Top of the Rock
RALLY! Don't put up your camping gear and hiking boots just yet! If Salem and Portland are where you hibernate during our cold weather months, the BLM has a few sites very near to you that will make enjoying the great outdoors this fall and winter easier than you might think.
story & photos by Jeff Clark
The BLM's Salem District manages both the Molalla River Corridor Recreation Site as well as its neighbor, the Table Rock Wilderness Area. Both locations are perfect spots for anyone who'd like to take a quick easy drive for an excursion in our nearby woods, mountains, and streams.
For visitors to Molalla, there are ample opportunities for picnicking, camping, and fishing with easy river access. Visitors can also hike, ride horses, or mountain bike within the Molalla River Shared-Use Trail System. This extensive network of non-motorized trails provides varying degrees of difficulty alongside scenic shots of the Molalla River and Cascade Mountain Range. Perfect for mountain bikers looking for a day trip this winter! And you won't soon run out of dirt to explore more than five thousand acres along 12 miles of the scenic upper Molalla River extending a mile and a half south to the Table Rock Wilderness.
Once you get to Table Rock, you'll park your bike or motorized vehicle and find a massive point made from basalt rock surrounded by lush green trees and plants. And at almost five thousand feet elevation, there's plenty to see while keeping your mind off the steep switchbacks that lead you to spectacular views on the summit. On a clear day, hikers can see peaks in three states - from Washington's Mount Rainier all the way down to California's Mount Shasta. This beauty, in such close proximity to Oregon's urban centers, is a major draw for both Molalla and Table Rock.
One special note on the trails in this area: they were developed by a fantastic cooperative effort between the BLM, the Molalla RiverWatch, and a large group of interested parties that make up the Molalla River Alliance.
Zach Jarrett, Lead Outdoor Recreation Planner for the BLM's Salem District says, "The Molalla RiverWatch has been a key partner with the BLM for the past 14 years. They've really helped with public outreach and special events like river cleanups with groups like SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism.)"
Thanks to their generous labor, everyone can enjoy this area year-round! Plus with accessibility only minutes from Portland and Salem, these areas provide a wonderful outlet to stay active and outdoors, even in the winter.
Giving us the last word, Zach states that "...the Molalla River Corridor offers really easy access to everyone in Portland, Salem, and the surrounding communities to enjoy a ton of recreation options and dramatic vistas and still be back home by five o' clock."
Beauty and recreation only minutes away? See you there!
Trail maps are available at the BLM's Salem District office - or print your own online.More information about the groups mentioned in the article can be found at: molallariveralliance.org, molallariverwatch.org, and solv.org.