Clark and Cliff Search for BIG Trees

By Clark Williams    July 1999

 

Cliff Gordon, a saw filer who works for Cascade Southern Saw, grew up in Oregon and Washington, so he has seen his share of big trees. When Cliff told me about finding a grove of 'giant' Douglas firs a few years ago while checking out elk hunting areas, I knew these trees must be special. I quickly accepted his invitation to search for this grove again.

Cliff Gordon
The 'Valley of the Giants' is west of the abandoned town of Valsetz, Oregon in the Oregon coast range. A logging & sawmilling company owned the timber town of Valsetz, locally famous as the rainiest place in Oregon (169 inches in one year and 24 inches in a single 3-day storm). This timber company apparently deeded these big trees to the Bureau of Land Management in the mid-80s when Valsetz was razed and the land planted over in trees.
Clark Williams
Cliff's 4WD Chevy climbed over gravel logging roads from Falls City, up into the coast range west of Salem. At the crest, second growth forests stretched as far as we could see. We wore jackets during our mid-summer search because of the cool, wet storms that were blowing in from the Pacific.

It took a couple of hours to cover 30 miles, past the now off-limits former site of Valsetz, and up the North Fork of the Siletz River. The roads were not well marked, and we had to backtrack a few times. Loggers helped direct us to the grove.

Clark Williams
The pictures speak for themselves. The grove of Douglas Fir and Hemlock was a place of cathedral-like beauty and quiet magic. The 'giants' were nearly 10 ft (3 meters) in diameter and 300 ft (90 meters) high. We stretched out our arms (Cliff is 6'-6" from fingertip to fingertip) to show how large these trees are.
Clark Williams
A 4WD rig is required to get to the grove. There were a couple of olive drab BLM 'on course' markers with the cryptic notation "VG" along the way. Also a signpost at the turnout along the way (but the sign post was no longer in the ground and may be gone by now). Cliff recommends off-road tires for those who want to visit the grove. A pre-1985 Oregon or Polk County map, which usually show the location of Valsetz, will also help.
Cliff's Flat Tire

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