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


Throwback Thursday – Shevlin Park

On 8/5/2011, during a vacation in Central Oregon, we headed to Shevlin Park on the outskirts of Bend for an easy day hike. The 4.8 mile loop was a perfect break in the midst of a week of longer hikes.

We parked in a large lot at the park entrance and walked across the park’s road to a trail that passed through a meadow for 100 yards before crossing over Tumalo Creek on a footbridge.
Shevlin Park sign

Bridge over Tumalo Creek

The trail climbed just a bit to a rim on the canyon above the creek. A fire in 1990 was stopped at the rim which still showed a few signs of the blaze. Birds and chipmunks were plentiful along this stretch.

Loop Trail in Shevlin Park

Lewis's Woodpecker


Chipping sparrow

Tumalo Creek flowed through the forest in the green canyon below.
Tumalo Creek

At approximately the 1.75 mile mark we forked to the right and followed a trail back down into the canyon and crossed a side creek on another footbridge. We began encountering mosquitoes at that point and having had given enough blood already that week we picked up the pace quickly covering the next .6 miles where yet another bridge led us back over Tumalo Creek.
Tumalo Creek

The trail once again climbed away from the creek which provided relief from the mosquitoes. From the bridge it was 2.2 miles back to the parking lot. At the 1.5 mile mark a side trail led down to the Hixon Crossing covered bridge which we had a nice view of from above.
Hixson Crossing Covered Bridge

The trail passed Ponderosa Pine trees and some interesting rock formations where golden-mantled ground squirrels and gray Douglas squirrels watched us as we passed by.
Rocks along the Loop Trail in Shevlin park

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Douglas Squirrel

With a relatively short distance and only 300′ of elevation gain the Shevlin Park loop was a great choice for a recovery day. It’s proximity to Bend also meant we had plenty of time left in the day to pursue other activities in town. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Shevlin Park

Throwback Thursday -Shellburg Falls

This weeks Throwback Thursday hike features the some lesser known and visited waterfalls near Salem, OR not far from the more famous falls of Silver Falls State Park.

On 5/22/2011 we headed out for a short hike to a pair of waterfalls on Shellburg Creek.  Two trailheads offer access to the falls. The Shellburg Falls Trailhead is open year around while an upper trailhead located at the Shellburg Falls Campground is only open from May 20th through October.  We started at the upper trailhead. To reach the campground from Highway 22 turn north on Wagner Road, which is just east of Mehama, OR, and follow signs for 8 miles to the campground.
Shellburg Falls Trailhead

From there a .8 mile trail crossed Shellburg Creek twice on it’s way to Shellburg Falls and then Lower Shellburg Falls. From the looks of the creek we didn’t expect much from the falls but as is often the case looks can be deceiving.
Shellburg Creek

Shellburg Falls

The trail dropped down and passed behind the falls before continuing downhill to a short side trail to the bottom of the falls.
Shellburg Falls

Shellburg Falls

Shellburg Falls

Less than a quarter mile later we arrived at a closed road (the route up from the lower trailhead)which crossed Shellburg Creek via a concrete bridge. Lower Shellburg Falls lay just on the other side of this bridge.
Lower Shellberg Falls

We turned left (east) on the road and followed it for .3 miles to the August Mountain Trail. The August Mountain Tail climbed just over a mile to junction with the half mile Vine Maple Trail which led us back to the upper trailhead.
Shellburg Creek Trail sign

Much of these trails crossed logging roads and passed through thinned forests.
View from the Shellburg Creek Trail

From the upper trailhead the loop was right around 3 miles while starting from the lower trailhead would have added about 2.6 miles to the days total. While Silver Falls State Park sees plenty of crowds Shellburg Falls sees far fewer. If you’re in the area and love waterfalls it’s definitely worth the visit. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Shellburg Falls

Throwback Thursday – Alsea Falls

Now that we are in the midst of our offseason it’s time to bring back our Throwback Thursday posts. This installment of Throwback Thursday features our final hike of 2012 and the last hike we took before starting this blog.   On 12/19/2012 we headed for the Alsea Falls Recreation Area which is located in the Coast Range west of Monroe, OR.  To reach the area from Highway 99w we turned west near Monroe at a sign for Alpine.  Signs for the recreation area kept us headed in the right direction.  We could have started our hike in a couple of places including the most popular trailhead at a day use picnic area practically next to Alsea Falls. We opted to instead to begin further up the South Fork Alsea River at a small trailhead along Miller Road.

