Above the clouds on Silver Star Star Mountain

Saturday, June 15, 2019

While I much prefer the trails on the north side of Silver Star Mountain, the trailhead access via Road 4109 is now impassible for my Outback. So today we hiked up from the Grouse Vista Trailhead with Greg’s friend who was visiting from out of town.

As we started hiking up the rough rocky trail at 8am we were totally socked-in:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

When we reached the open stretches, it was pea soup with no views:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Two-thirds of this trail is in the forest:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

The flowers were looking nice:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Someone had come along and snipped off branches crowding the trail, then left them in the middle of the trail instead of tossing them to the side:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

The same person had also strung dozens of pieces of yellow flagging along the trail:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

There is some kind of race up here every June and we suspected that this person was readying the route for that race. I have NO IDEA why the very obvious trail needed what amounted to dozens of pieces of litter. We saw the guy on the summit later, with a roll of yellow flagging and clippers.

At 9:30 we ran into some people hiking down and they reported that the summit was above the clouds. Great news! And soon enough we started seeing evidence that we were emerging from the clouds into the sunshine:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Blue sky!

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Indeed, when we reached the summit we discovered that we were above the inversion and it looked INCREDIBLE. Mt Hood:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Mt. Adams:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier:

Silver Star Mountain

Sturgeon Rock:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Here is an iPhone panorama with Mt. St. Helens just barely visible left of center, and Mt. Adams right of center:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

And another panorama showing Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

After enjoying the warm and beautiful conditions at the summit we finally tore ourselves. Before heading back we dropped down the north side for half a mile to check out the wildflowers:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Then we turned around and headed back down the south side to our trailhead. As we hiked down the clouds started clearing up and we now had views, albeit of clearcuts:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

I’m still disappointed that the Forest Service has decided to limit access to the north due to their lack of road maintenance. That’s such a better hike. The steep rocky route on the south side that we did today is pretty treacherous in spots. I fell once and almost fell a few other times. But I’m glad we got up there to see the views and the flowers. This is definitely one of my favorite spots in the Pacific Northwest.

Grassy Knoll

June 9, 2019

Today we returned to Grassy Knoll, a great early summer hike with views and wildflowers. A new sign has been installed at the trailhead:

Grassy Knoll Hike

There is a nice patch of wildflowers right at the trailhead:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

There is a very nice viewpoint one mile in with Mt. Adams being the star of the show here:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

Red Mountain Lookout:

Red Mountain Lookout

Gifford Peak:

Gifford Peak

Penstemon like to grow here:

Grassy Knoll Hike

We continued north, passing yet more wildflowers:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

Then we had our first view of Grassy Knoll:

Grassy Knoll Hike

This is always such a lovely spot, where the trail emerges from the trees into a beautiful patch of wildflowers with a view of Mt. Hood:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

More flowers as the trail continues:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

We sat on the summit for awhile and enjoyed the view of Mt. Hood. We had the place all to ourselves:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

There is a partial view of Mt. Adams up here:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

View to the west:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Three Corner Rock:

Three Corner Rock

Cool clouds overhead:

Grassy Knoll Hike

We continued up the trail a bit to another nice patch of flowers before turning around:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

We got back to the trailhead at 3pm, having only seen three people the entire day!

Before heading home we stopped to check out the Giant Trees of Lost Creek (articles here, here, and here) and the trail that Russ Jolly built there:

Big trees

Big trees

Big trees

Cedar and doug fir growing together:

A cedar and a fir

Notches had been cut out of fallen trees to create passage:

Notch

Natural log bridge over a creek:

Log trail

We didn’t have time to explore the whole loop, but we’ll be back. Very cool spot!

