Category Archives: Fish

Wallowa Lake- Kayak (Summer)

Directions: From the town of Joseph take Main St. south where the road curves and turns into Wallowa Lake Hwy. About 6 miles later you’ll enter the Wallowa Lake area follow the road off to the right and enter the parking area for the lake.

There is a dock on the south end of the lake where the marina is and that’s where we put our kayak in. You get the best views of the Wallowa Mountains on this end as well.

Wallowa Lake is pretty huge and you can see just how big it is while you’re driving on the Wallowa Lake Highway, you follow right along it for miles. We saw every type of boat and recreational water sport while we were there. Speed boats, pontoons, jet skis, kayaks, canoes stand up paddle boards, inflatable donuts…you name it, we probably saw it! It doesn’t necessarily feel crowded because the lake is so big, but you will always be within earshot of someone and the speed boats tend to rip around the lake so you’ll be bouncing around quite a bit.

      

While we were on the lake we saw a few bald eagles, osprey, and quite a few common mergansers. There were a few deer out in the grass as well. 

If you paddle about to the center of the lake there are some small square floating docks, some with benches, that you can get out and relax on.

The whole lake and surrounding area is quite scenic, we had a great time while we were out on the water.

Distance: Depends on how far/where you’re going. It’s an easy paddle.

Elevation: —

Pet Friendly: Sure if you’re dogs like being out on the water.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Wildwood Recreation Area (Autumn)

Directions: Take Highway 26 past the town of Sandy and about 15 miles later you will see a sign for the Wildwood Recreation Area on your right. After stopping at the pay station follow the road past a junction and just a short distance later take a left into the parking area.

Make sure to get a trail map at the trailhead. There are lots of trails through here and it definitely helps to have one.

Get on the trail to the left of the bathrooms and cross a bridge over the Salmon River. Keep following the trail until you reach a junction, go left onto the Wetlands Trail which quickly turns into boardwalk. This takes you through a marshy area, there are a few side boardwalk trails to your left, these take you farther out into the marsh area for better wildlife viewing. This is a good area to hangout if you are into birds, we saw quite a few interesting ones while we were here.

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Continue following the boardwalk to a junction, go right and the trail loops back to the bridge. There is an optional side trip here that you can take. Go down the steps that are to the right of the bridge and get on a narrow dirt trail. This trail takes you along the river, with a few trails actually leading you out to the river. You can follow this trail for about a half mile where you will run into a private property sign on a fence. Turn around and head back to the bridge.

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Cross back over the bridge and immediately take a left where you will get onto the Streamwatch trail. Follow this paved trail as it eventually heads downhill and gets to river level. Follow the signs for the underwater viewing window. This viewing area is below water level and you are able to see small fish swimming around. It’s a great area for kids. Coming out of the viewing area go left and continue following the streamwatch loop trail as you pass several side trails that take you to the river.

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At the junction for the Salmon River Shelter take this trail and pass a bathroom and the shelter. The trail ends at a parking area, go left and follow around the edge until you come to a second paved trail. Follow this trail until you come to a junction marked for Mt. Hood Village. Go right and follow the trail through a very pretty wooded area. You will go uphill for a short distance but most of the trail is well graded. Keep following this trail until you come to the Old Mill Nature Loop. You can take this loop around, it’s not very interesting at all, you do get to see the remnants of the old mill at the end though. Once you are back at the beginning of the loop follow the trail signed for Trailhead Parking.

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Distance: 4.5 miles (if you take all the side trails and loops)

Elevation: 50 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 day use fee

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on weekends

Overall: This is a pleasant and easy hike, if not a bit boring. The Salmon River is pretty and you get lots of chances to see it.

Scott Lake to Benson Lake (Summer)

Directions: From Sisters, Oregon get onto OR-242 W and drive for a little over 20 miles. Take a right onto NF-260 (signed for Scott Lake) and follow it for just less than a mile (you’ll pass by Scott Lake on your right). The road ends at the Benson Lake Trailhead.

From the trailhead take the trail to the left and start heading uphill on a beargrass and flower lined trail. The trail is dusty and full of the usual trees and bushes you would see on a mountain hike in central Oregon. It’s a pretty straight forward hike, just follow the trail that heads steadily uphill the whole time.

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After just less than a mile and a half you will come to a Mt. Washington Wilderness sign. It’s just a short distance from the sign that you will start seeing Benson Lake. Continue following the trail as you skirt around the lake. When you get to another sign go left on an unmarked trail that takes you down to a good viewpoint of the lake. There are multiple viewpoints along the lake, and they all offer great views of the clear and very blue water. When you are ready to head back just follow the trail out the way you came in.

