Middle Fork Willamette Trail: Indigo Springs Area

Along the Middle Fork Willamette
The Middle Fork Ranger District near the town of Oakridge is one of my favorite hiking destinations in all of Cascadia. Everything from high Cascade lakes to low elevation old-growth rainforest can be found here. Though there are many great trails in this area, the Middle Fork Trail is one of my favorites. Previously I have posted about Indigo Springs Campground and about a lower section of the Middle Fork Trail. This trip a friend and I set out to explore the Chuckle Springs area. 

Trailhead sign near Indigo Springs Campground

Junction with the Middle Fork Trail from Indigo Springs spur trail
There is limited parking at the trailhead from FR 21, but I prefer to park at the Indigo Springs Campground. Taking the short walk around there is definitely worth your time. Shortly after getting onto a spur trail you will come to a junction with the Middle Fork Trail. To reach Chuckle Springs walk left ( upriver). There are several decent sized streams that appear to be only seasonal, though after the heavy rain we have had don't count on keeping your feet dry. Abundant moisture contributes to some of the impressive old-growth Douglas-fir and western redcedar that are found along the trail.


Old-growth western redcedar along the Middle Fork Trail

Old-growth Douglas-fir and western redcedar along the Middle Fork Trail
Shortly before reaching Chuckle Springs there is an interesting burn area that the trail passes through. This fire burned some areas totally but left others only slightly charred. Damage from the fire has caused the Middle Fork Trail to be rerouted uphill when you reach a series of bridges. There is a sign indicating the direction of the new trail.

Junction with the old Middle Fork Trail that now ends in a burned area

Burned out western redcedar along the Middle Fork Trail
After getting some water at Chuckle Springs and enjoying the sun we decided to hike on a little bit farther, to work up more of an appetite.

Chuckle Springs along the Middle Fork Trail

Chuckle Springs along the Middle Fork Willamette Trail
While continuing on a fairly dusty ridge a beautiful vista down towards the Middle Fork Willamette opens up. If you keep your eyes open along this section you might spot a golden chinkapin. After descending rather steeply the trail meets back up with the river. Maybe 100 yards after the trail is river side once again we found a nice spot along the river to take a break. After talking for awhile and checking our map we decided it was a good spot to turn around and head back Indigo Springs Campground. 


View of the Middle Fork Willamette from the Middle Fork Trail

Golden Chinkapin

Middle Fork Willamette along the Middle Fork Trail
As always after finishing a hike near Oakridge, we made a stop at Brewers' Union Local 180. If you're anywhere near Oakridge it's the only place to stop!

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 27 miles turn left at the well marked entrance. 

Trailhead Elevation:
Approximately 2,800 Feet

Hike Distance: 6.24 miles according to iPhone 4s

Hike Type: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: Approximately 1,000 feet

Highest Point:
3,200 feet

Usage:
Low in spring or fall, high in summer

Difficulty: 1 out of 5

Fees: None


   

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