Bald Butte

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Greg and I hiked up Bald Butte today, which is south of Hood River. We started at the Oak Ridge Trailhead. One of several nice things about this hike is that you get views right away:

Bald Butte Hike

About a mile into the hike the trail zig-zags up a slope that is dotted with wildflowers this time of year. And of course there are more views:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Back in the woods, we saw some nice fairy slipper wildflowers:

Bald Butte Hike

And some trillium

Bald Butte Hike

We got our first peek at our destination:

Bald Butte Hike

We reached the junction with the Surveyor’s Ridge Trail and turned left:

Bald Butte Hike

Flowering currant:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

We crossed under the power lines and started the final steep push:

Bald Butte Hike

Mt. Hood:

Bald Butte Hike

The views and the wildflowers continued as we hiked up:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

OHVs are not allowed up here, but there is nothing to stop them. We saw signs of their presence:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

The views from the summit are pretty great. Mt. St. Helens to the north:

Bald Butte Hike

Mt. Hood:

Bald Butte Hike

Lookout Mountain to the south:

Bald Butte Hike

The tip of Mt. Jefferson off in the distance:

Bald Butte Hike

Dirt bikes are not allowed up here, but two of them came up from the other direction and stopped for a break:

Bald Butte Hike

After enjoying the view for awhile we headed back down:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

On our way down the Oak Ridge Trail some hikers came uphill and said that a hiker had injured themselves on the trail and the rescue crew was bringing them out this way. So we moved off to the side of the trail and sure enough a few minutes later a crew of guys were wheeling a stretcher up the trail on one of those big two-wheeled contraptions. The guy had injured his leg somehow, but was going to be ok.

It was a very warm day so we were pretty hot by the time we got back to the car. Our bodies are not yet adjusted to warm weather!

East Applegate Ridge Trail

Monday, May 27, 2019

Before driving back to Portland today, our final hike of the holiday weekend was the East Applegate Ridge Trail. It’s a new 5.6-mile trail south of Jacksonville and there is now a trailhead on each end (until recently there was only a trailhead at the east end). We started at the east trailhead off Sterling Creek Road.

The hiking was pleasant and pretty right off the bat:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

East Applegate Ridge Trail

East Applegate Ridge Trail

After just one tenth of a mile we came to our first view, looking west to the mountains on the other side the Applegate Valley:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

East Applegate Ridge Trail

There were a number of these pretty meadow traverses:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

We saw quite a lot of poison oak:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

But we also saw quite a few wildflowers:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

East Applegate Ridge Trail

East Applegate Ridge Trail
Oregon sunshine

East Applegate Ridge Trail
Hooker’s Indian pink

East Applegate Ridge Trail
California poppy

This trail had a nice variety of open grassy areas and pleasant forest:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

East Applegate Ridge Trail

East Applegate Ridge Trail

East Applegate Ridge Trail

The trees had been oak and madrone, but about 1.5 mile in we passed through a section of tall Douglas fir. It felt like a totally different trail:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

After 2.25 miles we reached a bench with a very nice view:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

East Applegate Ridge Trail

East Applegate Ridge Trail

Despite the clouds we could see the snowy peaks of the Red Buttes Wilderness:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

Looking southeast at Dutchman Peak hiding in the clouds:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

We sat on the bench for awhile enjoying the pleasant day and the nice views. I explored a short distance beyond the bench. The trail continues through a grassy meadow:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

Right before the trail goes back into the trees there are some trailside rocks that would also make a good stopping place:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

East Applegate Ridge Trail

Back at the bench we enjoyed watching the paragliders. We could see them prepping on a hillside across from us:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

We watched them soar over the mountains and trees, which was really fun. I got a photo of this one backdropped by the peaks of the Red Buttes Wilderness:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

We headed back under increasing clouds:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

Incredibly, someone tried to bring a stroller on the trail. They gave up and abandoned it, to be retrieved on the hike back:

East Applegate Ridge Trail

It started raining right as we were finishing the hike, so that was good timing! This trail is really great, and this is the perfect time of year to hike it. We hiked about half its length, and I’d like to come back up and hike up from the west trailhead.

