Fivemile Creek drains a small watershed in the central Oregon Coast Range between Florence and Reedsport. The 6,700-acre basin of Fivemile and Bell Creek, its major tributary, hosts crucial fisheries and links diverse human and natural history. Part of this history now includes opportunities for active adventure seekers to hike and climb in this wilderness.
The creek springs from the densely timbered Coast Range and flows southwesterly to its mouth in Tahkenitch Lake's Fivemile Arm. The lake lies in the unique belt of coastal dunes stretching 40 miles down the Oregon Coast from Florence to Coos Bay.
Eighty inches of annual precipitation--mostly in the form of winter rains--help foster the area's rich temperate rainforest, dominated by Sitka spruce and Douglas fir. Some old-growth groves remain in the drainage.
Roosevelt elk are common in the Fivemile Creek drainage, and the U.S. Forest Service rates the bull to cow ratio as high, as of 2009. Other mammals in the area include cougars, black bears and black-tailed deer.
Fivemile and Bell creeks harbor the Oregon Coast's largest coho salmon numbers, as well as anadromous winter steelhead and cutthroat trout.
The Lower Umpqua, Coos and Siuslaw tribes maintained open meadows in the region through burning. Beginning in the late 19th century, Euro-American settlers did the same, cultivating orchards and farmland in the Fivemile valley and pasturing animals. Dairy was a major industry.
Part of the Fivemile watershed is in the Siuslaw National Forest, which maintains a nearby campground at Tahkenitch Lake. Several hiking trails in the area explore the amazing transition from rainforest to dune landscape to ocean.