Day 8: To Wolf Creek campground, Little River - Waterfalls of Calapooya 2013 - CycleBlaze

July 1, 2013

Day 8: To Wolf Creek campground, Little River

I felt tired and sore overnight, and this morning I didn't feel strong. Not surprising after hiking until 9 PM yesterday.

Today starts with another hike to see 4 waterfalls up Hemlock Creek. I left the campsite at 9. The trailhead is on the east side of the lake. I will hike 1.3 miles upstream with 500+ feet elevation gain.

The Hemlock Creek trail passes 4 waterfalls in 1.3 miles, but there is no mention of waterfalls at the trailhead.
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The trail crosses the creek just above the first waterfall but you have to scramble pretty far to get a good view of the waterfall.

Tributary Falls, the first waterfall on the Hemlock creek trail.
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Not much farther is the second falls. This one also requires a big scramble to get a good view.

Middle Hemlock Falls, second waterfall on the Hemlock creek trail.
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The third waterfall is close to the trail. I only had to go a few steps off the trail to get a good view.

Upper Hemlock Falls, the third waterfall on the Hemlock creek trail.The tripod obviously moved during the time exposure.
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The final waterfall is the most impressive. It's the only one on this trail mentioned in the Thundering Waters brochure. Dramatically sheer and rectangular, but it requires the longest scramble to get a good view. The trail has a partial view of the falls. I should have taken a picture of that view to show how poor it was compared to the view I got. I got to this falls just in time. A few minutes later I would be looking up into the sun.

40 foot (12m) Clover Falls is the fourth waterfall on the Hemlock creek trail. Highest elevation waterfall of the tour, 3580 feet.
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Three of the four Hemlock creek waterfalls require non-trivial scrambling below the trail to obtain a good view. The vantage points never have a flat stable place for my tripod. My Zipshot tripod doesn't have adjustable legs. Often the tripod was so unbalanced that I had to hold one leg of the tripod to prevent it from tipping over.

I thoroughly enjoyed the hike up Hemlock Creek. It seems like a secret back-country adventure. I never saw other people. The trail sign doesn't mention waterfalls. None of the waterfalls is signed. I had to scramble to get views, as if discovering the waterfalls for the first time.

Big stumps along the Hemlock creek trail.
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The downhill hike to the campground was fast and easy. Kind of restful. Back at the campsite I made lunch and packed up. After filtering 4 bottles of water I got on the road at 12:30. The 7 mile unpaved descent required nonstop braking. I could descend much faster when pavement resumed.

Descending Forest Road 22 from Lake in the Woods campground.
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I ended up going 3 miles past the Grotto Falls turnoff because it isn't signed in the downhill direction. I should have made note that the turnoff is at the Coolwater campground which is signed in both directions. Backtracking to the turnoff required 200 feet of climbing. I have time to spare but I don't have energy to spare.

Back to pavement on Forest Road 22.
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The road to Grotto Falls is unpaved. It climbs 1700 feet, then descends 350 feet to the trailhead. So the round trip is 14 miles with 2050 feet of climbing. To see one waterfall.

A cyclist has to really want to see Grotto Falls. The unpaved 14-mile round trip has 2050 feet of climbing!
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The road often climbs at 8% but I never had to walk. There are good views in clearcuts and on blasted rock ledges.

A clearcut provides a great view during the climb to Grotto falls.
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Most of the climbing is under the forest canopy.
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Another open section.
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The climb took more than an hour. In that time maybe 2 trucks passed by.

I was surprised to see a toilet at such a remote trailhead.
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The trail sign was missing from the post, so I added a virtual sign to this photo.
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The hike to Grotto Falls is easy. All uphill but it only gains 150 feet. With a name like Grotto Falls I expected it to be deep in a shady hole. But it turned out to be in the sun at 4 PM.

It's difficult to get a pleasing photo when part of the subject is in sun and part of the subject is in shade. I would have needed to wait hours to see the falls in total shade.

Grotto falls drops 100 feet (30 m).Dappled sunlight made it difficult to photograph.
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Grotto Falls plunges with a huge overhang. The trail goes far behind the falls in a cave-like area.

Trail behind Grotto falls.
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View below Grotto falls.
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Grotto Falls trail. Old-growth Western Red Cedar stumps and new-growth Douglas Fir trees.
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From Grotto Falls it was downhill to the bike. Then a 350 foot climb to the summit before a long slow descent to Little River road.

Back on paved Little River road it was an easy 5 miles downstream to the Wolf Creek USFS campground. It has flush toilets and water faucets. Also a higher fee of $15 because it's closer to civilization. 6 of the 8 sites were occupied.

Once again I had all of today's trails and waterfalls to myself. I can hardly comprehend how such spectacular waterfalls can be so deserted.

In the evening I pumped my tires back up to road pressure. I'm done with gravel for this tour. I fell asleep before dark.

Distance: 35.3 miles (56.5 km)

Climbing: 2312 feet (701 m)

Average Speed: 9.2 mph (14.7 km/h)

Unpaved roads: 21 miles (34 km)

Hiking: 4 miles (6.4 km)

Waterfalls: 5

Covered Bridges: 0

Today's ride: 35 miles (56 km)
Total: 275 miles (443 km)

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