Rain was pouring down as I drove down the freeway, heading toward Devil’s Flat Campground.
A day earlier I took my daughter and her friend hiking on the North Umpqua Trail in warm, sunny weather, but as the saying goes today was “as unpredictable as the weather.”
I hiked near Devils Flat a few months ago, and, after the article was published in the newspaper, I was contacted by Kathy Staley, who lives nearby and said she would love to show me some of the other nearby trails.
Red Mountain had made it to the top of my list of hikes, and although I knew we had to cross a creek to do this hike, the mild weather seemed perfect to do this trail before the rain really set in.
The rain changed those plans. The creek had grown into a roaring river and would be impassable, thus making the trek to Red Mountain impossible.
Staley goes hiking almost daily, and knew a trail that might interest me. Neighbor Marline Koch joined us for the Monday morning trek up Spring Mountain.
The trail used to connect the Red Mountain Fire Lookout to Tiller, and the insulators for the old phone lines can still be found in the trees that line the trail.
What intrigued me is that after the forest service decided to stop maintenance on the trail, local residents banded together to reconstruct the trail.
Locals have been taking care of the trail since the early 2000s and are hoping that maybe the trail will return to local maps.
The trail is not on any map, but it is very well taken care of. There were some traces however, candy wrappers mostly, that people had hiked the trail recently.
Even these days most of the upkeep is done by local residents. The forest service helps with removal of large trees.
My fellow hikers were able to point out quite a few spots where trees or boulders had been on the trail and had been removed by them.
One boulder was the size of a small car, and had left such an indentation on the trail that for months to follow hikers would patch it up with nearby dirt.
A snow storm two years ago also destroyed part of the trail, but the neighbors again came together to bring the trail back and continue the upkeep.
The trail was nicknamed Spring Trail because it leads to the top of Spring Mountain. Several springs actually came from the mountainside and provided a great source of water for the dogs we brought along.
My companions, Dixie and George, decided to be rambunctious and to continuously stray off the trail, while the other three dogs were much calmer and able to stay on the trail without much trouble at all.
The hike to the top was probably just over 2 miles, making it a roundtrip of about 4.5 miles. There is quite an elevation increase and an especially steep incline near the top.
While I was breathing heavily, although that may have been because I had on too many layers, Koch — who will be turning 77 soon — tells me she tries to hike to the top once a year to know that she still can.
For me, going down the hillside is always a bit scarier then going up, and the rain makes it even harder as it turns solid footing into mudslides.
On the way down I took some time to look at my surroundings and noticed beautiful views of the surrounding area. Although it was a bit misty, oak, fir and madrone trees grow in harmony and create different green hues throughout.
The hike may not have been on the map, but it’s sure worth taking a stroll through this area of South County.
Maybe next time, it’ll dry enough to make it up to the top of Red Mountain.