DRIFT CREEK FALLS TRAIL #1378
APRIL 15, 2012
Info: There is not much information on the Siuslaw National Forest site where this fall is at. You can check it out here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/siuslaw/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=42681&actid=50. Here is a better description found on Portland Hikers Field Guide (http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org/wiki/Drift_Creek_Falls_Hike)
This hike offers something for everyone, a waterfall, a huge suspension bridge and a nice view of Coast Range forest. The trail is wide and well maintained. The only flaw may be that it’s elevation backwards; you have a nice stroll down, then you need to climb back out.
The trail starts by slabbing down a ridge toward the east. The trail is timbered in 50 year old regrowth, but there’s a nearby clear cut, visible through the trees. Together, they create an interesting study of the forest healing itself. After a bit, the trail reaches the end of the ridge, rounds it and heads back westward into a small side canyon. You may hear voices from across the way and soon you’ll see that the trail goes back down the other side of the valley, creating a charming little U turn with a couple of small bridges over trickling, seasonal creeks. Just past the U, there’s a trail junction. The uphill trail is an alternate route to the same place. It’s not as well maintained as the main trail and it provides (or curses you) with more elevation gain.
Continuing down the main trail, you’ll again round a ridge and start heading down to a larger stream. You’ll hear the water as you descend. Towards the bottom the trail gets into a marshy area that can be overgrown in the spring and summer. Watch out for stinging nettles here. That alternate route rejoins the main trail here, just before the trail reaches the stream. There’s a pretty safe area for kids to wade in the creek here, as well. The trail continues down the creek a bit, before crossing it on a decent sized bridge.
Beyond this upper bridge, the trail passes a few large trees and there’s another near miss with a fresher clear cut. Soon, you’ll come to “The” bridge. This suspension bridge kind of sneaks up on you. You crest a small knoll and suddenly you’ve arrived at one of the most interesting locations in the coast range. The creek we’ve been following suddenly plunges 75 feet into the Drift Creek Canyon and the trail stays level, spanning the 100 foot deep canyon by hanging from cables. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. At the far end of the bridge is a picnic table. The trail continues down to the bottom of the falls, but beyond the end of the bridge, it’s pretty treacherous, particularly in wet weather.
Directions: (http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/siuslaw/recreation/recarea/?recid=42683) Highway 101 entry – Off Highway 101 south of Lincoln City, north of Salishan. Travel east on Drift Creek Road, right on South Drift Creek Road 1/4 mile. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 17. Stay on Forest Service Road 17 to trailhead, approximately, 10 miles. Highway 101/Highway 18 entry – At Highway 101/18 junction travel east 4.5 miles on Hwy 18. Travel south on Bear Creek County Road 3.5 miles. Continue straight 7 miles on Forest Service Road 17 to trailhead.
Jenn’s View: Great little trail. Round trip was about 3 miles. Great for the family. Don’t forget that there is a $5 Recreation Fee that you can fill out the envelope and drop off the moola at the beginning of the trail. I wish I saw this fall before the landslide. It actually looked pretty cool. To the right was a picture of it prior to the landslide. I guess the landslide happened in Aug 2010? You can read more about it at http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/siuslaw/news-events/?cid=STELPRDB5193594. Where the picture was taken from. There was also bathrooms located near the beginning of the trail which is always super duper nice!
The path to the creek was actually quite pleasant. My 15 year old daughter, Alesia was wearing her UGG boots on the trail which really, I don’t know what she was thinking. She brought her boyfriend along, Logan and their baby – Jerome. Now Jerome is a child development project for school. He isn’t a real baby but he cries, needs to be fed on a schedule, and change his diaper. C’mon folks – let my 15 year old get pregnant? Yeah, right. LOL. I kick her butt. Here the happy family poses at the first bridge that we came to. More pictures at the bridge. I think Logan and Scott took better pictures. The first sign you come to, you can either take the high road or the low road….we chose the low road. The North loop is just that — a loop. You end up back at the trail near the second little bridge. We would get complaints from the kiddos if we had to go “extra” mileage if we really didn’t have to. I didn’t bring a subway sammich to take with us and the kids were getting hungry. I guess we could have had Jerome’s baby bottle – oh wait – it’s fake.
We got to the second “little” bridge and had a great opportunity to take pictures. Unfortunately, I forgot my tripod in the car (actually I didn’t – Alesia did! but that is such a whole lotta different story there). So the pictures were limited to just an “auto” shot.
After this bridge, you hike through more forest before hitting the BIG Suspension bridge. We finally make it to the bridge. Scott made me nervous because he’s not much for heights but such a trooper — he crossed it, despite Logan wiggling the bridge.
Alesia and I started climbing down to get to the bottom of the rocks. Little did we know that there is an actual trail that leads to the bottom. Instead we took the muddy way.
The suspension bridge looking up. After hanging out for a little bit, we headed back. Clam chowder in Lincoln City actually sounded good but I think we were still talking about Subway Sandwiches. We didn’t want to eat anything heavy because we had steaks marinating in the refrigerator.
All pictures for your viewing pleasure: