Looking for a relaxing and energizing activity where you can enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest? Join Earl McCollum on his Thursday hikes in the Mist Zone at 2 p.m. at Silver Falls State Park. All interested parties, young and old meet at the Main Lodge in the South Falls Day Use area. Be ready to learn about what’s growing under your feet, as well as what towers over your head – then if you’re lucky you can cool down under South Falls. Earl says now is the best time since so many wildflowers are blooming.
The Western Trillium is an early bloomer with 3 white petals and 3 broad leaves. The flowers turn pink to purple as they age.
The Calypso Orchid is a delicate single pink flowered plant that grows in the damp shade of the Doug Firs. The Red Flowering Currant, Oregon Grape,
Yellow Wood Violet
Yellow Wood Violet, and Salmonberry are among others that are currently blooming. Call 503-873-8735 during the week for information about this and other hikes.
Tway Blade Orchid NW
There are two great reasons to celebrate spring at Silver Falls this weekend.
Hikers can celebrate the reopening of the majority of the Trail of Ten Falls. Just this afternoon, the work on the Canyon Trail loop from South Falls to Winter Falls was completed. The January 17th snowstorm and the rains and winds that followed it had taken down more than two dozen trees—leaving behind gaping holes in the trail along steep canyon walls. Trails are repaired, and visitors can now enjoy all but two of Silver Falls’ ten spectacular waterfalls. (The section of trail that includes Twin Falls and North Falls remains closed due to storm damage. North Falls, however, can be viewed from a vista point along Highway 214.)
Plant-lovers can celebrate the blooming of the Park’s first wildflower. The aptly named “Snow Queen” was spotted earlier this week blossoming even as fluffy white flakes fell. The race to spring is on. The Pacific Wren has announced it, and what sounds like an Osprey in the South Falls Day Use Area is cheering the Red-flowering Currant on.
Who will be the next wildflower to bloom? Head up to the park and let us know!
Hidden on the forest floor in damp areas beneath heart-shaped leaves lies one of Silver Falls’ most unusual wildflowers and my favorite to find each year.
The wild ginger plant can be spotted year-round and identified by its deep green, shiny, finely-haired, prominent-veined leaves that look nature’s valentine. But in the spring, these leaves hide a purplish brown flower with three-parts–each one tapering off like the handlebars on a mustache.
If the flower isn’t impressive enough, when you find a wild ginger plant (or mat of plants–they tend to spread), take your fingernail, lightly scratch the stem, and sniff. The lemony-ginger scent is what gives this plant its name. And, indeed, Native Americans have used this root as both a flavoring and a medicine. (But, before you run out to grab a handful for dinner, be forewarned that the plant does contain cancer-causing toxins!)
My go-to spot for wild ginger at Silver Falls is a bit of a trek, although you’re guaranteed to find it. Head to Silver Falls’ tallest fall, Double Falls. On the spur trail, keep your eyes to the left. When you find a wild ginger leaf, carefully lift it and look for a purplish brown, wild, wild, wildflower. Good luck!