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Hiking at the New River

IMG_5847 - CopyThere are a number of excellent places to hike around Bandon, but hiking at the New River is at the top of the favorites list.  The New River runs from Floras Lake in Langlois and parallels the Pacific to where it flows into the ocean 9 miles north.  It was formed fewer than 120 years ago when, according to the local story, water rushed onto the lowlands during an 1890 flood and carved a waterway.  A rancher inadvertently named it when he looked at it and said, “It’s a new river!”

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Today, the New River and 1200 associated acres are an Area of Critical Environmental Concern, managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  It spreads over two counties and consists of four different sites along the coast: Floras Lake, Lost Lake, Fourmile Creek, and Storm Ranch.

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Storm Ranch, about 10 miles south of Bandon, was once owned by Ann and Nancy Wilson of the 70s and 80s rock band Heart who raised thoroughbred horses.  The Wilsons sold the ranch to the BLM who has taken it and turned it into a system of hiking/biking/equestrian trails and river access for the public to enjoy.

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Start your hike at the parking lot for the Learning Center, and pick up a trail map there.  This brochure not only shows a map, but it also gives nice descriptions and time estimations of the trails.  Hiking every one of the trails will take one to 2 hours, depending on hiking speed, and will log you about 3 miles.

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The trails at Storm Ranch offer lovely plant life, bird sightings, views, and general communing with nature.  On the six different trails, you will see meadows; pine forests; a lake; native plants such as salal, manzanita, wild rhododendron, and huckleberries; and views of the Coast Range and the ocean.  Be sure to take the Old Bog Trail spur from East Muddy Lake Trail.  At its end, you will see the Westmoor Cranberry Bogs.  These bogs were planted around 1915 and are some of the oldest bogs in the area.  The Ocean View Trail and the West Muddy Lake Trail will take you to the boat ramp and a nice place to see the New River.

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Be prepared for a variety of conditions.  Most of the trails are relatively flat with a few small hills, but there are some spots that will get your heart beating nicely.  The Huckleberry Hill Trail offers some of the best views and the New River’s biggest dunes, but due to the loose sand and rolling dunes, it is probably the most difficult.  IMG_5857

When you finish your hike, reward yourself with a stop in the Learning Center for its interpretive displays and information.  There you can talk to a BLM employee and hear the local lore and history of the area and river.

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To get there: Travel south from Bandon on Highway 101 about 9 miles to Croft Lake Lane.  You will see a brown sign pointing you to the New River.  Turn right on Croft Lake Road and drive about 2.5 miles to the end of the road and the parking lot.

Facilities: There is a drinking fountain, composting toilets, and a picnic area at the parking lot near the Learning Center.

Hours: The park is open from sunrise to sunset.

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