Monday, July 4, 2016

Sutton Creek

"I'll go with you, but take it easy on me!" says Dollie. What is this? My brother David said the same thing several hikes ago. It's like this vast conspiracy to keep hikes short. And probably downhill too! Well, let it be known I've had enough and will no longer yield to the forces of trail oppression, it is time to stand up and shout to the heavens "We will hike 10 miles uphill and you will LIKE it!"  Yeah, you are all correct, I just bowed my head and meekly said "Yes, dear".

Coastal forest above the trail
Sutton Creek was chosen because it is easy (unless the trail is underwater like the last three times I've been there), on an easy to follow trail (unless you go cross-country and bushwhack like the last two times I've been there), and fairly short (unless you go through Baker Beach Dunes and loop back from the mouth of Sutton Creek, like the last time I was there). Sigh.

Heh, heh, heh
We started at Dune Lake, just off of Highway 101, and immediately headed uphill on a sandy track from the day use area at the lake. The trail was comprised of soft sand that taxed calf muscles and I silently laughed "heh heh heh" at Dollie as we hiked. A faint path took us on a steep climb on soft sand (tee hee, again) up to the Alder Dunes area.

Alder Dunes and me without a trail
Here the trees thinned out and the dunes were pretty much covered in beachgrass. From past experience, there is a faint path that would keep us on the north side of Sutton Creek which would then allow us to get to the beach without having to wade across Sutton Creek. However, I was unable to locate the path so I just faked it and acted like I knew exactly where we were going.

Typical scenery on this hike
So, straight across the dunes we go to the other side where we picked up the Alder Dunes Trail which took us into a thick forest with actual packed dirt for trail tread, darn it. The forest was wonderfully shaded and the mottled light kept a certain camera-toting hiker happy, despite the tame hiking conditions. 

Rhododendron, catching a few rays
Rhododendrons were no longer blooming, but their leaves caught the light nicely for the camera. Besides the tall rhodies, the forest sported a thick and impenetrable undergrowth of salal and coastal huckleberry. The vegetation hulked over the trail and it seemed like we hiked through an endless series of dark tunnels. I'm glad to report that despite the ominous appearance of the tunnels, no deer lay in wait for us innocents. 

Bridge over Sutton Creek
After several miles, the path crossed Sutton Creek on a stout footbridge. The creek flowed languidly in keeping with our hiking pace and the water was stained brown-red by tannin accumulation, or so I presume. For the remainder of the hike, the creek would flow within sight below the trail.

Sutton Creek, near the beach

We rejoined civilization when the trail spit us out into the paved Holman Vista parking lot. From there, a very short walk on a boardwalk provided a look down at the creek. It was much cooler to actually walk in soft sand down to the creek's edge. The forest ended here and a broad marshy plain lay behind the beach foredunes with Sea Lion Point rising above it all to the north. We deliberated about wading across the creek and walking to the beach but a chill wind blowing briskly dissuaded us of that notion. Plus, I was obligated to take it easy on a certain participant.

Shady trail
So back the way we went...well, not exactly. We stayed on trail this time, eschewing the cross-country walk across the dunes in an attempt to finish the hike quicker. Tongue tacos at Los Compadres Taqueria in Florence were calling me from across the sands and that's what I call "taking it easy", unless you consider the hot sauce.

"Come into my parlor" said the deer to the hikers
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. Nice hike, and enjoyed the commentary too!

    1. Thanks Linda, it was a nice laid-back hike but it was the $th of July after all. My next hike was up to my usual standards, lol

  2. Ok Stud hiker, there are some of us folks that like short hikes, so be nice to Dollie!!! Remember, a lot of short hikes are just as healthy as a few long the way, we just did a short hike south of Grants Pass on the Waters Creek trail and ran into an unhappy eventually moved off the trail a few feet but kept coiled and rattling while we pasted...phew!!!!