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Hike to the elusive Peavine Falls

During the last few days in Oak Mountain State Park, we wanted to hike at least one more of the many trails throughout the park. Of all the trails, mostly named by colors, Peavine falls seemed like the thing to see before we left. We both took an extended lunch break on a hot afternoon, taking water and bug spray and depending only on our iPhone’s google map to get us to the right roads. We had no idea how far the drive or hike would be and ended up on a long windey, narrow 25mph drive up and down mountains till we reached several viewpoints, a couple trails and finally the Peavine Falls trail.  It was surprising how narrow the road was, especially with the dually truck. considering how popular the falls seemed on trail sites and review sites. There was rarely enough room for anyone to pass eachother and some of the viewpoints would almost need a 4×4 to get in and out of. The 2 times we saw other cars, either they or we were off the road or there was conveniently room at that moment. Contrary to the roads conditions, when we got to Peavine falls, the parking lot was large enough to accommodate 10 motorhomes and 30 cars – and was completely empty  – so naturally we parked in the only place we probably weren’t supposed to, almost, but not completely blocking the visitor info sign and trail entrance.

At first the trail seemed “family friendly”, really wide and well kept. The entrance for the trail said it was only a half a mile so we thought it would all be… kind of lame really (especially since some sites said “take the kids!”). We did see just about the most aggressive spider ever along the way, one who had a giant web draped across a bush and hid in a web tunnel at one end. When we saw the web, the spider was franticly trying to figure out how to catch a bee who was hovering above him, almost taunting him with his juicy bee-ness. I’d never seen a spider who hunted proactively, rather just waiting for something to get stuck in its web. I managed to screw up any photo of the spider trying to get the bee, but did manage to get a couple shots of him before he zipped back into his tunnel. When I tried to get a shot of him in his tunnel, he ran towards me with the same jolt he did the bee, so I ran backwards (without falling on my ass) and let him be. He was probably about 3 inches across, also the largest spider I’ve seen in North America (outside of the petstore I worked in).

Oak Mountain Park Trail to Peavine Falls
Spider at Oak Mountain State Park

After we got past the spider of quick, 8 legged doom, the trail seemed a little less family friendly. It split into 2 options, lower falls or upper, both connecting to an even longer trail, one of the color ones, that could have you end up miles away if you so pleased. We decided on the lower falls trail, thinking we would get a much better view of the falls and maybe even get our feet wet. We also choose it because the sign said “steep and rocky, dangerous trail” and we imagined it was the way people did not take their kids (apparently people actually do). I was wearing adidas, because I have nothing else, but Ross had his nice new hiking boots. It was a little muddy from previous rain so while I tried not to trip and slide down the cliffy, rocky trail on my ass, Ross skipped and bound with ease past me, kicking mud in my eyes and laughing (not really but I do need some hiking shoes). On the hike down I think we pretty much just followed whatever seemed trail-like, generally staying on track and eventually, where one bend met another, we heard what seemed like roaring rapids. We were eager to see a waterfall that would put Oregon’s to shame. When we finally reached the bottom we were confused and doubtful as we saw only an almost completely dry creek bed with nothing but small flea like creatures running in hordes across the oversized rocks. There was a cliff face with the smallest little trickle of water coming down it, and that, was Peavine falls. We apparently missed its “peak” by showing up mid summer. It was so small, I didn’t bother taking a photo, not even to show how small it was. The roaring rapids had been wind in the deciduous trees around us.

The hike back up the hill basically kicked my ass since I practically have smokers lungs, but we managed not to slip or tumble down the rocky hillside and once we got back to the “family friendly” trail, we finished the last of our water and drove the long drive back down the mountain. Just before the Peavine Falls parking lot, some lucky person (and a little unlucky because of the long 25mph drive into town), possibly a ranger, had a great cabin and bit of land.

Although we didn’t get to see any waterfalls (having just come from Portland, it’s not like we hadn’t seen several before), we considered it a success that we got in one last hike before leaving. The first park we saw fire bugs at and were serenaded late at night by an army of frogs at the nearby lake. Oak Mountain State Park was our first taste of the south outside of New Orleans.

more interesting than the “falls”

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