Cow Creek Old-Growth (Azalea, Oregon) 10-Aug-2020

Huge, old-growth trees – those feet in diameter and hundreds of years old – were undoubtedly more common back in the day. Now you have to go looking for patches of them. When found, they are truly awe inspiring. It’s humbling to be in the presence of living creatures that have graced the Earth for dozens and dozens of human generations. One such patch of these ancient, living giants exists along Cow Creek in the Umpqua National Forest east of Azalea, Oregon. I first found out about it from John & Diane Cissel’s 2003 Best Old-Growth Forest Hikes, Washington & Oregon Cascades (Hike #96) and made my first visit in March of 2018. The middle of a wet Oregon winter was probably not the ideal time to be visiting a deep, old forest dripping with ferns and moss. After wading through a swollen, cold Cow Creek several times, I vowed to visit again during the drier, warmer months. When today’s air temperature was forecast to soar above 100°F (37°C), it seemed the ideal time to be deep in a forest. So The LovedOne and I made the drive to Azalea and then east past Galesville Reservoir to the Cow Creek Trail #1424 Trailhead.

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Union Creek Trail (Union Creek, Oregon) 06-Nov-2018

No better place to wait out the end of the seemingly endless 2018 Midterm election cycle than on a hike. With The LovedOne temporarily liberated from the Palace of Cellulose (i.e., the library), we set out to hike one of the smaller trails we’d by-passed on our many trips to the Upper Rogue. Of course, pie at Beckie’s Cafe on our return was a major motivating factor.

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Cow Creek Old-Growth (Azalea, Oregon) 30-Mar-2018

Cow Creek Umpqua National Forest Oregon

Cow Creek is a major tributary to Oregon’s South Umpqua River and an important stream in Southern Oregon’s early history. Levi Scott and Jesse Applegate, who pioneered the southern wagon route into Oregon, named the creek in 1846 when they found a dead cow beside it (no grasping for literary allusions with these guys). The six mile-long Cow Creek Trail (USFS #1424) follows the upper reaches of the South Fork of Cow Creek through a herb-rich floodplain stocked with mature and old (500+ years in some cases) Douglas fir and other trees. It ends at Railroad Gap near the divide that defines the watersheds of the Rogue and Umpqua Rivers. With The LovedOne still nursing her knee (and catching-up on her library duties), it fell to me to explore this old-growth trail (see what Cow Creek looks like in the summer here).

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Butte Fork Trail (Red Buttes Wilderness) 24-Jan-2015

Butte Fork Trail Red Buttes Wilderness California

While we have an admitted preference for loops with a view (and maybe a summit), we were drawn to this out-and-back hike in deep forest on the Butte Fork Trail (USFS #957) specifically because it is in a deep, old growth forest, one that Ruediger (in his The Siskiyou Crest, page 130) calls “…the wildest and most pristine region of the eastern Siskiyou Mountains.” Being in the shady forest, and leading as it does to wonderful little Azalea Lake, this would be a great summer hike or backpack (Hike #155 in Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon, Third Edition (2014)).

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