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Whittaker Ridge Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Big trees on the Old Growth Trail, Whittaker Ridge (bobcat)
Whittaker Creek from the campground bridge (bobcat)
Armantrout memorial, Whittaker Creek (bobcat)
Tall Douglas-fir, Old Growth Trail, Whittaker Ridge (bobcat)
The trails at Whittaker Creek Recreation Area (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Whittaker Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Whittaker Ridge Summit
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop with spur to summit
  • Distance: 3.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 880 feet
  • High Point: 1,100 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable:No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

The Bureau of Land Management’s Whittaker Creek Recreation Area sits in the heart of the central Coast Range near the Siuslaw River. The creek runs right through the campground, and a weir allows for a popular swimming hole in the summer months. Spawning coho, chinook, and steelhead also make use of the creek, one of the most pristine streams in the area. Two trails here connect so you can make a loop, the Armantrout Loop in riparian and secondary forest, and the Old Growth Ridge Trail, a National Recreation Trail, that reaches a high ridge of venerable Douglas-firs, a remnant of what once lorded over this heavily logged area of the range.

Cross the footbridge over Whittaker Creek, and go left to a junction. Pass through a salmonberry thicket shaded by red alders and mossy big-leaf maples. Pass a campsite, and see a trail sign on the campground road. Walk left for about 100 yards to find the trailhead. An interpretive sign explains that the Old Growth Ridge Trail was built in 1991 by BLM trail teams.

Hike up the slope to reach a junction, where you’ll go left. Very soon, come to another junction, where you’ll make a left to begin the Armantrout Loop (Dr. Neil Armantrout was a BLM fisheries biologist). Pass a sign explaining the ecology of Whittaker Creek, and then head down steps to follow a series of boardwalks through cedar/salmonberry thickets. Another sign tells how alders fix nitrogen into the soil. Switchback up three times into a young Douglas-fir slope forest, and pass a sign telling about the Armantrout Trail’s history (constructed in 2004 by Dennis Smith and the Northwest Youth Corps; trail benches added in 2010 added by Eagle Scout Troop 175 out of Eugene). Cross a creek on a footbridge, and then head up on two short switchbacks. You’ll now notice some large Douglas-firs appearing along the slope. Make another switchback; in hiking the next traverse, you’ll notice how the trail tread is slipping down the slope – constant maintenance is required in these soft soils. Hike above a deep creek valley in an understory of Oregon grape, sword fern, and salal. Past another Eagle Scout bench, bear left to traverse above a sword fern bench, and switchback twice to pass a coppice of tall, spindly rhododendrons shading another bench. Wind tightly up, and traverse a Douglas-fir slope above an alder bowl to arrive at the signposted Alder Fern Junction.

Go left here to pass through a collection of mossy boulders, and then wind up steeply to encounter the first of many big Douglas-firs. Switchback four times to a ridge; then descend among hemlocks and Douglas-firs of varying ages. Continue undulating through the ancient trees along the ridge crest. A sign on a tree says there’s a “Siuslaw River Overlook” to your right, but you can barely see the river through the screen of conifers. Hike up to the Whittaker Ridge Summit, which has no view, and then return down the slope to the Alder Fern Junction.

Keep left here to complete the loop, and hike down a slope of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, big-leaf maple, and red alder. Switchback twice to descend through an area that was logged in 1947 although a few older trees are still standing. One of these is a lightning struck giant that was obviously too splintered and compromised for the chainsaw. Continue to drop down the ridge, switchbacking six more times to arrive at the beginning of the Armantrout Loop. Make a left here to return to the campground and your vehicle.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Pacific Northwest Recreation Map Series: Oregon Central Coast

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Picnic tables, rest rooms, campground, interpretive signs
  • Dogs on leash in campground area
  • Campground closed and gated Labor Day to Memorial Day

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 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
  • Oregon Campgrounds Hiking Guide by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Oregon Coast Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill

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.