Elliott State Forest

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My original page on The Elliott included a lengthy description of the State Land Board's decision to sell it. As they have rescinded that decision, I have removed it.
OR: South Coast Region, Douglas County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, Northeast Quadrant, Cougar Pass Area, Wide views over clear cuts from FS 7000 (the northern mainline) at Cougar Pass [Ask for #274.515.]


OR: South Coast Region, Douglas County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, Northeast Quadrant, Cougar Pass Area, Wide views over clear cuts from FS 7000 (the northern mainline) at Cougar Pass [Ask for #274.515.]

The Elliott State Forest occupies 144 square miles of steep, second growth land between Coos Bay and Reedsport. Like much of the Coast Range it features slopes in excess of 70% covered in forests, mostly Douglas Fir mixed with red alder, western red cedar, maple, and western hemlock. Although these mountains are steep they are not particularly high, with ridge tops running consistently above 1,000 feet but never quite reaching 2,000. Clearcuts are fairly common, although lawsuits have limited them in recent years.

These aren't old forests. A 2003 state hydrologic study found only 189 acres greater than 200 years old, two-tenths of one percent of the forest. Less than half of the forest is as much as a century old. There's a reason for this; in the 1860s and 70s, long before logging took place, virtually the entire Elliott burned down, scorched to the soil. So what you see today are healthy young forests made up of same-age stands.

In 1927 the Siuslaw National Forest traded what was then known as the Millicoma Tract to Oregon's Department of Forestry in exchange for a similar acreage in small, scattered tracts within the Siuslaw. Because the lands Oregon used in the trade were part of the Common School Fund, a portfolio of lands established in 1859 to fund public schools, the new state forest became part of that fund. When the Department of Forestry's founding Forester, Francis Elliott, died in 1930 the state changed the name of the Millicoma Tract to Elliott State Forest.

Like most of the Coast Range, Elliott State Forest looks like a mad jumble of ridges and streams. It's not; there's a sensible organization to it. The Elliott consists of the watershed of the 35 mile long West Fork Millicoma River, along with its surrounding ridgeline and the ridges that radiate away from it into the adjacent watersheds. This watershed ridgeline forms a great oval at the center of the forest, and is followed virtually in its entirety by fairly good gravel roads.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, The Ridgetop Drive, FR 1000, The forest road passes briefly through Weyerhauser's Millacoma Tree Farm, with views from a newly replanted clearcut [Ask for #274.A44.]


OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, The Ridgetop Drive, FR 1000, The forest road passes briefly through Weyerhaeuser's Millacoma Tree Farm, with views from a newly replanted clearcut [Ask for #274.A44.]

The Ridgetop Drive. This ridgetop drive — highlighted in green on the map below — is the heart of the forest, and everything radiates from it. This is the prime backroad drive in the forest, giving you a topside view of the entire tract. It also serves as the forest's mainline, and forestry activities tend to concentrate along it. Views from the tops of clearcuts can be very dramatic, and there are plenty of stretches through mature young forests that haven't seen an axe since the state took it over.

OR: South Coast Region, Douglas County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, The Ridgetop Drive, FR 7000, This mainline logging road follows the crest of Umpcoos Ridge [Ask for #274.A68.]


The Ridgetop Drive, FR 7000, follows the crest of Umpcoos Ridge [Ask for #274.A68.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, Southwestern Quadrant, FR 3000, Good gravel road gives access to this actively logged state forest; view east from Trail Butte towards the Pacific Ocean and Oregon Dunes Nat Rec Area [Ask for #274.156.]


From this overlook on the Ridgetop Drive you can see the Pacific Ocean and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. [Ask for #274.156.]
OR: South Coast Region, Douglas County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, Northeast Quadrant, Cougar Pass Area, Cliffs emerge from fir forests as viewed from Cougar Pass [Ask for #274.505.]


Here's a cliff view from the Ridgetop Drive at Cougar Pass, northward over the gorge formed by the Umpqua River. [Ask for #274.505.]

Ridgetop Cross-Connectors. Two roads run through the area inside the ridgetop loop, offering cross access and (more importantly) access to the West Fork Millicoma River and its tributaries. The map above highlights them in blue. The southern one, FSR 2300, is short and good quality. The northern one, SFR 8000, gives good access to the Millicoma if approached from the west, but from there on is badly maintained and not suitable for an ordinary auto. It also has the more attractive scenery of the two.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, Millicoma River Area, FR 8000, The road passes through a stand of very young hardwoods [Ask for #274.603.]


Here's the good (western) segment of SFR 8000, passing through a grove of red alders. [Ask for #274.603.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, Millicoma River Area, FR 8000, View of the West Fork Millicoma River from the road [Ask for #274.600.]


The West Fork Millicoma River viewed in the late summer dry season, from SFR 8000. [Ask for #274.600.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, Millicoma River Area, FR 2300, This gravel forest road runs trhough handsome young forests along the West Fork of the Millacoma River [Ask for #274.488.]


SFR 2300, the better of the two cross-roads, passes through a handsome young forest. [Ask for #274.488.]

Outside Links. You can reach the ridgetop loop at any of six places, highlighted in brown on the map.

  • Two are on the east, reached from Loon Lake Road.
  • Three are on the west, reached from county roads off US 101.
  • one is on the north, reached from State Highway 38.
The southwestern-most approach, SFR 3000, is the longest, best surfaced, and most dramatic, with both fine forests and wide clearcut views.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, Northwestern Quadrant, FR 4000, This logging road links the state forest with the town of Lakeside [Ask for #274.619.]


SFR 4000 links the state forest with the town of Lakeside. [Ask for #274.619.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, Southwestern Quadrant, FR 3000, Good gravel road gives access to this actively logged state forest, here giving a wide view from a replanted clear cut [Ask for #274.165.]


SFR 3000 gives access to the state forest from the Coos Bay area. Here it yields a wide view from a replanted clear cut. [Ask for #274.165.]
OR: South Coast Region, Douglas County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, Northwest Quadrant, FR 2000, A Douglas fir forest on a steep slope, from FR 2000. [Ask for #274.624.]


A handsome young fir forest on the steep slopes of the Umpqua River's gorge. This is taken from SFR 2000. [Ask for #274.624.]

Large Version of the Elliott State Forest Backroads Map


OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Elliott State Forest, Roads of the Elliott State Forest, in the Coast Range between Coos Bay and Reedsport. [Ask for #990.129.]

All roads are gravel; expect to average 10-15 miles per hour. Exclamation points mark the most confusing forks.


Here are detailed descriptions of all the roads in The Elliott:
  • Ridgetop Scenic Loop: Shown in green in the above map. This is 51 miles long on good gravel roads.
  • Cross-Connectors: Shown in blue in the above map. These give access to the West Fork Millacoma River.
  • Outside Access: Shown in brown in the above map. These let you reach the Ridgetop Scenic Loop from the outside world.
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Exploring the Pacific Coast
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