T.J. Howell Botanical Drive

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Today was forecast to be the cloudiest weather day of our long weekend, so rather than hike we drove the T.J. Howell Botanical Drive which encompasses about 7.5 miles of Eight Dollar Road / Road 4201. The Forest Service has a brochure and a plant list on their website. This description from the Forest Service site best sums up the area:

Approximately 7.5 miles of the Eight Dollar Road is designated as The TJ Howell Botanical Drive. The drive passes predominately through the Josephine Ophiolite, a large chunk of upper mantle and oceanic crust that has been shoved up above sea level, exposing ultramafic serpentine and its parent rock, peridotite. Part of the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains, this location is one of the largest serpentine areas in North America.

Only plant species that can tolerate extreme conditions grow here. Thin soils, heavy metals (magnesium, nickel, chromium, iron), and nutrient stress (low amounts of calcium and nitrogen) make these serpentine soils inhospitable. Many unusual, rare, or endemic species have evolved under these conditions, while other plants have special adaptations for survival, or exist in stunted form.

We drove Highway 199 out of Grants Pass. Our first stop was the Eight Dollar Mountain boardwalk:

Eight Dollar Mountain

Eight Dollar Mountain

The end of the boardwalk is missing its sign:

Eight Dollar Mountain

It overlooks a darlingtonia fen:

Eight Dollar Mountain

Darlingtonia californica is also known as the California pitcher plant, cobra lily, or cobra plant. It is carnivorous, trapping insects and absorbing their nutrients.

Next up was the Little Falls Loop:

Little Falls Loop

Little Falls Trail

This was Greg’s typical pose all day, identifying wildflowers:

Little Falls Trail

We saw some wildflowers on this loop:

Little Falls Trail

Little Falls Trail

The trail took us down to the Illinois River:

Little Falls Trail

Little Falls Trail

Little Falls Trail

This is Little Illinois River Falls, otherwise known as Little Falls. It’s not so much a waterfall as a narrow chute where the water runs fast:

Little Falls Trail

This is what the river looks like upstream from there:

Little Falls Trail

Then we continued upstream:

Little Falls Trail

Back at the car we continued down the road to a pull-out across from where Josephine Creek flows into the river. That wasn’t so interesting, but across the road was a nice little fen with Darlingtonia. Dang, they are weird-looking plants!:

Darlingtonia

Darlingtonia

This is what their flowers look like:

Darlingtonia

Darlingtonia

In this spot we also saw some very pretty Siskiyou Indian Paintbrush:

Siskiyou Indian Paintbrush

Siskiyou Indian Paintbrush

Our next stop was the bridge over the river, which unfortunately has been the victim of a lot of graffiti. We got out to look around and admire the river:

Bridge over Illinois River

Illinois River

Illinois River

Our next stop was the Days Gulch Botanical Area. You have to know it’s here as there are no signs. Someone had trashed the parking area with a trash-filled campfire:

Days Gulch Botanical Area

Days Gulch Botanical Area

Days Gulch Botanical Area

We spotted what look like maybe a hunter’s camp in the trees:

Days Gulch Botanical Area

This area is the location of a long-term study of the Howell’s mariposa lily, although we didn’t see any. We did see other flowers though:

Days Gulch Botanical Area

Days Gulch Botanical Area

Days Gulch Botanical Area

Days Gulch Botanical Area

They have fenced this area off in order to keep out OHVs:

Days Gulch Botanical Area

Out next stop along the road was to visit this huge Darlingtonia fen:

Darlingtonia

Darlingtonia

Darlingtonia

Further along we stopped to find a geocache and we were treated to a nice viewpoint:

Geocache with a view

There’s the bridge we stopped at earlier:

Illinois River

We could see the scars from last year’s Klondike Fire:

Burn area

The brochure mentioned white bleeding heart at milepost 6 and sure enough we saw some along the road:

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Although the road keeps going, the Botanical Drive officially ends after 7.4 miles where there is a gravel parking area with a picnic table and an old broken sign.

Viewpoint

We decided to park here and try to find a nearby geocache, which had parking coordinates here. We headed for the trees across the road:

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

And followed this old road:

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

We saw this cool California ground-cone (Boschniakia strobilacea):

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

We left the old road where this old wooden sign indicated a trail:

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

The trail was clearly disused, but still easy to follow. Unfortunately there was some poison oak:

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

And then we emerged from the trees and climbed up this knoll:

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

And at the top we discovered two random picnic tables!

