Day 6: To Cavitt Creek Falls campground - Waterfalls of Calapooya 2013 - CycleBlaze

June 29, 2013

Day 6: To Cavitt Creek Falls campground

The temperature was 60F when I got up at 7 AM. I got on the road at 9:10 after filtering 2 bottles of water.

My first stop was at Little Falls, 5 miles downstream. Pedaling downstream along Steamboat Creek road was quiet and easy. But I couldn't see the creek well because it was on the left side of the road, looking into the sun. At the Canton Creek road intersection it was obvious that I missed the falls, so I turned around and backtracked 3/4 mile. It's easy to see the falls when going the opposite direction.

Every view of Little Falls looked straight into the low morning sun. I would have to wade into the middle of the fast-moving creek to get an unobstructed view of the entire falls. I'm not motivated to do that when the sun angle is awful. Little Falls is a popular swimming hole but it was deserted during the cool morning hours.

Looking into the sun at Little Falls on Steamboat Creek.
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Little Falls drops about 10 feet (3 m).
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Sometimes by planning and sometimes by luck, I had good light conditions for almost all of the waterfalls during this tour. Little Falls was the only one that had an extremely bad sun angle. It would have been great yesterday evening.

A mile past Little Falls, Steamboat Creek flows into the North Umpqua River and Steamboat Creek Road dead-ends into highway 138. I turned right (west), going downstream. I've driven this corridor dozens of times and pedaled it on several bike tours.

The hike to Fall Creek falls is 0.8 mile, steady uphill.
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6 miles downstream I turned into the Fall Creek Falls trailhead. The trail and the falls are both excellent. The trail is in a lush canyon environment with frequent views of the cascading creek. The falls is very user friendly with unobstructed views and an easy-access plunge pool that invites wading.

Fall creek at the trailhead. The trail stays close to the creek in a lush canyon.
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The 50-foot lower tier of Fall Creek Falls. The partially visible upper tier drops 35 feet.
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When I arrived the falls was just starting to get in the sun. The combination of sun and shade is bad for photography, so I waited 45 minutes for the sun to spread across the falls. I'm not sure why I didn't take the short trail to the upper falls and take a picture there as well.

Fall Creek falls.
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Back on the road I continued another 4 miles downstream to Susan Creek Recreation Area.

Highway 138 and the North Umpqua river.
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My first stop was in the campground to use the shower. Having camped here on two previous bike tours I know that the back entrance to the shower building isn't visible to the campground host. I don't feel too guilty about it. I will pay to camp tonight at another BLM campground.

The hike to Susan Creek falls is 0.8 mile, gently uphill.
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Half a mile past the campground I turned into the Susan Creek Falls trailhead. This trail is not as enchanting as the previous one. It simply climbs gently on a forested hillside. Only the last 500 feet of the trail is near the creek in a lush canyon. The falls is also less user friendly. The eroded bowl has a narrow opening that makes it difficult to get a view of the entire falls. And the narrow opening makes it extremely difficult to get to the actual plunge pool. The falls was in full sun, so I couldn't get multi-second exposures.

Susan Creek below Susan Creek falls.
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Susan Creek falls is difficult to photograph because the bowl has a narrow opening.
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My best picture of Susan Creek falls was taken near sunset during a bike tour in 2006.
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It's Saturday and the trailheads are conspicuously signed along a state highway. So I wasn't surprised to see a steady stream of visitors at both Fall Creek and Susan Creek falls.

3/4 mile past the Susan Creek Falls trailhead I stopped to admire a new foot bridge across the North Umpqua River. This bridge provides access to the middle of a 16-mile segment of the North Umpqua Trail.

The Tioga foot bridge was installed in 2012 on old bridge supports.
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Traffic was unusually heavy. This is Saturday, with perfect summer weather that brings the tourists out. I usually come here on weekdays, and seldom during the busy summer tourist season. Busy is a relative thing, though. Here busy means maybe 10 cars per minute instead of the usual 1 car per minute.

A few miles farther downstream I stopped on the roadside to get a good view of Deadline Falls. The falls is very close to the highway, but trees obstruct the view. I found a scramble trail to the bottom of the falls. The vertical drop isn't huge but the flow is. Very impressive from up close. While taking pictures I saw several large fish attempt to jump up the falls. None succeeded. Not even halfway up.

Across the river is a designated "Wildlife Watching Area" for watching the fish jump. But the view from the highway side is just as good if you don't need to park a car and don't mind scrambling 30 feet down a steep slope.

The North Umpqua river drops 9 feet (2.7 m) at Deadline Falls. I saw several big fish attempt to jump up the falls. None were successful.
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By this point I was very hungry, ready for a restaurant lunch for the first time since day 2. So I hurried along, downstream to civilization.

In Glide I stopped for a late lunch at Munchies. High calorie food and air conditioning were much appreciated.

4300 foot Scott mountain is the gateway to the Cascade Range for the North Umpqua river area.
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I made two other stops in Glide. First was to stock up on groceries at the Glide store. I need to carry a 3 day supply of food up the Little River. I also stopped at the Colliding Rivers viewpoint. It's a popular swimming hole. The designated viewpoint has a decent view but the view is even better from the bridge where highway 138 crosses Little River. The "collision" is much more impressive during high winter flow.

Colliding rivers in Glide. North Umpqua river flows in from the top. Little River flows in from the bottom.
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Same view during peak winter flow. The muddy rivers are 15 feet higher and flowing much faster.
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I turned left onto Little River road which of course goes up the Little River. The area has many country houses.

Hay field in the Little river valley.
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Along Little River road.
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After 7 miles I turned right onto Cavitt Creek road. At the intersection Cavitt Creek road crosses Cavitt Creek on a covered bridge.

Cavitt Creek covered bridge was built in 1943.
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Inside the Cavitt Creek covered bridge. I like covered bridges with windows.
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The Cavitt Creek area also has many country homes, more than I expected. After 4 miles the valley closes in and the road goes into the forest. Shortly after entering the forest I turned left into the Cavitt Creek Falls campground. The campground is quite sprawling but has only 11 sites. $8, with water faucets and vault toilets.

Cavitt Creek falls is 200 yards from my campsite.
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Adjacent to the campground is a day use area at the falls. I expected this to be just a minor 3 foot drop. But it drops about 10 feet. I decided it qualifies as a "real" waterfall. My photos captured it well. The plunge pool is well suited for swimming and diving. And it's possible to slide down the falls.

Cavitt Creek falls drops about 10 feet (3 m).
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Cavitt Creek falls. My camera's neutral density filter and 24mm wide angle are very useful.
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Once again I set up my tent without the rainfly. The high temperature was 90F. Sunny all day, mild wind, low humidity.

Today's ride started and finished in unfamiliar places but everything in the middle was very familiar. Cavitt Creek Falls is a delightful discovery.

Distance: 43.4 miles (69 km)

Climbing: 1111 feet (337 m)

Average Speed: 11.3 mph (18 km/h)

Unpaved roads: 0

Hiking: 4 miles (6.4 km)

Waterfalls: 5

Covered Bridges: 1

Today's ride: 43 miles (69 km)
Total: 197 miles (317 km)

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