Alsea Falls trailhead

The level trail followed the South Fork Alsea River for a mile to the Alsea Falls Campground. At the .7 mile mark a trail joined from the right which was to be our return route. Had it been earlier in the year there probably wouldn’t have been many views of the river along this stretch but with the leaves gone from the trees the river was often visible.

South Fork Alsea River

South Fork Alsea River

We didn’t take the footbridge across the river into the campground opting to stay on the east side of the river for another .6 miles to a second footbridge ignoring a side trail to the right (our return route) shortly before the bridge.

Bridge over the South Fork Alsea River

This bridge led to the day use picnic area. We crossed the bridge pausing to look downstream at the top of Alsea Falls.

South Fork Alsea River

A .3 mile path continued downstream on the south side of the river below the falls. The photos we’d seen of Alsea Falls had obviously been taken at other times of the year. The pictures we’d seen were of a terraced fall gently cascading over rocks, but what we found was a whitewater cascade.

Alsea Falls

Alsea Falls

Alsea Falls

After admiring just how much more water was flowing now than what we’d seen in the photos we recrossed the footbridge and turned left continuing downstream. The trail climbed a bit before dropping back down near river level and another split in the trail after .6 miles. A trail here descended to the river bank before petering out.

South Fork Alsea River

From here the trail soon joined an old road which we followed briefly toward McBee Park to another trail which led slightly uphill to the right.

Alsea Falls Trail

Trail to Green Peak Falls

This trail ran parallel to Peak Creek but stayed far enough away to keep it hidden most of the half mile to Green Peak Falls.

Trail to Green Peak Falls

Meadow on the way to Green Peak Falls

Peak Creek

Having not seen any pictures of Green Peak Falls we weren’t sure what to expect but were pleasantly surprised by this 60′ waterfall.

Green Peak Falls

Green Peak Falls

Green Peak Falls

Almost as mesmerizing as the waterfall was a tree on the far side of the creek that was covered in light green lichen.

Lichen draped tree

On the way back we had a couple of loop options. We could have taken a .6 mile section of trail from the picnic area to the campground, but we chose a slightly longer loop with a little extra elevation gain. Just beyond the footbridge to the picnic area we turned left at a trail sign and headed uphill into the forest.

Trail sign in the Alsea Falls Recreation Area

This path climbed for a half mile to a road where we turned right for another half mile before descending on another half mile trail to the junction we had passed that morning .7 miles from Miller Road. This mile and a half was view less but the trails were well maintained.

Forest in the Alsea Falls Recreation Area

The Alsea Falls Recreation Area is popular in the warmer months when the river is more inviting but we had basically had the area to ourselves and the strong flow over the falls made a Winter visit worthwhile as well. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Alsea Falls

Nehalem Bay State Park, Kilchis Point Reserve, and Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint

We didn’t waste any time starting on our 2018 list of hikes as we took advantage of favorable weather on New Year’s Day and headed for the Oregon Coast. Our plan for the day was to make three stops near Tillamook. First at Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, then at Kilchis Point Reserve, and finally at Nehalem Bay State Park. As we neared Tillamook though it became apparent that we were a bit ahead of the Sun so we decided to swap the first and final stops to avoid sitting at the Cape Meares Trailhead waiting for light.

We drove north through Tillamook on Highway 101 to mile post 44 (one mile south of Manzanita) where we turned west at a sign for Nehalem Bay State Park. After paying the $5 day use fee we parked at the large day use area. We waited briefly for enough light to take a short path to the ocean.
Nehalem Bay Trailhead

Pacific Ocean

The view from the beach was a good one with some of our previous destinations visible to the north.
Neahkahanie Mountain
Neahaknie Mountain, Angora Peak, and Cape Falcon

To the south our final destination of the day, Cape Meares, jutted out into the Pacific.
Looking south from the Nehalem Spit

We walked south along the quite beach for 2.25 miles to the jetty at the end of the spit. We were joined by a lone jogger, some seagulls, and a curious seal.
Morning glow on the Pacific



Jetty on Nehalem Spit

A mass of driftwood near the jetty forced us to backtrack a bit along the beach to a hiker sign where we turned inland.
Morning light hitting Neahkahanie Mountain

