Backcountry Route Recon in Umpqua and Willamette NF

On Friday, I went exploring in the Umpqua & Willamette NF west of Oakridge. My exploring was recon for the western end of an interesting backcountry route running between Hwy 58 & Hwy 138. A route that will work its way along the Umpqua drainage hitting as many waterfalls as possible and connecting to the end of Crescent lake where our “Oregon; Back Country from Three Creeks Lake to Waldo Lake, 09/15-17/14” adventure left off.

After checking with the Ranger Station, needed to come up with a plan-B, some trail / road sections where still closed due to damage from  summer fires. Plan-B shifted the trip from new route sections to waterfalls.

From Cottage Grove took Row River Rd which turns in NF 17 (Lower Brice Creek & Layng Creek Rd). As you cross into the Umpqua NF forest the trees get denser and you have nice views of Layng Creek. First stop was Spirit Falls on Alex Creek with a drop off of 40’.

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The next stop was Moon Falls also on Alex Creek, you turn left at NF 1702 and the trail-head is about three miles up the road at the end of 1702-728. In the Spring when running full force it fans our beautifully over its 100’ drop. As with the time I visited it a few years back, it was mostly in the sun, making good pictures tough. The creek below the falls is also interesting to explore and fun for Lego Adventuring.

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High flow from a previous trip
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There are a couple of spur trails off NF 1702 that the terrain map showed potential falls along steep creek sections, although neither panned out.

Followed NF 1702 to NF 5847, if there weren’t closures I would have gone right, instead when left. This was a new route for me. The first section has views in a couple of places down the mountain towards Oakridge. There were also signs of small fires here and there.

Then took NF 1714 which had some Fall colors, sweeping view and a new of small creeks that would be interesting to see at Spring flows.

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Then took NF 5840 heading down the mountain. In areas the road was very greasy mud causing lots of sliding around. Took a side spur, NF 537 looking for Duval Creek Falls, based on the terrain map it is up-stream somewhere. Would have been very dense bushwhacking, so I decided to save it for another day.

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Followed NF 5840 out to Hwy 58. Was doing good on time so headed up the highway a few miles to check out Bridge Creek falls which is 64’ tall, tucked around a corner on a steep hundred plus foot  scramble hidden from the highway.

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Then is was time to head down Hwy 58 for home.


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