Monday, May 17, 2010

"oregon dunes" recreation area

This (avg. 2 mph hiking) long day hike includes finishing with 3 miles of coastal Hwy. 101 southbound, barring a shuttle. Be careful on the narrow shoulder please.
The (11 1/2 to 14 mi., depending on options) hike begins at Tahkenitch Campground. A U.S. Forest Service $5/day fee is collected at the trail head, located north of Reedsport, Or. between mile markers 203 and 204. The entrance is on the west side of 101.
Take a left fork about 1/4 mile down the trail. The first 3 1/4 miles bears mostly SW to the ocean. It will keep you aerobically fit, with a 400 ft. summit included in the ancient hard-packed sand dunes and second growth forest, followed by loose sand
grind to the sea. My time to the beach, with a look over taken at Threemile Lake was about 1 1/4 hrs. Beside Threemile, there is a nice view of Elbow Lake through Rhododendrons and a shore pine forest. And of course dunes.
Walk north on the beach 1.3 mi. (1/2 hr. including agates) and look for a very steep signed access to the foredunes east. The last time I was there, the trail was shortly washed out by erosion. Just scramble through as close to the edge as safely possible northward bound, and the trail will reappear at a huge stick and garbage pile.
When you pick the trail back up it heads inland somewhat with a NE bent for 2 1/2 miles after topping the foredune. There are four map illustrated signposts in this section. Left, right, right, left at the posts.
Five minutes after the 4th post (left) access the creek and wade across. !!!!Tahkenitch Creek may be deep in spring. If you do not want to cross, go back to the sign (5 min.) and go left to Tahkenitch Creek trail parking. Southbound on 101 will be about an 8 1/2 mi. loop.!!!!
Anyway, after wading, climb the huge dune on the other side. Look northwest toward a dead tree, if it hasn't fallen. The trail markers are tall posts and easy to spot. On the marked trail one can travel through the dunes north or to the ocean west. The ocean trail (.7 west to ocean, 1.7 north along the beach to foredune trail marker, then 1.1 east to the Oregon Dunes Overlook) is longer than the dunes option (1.3 mi. trudge to the overlook). From this parking area it is a 3 mile southward walk on scenic Hwy. 101 to your vehicle.
In the summer winds area generally from the north, winter from the south. So go in reverse if you are some wimp.
Do not cross the cold winter creek without protection.
Wm. Sullivan's ISBN 978-09677830-2X is a help, although he breaks my suggestion into three hikes.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

"umpqua dunes"

Gigantic Oregon coast dunes stretch from the town of North Bend to Florence, a stretch of 45 miles. Unfortunately, the dunes are threatened by invasive plant species. These dunes are the largest expanse of coastal dunes in North America, and are the tallest sand I've seen since I visited Great Sand Dunes National Park, in Colorado. This hike (5 miles out-and-back) is my favorite in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Easy to get to and traversing ecological diversity, it's a "Don't Miss". The parking area is at John Dellenback Trailhead (fee area) off of Rt. 101. That would be 11 miles south of Reedsport, Or. From your vehicle, start to the right at the signboard and cross the bridge, ignoring a left turn. It is about a half mile hike to open dunes. At this point, pop out of the forest and shrubs and take the escalator (hee hee) to the top of the huge dune (to the left). After climbing to the top, you will see the tall trail posts marking the trail toward the Pacific Ocean. They do not have to be followed exactly, but are a good guide. The tree island in view will be traversed on the right side. A half mile past the tree island, the posts turn 90 degrees right before a shore forest, then a path left into the forest goes to the shore (at the 4th. post after turning right). It will be about 2 miles each way to the ocean from the top of the initial huge dune. You may take a little different route back to the vehicle if you like, but keep the posts in mind. You can get lost here, believe it or not. If I didn't get you there, try William Sullivan's book (ISBN 978-09677830-2X).

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Friday, September 4, 2009

"boardman park north"

One of the most scenic stretches of the Oregon Coast Trail is the area just north of Brookings, Oregon. William Sullivan (ISBN 978-09677830-2X) does a good job dividing this 12 1/2 mile length into a north and south section. I will defer to him on the southern section (5 miles one-way), as I have only done the northern section (approx. 7 1/4 miles one-way). The south end of this section begins at the Whalehead Beach Picnic Area turnoff, just south of milepost 349, on Pacific coastal highway 101. Park on your left almost immediately after turning off of the highway. The complete 12.6 mile trail is in the designated Samuel H. Boardman State Park (or St. Scenic Corridor). From the parking area, hiking north, travel through coastal forest 1 1/2 miles to Indian Sands, which is very striking landscape. Skirt the dunes here right, or away from the ocean, to find a difficult (I disagree with Sullivan's "moderate" rating here) trail uphill through forest again. There is no trail through Indian Sands due to drifting, so route-find here. You will then travel through several coves to Thomas Creek Bridge, where you must walk the highway. Next, .7 miles through the forest is China Beach, which is great. Be warned that navigation of China Beach cannot be accomplished at high tides. Then uphill again to the highway, and the final 2 1/2 miles passes a wonderful series of rock formations, including bridges and arches. If you are planning an out-and-back on the northern section of "Boardman", it will be a very full day's workout. Consider a shuttle, which would be parked at the northern terminus, Arch Rock Picnic Area.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"cape blanco"

