Oregon Wild Hikes: Fall Creek
Another excellent old-growth hike, near Eugene.
Willamette National Forest
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Distance: 5.5 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: Moderate
Season: Spring, summer, fall.
Maps: See Willamette National Forest web site for more info
About the Hike
Some of the nearest and dearest old-growth to the Eugene area is found on this hike. While some of the Fall Creek trail was affected by the 2003 Clark fire, much of it was not and the trail is still a local favorite. The trail mostly follows the creek, up and down through the old-growth forest. The creek has some good swimming holes during the warm months and can be pretty busy. A good turn-around point is about 2.6 miles up the trail at Timber Creek, which is about where the fire boundary is. Continue on to the main road crossing, and cross the road to continue on the trail and see some of the fire area if you like. Easy to moderate, 5.5 miles to Timber Creek and back.
The Fall Creek area has been hotly contested in recent years: The Clark Timber Sale was planned in the late 1990s, was home to a tree sit, and is currently held up under an Oregon Wild-induced court injunction. The Clark Fire, which burned much of the area in 2003, could also have led to extensive controversy over post-fire logging, but the Forest Service wisely bowed to public pressure to allow the area to recover on its own.
From Eugene and I-5, travel on Highway 58 about 14 miles and turn left over Dexter Reservoir towards Lowell at the covered bridge. Follow the Jasper-Lowell road 2.8 miles through Lowell (it’ll jog left and then right). Just before another covered bridge, turn right on Big Fall Creek Road and stay on this paved road. The lowest parking area is on the right across from the Dolly Varden Campground after about 10.3 miles.