Drift Creek Wilderness area is a great place to escape the summer heat and crowds. Located in the Siuslaw National Forest, this hiking and backcountry camping area is close enough for a quick day or weekend trip, but isolated enough to really feel like you are miles away from anything.
The Harris Ranch Trail starts from the small parking area and descends 3 miles to the edge of Drift Creek. Don't let the short distance fool you into thinking the hike is completely easy, as you'll complete a 1,200-foot change in elevation on the inward trek. The trail is surrounded by old-growth forests of Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and occasionally dense brush. Once you've reached the bottom of the trail, you'll find a few flat and cleared areas to set up tents. A nice rocky area next to the creek provides a perfect spot to lounge in the sun, have a snack, or cast a line into the creek. The creek is a spawning ground for Chinook and Coho salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout.
To access the northern half of the wilderness area, start at the Horse Creek Trailhead, 15 miles east of Highway 101 near the intersection of Ona Beach and Beaver Creek Road. The two areas are separated by the creek. Access to other trails in the area can be hard to find, and there is no bridge crossing the creek.