Friday, June 22, 2012

Salmon River Trail

Last Friday was my scheduled day off from work.  With gorgeous sunny weather forecast, there was no question what I was going to do.  Time for another new hike from Sullivan's book!  (I'm going to start dubbing my flex days "New Hike Fridays")

Size matters!  Click on any photo to enjoy a larger version.

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.

River rapids

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.

Columbine topside

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.

Ginormous tree!

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

The above photo was a cool sight.  In these ancient forests, when old trees fall over and die, the rotting trunks become nourishment for new plant growth.  These old trunks are referred to as "nurse logs."  I've seen all kinds of moss and small plants sprouting out of these trees, even small saplings.  But never have I seen full-grown trees with roots wrapped around a nurse log!  This was a first!

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.

Larkspur blooms

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!


  1. Looks like a wonderful hike. I love all the wildflowers.

  2. Thanks for taking us along yet again.We try to grow many of your 'wildflowers' in our gardens with little success. Just beautiful!

  3. NO better way to spend your day off:) SO glad you had some nice weather! I can't wait to hit the trails once the weather improves here.

  4. Sounds and looks like a great day off. Always love where you take us.

  5. Sounds and looks like a great day off. Always love where you take us.

  6. What a beautiful trail! Love your state. I'm a neighbor from Idaho and your newest follower.

    Susan and Bentley

  7. Holy cow that is gorgeous country. We are headed to OR on Friday. One trip we will take is to Crater Lake. We haven't been in about 10 years or longer.

  8. Gene and Judi, Helen, hiker mom and Stampmouse, thank you so much for your kind comments! So good to hear from you all! Welcome, Susan and Bentley - happy to have you as a follower! Elaine, enjoy your trip to OR. Crater Lake is amazing! I'm hoping to make it up there this year.

  9. Looks like this was a beautiful day! Such great photos!

  10. I am so enjoying your hiking adventures. Loved the nurse log pic!

  11. Linda,

    I found your blog via a Google search for lens recommendations for a trip to Olympic Nat'l Park.

    Could you post the lenses that you use most, or else tell me how I could contact you other than this blog?

    I'll be bringing a Canon 7D with 17-40 f/4L, 24-105 f/4L IS. I'll also have either 70-200 f/4L IS OR 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS.

    My 2 questions are:
    a) Should I opt for the EF-S 10-22 instead of 17-40? If it's very wet, the 17-40 is weather-sealed, but the 10-22 is much wider.

    b) Would I be better off with the 70-200 for my telephoto, or the 100-400?

    Any input you could provide would be much appreciated.

    Thank you for your time.


  12. Thanks for those beautiful pictures! Since we somehow don't have summer this year in Germany, I have acute wanderlust. Your pictures felt like a 5-minute-holiday, thank you!

  13. Hi Troy - thanks for visiting my blog. My primary lens I use 90% of the time right now is the 17-40 f/4L. Since it will likely be wet in the Olympics, I'd choose the weather-sealed lens over the 10-22. I also have a 70-200 f/4L that I usually carry with me. As far as telephoto, it depends on what you want to photograph - if it's wildlife, you might want the 100-400 telephoto. But keep in mind, it's likely to be cloudy and dark in the forests, and you might need a tripod for the 100-400 telephoto. Feel free to email me at if you have more questions. Have a great trip!


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