North Fork Middle Fork Willamette: Buffalo Rock Section

North Fork Middle Fork Willamette River

Small side stream off the N. Fork Middle Fork Trail


Forest Road 19 also known as Aufderheide Memorial Drive is a great gateway to hiking in both the McKenzie River watershed and the Willamette River watershed. There is access to hundreds of miles of hiking trails including access to the Three Sisters Wilderness and Waldo Lake Wilderness. Because of relatively low snow pack these lower trails, most around 2,000 feet have been open all winter. The Buffalo Rock Section is a relatively new trail that will one day run 35 miles from Westfir to the Shale Ridge Trailhead.

Part of the one mile road walk

Sign at the trailhead
Once we turned off onto Forest Road 1939 I was somewhat confused to see a locked gate, but it was only about a mile to the trailhead so we parked at a small turn out and headed towards the trailhead. The road passes through mostly a monoculture of Douglas-fir, as well as through a site that had been recently thinned. Once you reach the trail the forest becomes much more impressive.

Edward climbing over a large downed tree

Large Douglas-fir with a several burls
The trail stays relatively close to river level for the two miles or so. At nearly two miles in there is good river access and a great spot to have lunch if you're out for a short hike. If you continue on for another mile and a half you will have excellent views of the North Fork Middle Fork and the namesake of this trail section; Buffalo Rock.

North Fork Middle Fork Trail near Buffalo Rock
Buffalo Rock along the North Fork Middle Fork Trail
After taking a great break in the sun on this chilly day we decided to head back to the truck. Hopefully the Forest Service will find a way to connect all the segments of this trail soon.

Directions from Oakridge: Follow Highway 58 east for approximately 30 miles, parking lot is on the right.
 
Hike Distance: 7.5 miles round trip

Hike Type: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: 350 Feet

Trailhead Elevation: 2500 Feet

Usage: Light

Difficulty: 1 out of 5 

Fees: None

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