September 20, 2013.
4.8 mi. | 880′ ele. gain | 2:10 hr.
There are a number of small parks and forest sites in and around Corvallis that provide easy hiking opportunities for locals. One could visit a different park each day of the week. Peavy Arboretum is the gateway to a wealth of hiking opportunities in Corvallis. It was the perfect place to detour on this lovely afternoon to squeeze in some nature time.
I chose the Section 36 – Powderhouse Loop to conduct research for a hike write-up I was working on. I’d been here once before, about a year ago. Not fresh enough in my mind to produce a reliable hike description!
The hike began by passing through an obnoxious orange gate and walking up a road. Road walks are not my favorite, but this one was pretty short. At the cabin I turned left to find the Section 36 Loop trail head. As I walked along I passed a series of signs with cryptic markings on them. “Lassen California 5000′ ” ? What was that about? Since I was walking in an experimental forest, I could imagine these were experimental plots of some sort. In a cramped office somewhere, a graduate student knew what these signs were about.
Further up the trail I paused to photograph a super cool tree that looked like it had a giant elephant trunk growing off of it. The ground at the base of the tree was trampled and bare, indicating that I wasn’t the first to check it out.
My walk continued among the sword fern, vanilla leaf, trailing blackberry and other native ground cover. At a junction with Powderhouse Trail I turned to extend my route.
This trail passed through a beautiful clearing with tall, golden grass and a few scraggly trees. It was a little cloudy, but I could still see some of the surrounding hills.
After the meadow, the trail arrived at its namesake: the cap house. This was a place to store blasting caps for quarrying, stump removal and road building in the 1930’s. Today it’s just a dingy, old relic. There was apparently a powder house located somewhere near by.
More importantly, there had been a cougar nearby. A large sign loudly announced that a cougar had been seen near here on July 25th. The sign advised hikers to make noise to get a cougar to leave them alone. I find it comical that people are fearful of cougars and not other things that are actually likely to kill them (depression, motor vehicles, drugs, alcohol, etc). According to Wikipedia there have only been 20 deadly cougar attacks in all of North America since the late 1800’s. Cougars do live here, but they generally don’t want you for lunch.
As I pondered what my feelings were about seeing a cougar in the forest, rain began to fall. I picked up my pace and hurried to finish the loop and return to my car (no cougar could get me in there). Raindrops splashed into Cronemiller Lake. As I rounded the corner and caught sight of the cabin I knew I was almost done. Another research project in the books!