The South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (South Slough Reserve) is a large inlet off the southern Oregon coast. The slough is located south of Charleston and features a great trail system. There are several trailheads to start your trek – you can read up on the slough and study the different trails here.
The South Slough Reserve
On November 11, 2017 Nat and I started our hike at the parking lot located southeast of the South Slough Interpretive Center.
The trail is well maintained and winds through a lush, green forest.
We noticed a lot of small tunnels through the undergrowth alongside the trail. Possibly deer or other small animals – we just hoped that whatever it was didn’t come bursting through while we hiked past!
Eventually we reached a split in the trail – left for Middle Creek Trail and right for Hidden Creek Trail. We opted right (you can see all the different trail split options in the map linked above).
This part of the trail is a bit more narrow with open views of the undergrowth and nearby creek.
Since we were in a damp forest on the Oregon coast in mid November, we were bound to find a variety of mushrooms. We love spotting them and checking them out – we never disturb them, though.
Before we reached the South Slough, we spotted another mushroom! This one was huge – we guessed about 7-8 inches in diameter.
The trail transitions into a long boardwalk that brings you out of the forest and opens up to the South Slough. The boardwalk branches out into different directions and loops back for a good view of the marsh. We saw a lot of skunk cabbage and other leafy plants.
The trail weaves back into the forest again – no more boardwalk – and splits into two different directions. You can either head left for Big Cedar Trail or keep right for Tunnel Trail – we opted right.
This section of the trail is wider and covered a bit more by the tree canopy.
The Tunnel Trail
The tunnel section of this appropriately-named trail was both awesome and slightly spooky. The thick foliage blocks most of the light and sits quite low, so we had to duck just a bit to make sure we cleared. If you’re able to work this trail into your day hike, I highly recommend it!
Eventually you’ll pass by restrooms and then meet up with another split. To the right is Sloughside Pilings / Sloughside Trail (in-and-out, dead-end section). Head left for Railroad Trail, which runs parallel to Tunnel Trail. Continue forward for North Creek Trail.
We decided to hike the Sloughside Trail for the amazing view of Sloughside Marsh and South Slough. This dead-end side trail only takes about 5-10 minutes to hike to the end and is well worth checking out.
After a quick snack, we hiked back along Sloughside Trail and headed west at the spilt for North Creek Trail. There’s a small strip of land that divides Sloughside Marsh and Rhodes Marsh. The trail crosses this strip and as a result is very narrow and open. You’ll have a great unobstructed view of both marshes.
You’ll cross over a large bridge before entering the forest again. We spotted some super cool mushrooms on the North Creek Trail stretch!
After a while we met up with a sign for Ten-Minute Loop Trail and turned right. This led us to the South Slough Interpretive Center. We hiked around the building and down the road a ways until we met back up with the car.
The South Slough Reserve has a great trail system that offers long- and short-distance loops. The lush forest and expansive marshes create a varied and unique hiking experience.