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Pine Bench Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Douglas-firs, Pine Bench, Bradley Trail, Boulder Creek Wilderness (bobcat)
Pools, Soda Springs, Boulder Creek Wilderness (bobcat)
Rattlesnake Ridge from the Bradley Trail, Boulder Creek Wilderness (bobcat)
Tall sugar pine, Bradley Trail, Boulder Creek Wilderness (bobcat)
The route described to Pine Bench, Boulder Creek Wilderness (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Bradley Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Pine Bench Viewpoint
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 5.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1280 feet
  • High Point: 2,675 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No
Poison Oak
Snakes
Ticks

Contents

Hike Description

The Boulder Creek Wilderness, at almost 20,000 acres, is one of three wilderness areas within the Umpqua National Forest. Perhaps its most popular hiking destination is Pine Bench, a broad tableland that was once burned annually by Native Americans. The ponderosa pines here compose the northernmost significant grove on the west side of the Cascade crest. With the demise of Native burning, however, Douglas-firs are beginning to predominate and outnumber the ponderosas. The Boulder Creek Wilderness has seen a couple of extensive burns in the past 20 years, the southern section, including Pine Bench, being scorched by the 1996 Spring Fire. Another fire in 2017 burned across most of Pine Bench. Be aware that poison oak is present along much of this trail. This hike can be done all year: winter snows usually melt off fairly rapidly

Pine Bench can be accessed using two other trails that come up from the North Umpqua River. The Boulder Creek Trail #1552 comes off of the North Umpqua Trail and involves a much longer approach; the short Soda Springs Trail #1493 seems to have access sometimes compromised by activity at the Soda Springs Dam and Power Plant. The Bradley Trail off of FR 4775 offers more reliable access; it is named after Bill Bradley, a homesteader who squatted on land near here.

The hike on the Bradley Trail #1491 begins on the level in secondary forest with some larger Douglas-firs lurking in the shadows. Conifers include western hemlock, ponderosa pine, sugar pine, white fir, and incense cedar. Salal, vine maple, Oregon grape, and rhododendron form the understory. Pass through a dense stand of young conifers and enter an open burn area with a view to the outcroppings of Rattlesnake Ridge. Drop over a ridge and pass the entry sign for the Boulder Creek Wilderness. The trail makes a level traverse through a shrubby deer brush understory and then drops above a slope of old growth with an increasing number of incense cedars. Reach the dripping, algae-encrusted rock terraces of Soda Springs and get a view of the iron-stained wetland below. Look for white slender-tubed irises here in the spring. Soon reach the Bradley-Soda Springs Trail Junction: you can take a diversion down the Soda Springs Trail to visit the little terraces that have built up in the wetland at the bottom of the slope.

Continuing on the Bradley Trail, wind up past some large sugar pines and switchback twice to a saddle. Pass below large exposed rock faces and make two more short switchbacks. Traverse a slope that experienced a crown fire during the 1996 Spring Fire, and get a view down to the Soda Springs Power Plant and the Soda Springs Dam upstream from it. Also from here, you can get a view to Mount Bailey on the Cascade Crest. Descend gently to the broad forested expanse of Pine Bench, first encountering some large ponderosa pines and then some big Douglas-firs. Snowberry, vanilla leaf, and inside-out flower form a carpet. Through the trees to the left there are more views to rocky Peak 3286 on Rattlesnake Ridge.

At the Boulder Creek-Bradley Trail Junction, go right and cross a more open grassy bench. Pass a campsite and then reach an unmarked trail junction. Take the trail spur leading left, which terminates at the lovely madrone-shaded Pine Bench Viewpoint and campsite above atmospheric rock outcroppings overlooking the deep Boulder Creek Canyon. A small spring, which may dry up by the end of August, offers fresh water. Clamber about here among the madrones and manzanitas and then return the way you came.

The Boulder Creek Trail continues past the viewpoint turnoff and then drops into the steep-sided valley of Boulder Creek. However, it is unmaintained past this point and becomes ever brushier, with an increasing amount of deadfall.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service & U.S. Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management: Land of Umpqua
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Umpqua National Forest

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Hiking Southern Oregon by Art Bernstein & Zach Urness
  • Hiking Oregon’s Southern Cascades and Siskiyous by Art Bernstein
  • 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon's Southern Cascades: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Best Old-growth Forest Hikes: Washington & Oregon Cascades by John & Diane Cissel
  • Oregon’s Wilderness Areas by George Wuerthner

More Links


Page 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.