Tag Archives: Brice Creek

Parker Falls and Adams Mountain Way

Our 2016 hiking season officially started with a pair of hikes in the Umpqua National Forest. Both trailheads are located along Brice Creek, SE of Cottage Grove, OR. We had visited the area in 2014 to hike the more popular Brice Creek and Trestle Falls Trails https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/brice-creek-trestle-falls/ and were back now to tackle some of the other nearby trails.

We began the day at the Parker Falls Trailhead which is 2.3 miles beyond the Upper Brice Creek/Trestle Falls Trailhead.
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The trail runs along Parker Creek up to Lower Parker Falls and finally Upper Parker Falls. Spring wildflowers lined the trail.
Fawn lillies
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Fairy slipper
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Anemone
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At a signed junction we took a short path down to Lower Parker Falls.
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After admiring the lower falls we went back to the junction and headed for the upper falls. The upper falls were more of a slide and the trail stayed up along the canyon wall above them.
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We were not entirely certain that this was indeed the upper falls as the trail continued on so we kept going. It led to the creek bank above the upper falls. At this point I checked our GPS and it appeared that the trail should have continued a short distance up the creek. There was a faint path leading further but it quickly vanished beneath debris that had fallen into the canyon. We were only able to go a short distance before facing the choice of getting wet or turning back. I decided to hop into the creek and continue. I had gone about a hundred yards when I came to a small slide in a narrow mossy drop.
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I was on a small gravel bar inhabited by some coltsfoot.
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I could see a little way upstream and saw no signs of any additional falls and didn’t see an easy way past the small cascade ahead so I headed back to Heather and we returned to the car. We decided that Upper Parker Falls must indeed have been the slide we had passed before reaching the creek (That was confirmed by waterfallsnorthwest.com).

The signed mileage is 1/2mi to the lower falls and 3/4 to the upper falls while the Forest Service website lists it as 1.1 miles. Our GPS registered a round trip of 2.4 miles which, given my short excursion up the creek, makes the 1.1 miles more likely.

From the Parker Falls Trailhead we drove back the way we’d come to Lund Park which was about 10 minutes away.
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Our loop hike started here and we faced a choice. We could begin on any one of three trails- Adams Mountain Way, Marten Flume, or the Crawfish Trail. The Adams Mountain Way Trail started on the opposite side of Brice Creek Road just east of Lund Park while the Marten Flume Trail started just west of Lund Park and connected to Adams Mountain Way after .6 miles. The Crawfish Trail was 1.2 miles further west along Brice Creek Road meaning we would either start or end our hike with a road walk. We decided to start with the road walk thinking we were less likely to run into traffic since it was still before 9am and a road walk at the end of a hike is never very exciting.

As road walks go this one wasn’t too bad passing Marten Creek on the left and having Brice Creek off to our right.
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Brice Creek
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There were also plenty of wildflowers along the way.
Valerian
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Dogwood
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Bleeding heart
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Fairybells
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Skunk cabbage
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Red flowering currant
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Big leaf maple
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We made it to the Crawfish Trail without encountering any vehicles and began a 5.5 mile climb to the Knott Trail.
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It was obvious that the lower portion of the Crawfish Trail is popular with mountain bikers as there were more tire tracks than footprints along the way. It probably is not a trail one would want to hike when bikes were barreling down the trail at you, but we were early enough in the day and season to not encounter anyone; hiker or bicyclist.

The trail was well signed along the way as it crossed a couple of roads (or the same road multiple times).
Crawfish Trail

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There weren’t many places along the trail with opportunities for views but when the trail passed over a saddle to the SW side of a ridge there would have been some if not for the low clouds that were present.
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Things got a little confusing when we came to National Forest Road 2234 where a trail sign pointed three different directions for the Knott Trail which was to be our connector between the Crawfish Trail and Adams Mountain Way.
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After consulting our map we decided that we wanted to follow the .7mi Knott Trial pointer and cross NF 2234. The other pointers were for the road itself which would have led us back to the Knott Trail in either direction but not after some needless travel.

As we continued on the Crawfish Trail time seemed to move backwards and the flowers of Spring gave way to chilly winds and patches of snow.
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Orange jelly fungus
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When we finally reached the Knott Trail Junction we turned left and climbed some more.
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The trail led up to open meadow that might have had a decent view on a clear day and probably some nice flowers in a month or two.
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Beyond the meadow the trail began to descend along a ridge toward the Adams Mountain Way junction. On this side we encountered more snow.
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The trail was in decent enough shape with some blowdown and debris along the way, nothing too difficult to get around, but in several sections it needed to be brushed out.
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We reached the Adams Mountain way junction in a forested saddle.
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The Adams Mountain Way Trail began gently enough traveling along a ridge towards Brice Creek Road.
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Signs of Spring began to pop up again in the form of huckleberry blossoms, wild strawberry blooms, and even a pink rhododendron.
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Strawberry blossoms

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When the trail finally decided to head down, it did so with a vengeance. The descents rivaled some of the steepest trails we’d been on making us glad we hadn’t chosen to come up that way. We were feeling the elevation loss in our legs when we reached the Marten Flume Trail junction just a few hundred yards from Brice Creek Road.
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I had not been able to find much information on this trail so we were curious about it and decided to go ahead and check it out. It headed up Marten Creek and then forked. There was no sign at the fork and we weren’t sure which way to go so we took the right hand fork down toward the creek thinking that the flume might be down there. We had chosen poorly and would have needed to stay left at the fork to see the flume. At that point we were down at the creek where the loop trail crossed.
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We decided not to climb back up to the fork and waded the creek to finish up the loop.
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Trillium and Wood Sorrel bloomed along the path.
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Near the end of the loop we encountered the only other trail users we’d seen all day. A pair of rough skinned newts.

