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Good For Kids
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Towards the end of the Hidden Creek Trail, a boardwalk crosses a salt marsh.
South Slough NER Reserve
Closest available address
61907 Seven Devils Road Charleston, OR 97420
Visitor Center is open 10-4:30 Tue.-Sat. Grounds are open dawn to dusk.
Best time to visit
Summer, Fall, Spring
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve is a 4,771 acre natural area in southern Oregon. It was established in 1974 as the first of 28 estuarine reserves in the US. South Slough is managed for research, conservation, education and recreation. From an educational and recreational perspective, there is a small museum and a handful of hiking trails. The reserve is also open for kayaking and canoeing.
The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a joint federal and state program to protect important coastal areas and to promote conservation awareness. Reserves are located in all US coastal states except Hawaii, Louisiana and Connecticut. South Slough originated from a local conservation initiative in the 1970s to protect the area from residential development. Some of the land had been logged but otherwise it was in fairly good condition and the ecosystem was intact. The hills surrounding the south slough estuary are steep and thickly forested. There also are 600 acres of salt marsh and extensive tidal flats with thick beds of mud.
The small museum has a variety of displays, including some hands-on displays that are well-suited for kids. The museum's focus is on the estuary’s natural processes as well as the local plants and animals. There is a 12 minute orientation video. As for hiking, the Hidden Creek Trail was a pleasant short walk. It leads down a steep hill from the visitor center to a salt marsh and to a large observation platform. The trail was well marked, in good condition and not crowded. Hidden Creek Trail also connects to the Tunnel Trail which is short and flat and aptly named because of the tunnel-like vegetation overhead. A return to the visitor center makes for about a 3 mile loop either back up the Hidden Creek Trail or on a parallel road. South Slough works reasonably well as a hiking venue and to gain some insight about estuaries but with limited activities and attractions, it would not be considered a must see.
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