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Campsite Photo Trip - Summer 2012

Silver and Gold

Greg reveals some gems in the Mt. Hood, Silver Falls State Park, and Detroit Lake State Park areas:

Last Saturday was a beautiful sunny day. After uploading the last blog post I visited three small campgrounds nearby. I came through the Mt. Hood area three years ago and have already been to all the big campgrounds. I prefer the smaller ones myself and I stumbled upon a great one.

On the western side of Mt. Hood is a tiny town called Zig Zag. Driving north on Lolo Pass Rd.for 4.5 miles and then turning right will lead to McNeil, Riley Horse, and Lost Creek campgrounds.


McNeil is the largest with 34 campsites. The sites are big and there is a good view of Mt. Hood. Water is available at Riley.


Next stop was Riley Horse Camp.


There are nice horse trails in the area and this is where to stay. Sites 1, 4, 5, 7, and 8 have 4-horse corrals. 10 has a two-horse corral and the rest have hitching posts. Make reservations as this place fills up.


The gem is Lost Creek. This tiny campground has only 10 campsites of which 7 are reservable.


The campground road and spurs are all paved and ADA accessible. There are many trails and a waterfall nearby. There are two yurts as well. The host told me that this campground is almost always full. I highly recommend a visit to this hidden treasure.

Lost-Creek_004 Lost-Creek_011

Sunday morning I left for Silver Falls State Park 30 miles east of Salem. I really wanted to spend more than one night here but it was full. It was drizzling as I headed down the mountain.


This is the largest state park in Oregon in terms of area, with over 8000 acres. There are 100 campsites with about half having water and electricity. There are group areas, lodges, and even a conference center. This is a an exquisite park. This was my campsite for the night.


It came with an inquisitive squirrel.


Green is my favorite color and my camp kitchen reflects that.


Checkout time here is 1:00pm and checkin time is 4:00pm. I arrived at 1:30pm which turned out to be perfect. I was able to whip up a bowl of soup and walk the campground while it was still almost empty.


The key to good chicken noodle soup is the addition of habanero sauce and oyster crackers. Throw in just a few crackers at a time to keep them from getting soggy.

By 5:00pm the campground was full and the sun came out.


I followed a trail over a covered bridge to the cabin area to see what they looked like.

Bridge-1 Bridge-2 Bridge-3

Monday morning I made breakfast and went to visit the falls.


I have problems making pancakes. The batter alternates between too thick and too thin as I keep adding water and flour. When I finally get it right I end up with a pancake like this one that hardly fits the plate.


Silver Falls State Park has an 8 mile trail that is extremely popular to hike. The Canyon Trail is a nationally recognized trail system that leads hikers along the banks of the north and south forks of Silver Creek. It takes you to 10 majestic waterfalls, ranging from the grand South Falls (177 feet), to the delicate Drake Falls (27 feet). Four of these falls have an amphitheater-like surrounding where you can walk behind the falls and feel the misty, crisp spray.

Since I was leaving shortly, I only had time to see South Falls. It doesn't look like much from the top.


That changes as I walk down to the bottom.


I didn't realize how much of an overhang there was when I took the photo of the top of the falls. Maybe that's why all the warning signs were there.


The trail down passes behind the waterfall. This was cool.

South-Falls-1 South-Falls-2

See the people on the trail behind the water.


One last one.


I reluctantly left and headed to Detroit Lake State Park, stopping at Fisherman's Bend on the way.


There are 40 sites here and I was told that the fishing is excellent on the North Santiam River.

Fishermans-Bend_016 Fishermans-Bend-View

I arrived at Detroit and immediately wished I was back at Silver Falls. The campgrounds were as different as grapes and gravel.


There are around 300 campsites crammed into a narrow spot between Highway 22 and the lake. There is no understory, meaning that there is absolutely no privacy. The spurs are short as well. I camped in this spot for three nights.


The chairs on the left are not mine. I could see at least 30 other sites swiveling my head around. I couldn't even take pictures. It would have been an invasion of privacy like staring into someone's living room. Bottom line, reserve a waterfront site so you will have no neighbors on one side. Even then you can still hear the traffic all day and night. It does have a nice dock and boat facilities.


Thankfully on the other side of the lake are 3 wonderful Forest Service campgrounds. You head 4 miles east on the 22 and turn right on Blow Out Rd. After a couple of miles you will find them along the lake shore. All three of these campgrounds have boat ramps.


First up is Hoover with 37 campsites.


You could fit 5 Detroit campsites in that one.


Next up is Cove Creek with 63 campsites.

Cove-Creek-Sign Cove-Creek_039

Lots of privacy as well.


While the previous two campgrounds are reservable, South Shore is not.


There are 32 campsites here with 8 of them being walk in ones, as well as a dock and boat launch.

South-Shore-View South-Shore-Boat-Ramp

My favorite site here was #4 which is a walk in. Check it out. Right on the lake.


So do yourself a favor and skip Detroit Lake State Park and try these ones instead. You get better sunsets on this side as well.

I left on Thursday morning and continued east to Bend following a scenic byway.


Along the way I passed by Big Lake and Mt. Washington.

Mt-Washington-1 Mt-Washington-3

The Pacific Crest Trail passes through this area.


So I hiked it for a little bit.


It twisted a turned through an old burn area. Here is another view looking back towards Mt. Washington.


I will be spending the next week in the Bend area, specifically Sunriver about 15 miles south. I have several day trips planned in the area.

Regards, Park Ranger


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