Memaloose Hills (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 to exit 69. Follow Highway 30 east and in 3 miles you will see the Memaloose Overlook sign with a gravel parking lot on the left.

This is a great hike to do in the fall but we were too late for fall colors. Even without the colors this is a great “off season” hike- make sure to come on a clear day so you can see the mountains.

From the parking area cross the road a pick up the trail. You will gradually wind your way uphill on a rocky dirt trail with lots of oak trees around you. Soon the trail levels off for a short distance before you head downhill towards a small stream. After crossing the stream take the trail to the right as you hike through grass and near bushes that run a long a swampy area, off to your left is a field.

     

     

The trail starts heading uphill again in trees before opening up and giving you a view of Chatfield Hill. You will head uphill more steeply now and see lots of dead Balsamroot and get views of Mt. Hood. Once you reach the top you will have a great view of the Gorge, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 550 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- there are some step sections on Chatfield Hill

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: During spring wildflower bloom

Warnings: Ticks, poison oak and snakes

Old Salmon River Trail (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to Old Salmon River Road (just past the Welches shopping center). Follow this road for a few miles until you see the marked trailhead on the right. There are multiple parking areas for this trail- we parked in the first one.

We love this trail and try to get here multiple times a year. The abundance of moss and all the green is just beyond beautiful.

Once you get on the trail you will immediately head downhill to river level. From here you follow along closely to the river for a while, crossing a few footbridges along the way. There are a few areas where you can get right next to the water and get good views of the river. Continuing on you will come to a wooden stair case taking you up and away from the river.

     

From here you’ll be above the river for a bit but can still see it and soon you will pass by a large log jam area in the river. Continue on a bit farther and the trail comes to Old Salmon River Road. Stopping here gives you a nice 3 mile roundtrip hike, or you can follow along the road for a short distance and pick up the trail again. It takes you past a few campsites and offers more opportunities to hangout by the river. The trail eventually comes to the Salmon River Trailhead which is the turnaround point for a 5 mile roundtrip hike. Head back out the way you came in.

     

We’ve had a really dry November so the water level was still fairly low. We also didn’t run into any water running across the trail but that is common during the rainy months so be prepared for it.

Distance: 3 or 5 miles- depends where you stop (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Three Rocks Beach- Kayak (Autumn 2019)

Directions: The boat ramp is at Knights Park near Lincoln City.

This is a nice paddle to a secluded beach only accessible by kayak or boat.

We started off going left into the Salmon River Estuary. It was low tide so we had to be careful because there was a few spots that were running pretty low. We saw quite a few Great Blue Herons and Cormorants. The estuary pretty much all looks the same so after about a half hour of paddling we turned around to head towards the beach.

     

Back past the dock you will head off towards the ocean. The water is brackish (mix of salt and fresh water). You will be paddling with a beach to your left and some houses and Cascade Head off to your right. The water is fairly clear and we saw quite a few crabs as well as sand dollars and lots of shells at the bottom. There are a ton of seagulls floating in the water and flying all around you, as well as cormorants. Just less than a mile from the boat ramp you’ll start to notice it gets a little harder to paddle as you round a corner and come to the ocean. This is where you will want to get off on the beach and pull your kayak out. Make sure to drag your kayak quite a ways out of the water, the tide can change quickly and you don’t want to lose your kayak.

     

The beach is one of the quietest and cleanest we’ve ever been to. You get fantastic views of Three Rocks right in front of you, The Thumb to your left, and Cascade Head to your right. We were the only people on the beach, the only people we saw were in fishing boats out in the ocean. It was amazing to see no footprints or a single piece of garbage. The beach stretches on and connect to Roads End beach miles off to your left. There was great beach combing as well.

On the paddle back the winds died down and the water was really calm. We saw a couple dozen seals floating in the water, some were swimming around but most were just floating and it was amazing.

     

Distance: 1.5-1.75 miles (round trip just to the beach) can be extended if you do the estuary

Paddle: Easy

Pet Friendly: Sure if your pet likes to be in a kayak

Good For: Most

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: Being so close to the ocean and dealing with tides please be extra cautious.

Larch Mountain- Sherrard Point to Multnomah Falls (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Corbett exit and take a left on the Old Highway. Take a right onto Larch Mountain Road (there is a big sign) and follow it for 14 miles to the trailhead. If you are doing this as a shuttle first drop a car off at the Multnomah Falls parking area (see explanation below)

This hike can be done as an out and back (14+ miles) or shuttle (just over 7 miles), leaving one car at Multnomah Falls and one at the Larch Mountain Trailhead. If you do decide to do this hike as an out and back please be prepared for over  4,000 feet of elevation gain and over 14 miles, it’s a hefty hike. We chose to start at the Larch Mountain Trailhead and hike downhill to Multnomah Falls.

From the Larch Mountain Trailhead the first part of this hike is going up to Sherrard Point. If it’s a clear day make sure not to skip this section, it’s one of the best viewpoints in the Gorge. It’s a short hike on a paved path with some stairs that take you to a fenced viewpoint. You will have views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson. It’s seriously great.

