There are no trails here, but the area around Groundhog, Little Groundhog, and Juniper mountains is an amazing location for roadside botanizing, especially if you enjoy wetlands. There are also great rocky roadcuts and several shallow lakes. It’s also an excellent area for butterfly lovers and perfect for photographers who don’t want to lug equipment on long trails. It’s impossible to see it all in one day, and different habitats bloom at different times, so there is always something of interest on any trip.
Trail: none; roadside botanizing (~5000–5900′)
Location: southeastern Lane County; Willamette National Forest, Middle Fork Ranger District
USGS Map: Groundhog Mountain; T23S.R4E.S9,10,15,16,21,22
Habitats: wetland, rocky roadcut, seep, lake
Bloom: late June to late August
Drive east on Hwy 58 for 2 miles past Oakridge. Turn right toward the Hills Creek Dam onto Kitson Springs Road. After 0.5 mile turn right onto Rd 21, “Diamond Drive”. Follow Road 21 around reservoir and cross the bridge. 1.5 miles after the bridge, turn left onto 2120, Buck Creek Road. After about 6.6 miles stay straight (left) at intersection (to the right leads to Moon Point). The road is now 2309. At the next intersection with Road 440, 1.4 miles farther, also stay left. Continue for another 1.9 miles, and you’ll pass Road 451 to the left the leads to Waterdog Lake 0.3 mile below and Little Groundhog Mtn (the giant meadow you can see from the road) and more rocky roadcuts. Stay on 2309 for another 0.4 mile, and go left at the intersection (still 2309, to the right leads to Logger Butte and a couple of more wetlands, and eventually to the Warner Lookout and Moon Point). Very quickly you’ll pass a lovely little wetland on the right. This meadow holds snow longer than the rest, so the flowers aren’t as far along as elsewhere. Continue on down the hill for 0.6 from the intersection and you’ll see Road 452 heading uphill to the left. Great rock and butterfly habitat for most of the road but especially 0.9 mile up where there is coyote mint (Monardella odoratissima). 0.7 mile farther along 452, pull off and park on the right at Road 454. Walk down this abandoned road to see where creeks are returning the road to an unusual wetland. Another 0.7 mile on 452 brings you to a pulloff on the left where you can access a small shallow lake with plants normally found in the High Cascades. Back to the intersection of 2309, there are huge wet meadows all around. Continue on down the road a ways for lots more meadow, side creeks, and ditches.
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