Enjoy the bright energy of a young growth forest in the Menagerie Wilderness with a hike to Rooster Rock, an off-the tracks trail with a rewarding view.
The Menagerie Wilderness is a little-known forest, only about 5,000 acres total. This spot of protected wilderness represents a slice of the land that was devastated by a fire roughly a century ago. Since then the area has not been logged or planted, giving travelers a glimpse of undisturbed forest to enjoy. The area was defined as protected under the 1984 Oregon Wilderness Act, but still remains mostly undisturbed despite being now open to the public.
The hike to Rooster Rock is a simple there-and-back stroll, about four miles in total. Expect a moderately difficult (read: mostly uphill) trek through Douglas firs that give way to madrones, and a robust understory that gives shelter to spotted owls, hairy woodpecker and a bounty of wild berries. Roster Rock itself is an andesite and basalt pillar that lends itself to a little rock climbing in the drier months. And just past this feature sits a vista point gazing out at the South Santiam Canyon and the Three Sisters.
A $5 day pass or a Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead. Note that the north end of the trail loop is closed seasonally from Jan. 15 through July 31 for species management.