Oregon WildBlogOregon Wild Blog RSS
News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.
May has been sunny and dry so far in Oregon, and the Columbia River Gorge was the place to be the first week of the month during Wendell's annual spring wildflower outings.
Hiking season has returned to Oregon, and that means you'll find Oregon Wild on the trail leading hikes and treks throughout the state.
Here are a few of Wendell's notes from his early May outings, followed by some spectacular photos from Oregon Wild fans and hike attendees. Thanks for the pictures!
A proposed revision to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation management plan could lead to an expansion of areas designated for motorized use.
The Oregon Dunes are one of the state's great ecological, historic and recreation gems. Clinging to the edge of Oregon's central coast for about 40 miles, the dunes were established as a National Recreation Area in 1972, and are managed by the Siuslaw National Forest.
The long-running OPB show celebrates one of Oregon's great wilderness champions, whose efforts resulted in the preservation of two pristine wilderness areas within the heavily-logged Coast Range.
With finely-crafted, in-depth stories about the outdoor history, natural wonders and public lands of Oregon, OPB's long-running Oregon Field Guide program often features guests and topics steeped in Oregon Wild's "wheelhouse."
We were particularly pleased with this week's Field Guide segment on Friends of Elk River founder Jim Rogers, a central figure in Oregon's battle to preserve it's wilderness and wild heritage in the state's heavily-logged and clearcut-scarred Coast Range.
Located in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Mt. Stella offers some of the best, and most accessible, vantage points of Crater Lake and all of southern Oregon.
By Wendell Wood
Oregon Wild Wildlands Interpreter
Both roadless area hikes are easily accessible from Crater Lake Hwy. 230.
The Mt. Stella Roadless area, bordered along its east side by the upper Rogue River, provides a scenic backdrop for the Rogue Umpqua Scenic Highway, as well as the popular riverside Farewell Bend Campground (just a mile north of Union Creek).
Additionally, this roadless area is traversed near its eastern boundary by the Upper Rogue River Trail No. 1034, where the FS Rd. 6510 bridge (just off Hwy. 230) provides an easy access point to this side of the Rogue River and a roadless area trailhead to the southwest (downstream) to the Rogue Gorge Trail in 6.5 miles and Natural Bridge in seven miles.
Nature loop in Grants Pass features spring blooms.
It’s easy to overlook Cathedral Hills Park, just four miles off Interstate 5 in Grants Pass. But from April through June this 400-acre park erupts with thousands of brilliant wildflowers - a display that rivals the stained glass windows of genuine cathedrals.
If you’re driving south toward California during this magic season, pull over for a 4-mile loop hike that showcases the unusual blooms of the Siskiyou Range. The brightest light in the constellation is Indian warrior, a blazing ball of red tubes. It resembles Indian paintbrush at first glance, but grows atop a clump of frilly, fern-like leaves.
If you’re not a flower fan, then come here for the forest. Cathedral Hills boasts the state’s largest knobcone pine and manzanita bush. Fire has been kept off the area for more than a century, so these flammable species have waxed big. One whiteleaf manzanita, normally a shoulder-high shrub, has become a 25-foot tall semi-tree with a trunk two feet in diameter. The knobcone pine is a small and rare pine species of the Siskiyous, but here one has grown 117 feet tall, with a trunk more than three feet in diameter.
Hike to wildflowers and a warm springs near Oakridge.
Hidden in the hills behind Oakridge is the perfect day’s outing (from June to November) in an unprotected wilderness west of Waldo Lake. Start with a hike through one of the state’s most diverse wildflower meadows to a historic shelter with mountain views. Top off the day with a soak in a natural warm springs pool.
The day begins in Oakridge’s real downtown—not the fast food joints you see along Highway 58. At the traffic light on Highway 58, turn north 0.2 mile on a bridge across the railroad tracks. Then turn right on First Street. The old downtown here features the reasonably priced Oakridge Hostel, the Lion Mountain Bakery, and the Brewers Union Pub.
The mysteries of Gold Lake's bogs has our guide book author on the look out for a mythical creature.
“Have you ever run across any sign of Bigfoot?”
