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Alsea and Green Peak Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Green Peak Falls in mid-winter, McBee Park (bobcat)
Moss-draped yews along the trail, Alsea Falls (bobcat)
Alsea Falls (bobcat)
Witch's butter (Tremella mesenterica), Alsea Falls (bobcat)
Peak Creek in McBee Park (bobcat)
Trails in the Alsea Falls area (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Maps
  • Start point: Alsea Falls TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Green Peak Falls
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out and loop
  • Distance: 4.2 miles (extra loop takes it to 6.1 miles)
  • Elevation gain: 230 feet (730 feet with the extra loop)
  • High Point: 1280 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable:No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

This hike takes you to two waterfalls, one on the South Fork Alsea River and the other on Peak Creek. The trails are part of the Bureau of Land Management's Alsea Falls Recreation Area, with the path to Green Peak Falls in the Hull-Oakes Company's Hubert K. McBee Memorial Park. Other than the trails to the falls, there is a more extensive network of trails open to mountain bikers and hikers that extend up the slopes of mostly secondary forest on both sides of the Alsea River. The campground and day-use areas are open from mid-May to September 30th. However, the best time to come and see the falls is from late fall through mid-summer as they can be reduced to mere trickles in the dry season. There are a few old growth Douglas-firs on the optional Big Fir Loop described in the third paragraph; this extension adds about two miles and 500 feet of elevation to the waterfall hike.

Walk down the road from the day-use area entrance, which is gated in the off-season. You will see a footbridge across the river, but don't cross it yet. Find a track along the river to your left under hemlocks and alders, and descend some steps under cedar, Douglas-fir, Pacific yew, big-leaf maple with sword fern and Oregon grape. This takes you to the base of Alsea Falls, a slide waterfall which roars in full spate in winter and spring, but may actually make for a better picture when the water flow is less. However, the place can be crowded on summer weekends, when the pool at the base of the falls becomes a popular swimming hole. Then head back up to the footbridge, which permits a view of the top of the falls, but keep to the west side of the river, picking up the trail as it wends past picnic tables and restrooms, past huge stumps, and under Douglas-fir and hemlock with a salmonberry and vine maple understory. The trail can be littered with Douglas-fir debris in the off-season. Cross a footbridge and head away from the river above a spring and then across another bridge. Come out at a service road with a shed to the left. Here, at the campground, take a footbridge over the river. A sign says the trail was built by the Youth Conservation Corps. On the other side of the footbridge is a map indicating biking and hiking trails in the area.

Go right to do the optional loop. The trail upriver is graveled as you walk past alders and salmonberry and then slosh past an ash swale. In about a quarter of a mile, come to a junction. Trail 8 (the Buck Horn Trail) leads uphill to the left for about 0.5 miles. It’s a hiker trail only. Head up under Douglas-fir, western hemlock and some grand fir with sword fern as the groundcover. There are six switchbacks. Find yourself walking up with a creek to your left. This area is seondary Douglas-fir, cedar and hemlock with many burnt snags. At a large Douglas-fir at the top of the rise, the trail bends left. Pass more old growth Douglas-firs and then switchback up in a dense plantation of saplings. Pass a large Douglas-fir and come to an old road bed and go left on a salal-lined track. Meet up with a forest road and go left and soon begin to descend. The woods are second and third growth Douglas-fir with some old growth giants remaining. Soon come to a signpost indicating the departure of the foot trail from the road. This is across from a large Douglas-fir that towers above a plantation. Drop down the Sidewinder Trail in matchstick woods, where soon huge trees begin to appear. Then start switchbacking in secondary growth. Descend a short, steep slope to reach the river trail at a huge springboard-notched stump.

Go right at the trail junction and pass the first footbridge close to the top of Alsea Falls. A sign says McBee Park is 0.5 miles, Green Peak Falls is 1.0 miles. Hike above the rushing South Fork Alsea in woods with moss-draped yews, Douglas-firs, western hemlocks, Oregon grape, and sword fern. Descend wooden steps and then come to a spur which descends more wooden steps towards the river. There’s no view of the falls from here, however. Return to the main trail and continue above the river where it splits at two small, wooded islands. Walk between large Douglas-firs and switchback down, noting large cedars on the flat below. Come out under large, mossy big-leaf maples and then walk through an alder copse to a campsite.

You are now in McBee Park, on land owned by the Hull-Oakes Lumber Company. From the campsite, a road leads left to join another road. Walk straight on this road. A dirt road branches right up the hill. Twenty-five yards beyond this dirt road, a hiking trail leads up into the woods. The trail then descends the hillside. Ignore spurs branching off. Join the main trail coming from McBee Park and go right at a large Douglas-fir to drop into an alder bottomland. The trail rises in a dense plantation with a carpet of wild ginger. At the top of the rise, look up the hill to the right to old growth Douglas-firs. The trail drops to a footbridge. Peak Creek saunters through the grassy bottomland to the left. Pass under more old Douglas-firs and come to thundering 45-foot Green Peak Falls. A wooden staircase leads down to the creek and a good lunch spot.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash on falls trails
  • Alsea Falls Day-use and Campground areas open mid-May to September 30th
  • Primitive campsites also available at McBee Park

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast and Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • 75 Hikes in Oregon's Coast Range and Siskiyous by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Hiking the Oregon Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Corvallis Trails by Margie C. Powell
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by David L. Anderson
  • Waterfall Lover's Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb
  • A Guide to Trails in the Corvallis Area by Phillip R. Hays

More Links

Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.