Santiam Forest, Natural Bridge and Rocky Top


This is one of the great places in my “backyard”; the Santiam State Forest.  It combines a nice drive in the woods with hiking and great views.  The top also makes a great place for viewing the annual Perseid meteor shower.

Santiam Forest Natural Bridge and Rocky Top

The road begins off Hwy 22 between Salem and Detroit.  Just pass the sign for Niagara you take a Left on Niagara Heights Road SE. On the Willamette National Forest map it’s shown as 2111. The trailhead for Natural Rock Arch is about 6 miles, with the Rock Top trailhead an extra 2.2 miles. It’s worth noting, the state forest folks have done a great job of installing signs at the various road junctions to keep you heading in the right direction.

The road becomes progressively rough the higher you climb with a number of somewhat steep climbs.  In the summer it’s a 2WD run, although lower ground clearance vehicles will need to watch the rocks.  In the winter, snow will impede reaching the top even with 4WD.

Compact Camping Adventure to Road 2111 to Rocky Top and Natural Bridge Compact Camping Adventure Suzuki in snow on Road 2111

Around 4 miles in there is an interesting unnamed falls.

Compact Camping Trailers Adventure - Rocky Top Falls 1
Compact Camping Adventure on Road 2111 2

You’ll come to a wide spot in the road with a great view of the valley and ridge across the way.  Look for the trail marker sign, to the right and back just a bit.  The hike to Natural Rock Arch is only 1/2 a mile, it’s a tough hike but well worth it.

Compact Camping Adventure Natural Bridge 1Compact Camping Adventure Natural Bridge

Continue up the road, you’ll start to see Rocky Top on your left.  Stay to the left and you’ll come to the parking area and trail marker for Rocky Top.  The hike up is a workout but definitely easier than Natural Rock Arch.  Depending how high up you hike there are great views of Jefferson, Hood and the Three Sisters.


Compact Camping Trailers Adventure Rocky Top Mountain Compact Camping Trailers Adventure - Mt. Hood from Rocky Top

Compact Camping Trailers Adventure Rocky Top view of The SistersCompact Camping Trailers Adventure - Rocky Top Trail

There are some side trails you can explorer, although most of them don’t go very far.

References:

http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/northcascade/docs/Natural_Arch_and_Rocky_Top.pdf

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2 thoughts on “Santiam Forest, Natural Bridge and Rocky Top

  1. We hiked it on July 23, 2016. It was a 360-degree view of the wilderness and mountains. Absolutely breathtaking. Well worth the drive up and hike in.

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