Our annual family reunion at the Oregon Coast always provides us an opportunity to work up an appetite by starting the morning off with a shorter hike on the way there. This year we chose to revisit the Drift Creek Wilderness.
This would be our second visit to the area with the first having been in 2010 (post), the year we really started hiking. At that point we hadn’t developed the appreciation for old growth forests that we have now so we were interested to see what our opinions of this hike would be compared to that first visit.
We began our hike at the Harris Ranch Trailhead which was located .3 miles down the rather brushy FR 346.
It was a foggy morning which we expected to keep things a bit on the cooler side but instead it was a warm, humid morning as we set off on a decommissioned road.
The first three quarters of a mile followed an old roadbed which gradually descended before ending just before the start of the Drift Creek Wilderness.
Once the trail entered the wilderness it began a steeper 2.3 mile descent along a ridge down to Drift Creek. The trail was in good shape with signs of some recent clearing of brush near the top and only one muddy section (which is saying soemthing for a trail near the coast).
Fern clippings in the trail showing some trimming had been done.
Whoever had done the brushing hadn’t made it down the whole trail.
There were a few monkey flowers scattered about.
Several clumps of Monotropa uniflora aka Ghost Plant or Indian Pipe were present along the upper portion of the trail as well. We’d only seen this plant one or two other times so it was exciting to see so much of it.
Near Drift Creek the trail reaches the site of the pre-world war II homestead pasture of Harris Ranch. A few campsites now occupy the area.
Drift Creek was much more inviting from this side. There wasn’t a steep embankment to descend and a shelf of exposed bedrock made exploring easy.
We watched several crawdads moving around in the water while we rested by the creek.
The crawdads we saw in the water were greatly outnumbered by the remains strewn about the rocks though. Something had been dinning on them, perhaps the kingfisher that flew past twice while we rested.
By the time we headed back up the fog had burned off which added a little extra heat to the 1300′ muggy climb back to the trailhead.
Approximately a tenth of a mile from the trailhead there was an interesting tree above the road. It appeared that the tree had begun to fall but its root system stayed in tact so a couple of the original trees branches began to grow as their own trees. At first we thought it was a nursery log, but the two vertical “trees” don’t seem to have their own root systems.
When we got back to the car we picked a handful of ripe thimbleberries to take to the reunion since they are one of my Dads favorites.
With the creek exploration the hike was just over 6.5 miles and it had been much more enjoyable for us than our first visit now that we understood better what a special place the designated wilderness areas are. Happy Trails!
Flickr: Harris Ranch Trail