Waldo Lake Wilderness: Black Creek Trail

Waldo Lake from near Klovdahl Bay

There are nearly 85 miles of trail that cross nearly every part of the Waldo Lake Wilderness, but the Black Creek trail is one of the best. After a short walk through an older plantation the forest quickly transitions to a very impressive forest dominated by ancient Douglas-fir nearly 7 feet in diameter and 250 feet tall. Forest like this once blanketed much of the Cascade Foothills, but have been since been clearcut repeatedly.

Beautiful old-growth along Black Canyon

Black Creek below the Black Creek Trail
These trees can grow so large because of high levels of precipitation and rare occurrence of fire. The trail climbs gradually towards 150 foot Lilian Falls which is 1.3 miles down the trail. Lilian falls makes an excellent destination if you're short on time. To continue towards Waldo Lake veer left away from the falls onto a decidedly drier slope. The trail continues uphill, steeply at times until you reach Waldo Lake.
Lillian Falls

Heading up the relatively steep section right after Lilian Falls
 After a couple of switchbacks the forest changes dramatically to one dominated by mountain hemlock and true fir with bear grass and huckleberry making up the understory. On some of the rocky slopes that look out over the deep canyon that Black Creek has cut you will find Douglas maple which add some lovely fall color to the hike. If you're interested in a nearly 9 mile hike head south on the Waldo Lake trail approximately half a mile to Klovhdal Bay. 

Douglas maple providing some fall color

Along the western shore of Waldo Lake
Throughout much of the early 1900's different corporations attempted to divert the water of Waldo Lake down the Black Creek Canyon in order to produce electricity and water for irrigation in the Willamette Valley. Klovhdal Bay is named for Simon Klovhdal who designed a tunnel system to lower the level of Waldo Lake 25 feet, thankfully this and subsequent projects to exploit Waldo Lake failed. Along the shores of the incredibly clear Waldo Lake huckleberry provides a little bit of fall color. At this point return the way that you came. 
Coming back into the Waldo Lake Wilderness after a short trek to Klovhdal Bay

Many trails along the western side of Waldo Lake could be combined with the Black Creek trail for extended backpacking. If you're heading out for this hike soon be prepared for cold rain and possible snow. Also worth hiking is the short Joe Goddard Trail, which is 1.5 miles before the Black Creek trailhead along FR 24.

Myself next to a massive Douglas-fir on the Joe Goddard trail

Directions from Eugene: Follow Highway 58 for 40 miles to Oakridge, turn left the the only stop light, turn right onto 1st Street, which becomes FR 24 (Salmon Creek Road). Follow for 21.5 miles to the end of the road.

Hike Distance:  9 miles

Hike Type: Out and Back 

Elevation Gain: 2000 Feet

Trailhead Elevation: 3,400 Feet

Usage: Light

Difficulty: 2 out of 5

Fees: None

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