This is one of my favorite hikes on the Oregon Pacific coast. It features rugged coastline, tidal events (CAREFUL! HAVE A TIDE TABLE), and historic lighthouse views. Drive to the Cape Blanco State Park exit off of Hwy. 101, 4 miles north of Port Orford, Or. Then follow directions to the Hughes House. Trail parking is north and downhill from the historic house, at the Sixes River (boat ramp). Take the path west across the meadow toward the ocean. (Don't use the riverside trail for this 7 mile loop trail.) Continue heading to the shore and you will be there in about 3/4 mile. Do not take the left turn about half way to the beach at .3 mi. A mile walk south along the wild beach brings you to a sharp uphill climb. If the uphill post marker is missed, no problem. The beach ends at the cape and you will back-track a few yards and see it. Back at the top, cross the lighthouse access paved road (100 yds to the left down the road) and head across a meadow SE along the "South Beach" trail. You should cross another paved road in about a mile from the lighthouse road. This is now the only confusing part. Cross this pavement, climb a path to an "X" junction in the meadow. Turn right at the junction and all others for a mile to the south beach.Turn right upon reaching the beach for 1/2 mile, hike up the paved road for a mile (through the campground to the lighthouse road again), and cross the road to a mowed path. Keep left at junctions now to your vehicle in 1 1/2 miles. Additional experiences: The Cape Blanco Lighthouse can be visited April to October for a couple dollars fee. The Hughes House, built in 1898, is accepting donations for tours during the same season.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

of agates and tidepools

We near-ocean dwellers like that stuff. My favorite tide pooling is at Cape Arago State Park, at the South Cove. This park is near Coos Bay, Oregon. Look for about a minus 3 tide. You always carry a tide table, right? So that you don't drown, right? Always look out for sneaker waves, right? Anyway, I prefer winter low tides for observing crabs, anemones, chitons and such. Too much sea grass in the summer.
For seeing agates, I've had the most luck near Tahkenitch Dunes, (13 miles south of Florence, Oregon) on the Pacific shore of course. The trail head is a fee area. The ocean is about 2 miles from the trail head. William Sullivan (ISBN 978-09677830-2X, Navillus Press) offers a nice loop hike option.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"john day fossil beds"

Pictured: Painted Hills & Clarno (Leaf) Fossils......100 more photos here.
I could not normally, in good conscience, recommend a hiking network that is scattered among hundreds of driving miles. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument has enough to offer and overcomes the inconvenience.
My advice, stay in Mitchell at the historic Oregon Hotel (rustic, with community shower and toilet). After early check-in go to the nearby Painted Hills. There are about 2 1/2 miles of trails and the hills are beautiful deposits, changing texture and color with the weather. Before leaving Mitchell in the morning, take another look at the hills from the overlook. (All 3 units of the park are free access.) Head for the Sheep Rock Unit (park headquarters) for a museum and maybe five miles of hiking. The Sheep Rock Unit is the "History Channel" section. Finally, drive almost 80 miles to the Clarno Unit near Fossil, Or. for two or three very short hikes. That is hard to justify, but the leaf fossils and natural arch were great.
The second day was a very long day, with 200 miles of driving plus about 6 miles of hiking, with a museum. That's why I recommend just a quick morning look at Painted Hills.
No trails in the Monument are difficult. Blue Basin Trail has a little grind involved.
This area of the Oregon desert is uncomfortable in summer and winter.
Access to Painted Hills is off of Rt. 26 west of Mitchell, Or. Sheep Rock Unit is 40 miles east on the same highway. Clarno Unit is accessed from Rt. 218, west of Fossil, Oregon.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"smith rock"

Pictured: Smith Rock, Crooked RiverWhile Smith Rock is certainly an impressive monolith, with the climbing routes on "Monkey Face" being famous, the Crooked River surrounding Smith Rock really completes the scene.
The 4 mile loop (there is a more demanding 6.3 mile loop available) hike along the river and up over the top of Smith Rock is mostly a level hike. The half mile near the end of the trail up to Misery Ridge is very difficult. The ball bearing descent from the ridge is no picnic either. Your speed up and down "Misery" will be one mile-per-hour or less. Only two notes for direction are needed: After crossing the river bridge initially, go left for best views. At the 2 1/2 mile mark, one trail continues straight along the river. Your trail turns right here and switchbacks up Misery Ridge. You should at this point be on the back side of "Monkey Face". Watching the vertical climbers on the front of this favorite is a highlight.
Mid-summer is very hot here.
The access to Smith Rock State Park (fee area) is from Rt. 97 in Terrebonne, Or., which is north of Redmond.
William Sullivan (ISBN 0-9677830-1-1, Navillus Press) does a good job on hike description.

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