Kentucky/Sweet Creek Falls

May 20, 1999

No Obsidians signed up for this Obsidian waterfalls hike (they must have all gone with Birgitte to the coast). But nonmembers Theresa Minor, Kristeen Oronan and Anca Rothe formed a homogenous group nevertheless, all being part of the university community. (They also bring in twice the amount in trip fees.) The weather was still cool and mostly cloudy, but it didn’t rain. There was no other car at the Kentucky Falls trailhead, and we didn’t see a soul until we came back to the car. What I did see was more water thundering down these falls than ever before. What would Sweet Creek be like? We were eager but first would have to get there. I had driven the route (via Forest Service Roads 23 & 48) only once before. Passing the large sign on 23 at the trailhead of the North Fork of the Smith River Trail I remembered the other, primitive trail sign, 6.5 miles upriver “N.F. Smith River Trail, Summer Only” and wondered if any Obsidian had ever hiked it. With a shuttle you could hike 8.5 riverside miles, downhill all the way! At last the intersection with 48. Uphill on soft gravel again towards Goodwin Peak. Finally, the pavement of County Road 5036. Soon we should be at the spur towards Beaver Creek Falls. Then an orange sign “Road Closed”, followed by a plastic, orange net stretched across the road. I hardly had room to turn around. “Now wouldn’t it be a good idea to place a detour sign way back there at the last intersection instead of letting people drive miles And miles on a logging road into that dead end?” I asked a puzzled-looking man in a F.S. pickup. He agreed, and volunteered the information that the County was doing the road work, but that it wasn’t clear who was responsible for placing warning signs as the detour sign would have to be placed within F.S. jurisdiction. Anyway, he recommended I take 4830, 2480 and 24 (paved), which would take me back to Sweet Creek Road. I did, and parked at Homestead Trailhead, just this side of another “Road Closed” sign. Split –, Punchbowl –, Ledge –, and finally Sweet Creek Falls were as spectacular as I had hoped. On the way we could hear road work above us. More disturbing were huge chunks of asphalt on and next to the trail that must have dropped down, apparently missing hikers as I didn’t see any bodies. Before heading home to Eugene we rewarded ourselves with a stop at Alpha Bits Café in Mapleton for various pies a la mode and for me (Helmut Plant, trip leader), an excellent 35-¢ cup of coffee.

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