The Beaver Dam Trail offers an opportunity to leisurely explore the edge between two different types of habitat; streamside and forest. The setting is the confluence of three small creeks, which drains the southern Dead Indian Plateau. Beaver Dam Creek, Daley Creek and Deadwood Creek flow lazily through an area of grassy banks, false hellebore, and Beaver ponds. The trail connects Beaver Dam and Daley Creek campgrounds forming a partial loop. A range fence encloses the area protecting the riparian area from range cattle.
The trail is shades by large Douglas fir, white pine and white fir with an understory of Pacific yew - recognized by its reddish peeling bark and dark green, flat, short pointed needles. The Pacific yew is poisonous; eating the foliage or seeds (contained in bright red berries) can result in death. Despite its small size the yew has proven very useful over the years as Native Americans used the wood for archery bows and canoe paddles. Today a local craftsman makes bows for violins and cellos. No wood is more resistant to decay and the yew is favored for fence posts. In recent years the bark has been used with promising results in cancer research.
The yew is a shade loving tree which dies when the canopy overhead is removed. Once abundant, it is now found primarily among pockets of old growth forest along stream banks and in shady canyons.
If you hike the trail in early season, look for wildflowers including bleeding heart, calypso orchid, and trillium. You will also see several dead trees or 'snags' that have become home for a variety of cavity nesting birds such as the large and colorful pileated woodpecker and the red breasted nuthatch, whose call (a low nasal sounding 'yaahnk....yaahnk,') can almost be heard in these woods.
Watch overhead above the creek and listen for the raucous chatter of the belted Kingfisher who makes his livelihood by capturing small fish in a headlong dive to the water. The bank of the creek will reveal evidence of beaver gnawed branches. If you quietly walk the trail in the early morning or evening you may be the lucky one who catches a glimpse of this furry engineer at work on one of the several active dams visible from the trail.
Directions: From Ashland, Follow the Dead Indian Memorial Highway 22 miles east and turn left (north) on to Forest Service Road 37. Continue one mile to the Beaver Dam Campground where the trail begins.
Elevation: 4,500 feet
Distance: 2.1 miles
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Rogue River National Forest, Oregon
Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 Wildernet.com all rights reserved.
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