Multi-Use Gem: Larison Creek Trail

Native forest along Larison Creek
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.

Larison Cove

Bridge over a small stream near campsites along Larison Creek

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.

Fungi along the Larison Creek Trail

Fungi along the Larison Creek Trail
The trail closely follows the north bank of Larison Creek for most of the walk except for when it climbs to the edge of a clear-cut that is rapidly regrowing. This valley is home to many impressive trees. Mostly Douglas-fir, western hemlock and western redcedar, but there are also quite a few sugar pines. Which in this type of forest they are fairly rare. You can also spot them by their massive cones. 

Shoe of choice: Vibram FiveFingers Classic, next to a sugar pine cone
Myself next to a large Douglas-fir with massive burl along the Larison Creek Trail
The Larison Creek Trail can be explored on horseback, bike or your two feet. If you wanted an easy nearly all downhill hike you could start at the upper trailhead along FR 101. But this involved driving on a few miles of gravel roads. The trailhead of off FR 21 is paved up to the parking area. There are some great campsites that I'm sure are fairly busy on a summer weekend, but this time of the year one could stay for days and likely not camp near anyone.

Dense forest along the Larison Creek Trail


Campsite along Larison Creek Trail
As more snow falls in the high Cascades low elevation trails become more attractive for those who love to hike year round. The lower 3 miles or so of the Larison Creek Trail should remain snow free for most of the year. But as always check the weather before you head out. This trail goes for 6.3 miles one way, we only hiked about 4.25 miles one way.

Caitlin looking back at the sun peaking through along the Larison Creek Trail

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 3 miles turn right at the well marked entrance.

Trailhead Elevation:
Approximately 1,600 feet

Hike Distance: 8.5 miles according to my Garmin Oregon 550 GPS 

Hike Type: Out and back 

Elevation Gain: 600 feet

Usage:
Light, saw one other person 

Difficulty: 1 out of 5

Fees: None




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