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Showing posts from December, 2012

Larison Rock Trail

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The snow level has been low recently, even the Willamette Valley had a dusting. This makes hiking anywhere in the Cascade foothills difficult. I love to get out in the snow, but often Forest Service roads are not maintained in winter. Even if they are the attention they receive isn't anything like a state highway. My friend and I were looking to hike the Buffalo Rock section of the North Fork Trail, but after about 10 miles of progressively deeper snow we had to turn back. Luckily I had my Willamette Cascades Recreation map, after looking for a bit we settled on the Larison Rock trail. With the sun fading so early, we couldn't afford to spend time driving anywhere else so it worked out well.
Better known to mountain bikers than hikers the Larison Rock trail climbs relentlessly to a rocky outcrop that provides good views of the surrounding valley. Sadly because of the depth of snow we turned back before reaching Larison Rock. The hiking that we did do was great. The lower se…

Maxwell Sno-Park: Mountain View Shelter Loop

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It's finally the time of year when the snowboard and ski addicts are getting excited. The lodges are opening and the highways are building up a nice layer of pumice. This is one of my favorites times of the year, I'm not much of a skier or snowboarder, but I love to snowshoe. My first time snowshoeing was in Sequoia National Park in December of 2010. At this time I had just been discharged from the Marine Corps and was taking a road trip from San Diego to Eugene. We had planned on stopping at Sequoia National Park, but because of the recent heavy rain and snow when we got there the road was closed. Somehow we got passed the guys working on the road and made it in to the park. After renting some snowshoes we set out for our first time, it was absolutely incredible. Fast forward two years and I've now been quite a few times. My first trip of 2012 was to the Maxwell Sno-Park near Santiam Junction.
The Sno-Parks that are near the junction of Highway 20 and Highway 22 are lit…

Hardesty Trailhead to Ash Swale Shelter

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The area around Hardesty Mountain is home to quite a few miles of multi-use trails. It's close proximity to Eugene makes the area trails popular to both mountain bikers and hikers. But like most other trails in western Oregon during fall and winter you likely won't see many people, if any. I got to the trailhead fairly late, around 10 am and there was one other guy there who was riding his bike. The route that I wanted to take was from Hardesty Mountain to the Ash Swale Shelter. This route uses the Hardesty Trail (3469), Goodman Creek Trail (3461.1) and the Eagles Rest Trail (3461).


If you plan on spending a few days in this area backpacking I would suggest being dropped off. Leaving a vehicle at this trailhead that also functions as a rest stop along Highway 58 would probably lead to your car being broken in to. That being said if you're just out for a day hike definitely bring valuables with you or leave them at home. You will only follow the Hardesty Trail for .2 mile…

Multi-Use Gem: Larison Creek Trail

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Recently I've had the craving to hike around Oakridge, I'm not sure if it's the incredible forest, or the food and beer at Brewers Union Local 180 after the hike. But I've been twice in a week. The first hike was a lower portion of the Middle Fork Willamette Trail and the second was Larison Creek. For those who don't know Oakridge is a mecca for both hiking and mountain bike riding. I like to do both, but prefer hiking. This time of the year you will likely find yourself alone on the trail, whatever your mode of transportation. The Larison Creek Trail starts off where Larison Creek is part of Hills Creek Reservoir, though this changes quickly to a more native setting.


This December has been great for checking out all different forms of Fungi. Normally the larger parts of the forest capture my attention first, but some of the large or large displays of Fungi have had me spending a lot of time looking down.


The trail closely follows the north bank of Larison Creek…

Middle Fork Willamette Trail: Sand Prairie to Pine Creek

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Most Oregonians are at least somewhat familiar with the Willamette River. It runs through the largest cities in the state and was once a major thoroughfare for goods. If you live downriver from Eugene the river you know is probably fairly wide and nasty looking. This isn't the case at all with the Middle Fork Willamette River. The Middle Fork Willamette trail  meanders for nearly 35 miles from Timpanogas Lake to Sand Prairie Campground. Often forgotten by hikers, bikers and equestrians it offers solitude without being far from Oakridge. My friend and I had planned on starting our hike at the northern terminus of the trail at Sand Prairie Campground, but it was sadly gated off and we didn't want to block the gate and possibly get a ticket. Knowing that there were many access points we continued south along FR 21 about half a mile and spotted a side road with a trailhead sign. The parking area had a few campsites set up in it and there were a few large puddles, but nothing th…