turn for Bullards Beach State Park.

We parked at the beach access parking lot which is located 1.3 miles from the highway.
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Our plan was to hike a clockwise loop along the Coquille River, the north jetty, and the beach. From the parking lot we headed inland on a paved path signed for the campground.
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We followed this path until we had crossed the entrance to the Bullards Beach Horse Camping Area.
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Just beyond that entrance (.4 miles from the beach parking area) we turned right off the paved path and crossed the paved park entrance road onto a dirt road which led us down to the Coquille River.
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There was no actual trail along the river so we spent most of the next 2 miles walking along the sandy river bank. We were forced inland a couple of times in order to cross water on logs.
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There was a lot of activity on the river between boats and birds.
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As we neared the north jetty across from Bandon’s Old Downtown we turned inland at a sandy gap which led to a gravel road.
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We followed this road for .4 miles staying left at a fork on a grassy track.
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The road bed ended at the Coquille River Lighthouse. An Army Corps of Engineers ship was busily going back and forth near the mouth of the river.
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Once past the lighthouse we continued out along the north jetty for .2 miles.
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It was a much better day visibility wise than the previous one had been and from the jetty we got a decent look at some of the Bandon Islands on the other side of the river.
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The view north was much less rocky.
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After partaking of the view we headed back, hopping off the jetty and onto Bullards Beach.
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After 1.5 miles along the beach we turned inland and climbed over the foredune to the beach access parking area.
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After a shower and change of clothes we found ourselves wandering through the old downtown again. When it was time for dinner we decided to go back to Foley’s Irish Pub. After another good meal there and desert from Pastries and Pizzas we turned in for the night. We had agreed that Bandon had quickly become one of our favorite coastal towns and were already looking forward to our next visit. Happy Trails!

Flirck: Barklow Mountain and Bullards Beach

New River and Bandon Islands

We had changed our mini-vacation plans from a four day backpacking loop around and up Diamond Peak to four days of hiking on the Oregon Coast due to the possibility of wet weather. Wet weather isn’t typically a big deal at the coast and drying off in a motel room is a lot more convenient than trying to keep your backpacking gear dry for multiple days. When we had looked at the forecast for Bandon the best looking day weather wise had been Friday with a forecast of mostly sunny and no chance of showers. We planned a pair of hikes for that day, first at the New River Recreation Area and then a walk along the beach starting at the Bandon South Jetty Park.

The BLM managed New River Recreation Area is located eight miles south of Bandon on Croft Lake Road. We parked near the New River Nature Center which hadn’t opened yet for the day.

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We headed north from the parking area onto the signed North Trail.

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A little over a quarter mile along this forested path we came to a junction with the Ridge Trail.

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We turned right onto this trail which made a .4 mile horseshoe along the top of an old dune now covered in vegetation including some madrone trees.

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At a bench at the end of the Ridge Trail we turned right onto the Huckleberry Hill Trail (If we had gone straight at the North/Ridge Trail junction we would have wound up here in less than a tenth of a mile.)

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We followed the Huckleberry Hill trail .4 miles down an increasingly sandy track to the Ocean View Trail where we turned left (the only choice).

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Huckleberries along the Huckleberry Hill Trail

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After just 430′ on the Ocean View Trail we took a signed spur trail to the right to a viewpoint.

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We arrived at the New River in less than 100 yards. The Ocean was barely visible on the other side of a low rise on the beach between the river and the Pacific.

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We returned to the main trail and continued an additional .2 miles before arriving at the New River Boat Ramp.

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It was a little foggy but we could see quite a few Canada geese and an egret in the river.

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From the boat ramp we followed the road for .2 miles to the Muddy Lake Trail.

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Two tenths of a mile from the road we turned right on the .1 mile New River Spur Trail.

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Instead of burning off we noticed that the fog was getting thicker when we arrived back at the river.

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Canada geese

We headed back to the Muddy Lake Trail which we followed for about 110 yards, crossing over a boardwalk, to a very short spur trail leading to a bird blind at Muddy Lake.

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We were fortunate enough to have a couple of different birds hunting their morning meal near the blind.

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The egret seemed to be having quite a bit of success.

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After watching the birds from the blind we continued on. A little over a quarter mile from the blind we came to another trail junction.

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This first junction wasn’t signed but just over the small hill was a signed junction letting us know that this was the Old Bog Trail.

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This .3 mile trail climbed up and over an old dune to the site of an old cranberry bog.

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After reading the history of the bog we returned to the Muddy Lake Trail and followed it another .2 miles back to the New River Nature Center. Even with all the side trips this was only a 3.6 mile hike making it a good option for the kiddos.

We drove back north to Bandon and used the GPS to guide us through town to the Bandon South Jetty Park located at the end of Lincoln Ave. SW across the Coquille River from the Coquille River Lighthouse.

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We headed down to the beach just south of the jetty. There was a little bit of blue sky to the north and inland to the east.

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That was not the case however to the south where we were headed.

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We would be passing by a series of ocean rocks and islands along a three and a half mile stretch of beach from the jetty to Devils Kitchen. We headed into the fog hoping that it would indeed burn off as the day progressed. In the meantime the tide was out allowing us to get a closer look at some of the rocks. Please note that climbing on any of the rocks and tidepooling is banned so keep your distance and use your binoculars or camera’s zoom.

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We got to see an actual live crab dig itself back into the sand.

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The rocky islands were neat but with the fog limiting visibility they weren’t as impressive as they should have been. For one thing we could only see the ones close by and couldn’t get a feel for just how many and how big they were.

