Our first day at the coast was predicted to be a wet one, but weather radar suggested that there would be a break in the precipitation action for a couple of hours. So we figured we could fit this 4.6 mile loop in between rain squalls. We almost did. But the rain only lasted for a half hour or so and our time on the beach was blessed with artistically cloudy, but rain-free, skies.Continue reading “Oregon Dunes Loop (Oregon Coast) 16-Jun-2020”
Cape Mountain, about five miles north of Florence, Oregon, is home to some 17 miles of well-graded, well-maintained trails. Although primarily intended for use by equestrians, they are perfect for hikers too. No brush, no poison oak, no ticks. We came across this trail system when we were looking for hikes along the coast that didn’t necessarily involve a beach. And, since most of the day was overcast anyway, it didn’t matter that we spent most of it in a green tunnel through an old-growth forest. Thanks to hiker’s irony, the sun popped out (briefly) just before we got back to the trailhead. 🙄
We started at the Dry Lake Trailhead, ascended the Princess Tasha Trail to the Scurvy Ridge Trail and followed that to a junction with the Berry Creek Trail. Then down across Berry Creek and up the Nelson Ridge Trail, which we followed past Dry Lake back to the trailhead. Nelson Ridge gave us some huge old-growth, a brief view of the ocean, and startlingly close views of two large black bears 🐻 🐻 foraging in the meadow. We’ve now seen more black bears (4) in the wild in the last 30 days than in the last 30 years! Hey bear! There were some ups and downs and ups, so our loop consumed 7.6 miles and gained 1,200 feet.
Thus endeth this year’s escape to the coast. Despite the overcast, it was a good one – with sunshine to start, beaches, old-growth, bears(!), and views. We managed to dodge a heat wave in the interior and it didn’t start raining until the morning we started for home. 😀RETURN TO FRONT PAGE
Clear skies and sunshine deserted us the morning we reached Florence, Oregon and our venue for our wilderness talk at the Siuslaw Public Library. This lack of sunshine was not unusual for the Oregon Coast (even in summer) and probably made for a larger audience at our talk. 😉 Today was similarly overcast but, no matter, we went for a hike anyway. The choice was between the Oregon Dunes and Sutton Creek – we went with the creek because it promised (and delivered) a greater variety of habitats.
You can get into the Sutton Area Trails from four places: the boat ramp on Highway 101 or Loops B or C within the campground or Holman Vista. We went with Loop B because it was away from busy 101 (but parking is much more plentiful at the boat ramp or the vista). From there we went out on the Sutton Creek North Trail, visited the viewpoint via the Sutton Creek Loop Trail, and returned on the Sutton Creek South Trail. The South Trail goes entirely through the trees, while the North Trail has a brief break-out into the sand dunes north of the campground.
The Loop Trail passes the parking lot and viewing platform at Holman Vista. There’s no trail to Baker Beach from here but it is possible to ford the creek and go cross-country over the fore-dune to the beach. Maybe if it had been sunny we would have given it a go. Instead we headed back on the South Trail.
The whole loop came to 4.5 miles with only 400 feet of gain. While the campground was fairly busy (in two weeks it’ll be full every weekend), we only saw six other people on the trail. Despite vague promises of a sunbreak, the cloud cover along the coast never fully dissipated. So after we returned from Sutton Creek and had some lunch, we headed inland and into sunshine for two short hikes to see some old-growth (Pawn Trail #1317) and an historic trail that became a pioneer road (Pioneer Hill Trail #1316). Huge old trees and bit of history, all in sunshine. Brilliant! 😎RETURN TO FRONT PAGE
Earlier this year, Kevin Mittge, the Adult Services Librarian at the Siuslaw Public Library in Florence, Oregon contacted us about doing a library program on our visits to all of Oregon’s wilderness areas. We were already planning some hikes on the Oregon Coast, so we said we’d love to do a talk. We agreed on a date in May and the coastal weather cooperated by not raining on our hikes or on our talk. We dedicated the talk to Judge John B. Waldo, the first Oregon Supreme Court chief justice born in the state and a vigorous proponent of forest conservation in the Cascade Range. But then, between the invitation and the talk, Congress designated another wilderness area in Oregon: Devil’s Staircase. We managed a drive-by of this truly wild wilderness in 2020. 🙂
Wilderness exists just to be wild, irrespective of human needs or wants. So the primary “human” purpose for these wilderness areas is to protect a watershed or a threatened and endangered species or a terrestrial habitat or a fish habitat or all of the above. They were NOT created simply for our hiking pleasure. This is particularly true of the smaller, less visited areas, many of which have few or no trails and in which cross-country travel opportunities vary from good to heroically (verging on impossibly) difficult. So in our talk, we listed all the wilderness areas but focused on some (but not all) with reasonable hiking possibilities. We also included three proposed wilderness areas because we’ve hiked in them and believe they deserve formal designation too!RETURN TO FRONT PAGE
Of the 47 established (plus 3 proposed) federal wilderness areas in Oregon, we’ve hiked in all the better known ones (Mount Hood, Three Sisters, Badger Creek, etc.) but there are some that have thus far escaped the tramp of our boots. Two of the 47 (Oregon Islands and Three Arch Rocks) are closed to public entry (and would require amphibious operations even if they were open). So we decided to plan some trips to hike (even just a little) in those that are hikeable or at least reachable. Seizing on a partial break in January’s usually soggy weather, we headed out to visit the five wilderness areas along Oregon’s coast: Drift Creek, Cummins Creek, Rock Creek, Copper-Salmon, and Grassy Knob. UPDATE: In 2019, the trail-free Devils Staircase Wilderness was added to these.Continue reading “Oregon Coast Wilderness Areas 8/9-Jan-2016”