Cow Creek National Recreational Trail lies within Umpqua National Forest in Southern Oregon, and follows the south fork of Cow Creek through dense forest of Douglas Firs, Western Hemlock and Cedar trees. The undergrowth along the trail is lush with ferns and moss, a bit overgrown in some places, but not impassable. This is a lightly used trail and you'll find lots of peace and solitude here where you and your pup may not meet up with a single person. If you're interested in nature study, this is the pawrfect trail because of the quiet which allows you to get closer to the wildlife that abounds here, including elk, mountain lion, small mammals and many species of birds. The path, with its soft, packed dirt surface and old leaf fall muffles the sound of your footsteps, as well.
This should not be considered just a walk in the park, however. The trail undulates up and down several steep ascents and descents, and you can count on 5 creek crossings that at certain times of the year can be strenuous, and even treacherous. Some of the fording spots carry you through water 2 feet high, and you won't find any bridges. Rock-hopping or climbing aboard downed tree trunks are risky, but often will get you to the other side safely. It's wise to consider risk to your fur-pup if you choose to hike this trail during flooding season.
The last few miles of the trail will take you up a steep ridge to Railroad Gap, the terminal end point, from which you will have views of surrounding mountains and the Snake River. You can access the Snake from this point and take advantage of one of its pocket beaches to rest and take a swim with Fido.
If you backpack on this trail, there are ample spots for primitive camping a few feet away, and the trailhead features a parking lot equipped with rudimentary tent camping sites, a vault toilet and a fire ring. There is, however, no potable water.
Though this trail is not for the faint of heart, it's appealing to those who want to be a bit off the beaten track and away from crowds!
Mountain lions are known to live in the area of this trail. They're shy, so you will likely not encounter them close up, but avoid them if you do. Do not drop food on the trail and keep it tightly wrapped to reduce odors. Carry trash out of the park.