Sometimes a Great Notion

Felt like the Stampers, I did. Hiking in the Coastal Mountains always reminds me of Ken Kesey’s ode to the old-time logging families in Sometimes a Great Notion. Without a doubt, it is verdant and beautiful country.

On an early December weekend I drove almost to the crest of the Coastal Range, stopping next to Highway 6 at the entrance to the road to the Gales Creek Forest Camp. After four years the Gales Creek Trail had been repaired and reopened earlier in the year.

After crossing Gales Creek on a footbridge about 1.5 miles from the car, I headed up the pleasant trail in the Gales Creek Valley.

It was raining and the side streams were very high. I successfully forded many of them before coming to a slick foot-log bridge over a cascading stream roughly 4 3/4 miles into the hike. The crest of the Coastal Mountains was only a little over two miles in distance, but I didn’t chance crossing the foot-log as a solo hiker. It’s just not worth the risk. Instead I found a relatively dry spot under some trees and enjoyed a pleasant lunch.

Then, it was off to the trailhead. All in all the hike was 9.7 miles in length with 1,400 feet of elevation gain.

A nice way to spend a rainy day.

Cascading stream along the trail

Cascading stream along the trail

Trailhead sign

Trailhead sign

Gray Jay

Gray Jay


Who or what are the stairs for?

Wet trail

Wet trail through the Alders

Mushrooms galore

Mushrooms galore

Slick foot-log over fast-running creek

Slick foot-log over a fast-running creek

Sprinboard slot (used by tree fallers to get above the underbrush)

Springboard slot (used by tree fallers to get above the underbrush)

Witch's Hair Lichen on a mature Alder

Witch’s Hair Lichen on a mature Alder

Categories: Oregon Cascades HikesTags: , ,


  1. Witch’s Hair Lichen is aptly named.

    What a beautiful area.

    I really have to read that book, Sometimes a Great Notion. It seems to have made an impression on the scribe (who mentions it relatively frequently).

    • I highly recommend reading Sometimes a Great Notion. The movie is interesting too, if for no other reason than it shows interesting scenes of logging on the Oregon Coast. Since those days, the logging on public lands as effectively been stopped.

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