Tioga-Swiftwater (Upper Tioga) Segment, North Umpqua Trail - January 5, 2013
Coordinator Jennifer Coalwell, Narration and Pictures by Bill Riley

On Saturday, January 5th, 2013, 14 hikers car pooled to the Susan Creek Rest area, about milepost 28 on the North Umpqua Highway to hike a new section of the North Umpqua Trail which has recently become accessible thanks to the reconstruction of the Tioga Bridge. This bridge was washed out during the 1964 flood.

The new bridge was constructed using the concrete piers of the old bridge. The beautiful glue lam arches were pre constructed and moved to the site then "swung" across the river just a few months ago. A first attempt was aborted because the crane they had selected to swing the bridge was not big/heavy enough. A second attempt was successfully made. Note the beautiful glue lam structure.

To avoid having hikers park along side of HWY 138, they are encouraged to drive 1/2 mile beyond the bridge and park at the Susan Creek day use area. A new foot trail has been constructed from that point back to the start of the bridge. The trail is a good 5 to 6 feet wide and nicely graveled and several small bridges had to be constructed on this 1/2 mile stretch at no small expense.

Jennifer, our leader, had pre-hiked the trail on 2 JAN and she found the bridge covered with snow and ice. When we got there on Saturday there was a bit of ice on the bridge, but the snow had all melted. Although the sky was a bit gray, we only got a few sporadic drops of rain and the temperature, probably around 35 degrees, wasn't all that bad. Now with access to Tioga Bridge it is possible to make a shuttle hike of about 8 miles if you park at the day use area. This opens up a portion of the North Umpqua Trail which many of us had not previously hiked.

We crossed the bridge and turned right (west) onto the trail, which begins as an old service/logging road for quite some time before veering off into a single file hiking trail. The trail is mostly level or heading downhill until you cross Bob Creek (another beautiful bridge) and begin climbing up Bob Butte. After hiking up, up, up, we turned and got a nice view of the river and Tioga Bridge in the distance. We had separated into two groups; the “fast” hikers up ahead and the “slower” hikers behind, but we eventually caught up with each other and stopped for lunch just beyond Fern Falls, which is only about 1.5 miles from the Swiftwater trailhead, our stopping point. We arrived at Swiftwater about 1pm and were back at the courthouse before 2pm.

Even though it drizzled on us, this was a nice, close hike that still gave us a good work out with lovely views and lush forests. Everyone seemed to agree that hiking this segment from Tioga to Swiftwater (rather than the reverse) made it much more interesting and enjoyable.


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