Hiker post on Nehalem Spit

We crossed the spit to the bay and turned north along the water on a worn path.
Swell heading into the bay

We were eventually able to get down onto the sandy Nehalem Beach which we walked along as far as we could before the high water forced us back up into the vegetation.
Neahkahanie Mountain across Nehalem BayNehalem Beach ahead

While we walked along the beach we spotted a bald eagle, more seals, and a varied thrush.
Bald eagle

Seals in Nehalem Bay

Varied thrush

Ideally we would have been able to keep on the sand all the way back along the bay to the park’s boat ramp but since that wasn’t an option we turned inland on what appeared to be a well traveled trail. We were hoping it would lead us to the horse trail that our map showed running down the center of the spit but after a short distance the path we were following became flooded.
More water on Nehalem Spit

We were forced to attempt to follow a maze of game trails.
Off trail travel on Nehalem Spit

We could guess who was responsible for the confusion of trails by the elk sign we continually spotted. We lucked out at one point when we came to another flooded area at a narrow point where we were able to cross on driftwood. Had we tried sticking to the bay we would have run into a spot too wide to cross and wound up where we were anyway.
Inlet along Nehalem Bay

Shortly after crossing the water travel became easier as we were able to reach another sandy beach and then pick up a wider more traveled trail back to the horse trail not far from the day use parking lot.
Nehalem Bay

Horse Trail in Nehalem Bay State Park

Our guidebook and called this a 5.2 mile loop but the time we’d arrived back at the car we had squeezed 5.7 miles out of it due to backtracking because of the flooded trail.

After returning to the highway we headed south to Bay City for our second stop of the morning – Kilchis Point Reserve. We turned towards Tillamook Bay on Warren Street near mile post 61 and followed pointers to the parking area on Spurce Street.
Kilshis Point Reserve Trailhead

Kilchis Point is the site of one of the largest Native American villages along the Northern Oregon Coast. It is also the location where the Morning Star of Tillamook, first ship registered in the Oregon Territory, was built. The small park is very nice with plenty of amenities and a plethora of information posted throughout. It was a little chilly out so we didn’t stop to read all the signs this time but that just gives us a reason to stop again and check it out in the Spring or Summertime.
Path at Kilchis Point Reserve

Interpretive sign at Kilchis Point Reserve

Interpretive sign at Kilchis Point Reserve

Interpretive sign at Kilchis Point Reserve

We followed the brick path from the parking area keeping right at junctions a total of 1.2 miles to a bird watching gazebo at Tillamook Bay.
Brick path at Kilchis Point Reserve

Gazeebo for birdwatching at Kilchis Point Reserve

Tillamook Bay

We didn’t spot many animals (other than dogs) along the way but we did get to listen to a pair of bald eagles for a bit.
Bald eagle

After a short break by the bay we returned to the parking area by following signs and staying right at trail junctions to complete two short loops.
Trail sign at Kilchis Point Reserve

Kilchis Point

We then drove south to Tillamook and followed signs to Oceanside on Highway 131. From Oceanside we followed signs to Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint and parked at a trailhead parking area at the park entrance.
Cape Meares Trailhead

A mudslide in January of 2013 closed the Three Capes Scenic Loop beyond the park entrance. That slide continues to slowly shift the area and has affected a trail between the trailhead and the beach to the north of Cape Meares. We decided to head down this trail to see the conditions first hand.
Cape Meares Trail map

Trail at Cape Meares

The upper portion of the trail was in reasonably good shape although there was a small tree that required ducking under.
Trail at Cape Meares

Shortly after passing a fairly nice view of another place we had previously hiked, Bayocean Spit, we came to a jumble of debris.
Bayocean Spit from Cape Meares

Washed out trail at Cape Meares

That was our turn around point,a little over half a mile from the trialhead. We headed back up to the trailhead and took the .2 mile Big Spruce Trail. The tree is estimated to be 750 to 800 years old and is the largest known Sitka spruce in Oregon.
Sign for the Big Spurce

Big Spruce

Big Spruce at Cape Meares

For a bit of perspective if the tree sprouted in 1217 it was there at the start of the fifth crusade.

