Cummings Creek Loop: Florence, Oregon

Listen to your breath. It will be loud and wild, and you will sweat.

The first half of this 6+ mile loop is varying degrees of upwards through old growth evergreen. The view at the top is more serene than majestic, but the end of Cummings Creek Loop takes you down through delightful mossy meadows and alder stands. It’s a quiet trail, good for thinking, and you’ll sleep well after this one. Open for hikes, bikes and pups.

Get Ready: Driving South on the 101 from Newport, I found the trailhead easily. There’s a nice sign for the turnoff just past the town of Yachats and Thor’s Well. No bathrooms at the trail head. If you have a water filter, bring it. I drank a liter and wished I could refill from the river before I left. Take snacks or lunch. Who am I kidding? Always take snacks. Take extra snacks.

Get Set: You’ll arrive at the end of the quarter mile turnoff to a sign and map. The posted map was a bit dirty and confusing. Check out the map on AllTrails or the Siuslaw National Forest website. Trust. It’s simple. I wrote before about how I experience what is perhaps an irrational fear when I start out on a trail alone. I was able to let go of What if I get lost? pretty quickly.

Go: The start of the trail is soft pine mulch with lots of sword fern and shade. I recommend taking one of the offshoots to the right down to Cummings Creek. I loved seeing its midday mood slip into afternoon. After a couple miles of gentle uphill, the real climb begins. This is the loop. Roots and rocks help you take big steps closer to the top of the trees. Rushing air implies the valley to your left. I was grateful that I could only look down so far.

Effort: This trail requires some patience and a healthy heart. I think I was on the trail for four hours. You can do it, too. Take lots of breaks for water, and stretching, and breath catching. Fallen giants are the best benches, after all. At the top, the view is of the surrounding hills, which some people might find disappointing. But I found a sunny spot to sit like a lizard in the calm victory of persevering.

Takeaway: I love to try new things. When change becomes habit, routine becomes the adventure. In the routine, there is still plenty to discover. Maybe the deepest discoveries require the mundane level of comfort that comes with repeating, with echoes. In nature this is especially true, as the wind and sun shift, as creatures grow. Cummings Creek Trail is my favorite Siuslaw National Forest trail so far. I plan to walk to it again and again.