Category Archives: Birds

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

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.

Swan Island Dahlia Festival (2019)

We love the Swan Island Dahlia’s and try to visit each year. This year we made it out on a cloudy morning which was lovely and the fields were full of color.


There are so many different types and colors of dahlias and they have the name of each posted on each row. Make sure to take the short walk around the test garden too, to see future dahlias. The field is open 7 days a week from 8am-6pm and the gift shop opens at 10am. If you are going on a festival day there will be live music, vendors and food.



Admission is free and we would recommend getting there as close to opening as possible to avoid some of the crowd.


For directions and more information click here.


Big Obsidian Flow (Summer 2019)

The Big Obsidian Flow trail is located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument which is just outside of La Pine, Oregon.

The Big Obsidian Flow is a 1 mile interpretive trail that takes you through a field of obsidian and pumice. There are informational signs along the way and a nice view of Paulina Lake.


From the parking area take the paved trail to a metal staircase where you will enter the flow. From here the trail is rocky and can be pretty dusty during the dry months. The trail loops through the flow and you will see chunks of obsidian and pumice of all size. There are a few small shrubs, trees and flowers that have managed to grow out in the field. There are a few viewpoints on the trail as well.


Please follow the posted rules- this place is very fragile and unique.


Distance: 1 mile (easy)

Elevation: 125 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No- there are many signs warning against taking your dog on this trail. The obsidian is very sharp and can easily cut your dogs paws.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes in the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass or Newberry entrance pass

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Umbrella Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 East past Government Camp to the junction with Highway 35. Follow Highway 35 for about 8 miles until you see a sign for Hood River Meadows. Take a left here and follow the road a short distance to the Elk Meadow Trailhead on the right shoulder of the road.

From the trailhead you will be starting out on the Elk Meadow Trail for a little over a quarter mile until you reach a signed junction. Go left here on the Umbrella Falls Trail, the trail starts out by passing through a small meadow (if you start your hike early there is a good chance you will see deer in this area) and then heads uphill- and gets fairly steep in sections. You will start to get views down into Mt. Hood Meadows off to your left and soon pass under a ski lift. The trail switches back and you head up a short steep section that drops you into a wildflower filled meadow. We saw lots of lupine and paintbrush in this section.



The trail starts to level out a bit as you pass through more meadows with streams and get some views of the top of Mt. Hood off to your right. There was Beargrass in this area but it wasn’t quite in full bloom yet. We saw a few deer off in the distance and a few butterflies as well.



As you continue hiking you will come to a junction for Sahalie Falls. Stay straight here and a short distance later you will reach Umbrella Falls. On your way back you can take the side trail to Sahalie Falls and then head back out the way you came in.


Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most. This trail does have some steep sections so it may not be best for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes a portable toilet at the trailhead

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Headwaters Trail (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take highway 26 to Skyline Road. Drive for about 8.5 miles on Skyline until you come to a gravel parking area (on the left) for the Pacific Crest Trailhead.

This hike is full of junctions so this will be kind of a lengthy post. We saw a bobcat run across the road right by the parking area so be aware of that as well.

The hike starts to the left of the large wooden Pacific Crest Trailhead entrance, on the Headwaters trail. Following the mostly level trail with the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River off to your right. Come to a gravel road and go right for a short distance where you will pick up the trail again on your left. In this section you’ll pass by small meadows and marshy areas off to your left and pass through thin wooded areas. Soon you will come to a junction- go straight here on the Miller Trail (#534). Not too far past the junction there’s an unmarked side trail that takes you down to a nice view of Cold Spring. Across the wetland you’ll be able to see some of the campground you’ll soon be passing through.


Back on the main trail continue on until you come to a fork in the trail- go right and head in to the campground. Follow the main road through the campground and pass the entrance kiosk where you will soon cross a cattle guard and quickly pick up the Miller Trail again on the right. Next you will come to Skyline Road, cross it and pick up the Miller Trail, continue on here through mostly wooded areas and eventually come to FR 57. Cross the road and go left down the road a short distance where you will pickup the trail again. Continue on until you again come to FR 57, walk a few steps along a pullout and then reenter the woods and quickly come to another trail junction. Go right here on Timothy Lake Trail (#528). The trail soon drops down and you reach another junction- go right and cross a bridge. You then head up a large rocky area that leads up to another junction and a view of Timothy Lake.


Go right at this junction on the Pacific Crest Trail and follow it for a while. You will see the river again on your right, the trail gains a bit of elevation in areas and soon you will reach Skyline Road and your car.


This isn’t the most exciting hike and it’s definitely not one we’ll want to visit often- but parts are pretty and it’s not crowded at all.

