Menagerie Wilderness: Trout Creek to Rooster Rock

Trout Creek Trailhead off highway 20
 The Menagerie Wilderness is relatively unknown to those who aren't rock climbers or from nearby. This area was protected primarily because of the plentiful rock pinnacles that are favorites of climbers and threatened birds. Though the unique forest that blankets the area is reason enough to visit.

Small portion of Rooster Rock

100 year old native forest along the Trout Creek Trail
Somewhere around 100 years ago a stand replacing fire burned through most of the area that is now the Menagerie Wilderness. This kind of high intensity fire is what naturally occurs in our western Oregon moist forests. Unlike dry forests that have a frequent fire interval western Oregon forests often go hundreds of years without a major fire. One of the largest fires in Oregon history occurred in the Cascade foothills, known as the Silverton fire, it burned 980,000-1,000,000 acres in 1865. Fires of this size haven't occurred recently because of aggressive firefighting tactics. This forest is so unique because it's not an old-growth native forest, but a 100 year old or so native forest. Because of intensive logging and replanting after more recent fires, this kind of forest is rare. Despite what is said after fires our forests are resilient and do not need logging and replanting to help them.

Beautiful native forest along the Trout Creek Trail

Madrone sprouting from a massive burl
The name Trout Creek is somewhat deceptive. Normally when trails are named for a creek they follow the creek, this trail does not. Despite the amount of precipitation this area receives there was only one very small seasonal spring along the entire trail. From the trailhead the you will slowly climb for approximately to a junction with the Rooster Rock Trail. This trail is shorter, but much steeper. To make it to Rooster Rock continue uphill, this is the trail become much steeper. Also of note the soil shifts to a more rocky consistency resulting in fewer conifers.

Despite the warm weather we have been having it will still be at least another month if not more before higher elevation Cascade trails are snow free, leaving the Menagerie Wilderness a great place to explore until then!

Directions from Sweet Home: Follow Highway 20 east for 19.7 miles to a well marked trailhead on the left.

Hike Distance: 5.41 miles

 Hike Type: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: Approximately 2800 feet

 Highest Elevation: 3535 feet

 Usage:  Heavy

Difficulty: 3 out of 5



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