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Back at the trailhead make sure you stop by Scott Lake before you head out. It’s a bit more swampy but it’s still very pretty. If you hike around the lake you will get good a view of the Three Sisters Mountains.

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We did this hike during peak mosquito season. If you kept moving constantly on the hike it wasn’t so bad, but it was pretty awful at the lake. They were out in full force and swarmed us like crazy. We were hiking with a group this day and some of them chose to only stay at the lake for a minute because of the bugs. The mosquitos were better at Scott Lake due to the massive amount of frogs! It was crazy to see hundreds of tiny frogs jumping around in the grass 🙂

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Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: 400 Feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Almost all ages. It might be a bit difficult for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass Required

Seasons: OR-242 closes during the winter at the snow gate. The road and trail are open from late spring to early fall. It’s best to call ahead in spring and fall to make sure the road is open.

Popular: There is a campground at Scott Lake that can become busy during the summer months. The hike to Benson Lake can be a bit busy on weekends.

Overall: Benson Lake is very pretty, just be prepared for mosquitoes in July!

 

Yaquina Head (Winter)

The distance for this hike depends on what you end up doing.

Directions: Take I-5 South to exit 228. Get on Highway 34 West and then get on Highway 20 West. Take Highway 20 into Newport and take a right onto Highway 101. Drive for about 4.5 miles and take a left onto Lighthouse Drive. There are signs once you are in Newport.

There are multiple things to do at Yaquina Head. For this trip we decided to check out the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Cobble Beach. There are multiple trails and coves as well but we didn’t have time for it all! Click here to see a brochure of the area.

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You can walk or drive to the lighthouse and beach area from the interpretive center. If you choose to walk you’ll pick up the trail at the interpretive center parking lot and follow it along the bluffs where it drops you at the lighthouse parking lot. You have a chance of seeing gray whales and harbor seals on the trail. If you drive just follow the road that takes you to the parking area.

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The Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the tallest (93 feet) lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. You can sign up at the interpretive center for a tour of the lighthouse. We did the tour and it was definitely worth it. BLM workers dress up and show you around the bottom rooms, share lots of history, and take you up to the top where you get to see the actual light.

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There are viewing decks behind the lighthouse to whale watch and get great views of the ocean. Don’t forget your binoculars!

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For Cobble Beach take the wooden steps down to the rocky beach. It’s one of the more interesting beaches as there is no sand, it’s all cobble and rocky tide pool areas. For the full experience you want to be aware of the tide. You need to visit at low tide, we arrived about 45 minutes before low tide was at it’s peak which worked well. The tide pools are great! We saw starfish, purple sea urchins, anemones, barnacles, snails, mussels, and crabs. It was probably our best tide pool experience. We also saw Harbor Seals and Harlequin Ducks!

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Yaquina Head is a great area for nature lovers and kids. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here!

Distance: 0-1 mile

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $7 (good for 3 days)

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This place was really fun, we can’t wait to come back and check out all the stuff we didn’t have time for!

Best Of 2015!

Here is our list of the top hikes we did in 2015!

Columbia River Gorge (Oregon side): *Tunnel Falls* We love the Eagle Creek Trail and this year we finally made it all the way out to Tunnel Falls. We definitely weren’t disappointed!

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Columbia River Gorge (Washington side): *Strawberry Island* This was a nice secluded hike that had amazing views of the Gorge and lots of birds.

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Mt. Hood: *Zigzag Canyon* This hike is absolutely beautiful. You get amazing views of Mt. Hood all throughout the hike. We did this hike in late June and the Lupine were in full bloom!

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Oregon Coast: *Bayocean Spit* Who doesn’t love a hike that’s right on the beach?

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Washington Coast: *North Head Lighthouse* You can actually go up in this lighthouse. The views are great!

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Portland Metro/Outer Portland: *Oak Island* This is one of our favorite hikes on Sauvie Island, the place is covered with cows!

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Washington: *Lacamas Creek (Camas Lily Fields)* Go here in the spring when the lilies are blooming, it’s very pretty!

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Willamette Valley: *Abiqua Falls* This waterfall is becoming more and more popular and we definitely understand why. It’s not the easiest waterfall to reach, but it’s definitely worth the scramble.

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Central Oregon: *Smith Rock* We absolutely love this place. There is so much to see you almost need more than one day.

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Kayaking: *Scappoose Bay* This was the first place we took our new kayak. There’s lots of places to explore here.

