December 22, 2012

Molalla River corridor trails' low elevations suitable for winter walking in the woods

Typical Oregon second-growth forest

Low snow elevations and decent weather prompted a hike along the trails of the Molalla River corridor. This labyrinth of paths along the slopes above the upper reaches of the Molalla River rise from 800 feet up to 1,400 feet in elevation.

Hardy Creek Bridge covered with maple leaves
Cedars along the lower elevations give way to fir and hemlocks higher up those slopes. Salal and ferns are rarely out of view. In winter, leaves from maples cover much of the trail network. 

Tarn near trail
 A good place to enter the area is from Hardy Creek Trailhead, where a large parking area awaits hikers. Fortunately, there are usually maps at the message board that can be taken and used in the forest to keep from getting discombobulated.

Lush ferns are always nearby
I would suggest taking a map printed from, in case no maps are available at the trailhead. The area is not that large, but intersections with roads and trails are frequent and can throw hikers off their game.
Hardy Creek
Some of the highlights of the several trails hiked were Hardy Creek, Deer Skull Trail, and a number of ant hills. These trails dip into small, shallow canyons and rise gently and sporadically. I saw no one else I any of the trails.

Rushing Molalla River
The Molalla River was running high and fast but fairly clear. Looks like a good time to raft or kayak.
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