An Extravaganza of Rhododendrons and Beargrass
Most years the best time to take this trip is the last week in June—but it all depends on the snow pack and the kind of a spring we have had. If you plan to hike to the lookout on Coffin Mt., expect to find a little snow at the top.
West on Hwy 20 to the Santiam Y junction. Take Hwy 22 towards Salem. Go 12.6 miles to the Straight Creek Road on your left. This is Road 11—a scenic backcountry byway. Go 4.2 miles to Road 1168. This sign is hard to read until you look at it closely. Turn right and go on this gravel road 3.8 miles to a short spur on your left – the trailhead for Coffin Mt. On your way to this trailhead at about 2.7 miles there is a clearcut with views and flowers in both directions. It’s hard to get away from this spot, but there is lots more to see.
If you decide to take the hike to Coffin Mt., expect to see more beargrass, views of Jefferson, paintbrush, buckwheat, cats ear mariposa. Blue gilia, serviceberry, Oregon sunshine, beautiful little low white iris, sunflowers, etc, etc, etc. The hike to the lookout is between 1-1/2 and 2 miles—rather steep and quite open, but a good trail. The lookout is probably not manned until July.
For a somewhat different hike, drive past the Coffin Mt. trailhead another .7 miles on Road 1168 and turn left on Road 430 (not the greatest road) .5 miles to the end. Find the trailhead for Bachelor Mt. on your right.
OK—now for the extravaganza part. Return to Road 11 and turn right. In a mile or so, come to a big junction. Optional—stay on Road 11 for another couple of miles until you see some nice views on your right and an open gate. That’s far enough. Go back to the big junction, and take Road 1162, which may or may not have a sign—just don’t take 1164. Be prepared for some WOW views. Go on past Tule Lake, and stay on 1162 (which will become 1164) until you reach paved Road 2266. By now, you have used up all your film and/or memory cards and batteries because you will have stopped about a dozen times for just a few more shots! So you may as well go home, by turning left on the Parish Lake Road (2266). In a few miles you are back to Hwy 22.