Distance: 6.5 miles (moderate)

Elevation 360 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the campground

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Late spring through early fall

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Camassia Natural Area (Spring 2019)

Directions: Drive south from Portland on I-205 to the West Linn Exit # 8 and turn left at the end of the exit ramp. After going under the highway, turn uphill onto Willamette Falls Drive just before the gas station.  (This is the last right turn before coming to the bridge over the Willamette River, so if you find yourself on the bridge, you went too far).  After one block, Willamette Falls Road turns 90 degrees to the left; continue on Willamette Falls Road for .25 mile. Veer right onto Sunset Avenue, which continues uphill, passing over I-205. Take the first right onto Walnut Street, which ends at the preserve entrance and parking area.

It was hard to believe that we hadn’t visited this beautiful area before- it’s amazing!

From the small parking area get on the trail and quickly come to a board with brochures, in it is a map with a self-guided loop. It’s an easy loop that’s very well marked so we will just hit the highlights in this post.


The trail is a mix of boardwalk and wood chips which makes for a nice quiet walk. The boardwalk sections take you through marshy/boggy areas that are very green in the spring. There are a few rocky meadow sections that are covered in camas and rosy plectritis, it’s so pretty but very delicate so please stay on the trail and don’t pick any of the flowers.


It’s a great place to bird watch as well. We saw a number of birds and there is a large Osprey nest on a cell tower.


Later April through early May is the best time to visit if you are hoping to see the flowers but this would be a great place to visit year round.


Distance: 1.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 150 feet (easy

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in this area.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes during peak bloom time

Warnings: None

Memaloose Hills (Spring 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 spring has been amazing for Gorge wildflowers the blooms are the best we’ve probably ever seen!

From the parking area carefully cross the road and pick up the trail. It heads gradually uphill passing by a few homes off to the right. You will start seeing wildflowers immediately but it gets better as you go. The trail eventually levels out for a while as you wind your way back towards the hills.


Soon you will head down a short hill and come to a small stream that’s easy to cross. Just a short distance later the trail forks, going left/straight takes you to Marsh Hill. This hill is the less steep of the two, you get a nice view of Mt. Hood and it’s covered in wildflowers. When you are done head back down to the split in the trail. Heading off the other way takes you to Chatfield Hill. You will walk through a grassy area filled with buttercups and a bunch of cows off to the left. Soon you will start to head uphill through oak trees and just a short distance later you will come out of the trees and see Chatfild Hill. It was COVERED in balsamroot and lupine when we were here- it was amazing.



Continue following the trail as it heads up Chatfiled Hill- it does get pretty steep in areas. Once at the top of the hill you will have great views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and the Columbia River. It’s the best out of the two hills but they are both beautiful. Head back out the way you came in.


Some of the many flowers you will see are balsamroot, lupine, paintbrush, buttercups, wild cucumber, and chocolate lilies.


Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 550 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- there are some steep sections heading up each hill.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: During spring wildflower bloom

Warnings: Ticks, poison oak and snakes

Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge- Morgan Lake (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-5 south to exit 260A. Take Salem Parkway for about 5 miles and take a right onto Marion Street. Cross over the Willamette River and drive for a little over 9 miles on Highway 22, take exit 16 and soon stay left for McMinnville. Take a left at the junction for 99W and drive for 3 miles to Smithfield Road. Continue on this gravel road for about 2.5 miles to a parking area on the left.

Head out on the gravel path that quickly takes a left and goes up a small hill. At the top of this hill you will get a good view of Morgan Lake and the two hills that make up Baskett Butte. Keep going on the gravel trail that dips down and back up to a grassy field. The trail is pretty much nonexistent here so just follow along near the lake.



Eventually you will see the trail again when you get towards the end of the lake. Continue on a bit farther until you reach a trail junction, this is the end of this hike so head back out the way you came in. This junction has tie trails that lead to other parts of the refuge if you want to extend your hike.


The lake was pretty empty, we did see a few mallards and shovelers but that was it. The fields had a ton of geese and there were plenty of birds in the trees and bushes. Definitely bring your binoculars!


Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 45 feet (easy)

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

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Morgan Lake is open April 1-September 30

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Government Cove Peninsula- Kayak (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the exit just past Cascade Locks that’s marked for a weigh station. Get on Frontage Rd and continue on and cross the tracks. Park near the gate.

We’ve always just hiked around this area but decided to kayak around the coves this time.

We put the kayak in just to the left of the gate off the large rocks that line the edge of the water. We paddled out and around and passed the sailboat that is anchored near the grass. There is a large eagles nest up in the trees here which was great to see.


The two coves don’t connect so you will have to go out into the Columbia briefly. So continue out towards the river and go left where you can get into the second cove. It was windy and the river was pretty choppy while we were here, it was a little rough getting into the second cove but definitely doable.


After exploring the second cove paddle back out the way you came in. If you hike to the top of the rock on Government Cove you can see the coves where you’ll be kayaking.

There were a lot of birds (so bring binoculars!) and good views of the Gorge. It was a unique kayak and we’ll definitely be back.

Distance: 1-2 miles (easy)

Paddle: Easy (the river may be a bit choppy)

Pet Friendly: Sure if they are good in a kayak 🙂

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None