NPSO 2012 Annual Meeting
Field Trip - Botanical Driving Tour following the old Wimer Stage road – Oregon Mtn. – Gasquet
Leaders: Roger Brandt (retired National Park Service Interpretive Ranger) and Richard Callagan (Botanist-Siskiyou Biosurvey).
Difficulty: Easy – short excursions near vehicles.
Altitude: 1400 - 4000'
Description: The tour follows stage roads constructed in the 1880s and later upgraded with gravel surfaces generally well graded and passable to most vehicles. The route passes through four geologic settings, including two derived from volcanic activity, one with fertile sediments from an ancient ocean basin, and one made up of rocks uplifted from the upper mantle of the earth (sometimes called serpentine rock). Each of these geologic settings support plant communities that may have strong contrast with other plant communities around them.
The oldest trail in the Illinois Valley used to be a favorite route used by the first pioneer botanists of Oregon. Thomas Howell, Willis Jepson, Thomas Douglas, Henry Brewer, Al Hobart, and others - searched for several new species along this route. The route I am referring to is called the Waldo/ Happy Camp Trail.
Floristic Highlights: Flora varies over the route depending upon slope aspect, geologic regimes, and presence of water. The dominant plant associations include Jeffery pine woodlands, Douglas fir forest, riparian zones along Shelley Creek, and communities with lodgepole pine, western white pine, knobcone pine, tan oak and canyon oak. Darlingtonia fens are located at several places along the route.
General Driving Directions: The tour begins at O’Brien Store located on Highway 199 eight miles south of Cave Junction. There is a flashing yellow light at the intersection and a giant fly on the restroom roof. The route follows about 25-35 miles of gravel-surfaced roads, first to Oregon Mountain and then continues south into California and Six Rivers National Forest. Trip can include a place to opt out and return to Highway 199 at Patrick Creek Lodge (about 24 miles); otherwise trip will end at Gasquet (about 32 miles). Return to DCC will be via Hwy 199.
Preparing for the Trip: Assure vehicles have tires suitable for driving on gravel-surfaced roads. Assure the gas tank is topped off and have the oil checked. Bring lunch and carry extra water and snacks.
Appropriate Foot wear: Hiking boots.
Group Size Limit: 20
Start Time: 8:00am from DCC; 8:30 am from O’Brien Store.
Finish Time: 4:00pm
RT Mileage: 60-70 miles
Historical Packtrails of the Siskyous
- The Happy Camp Trail and Early Botanizing - PDF
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