Category Archives: Birds

Summit Trail to Ski Bowl East- Snowshoe

Directions: Take highway 26 to Ski Bowl. Park as far east as you can in the parking lot.

Head down to the east end of the Ski Bowl parking lot where you will come to a road. You should see the Trailhead sign across the road. Get on the trail and depending on the snowpack you’ll have to cross a few small streams. The trail winds around back in the trees and you’ll cross 4 or 5 small footbridges in the beginning.

The trail rollercoasters pretty much the whole time but the elevation is nothing hard at all. This isn’t a super popular trail and we broke trail the whole way in, there was some old ski trails but they were days old. The trail is well marked and very easy to follow if you have to break trail.

We lucked out and there were a few storms that had rolled through in the days before so we got about 8 inches of new fluffy snow. The trail is pretty much the same the whole way, just a pretty, windy, treelined trail. You’ll soon start to see openings ahead and start hearing voices. That’s when you know you’re really close to Ski Bowl East. The trail dumps you out right at the ski lift.

From here head left on an access road making sure you stay very close to the edge. Snowmobiles use this road often and they come at you fast. The road takes you up to the tubing area with music blasting out of speakers. It’s pretty funny. The Summit Trail picks up just past this area. We only went a little farther due to time constraints. Head back out the way you came in.

95% of this hike is very quiet and we didn’t see a single person on the Summit Trail, but the very small section that goes through Ski Bowl is very loud and very crowded. Just be prepared for that.

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass required

Seasons: Nov-Apr

Popular: Only a small section

Warnings: None

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 blogged about snowshoeing White River West last year and were bothered that you had to snowshoe in the beginning where all the sledders are. With TONS of people flying down the side of the hill it made for an annoying and dangerous snowshoe until you got far enough down the trail.

We recently went back to White River West and did some looking around and found a nice side trail that dumps you onto a service road. It makes for a much more pleasant experience! We only saw maybe two other people on this road so we thought we’d pass it along.

From the parking area get up on the main trail where all the sledders are and keep your eyes peeled for a side trail to your left that you come to quickly. Take this trail and follow it for a bit to where you get on the service road and will start to see the blue diamond markers. The road heads uphill and is somewhat steep at times. It does eventually level out a bit  as you get closer to the power line. We decided to cross over near the power line and get onto the other more popular snowshoe trails that give you a nice view of the river below.

      

We snowshoed about 1.5 miles in, making for a nice and quick 3 mile snowshoe. There was definitely a lot less snow this year and we both agree that this area is best when it has a good snowpack. If you are wanting a quieter snowshoe stay on the service road, if you’re fine with loud sledders and seeing a lot more snowshoers/skiers then crossing over to the main trail is a good option.

      

If it’s a clear day you’ll have great views of the mountain no matter what trail you decide to use.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno- Park Pass required

Seasons: Late November through Early April (check snow levels before going)

Popular: Very

Warnings: If you’re on the main trail watch out for sledders.

Barlow Road- Snowshoe

Directions: Take Highway 26 past the town of Government Camp to the junction with Highway 35. Take the exit for Highway 35 and follow it for about 2.5 miles to the Barlow Pass Sno-Park.

There are a lot of different trails at the Barlow Pass Sno-Park and we decided to just pick a trail to start and explore the area. We started off this snowshoe on Barlow Road which is at the very end of the parking area. It’s a wide trail and very popular so it had a lot of tracks on it. You head downhill gradually with not much going on, it’s just treelined but pretty. About a half mile in you’ll come to an opening in the trees on your right with a great view of Mt. Hood (on a clear day).

      

From here we decided to head back the way we came about a quarter mile and then head off-trail to our right. We went up the side of the hill where it then leveled off and eventually connected us with the Pacific Crest Trail. We went off to our right on the PCT for a bit which is mostly level before deciding to turn around and head back to the parking area on the PCT. It dumps you out at the first part of the parking area, in all we ended up making a weird loop or balloon type hike.

      

It was a nice first time in this area just exploring. We’ll definitely be back to see what the other trails have to offer.

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes, especially on weekends

Warnings: None

Lower Twin Lake- Snowshoe

Directions: Take Highway 26 to the junction with Highway 35 stay left and continue on 26 for another 5 miles until you reach the Frog Lake Sno-Park on the left. The trailhead is to your left near the bathroom.

Get on the trail that goes past a picnic table and immediately comes to a junction. Go right and follow the trail as it starts out mostly level. We haven’t had the best snowpack this year and the first part of the trail had maybe 6 inches of snow. It was pretty crunchy and icy in parts and the snowshoes helped with traction but weren’t 100% necessary in the beginning. Hiking boots with some sort of traction on them (micro spikes, Yak Tracks, etc) and hiking poles would’ve been fine while carrying your snowshoes.

