There are now 48 federally designated wilderness areas in Oregon. By 2017, we had hiked in, or at least made a passing visit to, 47 of them. Then in 2019, Congress, in a rare fit of actually doing something useful 🙄 , established the Devils Staircase Wilderness in the coastal mountains just east of Reedsport, Oregon. It was created as a refuge for wildlife and thus features no hiking trails or designated access points. It does have remnant old-growth forests, a plethora of steep slopes, and some impressively impenetrable vegetation. The wilderness’s namesake, Devils Staircase, is a series of low cascades over sandstone outcroppings along Wassen Creek, which was designated as a Wild and Scenic River at the same time the wilderness was established.
We have a mapped route to the Devils Staircase from an abandoned Bureau of Land Management (BLM) road off of Steampot Ridge Road on the eastern side of the wilderness. But this route requires arduous cross-country navigation up and down steep slopes and through thick vegetation, including thickets of the noxious and irritating spines attached to Devils Club. Suffering at this level has sorta lost its appeal lately, so we settled for a short walk on the old road to the wilderness’s eastern border. It was a nice walk, enlivened by the bear paw prints we found along the road. Now we’re back to having visited all of Oregon’s federal wilderness areas! If Congress wants to create more, we’ll do our best to visit them too! 🙂
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