April 16, 2009
A beautiful, historical, relatively easy hike through the eastern foothills of the Coast Range. King’s Valley is located northwest of Philomath on the King’s Valley Hiway off of Hiway 20, just a few miles north of Wren. The hike was actually two separate hikes with both trailheads located in different Benton County Parks. The first hike began 4.8 miles up King’s Valley Road at Beazell Memorial Park. The historical Plunkett farm house (circa 1875) is located near the trailhead parking lot. This 2.7 mile hike travels alongside pretty Plunkett Creek through a Douglas Fir forest. Moss covered trees, ferns and alders are abundant. Trilliums were still present but fawn lilies had not yet blossomed. Other smaller flowers were present along the trail including snow queens. The trail then turns south at a junction, away from the creek, and climbs 300 feet up the South Ridge. Twenty switchbacks, plus an excellent tread make the climb very comfortable. View from the top of the Ridge is limited, although one can look a fair distance to the north further into Kings Valley. The trail continues West along the top of the ridge through the Fir canopy with some open meadow areas as well as old logged over areas which have not yet grown up. The trail then turns north in a loop which goes back to the parking lot.
The second hike trailhead is located off Hoskins Road (1.7 miles further north on King’s Valley Hiway) and then 1.8 miles west on Hoskins Road to Fort Hoskins Historical Park. This park is located on the site of Fort Hoskins (1855–65). This hike is subdivided into two sections. The first section is a historical tour of the Fort site, aided by numerous, informative, interpretive signs. The tour included a side trip to the Frantz-Dunn house (circa 1869), which was either built by the Frantz family after they bought the property or it was the Fort hospital which the Frantz’s converted to their home. In either case, it is a beautiful example of the 2 story structure of the homes of that period.
The second section of the hike consisted of a 1.3 mile hike over the hilltop located on the north side of the property. This hill contains an open savannah which the county is apparently planning to fill with oaks and remove surrounding firs, similar to what is being done on Mt. Pisgah.
The weather was just right for hiking; a mix of clouds and sun with no rain. The participants in this unique and educational hike were Obsidians Dan Christensen, Ray Jensen, Joanne Ledet, Jim Pierce, Ardys Ringsdorf and Nancy Whitfield.