In the last issue of the Gazette, I said I was going to switch from tourist guide to cultural stuff and here we are, offering a tourist guide to Billy Fields Forest Camp and the Cedar Grove Trail.
In another of my continuing efforts to give detailed directions and descriptions for every campground in Grant County, we will now tell you how to get to the Malheur National Forest's Billy Fields Forest Camp. Billy Fields Forest Camp is special because it is one of the most easily accessible camps that is not on a main highway. It is six miles up Fields Creek road (Forest Service Road 21) off Highway 26. If you want a relatively secluded campsite that you can get to in a 1974 Buick station wagon, this is your site. Here's a link to the Forest Service site
with all the particulars.
If you keep going up Fields Creek Road, until you are about nine miles from highway 26, you will come to the summit where Fields Creek road starts down into Bear Valley. At this point a gravel road leads off to the right (west). Five miles along this road will take you to the Cedar Grove botanical area
This is a gravel road which may have what is locally known as a \"washboard\" surface. This happens when the natural harmonic of the typical vehicle's suspension creates a corrugated pattern in the road which can make for a very rough ride. The answer is to slow down; it is only five miles and there is no prize for the quickest time. Your shock absorbers will thank you.
Keep going along this road until you come to this sign. There is nothing resembling a trail head with additional signage or parking, this is it.
This sign is the only indicator that you have found the Cedar Grove Botanical Area which indicates that in spite of being 20 minutes from the highway, you are not likely to encounter any crowds here.
Just this side of the sign is a path leading to to the trail itself which is quite modest as you can see here. Follow this path uphill for a few hundred yards and you will come to the beginning of the Cedar Grove Trail.
Here you will find a small sign marking the beginning of the Botanical Trail proper.
Cedar Grove is one of the clearest examples of a microcilmate I have ever seen. On one side of the ridge is a scene of sparse ground cover an hemlock and Ponderosa, but if you go up and over the ridge immediately ahead in this picture..
..and you are in a much denser cover of Alaskan Red Cedar. It may not be obvious in this picture, but the ground cover is also much thicker and lusher than it was just a hundred yards back up the trail on the other side of the ridge. Some combinations of topographical orientation and weather patterns has combined to give this small area a stable climate that is markedly cooler and moister than the surrounding area.
The Forest Service says that this tail goes down the slope to a short loop at the bottom. Unfortunately, just a little beyond where this picture was taken, a large tree was down, not across the trail, but along it blocking about 50 feet of trail. Since it was late, I was alone and I am old, I did not attempt to overcome this obstacle. I am confident that the young and adventurous would have no difficulties in completing the journey.