After visiting the old tree we road walked .6 miles along the entrance road to the crowded parking area for the Cape Meares Lighthouse.
Cape Meares lighthouse parking

We stopped at a viewpoint platform overlooking Tower and Pillar Rocks to the north.
Tower and Pillar Rocks

A .2 mile path led from the parking area past more viewpoints to the lighthouse.
Cape Meares

Waterfall at Cape Meares

Cape Meares Lighthouse

Cape Meares Lighthouse

A second .2 mile path led back to the parking lot allowing for a short loop and providing views south to Cape Lookout and the Three Arch Rocks Wilderness, one of the two off-limits wilderness areas in Oregon.
Looking south from Cape Meares

After returning to the parking area we headed for the Octopus Tree which was just a tenth of a mile away.
Sign for the Octopus Tree

Octopus Tree at Cape Meares

Octopus Tree at Cape Meares

Another Sitka spruce, this unique tree has no central trunk. Instead several limbs have grown vertically. After visiting this tree we walked back up the entrance road to our car and headed home, capping off our first outing of 2018. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Nehalem Bay, Kilchis Point, and Cape Meares

The Hikes of 2017 – A Look Back

Once again it’s time for our year end review post. Each year has a bit of a different feel to it, but this year was especially so. This was by far the most challenging year we’ve faced in terms of being able to visit the trails we’d planned on. A heavy winter snow pack lingered delaying access to many areas. Then an unusually bad fire season closed much of the Mt. Jefferson and Three Sisters Wilderness areas as well as parts of the Columbia Gorge. Snow returned in mid-September causing more changes to our plans. In the end plans for 39 of our originally scheduled 63 days of hiking were pushed out to future years as well as 2 additional short hikes that were part of multi stop days. Plans for another 12 of those days were shifted around on the schedule which meant that only 10 of our originally planned days occurred as we had envisioned them in January. We had also planned on spending 18 nights backpacking but wound up with a measly 3 nights in the tent. Despite all the issues we actually managed to end the year having hiked on 64 days and covered 751.6 miles.

Here is a look at where we wound up. The blue hiker symbols denote trailheads and the two yellow houses are the approximate location of our two backpacking campsites.
2017 Trailheads

Due to the issues with access to so many locations the mix of hikes this year was very different. An example of this is the average high point of our hikes:

                     2013-2016                2017
Jan.-Apr.    1444′                        1776′
May             2718′                        2355′
June            4900′                        3690′
July             5553′                        6530′
August       6419′                        3048′
Sept.           6400′                        4175′
Oct.             4886′                        3484′
Nov.-Dec.   2042′                        750′

Another example is our mileage distribution:

                     2013-2016                2017
Jan.-Apr.    9.19%                       9.74%
May             13.57%                     14.14%
June            13.75%                      13.50%
July             13.75%                      19.15%
August       19.33%                      6.07%
Sept.           14.13%                      23.28%
Oct.             12.17%                      10.36%
Nov.-Dec.   4.11%                        3.75%

As you can see August was way off the norm with many of those miles coming in September this year. Several wildfires were burning by then and we also changed some plans due to work and family commitments. Finally we chose to stick close to home the weekend of the solar eclipse .

On many occasions we visited multiple trailheads in a single day. We had been slowly increasing the frequency of doing so but this year 25 of our 64 days included more than one stop. In fact we stopped at a total of 106 trailheads this last year.

None of that made it a bad year, it just felt very different. The 64 hiking days was the most we’ve managed in a single year and the 751.6 miles was second only to 2016s 792.8 We managed to make decent headway on our quest to visit all of Oregon’s 45 visit-able wilderness areas by checking 8 more off the list. Rock Creek (post), Spring Basin (post), Wild Rogue (post), Grassy Knob (post), Bridge Creek (post), Clackamas (post), North Fork John Day (post), and Cummins Creek (post).

This year we made use of guidebooks by four different authors as well as a few websites. Most of our destinations can be found in William L. Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Oregon guidebooks (information) but we also made use of Scott Cook’s “Bend, Overall“, Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region“, and Bubba Suess’s “Hiking in Northern California“.

A special thanks goes out to Bubba Suess and his Hike Mt. Shasta website for his suggestions and input on our visit to the Mt. Shasta area in July. On that trip we visited four of California’s wilderness areas: Russian (post), Castle Crags (post), Trinity Alps (post), and Mt. Shasta (post). Our visit the the Trinity Alps brought us to the most southerly point while hiking to date. We also reached our highest elevation on that trip when we hiked to the top of Mt. Eddy (post) and saw our first rattle snake along the PCT (post).