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

When we got home I checked old maps and could not find this viewpoint or trail marked on any of them. Can’t help but wonder what the story is. Anyway, the view from up there was pretty good:

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

For the return route we wanted to avoid the poison oak on the abandoned trail, so Greg decided we would drop down to the saddle below the knoll:

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

And then drop down this steep slope to the road below:

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

Beargrass:

Abandoned trail geocache adventure

We road-hiked back to the car and enjoyed the view there for awhile before driving back to Grants Pass:

Viewpoint

We went back to The Haul for dinner and enjoyed their fabulous churros:
Curros

Great day!

Grizzly Peak

Saturday, May 25, 2019

This morning we got up really early and drove south to Ashland to have breakfast at Morning Glory:

Then we headed to Grizzly Peak for a hike. It was pretty cloudy when we started:

Grizzly Peak Hike

The trail heads uphill through the trees:

Grizzly Peak Hike

Grizzly Peak Hike

This first stretch through the forest had a whole bunch of trillium, more than we’ve ever seen on one hike before:

Grizzly Peak Hike

Grizzly Peak Hike

Grizzly Peak Hike

We also saw some wild ginger:

Grizzly Peak Hike

We also saw some fairy slipper:

Grizzly Peak Hike

The trail started passing through some meadows:

Grizzly Peak Hike

Grizzly Peak Hike

The true summit is anticlimactic:

Grizzly Peak Hike

Grizzly Peak Hike

Fortunately there are great views to be soon enough. The trail enters an area burned in a 2002 fire and the views start opening up:

Grizzly Peak Hike

Grizzly Peak Hike

IMG_6659

Mt. Ashland was prominent to the west:

Grizzly Peak Hike

We reached a nice viewpoint where we stopped to take a break:

Grizzly Peak Hike

We had a great view to the south included Mt. Shasta, Pilot Rock, and the snowy Trinity Alps:

Grizzly Peak Hike

Grizzly Peak Hike

Looking northwest:

Grizzly Peak Hike

After our break we hiked on and soon encountered another viewpoint with a slightly different angle:

Grizzly Peak Hike

Grizzly Peak Hike

We were now encountering quite a few other hikers. This is a popular hike and it was Saturday. When we got to the trailhead there were a lot of cars crammed into the parking area, more than I would have thought possible to fit!

Before heading back to our Airbnb in Grants Pass we stopped at the Northwest Nature Shop in Ashland. What a great store! They had all kinds of great things, including a great book selection. Highly recommended:

Northwest Nature Shop

Upper Table Rock

Friday, May 24, 2019

Greg and I spent Memorial Day weekend exploring southern Oregon. On Friday we drove to Central Point, and had lunch at the Rogue Creamery, where they sell two different kinds of grilled cheese sandwich.

Rogue Creamery

Rogue Creamery

Then we headed to Upper Table Rock outside Medford:

Upper Table Rock Trailhead

Hiking up Upper Table Rock

We saw a number of wildflowers along the trail:

Wildflowers
Ookow

Wildflowers
Oregon Sunshine

Wildflowers
Henderson’s Stars

Clarkia Wildflowers
Clarkia

We also saw A LOT of poison oak:

Poison oak

There were some cool-looking madrone trees:

Madrone tree

The first viewpoint along the trail is getting pretty overgrown:

Overgrown view

But the next spot is much better:

View of Mt. McLoughlin

We continued up through the forest:

Hiking up Upper Table Rock

Until we reached the flat top of Upper Table Rock:

Upper Table Rock

We headed to the left:

Upper Table Rock

And from the rim we had a nice view of the Rogue Valley below us, and Mt. McLoughlin beyond:

Mt. McLoughlin

Mt. McLoughlin

We could see Mt. Ashland (the one with snow on it) and Wagner Butte (the next peak to the right), both of which we have hiked to the top of:

Mt. Ashland and Wagner Butte

We walked over to the part of the rim that looks down into the bowl formed by the U-shape of Upper Table Rock:

Looking into the bowl

We could see Lower Table Rock nearby:

View of Lower Table Rock

Upper Table Rock

This ended up being a cool place to hang out for awhile because a group of about a dozen turkey vultures was soaring over the trees below us. It was really fun watching them from above, something we don’t normally get to do!

