The clouds that brought intermittent showers to the Cascades may have dampened the plans of some AHG hikers but not for the hearty 4 that arrived at the Mill Creek Scenic Area on Monday. Driving up Hwy 62 we ran into the occasional cloud burst, but were spared for the most part when we entered the forest.
The temperature was in the 40s and breezy at the TH parking but the cool breeze went away as we descended the trail and headed towards the falls. As we continued in the forest you could soon hear the roar of falling water from Mill Creek Falls. The view was breathtaking and all agreed that we had never seen it fuller. The white water from the top seemed to launch itself from the rapids into the air then drop the 173' to the river below. The spray at the bottom of the falls reached across the river and created a rain forest effect on the other side.
A short walk away we came to Barr Creek Falls across the river canyon. We climbed the rocky lookout to view all 242' of this majestic marvel. The joy from viewing the falls was only heightened when it started to drizzle then turned to corn snow. We took shelter under a pine tree.
Also sheltering in the forest were Spring flowers that like the shade. We saw Snow Queen, Pioneer Violets, Western Trillium and the season's first sighting of the Calypso Orchid.
We followed the trail down to where the Rogue River was rushing through the Avenue of the Giant Boulders. The river was full and loud as it cascaded over Granite rocks. The late season snow melt is filling local rivers and streams and starting to fill lakes and reservoirs.
Our final wonder of nature was Pearsony Falls; for that we drove across the bridge and into the lot closer to Prospect. Two in our group hadn't explored that area before so there was increased anticipation.
This dreamy fall has to be seen to be believed. Though only about 15' high it is split by an island on Mill Creek then comes together in white rapids in the creek. There are many viewpoints, but my favorite is walking out on a big log that crosses the creek.
After Pearsony we continued on the trail for a view down into the Rogue River canyon. We made our way along the top of the canyon wall to where we could see Mill Creek falling over the cliff to the river below.
A bit wet and chilly, we decided to look for lunch in town instead of the forest. We found the Historic Prospect Hotel with rooms named after famous guests like Teddy Roosevelt. But their dining room wasn't open for lunch. ( This 19th century hotel might be a good location for overnighting for hikes in the area. They seem to like hiking groups.) We ate at the Cafe & Trophy Room just up the road.
As always, this hike is great fun rain or shine with four awesome displays of nature in just 4 miles.