Deer Leap Segment … Climbing High Above the North Umpqua River
Deer Leap is the fourth segment on our North Umpqua Trail ride. To read about our struggle to find the trailhead for this ride please click: North Umpqua Trail. To read about the first leg please click: Lemolo Segment. The second, and most spectacular leg was Dread and Terror. The third portion of the ride was called Hot Springs.
The Deer Leap Segment proved to have some pretty tough climbing, eventually rising more than 500 feet above the river. I had to walk some parts as I just didn’t have the strength to stay on the bike in 10th gear.
Dear Leap Segment
Length: 9.6 miles
Chasing a Purple Beauty
At one point I came up behind a pretty young lady with a color coordinated riding suit … purple bike shorts and jersey, with matching purple helmet and purple gloves. I told her my 6 year old granddaughter (Sissy) would have been jealous, since her favorite color is purple (and pink). She laughed, then asked me if I wanted to pass her. I said I was just fine following her, since I had no lower gears … and she would probably want to pass me on many of the uphill portions. So for several miles we rode “together,” with her pulling away from me on the uphills, and then me catching up and following her on the down hills. I didn’t mind riding behind her one bit! She was an inspiration for me when I was struggling on the steep portions of the trail.
Drier and Hotter
The farther we climbed on the Deer Leap segment the hotter and drier the air became. The increase was due not only to the time of day … but also because the trees began to thin. Brownish yellow grasses replaced deep green ferns and many more patches of blue sky began to appear.
When we had finally finished the steady climb of the Deer Leap segment we found ourselves in a clearing next to a huge outcropping of rock. I stopped, Steve stopped, but our purple friend kept on going. She had told me earlier her friends were in front of her and she didn’t want to hold them up any more than she had to.
Smoke Filled Photos
From this rocky area the view to the south was wide open. But our vision was limited by the amount of smoke in the air due to several large forest fires near Grants Pass. We still took many photos and then got to wondering why this segment was called Deer Leap. We thought maybe the rock outcropping we were standing next to looked like Bambi jumping off the mountain from some other vantage point. Thus the name of the segment.
I later learned there was a rock formation named Deer Leap directly up the mountain above us to the northeast, but we were never able to see it from the trail … too many trees I guess. I now wonder if that rock looks anything like a deer.
Deer Leap Interactive Map
- Below you will find a map for the best 5 segments of the North Umpqua Trail.
- Deer Leap is the purple part of the trail.
- Click the green or red balloons for driving directions to the trailheads.
Have you done this ride? What did you think of it? How about sharing your thoughts on our Visitor Stories page?
Giving Up Elevation
From the outcropping, the trail began to steadily give back the altitude we had worked so hard to gain, the trail undulating in and out of small ravines, some with a little water trickling in their crease … except for one. This one ravine had quite a bit of water coming down, enough to necessitate a good sized wooden bridge (which I later learned was Slide Creek Bridge).
The light splashing sound of the water combined with my leather tongue was more than I could take. “I am going to climb down there and pump some of that water. I still have some water in my Camelbak, but I think this fresh creek water will taste a whole lot better!”
I wrestled my PUR filtration pump out of my pack and grabbed an empty bottle, all set to start climbing down. After handing me one of his empty bottles Steve reminded me to be careful as I started to descend the dry, polished rocks that led under Slide Bridge (I am now thinking maybe some people actually tried to slide down the huge rocks when the water was higher and the rocks were wet … and thus the name Slide Creek).
Ten minutes after stopping I climbed back to the bikes and gave Steve his bottle. The water was the perfect temperature of cold, causing no brain freeze … yet refreshing.
We followed the contour of the mountain and crossed another side creek. We finally turned south and dropped down into the main canyon that holds the North Umpqua River.
Soda Springs Reservoir
Eventually we started seeing a glowing blue color at the base of the trees to the south side of the Deer Leap segment.
We soon realized the vivid color was right along the edge of a long, narrow reservoir (Soda Springs Reservoir). Then we spotted the dam that marked the end of the Deer Leap segment and the beginning of the Jessie Wright segment.
*Editors Note: My photo shows Toketee Falls. As the North Umpqua BLM Pamphlet describes them, “Toketee Falls, (is) a double-tiered waterfall plunging 40 and 80-feet over a sheer wall of columnar basalt to the emerald pool below.” I took this photo a couple days after our North Umpqua ride.
Not being real familiar with the area, Steve and I didn’t know we could have taken a little bike and hike from the start of the Deer Leap trailhead to visit these falls. If you are in the area I strongly urge you to visit this most incredible water feature.
Of all the waterfalls I visited on our Oregon trip, Toketee Falls stood out as the most interesting and spectacular.