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Near the two mile mark below the Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint there were a few sea caves present at Grave Point.

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Beyond Grave Point the number of sea stacks and islands dwindled as the beach flattened out. In the next 1.9 miles we crossed Johnson Creek and passed Fish Rock before arriving at Crooked Creek and Devils Kitchen.

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Fish Rock aka Haystack Rock

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Devils Kitchen

We climbed up to the Devils Kitchen parking lot.

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We made use of a bench at a viewpoint above Devils Kitchen where we had a snack and took a break.

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We were still hoping that the fog would burn off as promised as we headed back along the beach but alas it was not to be.

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By the time we’d gotten back to the car we had decided that we would be trying this hike again the next time we were in the area. We have a few more hikes left to complete between Bandon and Coos Bay and the Bandon Islands will be a part of that trip.

After cleaning up in the motel we walked across Highway 101 into Bandon’s Old Town and did a little shopping. They were having a farmers market where we came away with a few goodies. After a hitting the farmers market and a few of the shops we stopped into Bandon Brewing for a beer and an appetizer, at least that had been the plan. We ordered the small Spinach Artichoke Stix from the bradsticks section of the menu. We had expected a few breadsticks with some dip, but it turned out to be more like a pizza and was quite a bit larger than we’d anticipated. That wasn’t a bad thing as they were delicious and we had no problem finishing them off. It ended up being our dinner which was fine because we had also picked up some pastries from Pastries and Pizzas which was located dangerously close to our motel.

The pastries hit the spot that night and we went to bed satisfied and ready for another day of hiking on Saturday. Happy Trails!

Flickr: New River and Bandon Islands

Taylor Dunes, Lake Marie, and Umpqua Dunes

We’d been fortunate this year having only been forced to change plans due to weather twice, in February due to snow in the coast range and at the end of our trip to the Elkhorns when thunderstorms forced us to cancel our plans to visit the lookout atop Mt. Ireland. For the third time in the last four years our September vacation coincided with a forecast for snow in the mountains. We had planned a four day trip around and up Diamond Peak, but with a chance of rain or snow showers all four days we decided to turn to our alternate plan which was a trip to Bandon, OR on the Oregon Coast.

We had three stops planned in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area on our way down to Bandon. Our first stop was at the Taylor Dunes Trailhead located seven and a half miles south of Florence.IMG_2286

From the small parking area the trail immediately crossed a paved road and passed by Taylor Lake.IMG_2287

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After .4 miles we arrived at a viewpoint above the dunes.IMG_2305

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From the viewpoint we followed the trail through the sand for half a mile to a signed junction.IMG_2311

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We turned right here on a half mile trail that passed through a forest behind a foredune before arriving at the Pacific Ocean.IMG_2313

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After reaching the ocean we returned to the junction and turned right to complete a loop through the Carter Lake Campground.IMG_2338

Carter Lake

The final .4 miles of the loop was along the paved campground road.IMG_2339

Our second stop was at Lake Marie, about 18 miles south of Taylor Dunes, in the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. We parked at the Lake Marie Trailhead and set off on the 1 mile loop clockwise around the lake.IMG_2340

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The fishermen around the lake had some competition from the local wildlife.IMG_2352

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Just under a mile around the lake a short spur trail led to a viewpoint overlooking more dunes.IMG_2372

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We completed the loop and then decided to walk the tenth of a mile up Lighthouse Road to see the Umpqua River Lighthouse.IMG_2381

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A viewpoint at the lighthouse looked out to the mouth of the Umpqua River.IMG_2383

There was also a gray whale jawbone nearby.IMG_2387

After visiting the lighthouse we returned to our car and continued south on Highway 101 for another 5.5 miles to the signed John Dellenback Dune Trailhead.IMG_2390

The trail left the parking area and immediately crossed Eel Creek on a footbridge.IMG_2391

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The trail passed a marshy area where a great blue heron was looking for breakfast.IMG_2401

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At the quarter mile mark the trail crossed a paved road in Eel Creek Campground.IMG_2403

In just .2 more miles the trail left the trees and entered the dunes.IMG_2407

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Poles marked the route of the trail through the shifting sands of the dunes, but we began to doubt that we were really supposed to follow the poles when they began to veer to the north (right) of a tree island. The GPS appeared to show the trail passing to the south (left) of that island.IMG_2418

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There were footprints leading to both sides of the trees so we decided to trust the GPS and headed to the left.IMG_2428

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When we reached the vegetation of the deflation plain just under two miles from the trailhead we were unable to find any sign of a trail. We did however find a lupine still in bloom.IMG_2442

We attempted to locate some sign of a trail in the area shown on the GPS but each time we thought we might have found a way through the brush it got too dense to continue. We worked our way north along the edge of the vegetation for nearly half a mile where we finally spotted some signs.IMG_2443

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For the next three quarters of a mile the trail passed through a variety of scenery before reaching the ocean.IMG_2445

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We followed the beach south for about a mile before turning back.IMG_2460

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On the way back we followed the posts along the north side of the island.IMG_2476

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We took a side trip up the tallest of the dunes before reaching a junction at the edge of the trees.IMG_2490

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We went right at the junction for a half mile to complete a loop back to the trailhead.IMG_2498

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With our wandering around this hike came in at 8 miles giving us a total of 12.7 on the day. We ended the day in Bandon where we explored the old downtown and had a wonderful dinner at Foley’s Irish Pub. A good start as far as backup plans go. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Taylor Dunes, Lake Marie, and Umpqua Dunes