The Upper Coos River and Coos County Forest

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, Coos River Mountains, Coos County Forest, Daniel Creek Unit, Panoramic view over logged lands [Ask for #274.042.]
The ridgetop road of the Coos County Forest's Daniel Creek Unit. [Ask for 274.042.]

May 2015. Judging just from the maps it would be the most natural thing in the world for a good road to start in Coos Bay, then cut right through the mountains to the other side. It could follow the Coos River nearly the entire way. Mapping apps certainly show such a road and will cheerfully send you down it. Heck, I could zoom in with Google Earth and see it — a wide, smooth gravel roads hugging the river, following its loops to a low pass, and then over to the valleys beyond. So the first thing I did when moving to the area in April was to head straight towards it.

 

Well it's there all right — but you can't follow it. I found it blocked by great yellow gates, surrounded by large "No Trespassing" signs. I later discovered that much of this part of the Coast Range is owned and operated by Weyerhaeuser as part of the 200,000 acre Millicoma Tree Farm, where recreational use is strictly rationed by a system of $350 annual permits and limited to the first 1200 people to apply. The roads show on the map, but only permit owners can use them. You can, however, get up close to in a few places on roads maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coquille River Mountains, Burnt Mountain Area, Paved BLM road gives public access to these actively logged mountains; here access ends at the Weyerhauser Millicoma Tree Farm with a closed gate. [Ask for #274.102.]


A typical gate blocking access to Weyerhaeuser's Millacoma Tree Farm. Many motorable BLM roads end at gates like this. [Ask for #274.102.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coquille River Mountains, Burnt Mountain Area, Paved BLM road ends at the North Fork Coos River in the Weyerhauser Millicoma Tree Farm (closed to the public). View of the river. [Ask for #274.124.]


If you did get to drive through the Millicoma Tree Farm you'd see scenery like this, on the Coos River about 22 miles east of the Dellwood Gate. (I reached this spot from the BLM's Tioga Creek Road.) [Ask for #274.124.]

That's not to say that the drive is a wash-out. The Coos River is gorgeous, and the valley at the end of the road has some fine farmlands. Even better, just to the south the county-owned Daniel Branch Unit of the Coos County Forest has a good (if narrow) ridgetop backbone road that's open to the public whenever logging crews aren't using it. This is a 20 mile long dead-end, worthwhile for its dramatic views and closeup look at a modern logging operation on extremely steep terrain. This road shows on no map at all — a blogPacifica exclusive!

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, Roads of the Oregon Coast Range; the Coos River and the Daniel Creek Unit of the Coos County Forest. [Ask for #990.127.]


Backroads of the Coos River and the Daniel Creek Unit of the Coos County Forest.

To find this area start at the southern edge of Coos Bay's downtown, where you'll go eastward on SR 241 (signposted only as "Coo River/Allegheny"), then pass briefly through a residential neighborhood before reaching the Coos River, with continuous beautiful views. When you reach the impressive old drawbridge over the river, go under it to your left to continue along the south bank of the Coos.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coos Bay Area, Coos River Mountains, The Coos River, Chandler Bridge, c. 1952 [Ask for #271.141.]


Known as the Chandler Bridge, this 1952 steel truss draw bridge dates from an era, not that long ago, when logging traffic traveled by water instead of truck. [Ask for #271.141.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos River Mountains, The Coos River, Doris Place Boat Ramp, on the Coos River Highway (SR 241) [Ask for #274.579.]


Old piles, a relic of logging practices in use as late as the 1950s, line nearly all of the river up to the next bridge — an indication of how heavily used these small rivers once were. This is at Doris Place Boat Ramp, one of several along the Coos River above the drawbridge. [Ask for #274.579.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos River Mountains, The Coos River, Dellwood, Gravel road runs through meadows that line the river [Ask for #274.035.]


The Coos River Road ends at Dellwood, the center of the Weyerhaeuser operation. There's some lovely farm and meadow scenery here, such as this view down Stian Smith Road, which parallels the river on its opposite bank. [Ask for #274.035.]

Look for Daniel Creek Road heading off to the south. At its end you'll find a narrow but good quality gravel road going off to your left. This ridge-runner heads deep into the Coos County Forest's 3,000 acre Daniel Creek Unit, one of three units that make up this 15,000 acre county-owned timber operation. It's all second growth, much of it taken over from bankrupt logging operators during the Great Depression, and it's managed to provide revenue for the county. The entire forest is open to the public except for active logging areas.

When I visited this road in April of 2015 (in a heavy rain) its surface was in excellent condition and posed no challenge to my decade-old minivan. It does, however, present huge cliff drop-offs with no railings, as well as a few overly steep gradients. It also has many, many forks as other roads head off to dead-end at abandoned logging areas. It needs a driver with mountain road experience.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos River Mountains, Coos County Forest, Daniel Creek Unit, Gravel logging road, open to the public, goes through logged lands [Ask for #274.038.]


A view of this motorable ridge top road in the Coos County Forest. [Ask for #274.038.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos River Mountains, Coos County Forest, Daniel Creek Unit, View over logged lands [Ask for #274.040.]


OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos River Mountains, Coos County Forest, Daniel Creek Unit, View over logged lands [Ask for #274.040.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos River Mountains, Coos County Forest, Daniel Creek Unit, View over logged lands [Ask for #274.041.]


OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos River Mountains, Coos County Forest, Daniel Creek Unit, View over logged lands [Ask for #274.041.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos River Mountains, Coos County Forest, Daniel Creek Unit, Panoramic view over logged lands [Ask for #274.043.]


OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos River Mountains, Coos County Forest, Daniel Creek Unit, Panoramic view over logged lands [Ask for #274.043.]
OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Coast Range, Coos River Mountains, Coos County Forest, Daniel Creek Unit, Panoramic view over logged lands [Ask for #274.044.]


This particular road passes right through the Coos County Forest to penetrate deep into the BLM lands beyond. If you follow it to the end you'll find yourself in a vast clearcut with a maze of lesser roads heading off to current and former logging sites. (Note that the largest clearcuts are typically on private lands accessed by public BLM maintained roads.) None of these lesser roads go through, so you'll need to return the way you came. [Ask for #274.044.]
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Exploring the Pacific Coast
Coos Bay, OR
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