Spirit lake

Today was a search of some ripe huckleberries for us and the kids.  We went in search for them at Spirit lake in the western Cascades on the west edge of the Waldo lake basin.  It is only a short half mile hike with very little elevation change.  Making it perfect for kids of all ages.  Granted the youngest didn’t walk, and instead I carried her in the kiddo backpack. I don’t think I could have kept a toddler moving in one direction for that distance.  We didn’t find a lot of huckleberries, but there was enough to have a nice snack of them. The lake has a good population of brook trout in it.  The average size is about 10″  with reports of ones up to 15″ being caught.  I wasn’t able to get more then one bite, but the ones surfacing for mayflies looked to be about a foot long. For more information of fishing at Any cascade lake please check out Fishing in Oregon.  Tons of information in it on almost every waterbody in Oreogn

  • Directions: Proceed east from the Oakridge Ranger Station on Hwy. 58 to Oakridge. From downtown Oakridge proceed east on Salmon Creek Road (24) for about 13 miles to the junction of Road 2422. From here proceed left on 2422 for 9 miles to trailhead on right. Across from the Waldo Meadows Trailhead.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Recommended Season: June – October
  • Elevation change: 169 feet

Nice easy walk to the lake.
Nice easy walk to the lake.

The view of the lake as you come to the end of the trail
The view of the lake as you come to the end of the trail.

Interesting tree growing in the meadow.  looks like it had fallen down and then grown up from the fallen trunk
Interesting tree growing in the meadow. It looks like it had fallen down and then grown up from the fallen trunk.

Lots of fallen trees in the water
Lots of fallen trees in the water.

Katy all ready to return back to the car for lunch
Katy all ready to return back to the car for lunch.

Several great books for the local areas

Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon: A Guide to the State’s Best Waterfall Hikes

Day Hiking Bend & Central Oregon: Mount Jefferson/ Sisters/ Cascade Lakes

100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Central Oregon Cascades

100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range

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Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

Part of a herd of bull elk at the viewing area
Part of a herd of bull elk at the viewing area

If you want to go on a drive to see wildlife this is a great place to find Elk.  They are normally fairly close to the viewing area so you can take pictures and show children these giant herbavores.

From the BLM website:

The Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area is the year-round residence for a herd of about 100 Roosevelt elk. A mild winter climate and abundant food allow the Roosevelt elk to remain at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area all year. Dean Creek is a Day Use Only site. The O.H. Hinsdale Rhododendron Garden is located across Highway 38 from the elk viewing area. The garden will be open for public tours on Saturday, May 11, 2013 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

There are educational exibits at the ends of the viewing area to explain about Roosevelt elk and their life cycles.  And it has the needed bathroom for most of those people that need it after a long drive.

More of the elk resting from a hard day of eating grass
More of the elk resting from a hard day of eating grass

Directions:

  • From Reedsport and Highway 101: Travel about three miles east on Hwy. 38 to the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area signs.
  • From Interstate 5: Take Hwy. 38 west to Reedsport and the viewing area.

Whittaker creek

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One of the great places in Oregon that you can view spawning salmon and steelhead is in this little tributary of the Siuslaw river.  The creek is closed to fishing year around to help preserve the native populations of the four anadromous species of fish that spawn in the creek. That means that spawn in fresh water and live most of their lives in the ocean to those of you who are not fish people. The four fish species that use the creek are King Salmon (Chinook), Silver salmon (Coho), Steelhead, and sea-run Cutthroat trout (also called bluebacks).

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The Chinook enter the river as soon as the fall rains raise water levels up to the point where these large fish can start their travel up from the Siuslaw estuary.  The Coho will be right behind them on the trip up the river.  Steelhead will start hitting the creek around Christmas time and continue until late March. If you are going now you will see a few of the remaining salmon and the start of the steelhead run.  We saw 6 steelhead in 3 different holes this weekend when we stopped by.  I love seeing the expression on my daughters face when she see a 2-3 foot fish swimming in the creek.

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For the last several years the dept of fish and wildlife have been working on improvements to the spawning conditions for the fish.  While driving along you can see where rocks and logs have been added to the stream to make larger area’s full of gravel for the fish to spawn in.

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