South Slough Estuary (Oregon Coast) 31-Jul-2018

South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon

Smoke from the many wildfires burning in our region finally broke our resolve and we cashed in hotel coupons we’d been saving for a special occasion (like breathing) and headed for the Oregon Coast for a few (too few) days of cool and breathable air (plus seafood). We used Bonnie Henderson’s Day Hiking Oregon Coast (2nd Edition, 2015) as our guide and, for our third hike (her #70), picked a short loop hike in the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve just south of Charleston, Oregon. We started from the Hidden Creek Trailhead, descended that trail over 11 small bridges and two long boardwalks to an elaborate viewing platform overlooking the South Slough. We hit it at low tide (and on a cloudy day), so it was more of a mudflat than a body of water – but we could watch tiny crabs scuttling for cover in the mud. From the viewpoint, we followed the Tunnel Trail north, jogged out-and-back on the Sloughside Trail, then took the North Creek Trail over 13 bridges (one quite large) up to the interpretive center. We arrived there to find that an automobile wreck on nearby Seven Devils Road had knocked out their power. But we were able to trinket for cash before walking down to where we’d left the car. A short hike (3.4 miles round-trip; 700 feet of elevation gain) through ecologically fascinating habitats, from forests above to mudflats below, with giant Skunk Cabbage in between. It would be really worthwhile to do this hike again on a sunny day at high tide. And then, dear friends, it was, all too soon, once again time to meet the respiratory challenges given us by the choking clouds of smoke filling the Rogue Valley…  

South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
Starting off on the Hidden Creek Trail
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
The boardwalk to the giant Skunk Cabbage
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
Giant Skunk Cabbage encroaches on the trail
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
The boardwalk took us out over the marsh
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
The marsh and South Slough from the viewpoint
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
Along the Tunnel Trail
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
Why it’s called the Tunnel Trail
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
The narrow Sloughside Trail juts between Sloughside Marsh and South Slough
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
South Slough at low tide from the Sloughside Trail
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
Sloughside Marsh at low tide from Bridge #13 on the North Creek Trail
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
Rhodes Marsh at low tide from Bridge #13 on the North Creek Trail
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
The North Creek Trail leaves the marsh for the forest
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
There were some really big old trees here back in the day
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
Interlude in the forest
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
Very lush forest near the head of the North Creek Trail
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Oregon
Our loop from the Hidden Creek Trailhead (P), past the big viewpoint (camera), to the Interpretive Center (?) and back

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