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  • Coquille Falls is a truly wild and remote place

  • When it comes to hiking destinations, the best ones are sometimes the most remote.
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      Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest website for the trail: http://1.usa.gov/1idVqrj
      My map: http://goo.gl/aNsy0Z
      Info about Coquille Falls Natural Research Area: http://1.usa.gov/1idUh2Q
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      Learn more
      Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest website for the trail: http://1.usa.gov/1idVqrj

      My map: http://goo.gl/aNsy0Z

      Info about Coquille Falls Natural Research Area: http://1.usa.gov/1idUh2Q

      Brochure: "The Geology of Waterfalls Along the Coquille River" can be downloaded for free from http://1.usa.gov/1fqHEfG
  • When it comes to hiking destinations, the best ones are sometimes the most remote.
    One of those spots is Coquille Falls, an easy hike at the end of a long drive. While Coquille Falls is far from any major highway, it's actually in a very central location. The nearest town is Powers, and there are approaches from Interstate 5 and Highway 101.
    To get there, first you have to reach Powers, a town of about 700 people in Coos County that is located 21 miles south of Myrtle Point (off Oregon Route 42).
    From Medford, take I-5 north for about 89 miles to exit 119 toward Winston/Coos Bay. Follow Highway 42 about 45 miles to County Highway 219 South (Powers Highway), which turns into National Forest Road 33. About 5 miles south of Powers, take a left onto National Forest Road 3348. After about 1.5 miles on NF 3348, start looking for a small turnout with a trailhead sign on the north side of the road.
    From the turnout, Coquille River Falls Trail #1257 follows an easy grade down the headwaters of the Coquille River. The sun breaks through on sunny days, producing slivers of light shaped by breaks in the canopy.
    About a mile into the hike, the trail becomes steep, and wet in some places, bringing you to the first views of lower Coquille Falls. Inch closer at your own caution and discover challenging river access below the falls. The water plunges 20 or so feet into a clear pool, making way to a deep, narrow, river channel.
    Adventurous hikers can scramble to the upper falls along a few different routes, and along the most natural approach you will find a plaque to commemorate the life of a Cub Scout who fell to his death in pursuit of the wonder of the upper falls.
    The upper falls is even more impressive, and there's easier swimming access, as well as a couple of sandy nooks for nappers and campers who want to spend some time here. The water is clear and inviting for swimmers who want to swim underneath the falls and in the deep pool. Early in the summer the water is cold, but by late summer the Coquille has warmed up quite a bit.
    And don't forget you'll have to make your way back down, adjacent the memorial plaque, which is a reminder of the fragility of life and the luring nature of truly wild places.
    The Coquille Falls Natural Research Area, which accompanies the adjacent Port Orford Natural Research Area, is as special for its forests as its waterfalls. The area boasts dense, old-growth trees towering high in the sky, hovering over giant ferns, lush moss. The soil is quite rich, like farther north on the coast, but the slope is steep like the Siskiyous.
    Nearby, there are many primitive camping options, including a number of campgrounds scattered throughout Eden Valley, including Squaw Lake and Island Campground. And while this spot is pretty darned remote, you can take off in any direction for infinite nearby adventures.
    No matter which way you head, whether it's toward Powers, Agness, Glendale or Galice, there are numerous trails, creeks, rivers and beaches to explore.
    But while you're dreaming, don't forget how far you are from any services.
    Call the ranger station in Gold Beach and Powers to check on road conditions, as the area's roads are sometimes out of service. Pick up the Powers Ranger District map, and fill up on gas before leaving.
    Gabriel Howe is executive director and field coordinator for the Siskiyou Mountain Club. Contact him at howegabe@gmail.com.
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