Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (Winter)

The Rhododendron Garden is located on 28th Avenue, across from Reed College in the Eastmoreland neighborhood.

This is more of a walk than a hike but it’s still a nice place to go to get outdoors for a while.

From the entrance take the paved path and switchback once where you go under a bridge and come to a pond. There are lots of ducks here and sadly it looks like the big willow tree that was by the bridge didn’t make it through the winter storms. Continue on the path and you will round a corner and start to see the golf course across the water. The path here is gravel and takes you to another pond with even more ducks, you may even see a nutria if you have the patience to hang around for a while.

      

      

After crossing the long bridge go left and down along the pond, pick up the path as it goes back up into the rhododendrons. There will be a fence and stream to your left and a grassy area to your right. As you continue to follow this trail it will round a corner and come to an area with cattails and reeds, you can see more of the golf course across the water here as well. Continuing around you’ll be following along the water as it loops back to the long bridge. From here just continue to follow the path back to your car. There are lots of side trails along the way to check out, the garden is beautiful and a great place to explore.

      

      

Some of the birds we saw were herons, ruddy ducks, mallards, humming birds, geese, coots, wigeons, and wood ducks.

Distance: 2 miles (you can do more or less, depends on which trails you take)

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes but dogs must be leashed

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 entrance fee from March- September, except every Mon & Tues are free year round.

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great place for wildlife viewing, we need to go back during rhododendron season.

Silver Falls State Park- Trail Of Ten Falls (Winter)

Directions: Take I-205 to exit 10 and drive South on Highway 213. Follow signs to Silverton, once in Silverton get on Highway 214. Take Highway 214 for about 14 miles to the South Falls Lodge parking area.

We did this hike on a very rainy weekend. All of the waterfalls were very full which was great to see! There are park maps at the pay station area, they are nice to have so you know which waterfalls are coming up. You can do the large loop that takes you to all 10 waterfalls, or you can do just a few. There are three trailhead areas, each have multiple waterfalls within just a few miles.

All of the trails are very well marked with easy to read signs. The trails are all fairly wide, with packed dirt and rocky in areas. There are a few bridges and two areas with long and pretty steep staircases. You can walk behind multiple waterfalls as well, so there’s a good chance you will get a little wet in the warmer months, or soaked in the wet months.

      

Since this is such a straightforward hike we’ll just post some pictures of the highlights. We have done this hike in other season, winter is definitely our favorite so far. The waterfalls and creek were so full and it was a lot less crowded.

      

      

      

Distance: 7.5 miles (if you want to see all of the waterfalls)

Elevation: 1,200 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Dogs are not allowed on MOST of the trails.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 entrance fee

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This is one of Oregon’s best State Parks!

Browns Ferry Park (Winter)

Directions: Take I-5 to exit 289. Turn left onto Nyberg, follow the road a short distance and the park will be on your left.

This is a nice park for a quick walk, or a great place if you’re a birder.

      

From the parking area go over the bridge, follow the trail around to the left and you can quickly check out the big barn that’s in the park. Head back and down towards the pond, this is a great area to see birds. During our visit we were able to see a golden crowned sparrow, spotted towhee, gadwalls, northern shovelers, buffleheads, green winged teals, and pied-billed grebes. Continuing on, follow the path past the pond and across another bridge.

      

      

From here stick to the dirt path that follows along the river. We saw a woodpecker in here and you will pass by a few small marshy pond areas. The trail connects back out to a paved path briefly but you can get on the dirt trail again. Follow this for as long as you want. You get brief views of the Tualatin River and the houses that line it, but it’s mostly fairly wooded.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Can be on nice weekends.

Overall: This is a nice park, the pond attracts some great birds. Nice place for kids or an afterwork walk as well.

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge (Winter)

Directions: Take I-5 South to exit 294. Get onto 99W/Barbur Boulevard and drive about 6.5 miles. Take a right into the Refuge.

From the parking area follow the trail down into a wide gravel path with trees. There are many side trails and benches with informational signs. The path goes down a small hill and over a bridge where you will start to follow along the Tualatin River. We’ve been getting a lot of rain lately and the river was definitely over it’s bank. There were large areas of the trail along the river that were flooded out and you needed to go way out into the grass to get around it.

      

There is a platform area that gives you a view of the river and has an informational sign. Continuing on you head toward a thicker wooded area. The trail was flooded out here and we couldn’t go any farther. If you are able to continue, the trail takes you out to a wetland observation deck. It gives you great views and there are usually lots of birds out this way.