I get calls like this occasionally. The man on the phone had first asked if I was indeed the guidebook author who explores remote corners of Oregon. He hadn’t given his own name.
“Actually, I never have met Sasquatch,” I admitted. “Why do you ask?”
“Well,” he said, “I have this theory. I’ve been looking at maps and think he might be hiding out in the Gold Lake bog.”
I had to admit I’d never looked there. The bog is a square mile of floating sphagnum behind Gold Lake, in undesignated wilderness land south of Waldo Lake. Unless the mythic ape man is amphibious, it would be a hard place to hang out.
But the conversation stuck in my mind, perhaps because I really didn’t know what was in the bog. Eventually I decided it might be interesting, and relatively easy, to check it out in winter, when the swamp is frozen solid.
I’d been to Gold Lake countless times on skis and snowshoes. It’s a classic first trip of the winter season. Nearly level and only 1.8 miles long, the Nordic ski trail leads to a rustic shelter by the lake. From there, the bog is just a mile across the lake.
Starting point for this adventure is the Gold Lake Sno-park, half a mile west of Willamette Pass on Highway 58. From there you cross the highway and then ski the snowed-under Road 500 to Gold Lake.
Check carefully before venturing out onto the frozen lake. Snow can insulate the surface, leaving slush instead of ice underneath. On the far shore of the lake, the bog is great ski terrain, with little hummocks and a view south to Diamond Peak.
I didn’t see any sign of Bigfoot. Still, I wondered, is a lack of giant footprints conclusive evidence?
Once a woman who writes very nice poetry asked me the question I’d heard from the man on the telephone, “Have you ever seen any sign of Bigfoot?”
I told her no.
“That figures,” she said, nodding. “Sasquatch doesn’t reveal herself to just anyone.“
So who knows? Maybe he -- she? -- really is hiding in Gold Lake’s bog.
William L. Sullivan (www.oregonhiking.com) is the author of "Oregon Favorites", available in all bookstores. Six of Bill's sixteen books are now available in electronic format at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/38219.
Don't let the snow keep you from exploring a butte-iful Oregon peak.
Snow has wreathed the summit of Black Butte for the season. But the reopening of a long-forgotten trail on the lower slopes now makes it possible to sample this conical mountain’s charms most of winter. In all, the lower portion of the trail gains 1750 feet in 3.1 miles, so it’s not exactly an easy hike.
To find the new trailhead, drive Highway 20 east of Santiam Pass 10 miles (or west of Sisters 9 miles). Near milepost 91, turn north at a sign for the Metolius River. Follow this paved road 2.7 miles to a fork. Then veer right on Road 14, following a “Campgrounds” pointer. Just 0.2 mile later, turn right onto red gravel Road 1430 for a tenth of a mile. Then turn right again, to a trailhead parking area ringed by boulders.
A hike to an off the beaten path spot in Oregon's only National Park - Plaikni Falls
Crater Lake superintendent Craig Ackerman officially opened a trail to a newly named waterfall this August as part of his plan to change the way people visit the national park.
“Crater Lake was designed as a motor park,” Ackerman complains. He wants to lure people out of their cars.
The new trail showcases a beauty spot that motorists circling the lake on the 33-mile Rim Drive would miss. Located to the southeast of the lake, the one-mile path ambles through a forest of old-growth mountain hemlock to a wildflower glen at 20-foot Plaikni Falls. The route is easy enough even for visitors with strollers or wheelchairs.
Richard Winters shares his experience on the second annual Oregon Wild Wolf Rendezvous.
Last weekend, I was privileged to be able to take a journey to northeastern Oregon, where the first wolf pack to return to Oregon resides. It is an area of great beauty, bounded by the majestic Wallowa Mountains and bordered by the amazing Zumwalt Prairie. It is also an area of great controversy and contention, an area in which the main enterprise is cattle ranching, and in which many of the cattle ranchers are rabidly anti-wolf.
There are also many people in the region who favor the return of wolves and there are a few good folks who stand between the factions, trying to find ways for wolves and ranchers to co-exist, while trying to understand the complexities of the relationships between the top predators and their prey(s). Some of these folks have attained the status of hero in my eyes, and in the body of this blog, I will explain.