North Bank Deer Preserve

October 9, 2005

After an anxious week of weather watching, we were blessed by an almost perfect day for a hike that should be done in good weather only. Nine of us gathered at the Cottage Grove Wal-Mart for the quick and easy trip down I-5 to Wilbur and a few miles up the North Bank Road to the trail head. We were on the trail by 9:45, heading up through the trees. The first mile of this hike is a good pipe opener and your legs feel the grade. We were a little dismayed to see that large areas of the meadows had obviously been subjected to controlled burning, but fortunately we left the brown smoke-smelling area as we headed up to the ridge. After an unplanned detour by the hike leader who missed an overgrown turn-off, the group climbed up through wide open meadows to the ridge trail. Parts of the trail are steep and your legs will ache and your lungs will get a work out. But the views all the way up are worth every step, and you can stop many times to look around at the valley lying below, with the North Umpqua River curving through it. You also get great views of ranges of hills stretching to the horizon. Donít think that when you get to the boundary ridge the hills will stop! The trail continues going up and down and up and down but this time offering views to the north as well (you can see Sutherlin). We stopped for lunch on a rocky outcrop and basked in intermittent sunshine before continuing along the ridge. A couple of deer were spotted bounding down the hill. A short while later, two more (definitely white tail) deer disappeared into the woods. The trail then headed downhill, passing three magnificent and ancient madrone trees (one of which has been defaced by some incredibly insensitive clods who have carved initials into the trunk). The route finally joins up with the trail along Chasm Creek and heads back to the parking lot.

Warning: this trail has a luxuriant crop of poison oak and at this time of year the foliage is harder to spot. It grows not only on the sides of the wide trail, but is popping up underfoot. Long pants are highly recommended for susceptible hikers.

Hikers were Obsidians John Hegg, Dick Hildreth, Daphne James, Joanne Ledet, Nola Nelson and Lyndell Wilken, and non-members Jennifer and Doug Jordan, along with leader Chris Stockdale.


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