Snailback Falls (Oregon) 31-Mar-2019

Our first attempt at reaching the base of Snailback Falls, in the Illinois Valley just west of Selma, Oregon, was rebuffed by deep snow on a sketchy trail. Now, a month later, all that snow is gone and the falls are still running well. Obviously time for a rematch. After failing 😦 to rekindle any enthusiasm in The LovedOne for another hike here, I found myself alone 😥 at the informal trailhead for the falls on the Illinois River Road about 3.5 miles west of the blinking light in Selma.

There was fog in the valley as I started up the old mining road that is the beginning of the trail. But once I’d gained 500 feet or so, I was in sunshine. Contrary to a slight chance of rain in the forecast, these bluebird conditions would last the whole day. With the snow gone, it was easy to see where the old road gave way to the good trail leading to the site of the old Forgotten Copper Mine. Past the mine, the quality of the trail deteriorates, with some narrow and loose spots and some clambering around fallen trees. Nonetheless, I was soon at the putative end of the trail at the base of the falls. From here, I scrambled up along the creek a bit for a better view of the falls.

Since the series of cascades that form these falls extend some 400 feet or so up the side of the canyon, I could have done quite a bit of climbing. But I opted not to since the footing was damp and loose and hadn’t been helped by damage from a fire here last year. So, with the falls visited, it was time to drive farther south for a short hike along the Osgood Ditch Trail.   

The hike began in heavy fog in the Illinois River Valley
Looking west to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness from above the fog
Eight Dollar Mountain
Kerby Peak (k) to the west
A good trail through burned forest as far as the old mine
The trail gets smaller and more rugged past the mine
Upper and Middle Snailback Falls (this is as far as we got a month ago)
A small cascade along Snailback Creek
Lower Snailback Falls
Lower Snailback Falls
Base of the lower falls
Back to the parking area (arrow) on the old road down the burned slopes above Baldwin Gulch
My track to and from the falls

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