Turkey vulture

Turkey vulture

We followed the trail north for a little ways, spotting these lovely purple wildflowers that are Doublehorn Calicoflower:

Wildflowers

Then we hiked back down to the car. This was a very pleasant afternoon hike. The wildflowers were lovely and watching the turkey vultures was really awesome.

Oregon Dunes Misadventure

Monday, May 6, 2019

On the final day of our long coast weekend we decided to visit the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area which stretches about 50 miles from Florence at the north end to the town of North Bend at the south end. We stopped at the Oregon Dunes Visitor Center (only open weekdays) in Reedsport, which is about at the halfway point between Florence and North Bend:

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area Visitor Center

We intended to do a hike starting from the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area, but we accidentally parked and started hiking from the Tahkenitch Creek Trailhead just south of there. We quickly realized our mistake, but decided to go a short distance and then drive over and do the hike we had intended to do.

Tahkenitch Creek:

Tahkenitch Creek

Tahkenitch Creek

After hiking a little bit, Deb said “let’s take a shortcut!” The car was very close by as the crow flies, but it turns out we should have stayed on the trail. Although this “shortcut: started out in sandy dunes, it quickly took us into some thick brush that got more so as we proceeded. Stupidly, we decided to keep going, rather than turn around. The brush was unbelievably dense and the going was slow. At one point Deb grabbed my pack (because it kept getting hung up on the brush) and forged ahead to scout the best route, often doubling back and looking for a better way. I only took a few photos during the ordeal and these were in sections where it wasn’t quite as bad, so imagine something far worse than this:

Thick brush

Thick brush

By the time we got back to the car I was bruised and tired and in no mood to do any more hiking, so we never did the trail we had intended to do. Instead we drove back to Reedsport and stopped in at the Umpqua Discovery Center:

Umpqua Discovery Center

We found a friendly furry greeter named Buckaroo:

Buckaroo

Why yes, I’d be happy to stretch out and let you pet my tummy:

Buckaroo

The museum’s exhibits covered the natural and cultural history of the region. It wasn’t a comprehensive history, though. The whole white-men-displacing-the-natives story wasn’t told. But the painted panels throughout the museum were quite beautiful:

Umpqua Discovery Center

Umpqua Discovery Center

Afterward we went up to the viewing platform on top of the museum for a nice view of the Umpqua River:

Umpqua River

Umpqua River

We had a bite to eat in Reedsport and then started heading home on Highway 38. It was such a warm gorgeous afternoon and we weren’t quite ready to end the day. On Google Maps we saw a park called Umpqua Myrtle State Park on Henderer Road west of Elkton, so we drove over to check it out.

It turned out, however, to be non-existent. The Sawyer’s Rapids County Boat Ramp was nearby, though, so we parked there and walked down to the river to check it out:

Boat ramp

Because the river was so high there was no shoreline for us to walk on, but it was still pretty standing there at the end of the boat ramp:

Umpqua River

Umpqua River

As we drove back to Highway 38 on Henderer we saw this flock of wild turkeys in the grass. Their heads sticking up above the grass totally cracked me up! One of them gave a “gobble” which made my day.

Wild turkeys!

So that was our long weekend at the coast! We were EXTREMELY fortunate to have such good weather. It never rained, and while we had a lot of wind, we also had a lot of sunshine. Four straight days of sunny weather at the coast is pretty remarkable! It was a fun and beautiful weekend.

Cape Sebastian

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Our first stop this morning was the New River Nature Center. We could find no information about its hours online and there was no recording at the number that’s listed for it. So we took a gamble. When we arrived around 9:15 the place was locked up with no posted hours. A volunteer was inside and heard us. It turned out the place didn’t open until 10am, but he opened the door and let us in to have a look around. He sure was a chatty fellow!

