It’s the trails less traveled that I like to explore and at the southern end of the Willamette Valley there is a dandy – marked by spring wildflowers, gorgeous forested scenery and a spectacular waterfall whose prime time is passing along the Alsea River Backcountry Byway.
At long last, winter has given way to a sun filled spring and don’t you agree: It’s about time!
How can you miss on a day like this when the gray-shaded drizzle that blankets the land or the buckets of drenching rain that falls from above are gone and give way to a clear view to wildlife along a less traveled byway.
Right now, the geese pass by in waves - moving north to their Alaska nesting grounds from William Finley Refuge near Corvallis.
Photos: Alsea River backcountry
They are often seen high overhead, but the flocks are also closer to ground where they fill the refuge’s pastures, dining on lush green grass.
Let this be just the start of a day-long adventure that leads you toward new territory near the small burg of Alpine, Oregon.
Be prepared to spend some time and savor a trail that threads through the heart of the coast range mountains to reach the South Fork Alsea River.
It is a roadway so significant that the Bureau of Land Management designated 11 miles of it a National Back Country Byway.
The river is often by your side and you will slow down to enjoy it for the narrow winding asphalt gives you little choice.
On a gorgeous sunlit day, the small feeder creeks run full across lush moss as wildflowers like trillium and fairy slipper orchids reach their full bloom.
Soon, it’s time to trade in the truck for two legs at the Alsea Falls Recreation Area that offers nearly 8 miles of hiking trails.
One of the special qualities of the Alsea Falls Recreation Area that I appreciate is the number of hiking trails – including one that skirts the South Fork of the Alsea River –were you can fully appreciate what makes this place is so special.
Alsea Falls does so in a 125-foot stretch – roaring across ancient basalt rock in a foamy moment that is worth a pause before you move along too.
You’re apt to find me along this river on a day when sunbeams light up the scene – and wildflowers wave you along as the river rolls on to its magical, ageless song…the Alsea River Backcountry Byway is not to be missed.
A couple things to remember – while the BLM opens the Alsea Falls Recreation Area picnic area and campgrounds in mid-May, the hiking trails are open anytime. The South Fork Alsea River Backcountry Byway is open year round.