      

Head back out the way you came in and make sure you check out the visitor center. There are a few telescopes that let you get a nice closeup view of the wetlands. As well as lots of interpretive stuff.

      

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 60 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in the refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great place to do some birding.

Swampy Lakes Sno-Park (Snowshoe)

Directions: Take the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway to the signed Sno-Park, it will be on the right.

The Swampy Lakes area has multiple snowshoe and x-country skiing trails. We were snowshoeing so we’ll be talking about the snowshoe trails. For a map of the whole area with all of the trails click here.

Trail options: A short loop (1.75 miles) and long loop (3.25 miles). Tie trail that takes you to a nearby Sno-Park.  Lastly, the porcupine trail that takes you past the lakes and to a shelter with a wood stove, this can be done as a 4.6 mile loop or an out and back that is 4 miles.

The weather we encountered was less than ideal, strong winds and steady snow made for low visibility. We decided to explore a small section of the porcupine trail and the short loop.

      

All of the trails are very well marked with blue diamonds that have a yellow snowshoer inside. The trails all go through a very pretty lodgepole pine forest that switches from heavily treed to sparse. The loops seem to have little elevation and the porcupine trail rollercoasters the whole way. This is a great place to spend time just exploring around.

      

There are designated trails for what activity you are doing, please make sure you are paying attention to the diamonds and not getting on a x-country trail with your snowshoes.

      

We can’t wait to come back on a day where the weather allows us more time to see more of the area.

 

Distance: Depends on which trail you choose

Elevation: Depends- some loops are flat, some take you up buttes with quite a bit of elevation.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed on any of the trails in the Sampy Lakes area.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass

Seasons: Snowy months for snowshoeing and x-country skiing

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great area, looking forward to going back and seeing the snow shelter.

Tumalo Falls (Winter)

Directions: From the city of Bend go west on Skyliners Road and follow it to Bearwallow Road where you will take a right. Less than a mile later take a left onto NF-4601 and follow this road for about 3 miles. Turn left and follow the road for about a mile and a half.

In the winter there is a small parking area at the snow gate that is just past a one lane bridge. With all the heavy snow the area got the parking lot had very deep snow. During the snowy months we would not recommend parking in the small lot if your car is not all wheel drive AND high clearance. We saw a few cars that were stuck and one that even had to be towed out of the area. Park along the road that forks left, right before the bridge.

From the snow gate get on the wide trail that in the peak seasons is the access road that takes you up to the waterfall. This is a heavily used trail so the snow was pretty packed down. We saw people snowshoeing, skiing, and just in boots. We started out snowshoeing and then decided to carry them since the snow was pretty hard.

      

      

You start out following pretty close next to Tumalo Creek. The trail rollercoasters for almost the whole 2.5 mile trip out to the waterfall and there are snowy ridges all around you. The trail mostly looks the same the whole way out but it’s quite pretty. At about the 2.25 mile mark you cross over a bridge and wind up a short hill where there are bathrooms and a viewing platform. There was so much snow that it was all the way up to the top of the railing around the viewing platform. You can take a steep but short side trail to get to a top viewing area but we were running out of daylight and didn’t have time. We will for sure head to the top on our next trip out here.

From here head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 5 miles

Elevation: 500 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass or a NW Forest Pass (depending on the season)

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great winter hike or snowshoe. We’re excited to go back and see what it looks like without snow 🙂

Sandy River Delta (Winter)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 18 and take a right at the stop sign. Follow the road under the freeway to the parking area.

We started this hike on an unmarked trail that is near the entrance gate to the parking area. We followed this dirt and gravel trail straight and through an open area where there is an intersecting trail that you can take either left or right. We went right and followed this trail that’s up above the open meadow area you just walked through. The trail continues for a while before coming to an open area where you can see power lines and off to your right you can see the big open grass area that has a main trail running through it.

      

Head down to the main trail, where you get a nice view of Mt. Hood, and go left following it along a section of the Sandy River and to a bird blind. You can go past the blind a bit and get a view of the Columbia River. From here head back out and follow the main trail back through the open grassy area as it winds back around to the parking area.

      

The Sandy River Delta is the areas largest off-leash dog park, so you will see tons of dogs roaming around freely. You will also see mountain bikers and horseback riders, as well as hear duck hunters off in the distance. This area is great for birdwatching, we’ve seen many different birds here throughout the year.

There are many different intersecting trails and they aren’t really marked. Most of them lead back to main trails, it’s a great place to get out and just explore.

To see our previous post about the Sandy River Delta click here.