We also set a new mark for the western most point reached on a hike when we visited Cape Blanco in May (post).

One way that this year was no different than previous years was that we once again saw and experienced many things for the first time during our hikes. It’s not surprising that we saw new things given that 57 out of our 64 days were comprised of entirely new sections of trail and none of the other 7 were exact repeats. In fact only about 17.2 miles retraced steps from previous hikes which works out to less than 2.5% of our total mileage for the year.

Some new flowers for us included:
Butter and eggsButter and eggs – Yontocket

Possibly tomcat cloverTomcat clover – Rough and Ready Botanical Wayside

dalmatian toadflax along the John Day RiverDalmation toadflax – Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Heart-leafed milkweedHeart-leafed milkweed – Applegate Lake

California groundconeCalifornia groundcones – Jacksonville

GeraniumGeranium – Lost Creek Lake

GeraniumGeranium – Round Mountain

rockfringe willowherbRockfringe willowherb – Mt. Eddy

Leopard lilyLeopard Lily – Trinity Alps Wilderness

There were a few new critters too:
Bullock's OrioleBullock’s Oriole – Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Big Horn SheepBig horn sheep – Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Sheep mothSheep moth – Grasshopper Meadow

Pigeon guillemotPigeon guillemot – Yaquina Bay

EgretEgret – Cape Disappointment State Park

CaterpillarCaterpillar – Cape Disappointment State Park

As is often the case we started and ended our hikes at the coast.
Berry Creek flowing toward the PacificBaker Beach in January

Exposed rocks on Ona BeachOna Beach in December

In between we visited some pretty amazing places. Here are just a few of the highlights:
Clarno Unit - John Day Fossil BedsPalisades – Clarno Unit, John Day Fossil Beds, April

Hedgehog cactusHedgehog Cactus – Spring Basin Wilderness, April

Fern CanyonFern Canyon – Prairie Creek State Park, May

Tall Trees GroveTall Trees Grove – Redwoods National Park, May

Crack in the GroundCrack in the Ground, Christmas Valley, May

Wildflowers on Lower Table RockWildflowers on Lower Table Rock, Medford, June

View to the north from the Bridge Creek WildernessNorth Point – Bridge Creek Wilderness, June

Upper Linton FallsUpper Linton Falls – Three Sisters Wilderness, July

Deadfall Lakes from Mt. EddyView from the Summit of Mt. Eddy, July

Caribou LakeCaribou Lake – Trinity Alps Wilderness, July

Vista Ridge TrailFireweed along the Vista Ridge Trail – Mt. Hood Wilderness, August

Grey back whale seen from Yaquina HeadWhale – Yaquina Head, August

Mt. Adams from Horseshoe MeadowHorseshoe Meadow – Mt. Adams Wilderness, September

Bull elk at Clatsop SpitBull elk – Clatsop Spit, September

View from the Blue Basin Overlook TrailBlue Basin – John Day Fossil Beds, September

Mt. Ireland from Baldy LakeBaldy Lake – North Fork John Day Wilderness, September

Dead Mountain TrailDead Mountain Trail – Willamette National Forest – October

Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mirror LakeMt. Hood from Tom Dick and Harry Mountain – Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, October

Cummins Ridge TrailCummins Creek Wilderness, November

It is only a small sample of the amazing diversity that we are blessed with here in the Pacific Northwest. We are looking forward to discovering more new places next year, hopefully with less disruptions to our plans (including not tossing my camera into any rivers). Happy Trails!

Heceta Head and Brain Booth State Park

For our final outing of 2017 we returned to the Oregon Coast for three short hikes between Newport and Florence. We began our day by driving Highway 101 35 miles south of Newport (14 miles north of Florence) to the Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park Day Use parking lot.

Our plan was to hike to the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint and then return on a different route. In order to complete the loop portion of the hike we needed to cross Highway 101 twice. We decided to get the crossing done as soon as possible thinking that traffic would be less problematic earlier in the day. From the parking area we took a paved path east following a pointer for the Campground Trail.

After a tenth of a mile we crossed the empty highway and continued on the campground entrance road for just over an additional tenth of a mile where we turned right at a signpost onto the Valley Trail.


We followed this trail for three tenths of mile to a junction in a meadow with the China Creek Loop Trail.


