Favorite Fall Hikes: French Pete Trail

Last Wednesday we were off to check out the French Pete Trail (#3311) along the Aufderheide Scenic Byway, a beautiful 60-mile road that connects McKenzie Bridge and Blue River to the north and Oakridge to the south.  I’d been on the Aufderheide many times before, but had always buzzed right by the French Pete Trailhead. (Note: the Aufderheide is a seasonal road that closes in late fall, depending on snowfall; always check road conditions first)

Fall Colors on French Pete Trail
After arriving at the trailhead,  I let the dogs out of the car off leash and they seemed to know that we were in for a great hike and camping trip.  Once the pack was donned, we were off to explore new sights!

French Pete Creek
The trail is only open to hikers (horses are strongly discouraged) and being that it’s a wilderness area, bikes are also no-no. The trail is heavily used for about the first mile, and then becomes a nice mushroom-lined path that parallels the creek below.  It’s been a while since I’ve camped in such a beautiful spot.

Colorful Tree on French Pete Trail
Only the first three miles of this moderately-difficult trail are maintained; I chose to cross the creek via a couple unmaintained log bridges and hiked a total of ten miles. The trail was nice in most spots, but at times became surprisingly steep and thin. There were more mushrooms on this trip than on any I’ve ever been on, averaging about one every 5 feet.  Also, the fall leaves here were at their peak and I took full advantage of my new camera to photograph the range of colors.  The dogs and I returned to town and unpacked the gear (they watched, I unpacked), content knowing that even a short trip to the woods is better than no trip at all…

-Andy Redick, guest contributor

Read the full story of Andy’s French Pete Trail camping trip, or of his many other adventures hiking, mountain biking, camping, snowshoeing and rock climbing around Oregon at http://www.andysoutdooradventures.blogspot.com/


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