Friday, July 24, 2009

Loeb State Park

I joined a local group in an annual cleanup of the Chetco River, here in Brookings, a couple of days ago and in the process made a lovely discovery: when it's foggy in town, it's generally clear, sunny and warm in the park, which is only about 7 miles inland, at a higher elevation. One of the local ladies smiled and said, "this is why you come up here"! To test her theory, with yet another foggy day underway, I returned today to do some hiking. The fog stayed with me for the first couple of miles up the road, then fizzled out into bright sunshine. Hurray!

I opted to follow the Chetco Riverview Trail, which leaves from the picnic area in Loeb State Park (above) and connects with the Redwood Trail that is in the adjoining Siskiyou National Forest. According to Bill Sullivan's book on hiking the Oregon Coast, the combined trails total 2.6 miles, with 400 feet of elevation gain. I can only tell you that my pedometer recorded about 8500 footsteps, and at times I felt the elevation gain was much greater as much of it comes in a short span near the top. I'm in pretty good shape, I think, but toward the top I was seriously feeling the hillclimb.

The Riverview Trail, as its name suggests, parallels the Chetco River for most of its length and travels through lush undergrowths of ferns and oxalis, and a varied forest of Oregon Myrtle, Western Hemlock and Red Alder, among others. This was my lunch spot, and very pleasant it was. A Great Blue Heron swooped in and landed on the opposite gravel bar -- a great reward!

According to my Oregon Geographic Names book, the river is named for a small Indian tribe that lived along its lower reaches. Loeb Park is named for a man who donated the 350-odd acres in order to preserve the grove of Oregon Myrtle trees where the picnic area sits.

Since most of the Redwood Trail is either up or down hill, there are not large groves of the big trees and the trees are also not as big as those in other areas, but they are still lovely. Some are larger than these, but none of those photos was usable. This too is a mixed forest, with Tanoak and Douglas Fir, Bigleaf Maple, mixed in with Oregon Myrtle and Red Alder.

Much of the trail is within earshot of one or another of many creeks that feed the Chetco, often crossing them on wood bridges, thus the soothing trill of moving water follows most of your travels over this one-mile loop, and it's dotted with a number of small waterfalls such as this one.

Back at the picnic area in Loeb Park, I walked out on the rocky bar to soak up a little sunshine. Although not shown here, there were a number of autos parked along the river right on the rocks, and plenty of young families with splashing children enjoying the river. I expect that in the winter this scene is considerably different, with the rocks underwater and the river raging. At the moment, it's a lovely river to float down, splash in, or even swim in some the deeper holes, such as the one below.

I absolutely love the clean, clear clarity of this river, from the foreground shallows to the deep green pool beyond. I opted to sit right here on the rocks and read for awhile, soak up some much-needed sunshine before heading back into the fog.

Yep, as I drove down the mountain and neared Brookings -- it's still there!

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