     

Once you’re done at the viewpoint head back down to the trailhead and get on the Larch Mountain trail (behind the bathrom). From here it’s all downhill, you’ll be losing about 4,000 feet total so it’s hard on the legs and easy on the lungs 😆. The first part of the trail is in a forest of skinny trees and ferns. You will enter a more heavily forested area and come to some junctions- all of the trail junctions are marked so make sure you stay on the Larch Mountain trail.

     

Next, you will enter the burn area from the Eagle Creek fire. There are lots of burned trees and downed trees (all off trail) but the trail is still very visible and easy to follow. After getting through the burn you will enter the open shale rockslide area. From here switchback downhill once and cross a footbridge. Beyond this point you will pass some seasonal waterfalls across the creek and come to a large bridge- this was recently replaced after the fire and it looks great.

     

Beyond this point you will pass by Ecola and Wisendanger Falls. This is the point where the trail will probably become more busy and get even worse as you head down to the Multnomah Falls switchbacks. Follow the marked switchbacks (there’s 11) down to Benson Bridge and then down to the parking lot.

     

This trail is well maintained and every junction is marked which is great. It’s a mix of dirt/pine needles, typical rocky Gorge and shale. There are a few log foot bridges and one large wood and metal bridge. We love doing this hike and are so glad it’s back open and looking good after the fire!

Distance: 7.5 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 4,000 feet *loss*

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- it’s longer and can be hard on your legs

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Free at Multnomah Falls & NW Forest Pass required at Larch Mountain

Seasons: Late Spring through Fall- check for gate closures

Popular: Yes when you are around Multnomah Falls

Warnings: Part of this hike is in a burn area please read and respect all posted signage.

Lewis River Falls (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Drive I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Take a right onto Highway 14 and drive for almost 6 miles where you will take a left onto Wind River Road. Follow Wind River Road up and over Old Man Pass, a couple miles after the pass take a left onto Curly Creek Road. Follow this road until you come to the junction with FR 90. Take a right onto FR 90 and drive for about 10 miles where you will take a right into the Lower Lewis River Falls parking area.

A small section of trail between the lower and middle waterfalls is close. There is a detour that adds about a mile to your total hiking distance. You wont miss any of the waterfalls.

This was our last hike of summer 2019 and we made it a good one! We never do this hike during peak busy times because it’s absolutely insane and beyond overcrowded. We made a good choice visiting on the last weekend of September and only saw a handful of people the whole time.

From the parking area head down the trail by the bathroom until it dumps you out at the main trail and Lower Lewis River Falls. There are multiple viewing areas for the lower falls. Go right and you will pass two of them, there are small wooden benches at them as well. Continue this hike by heading upstream on the main trail. You will pass multiple staircases that allow river access and a small boardwalk turnout. As you pass these side areas the trail heads uphill gradually on a fairly wide and well maintained dirt path. There are campsites off to your left in the beginning and you will always see the river off to your right.

     

When you are almost to the middle waterfall the trail is closed due to damage. Take the detour trail that heads uphill somewhat steeply and through a slide area. It ends up at road level and the parking area for the middle falls. Briefly pass through the parking area and get back on the trail heading back into the forest. You’ll cross a bridge over Copper Falls and head downhill to the junction for Middle Lewis River Falls. Head down a few long switchbacks to get a view of the waterfall.

     

Back on the main trail continue on for about another mile and you will come to Upper Lewis River Falls. There is a place to get off trail and down to river level that offers a great view of the waterfall. There are a few big logs here that make it a great place to have lunch or sit and relax for a bit.

     

This is an out and back trail so head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 6 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 320 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: At the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Spring through Fall

Popular: Extremely popular during the summer months

Warnings: None

William L. Finley Wildlife Refuge- Cabell Marsh Trail (Summer 2019)

Directions: Drive I-5 to exit 228, turn right onto OR-34 W and follow it for about 9.5 miles. Turn left onto OR-45 Bypass and just less than a mile later merge onto OR-99W. Follow this road until you see signs for the refuge, where you will turn onto Finley Road. Follow this gravel road a short distance where you will enter the refuge on the left.

Follow the gravel road through the refuge until you see the sign for Cabell Marsh.

From the parking area get on the gravel trail that takes you to the observation deck. Continue on past the deck and down to an access road, go right and follow the trail around to the Marsh. We saw a lot of pelicans, herons, egrets, and kingfishers. Continue on the wide path and come to a side trail on your left- this will take you onto the Homer Campbell Memorial Trail. This is a boardwalk trail with a bird blind.

     

     

Back on the main trail continue on as you pass through open grassy and oak wooded areas. You will soon come to a junction, this is the turnaround for this hike, head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 1.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 30 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No- dogs are not allowed in the refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: This is a seasonal trail open from April 1- October 31

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Wahclella Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 40 (Bonneville Dam). Take a right at the stop sign and go right at the fork where you will see the parking area.