      

Soon the trail switches back and you start gaining elevation. The higher we went the deeper the snow got and soon snowshoes were required. It snowed off and on for most of our hike which was great, it allowed snow to stack up on the trees which is always pretty. The trail is easy to follow and it’s a popular area so there wasn’t any need to break trail.

      

At the junction for Twin Lakes go right and you’ll soon reach the summit marker (4,320 feet) and then start to head downhill towards the lake. The snow was pretty deep and was nice and fluffy which made for a nice snowshoe down to the lake. Once the trail starts to level out again it’s pretty much pick a path that doesn’t get you wet. There is a creek that runs through this area and it wasn’t quite frozen over yet. We easily picked our way around it and did eventually have to cross it, but it was easy to jump over in our snowshoes.

      

You’ll come to another junction, head right and downhill again where you will end at Lower Twin Lake. It was covered in snow and very beautiful. We were immediately greeted by Gray Jays and if you’ve ever encountered these birds you know they are quite friendly. Be prepared to be pestered even more if you decide to eat your lunch anywhere near the lake.

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 5 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 700 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- the trail is easy to follow and the distance and elevation are fairly easy.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes especially the weekends

Warnings: None

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

The parking area at Oaks Bottom is notorious for break-in’s and we had a problem with a man basically telling us he was going to break into our car as soon as we left, we even saw the slim jim in his backpack 🙄. We wont be parking in this main parking lot ever again, it’s too bad because this behavior may make it to where people don’t visit Oaks Bottom. We hope you still visit and we would recommend parking at Oaks Bottom Park.

Directions: From the intersection of SE 17th and Powell, head south on 17th. Cross Holgate and McLoughlin, and head into Sellwood. Turn right on SE Bybee. Bybee turns into SE 13th, follow 13th. Turn right onto Sellwood which veers into SE 7th. You’ll see the parking area for Oaks Bottom Park.

From the parking area get on the trail that heads downhill. Once at the end of this hill go right and go to a split in the trail. This hike can be done as a loop, going left here will get you on the Springwater Trail first, going right has you entering the refuge first. Either way you choose loops around and ends back at this junction. Fair warning…on the weekend there is a large train that runs right along the Springwater Trail and it is VERY loud. Because we were here during the time the train runs we decided to make this an out-and-back hike. We went right at the junction and entered into the refuge. You’ll immediately be following along a marshy area where there are a lot of water birds. We saw mallards, pintails, coots, and geese.

      

The trail switches from packed dirt and rocks to boardwalk as you follow along. There is a viewing platform out to the marsh and Oaks Park, we saw a few great blue herons and an eagle here. As we continued hiking we saw a brown creeper, bushtits, crows, scrub jays, a hummingbird, and golden-crowned sparrows.

      

The trail is very easy to follow and you will pass by the Portland Memorial Mausoleum, it has large paintings on it. Eventually you’ll come to a junction, you can turn around here or continue left and visit the tadpole pond.

      

This is a great hike for wildlife viewing and would be great for kids as well. The trail is very easy and there is a lot to look at along the way.

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 150 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Break-ins at the main parking area.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

Directions: Take I-5 north to exit 14. Go left at the intersection after getting off the freeway. Follow the road for about 3 miles through downtown Ridgefield. Go right at an intersection with Main St and drive for about a mile until you see a sign for the Carty Unit of the Refuge. Follow the gravel road to the parking area.

      

Take the path that follows the bridge over the train tracks and curves down into the refuge. Following the path as it passes a plank house you can take a left a follow the trail that takes you by Duck Lake and winds back in to where you’ll come to a seasonal closure.

      

      

Back at the plank house stay straight/right and follow the trail until you see a side trail with a hiker marker on your right. Take this path through the trees and eventually come to Boot Lake. You can’t walk around the lake so keep following the main trail as you gain a bit of elevation and get a look down into the marshy wetland area. Loop back around and down where you will be back on the main trail that takes you back past the plank house to your car.

      

      

We saw many geese, trumpeter swans, robins, flickers, hawks, and scrub jays.

      

Since you’ve already paid the refuge entrance fee you should drive out of the Carty Unit and head for the ‘S’ Unit section of the Refuge. This is an auto tour from Oct- Apr and we really enjoyed it. We were able to see great blue herons, nutria, deer, hawks, a kestrel, and many small birds.

Make sure to pick up a brochure at the pay station/trailhead at the Carty Unit. It has maps of the whole refuge and lots of great information.

