McDowell Creek Park

April 30, 2008

This tucked away Linn County park near Sweet Home was a delightful surprise for those who took a chance on the trip. Bill Sullivan calls this park a “miniature version of Silver Falls” and there are many similarities. We hiked the 1.7-mile loop and enjoyed the many woodland wildflowers of spring. It was all deep green ferny canyon, misty falls, mossy rocks and nicely constructed bridges and viewing platforms along the way. We shared the park with a scarcity of other people and one, maybe two, American dippers. The three falls were lovely. On the return leg we did litter patrol and collected a 15-gal. bagful and a bucketful. The steep rock staircase beside Royal Terrace Falls was enjoyed by all. Most of us were really glad for the railing! A chilly lunch in a picnic area beside the creek and then off to Cascadia State Park to get a little more hiking in. This park is known as “a beautiful rest stop” to many who hike in the Santiam corridor, but there are two hikes here of about ¾-mile each: the steep climb up to Lower Soda Falls and a rolling trail along the Santiam River. There was one precarious and muddy log to cross on the way to the falls — the sheriff’s crew had been out to clear what looked like a big bunch of tree-falls and we passed them on the way in. The falls is multi-tiered and twists in a narrow rock chasm. It is beautiful, but requires scrambling up the bank at the end of the trail to get a full view. Really lovely and well worth the climb. After that we looked again at the Sullivan pages about this park and, realizing the time, decided to do just part of the walk along the river. We opted to go down to the wading beach beside a lovely cascade of the Santiam River. Some of us tried skipping rocks. The Jims won! The beach was a collection of most interesting and varied colored rocks — all about 2"–3" size. Thanks to all my enthusiastic companions. (This hike was last led in 1985, by Paula Vehrs — as far as I can tell by searching online trip reports.)

Hikers were: Joan Abel, Myron Cook, Jim Duncan, Sharon Duncan, Mary Morrison, Jim Pierce, Margaret Prentice, Bonnie Richman, Lamonte Smith and Barb Revere, leader.

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