Hardesty Trailhead to Ash Swale Shelter

Old-growth Douglas-fir along the Goodman Creek Trail
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).

Hardesty Trailhead from the parking lot

Beginning of the Hardesty Trail
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 miles until you reach a well signed junction. The Goodman Creek Trail is an easy walk through an incredible native forest. Massive Douglas-fir line much of your hike along the trail.


Goodman Creek Trail junction with the Hardesty Trail
Old-growth Douglas-fir along the Goodman Creek Trail
You will follow the lower section of the Goodman Creek which is now part of Lookout Reservoir. Shortly after you after you leave the reservoir behind you will come to come to a bridge crossing of Goodman Creek. 

Goodman Creek when it is still part of Lookout Reservoir

Bridge crossing of Goodman Creek
Though you are now within sight of the gravel Goodman Creek Road the trail has a very wilderness feel to it. The forest is incredible along this small tributary of Goodman Creek. There is even a very small waterfall near a crossing of this stream.

Washed out crossing of a small stream
Small waterfall at a stream crossing
After this small stream crossing the trail will climb steadily, but easily climb until you reach Ash Swale Shelter. As you near the crossing of Goodman Creek Road you will notice a change in the forest cover, from old-growth to maybe 30 years old. When you reach Goodman Creek Road you will follow the road almost straight ahead of you and then look left less than 20 yards up it. You will see the start of the Eagles Rest Trail.
The short road walk heading back towards the Goodman Creek Trail

Young Douglas-firs along the Eagles Rest Trail
The forest the remainder of the way to the Ash Swale Shelter is unremarkable, but still fairly pleasant. There is a few more recently logged areas, so it's interesting to see how different an area can look after it begins to recover. As you near the Ash Swale Shelter the trail becomes creek like in quite a few sections. You will know you're very close once you reach the first wooden boardwalk.

The red tree with peeling bark is a Pacific Madrone ( Arbutus Menziesii)

First boardwalk before you reach the Ash Swale Shelter
Because of the work of awesome volunteers and the Forest Service the Ash Swale Shelter is in great shape. The floor is gravel and it was fairly wet, but there wasn't any puddles so it could definitely keep you mostly dry if you needed to stay the night. There isn't a stove, but there is a fire pit near the entrance. I would like to come back and camp for a night to clear the blackberries that are starting to crawl over the sides and back. Being that the area is surrounded by a lot of slow moving or standing water during late spring and early summer in would surely be mosquitoes hell.  I had plans for dinner so I didn't make it to Eagles Rest, but I'll be back for that.

Ash Swale Shelter

The front of the Ash Swale Shelter
   
If you're looking for a day hike/ride or a short overnight trip, the Ash Swale Shelter is a worthy destination. If you're riding in this area make sure to watch out for deliberately placed piles of debris. These trails, like most shared by mountain bikers and hikers have had their share of conflict. What do you think about trails that are shared with mountain bikes?

Directions from Eugene: Follow Highway 58 east for 21 miles, the trailhead is on the right.

Trailhead Elevation:
Approximately 900 feet

Hike Distance: 11.7 miles according to my Garmin Oregon 550 GPS 

Hike Type: Out and back 

Elevation Gain: Approximately 1,600 feet

Usage:
Light, saw one other person. Though summer is very busy.  

Difficulty: 3 out of 5

Fees: None 
Hardesty Trailhead to Ash Swale Shelter at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Oregon

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