Fall Creek National Recreation Trail
Beautiful doesn't even begin to describe the Fall Creek National Recreation Trail. . .
Like a lot of people who grew up in Springfield, I spent many great days out on Fall Creek Reservoir when I should have been in class. After moving away from Springfield I had almost forgot about Fall Creek National Recreation Trail (NRT) until I came across it in one of my hiking books. I immediately started thinking about who could drop me off at the upper trailhead and who could get me at the lower. Thankfully I have an awesome girlfriend and an awesome sister who helped me out with that. The only thing left to do was to get to the upper trailhead.
Located approximately 40 miles from Eugene the Fall Creek NRT offers a great opportunity to walk through some of the best native or 'old growth' forests left in Oregon. I was somewhat concerned about snow or fallen trees on Forest Road (FR) 18 near the upper trailhead, but neither of those were an issue. To reach the upper trailhead you simply follow FR 18 until you hit the junction with road 1833, the trailhead will be on your right. Directions from Eugene
Upon arriving I noticed a little white sign saying there was a landslide that was "impassable", after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail I knew better than that. The hike begins in a very impressive native forest that is home to some absolutely massive Douglas Firs. Especially in the Marine Creek area, which is the first bridge you cross. Be sure to take some time and admire these giants, some between 500-700 years old. These giants would have destroyed if it wasn't for brave work of the Cascadia Forest Defenders.
The first time that you cross FR 18 is at the junction with road 1828 approximately 5 miles into the hike. The junction is well signed.
About 2 miles after the first crossing of FR 18 you enter into the part of the area burned in the 2003 Clark fire. The area is rapidly recovering without any 'help' (salvage logging) from humans. The first burn area is where I starting seeing the first wildflowers of the season! I'm not sure what they are, so if anyone knows, please post a comment.
The trail then cuts away from Fall Creek and starts a climb to approximately 1300 feet. For 2 miles or so the trail is nearly on the crest of the valley, carefully avoiding the private property that is below. You will have many unobstructed views of the tree farm, which detract from the previous feelings of isolation, but it could be worse. The trail then begins a descent to Bedrock Campground( CG). Ignore the cutoff trails to Bedrock CG, the Fall Creek Trail leads you to campsite number 9. I explored that CG and found that everything had been locked and that there was quite a bit of fallen branches on the ground.
After getting back on the trail you will follow near the north shore of Fall Creek until the junction with 'Clark/Falls tie trail'. Much of the mature trees burned in 2003 but there is still a large amount of young trees, wildflowers and blackberries.
The Fall Creek NRT comes to a junction with the 'Clark/falls Tie Trail' to continue on the NRT you need to cross Fall Creek on FR 18 and then look for the trail immediately on right after crossing the bridge.
You will now stay on the south side of Fall Creek until the end of the trail. After a bridge crossing of Timber creek you will come to a very low spot that would likely be covered by Fall Creek after massive rainfall/ snow melt. The trail then reenters the lush green that you have probably missed during the burned section. This section of the trail is home to many good campsites and swimming holes. There are also some more massive Douglas Firs.
This trail has everything I love about Western Oregon. Lush native forest with towering Douglas Firs and a beautiful stream. It doesn't get much better to me. The only downside is the road noise that can be heard from time to time.