Category Archives: Creepy

Crack In The Ground (Autumn)

Directions: From La Pine, Oregon go South on Highway 97 and turn left onto Highway 31 towards Reno. After about 30 miles turn left onto Fort Rock Road. Follow Fort Rock Road for 22 miles and turn left onto Christmas Valley Highway. Continue on the highway through the town of Christmas Valley where you will turn left onto Crack In The Ground Road. After 7 miles on this washboard dirt road you will reach the trailhead.

From the trailhead follow the dirt trail that’s lined with sagebrush and juniper trees. You get a nice view of Oregon’s high desert in this area. Soon the trail reaches a metal box on a pole that has some sign in sheets. The entrance into “the crack” (which is a volcanic fissure) is just a few steps from the sign-in area.

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The crack itself is 70 feet deep and can sometimes be as much as 20 degrees cooler than the surface temperature. Some spots you can walk two people deep, mostly though it’s single file. There are even a few sections where you will need to turn sideways and squeeze through. Be aware that if you want to do the whole length of the crack you will need to be willing to scramble over fallen rocks in a few sections. It’s nothing hard but does require you to be sure footed. There are little birds that fly around in the crack and some have nests up in the rocks. We did run into a snake, we don’t know what type but just be aware.

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You can also walk along the top of the crack and get good views looking down in. This is an out and back trail, so head back out the same way you came in.

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On your way make sure to stop by Fort Rock State Park. It’s a tuff ring that you can hike in and around. The area is really interesting and well worth the stop.

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Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 50 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: May not be a great trail for young kids and older folks, due to the few scramble areas.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Spring, summer and fall.

Popular: No

Overall: Very interesting place, we easily could’ve spent a few more hours exploring the area.

Ape Caves (Summer)

Directions: Take I-5 North to exit 21 (Woodland/Highway 503) and follow Highway 503 East through the town of Cougar. Highway 503 turns into FR-90, continue on FR-90 and take a left onto Road 83 (signed for Ape Caves and Lava Canyon). Follow the signs to Ape Caves.

The Ape Cave is a large lava tube that was formed about 2,000 years ago from a lava flow on Mt. St. Helens. It is the third longest in North America. The lava tube temperature is 42 degrees year round (bring those jackets, even in the summer heat). It’s recommended that each person has two light sources. You can rent lanterns for $5 at the Ape Headquarters but it is not open year round, call ahead.

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From the parking area follow the short trail that takes you to the opening of the tube. There are lots of interpretive signs and usually a forest service employee in this area. Head down the steps and immediately feel the temperature drop, most people stop here and layer up! Head into the tube and come to two sets of stairs, follow signs for the lower cave.

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From here you are just walking through the tube, you may get dripped on a few times as well. You will pass the “meatball” which is a blob that hardened in a narrow space. The tube is .75 miles one way and narrows the farther you go. The ground is very uneven so watch your step! The very end of the tube is only accessible if you are comfortable crawling. Once you reach where you feel like stopping turn around and head back out the way you came.

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Distance: 1.5 miles

Elevation: 150 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Dogs are not allowed in the Ape Caves.

Good For: All ages- just make sure you are sure footed and ok with low light situations. We did see some young children crying, most likely because it’s so dark.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Open all year but call ahead late fall through spring.

Popular: Very

Overall: Fun experience, can get extremely busy during summer weekends.

Beaver Falls (Winter)

Directions: From Rainier, Oregon, take Highway 30 West. About 5 miles after passing under the bridge to Longview, take the exit on the right pointing toward Delena. This will take you onto Beaver Falls Road (go left). The trailhead is on the left side of the road in about 4 miles. It’s a gravel pullout with a small sign up on a tree. **To see Upper Beaver Falls watch for a long white guardrail with a small turnout (on the road before the trailhead). At the midpoint of the guardrail, where the turnout is, there is a trail sized gap. This is the access point to see the waterfall, which is just on the other side of the guardrail.

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From the parking area take the trail near the Beaver Falls sign and follow it downhill making two quick switchbacks. The trail continues on a fairly even grade in the trees where you can see Beaver Creek on your right. We encountered some downed trees from recent storms about a quarter of a mile in, but the trail was still passable.