One of the newts.
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This was a good conditioning hike given the 11.7mi distance and 3000+ feet of elevation gain/descent. It is definitely not a hike for those looking for big views or extensive wildflowers, and depending on the mountain bike traffic it could be a little dangerous given the steep narrow tread in sections. For our visit though we were able to enjoy the solitude of spending five and a half hours completing the loop without running into anyone else.

Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157667500424465

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Brice Creek & Trestle Falls

A few posts ago I mentioned that the trail was a classroom. It seems as though we always learn something out on a hike, and our recent trip to Brice Creek was no different. During the hike we learned that rough-skinned newts love to play hide-and-seek, and they stink at it. 😀 We’ll get to that later, but first a little about the trail.

Brice Creek is located to the east of Cottage Grove, OR and flows into the Row River which in turns empties into the Willamette. There are several trailheads located along the creek in the Umpqua National Forest making it possible to choose the length of your hike. We chose to start at the West Brice Trailhead and hike to the other end of trail at the Champion Creek Trailhead. From there we could visit a pair of waterfalls on Trestle Creek.

It was a little misty and cloudy as we set off on the trail.
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After a brief stint on an exposed hillside the trail entered an old growth forest with plenty of lush green moss on the ancient trees. We also crossed several small but scenic streams.
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There were a few flowers blooming, mostly white varieties that are typical in older/denser forests.
Anemone
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Vanilla Leaf
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Solomonseal
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Most of the trillium was already finished but from the leaves and the few we did see it was clear they were very large in this area.
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The trail had been up above Brice Creek until coming down to the bridge for the campground. From there the trail stayed closer to the creek for awhile providing a number of chances to get to the creek and get an up close view.
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At one point the trail disappears along a bedrock section. The wet weather made for some slipper footing but the exposed rock was home to the most colorful flowers we would see all day.
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Larkspur
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Larkspur

The creek had many moods in this section and the clear water made it easy to see what was underneath the surface.
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We then climbed up and away from the creek again before descending to another footbridge 2.6 mi from the last, this time to Lund Park.
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We’d read that there was a meadow at Lund Park and were hoping that it might have some good wildflowers. We were a little disappointed when we arrived to find a couple of yellow flowers, some bleeding heart, and a lot of white wild strawberry blooms was all there was.
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Someone had put together a somewhat substantive rock collection on one of the picnic tables though.
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We started getting a few sun breaks after reaching Lund Park and in just another .5mi we reached a trail junction with Upper Trestle Falls trail. We would be returning down this trail after visiting the lower falls and taking the Upper Falls trail from the other end at the Champion Creek Trailhead. Before we get to that though this is where the hide-and-seek lesson comes in.
We had been seeing a lot of newts on the trail and noticed that when they were trying to get our of our way they tend to stick their head into or under something.
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This wasn’t the first time we’d observed this behavior. From a 2011 hike:
Rough-skinned Newt
Just after leaving Lund Park I passed by one of them and turned to Heather to have her stop to make sure it didn’t get stepped on. When we stopped it headed for the first thing it could stick it’s head under – Heather’s shoe 😀
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All I could think of is a toddler playing hide-and-seek. Apparently if they can’t see us we can’t see them. Heather was able to move and leave the newt unharmed and we’d discovered natures worst hide-and-seek players.

Back to the trail junctions and sun breaks.
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In another .5mi we had reached Trestle Creek Falls trail which would take us to the lower falls. After a brisk quarter mile climb we could see our destination.
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I got to the end of the trail where a pile of debris had collected and took another picture but the log was still interfering with the view.
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Some careful log walking got me to the gravel bar on the other side of the debris where I was able to get an unobstructed photo.
Lower Trestle Creek Falls
There was another little island of exposed rocks just before the next set of logs but a 15 to 20 foot gap lay between them and my rocks. I decided that wet socks were worth a look at the splash pool and dashed across the water to the other set of rocks. I was getting over this set of logs so I declared victory there and did the splash and dash back and carefully picked my back to the trail.
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As we were preparing to leave the falls we met a group of hikers coming up the trail. They were lamenting the fact that they had not brought their trekking poles with them and asked about the loop to the upper falls. We had both expected to see them again on the loop but never did. Returning to the Brice Creek trail we crossed Trestle Creek on a nice footbridge and finished the last half mile to the Champion Creek TH. The Upper Falls Trail starts just a bit down the road from the trailhead and climbs stiffly 1.4 miles to the Upper Falls. We both thought it was a pretty challenging 900′ climb but the reward at the top was well worth it. The upper falls was located in a wide bowl and was split into two levels. The trail wound around the bowl and behind the falls allowing us to experience the full force of the falls up close.
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Behind Upper Trestle Creek Falls

The Sun was out for our return trip which we made in pretty good time since I’d taken most of the pictures on the way by the first time. We had been discussing the lack of colorful flowers along the way, and when we got back to first exposed area we noticed that we had completely missed a field of plectritis. There was also a patch of what I believe to be giant blue eyed mary.
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There was also a lone yellow flower.
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It took us a lot longer than I had figured to complete the hike, but when we got home and looked at the GPS it had us going a couple of miles further than I had calculated. I’m not entirely sure what made up the difference, but it explained the extra time so we decided to just go with it since it made us feel better about getting back later than expected.

Happy Trails
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