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 80 feet (easy)

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

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $3 per car

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

Directions: Take I-205 North to exit 27. Merge onto Highway 14 east and follow it for about 12 miles. Take a right at the sign for Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge.

From the parking area pass the bathroom (there is a whiteboard on the side that has a list of wildlife people have seen recently, it’s worth a look) and get on the trail. You’ll pass a few interpretive signs and soon be following along next to a large open grassy/marshy area.

      

After passing by a couple branches of Steigerwald Lake you will enter a small wooded area. Here we saw a Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, and Brown Creeper.

      

      

Keep following the trail and you’ll come to a split in the trail, part of the refuge is closed October through April to protect winter birds. Go right and cross the bridge, in here we saw a Bald Eagle. Follow the trail to another bridge over Redtail Lake. We saw Northern Shovelers and Coots in the lake as well as a sleeping Nutria in the grass. You can continue on from here where the trail ends at the dike trail.

      

Head back the way you came in.

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: None

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

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All. Part of the trail is closed Oct-Apr

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Little Zigzag Falls (Autumn)

Directions: Head east on Highway 26 until you reach Road 39 (about 6 miles past the town of Zigzag). Head north on Road 39, the trailhead is at the very end of the road (about 2.5 miles from Highway 26).

From the trailhead get on the nicely graded trail and quickly pass a few picnic tables and under a few trees that have fallen from above. The trail follows along Zigzag Creek the whole time and you’ll notice the trees all over the creek from past storms. There are many beautiful sections that are great for photos.

      

You’ll cross a bridge and soon come to a small slide area before arriving at the 40-foot waterfall. There is a trail off to the left that takes you up to the top of the waterfall as well.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

Before you leave, back at the parking area, cross the stone bridge over the creek and get on the old Mt. Hood Hwy. Follow it for a short distance and you’ll come to a stone tunnel that goes under the old highway. It now seems to have graffiti on the inside but it’s still an interesting little side trip.

To see our other posts about Little Zigzag Falls click here and here.

 

Distance: 0.6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 40 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Laurel Hill (Autumn)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 and continue past the town of Sandy for approximately 26 miles to a pullout between mileposts 50 and 51. There is a large brown “Laurel Hill” sign.

Take the stone steps uphill where it dumps you out on the Old Mt. Hood Highway. On a clear day it’s worth going left on the old highway a very short distance where the highway ends and you get a nice view of Mt. Hood.

      

Back at the stone steps go right on the old highway and pass the chute trail and soon come to another trail off to the left marked with a simple “hikers” sign. Take this trail and head up a few switchbacks. You’ll see a post with an old Oregon Trail marker on it and a sign stating that you’re on an original wagon route.

      

Continue on uphill where the trail is lined heavily with Rhododendron, which was mistaken for Laurel, thus the name Laurel Hill. This whole area is packed full of history and it’s worth stopping at the few informational signs at the beginning of the hike.

      

Soon the trail meets back up with the old highway, go left here and follow it a short distance to where the old highway ends. You’ll get a view of the top of Mt. Hood, the busy highway below and Tom Dick and Harry ridge off to your right.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 225 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Spring- Fall

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Memaloose Hills (Autumn)

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.

From the parking area carefully cross the road and take the unmarked but obvious trail. The trail is lined with oak trees and is kinda rocky, but typical of Gorge trails. There are a couple houses off to the right but they are pretty far away.

      

The trail heads uphill gradually for a bit and eventually levels off for a while before heading back downhill to a small stream. It was dry when we visited (mid-October) but i’m sure it gets pretty full during the rainy season. There is no bridge over the small creek but should be easily crossed over some of the well placed large rocks.

      

After crossing the creek you will see a unmarked trail off to the right. Take this trail that’s flat and winds through fairly tall grass. You’ll pass by a small pond with cattails and head off towards a fence. At the fence area the trail starts heading uphill somewhat steeply as you go up Chatfield Hill. After you pass the tree line you will start to see Mt. Hood off to your left. The last half of the hill is just grass with nice unobstructed views of the mountain and valley below.

      

Once at the top of the hill you get amazing views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, The Gorge, and Marsh Hill. The top is pretty flat and makes a nice place to sit, have lunch, and take in the views!

      

We’ve been here twice and both times it has been really quiet, only crossing paths with 3 or 4 other people the whole time. We would definitely recommend doing this hike on a clear day, the views are what really make this hike worth it!

 

Distance: 3.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 450 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages- there is some elevation gain towards the end when going up Chatfield Hill.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: Poison Oak

To see our previous visit in spring click here.