You’ll pass a rock slide area and a short time later you’ll round a corner and the trail heads down to the waterfall. You should normally be able to take the trail all the way down to the base but there was caution tape up because the last 30 feet of the trail was washed out from a big slide. You still get great views of the waterfall even if you can’t get to the base of it. This is an out and back trail, so head back the way you came.

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**Make sure to stop by Upper Beaver Falls on you’re way back home. As you drive back out watch for a break in the long white guardrail, you can park in the pullout. There is room just on the other side of the guardrail to view the waterfall.

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Distance: 1 mile

Elevation: 100 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: The waterfall is perfect but the trailhead is a little sketchy and the trail needs some fixing.

Clackamas River Trail (Summer)

The plan for this hike was to make it to Pup Creek Falls. That didn’t happen, we’ll explain why later on in the post.

Directions: To get to the Fish Creek Trailhead take 224 to Estacada. Go through Estacada and turn right at mile post 39 onto Fish Creek Road. The parking area is on the right and the trailhead is on the left.

Sometimes the drive to the hike is just as cool as the hike itself.  This was one of those times. We had a great view of Mt. Hood going through the Damascus area.

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If you like secluded hikes that are quiet almost to the point of being creepy, you’ll love this trail. The trailhead is definitely the source of the creep.  Everything from the broken glass on the ground from previous car break-ins, to the random guy walking around with an axe will make you extra aware of your surroundings.

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The trail itself is kind of a grab-bag, mish-mash of all sorts of trails.  It has ups, downs, rocks, mud, is really skinny with erosion, overgrown, runs along cliffs as well as the river bank, is flat and wide, and there are quite a few fallen trees.  You also go through different types of forest.  At some points there’s tons of ground cover under the trees, while at others it’s almost nonexistent, and other places are almost marshy.

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A constant reminder that you’re not miles from anywhere, deep in the forest, is Highway 224 that follows the Clackamas River the whole way.

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There are a lot of exposed areas on this hike and we happened to pick a unseasonably warm June day. We started the hike late and about halfway in we noticed we were running low on water. We decided that we should stop and head back around the 2.5 or so mile mark  so we didn’t get into a bad situation with no water and low daylight. We ended this hike in the marshy area where there is a small beach. Heading back at this point made for a 5 mile hike.

*Update* We finished this hike to view the post WITH Pup Creek Falls click here.

Distance: 5 miles

Elevation: 500 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: May not be best for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: Trail is rough with some erosion and it’s a bit boring. The river is pretty though.

Springwater Trail and Johnson Creek Floodplain (Spring)

Directions: Take 205 to the Foster Road exit and go left onto Foster towards 122nd Avenue. Head downhill on 122nd until you reach the Springwater Trail. There is street parking near the trail. You can also do this in reverse and park at the Floodplain on 108th and Foster. It has a big parking area.

This little walk is good for those evenings when you have some free time after work. There is a decent sized parking lot at the Floodplain, at about 107th and Foster, but we chose to start at 122nd and Ramona on the Springwater Trail. All the paths are paved, with one exception, and very accessible to anyone who wants to use them.

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From 122nd there are some marshy areas where you can see ducks and Red Winged Blackbirds. When you cross 111th you’ll see an entrance to Beggars Tick Wildlife Refuge. This area is the one exception, as the paths are not paved. Not sure what it was, but the Mrs. brushed up against something in here that left her with a couple hives on her face. You should also be on the lookout for “camp sites” ;).

Beyond Beggars Tick the Springwater Trail continues straight towards the Floodplain, and crosses Foster at a signal. You’ll see the Floodplain to your left. You cross a footbridge and continue on a paved path for about .25 mile. There are lots of Killdeer, Geese and Morning Doves, with views of Johnson Creek.

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Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: The trail is pet friendly but dogs are not allowed in the floodplain.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: The Springwater Trail is pretty sketchy and the floodplain is really small. We don’t recommend this hike if you’re looking for anything but a quick walk.