New River Nature Center

New River Nature Center

Do you see the resemblance?

New River Nature Center

We went down to the boat ramp to see the New River, so-called because an 1890 flood created this miles-long “moat” paralleling the ocean:

New River

New River

Then we drove south down to the Gold Beach area, and drove inland a bit into the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest to hike the short Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail, dedicated to Frances Shrader, a long-time employee of the Forest Service who was instrumental in developing plans for this trail:

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

As the name of this trail implies, there are some huge Douglas Fir and Port Orford Cedar in here:

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

This is a scar from a very very old trail blaze:

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

Our next stop was the nearby Myrtle Tree Trail:

Myrtle Trail

This is the largest myrtlewood tree in the world!

Myrtle Tree

Myrtle Tree

We drove into Lobster Creek Campground, right next to where Road 3310 crosses over the Rogue River. There’s a boat ramp here and a huge gravelly beach. It was pretty quiet here today, but I bet it’s very busy in the summer:

Rogue River

After lunch in Gold Beach, our next stop was the Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor. (The name comes from Sebastian Vizcaino, who explored this area in 1602 on behalf of Spain.) This park has the distinction of having the highest overlook reachable by car on the south coast. We parked in the south lot, where we would normally have views, but today it was totally socked in, even though it had been beautiful and sunny just a few miles north in Gold Beach:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

We hiked the trail south (described here):

Cape Sebastian Hike

Red lichen on the cliffs:

Cape Sebastian Hike

The trail started descending and in addition to some poison oak we saw lots of these pretty purple flowers (I believe they are Blueblossom ceanothus):

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

We continued to descend down, down, down:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

The rock here is pockmarked, which is known as tafoni:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

The trail continued on to Hunters Cove (named for the 19th century hunters who killed sea otters for their pelts):

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

Now we can see the beach at Hunter’s Cove:

Cape Sebastian Hike

The trail kind of peters out above the beach and you have to scramble down a crumbly slope with the aid of a rope. This is Deb climbing back up when we left:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Hunter’s Cove is big and lonely. We walked a short distance on the beach, which was completely deserted:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cool tilted rocks in the sand:

Cape Sebastian Hike

The high tide line goes right up to the base of the cliff, so it’s good we didn’t visit during high tide!

Cape Sebastian Hike

Hunter’s Island looked like a hippo:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Looking south toward Cave Rock and Meyers Creek. If we had the time and inclination we could have hiked on the beach all the way down there:

Cape Sebastian Hike

We scrambled back up to the trail and got one last view of Hunter’s Cove before starting our hike back up to the car:

Cape Sebastian Hike

As we reached the top of the headland and the parking area the clouds FINALLY started burning off and revealing views to the north:

Cape Sebastian Hike

We could see north to Gold Beach, and the distant silhouette of Humbug Mountain:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Blanco and Port Orford Heads

Saturday, May 4, 2019

On the second day of our trip we drove out to Cape Blanco State Park, the westernmost point of Oregon. It was named in 1603 by the Spanish explorer Martin D’Aguilar because of the chalky appearance of the headland. The gate to the lighthouse had not been opened yet, so we parked the car at the gate and walked the road out there.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

It was totally overcast and EXTREMELY windy. I imagine it’s very windy here all the time. The lighthouse was built in 1870. Today there is a visitor’s center and for a small fee you can tour the lighthouse.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

We walked back to our car admiring all the seastacks to the north of Cape Blanco:

Cape Blanco State Park

We decided to walk the South Cape Trail that heads towards the campground.

Cape Blanco State Park

The clouds were starting to burn off:

Cape Blanco State Park

Cape Blanco State Park

And then poof, the sky was blue!

Cape Blanco State Park

There’s Humbug Mountain again. You can see that thing for miles around here:

Cape Blanco State Park

We found a nice grassy day use area at the campground and it was protected from the wind, so we sat here for awhile and enjoyed the beautiful view:

Cape Blanco State Park

Cape Blanco State Park

We headed into the campground to use the bathroom and spotted this rabbit. Cute!