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*Overall best hike of 2015*

Painted Hills!

Hands-down the most interesting place we’ve ever been to. The colors are beautiful and the views up at Carroll Rim are amazing! We HIGHLY recommend this hike!

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Honorable Mentions: *Lower Twin Lake, Youngs River Falls, Lost Lake (hike and kayak), Tom McCall Nature Preserve (go in the spring!), and The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.*

We’d love to hear what some of your favorite hikes of 2015 were!

Wishing everyone happy hiking in 2106!

Trillium Lake (Autumn)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 past Government Camp, a few miles later you will see signs for Trillium Lake. Take the marked exit and follow the road for about two miles to the parking area.

This hike is a loop and we decided to hike it clockwise. From the parking area we walked down to the boat ramp went left and picked up the trail. Right away there is a short side trail to the right that will take you out to a wooden viewing platform, it’s definitely worth the few extra steps. Continue on the main trail and you will hit the first section of boardwalk as you start to round the left side of the lake. All through this area there are great views of Mt. Hood and you will be hiking right along the lake.

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Continuing on, you will head into a more heavily wooded area. You can always see the lake through the trees but you are not walking right next to it like before. There are a few side trails that take you through the trees and out to the lake. It’s a little muddy but worth it, we were able to see a few large beaver lodges along the shore. Back on the main trail you will start to hit more and more boardwalk as you enter into a meadow/marshy area.

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Soon you will reach a junction in the trail. Going right will take you out to an open marsh where it dead ends, it’s a great area for bird watching. Staying left/straight will keep you on the main trail. As you come around to the other side of the lake you will pass the small amphitheater and some camping areas. The next junctions is with a bike trail, stay on the main trail and pass by a lily pond as you make your way back around to the boat ramp where the hike ends.

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Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 15 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Yes a $5 day use fee.

Seasons: All but you will have to start at the sno-park during the winter months.

Popular: Yes

Overall: Easy lake side hike with a great view of Mt. Hood.

Klickitat River (Part 1 of 4)

The Klickitat trail is 16 miles (one way) and meets up with the Swale Canyon trail. We plan on doing all 16 miles in four sections, before the end of January (hopefully!). The four sections will either be out-and-back or one-way hikes.

This first section is from the Lyle Trailhead to the Fisher Hill Bridge Trailhead and it’s an out-and-back hike.

Directions: Take I-84 East to Hood River exit 64 (marked for White Salmon) and cross the Hood River Bridge ($1 toll). After crossing the bridge take a right onto Highway 14 and drive for about 11 miles. After crossing the Klickitat River take an immediate left onto Highway 142, and then another left into the parking area for the well marked Lyle Trailhead.

From the trailhead follow the path that enters into a treelined gravel trail. You will see a few houses to your left and Highway 142 will be very close on your right. A fair warning here, being so close to the highway there are a LOT of dead animals that have been hit by cars. Some are caught in the bushes, some have fallen in the trail. The smell was pretty awful in a few sections for the first 1/2 mile or so. It’s not pleasant but it definitely wasn’t bad enough for us to want to leave.

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This trail has mile markers which come in handy. For the first mile you’ll pass by a few houses and have a little road noise (the highway isn’t very busy). You are above the Klickitat Gorge and will get a few views. There are a lot of birds and small wildlife to see as well. It’s not the most interesting trail but it’s pretty. Right after the first mile marker there is a trail to the left that takes you down into the gorge. We recommend going, it gives you the best views of the gorge and river. The trail heads downhill and  you will soon start to see a lot of fishermen, we easily saw over 20 people fishing from the rocks. The trail goes on for over a quarter mile and eventually comes to an area of the gorge rocks that are flat that you can walk out on. You can also see the bridge off in the distance. You can continue on the side trail for a while longer but it doesn’t connect to the main trail. So, head back the way you came to get back on the main trail.

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Once you’re on the main trail again keep going for over a half mile and you will come to the Fisher Hill Bridge. It’s an old train bridge that has been converted into a pedestrian bridge. The bridge gives you nice views of the gorge and the surrounding hills. This is the turn around point for this section, head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 4 miles

Elevation: 65 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Almost all, this trail does close during high fire danger times.

