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Oak Creek to McCulloch Peak

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.2 (12) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A classic Mac forest route with some tough climbing and a rewarding view at the top.


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Map Key

8.0

Miles

12.9

KM

Loop

2,151' 656 m

High

499' 152 m

Low

2,144' 654 m

Up

2,145' 654 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

43%

Max Grade (23°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildlife

As with all if the college forest, dogs are allowed off leash as long as they are under voice control. The Oak Creek trailhead is one of the most popular near Corvallis so expect to see other users and their off leash dogs.

Overview

This route has quickly become a favorite of mine. The combo of solid hills (2000+ ft in 3 miles), good views, and steep technical singletrack are all mixed together in a great package. The top of McCulloch Peak is the highest point in the McDonald Dunn Forest, and rewards those who make it to the top with views of Marys Peak to the southwest and the Southern Willamette Valley and the Cascades off to the west on clear days. The trails closer to the Oak Creek Trail can be busy, so keep a sharp eye out for other users. But the further you get from the trailhead, the more remote this feels.

Need to Know

There is limited cell phone coverage, so don't plan on being able to look up a map or call for help. Download the Hiking Project mobile app beforehand to keep on route, especially for your first outing. Also, many of the trails are busy with other users. Do yourself and those around you a favor and ditch the head phones. There is nothing worse than having a mountain biker scream past you because you were rocking out and didn't hear them call out to you. Plus you're on a hike, enjoy the nature.... (I'll just step off my soap box now).

Description

This hike has a great ebb and flow to it, building up in intensity and then giving well-timed breaks. With this in mind I think of the hike as having six distinct phases; an initial warmup, tough climbing, the first descent, middle recovery, the second descent, and a final cool down.

The Warm Up:
Starting at the Oak Creek Trail, begin on the Homestead Trail on the left. Roll on pleasant and wide singletrack over a bridge and through the woods until the trail intersects with a road (6021). Stay to the right. At about 2/3rds of a mile, Road 770 branches off to the left. This signals the end of the warm up and the beginning of the climb.

The Climb:
Taking Road 770 on the left, climb (steeply at times) for the next ~2 miles through beautiful forest. You'll see several trails that branch off here and there, but just keep heading up the road. After the second switchback, rejoice that you've only got about a half a mile of climbing before your first break. Hitting a saddle, you get a bit of needed downhill; there is a bit of singletrack that parallels the road here, feel free to jump on it if it looks good, just stay to the left of any forks.

At about 2.75 miles you'll see an open south face with a trail going up the gut of it; take this trail (Southridget). So begins the unofficial trail section. Theses trails are steep and technical, and the area can be confusing. Stay the course on the trail until it tees into a road again at about three miles. There should be a trail that leaves the road on the right that is relatively flat and a bit overgrown. Stay on this keeping an eye out for a steep trail that leaves on the left going straight uphill about a tenth of a mile later. Taking the steep trail on the left will lead you up a hill and connect you into another well-developed (ish) trail. Stay right on to the road (Road 760). Turn left and top out McCulloch Peak. There is a bench here, so sit a moment and enjoy the view; you've earned it.

Descent #1:
Once you're ready, turn around and retrace the trail back to the very steep left turn that you took on the ascent. Once you tee into the bench trail (aka Lupine Letdown) stay left. Shortly, the trail will split; take the right fork downhill as this is the less steep option. Do your best to hike this challenging downhill until you finish out the trail as it intersects a road (Road 770 again). Turn left and enjoy some less challenging terrain.

Middle Recovery:
Just like it sounds, follow Road 770 as it winds downhill. You'll tee into Road 700 at about 5 miles and take a right downhill. Shortly, there is a three-road intersection with an island of trees in the middle. On the right is a small trail that can be a touch overgrown. This is the Innuendo Trail, and it marks the start of the second descent.

Descent #2:
Follow the faint trail up a short hill and then begin the steep and technical hiking. Although more open than the trail earlier, it still will demand your attention. After ~1/2 a mile and a particularly steep, rooty section, the trail comes to a 4-way intersection. Cross Up Route and continue on to Extendo Trail. The descent continues on this more mellow singletrack. Finish Extendo across a bridge and tee into Rd. 6020 and begin your cool down.

Cool Down:
Take a left and then a quick right back onto 6021. Stay on this until you see the Homestead Trail branch off to the left. Cruise back to the trailhead. Nice work! You've earned your post hike beverage of choice.

Flora & Fauna

Good sample of the college forest: Douglas Firs, ferns, clear-cut views and little woodland critters. Often in the summer and fall there is poison oak to be aware of.

History & Background

The College Forest is an active research forest, which is cool. So you're likely to see all sorts of flagging and such.

Contacts

Shared By:

Josh Gum

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 12 votes

#2150

Overall
  4.2 from 12 votes
5 Star
25%
4 Star
67%
3 Star
8%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#59

in Oregon

#2,150

Overall
131 Views Last Month
5,758 Since Aug 3, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Steep? Technical? Fun? Yes, yes and yes!
Aug 3, 2015 near Philomath, OR
Start of the climb on the 770 Rd.
Aug 3, 2015 near Philomath, OR
Faint trail (Southridget) leaving the 770 Rd. towards McCulloch peak.
Aug 3, 2015 near Philomath, OR
Oak Creek Trailhead
Aug 3, 2015 near Philomath, OR

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Check-Ins

Jun 1, 2019
Callie Branyan
May 5, 2019
Anushri Srinath
8mi — 9h 00m
Nov 11, 2018
Mary Eldridge
Steve, Mary, Alice. Beautiful clear day. Not muddy, a bit of bike traffic.
Jun 11, 2018
Katie Abney
Apr 21, 2018
Carla Brauer
Jan 5, 2017
Denis Marshall