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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Goodman Creek trail

Now that the weather has changed towards spring it is time to do some more hiking adventures.  This is a new hike for us, with a bonus that it is still fairly close to Eugene, and there is a waterfall near the end of the hike. For me this is a very easy hike.  Not so much for Staci.  She didn’t yell at me at least this time. I normally do almost this much during my lunch hour at work.  Granted that is walking on pavement though. The path is nice and wide as it meanders through the forest.  The path was very muddy in spots.  As it dries out this would be a great hike to take kids on.  Not too steep and lots of wildflowers and scenic forest to explore.

interesting to see how the hike plotted out on google maps
Interesting to see how the hike plotted out on Google maps.

 

Goodman creek Trail: A well wooded trail that runs along side an inlet. After a brief climb, the trail crosses a few small creek beds before taking you through tall trees and fern lined views. Just short of two miles in, you will come across a small waterfall, that is very rewarding to your hike. Continue to the right just a few hundred yards to a large log bridge and Goodman Creek. Great picnic spot and turn around.

  • Distance: 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 300 feet
  • Difficulty rating (in alltrails): Medium (easy must be flat only)

How to get there: Take HWY 58 off I-5, just south of Eugene. As you approach Dexter Lake, and the small town of Lowell, keep your eyes out for a turnoff between mile post 20 and 21. There is a decent size parking lot to the south side of the road. The trail head is near the road and the sign will read Hardesty Trail, with mileage for Goodman Creek Trail junction as well. After a short hike through the trees, you will come to the junction for Hardesty Mountain going to the left, and a right going to Goodman Creek Trail. The waterfall is before you get to a log bridge across the creek.

I always wonder how old these signs are when I see them.

IMAG0630
Staci walking down the trail. We are almost to the waterfall at this point.

One of hundreds of Trillium blooming along the trail

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The waterfall at the end of the our hike. The trail continues in a loop that can be walked or biked.

Silver creek south falls and lower south falls

Silver creek has a total of 10 falls inside the state park.  The trail of 10 falls is a mild 8.7 mile loop with only 600 ft elevation change.  Next time I go I would like to do the entire loop.  For this trip we only hiked the first two falls.  It would have been a bit difficult once we got to the stair to take the strollers down to the base of lower south falls.  The first 2 falls are an easy two-mile hike down and back that is very easy for children.

South falls as you hit the first fork in the path
South falls as you hit the first fork in the path

Getting There: From Interstate 5 exit 253 in Salem, drive 10 miles east on North Santiam Highway 22, turn left at a sign for Silver Falls Park, and follow Highway 214 for 16 miles to the park entrance sign at South Falls.

The short hike: From the South Falls Picnic Area C parking lot, follow a broad path downstream a few hundred yards to historic Silver Falls Lodge, built by Civilian Conservation Corps crews in 1940. After inspecting this rustic stone-and-log building, continue a few hundred yards to an overlook of 177-foot South Falls. From here take a paved trail to the right. Then switch back down into the canyon and behind South Falls.

A few hundred yards beyond South Falls is a junction at a scenic footbridge. Don’t cross the bridge unless you’re truly tired, because that route merely returns to the car. Instead take the unpaved path along the creek. This path eventually switchbacks down and behind Lower South Falls’ broad, 93-foot cascade.

The creek in between the two falls
The creek in between the two falls

My sister on a log that crosses the creek
My sister on a log that crosses the creek

The lower south falls near the base of the staircase
The lower south falls near the base of the staircase

Both of the first two falls have a path that goes behind the waterfalls
Both of the first two falls have a path that goes behind the waterfalls

 

 

 

Elk Creek trail #3510 into the Mink lake basin

Me at the 4 mile mark hiking in to the Mink lake basin
Me at the 4 mile mark hiking in to the Mink lake basin

A journey for my birthday this year.  Our original goal was to hike all the way into mink lake.  But we only made it to Junction lake before we collapsed from exhaustion.  Next time we will start from a different starting point. There are a lot of mosquitoes in this area so bring lots of bug repellent

  • Trail name: Elk Creek Trail #3510
  • Distance: 7.6 miles to Junction Lake
  • elevation gain: 2000 ft  (2950 to 4970)
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Directions:
From Blue River proceed east for 4 miles on Hwy 126, turn right on Rd 19 (Cougar Dam) and continue for 22 miles, turn left onto Rd 1964 for 2.7 miles, then turn left onto Rd 456 to Elk Creek trailhead ½ mile.

