There were two gorgeous perfect-for-hiking sunny days at the first of this week. We, however, were up in Portland, Oregon on personal business. While it was fun to briefly revel in the pleasures of our state’s “big city” (particularly when it wasn’t raining), we still felt the pang of hiking days lost. But when we got home, it looked as though Zephyros was going to grant us another Spring-like hiking day (or at least part of one). So we decided to savor this unexpected bounty with yet another hike in Jacksonville, Oregon’s 1,100-acre Forest Park. Our second hike here just a few days ago was through snow, whereas this one was a dirt hike on a clear, sunny, full bluebird day!
As we’ve noted before, making sense of the 20+ miles of trails in this park is much improved by possession of a trail map (obtainable from a parking area kiosk or the city). Whereas it had been very cold (25ºF) at the start of our last visit here, today we were greeted at the P-3 parking area with a balmy 50ºF air temperature and sunshine. From the P-3, we took the Ridgeview Trail,
up into clear skies,
and down to parking area P-4, where we found a large ephemeral pool of water at the start of the Halls of Manzanita Trail.
Then we went up that trail,
and into more sunshine.
Along in here, I spotted a swarm of thousands of western thatching ants (Formica obscuripes), likely brought out by the warming conditions. They’ll eventually create a distinct dome-shaped mound composed of varying materials found in the nest’s surrounding environment. I’ve seen these nests in northern Oregon as big as 3 feet high and 10 feet around!
The LovedOne, preoccupied by big thoughts, missed the ants and kept blazing up the trail. She was well ahead before she noticed I was missing.
After reuniting, we followed the Halls of Manzanita Trail across the head of Cantrall Creek and up,
to a viewpoint where we could look southeast over the valley and out to the Cascades beyond. We could also see the clouds starting to build – the ones that would eventually bring rain to our area the next day.
We stayed on the Halls of Manzanita Trail to its junction with the Canyon Vista Trail and then followed that one,
down through groves of madrones,
getting only temporarily distracted by the myriad abstract forms these trees generate.
We crossed Jackson Creek and stayed on the Canyon Vista Trail,
as it found its way to parking area P-5 in the Shade Creek drainage and a junction with the Canyon Falls Trail. We took that trail,
down along Shade Creek toward P-3 and its crossing on Jackson Creek, but then detoured a little further downstream to see the small waterfall/cascade on Jackson Creek. We might have seen a more vigorous cascade if we were having a more normal water year.
Then it was back up to P-3 and the end of another nice loop hike (4.7 miles; 1,300 feet of elevation gain) in Forest Park. We’re lucky to have this wonderful recreation resource so close to home so we can sneak in a good hike between weather systems!