Sunday, February 22, 2015

Illinois River Little Falls Trail & more

We decided to once again venture out to one of those signs on the highway that you often ignore, which points out some vista or viewpoint.  This one along highway 199 indicated "Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Wayside" turn right.  So we did.

But how did Eight Dollar Mountain get it's name you might ask......well some say it got the name from a nearby discovery of a gold nugget worth $8.00, while another story is that a man wore out a pair of shoes worth $8.00 walking around its base. Regardless of it's name origin, the area is beautiful and worth far more than $8.

About 7.5 miles of Eight Dollar Mountain Road is designated as the TJ Howell Botanical Drive.  We only drove a short distance before parking at a large area on the left side by the Jeffrey Pine Loop trailhead.  We then walked across the road to the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Wayside Boardwalk trail - the first of four trails we would hike but the winner for the longest trail name of the day.

This trail, as the name implies, is a boardwalk that stretches one-eighth of a mile out into a botanical area.  The main time for seeing the numerous flowers and plants would be late April till early June -- see the link for more details.  Nothing was in bloom for us today, but we definitely want to come back in a couple of months!  At the end of the boardwalk is a viewing area that overlooks a fen full of the California Pitcher Plant.  The boardwalk is handicap friendly, so if you know someone who enjoys flowers but is handicapped, this would make a nice destination during the blooming time.

The large fen area of California Pitcher Plants

A portion of the boardwalk trail

We then hiked back to the parking area across Eight Dollar Mountain Road and hiked the Jeffrey Pine Loop.

This trail took us through some wooded areas and eventually down near the Illinois river.  There are some side paths one can take to get to the river, but we stayed on the trail (for now).  The loop eventually was intersected by the Illinois River trail which heads downstream for one mile to the Little Falls Loop.  The trail gave us great views of a very beautiful river, and we did make a few side trips down to the river.  As a result, Katie made a few trips into the river.  There were also some side creeks and water seepage that ran across the trail, but none posed any hiking issues for us.

The Illinois River - view from one of our trail side trips
Trail view

One of the sandy beach areas along the river - view from trail

After our beautiful one mile hike downstream, the trail intersected the Little Falls Loop trail. This loop, just like the Jeffrey Pines loop, is just under a mile long.  We hiked the shorter half of the loop down to the river where we took a break on some rocks directly next to and above the water.  What a beautiful spot!!  The sun was out, blue sky with no clouds, the sound and sight of the river - we were lovin' it!!!

Upstream view from where we took a break.......
downstream view from where we took a break.

Carol enjoying the sun and river at our break area.

Afterwards we made our way around the rest of the loop to view the falls.  The Illinois River Little Falls are much like Rainie Falls in Galice or the Rogue Gorge area near Union Creek, not a typical waterfall but a narrowing of the river with small falls and very fast water.  It is a very, very beautiful area!!  If you only wanted to hike the Little Falls Loop, there is a parking area just above the loop on Eight Dollar Mountain  Road at the Little Falls Campground.  There were also numerous places along the river that had sand beaches which would make a great place for a summer day of swimming and fun.

Illinois River Little Falls

River area below the falls
 We completed the Little Falls Loop and hiked the river trail back to the Jeffrey Pine loop and completed that loop trail back to our car -- did you follow all of that?   These trails treated us to numerous river views, wildflowers (trilliums and western spring beauties), and beautiful woods in less than 5 miles of hiking, but provided us with over 3 hours of pure enjoyment.  All because we followed one of those highway signs that are often ignored.  Reminds us of the words of Robert Frost:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Illinois River Forks SP & Rough and Ready Botanical Wayside

Since we both had President's Day off from work and sunshine was in the forecast, we decided to hike at a couple of places that until a few weeks ago, we didn't even know existed.

We drove to Grants Pass and then headed south on Highway 199.  Just south of Cave Junction we turned onto Westside Road for a few miles till we arrived at the Illinois River Forks SP trailhead.  Illinois River Forks State Park is day use only and has an east side and a west side area - each separated by the east and west forks of the Illinois River.  The hiking trails are only accessed from the west side unless you want to swim across the river from the east side.  The trails are for hikers and horse riding, but we saw very little sign of recent use by horses.

Horse or Hiker?  Today we were all hikers!
We made our way across and down ravines on the Dogwood trail which took us to the confluence of the east and west forks.  We lost the trail here and could not find the picnic area along the river due to the heavy rains and flooding from a few weeks ago. We did take a few minutes to enjoy the view of the rivers and Katie took a minute to enjoy the water!

Where East meets West - the confluence of the East Fork and West Fork of the Illinois River
We then backtracked and hiked the River trail (a different trail along a small stream that was already dried up), Ridge trail and Power Line trail  -- their names tell you everything.  Many areas in the woods were covered with moss and ferns which provided green everywhere.  The trails were easy to follow and we only encountered a few trees across our trail which also made our hiking easier.

The largest tree across our trail today - no sweat!!
The link we included here for the State Park has all of the trails outlined and we would recommend taking a copy of this with you if you hike here.

After arriving back at the parking area, we drove back to Highway 199 and headed south for about a mile or so to the Rough and Ready Botanical Wayside.  We have driven by this area many times on the way to the coast, but it always looked like a dried out desert area and the creek was usually dry too.  Of course that was during the summer months.

The area has an incredible amount of plants and wildflowers, many of them rare. The best time for wildflower blooming is listed as early May through June, so we did not see many today.  The short well marked trail takes you from the parking area to a picnic table/viewpoint.  You can continue on along a less well marked trail past this area and eventually reach a dam.  We only hiked part way to the dam, then turned back to enjoy more of the viewpoint.

The well marked short trail to the picnic table/viewpoint area.
The not so well marked trail that continues to the dam.

On this day the Rough and Ready Creek was actually three creeks, each separated by an island of river rock that we wanted to take home for our gardens.  We didn't take any!  We did enjoy the views and hiked down to the confluence of the three creeks.  Katie enjoyed the water again!

Where the Rough and Ready creeks become one creek again.

Looking upstream along one of the Rough and Ready creeks 

Is this a Pitcairn Cairn???
We enjoyed hiking today and want to say "thank you" to George, Abe and all the other presidents - you made our day!

Trekking Together
Glenn and Carol

Saturday, February 14, 2015

First Wildflower Blooms of 2015!!

Just a quick post to share with you what we saw while yesterday, Friday the 13th  --- the first wildflower blooms of 2015!!!

While hiking the Beekman Canyon Loop trail, which is part of the Jacksonville Woodland Trails, there along the sunny more open portion of the loop were numerous Hounds Tongue flowers already in bloom and one (yes, just one) Shooting Star.  Later, along The Grove Woods trail, we were treated to about a dozen bright yellow Marsh Marigolds in bloom.  Spring is coming.........

Hounds Tongue along Beekman Canyon Loop trail.

The one lonely but beautiful Shooting Star.

Bright cheerful Marsh Marigold

Hope these pictures brighten your Friday the 13th - Valentine's Day - President's Day weekend.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol