Valley of the Giants

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From Falls City head west 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. Follow Valsetz Rd 15 miles to the old town of Valsetz. There really isn’t much left there except some old concrete pads and blocks. (If the gate into the “town” is closed, you will need to turn Left over a bridge and travel about 5 miles around the former lake, always veering Right until you reach the bridge which comes out of the “town.”)  In about a mile you exit the old town area by crossing a bridge going over the Siletz River.  Continue west for about 6 miles where you cross the river again to the north side, and shortly there will be a right turn.  (If you miss this exit, you will shortly go over a bridge over the N For of the Siletz River and will know you went too far) There has been a small sign that says “VG” where that road exits.  In taking this road you parallel the north fork of the Siletz River for another 6 miles until you cross a bridge over Boulder Creek and in a half mile you cross another bridge. The road then veers to the right and you go uphill for a mile or so where you turn Right.  The parking area for the VG is in a half mile on the right. The trail goes down to the river, crosses a footbridge where there is a loop trail that is about 1.4 miles in length.

There is very little cell phone service in this area, so make sure to have a good paper map or pre-downloaded maps on your phone to keep track of where you are. Google maps may give other ways to get to VOG, but most other options are gated year-round.

The road is gravel and often has large potholes, but high clearance isn’t really needed as long as you drive slow thru the potholes. This spot is deep within the coast range, so even getting from Falls City to VOG can take an hour or more depending on the road conditions.

The Valsetz road is sometimes closed during fire season, roughly August-October. You can call the Salem BLM office (503 375-5646) to get information for current information or more directions.

This road is often used by log trucks; going on the weekend eliminates that issue. If you do go during the week, I like to drive with my windows down a little bit so that I can hear the log trucks coming and pull off the road so that I don’t surprise them and they don’t have to slow down.



Habitat and Birds

The road from Valsetz to the Valley of the Giants is a fun road to bird along. Much of the road parallels the North Fork of the Siletz River, which can have American Dippers, Hooded Mergansers and Common Mergansers. This area is rarely birded, so other birds could use the area and remain undetected (Harlequin Duck? Rock Wren?). The clear cuts, rocky hillsides and mixed forests along the way provide habitat for Willow Flycatchers, Olive-sided Flycatchers, Cedar Waxwings, Red Crossbills and Western Tanagers, among many others.

As the name suggests, Valley of the Giants is a patch of very large Old Growth trees that is worth the trip to see alone. Valley of the Giants is also one of the few places in Polk to find a Marbled Murrelet, which nests on big branches high up in the tall old growth trees. The Murrelets are rarely seen, but can be heard as they return to their nest from the ocean as the sun comes up, often as early as 5am in June and July. Other birds include Varied Thrush, Barred Owl, Sooty Grouse (more likely to be seen along the road than actually in VOG), American Dipper, Wilson’s Warbler, Band-tailed Pigeon, Pileated Woodpecker, Brown Creeper and Red Crossbills.

Historically Valley of the Giants was the place to find Spotted Owls in Polk county, but it seems like they are no longer there, but always good to keep an eye and ear out for just in case.