Popular: No

Overall: It’s not the most exciting hike but the Klickitat Gorge is beautiful and the trail is very well maintained making it accessible to many people. Plus, we’re birders and there were a lot of interesting birds to see 🙂

Sturgeon Lake (By Kayak) (Summer)

Directions: This hike is located on Sauvie Island. Drive over the Sauvie Island Bridge (stop at the Cracker Barrel Grocery for a day use pass). Continue down the road and stay right onto Reeder Road. Drive for a little over a mile and then take a left onto Oak Island Road. After about 3.5 miles on Oak Island Road the road turns to gravel. Continue on the gravel road and take a right onto an unmarked road that’s just past a pond. If you’ve crossed a cattle guard you’ve gone too far. Follow this road until it ends at the parking area for the lake.

There is a boat launch area but no dock. When the water is low there are rocks to stand on to get into your kayak so you wont have to get wet. Otherwise you might have to get a little wet to push off.

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Sturgeon Lake is pretty big and it has almost no current so it makes paddling really easy. When we first started out there was almost no wind and the lake was super flat and pretty. The lake is surrounded by farms and attached to other areas on the island. A lot of it is private property so be aware of the signs if you want to get out and wander around. A good place to get out would be around the Oak Island hiking area. You also get great views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens.

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The bottom of the lake is very muddy and you sink down pretty quickly, making it not the best place to get out and swim. There is a tide here as well so make sure you’re aware of the depth from time to time so you don’t get stranded. We saw some pretty good size fish jumping a few times and there are lots of birds as well.

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We were dealing with a time crunch so we didn’t get to explore as much of the lake as we would have liked. Overall it’s a nice area with not too many people. Great for anyone interested in birds. There is a small beach near the launch area that offers the only real shade around.

Distance: —

Elevation: —

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: $7 Sauvie Island fee. Make sure to purchase this at the little store that’s right on the main road after crossing the bridge onto the island.

Seasons: April-September

Popular: Can be on weekends and nice days.

Overall: Nice easy place to kayak. Great for wildlife viewing.

Lost Lake (By Kayak) (Summer)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Hood River (exit 62) and take a right. Take another right at 13th and follow signs to Odell and Dee. Then follow signs to Lost Lake.

Lost Lake has quickly become one of our favorite places in Oregon. You can’t beat the view of Mt. Hood, the trail around the lake is great and there are lots of spots to relax near the water.

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When we first got our kayak we immediately wanted to take it to Lost Lake and we finally got the chance. There are signs marking where the public boat launch and parking areas are. We ended up not using the boat launch and just got in along the bank nearby. It was a lot faster and less crowded.

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We paddled around most of the lake and then stuck around the areas with the best view of the mountain so we could fish with a view. Motorized boats aren’t allowed on the water which is nice,  you don’t have to worry about a speed boat flying by and potentially soaking you. It’s also a lot quieter without all the motor noise. You can rent paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, and boats at the lodge so there was a good amount of people on the water but it never felt overly crowded or annoying. We didn’t catch any fish, but we did get a lot of relaxing and mountain viewing in!

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If you have extra time take a hike around the lake, the trail is great.

Be sure to stop at the Apple Valley Country Store on your way home, the huckleberry milkshakes are delicious!

Distance: —

Elevation: —

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $8 entrance fee.

Seasons: Late spring to fall.

Popular: Very

Overall: Lost Lake is a great kayak option if you’re looking to have a nice relaxing time with easy paddling.

Columbia River Slough Kayak- Airport Way Launch Site (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the 181st Street exit. Head north and the road soon turns into Airport Way. Follow Airport Way until you reach the parking area on the left. It’s not a marked parking area and kinda sneaks up on you so be sure to keep an eye out (the cross street is roughly 166th)

From the parking area head down the gravel trail to the metal dock. You can go a couple ways here and we chose to head left toward the headwaters.

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Starting out you will head under an overpass and soon come to the Big 4 Corners (it’s signed). Stay right and continue paddling through the tree lined slough. The slough is relatively deep but full of grass and lily pads. In the beginning you’ll mostly be paddling through wooded areas with the chance to see a lot of Herons and small birds. About a mile in it’ll open up to more grassy areas where there are Osprey and Red-tailed Hawks. We also saw an Egret which was great. Keep your eyes peeled for small turtles as well.

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In the more open areas there are some pretty Wild Iris as well as some other flowers. We paddled out for a little over 2 miles. We turned around when it started to become more and more industrial. You will start to notice more businesses and start seeing the railroad tracks. Turning back here made for a nice 4-4.25 miles outing.

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This is a great option for people who are wanting to see wildlife. There were numerous birds along the slough. It may not be the most scenic but it’s still pretty. Another positive would be that it’s not very busy, we only came across maybe 3 or 4 people.

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Distance: About 4 miles

Elevation: —

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: Convenient location but lacks a little beauty.