Little North Santiam

May 10, 2005

On a rainy Tuesday morning, four intrepid “water dogs” set off from Amazon Parking Lot for the North Santiam. The leader explained to the other dogs that since we were traveling 70 miles north, it would not be raining nearly as much as in Eugene. In addition, the old growth forest canopy we would be largely traveling under would shelter us. We agreed that, since one local weather forecaster stated Tuesday would be the last cold and rainy day until October, we didn’t want to miss out on such an opportunity.

It is about a two hour drive on paved roads except for the last ½ mile to the trailhead. The trail begins above and away from the river. But one quickly hikes through a forest plantation and drops down to the river level. The remainder of the hike is in old growth forest of Douglas Fir and Hemlock, with some Cedar and Madrone, plus a few Yew trees, along the way. The trail alternates between being alongside the river, high above the river and then out of sight of the river in some sections. A ridge bisects the trail prior to the midpoint, requiring a 500' climb up one side and 400' rather steeply down the far side. The trail is well maintained with solidly constructed bridges over all side streams. During the rainy season a fair amount of water is present on the trail. Hiking time for this in and out hike is about five hours.

The beautiful North Santiam River is the reason for making this hike. Since the river is running high this time of year, the numerous waterfalls are in full force. The triple falls cascading off of Henline Mountain were especially beautiful. In addition to the falls, the river offers rapids, small canyons and beautiful green water pools found only in the North Santiam/Opal Creek drainage in the Western Cascades. It is simply a spectacularly scenic river, especially during the rainy season.

Although we arrived back at the car somewhat wet at about 4 p.m., all dogs agreed the weather did not affect our enjoyment of the hiking experience. We arrived back in Eugene about 6 p.m. at the end of a very satisfying ten hour day.

Participants were: Dan Christensen (leader), Sandra Larsen, Jim Duncan and Janet Jacobsen.

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