To celebrate of the first day of summer, last Saturday we loaded up our dogs and headed out for a hike. Our destination was Upper Trestle Creek Falls. Located along Brice Creek, the falls are about a 40 minute drive from Cottage Grove, and the whole hike (along with a short side trip) comes in at just about 4 miles.
Immediately after entering the trailhead, the trail starts to quickly climb the hillside. The first half mile or so is quite a climb, and in all there is about a 1,000 foot elevation gain. However, one of the reasons I like this trail is because you get to look down onto the vine maples, sword ferns, salal, and wild rhododendrons that blanket the hillside.
Of course we enjoyed the smattering of wildflowers along the trail, from the common salal and rhododendrons, to a first for me, a Cascade Lily — which beaconed me with its fragrance. Bird song and wildflowers kept us company the whole 1.5 miles to Upper Trestle Creek Falls.
Upper Trestle Creek Falls is a 65 foot, tiered waterfall, and for many, the attraction to this trail is that it passes behind the waterfall. During the middle of an afternoon hike the cool mist off the waterfall is a welcome treat. However, photographers will obviously want to find a different time of day to enjoy its beauty as the harsh sun and deep shadows made taking a good photograph difficult.
We continued along the trail, making a loop back down to Brice Creek. It is true that what goes up must come down and wearing shoes with good traction is a plus for this hike, as the dry trail can be quite slippery on the way down. Once you hit the junction with Brice Creek trail make a left and follow it back to the road.
If you’ve come this far, a side trip to Trestle Creek Falls (trail #1403C) is a nice juxtaposition to the trail you’ve just done. Make a left at the sign and travel .3 miles along Trestle Creek canyon, enjoying the views of the clear water of Trestle Creek. The trail ends at Trestle Creek Falls and a lovely, mossy grotto.
Getting There: To reach Upper Trestle Creek Falls, head up Row River Road past the town of Dorena. When the road forks off to Layng Creek Road, be sure to stay right on road #2470 to Brice Creek. Drive past the campgrounds and parking areas along Brice Creek (also an excellent hiking area) until you reach Champion Creek Trailhead, about 26 miles from downtown Cottage Grove. We’ve found it is best to park here (where a vault toilet is located), then walk a short distance further crossing a bridge over Brice Creek. There are two trailheads on your left, the first goes along Brice Creek and second, just past that, heads up to Upper Trestle Falls. Both will work as a loop trail, but we prefer to start with the second trail (Trail #1403D).