It was a spectacular fall color drive up the Mohawk Valley to Sweet Home and Cascadia State Park. From 1895-1940, the park was a private resort with a hotel, store, bathhouse, cabins and campground. Jim Whitfield, who grew up in Sweet Home, was our local expert regaling us with historical anecdotes. We hiked up to Lower Soda Falls and then back down to the Soda Spring Trail. When we stopped at the creekside patio to see where the natural soda springs access is now capped, Jim shared how his family would bring empty pop bottles and caps to fill with soda water. Jim commented, “No, it didn’t taste so good but we were told it was good for us.” We ate lunch in the picnic area and then continued on Highway 20 to Latiwi Creek Road . We then drove 1 ½ miles to the 2nd green gate with Santiam Wagon Road sign. It was a sensory “Yellow Leaf Road” that led us to the signs for the loop to House Rock Falls and historic House Rock where pioneer families used to camp. We all felt fortunate that November gave us such an out of the ordinary day to hike and connect to history. Back on Highway 20, our car stopped to read the historic sign about the 1905 transcontinental automobile race and the Santiam Wagon Road. Note: There is no longer a footbridge from House Rock Campground to House Rock. The 2012-2013 edition of Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades had up to date directions and historical information.Members: Janet Jacobsen, Jyoti Naik, Julie Dorland, Tom Woxell, Sue Meyers, Judy Parker, Lamonte Smith, Jim Whitfield, Patricia Esch. Nonmembers: Maria Gulemetova, Mike Piehl, Carl Hassman.
Lower Soda Falls Cascadia Park—photo by Lamonte Smith
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