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Very

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Very easy hike, more of a walk actually. Nice place to nature watch and just explore.

Best Of 2016

We did a lot of great hikes in 2016, here are some of our favorites and our overall top hike of the year.

  • Willamette Valley:

Henline Falls– This is a short hike but it takes you to an amazing waterfall. Catch it at the right time of day and you might just see a rainbow at the base as well!

  • Columbia River Gorge:

Columbia Hills State Park– Great area to see wildflowers with amazing views of the Gorge.

  • Washington:

Lewis River Falls– So many pretty waterfalls in such a short distance. Definitely a must see.

  • Coast:

The Thumb– This was probably the most unique hike we did this year.

  • Central Oregon:

Smith Rock (Misery Ridge)– The views are amazing at the top and you get a very up close view of Monkey Face!

  • Mt. Hood:

Wind Lake– You get to ride a chairlift up to the top of Ski Bowl and then hike to a somewhat hidden lake. And the whole time you have great views of Mt. Hood and Government Camp. 

  • Portland:

Powell Butte- This is a great hike in the city. On a clear day you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Hood.

  • Southern Oregon:

Plaikni Falls– This hike was inside Crater Lake National Park, it’s very pretty, especially in autumn with all the beautiful colors.

  • Kayak:

Disappearing Lake– This was such a treat! It’s a lake that’s only around for about a month out of the whole year.

Overall Best of 2016:

Bald Mountain– The hike up bald mountain is beautiful and lined with beargrass. Once at the top you round a corner and come to one of the best views of Mt. Hood we’ve ever seen. Do this hike!

What were some of your favorite hikes in 2016? Any you’re looking forward to doing in 2017?

 

Frozen Gorge (2017)

Oregon has been experiencing one of its coldest winters in quite some time. We’ve had multiple ice and snow events making for some very pretty scenes across the state. Every time we have an extended period of freezing weather we like to get out and see what the Columbia River Gorge is looking like. To see our previous Frozen Gorge post click here and here.

Our first stop was Multnomah Falls. There were more people than we thought would be here since the roads were still a mess. It was probably the most frozen we’ve personally ever seen this waterfall.

      

Next up was Oneonta Gorge. The stairs that take you down into the gorge were a solid sheet of ice, we would definitely recommend wearing some sort of traction for your shoes.  The icicles lining the gorge were huge! The water was mostly frozen over but we stopped at the log jam, falling in the water would have been a very dangerous situation!

      

Our last stop was Horsetail Falls. There was so much ice that it was blue in places, the ice formations were so interesting! Again, everything was slick but it was well worth the effort!

      

The drive out was beautiful as well!

Hope everyone has been enjoying all this gorgeous winter weather! We’d love to hear about what you’ve been seeing/doing 🙂

White River West (Snowshoe)

Directions: Take Highway 26 past Government Camp and get onto Highway 35. Follow 35 for about 4 mile or so until you reach the White River West Sno-Park on your left.

We would recommend not parking along the edge of the parking area near the trail going up the snowbank. Many people were choosing to sled down the hill here and were not very careful around the cars at all.

From the parking lot there is a well worn path that leads up the snowbank and onto the main path. The first half mile of this snowshoe is on a very hard packed snow path, this is from all the people who sled in this area. We got up here pretty early and there was already about 10 cars in the parking area and they were all sledding. Once you get past this area it gets a lot better, it turns into snowshoe and cross-country ski trails. You follow along the river the whole time. it’s mostly snow covered but you will see parts of it at all times. You also get an amazing view of Mt. Hood right in front of you the whole way.

      

Basically you follow along the river out in the open with trees lining your path. After about a mile you will go under some power lines and head uphill into the trees. It’s not heavily wooded so you will still see the mountain peeking through. Once we got almost to the top of this hill we decided to go down the side of it to get back down to river level. We followed the river a bit longer and decided to call it a day. We went a little over a mile and a half in making for a nice 3+ mile snowshoe. You can definitely go farther and I know we will be back soon to explore this area more.

      

      

On your way back to the parking area we would recommend that you stay down near the river once you get back to where all the sledders are. They come flying down the hills and don’t pay much attention to who’s around. Plus it’s much easier to walk in the nice snow instead of the hard packed stuff from the sleds.

Distance: 3 miles (you can go farther if you want)

Elevation: 500 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: A Sno-Park pass is required.

Seasons: Anytime there is enough snow.

Popular: Very

Overall: The areas with all the sledding are a bit frustrating but it’s worth it once you get past all the crowds. The views of the mountain are amazing.