Dread and Terror Segment of the North Umpqua Trail - May 11, 2013
Coordinator Diane Rannow, narration and pictures by Diane Rannow

It's a beautiful spring day and sixteen of us headed up highway 138 to one of our favorite hikes… the Dread & Terror Segment of the North Umpqua Trail. Just over 60 miles from Roseburg, the trailhead is located next to the parking area for the Umpqua Hot Springs. This 13 mile section of the North Umpqua Trail was named for the Dread & Terror Ridge, a nearby hill cursed by early fire fighters for it's brushy thickets. Today we are hiking in and out. Most people will do at least 6 miles, with the faster hikers doing 8-10 miles.

The trail starts out through a dry forest, but that soon changes and we realize it will be water, water everywhere. An easy 3/10 mile walk takes us to Surprise Falls which roars fully formed straight out of the ground below the trail. Next we come to magnificent Columnar Falls where lacy springs spill down the angled columns of a mossy basalt cliff and immediately seep back into the ground, vanishing without a trace. After passing an unnamed waterfall, we come to an area where the mossy cliffs along the trail are weeping drips, trickles, rivulets, streams and torrents of water straight out of the rocks. Part of the time the trail itself is awash with water and we feel like we're hiking in a stream bed.

Although not profuse, spring wildflowers are scattered along the way… yellow violets and oregon grape, pink calypso orchids and bleeding heart, white trilliums, wild strawberries, vanilla leaf, sitka valerian and saxifrage. False Solomon's Seal and White-veined Wintergreen were just budding out. For those who took the time to look, various lichens (devil's matchsticks, etc.), mosses, ferns and other plants show the rich diversity of these woods.

Everyone hikes at a slightly different pace and we are soon spread out along the trail. Savoring all of nature, I'm taking photos and bringing up the rear. In general, the trail follows the river… sometimes right next to it and sometimes just out of sight. After awhile, we leave the water laden, mossy cliffs for dryer woods. In about 3 miles, the trail drops down to a rocky beach by the river… a perfect lunch spot. By the time I get there, everyone else has finished lunch and continued down the trail. After lunch, it's time to head back to the cars. I kept expecting to have the others catch up to me, but they never did. Imagine my surprise when I got back to the cars and they were already there… guess they passed me while I was sitting by the river eating lunch.

On the way home we can't resist stopping at Toketee Falls. Only 4/10 of a mile long, the trail has a multitude of stairs that help us traverse a steep hillside past a churning gorge. Ending at a railed deck with a view of the falls, this short trail is popular and we have to share the view with others. Beautiful Toketee Falls pours out of columnar basalt cliffs into a pool below. Then its time to climb back up the stairs and head for home.

What a beautiful, satisfying day!

For more pictures see Valerie Johnson's skydrive album

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Roseburg Oregon Hiking Club
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