Saturday, February 11, 2017

Riverview Trail Loop

Sometimes, real life just gets in the way. At the end of January, a catastrophic illness suffered by my daughter Aislinn gave our family all the intrusion and reality one could ever not want. Naturally, hiking was not a priority during this ordeal but after several weeks, I took a temporary break from the whirring, beeping, and clicking of hospital machinery to hit the trail with my friends for some badly needed trail therapy.

Singing "Walk This Way" (Thanks Jesi, for that line)
One of Douglas County's many attractions is the North Umpqua Highway, an incredibly scenic and curvy road linking Diamond Lake and Roseburg. However, prior to 1964, travel to Diamond Lake took place on gravel North Umpqua Road. Whew, 70-plus miles of gravel road, that certainly was not a casual trip! Naturally, with the construction of the paved North Umpqua Highway in 1964, the old road sort of disappeared, either paved over by the new highway, consigned to the USFS forest road system, or simply swallowed up by the forest.

My people
An otherwise abandoned section of the old road now does duty as the Riverview Trail, currently delighting hikers and mountain bikers alike. The Riverview Trail generally stays high above the river and in places, provides even better views than the North Umpqua Trail on the other side of the river. The planned route on this Friends of the Umpqua hike was to follow the Riverview Trail to Fall Creek Falls for a moderate 8'ish mile hike. However, I had a lot of stress to work off so my plan was to depart the Riverview Trail at Bogus Creek Campground and return by way of the Mott Segment of the North Umpqua Trail for a more reasonable 12 mile hike. Mileage-addicted friends Lane and Kevin agreed to accompany me on the longer loop with dog Wish likewise agreeing to come along. 

Basaltic cliffs above the trail

The weather has been awful this winter but it was a rare sunny day that presented itself for this venture. The Riverview Trail is on the north side of the river so we actually walked in sunlight, a rare and wondrous occasion. Of course, the sunlight was for show only, as noses still ran in the wintry chill. The trail wasted no time in climbing a hundred feet or so above the river but once the altitude was gained, the path remained happily level for the most part.

Boots got wet at Alder Creek
Cliffs and basaltic pillars rose above the trail and moss filled in all the cracks in the imposing rock walls.  There was a large blue thing overhead and somebody thought it might actually be sky. I didn't think so because everybody knows the sky is gray. Occasionally, we enjoyed views down to the river and to the snow-dusted hills above. With all the recent rains, a fair number of creeks ran across the trail and boots got wet as we waded across. The route was open and exposed for the most part and we really enjoyed the delightful sensation of sunlight on skin.

So dark and cold at the bottom of the canyon
At approximately the four mile mark, Lane, Kevin, and I bid adieu to our friends and peeled off the Riverview, taking a path down to Bogus Creek Campground, currently closed for the winter. With a chorus of "Me, too!" we were joined by eager and naive newcomers Ezgi, Levi, and Ana. Welcome to a Richard Hike, kids! 

Where there is water, there is dog
A short road walk along the North Umpqua Highway delivered us to Wright Creek Bridge and just like that, we were on the other side of the river, ready to begin hiking on the Mott Segment of the North Umpqua Trail. We'd now be hiking on a real trail with dirt and everything, unlike the wide gravelly doubletrack of the Riverview Trail. It wasn't all happy miles however, as we were now on the shady south side of the river and the air was icy cold. Not much sun gets down to the bottom of the river canyon and mittens and extra layers of clothing were soon donned.

Fisher C
It was a pleasant six miles on the Mott, which spends most of its miles close to river level. I played professor to our three novices and had them all chewing on fragrant wild ginger leaves before long. At Fisher Creek, I pointed out Zane Grey's Camp and asked "Do you know who Zane Grey is?" With blank looks, the guesses I received in response were "Our new Vice-President? A Marvel Comic Book hero? Plays for the Chicago Cubs?" Sigh. The correct answer by the way is "...the world famous author who wrote novels of the American West". I'm glad nobody asked me what a novel was.

Small creek, large waterfall
About nine miles in, the bridge at Steamboat Creek hove into view on the other side of the river. Our car was parked there and it was so cruel to see the end of the hike so near but yet so far. We still had three miles of hiking to go because the trail crossed the river on the historic Mott Bridge, several miles upstream. It was here or thereabouts that I realized I had lost a little bit of my hiking trim with the month-long layoff. I perhaps should have eased back into the 12 mile thing instead of jumping all in at once.  

Sun on the North Umpqua
It was a pretty tired bunch that staggered to the finish, excepting Wish maybe. But on the plus side, I slept very well that night and it was nice to divest some stress and worry on a restorative hike.

The sun was so near, yet so far away
For more pictures, please visit the Flicker album.


  1. I was so sorry to hear about your daughter's horrible illness. I wish her the best in her recovery. I'm glad you were able to get out for a stress-relieving hike. Best wishes to you and your family.

  2. Good to see a posting from you and glad to know you back on the trail again. This weather keeps getting in the way of our hiking plan and when the sun does shine, we will be hitting the trails to make up some serious miles missed so far.