Fall Creek Watershed: Jones Trail

Fall Creek near Bedrock Campground
There are few areas that I love more than the Fall Creek Watershed. I've spent many days hiking and swimming around this area going back about 15 years. Though until recently most of my hiking was done on different sections of the Fall Creek National Recreation Trail (NRT) and nearby user-made trails. About two weeks ago I had the opportunity to hike Jones Trail. There is no real trailhead on the south side of Jones Trail, so you must park at the Bedrock Campground and hike a short portion of the Fall Creek NRT.

The southern start of Jones Trail

Large Douglas-fir along Jones Trail
 If you hike this trail before Bedrock Campground opens there is a small parking area with a restroom about 100 yards east of the campground entrance. The Fall Creek NRT section is nearly all switchbacks getting you to the trail junction with the Jones Trail. It's a beautiful climb in a rapidly recovering forest that was burned lightly burned in the 2003 Clark fire. Because public pressure after the long tree-sit in the area, most of the area that the Clark fire burned was left to recover naturally. These kinds of forest provide a different and more biologically varied hike. I'm always surprised what kind of tree species pop up after an area has been burned.

Golden chinkapin along the Jones Trail

Fallen Douglas-fir next to some fire scared Douglas-fir

Douglas-fir that are growing rapidly in a severely burned area along the Jones Trail
Prior to the Clark fire this trail would have mostly been a 'green tunnel' though a primarily Douglas-fir forest. But the fire has opened up many great views to in every direction. It surprised me that after less than a mile you can't see or hear Big Fall Creek Road(FR 18). It's also awesome that you can't see any other roads, this area would be a great 'pocket' wilderness. The trail is primarily uphill, but as you make your way along the ridge high above Bedrock Creek you will descend a few times. There are no water sources along the trail at least to the 4.25 mile mark, so bring a few bottles!
Still living but slightly burned Douglas-fir

View west to the other side of Bedrock Creek

Mostly even-age stand of Douglas-fir, but they missed any real fire damage

Looking east along the Jones Trail

Looking west along the Jones Trail
For better or worse after about 4 miles I ended up taking a short nap that turned into two hours. So my turn around point was somewhat random, but it did have great views in every direction! The total length of the trail is nearly 12 miles, half of which will be uphill so plan accordingly.

Directions from Fall Creek: Follow Jasper-Lowell road for 2.4 miles, turn left onto Reuban Leigh road, follow for 1.2 miles, turn left onto Big Fall Creek road, follow for 13.3 miles, Bedrock CG is on the left, or continue for 100 yards to a parking area with a restroom on the right.  

Hike Distance: 8.5 miles according to my Garmin 550 (trail is 5.8 miles one way)

Hike Type: Out and back

Elevation Gain: 2000 Feet

Trailhead Elevation: 1200 Feet

Highest Point: The north end of the trail

Usage: Light to moderate depending on season

Difficulty: 3 out of 5, because of elevation gain

Fees: None

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