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|Mandatory trail sign photo|
After perusing my book, the Lower Salmon River Trail called to me. A short, flat, easy riverside path, I'd kept passing it up for longer, more challenging hikes. But combining the lower trail with a portion of the upper Salmon River Trail, I created a trek of nearly 9 miles. A respectable distance for a sunny Friday. Salmon River Trail, here I come!
|Huge trees and tons of ferns|
This trailhead is easy to find. It's located a mere 5 miles south of the town of Zigzag, with access entirely via paved roads. The lower trail parallels the Salmon River for 2.6 miles. If one wishes to hike further, the upper trail continues along the river for another 14 miles. My goal for today was to hike from the lower Salmon River Trail to "Rolling Riffle Camp," an area of designated backpacking campsites about two miles down the upper Salmon River Trail.
The lower trail starts in an incredible old-growth forest. It promptly descends to the Salmon River's banks. The ancient Douglas Fir trees lining the river are enormous. The forest floor is thick with all things green - large ferns, vine maple, and carpets of moss.
As the trail winds through the forest, one is never far from the Salmon River's sparkling waters. It's a lovely clear mountain stream, intermittently broken by small rapids. Numerous side trails lead one to its rocky shoreline. I made frequent detours from the main trail to check out the water's edge.
With occasional stops to hug a humongous fir tree! (Didn't know I was a tree-hugger did you?)
|Pretty pink flowers|
The forest greenery was occasionally interrupted by a bright splash of color. The wildflowers were in bloom! There were bright orange columbine blossoms, and these cute pink tubular numbers (that I don't know the name of!)
|Trees growing on a nurse log|
|Colorful river bottom|
I ate my lunch at a very scenic riverbank beach. It was a great spot to sit back, enjoy my PB & J, and watch the water flow over the rocky river bottom. So relaxing! The sun was out in full force, taking away the morning chill. It's warmth felt great.
|Scenic Upper Salmon River|
Although the lower trail was very beautiful, when I crossed the road that separated the upper from the lower portions, I found I enjoyed the upper trail even more. It immediately climbed until I was perched atop a high cliff, peering down to the river far below.
|Vibrant flower patch|
I came upon a hillside bursting with wildflowers. There were dark purple larkspur blooms, bright orange Indian paintbrush, and vibrant pink blossoms that looked kind of like thistles. An amazingly colorful scene, I tried hard to capture with my camera.
|Hillside full of flowers|
But this was the best I could do. Most of the flowers were located on the steep slopes high above me. I wasn't about to try and scramble up it.
Bear and I hiked until we saw the deserted campsites of "Rolling Riffle Camp." By then the trail had wound back down to river level. Although this section was mostly in dense forest, things occasionally opened up to provide grand river views like the one below.
|Beautiful river view|
By the time I reached our turn-around point, the sun was high and bright in the sky, and temps had heated up quite a bit. Not used to hot weather yet (we've had an extremely cold and wet spring) the heat began to tire me out. The return trip wasn't quite as pleasant, but seeing all those great river views a second time helped ease my discomfort.
|Bear cools off|
Near the trailhead, I stumbled upon an especially pretty stretch of river. The bottom was covered with flat rocks, stained an orangish-rust color. The water was a lovely blue-green. Such an inviting place, I had no choice but to stop. Bear cooled his paws off in the refreshing water. I snapped photos and enjoyed a cool breeze coming off the water's surface. I forgot all about being hot and tired. It was a great way to end my hike.
Another wonderful trail discovered. I can't think of any better way to spend a sunny day off!