The loop added a little distance to the hike but not enough to keep us from turning left and crossing China Creek on a footbridge.

The China Creek Loop passed through a green coastal forest crossing China Creek again after .3 miles.



A half mile from the second crossing we found ourselves back at the Valley Trail where we turned left toward the lighthouse.

Over the next mile the trail passed two small ponds, crossed Blowout Creek on what appeared to be a recently installed footbridge, and skirted a beaver lake.



We were now at the second crossing of Highway 101 at the Hobbit Trailhead, another possible starting point.


On the other side of the highway the trail split, right was our return route via Hobbit Beach but first we turned left to visit the lighthouse. We were now following the route of the Oregon Coast Trail.

At first the trail remained near the highway but soon veered away toward the ocean as it began to climb up Heceta Head.


The trail climbed gradually and offered a few views north to Cape Perpetua.


After reaching a saddle on the head, the trail descended to the south in a series of switchbacks before following a ridge and finally arriving above the lighthouse at the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint.

Seal Lion Point jutted out to the south where the occasional bark of a sea lion drifted our way.

We made our way down to the lighthouse to get a closer look.




After a short break we returned the way we’d come to the fork and turned toward Hobbit Beach. We arrived at the beach in a little under half a mile.



A quiet 1.2 mile walk along the beach (and across Blowout Creek) brought us back to our car at the day use area.


From there we drove north on Highway 101 for 28 miles to Ona Beach State Park, one of two units of Brian Booth State Park.

For this hike we planned on hiking along Ona Beach to Seal Rock and back. We passed through a large picnic area avoiding some flooded trails and arriving at a footbridge over Beaver Creek.


After crossing the creek we turned south along Ona Beach.

Portions of the beach can be impassible at high tide but we had arrived an hour and a half below low tide. Exposed rocks made the first stretch of beach very interesting.






The rock along the beach eventually petered out but a number of ocean rocks just offshore held our interest.




Further to the south lay the Seal Rock Recreation Site.

Approximately 1.75 miles from the footbridge we turned inland along a small creek on an unmarked but obvious trail. We followed this path up to Highway 101 where a short road walk brought us to the entrance of the park.


We followed a paved path out to a viewpoint where much of the area was roped off for erosion control.




After admiring the views we returned the way we’d come and headed for our final stop at the Beaver Creek Natural Area, the second unit of Brian Booth State Park. To reach the winter trailhead for the Beaver Creek Loop from Ona Beach State Park we crossed Highway 101 onto N. Beaver Creek Road. After a mile we turned right onto S. Beaver Creek Road for another 1.1 miles and parked on the shoulder across from a gate.

We picked up a trail map and set off on the gated service road.


After .4 miles we turned uphill on a mowed path following posts for the Beaver Creek Loop.


Being the coast we’d seen a few flowers still blooming despite it being mid-December and even eaten a few huckleberries along the China Creek Loop earlier in the day. Here we found a few blackberry? blossoms.

After climbing for .3 miles we arrived at a saddle where we could have turned right on the Elk Meadow Trail for a half mile loop.


We already had enough mileage planned for the day so we saved that for another time and continued on the Beaver Creek Loop. After passing another trail to Snaggy Point we began to descend toward the marshes surrounding Beaver Creek.


We stopped to watch a couple of woodpeckers circle a tree. They didn’t seem too bothered by us but they wouldn’t hold still long enough for a decent photo.


We briefly followed a pointer for the Marsh Trail which brought us to a footbridge over Beaver Creek. For about two months during Summer the marsh is apparently dry enough to cross without too much trouble.



We heard some ducks and startled a great blue heron (a couple of times) as we continued along the loop. We also spotted a hawk, more woodpeckers, and some small birds before arriving at a pole barn at the end of the service road we’d started on that seemed to be undergoing some construction.
IMG_1660Hawk flying off




From the barn it was only .2 miles back to the start of the loop. The hike here came in at an even three miles. Ona Beach to Seal Rock had been 4.6 miles round trip and our hike to Heceta Head was 6.6 miles giving us a total of 14.2 miles for the day. Each of the hikes would be worthy destinations on their own and there were several more trails to explore in the Beaver Creek Natural Area making a return visit tempting someday.

With our 2017 hikes completed it’s time to get to work on 2018. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Heceta Head and Brian Booth State Park

Exploring the Pacific NW one step at a time.