Shellburg Falls/August Mountain

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bobcat
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Location: SW Portland

Shellburg Falls/August Mountain

Post by bobcat » February 19th, 2013, 7:26 pm

This was half day outing with a friend on his birthday, 7 - 8 miles in all. Even though the trailhead is 22 miles east of Salem, leaving early and fast roads (I-5/Hwy 22) meant it took less than an hour to get there from SW Portland. The hike in on a gated road involves walking through some pastures and getting bovine stare-downs before entering the Santiam State Forest. There are three waterfalls, the first being Lower Shellburg, which tumbles right below the road.
Cows in the field, Shellburg Falls.jpg
Pond, Shellburg Falls Road.jpg
Top of Lower Shellburg Falls.jpg
View from below, Lower Shellburg Falls.jpg
Then it's up to Shellburg Falls, which plunges about 100' off a basalt ledge. The Santiam S.F. office at Hwy22/North Fork Road dispenses literature about the geology of the area; these are the same formations as in Silver Falls State Park, just north of here. The thick basalt layer is part of the same Columbia flood basalts that formed the Columbia Gorge 17 - 12 million years ago. At Shellburg Falls, the trail goes behind the falls under an overhang, where you can see the eroded sedimentary layer deposited during the time of a shallow inland sea. You can also pick out some limb casts of trees caught up in the lava flows.
Approach, Shellburg Falls.jpg
Mossy maple, Shellburg Falls.jpg
From the overhang, Shellburg Falls.jpg
Western view, Shellburg Falls.jpg
We hiked up Shellburg Creek and past the campground (closed for the winter). We then took the upper loop (Shellburg Creek Trail) around and joined up with the August Mountain Trail. Heading down, we got caught up in a maze of use trails, perhaps mainly used by mountain bikers, east of the main August Mountain Trail, before we dropped down to Shellburg Falls Road. We went east here for the short spur to 125' Stasel Falls and viewed it from above (The falls are just off state land on private land). Probably the most remarkable aspect of these falls is the basalt pillar which splits the creek. There is a way to scramble to the bottom of these falls from back off the road, but we declined the opportunity this time.
Douglas-fir and hemlock woods, Shellburg Falls.jpg
The pillar, Stasel Falls.jpg
On the return, all manner of humanity was coming up the road, with dogs I've never seen on a hike before (a Maltese, a topiaried standard poodle, perhaps a bichon frise?), the trailhead was full, and cars were parked up both sides of the road.

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BrianEdwards
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Re: Shellburg Falls/August Mountain

Post by BrianEdwards » February 19th, 2013, 9:36 pm

Nice hike! Good angle on the rock pillar at Stasel. That's wierd about the dogs :?: Seems like a random place to encounter such a group
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CampinCarl
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Re: Shellburg Falls/August Mountain

Post by CampinCarl » February 19th, 2013, 9:48 pm

Cool spot... I've only been to lower/upper Shellburg Falls and then turned around. I know the campground road is gated right now, but is it possible to "backpack" up there at the campground in the winter? That would be nice low-elevation option if it is allowed.

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bobcat
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Location: SW Portland

Re: Shellburg Falls/August Mountain

Post by bobcat » February 20th, 2013, 5:34 pm

@Carl: Well, the campground is there, but the restrooms are probably locked, so I don't know if they'd like you hanging out there in the winter.

I've hiked up from Shellburg Falls into the Silver Falls State Park backcountry using the Lost Creek Trail. If you do the "big" loop plus the Lost Creek Trail it's about 12 miles altogether.

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Rustygoat
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Re: Shellburg Falls/August Mountain

Post by Rustygoat » February 21st, 2013, 5:38 pm

Very nice trip report Bobcat...sounds a lot better than mine from last month. ;) I posted my on off trail reports because I bushwhacked my way to the bottom of Stasel Falls. Here's a picture from the bottom 1/12/13.
IMG_1880.JPG
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oregone
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Re: Shellburg Falls/August Mountain

Post by oregone » February 23rd, 2013, 6:42 am

I hiked up here a few weeks ago on a Saturday with my 5-year-old son. I was taken aback by how crowded it was for a rainy/snowy morning, as I frequently hike up here in the summer and can go a full day without seeing anyone else. Although the campground doesn't officially open until Memorial Day, the bathrooms are unlocked (at least they were a few weekends ago). All of the picnic tables at the campground have been stacked up in the shelter, and I believe it is visited regularly by ODFW and Santiam State Forest employees throughout the winter.
It's funny: Even though they unlock the gates on Memorial Day weekend, the roads are so bad that I think it's still quicker to hike in from the trail head instead of driving.

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