This hike recently reopened after the Eagle Creek Fire. Like many of the recently reopened trails there was a lot of burned trees and definite trail reworking. A section of this trail is still closed so for now it’s strictly and out and back hike.

From the parking area get on the wide trail as you pass along the creek and small dam, round a corner and quickly come to a footbridge and Munra Falls. Continuing on you will soon come to a set of steep stairs and then the trail levels out a bit.

     

     

Soon you will come to what was a trail junction but the upper trail is now closed forcing you to go to the right and down a switchback to a bridge over the creek. You’re now in the rocky slide area and will start to see the waterfall off in the distance. Continue hiking through this slide area and come to another bridge and just a short distance later you will end the hike at Wahclella Falls. Head back out the way you came in.

     

     

There have already been reports of rock fall which is a normal hazard in a burn area. Please use caution while enjoying this hike.

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 300 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Rock fall and slides are common for years after a wildfire.

Salt Creek Falls & Diamond Creek Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: From the town of Oakridge go East on OR-58 for a little over 21 miles. You will come to a large sign for Salt Creek Falls, turn right here and head to the parking area.

     

Walk behind the bathrooms and follow the paved path a short distance to Salt Creek Falls. There are a couple viewpoints here but the railing is pretty high. Once you are done taking in Salt Creek Falls follow the paved path past the top of the waterfall as it heads into a picnic area and you cross a bridge. Next you will come to a trail junction. Go left here and follow the trail as it gradually climbs uphill.

     

You’ll cross an old service road as you continue your way back to the waterfall. Eventually you will come to an unmarked junction where you can only go left or right. Go right and switchback downhill to a partially obscured viewpoint of Diamond Creek Falls. Continue down the trail a short distance until you come to a trail on your left. Take this trail downhill and you will come to a log with steps carved into it, go down this and cross the large log bridge. Continue past the bridge a short distance and you will reach Diamond Creek Falls.

     

You are right at the base of the waterfall and you get a very up close and personal view of it. The waterfall is absolutely beautiful, and it quickly became one of our all-time favorites! When you are ready head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 465 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Summer and Fall

Popular: Yes for Salt Creek Falls, not as popular for Diamond Creek Falls

Warnings: They had signs posted for a recent cougar sighting while we were here.

Waldo Lake- Kayak (Summer 2019)

Directions: From the town of Oakridge take OR-58 East and follow it for a little over 23 miles where you will see a sign for Waldo Lake. Take a left here and follow this road for 9 miles to the Shadow Bay Campground entrance, follow the signs for the boat ramp.

We chose to put in at the Shadow Bay dock because it was closest to where we were camping. There are multiple places around the (very large) lake that you can put your kayak in. Each area offers something different which is great.

Waldo Lake is one of Oregon’s largest natural lakes and it’s pretty high in elevation (you’re at 5,414 feet).

     

We had pretty windy conditions while we were here and it made the water very choppy. We were bouncing around so much that our poor dog got motion sickness. Luckily the Shadow Bay area has a few islands you can get out and relax on as well as little inlets that were much calmer. The lake is huge and we mostly stuck around the half that was closest to us but that was more than enough to explore. The lake is known for how clear it is and that you can see way down, sadly it was way too windy for us to see really deep. It was definitely very clear when you were out of the wind or along the shore.

The lake is beautiful and massive. If you come all the way out here definitely plan on spending quite a while on the lake- there’s just so much to see.

     

Distance: There’s 10 square miles of water surface

Elevation: —

Pet Friendly: Yes if your dog likes kayaking

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: At the campgrounds

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Summer through Fall

Popular: Very

Warnings: Always wear your lifejacket.

Coldwater Lake (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-5 North to exit 49. Go right and drive for about 43 miles on 504E. You will come to a junction go right for Coldwater Lake and drive for about 2 miles until you come to two parking areas, park in the one on the right, not the boat ramp area.

Take the trail behind the informational sign that goes down to the lake and a boardwalk path. You’ll get a good view of the lake and Mt. St. Helens. Head back up this trail to the parking lot and go to the parking area with the boat ramp. There is a trail here just left of the boat ramp that you need to get on.

     

From here you will stay on this trail as it follows along the lake. You will get up above it for a while and get nice views. Eventually you head downhill again and come to a beach access area. The junction for the beach is by a shed that is actually a composting toilet. If you make this the stopping point your round trip total will be around 2.5 miles.

     

Continuing on the trail rollercoasters and it’s more of the same, views of the lake and surrounding area. We went about a mile past the beach and turned around due to the high heat. Head back out the way you came in.

The trail is very overgrown and dusty and the mosquitoes were thick. I think we’ll come back and kayak the lake, it will probably be more enjoyable.

     

Distance: Depends on how far down the lake you go. We did 3.5 miles (easy).

Elevation: This also depends on how far you go. We had about 350 feet of elevation gain (easy).

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at both parking areas

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Spring through late fall

Popular: No

Warnings: There were posted warnings of recent cougar sightings.