Cape Blanco State Park

Back at the car the gate was now open, as was the visitor center, so we drove the road out to the lighthouse. I used my kestrel to measure the wind at 19 mph (that may not sound like much, but it is):

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

A sunny shot of the lighthouse, which was now open for tours:

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

After taking a spin through the visitor center we drove towards the Hughes House, first stopping at this pioneer cemetery:

Cape Blanco Cemetery

Cape Blanco Cemetery

Cape Blanco Cemetery

The Hughes House is a beautiful historic home. Here is what the Oregon Encyclopedia says

Built in 1898, the Patrick and Jane Hughes House in Curry County is a significant survivor of a large, prosperous ranch and dairy business operated by Patrick Hughes and his family. Located just north of the headland of Cape Blanco, the imposing house was built on an elevated terrace immediately south of the Sixes River, with a view of the ocean. It is considered the best preserved, largely unaltered, late nineteenth-century house in the county.

Hughes House

The house was staffed by two volunteers and open for visitors, so we took a look around:

Hughes House

Hughes House

Hughes House

Afterward we e drove down to a boat ramp area on the Sixes River just below the house and followed the Oregon Coast Trail to the northwest:

Oregon Coast Trail

We passed through a gate with a sign for the Castle Beach Trail:

Oregon Coast Trail

Oregon Coast Trail

The windswept beach was littered with a whole bunch of driftwood. It felt like a lonely and seldom-visited place, but very beautiful:

Cape Blanco State Park

We had a view of Cape Sebastian and the lighthouse:

Cape Blanco State Park

To the north was Castle Rock and the mouth of the Sixes River:

Sixes River

There were lots of birds out on Gull Rock:

Gull Rock

We found shelter from the wind behind a large log and Deb took a little cat nap with a glove serving as sun protection for her face:

IMG_6424

Hiking back to the car we could see the mountains to the east:

Oregon Coast Trail

The trail passes through some pasture areas and we saw sheep who wanted nothing to do with us:

Oregon Coast Trail

Back at the boat ramp we checked out the Sixes River:

Sixes River

After stopping for a bite to eat in Port Orford we drove out to Port Orford Heads State Park. The Lifeboat Station museum was about to close, so we stopped in there first. The Port Orford Lifeboat Station (#318) operated from 1934 to 1970. The Coast Guard men who were stationed here responded to distress signals from ships off the coast, and launched their lifeboats from Nellie’s Cove to go rescue the crews. Today the old barracks serves as a museum documenting this history (you can also read more about it here):

Port Orford Heads

They have a self-righting lifeboat on display outside:

Port Orford Heads

After that we set out on the trail to do a short loop hike around the heads (hike described here):

Port Orford Heads

From the trail you can look down on Nellie’s Cove, where the boathouse used to be when this was a lifeboat station. The cove is 300 feet below the barracks and other buildings, so the men had to descend 500+ steps to get down here to their boats. The boathouse burned in 1970 and all that remain are the pilings and the concrete breakwater:

Port Orford Heads

This was a really idyllic spot! We were protected from the wind here, the water was a beautiful blue-green (these photos don’t do it justice, and the sun was shining). We also saw a harbor seal swimming in the water below, which was a treat.

Port Orford Heads

We tore ourselves away and continued on our loop. We got yet another view of Humbug Mountain:

Port Orford Heads

This is where the 37-foot watch tower used to stand. A man would be stationed here watching for distress flares from a floundering ship and when he spotted one he would use his emergency phone to alert the men at the station so they could launch a boat to go rescue the sailors:

Port Orford Heads

View to the west:

Port Orford Heads

We saw a whole bunch of iris on this little hike:

Port Orford Heads

And some larkspur:

Port Orford Heads

We hiked the Headland Trail out to this point where it was VERY windy. That’s Cape Blanco in the distance:

Port Orford Heads

Port Orford Heads

Hiking back on the Headland Trail:

Port Orford Heads

What a beautiful day! Back at camp that evening we had a nice campfire with the seasoned wood we got in town:

Campfire