Drift Creek Falls

Greg and I headed out to Drift Creek Falls on Saturday. This was one we had attempted back in January or February, but were thwarted because of the downed trees that had apparently closed the trail.

There were an amazing number of cars in the parking lot, more than a dozen when we arrived in the early afternoon. Fortunately, we encountered nearly all of those people hiking out as we were hiking in.

The trail passed through a VERY lush forest. Everything was very green. And wet. We unfortunately got drizzled on.

After hiking down the well-graded easy trail for 1.3 miles, we came to the big impressive suspension bridge. I was completely amazed to find this impressive structure in the middle of the forest. (Here is a 1997 article from the Seattle Times about the bridge.)

You can look down on Drift Creek Falls from the bridge.

We hiked the remaining 0.2 miles down to creekside so we could get a better view of the falls. There was a group of photographers down there and a few other people. There wasn’t a whole lot of dry shore to work with, and I didn’t feel comfortable rambling around in the rocky shallows, with my foot still recovering. So I just snapped a few handheld shots and didn’t even get out my tripod.

Unfortunately, the drizzle refused to cease. There was nowhere dry to sit and I didn’t have my rain pants. So I left Greg to his picture-taking and slowly hiked back out to the car so I could wait someplace dry. This is a nice little hike. The falls still had plenty of water flowing and the forest was beautiful and lush. The hike is short, and probably about a two-hour drive one-way from Portland, so unless you live down thataways this is a hike best done while you’re camping on the coast in the Lincoln City vicinity.

Alsea Falls Recreation Area

Greg and I celebrated the 4th of July by hiking around the BLM-managed Alsea Falls Recreation Area in the Coast Range. This was also a celebration of a different kind: my first hike in two months! The stress fracture in my right foot has healed enough for me to start off on some short easy hikes like this and I was absolutely thrilled to be tramping through the forest again! I never want to go two whole months without hiking again.

We started off by visiting lovely Alsea Falls. Downstream from the falls you see in the photo below, the water slides down a rock face into a big green pool below. With the lower summer water flow, there is plenty of exposed rock surface next to the stream on which to stretch out and enjoy the scenery and have a picnic. The pool looks great for swimming, and in fact there were several women doing just that on Friday, although it didn’t seem like a warm enough day for that.

We saw plenty of tiger lilies blooming in the area near Alsea Falls. Beautiful!

We saved the loop along the creek for later and headed over to Green Peak Falls. There’s a section where the trail dumps you out on a gravel road for a short ways, and camped at the end of that road was a family who seemed to have brought everything but the kitchen sink. As we hiked by, they were setting up camp while they listened to rock music that blared from two four-foot-high speakers that were set up by their big old-school Suburban. (On the way back, the father announced proudly to us that he had forgotten the key to his kids’ dirt bike and had just spent two hours hotwiring it.) I don’t understand what people like that get out of the camping experience. They’re clearly not out there to commune with nature.

The trail to Green Peak Falls goes up and down through a lovely forest, paralleling the creek.

The trail ends at the base of the waterfall. It’s difficult to get good pictures from the shore because of the angle and the trees, but there were some large exposed rocks in the creek from where I took the photo below.

There’s also a nice pebbly beach just downstream from the waterfall where you can see a second little drop in the creek.

Greg demonstrated how it’s possible to get an even better shot by wading out into the creek.

We headed back then, passing the McBee Park campground where we witnessed more camping insanity. A group of people with several RVs and vehicles were running a generator to power their electric chainsaw which was being used to cut up a very thick log, presumably so they could add to their already enormous pile of firewood.

By the time we got back to the Alsea Falls area, it was getting late. We hadn’t had dinner and wanted to go to the fireworks in Corvallis that night. So we didn’t end up doing the loop. Another day, perhaps.