Sunday, March 10, 2019

Outdoor Fun on Marys Peak

Smoke from California wild fires distorts the grand view, but created an eye catching visual effect. 



Sure, the view is a highlight, but Marys Peak is a multi-faceted experience.
My wife and I discovered this the first time we visited.

Located west of the city of Corvallis, Marys Peak rises 4100 feet above sea level. It's the most prominent peak along Oregon's Coast Range. 

This high vantage point offers visitors a whole new perspective of the world around them. On most days there's a dramatic, sweeping view in every direction. It has the potential to make a person stop and think about their place in the world. It's akin to the feeling one might get when gazing at a star-filled sky on a clear dark night. 

On a clear day, if you look to the West, you can see to the edge of the continent. To the East is the Cascade range where majestic mountains show off the higher peaks that protrude above the snowline.

Mount Rainier, Thielsen and Adams as well as Diamond Peak and several others dot the horizon from North to South. 

On this day the view was obscured by a heavy blanket of smoke from California and Southern Oregon wildfires. It wasn't the view we had heard about or expected, but it was still photo worthy.

We didn't let the fact that we couldn't see distant mountain peaks ruin our whole outing. We discovered there's still plenty to do here. 

Hiking

Marys Peak is a popular hiking spot for those who live near Corvallis. Choose from five easily accessible trailheads. Hike through a high meadow, skirt along the treeline or enter the dense trees and take a hike in the deep woods. The most popular trail is Marys Peak trail. A relatively flat 5.2 mile out and back hike that will take you through tall timber and open meadow as you hike your way to the top

The trails that go deep into the trees are used by animals as well as people. On our hike we stepped over evidence of Black tailed deer and Black Bear along the route. 

In Spring and early Summer the meadow is filled with the fluttering wings of butterfly's enjoying the nectar from an abundance of colorful wildflowers. On a sunny day, the meadow is a gorgeous spot for a picnic. Even in late Summer, when the flowers have come and gone, relaxing in the tall grass on a picnic blanket makes for a refreshing afternoon. 

Alpine meadow in late Summer. The wildflowers have come and gone, but the sun is still perfect.

Camping

If you'd like to make your trip to Marys Peak a weekend affair, there are camping spots  available. The campground is located at the end of the road. They're well marked and easy to find. A half dozen campsites are open during the Summer months from April to September. The sites are on a first come first served basis. They're not real secluded, but I'll bet the night sky makes up for the lack of trees. Bring your tent and sleeping bag. 

Winter Sports

During the winter months, it's not unusual to find snow on the ground. The roads can be potentially difficult to traverse as they are not maintained for winter travel. Hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and sledding are all possible here. 

If you like playing in the snow, Marys Peak should be on your Winter to do list.

It's advisable to check current winter weather conditions before heading out. Snow can hamper the ability to reach any of the trailheads. You should always be prepared for incoming winter weather. Letting someone know where you're going. Bringing along emergency gear is always a good idea when traveling on winter roads no matter where they might be.

Marys Peak is full of possibilities in every season of the year. Create some lasting memories and don't forget to bring your camera.

How do you get to Marys Peak?

From Corvallis, head west on Highway 34 to the town of Philomath. From here, the road splits and highway 20 heads toward the coast. Don't go that way. Stay on 34 for about 10 more miles to Marys Peak Road. Marys peak road is about 5 ½ miles long and winds its way past three trailheads. The Lower East Ridge at Conner's Camp, Meadow Edge Trail at the Marys Peak Campground and the Upper trailhead from East Ridge and North Ridge at the end of Marys Peak Road. There's a $5 fee to park.

You can get a map and all the details from the Siuslaw National Forest website here.