Trail map in reverse direction but it shows the trail well
Trail map in reverse direction but it shows the trail well

The first three miles of the path up from the parking area are the most brutal of this climb.  1600 foot climb in just under three miles.  Well it was brutal for the two of us.  We got passed by a group up near the three mile mark and it didn’t even look like they had even broke a sweat.  After reaching the top of the plataeu the path is mostly small rolling hills for the rest of the way in.

Start of the path up the steep part


The end of the hill climb is in sight

 

Most of the path is flat the rest of the way as it alternates between central oregon dry and western Cascade forests
Most of the path is flat the rest of the way as it alternates between central Oregon dry and western Cascade forests
Mink lake sign
Mink lake sign

Just past the five mile mark you will reach a trail crossing the path.  The intersection has a well marked sign on what is each direction.  The trail to Mink lake is on the northern trail (turn left)

The first lake you come to is Rock lake.  There are no fish in the lake, but it is a nice spot to stop and take a break.
The first lake you come to is Rock lake. There are no fish in the lake, but it is a nice spot to stop and take a break.
Our camping spot for the day ended up being Junction lake
Our camping spot for the day ended up being Junction lake

By the time we made it to Junction lake we were barely moving still.  In hindsight doing a eight mile hike as our first backpacking trip was probably not my best idea.  But it was a good measure of how good of shape we are in and how far we still need to improve.  For me losing a bit more weight will make a big difference. By my 40th birthday next year I want to be in good enough shape to hike up to the top of South Sister mountain.  Which is a 11.5 mile round trip with a 4900 foot elevation climb. There are supposed to be Cutthroat and Rainbow trout in Junction Lake, but we did’t have any bite or see any raising to the surface.  We were on the shallower side of the lake so the fishing might be better around the back of the lake.  We were just to tired to walk around to the other side.

Friendly giant toad we found in the mountains
Friendly giant toad we found in the mountains
Morning on Junction Lake
Early morning camp

Day trips and hiking places in Oregon

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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Salt Creek Falls

View from the viewpoint
View from the viewpoint

This easy to get to waterfall is the second highest in Oregon.  The path to see the falls is a short 256 feet from the parking lot.  But if you would enjoy a longer walk you can do a short half mile hike down to near the base of the waterfall.  The path does not go all the way to the base but if you are adventurous you can scramble down the loose slate rock to the plunge pool.  Salt Creek creates one of the most impressive waterfalls in Oregon as it hurdles 286 feet into a gaping canyon near Willamette Pass. The size of the falls isn’t terribly notable in the area, but rather the process by which the falls were formed. Glaciers scoured the valley out during the last Ice Age, then following their retreat, lava flows filled in a portion of the valley, creating the narrow canyon walls composed of columnar basalt that are now seen at the falls.

The trail to the falls is wheelchair assessable
The trail to the falls is wheelchair assessable

Salt Creek Falls was discovered by Anglos Frank S. Warner and Charles Tufti, his guide, in March of 1887. Salt Creek is named after a series of springs with a high salt content, which is often used as salt licks by wildlife. The falls were named for the creek. Though the falls are located within relatively close proximity to Eugene, this area was more or less wilderness for quite some time. The original viewpoint of the falls was from a pullout along the old Willamette Pass Road, directly across the canyon from the falls,  You can still look at the falls from that perspective, but there is nowhere to park, so you have to walk along the road from the current viewing area.  But if you want to go that way you might as well walk to the base of the falls.  Walking the highway there is dangerous due to many people not expecting to see pedestrians in the area.

Two of my travel companions.
Two of my travel companions.

Located west of Willamette Pass, just off of Highway 58. The Salt Creek Falls day use area is located 21 miles east of Oakridge, or 5 miles west of Willamette Pass. The parking lot is well signed from the main road, and eastern travelers will undoubtedly see the falls through the trees before reaching the turnoff. The first viewpoints are handicap accessible, with the trail to the base being easy, but with numerous stairs.  There is a $5 per day fee to park at the viewpoint or have a Northwest forest pass to use (currently $30 per year as of 2013)

View from the halfway mark  as you head down towards the plunge pool
View from the halfway mark as you head down towards the plunge pool

how the falls were created
How the falls were created

View looking down from the base as the creek travels through the canyon
View looking down from the base as the creek travels through the canyon