Falls City and Valsetz Rd

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Falls City is located in western Polk County about 20 miles west of Salem and on the edge of the Coast Range. To reach Falls City from Dallas, travel south on Hwy 223 for about 5 miles to Falls City Road (look for the sign to Falls City). Turn right and go about 4-5 miles farther to Falls City.

To get to Valsetz Rd, head west thru Falls City on Main st and turn left on to Bridge St where the road splits. Follow this road up the hill as it becomes Chamberlain and then eventually Valsetz Rd. Valsetz Rd is used by logging trucks, so drive carefully and be ready to pull off to the side if a log truck comes down the road. Visiting on the weekends will reduce this problem, though there can still be other vehicles to watch out for. The whole road can be birded and goes thru a variety of habitats as it climbs to the summit and then back down to the old lake bed and swampy areas near Valsetz. Many side roads can be good for walking down past the gates. If you park at a gate, remember to park to the side of it so that you aren’t blocking the gate in case the timber companies need access to the road.

One side road you can walk or bike on is Fanno Ridge, which used to be more accessible, but is gated now. You can find this road on the right when you reach the summit and see an intersection of several roads. There is an information sign on the left here. This road follows the ridge thru a variety of stages of timberland, all up high above the Valsetz town and lake area. The birding here doesn’t often seem super birdy, but holds potential as a high ridge with wide open views at times, and is very under-birded due to the gate at the beginning. With a mountain bike, one could bike to Fanno Peak, but would need to do more research on the distance to get there. Pygmy Owls, Canada Jays and Sooty Grouse would be good target birds for this area, as well as flyover migrants.

The road to Valsetz is also the road to take out to Valley of the Giants, an old growth preserve on the far western border of Polk county. See Valley of the Giants for more directions and information.


Habitat and Birds

In Falls City there is a nice waterfall at Falls City Falls that often has American Dippers. This is on the right just after one turns onto Bridge Rd from the main town. Wild Turkeys are also found in the vicinity.

The Valsetz Rd is an excellent road for exploring the Coast Range. Birds include Wild Turkey, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Merlin, Band-tailed Pigeon, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Common Nighthawk, Vaux’s Swift, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Bushtit, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Swainson’s & Varied Thrushes, Orange-crowned Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak, Purple Finch, Red Crossbills, Ruffed Grouse, Sooty Grouse and Evening Grosbeak. Rarities here have included Rock Wren and Eastern Phoebe.

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