Larison Rock Trail

Sun peaking through along Larison Rock Trail
 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.
Larison Rock Trailhead
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 section of the trail is home to a lot of old-growth Douglas-fir, western hemlock and a few massive sugar pines.

Large Douglas-fir flank the Larison Rock trail

Stepping across part of a fallen western hemlock
The rapidly melting snow and the sun peaking through the clouds and dense forest made for an even more beautiful hike. There aren't adequate words to describe the feeling of the sun shining on you through an incredible forest on a cold Oregon winter afternoon.

Sun break along the Larison Rock trail

Snow on a few impressive incense-cedars along the Larison Rock trail
As we reached the ridge line the snow became much deeper and because of the impending darkness we knew we should turn around. Knowing that great beer and food were waiting at my favorite place in Oakridge (Brewers Union Local 180) we turned back and descended to the lower trailhead.

Snow along Larison Rock trail

Sunshine, a rare December sight in western Cascadia
 If you're in the area there are more scenic hikes such as the Larison Creek trail, but if you prefer more of a workout this is a great hike. If you're a mountain bike rider, the trail is closed November-March. But if you're a hiker you'll likely have the trail to yourself.

Directions from Oakridge: Follow Highway 58 east for 2 miles turn right onto Kitson Springs Road, Follow for .5 mile turn right onto FR 21, Follow FR 21 for approximately .25 miles turn right onto FR 5852, follow for approximately 4 miles to the trailhead, it's on the left.

Trailhead Elevation:
Approximately 1,175 feet

Hike Distance: 4.8 miles according to my Garmin Oregon 550 GPS 

Hike Type: Out and back 

Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet

Light, didn't see anyone 

Difficulty: 3 out of 5

Fees: None

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