Beaver Dam Trail (Southwest Oregon) 10-May-2020

We first came across this little trail on the Hiking Project, then found a description of it on the Forest Service’s website (#1001). This description is one of the longest and most effusive we’ve seen recently on a USFS website, so we decided to go see this trail for ourselves. We also hoped that now we’d miss any lingering snow (there was none) but still be in time for a few wildflowers (we were).

We were unable to find a map of this trail before setting out (it doesn’t appear on the USGS or USFS maps for this area or on the USFS website) – but how hard could it be to find and follow a 2.1 mile trail? Ah, hubris, how potent is thy sting? Well, it helps to know that, at one time, there was more than just one linear out-and-back trail here. We learned this when we found an old map on a signboard in the Daley Creek Campground after the hike.

The Map

To get the full trail experience, we started where it officially starts – at the Beaver Dam Campground – which is closed at the moment – so we parked in a pull-out nearby along the road. From the campground the #1001 goes counter-intuitively south for a bit, crosses Beaver Dam Creek, and heads north. There used to be a footbridge across the creek but all that remains of it is a pile of old boards next to the trail. We crossed on a conveniently positioned log.

The “bridge” across Beaver Dam Creek
Beaver Dam Creek
On the trail heading north
Columbia Windflower / Western White Anemone

Very soon we came back to Forest Road 37, crossed it and, after some searching, found the continuation of the #1001 on west side of the road. Right after that we found a sign that pointed to the Daley Creek Campground (also closed at the moment) and the “Loop Trail.” Loop? What loop? Had we found that old map sooner, we’d have known that there is (or was) a loop option at the end of the trail, as well as an option here to go around the campground (go left) or through it (go right). We went left here on what turned out to be a sadly faded path that hadn’t seen any maintenance in a long, long time.

Following the “trail” to the left
A festive tree fungus

After picking our way over, around, and through the forest, and past Deadwood Creek, on this faint track, we came to another footbridge and another sign pointing toward the Loop Trail. As we’d later learn from that old map, we’d just completed the alternate path around the campground. From here north, the trail was mostly clear, easy to follow, and fairly well used.

A somewhat intact footbridge over Beaver Dam Creek
Continuing north on the now much more obvious trail
Trillium with Oregon Longhorn beetle

Now that we were following a easier trail, we could fully appreciate the gurgling little creek we were following, the forest of tall, old trees we were passing through, and the various wildflowers strewn alongside the trail. Now the #1001 was living-up to the glowing description it got on the Forest Services website!

The creek starts to tumble through a small rocky canyon
A small waterfall and good fish habitat
Bleeding Hearts
Stream Violet / Yellow Wood Violet

After a nice stretch of good trail, and about a half-mile below the first footbridge, we came to another one – still intact – over a seasonal creek.

The second footbridge

The trail started to fade again soon after we crossed this bridge but we were easily able to follow it to another sign for the mysterious Loop Trail. Undaunted (tough but stupid… 🙄 ) we pushed on to where the trail used to cross the creek on another footbridge. That bridge is now a pile of kindling next to the trail and the log that looks like it spans the creek actually comes up a few (wet) feet short.

Where the trail crosses the creek as part of the Loop Trail
The Remains of the Bridge

But we found another log that we could walk all the way across on, did so, and started searching for the Loop Trail on the western side of the creek.

In search of the Loop Trail

We figured (rightly, based on that old map) that the Loop Trail, after crossing the creek, went south along the west bank of the creek to where it again crossed the creek to reconnect with the main trail. We wandered up and down along the west side but, aside from finding one cut log, were unable to find any trace of a tread. So we continued south until we found another big log to take us back across to the main trail.

Going back across after our search for the “Lost” Loop Trail

We went back up the well worn trail to that first footbridge and then continued south on that trail right back to Daley Creek Campground (home of that old map). From there we made the short walk up Forest Road 37 to where we’d parked the car.

Going back on the well-used trail

A short hike (2.7 miles round-trip) but one with a lot of interesting trail finding, log crossings, ducking-and-weaving around fallen trees, and swamp-avoiding. A mosquito got mushed when it failed to practice social distancing. The little creek was a delight, as were the wildflowers. We saw just two other hikers – far across the creek – while we were searching for the Loop. If you just want to enjoy the creek (a cool spot in summer) on a nice short hike, start at the Daley Creek Campground and go as far north as that second intact footbridge. 🙂 Or continue on, to wander the woods looking for the Loop. 😉

Our wobbly track along Beaver Dam Creek: (1) Loop Trail sign, (2) first intact footbridge and Loop Trail sign, (3) second intact footbridge, (4) Loop Trail sign, (L) our search for the Loop Trail
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5 comments

  1. The trail heading straight north from Daley Creek Campground along Beaver Dam Creek is clear and well-used until you reach that last sign where the loop is supposed to start. It looks like most people just use this trail to access swimming holes along the creek from Daley Creek Campground. It’s a short, but nice, hike. The supposed loop trail, the one from the Beaver Dam Campground to Daley Creek, and the one that by-passes the Daley Creek Campground are all in poor to terrible shape – I’d say they’ve now been abandoned. 😦

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  2. We tried that trail a few years ago, sorry to see it still hasn’t seen any maintenance. Seemed like that short of a trail near campgrounds would warrant some.

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  3. Still, it makes me a little sad to see little footbridges like that falling into ruin or just a pile of boards next to the trail or simply swept away. 😦 It just speaks to the challenge of doing any kind of trail maintenance unless it’s for the PCT or with post-wildfire restoration funds. Sigh.

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  4. Interesting place, another one I have not been to yet. Thanks for sharing.

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