Oregon

Whittaker Creek Recreation Site (and beyond)

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About halfway between Eugene and the coast, Whittaker Creek Recreation Site is located right off Highway 126. The recreation area itself seems  to be centered around featuring the Siuslaw River.  The initial bit of road here follows a charming stretch of the river with good access to its banks for fishing or just getting wet on a hot day.
Continuing through/past this BLM site will lead to a network of BLM and National Forest roads that twist up through the steep hills and deep valleys of the coast range. This is dense temperate rainforest, so even up along ridgelines, views are rare and frequently filtered through trees.


A surprisingly high percentage of the roads I found were actually paved. Unpaved "main" roads were generally well-maintained gravel. Most of the more compelling unpaved routes I saw were behind locked gates. I managed to find a few lesser-used sideroads and spurs which presented more challenging terrain, but frequently overgrown with encroaching Douglas Fir, to the point of distraction. I didn't explore every single mile of road in this area - ultimately it just wasn't compelling enough to entice me to explore further - but where I did get to, I didn't make any stunning or surprising discoveries - it's pretty much standard PNW forest just like most of the other excursions surrounding Eugene. Granted, that can be wonderfully lovely - I adore the refreshing coolness, pungeant scents, and lush, luxurious, abundant foliage. But honestly, I didn't find any particular reason to explore this particular corner of PNW forest, apart from the really enjoyable drive along the banks of the Siuslaw when you first get off Hwy 126.

Spur roads I explored generally terminated in extremely secluded dispersed camping sites. Even in the middle of winter, I encountered a few sketchy vans and run-down campers. Be prepared to improvise alternate routes. There were a few places where roads on the map had been deliberately blocked by bulldozed dirt piles, as well numerous gated roads. This area has a lot of the public/private checkerboard that is so typical of Oregon public lands, so exploring is a bit of a crapshoot in terms of access. The checkerboard effect is especially in evidence where you find blocks of clearcut timberland stopping short at a wall of untouched Doug fir.

The road to Whittaker Creek Recreation Area turns off the south side of Hwy 126 about 30 miles west of Eugene. The turnoff  is well marked. The exit road splits to either cut back under the highway north or follow the river south. Head south along the river to access this excursion, though before you do, you can check out the Wildcat Creek covered bridge just a few hundred yards to the north (as also seen on the Eugene-Coast Sotroading Route). I've filed this under "Coast Range" but it's not really any farther from Eugene than some of the excursions categorized as "Willamette Valley."