|Lone fisherman on the Wilson River|
Tired of driving across town to access the Gorge or Mt. Hood, I instead looked westward. The Coast Range, between Portland and the ocean, has some terrific trails. And it's a short drive from home. But for some reason I've never fully explored this area. I decided today that would change.
|Pretty vine maple|
Since the Coast Range catches all the precip coming in from the ocean first, during rainy days it's a fairly wet place. I knew I was probably crazy to go hiking there on a day with rain in the forecast. But I packed a bunch of raingear, some towels, and decided to make the best of it. Also, against my better judgement, I loaded up the dog.
|Inviting bridge crossing|
After a little internet research I settled on the Wilson River Trail. The Wilson River, flowing out of the coast range into the ocean, boasts a trail paralleling 20.6 miles of its forested banks. Accessed by several trailheads, hiking options abound. The stretch from Jones Creek to Bridge Creek Falls, a total of 7 round-trip miles, was my final choice.
|Scattering of moss and fall color|
Although I left my house during a heavy shower, by time I drove into the trailhead, things were dry. I suited up with raincoat and gaiters, only to shed them a half mile down the trail.
|Lovely river reflections|
The Wilson River in this area runs through the Tillamook State Forest. Not only for hiking, this wooded area supports a variety of outdoor recreation uses. Not far from the trailhead parking area was a place to stage off road vehicles, and corresponding trails for this purpose. I spotted a few people fishing from the Wilson river's banks. And mountain biking is also allowed on the hiking trails.
|Leaf color is just getting started|
So, let's just say that the forest along the Wilson River is not exactly pristine wilderness. But, as I discovered upon the first half mile, it sure is beautiful.
|Bear takes a water break|
A quarter mile from the Jones Creek Trailhead, a huge suspension bridge takes visitors across the Wilson to the Tillamook Forest Center. An interpretive and educational place, this center showcases the area's logging legacy and provides information about the infamous Tillamook Burn (A huge series of forest fires that struck this area over the 1930s). Because I had my dog with me, I skipped a visit for today and stayed on the opposite shore.
|Our trail paralleled an old road|
Although the majority of leaves were still in various stages of green, there was just enough yellow and orange to provide nice accents. And make some great photos.
|This way to Wilson Falls|
I trekked through areas of dense forest with thick vegetation below. Huge clumps of moss draped from some of the tree branches. Although the river was always in view, only a few steep trails led to its banks. Bear and I made a couple trips to shore, to check things out (and to give Bear a chance to drink).
|Bear in a maze of leaves|
About halfway to our turnaround at Bridge Creek Falls, the trail began to veer away from the river, and climbed over a couple of ridges. Then it would dive down to cross small side creeks, spanned by one-log bridges. I'd expected a flat trail, so these climbs were a surprise.
|One of many log bridges|
Finally Bear and I came to a side trail that was supposed to lead to Bridge Creek Falls. But I got waylaid by a scenic bend in the river. Next to the bend was a deep pool, that appeared to be used as a summer swimming hole. A downed tree had a rope swing attached to its end that I assumed was used for this purpose. Ready for a break, I took a seat on the adjacent rocks and snacked on some apples and a cliff bar.
|An old swimming hole|
My gps showed we'd already traveled more than 3.5 miles. I decided to bag the additional trek to Bridge Creek Falls and head back. So Bear and I began to backtrack our route, hoping to beat any rain. We came upon one of the single-log bridges. Bear started across, and I took out my camera to capture him on the bridge. I called out for Bear to stop and tried to get him to turn his head around. But instead poor Bear tried to turn his whole body around, and in the process, slipped and tumbled into the creek below.
|Tunnel of green|
I panicked. Rushing to the side of the depression, I arrived just as Bear scrambled up the bank. He'd fallen down a drop of at least six feet onto rocks below. Anxiously, I felt his legs and feet for any sign of broken bones. Bear didn't wince at all. In fact, the only injury appeared to be a couple of small gashes on his face. Bear had weathered this slip just fine.
My dog's always been a very sure-footed pup, so having him fall like that greatly surprised me. But at nearly 12 years old, Bear has been slowing down. And this stumble confirmed to me just how much he's declined.
|One last flower|
So Bear and I continued back to the trailhead, him moving much slower than before, and I watching him like a hawk for any sign of limping. We passed a large family with tons of kids scattered up and down the path, and a dad trudging along behind smoking a cigarette (!!!!! in a forest!!!)
|Beautiful river view|
We made it back to the car with no further incidents. Although very tired, Bear seemed to have weathered his fall just fine. As I loaded my backpack into the car, I realized throughout the entire hike not a drop of rain had fallen. When I arrived back in town, my hubby complained it had rained off and on most of the afternoon. Guess I picked the right place to hike today!
The Wilson River, although very much touched by man, was still a lovely place to hike, and only a 40 minute drive from my front door. I have a feeling I'll be back soon, to explore more of its trails.
Sharing with: Tuesday Muse.