A November Hike

Today I invite Facilities Manager to narrate our recent hike near our home. Enjoy.

Welcome to a more mobile Chickadee Gardens today. Your Garden and Facilities Manager took a break from the home-landscape and went for a much-needed walk on the Crown-Zellerbach Trail that starts its long route to Vernonia on the northern end of the town of Scappoose, Oregon. The trail, a former railroad bed, gently winds up the often-narrow valley from Chapman Landing on the Columbia River to the tiny logging town (Vernonia) more than 24 miles away.

Join us as we enjoy a rare afternoon in the sun. Don't worry. There is lots of greenery and rocks. So put on your boots (for more reasons than one) and hike along with us.

Mossy trees are a highlight of our walk. Especially with the sunshine helping with the display.

The lower end of the trail is accessible just off Highway 30 on the north end of Scappoose. We chose to drive 2 miles up the Scappoose-Vernonia Highway to another trailhead. Lots of parking.

Facilities Manager peers into his immediate future, i.e.,  walking along this long, flat trail. The surface is mostly gravel but sometimes aging asphalt. And, of course, leaves. Lots and lots of leaves.

One wonders how much sunshine these trees receive in this steep valley. You'd best love green when hiking the CZ trail. That is North Scappoose Creek in the background; it is very busy this time of year. The creek, not the trail.

Look closely and you can see the rings of peck-holes the sapsuckers and woodpeckers have made into the bark of this tree. It is easy 80 feet tall and the trunk is lined with tiny holes.

Our native salal or Gaultheria shallon, a creeping evergreen shrub for shade with white flowers that turn to edible berries much loved by wildlife and hikers, too.

From the marshes through which Frodo and Samwise ventured to deliver that darned ring, we found this tree. Very spooky, yet beautiful, too, in its splendor of moss and branches.

Check to see President Jefferson's face in the basalt outcropping. Just kidding. Looks more like knobby knees. We wished we could bring some home, but that is a big no no. No trucks on the trail, and, besides, we'd dislodge one and many might tumble down and then what would we say? Oops?

Facilities Manager looks over a basalt outcropping. Bad bad.

All joking aside, the rocks are lovely. We plan to continue up the trail for more rock embankments and licorice ferns in abundance.

The primary root of a towering tree is on full display. You might see a human-form squeezing out of the formation. Again, the CZ trail has a certain amount of spookiness. Nice.

Interesting. Note the cuts in the large fir tree. Behind this wall the hillside was growing trees now about 15-feet tall. The hillside was obviously clear-cut at some point, but looks good now. 

One last rock. Kind of green. Seafoam Green. 

Can I get a fern here? Do you have ferns? We'd like a fern, please? Tamara here: Native sworn ferns, Polystichum munitum and what I think is bracken fern in its autumn brown colors.

Such mossy delights are regularly seen along the trail. We enjoyed the sunshine back-lighting.

A mossy carpet covers this large boulder.

Who knew? Some moss is fluffy!

Once away from the Scappoose-Vernonia Highway the trail is quiet and very empty. In fact, we did not see one other person on the trail. We met some behind-the-fence dogs, but they mostly just glared and sniffed. We ran across some mountain-bike tracks, but they were days old. We figure the CZ is lightly used. Perhaps one day we will start in Vernonia and ride the entire path. That'd be the 24 miles downhill way to go!

Moss and ferns. Moss and ferns. Repeat.

Chocolate ferns? Is here such a thing? Tamara here: No, Facilities Manager, dead bracken ferns.

Happy, full and loud, North Scappoose Creek runs along the trail. 

Yes, it was sunny the day we visited. One suspects the sometimes dense forest shades out the floor. Seems the fern population does not mind. Go, ferns! Go!

Near the trailhead about 2 miles from Scappoose, this neighborhood is dominated by several large oak trees. Seems pretty quiet in the little valley. The CZ trail is a real gem we intend to explore as often as possible. Surely, with a snowfall, we will be back on the trail looking for some moss, some ferns and some fresh air and happiness.

That wraps up this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you for coming along on our hike, sometimes we like to get out of the house and explore our new neighborhood. Thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening (and hiking)! 


  1. One can NEVER have too much moss and too many ferns - but that's just my humble opinion. Thanks for bringing me along on your lovely walk!

    1. Agreed! Moss, ferns, it's what we're made of here in the Pacific Northwest!

  2. Loved the mix of green and reddish brown ferns. Ferns aren't something we see a lot of in gardens in my area of SoCal these days, much less natural areas.

    1. We liked that, too. An interesting combination. Oh, I bet you don't see a lot of ferns - there are, however, a few dry and/or hot sun ferns native to the SW that might do well for you. I have a few and they are gorgeous!

  3. Great resource to have so close at hand.

    1. Who knew? It's so close to us both, I imagine using it often...especially in the cold, dark days of winter ahead.

  4. So gorgeous. Some day I mean to leave the house too. Cheers

    1. Hahah...you're funny Patricia :) Leaving the house is a risky business....

  5. Beautiful! I love long walks in nature. :)

  6. Love that C-Z Trail. So much potential there too, still. Best thing about winter hikes--MOSS!! Fuzzy white one...could it be lichen? Vedanta trails are killer cool. Been there yet?

    1. There is so much potential. And moss...yes the white is lichen, Facilities Manager doesn't know his plants so very well...at least he pretends not to.

      We have not done the Vedanta trails yet, we'll look them up, thanks for the tip!

  7. You will LOVE the native plants there. Not an old-growth forest, but about as good as I've seen for 2nd-growth. It's because it never was disturbed, I think, and invasives were never introduced.

  8. I'd love to go if you'd like company. Once I found it, I go pretty often now :)


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