I’ve often wondered how to access that little speck of blue in the extreme SW corner of Washington Co. It is Barney Reservoir, for those who have never wondered …
A couple of year’s ago I tried my luck from the Cherry Grove (Patton Valley) side. Lee Falls Rd and Roaring Creek Rd either dead-end or just don’t go anywhere useful. Summit Rd does, but you soon get to a timber company gate and it’s unclear how to proceed. In summary, the Cherry Grove side is a no go.
So, on Sunday March 3, we had a family outing to see if we could access via Yamhill Co. And yes, we succeeded. From the Cherry Grove area, we took Mt. Richmond Rd to Pike, OR. Pike can also easily be accessed via Pike Rd coming from the town of Yamhill. Once in Pike, take Turner Ck Rd north out of Pike. This road is initially paved, but turns into gravel in a couple of miles.
After several miles on Turner Creek Rd, you get to an intersection with a wooded pond to your right. Take that right turn (N Fork Trask River Rd and follow it to the SE corner of the lake). Actually, this was much easier than I thought. Staying on this road will get you to the wetland in the pictures I took as well as a small boat launch. Staying on this road hugging the lake wherever you can will eventually end up at the dam at the NW corner of the lake. The west side of this dam is extensive and the habitat looks interesting for a vagrant Rock Wren.
There were not many birds near the reservoir, but then, it’s winter. Common Mergansers were the only waterfowl on the lake. We were fortunate in that there was no snow anywhere.
From the dam, we proceeded on N Fork Trask River Rd (we briefly took Williams Rd to attempt to reach Stimson Mainline or the Saddle Mountain area, but we were blocked by a gate) which funneled us back down to the – ahhhm- North Fork of the Trask River. This canyon is quite impressive and we found American Dipper at a couple of spots. The North Fork of the Trask River will get you pretty much straight to Tillamook, so this might be quite a detour depending on what you had in mind.
I’m sure Barney Reservoir would be quite interesting in fall. Who knows what shows up there after a fall storm. It’s uncharted territory, really. After mid May, the higher elevations around Barney Reservoir could be rewarding as well.