2005 began a new era for this site. Mike Steed flew and landed at a new clear cut 2000' below the summit of this high point in the coast range. Thermal conditions permitted several top landings. Since then, maybe a dozen pilots have tried this site. The hike at both ends probably discourages some, as does the rather technical LZ. But more should consider it on days with no wind elsewhere, especially when the valley is fogged in. If conditions permit climbing a couple hundred feet above launch, top landings or landing near your car become a possible.
At 4097 feet, Marys Peak is the highest in the coast range. This is an excellent southwest and south (check winds at altitude since
ground-level forecasts mean little here) site with thermals. Beginners beware, the new LZ is a recent clear cut. The old LZ is not an
option. The LZ is a 2-mile walk behind a locked gate and permission has not been granted. Logging has continued every year or two, opening further LZ options that are nearer the locked gate.
When to go: "I based my call on MM5 vertical soundings for
Corvallis/Newport/Eugene for the 850 millibar level that averaged out to 1-flag S to SW wind and good lapse rate all the way up to clouds at ~5000." Mike Steed
Directions: Take exit 228 off of I-5, then follow Hwy 34 toward the coast as it turns left to bypass Corvallis, and then left again after
Philomath. Turn right onto Marys Peak turnoff at the top of the pass. Follow the paved road to Harlan Rd. The gate to the new clear cut LZ is 1.07 miles (as the crow barks) from the summit, west, down Harlan Rd. For launch, take the summit road to the parking area. Follow a trail 0.4 miles to the grassy summit and a view down to the LZ. A new fence claimed some of the best launch spaces, but you can still launch below the road or just outside the fence.
Photo take 2005. Slash piles now gone.
View from the LZ looking northeast-ish to the summit. This view corresponds with F in the next photo.
Trees have been planted, 1' tall as of 2010.
The clearcut is on the SW slope of Marys Peak, an easy glide
even if you scratch a while. Some points labeled in the photos:
A. The road to hike out
B. "Runway 6" is the longest and flattest place to land, but difficult to approach from the uphill end (never used?)
C. The top of the knob is approachable from any direction, might be your best bet in west wind -- but don't overshoot! (used at least once)
D. This 4-way intersection is relatively flat but sits on a low shoulder -- because of its low elevation and all-directions versatility, is the preferred landing area. E to F is an uphill landing option. F is flat on top but small (used twice)
Aim for the spur road intersection, come in fast and flare hard. (D is still the best option, but a newly-cleared ridge to the west is not bad either.) Verizon cell coverage is weak but adequate in some places, especially if you climb the knob. Those not inclined to hike 2 miles and check out the LZ before flying should at least watch this video that shows two landing options:
Winter roads advisory: The upper road is not plowed in winter. Gates exist but haven’t been closed in years. Siuslaw national Forest may be able to tell you how much of the road is passable.
Photos ©2005 - 2010 Mike Steed
Updated July 2014 by Mike Steed