The Bridges of Taylor Creek (Oregon) 04-May-2020

Taylor Creek has its confluence with the Rogue River just west of Merlin, Oregon. Forest Road 2500 runs along the northwest side of the creek and the Taylor Creek Trail (#1142) runs along the opposite side. Up until 2016, hiking this trail involved several wet crossings of Taylor Creek – crossings that were fun, a chore, or difficult depending on the season and the creek’s water level. Then, thanks to a huge collaborative effort, five new bridges were built at these crossings and this hike became a dry one. Our first (and only) hike of it occurred in late 2016 when we ventured out to see these new bridges for ourselves. They were a wonderful sight and so new then that they still gave off a wonderful piney scent. 🙂

We meant to hike here again but didn’t get around to doing so in time. Because, in 2018, the Taylor Creek Fire roared through this area, engulfing 50,000+ acres, and doing great damage to the #1142. It was not clear whether any of the new bridges we had so admired survived this conflagration. We were afraid to look. Then we started to hear of yet another collaborative effort – between hikers, mountain bikers, and motorcyclists – to rebuild this trail. Now seemed as good a time as any to go see what all this effort had yielded. Were the bridges still there? We needed to know.

The Taylor Creek Trail can be accessed from one of several trailheads strung out along FR 2500. We parked at the first of these (a dirt pull-out with a tattered sign) up from the Rogue River and headed southwest along the trail. We were pleased to find the first bridge over Taylor Creek right where we’d left it four years ago. 🙂

A big meadow near the start of the trail
Bridge #1 over Taylor Creek

The trail between the trailhead and Tin Can Campground was in good shape and was easy walking. We could tell that a fire had burned through here but the scenery wasn’t as ravaged as we’d feared. Rather the burn had stimulated the undergrowth and there were plenty of wildflowers along the trail to distract us from the scorched trees around us. And plenty of poison oak too! 😥

Vanilla Leaf
Balsamroot (with guest)
Vari-Leaved Collomia
Larkspur
Henderson Triteleia
Through the burned forest
The temporary bridge over Burned Timber Creek

Just before Tin Can, we crossed Burned Timber Creek (the irony here was not lost on us) on a temporary log bridge, the original bridge having succumbed to the fire. Past Tin Can, we passed two people from the Siskiyou Mountain Club (SMC) re-building a retaining wall that had also been lost to the fire. Thank you, SMC, for doing this work! 😀

Replacing a retaining wall
A work in progress

Past this retaining wall effort, the quality of the trail deteriorated markedly. While still evident and easily followed (there was no encroaching brush), it was obvious that this section of the trail hadn’t seen much use lately. Probably because, without the retaining wall, this section would be a difficult passage, particularly for mountain bikes.

Wedge-Leaved Violet
Banana slug
Continuing along through the burned forest
A short section of trail damaged by a slide
Pacific Sedum
Bridge #2

We crossed FR 2500-052, then the second bridge over Taylor Creek, and continued on along what was now the South Fork of Taylor Creek. The trail now appeared better used and was in much better condition.

On the way to Bridge #3
Bridge #3

We soon came to the fourth bridge – this one across the South Fork – passed through a big dirt lot (another trailhead) and arrived at the fifth bridge – also across the South Fork – our destination for today.

Bridge #4
South Fork of Taylor Creek from Bridge #4
Dogwood
Bridge #5
Western Wallflower

On our previous hike here, we’d continued on up to Lone Tree Pass but today we were content just to find that all the bridges had survived the fire. 🙂 Our options at this point were to go back along the trail or the road. We decided to go with the road because traffic was very light, it gives you a closer look at the creek, and doing so would keep us away from the poison oak hidden in the vegetation along the trail.

A popular swimming area right next to the road
Bachelor’s Button (Cornflower)
Taylor Creek
Going back along the very quiet one-lane road

The weather was good. 😎 The trail was good. The wildflowers were blooming. The bridges were still there. So a very good 9.2 mile loop with 300 feet of gain. And thanks again to all the volunteers that have worked – and are working – to keep this trail open and accessible! 😀

Our track along Taylor Creek: (B) bridges, (F) falls on Burned Timber Creek, (S) swimming hole along FR 2500
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2 comments

  1. Great write up and pictures. A reminder for me to go there again. Thanks.

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