Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sweet Creek

After some banter about whether Ray meant to say "let's go Sweet Cheeks" or "let's go to Sweet Creek", he delivered the Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club to one of the many Sweet Creek trailheads. All the puerile giggling was further exacerbated when we passed Sweet Cheeks Winery on the drive to Sweet Creek.

Sweet Creek lives up to its name
Dumb intro aside, this was a great hike. I had always turned my nose up at the Sweet Creek Trail as it was too short, too creeky, too whatever. My mistake. This short hike packs more views per mile than most trails and I strained my lips uttering an awestruck "wow" after "wow" on this hike.

Elk Wallow Creek lives beyond its name
Just like me, Sweet Creek is full of water this this year and is quite rowdy as it is constrained by a narrow canyon. The creek tumbles from noisy waterfall to noisy waterfall and if there is no waterfall then numerous side creeks obligingly tumble into the raging creek. The unromantically named Elk Wallow Creek in particular made a spectacular entrance into Sweet Creek. At times, the trail is a narrow and seemingly precarious catwalk bolted onto vertical rock walls. Wow, wow, and more wow.
The upper portion of Sweet Creek Falls

The alder and maple trees flanking the white waters of Sweet Creek are all leafless but covered in mossy green "fur" like a certain indistinct food mass lying on a plate in my refrigerator. Just under two miles in, the trail ended at a railed viewpoint overlooking Sweet Creek Falls. An extended lollygag at the falls pretty much filled up my camera card, and it was time to turn around and return to the trailhead.

After an unceremonious lunch in the parking lot, we drove up to the Wagon Road Trailhead where we strung together two more short hikes along the spectacular creek. The first walk ambled through an extensive flat of white-trunked (just like me!) and leafless alder before angling down into the canyon for a closer look at Sweet Creek Falls. The falls are actually a series of punchbowl falls as the creek freefalls down into the canyon.

Moss, rocks, and Sweet Creek
Upon our return to the trailhead, we crossed the road to the other side of Sweet Creek and headed upstream. This time the object of our affection was the confluence of Beaver Creek and Sweet Creek. The two creeks crashed together and fanned out as one across a 20 foot drop down a rock face.

Drip, drip, drip
Despite the shortness of the hike(s), I am now a fan of Sweet Creek. Learning my lesson, I hereby promise never again to turn up my nose like some effete hiking snob as this hike certainly was pretty sweet.

Please visit the Flickr album for more pictures of the aqueous delights of Sweet Creek.


  1. Richard, this is over by Mapleton right? Carol and I need to get there and hike this as it very beautiful!!! Thanks for the great pictures.

    1. Right you are, Glenn, it is indeed near Mapleton.

  2. This looks and sounds so beautiful. If I keep reading your blogs, I am going to have to move to the west coast. Darlene

  3. Where are the steps? And is it steep in the open side of the steps?