Little North Santiam

May 22, 2007

The trailhead is reached via traveling north on I-5 to the Santiam Hiway turnoff at Salem, then 23 miles to the Elkhorn Valley turnoff at Mehama and proceeding 14 additional miles on Elkhorn Valley Road to the trailhead on the North Santiam River. If one continued on this road, it would deadend at the Opal Creek trailhead as Opal Creek flows into the No. Santiam within the Opal Creek Wilderness.

The hike began under cloudy skies, with a comfortable temperature and the promise of sun later in the day. 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 but one side stream. Hiking time roundtrip was about 5½ hours.

The beautiful North Santiam River is the reason for making this trip. Since the river is running high this time of year, the numerous waterfalls are in full force. The double falls off of Henline Moutain were especially beautiful. In addition, the river offers rapids, small canyons, a prominent pillar and beautiful green water pools found only in this drainage in the Western Cascades.

The sun did break out just as we reached the lunch break midpoint of the hike. The weather was beautiful for the hike back with the sun's rays enhancing the beauty of the emerald green water.

Nonmembers outnumbered members by six to three. However, some of those six have indicated an interest in joining the Club as soon as they complete the requisite numbers of hikes.

Hikers were members: Dan Christensen (leader), Barb Revere and Leslie Wright; and nonmembers: Margaret Essenberg, Richard Essenberg, Vickie Foster, Susan Mombert, Kathy Woolley and Charlie Wright.


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