Laurel Mountain (3592′) is the fourth highest peak in Oregon’s Spectacular Coast Range, and at the bullseye for rainfall in the state. If you look off into the remaining forest, you can see a lot more rhododendrons than in other places, and this is likely the result of all that precipitation.
Laurel dominates the skyline to the west of the Willamette Valley, and this may be the reason you can’t go all the way to the top: it is the home to a joint surveillance radar, joint meaning civilian air traffic control and NORAD air defense. The dome for the radar can be seen from a long ways away, but it isn’t as prominent as it used to be. It was white, and now it is a pleasant Northwest sort of grey-green. Back in the old days before the Global War on Terror, The Logging Road Cyclist and some friends cheated and drove up here. Now you are stopped at a a gate in the forest away from the top, assuming the gate at the bottom is even open.
The ride (gpx) starts a few miles west of Falls City, and a little west of the famed Black Rock mountain biking area, at the confluence of Black Rock Creek and the Little Luckiamute (the falls of which give name to the town).
It’s 10 miles and about 3000 feet to the “summit” gate. After climbing the first couple of miles, a portent looms out of the mist:
At about mile 7, there was snow on the road, and a ways on, in the snow there was:
Looks like TLRC almost stumbled on another cougar up here.
Closer to the top, the walking began. TLRC finds, as a general rule, that if the DeSalvo can stand up without his help, riding becomes inefficient.
Finally, the summit, er, gate. TLRC spent a while wondering if all this applied to HIM, being as he had ridden the DeSalvo all the way up here. But then he imagined the black SUV waiting by his car, and the “enhanced” questioning after being renditioned up to Dallas, so he relented and walked back down…
As usual, on the private lands around here, things are bleak. Since TLRC first rode up here a few years ago, there has been a lot of cutting.
This tiny lake is the source of the South Fork of Rickreal Creek. TLRC thinks it’s just adorable how they kept it intact, while improving it’s visibility: