With snow levels in the Cascades dropping to 4,000 feet last week, we headed to the green forest for a hike next to the Little North Santiam River.
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation gain: 1,800 ft.
Much less crowded than the trails in nearby Opal Creek, this hike follows the Little North Santiam River. Most of the trail is next to the river and relatively easy, but it heads up to a high point via a steep and rocky trail to avoid a narrow gorge on the river before descending back to the level of the river. We crossed several rustic bridges and at least two piles of boards that look like they were meant to be additional bridges over creek crossings that were never built. The forest is thick with large ferns covering entire hillsides, moss and lichens drip from nearly every surface, and numerous side trails lead to areas next to the river to explore. Due to the rocky and root-filled trail, this hike is a bit more difficult than it seems it would be based on the distance and elevation gain.