Category Archives: Wildflowers

Bald Mountain (Summer 2016)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to the town of Zigzag. Go left onto Lolo Pass Road and follow it for about 4 miles where you will fork right onto road 1825. In a little less than 1 mile go straight onto road 1828 (it’s unsigned but it’s right before a bridge), this road is paved but has some pretty big potholes you’ll need to watch out for. Drive another 5.5 miles and go to the right onto road 118 (it’s gravel and quite narrow). Follow the road for about 1.5 miles until you reach the Top Spur Trailhead. This is a busy trailhead so parking can get interesting.

From the trailhead you’ll be going uphill on a trail thats covered in tree roots and rocks. In most places it’s almost like steps with all the roots. It’s moderately steep but nothing too terrible. After a half mile go right on the Pacific Crest Trail and just a short distance later come to a big trail intersection with a wilderness registration box. After filling out the paper head to your right and uphill slightly, make sure you see the sign on a tree that says Timberline Trail no. 600 Muddy Fork. Follow the trail through woods of skinny trees for about a third of a mile.

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You will leave the woods and come out to a clearing. This trail has one of the best reveals we’ve seen. Round the first corner of the clearing and come to absolutely spectacular views of Mt. Hood. You’re head on with Hood and to your left are wildflowers growing on the side of Bald Mountain, to your right is a valley of trees. It’s hands down one of our favorite views of Mt. Hood. Continue on the trail as you skirt along the edge and pass quite a few awesome viewpoints. You’ll briefly reenter a wooded area and then pop back out to a second clearing with more views of the mountain.

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When you finally reenter the forest follow the trail to a signed junction. Go left as the trail heads uphill for a bit before leveling out and coming to another junction. Go left again towards signed Top Spur Trailhead. This trail takes you back to the big intersection with the wilderness booth, go right and head back down the way you came in.

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Distance: 2.3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 560 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Almost everyone. May not be the best for young kids, the area with the views has steep drop offs.

Bathrooms: Portable toilet at the trailhead.

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Spring through Fall.

Popular: Very popular trailhead and most of the trail is busy as well.

Warnings: None

Summer Hikes

Looking for a nice summer hike? Here’s a list of some of our favorites 🙂

If you’re looking to stay in Portland and the surrounding cities check out Oak Island, Mt. Talbert, or Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. They are all easy hikes that have decent shade and lots of birds.

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We love hitting up all the great trails that the Mt. Hood area has to offer during the summer months. Tamanawas Falls and Umbrella Falls are great options if you are looking for a waterfall hike. For a lake hike check out Mirror Lake (and Tom, Dick, and Harry Ridge!), and Lower Twin Lake. Zigzag Canyon is also a really fun hike, go in mid to late June while the lupine is blooming!

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Some great summer Gorge hikes are Upper and Lower Latourell Falls, Gillette Lake, and Strawberry Island.

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Summer time is full of Kayaking as well, be sure to check out Scappoose Bay and Lost Lake!

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–Happy Hiking!

 

Catherine Creek (Spring 2016)

Directions: Drive I-84 East to Hood River and cross the Hood River bridge ($2 toll). Take a right onto Highway 14 and drive for about 4.5 miles where you will take a left onto Old Highway 8. Follow the road for about 1.5 miles until you come to the gravel parking area on the left side of the road.

The trail starts when you walk through a fence and see a small metal trail marker that says 020. You will be on a wide gravel path as you head down towards Catherine Creek. The trail continues as you come to a small bridge over the creek. After crossing the creek you will start to see the large basalt formations to your right.

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Soon you will come to an old corral and here is where you will be able to see the arch in the basalt. The trail heads uphill to a wide flat area and the start of the wildflowers. There will be two forks in the trail, stay right at both of them as you head up to the top of the basalt wall. There are numerous wildflowers that bloom at the top and you get a great view of Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge as well.

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Once a the top, the trail heads downhill as you pass the top of the arch. Keep following the trail through all the wildflowers where it ends at Old Highway 8. Walk along the highway a very short distance back to your car.

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Please be sure to watch for ticks and poison oak on this hike!

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All Ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All but best in spring.

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Ticks

Columbia Hills State Park (Spring 2016)

Directions: Drive I-84 East and take The Dalles exit #87. Cross the Columbia River Bridge and follow the road for about 2.5 miles. Take a right onto Highway 14 and a short distance later take a left onto Dalles Mountain Road. This road is gravel and you will follow it for almost 3.5 miles where you will round a corner and quickly come to a fork in the road. It’s marked with an old wagon and other old farm equipment. Stay left at the fork and continue on the road until you come to a gate and the parking area. The road is gravel but it’s in pretty good condition, there are some potholes but we saw all types of cars making it just fine.

It’s officially wildflower season!

Your trail on this hike is a gravel service road. The road climbs up Stacker Butte through fields of balsamroot, lupine, and other wildflowers. You have excellent views of Mt. Hood, the Columbia River and The Dalles on the way up. As the trail climbs the views just get better and better.

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After about a mile and a half you will start to see some of the FAA equipment in the distance. At about the two and a half mile mark the hike ends at the top of Stacker Butte. You have a great view of Mt. Adams and rows of wind turbines off in the distance.

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This hike is moderately steep on a well maintained gravel road. We got here fairly early and avoided most of the crowds. It’s not as popular as Rowena Crest but it still gets fairly busy during wildflower season, especially on the weekends. Make sure to watch for ticks and rattle snakes! This is an out and back hike.

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Distance: 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 1,450 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Dogs are NOT allowed.

Good For: This hike gets pretty steep, it may not be best for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: $10 Washington Discover Pass, you must purchase this before you get to the trailhead (at Fred Meyer, etc.).

Seasons: All but best in spring.

Popular: Yes during wildflower season

Warnings: Ticks

Henline Falls (Spring 2016)

Directions: Drive I-5 South to exit 253. Take a left and get onto Highway 22 and drive for a little over 22 miles until you come to a blinking light intersection, go left onto North Fork Road. Drive about 15.5 miles and the road will turn from pavement to gravel (note: there is a short gravel section earlier but it quickly returns to pavement). The gravel road now become FR 2209 and you enter the Opal Creek Wilderness. Continue for about a mile and a half (keep left at a split in the road) and you will see the Henline Falls trailhead on the left. Warning: The gravel road has MANY potholes, some of them pretty large. We saw all different types of cars at the trailhead and only one (a Fiat) seemed to have a problem. Just be aware and decide how much you’re willing to put your car through. We drove this road in the summer of 2013 and it has changed a lot since then.

The first part of this trail is an old access road and it’s fairly wide and pretty rocky. It’s heavily treelined as you gradually head uphill to a split in the trail. At the split stay left as the trail gets closer to Henline Creek. Soon you will enter the burn area, the trail just recently opened after a wildfire above the trail caused the hillside to become unstable. There are some burned out trees and the trail is eroding a bit so it’s kinda skinny in this area.

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A short distance later you will start seeing the waterfall as the trail takes you past some old mining remnants. The trail ends at the base of Henline Falls where there are plenty of rocks to hangout on and eat lunch or relax. There is an old mining shaft on the right side of the waterfall, you can’t go in very far but it’s interesting to look at. This is an out and back hike so head back the way you came.

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Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All but check before going during winter months.

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Spring Hikes

Hope everyone is enjoying the new season! Here are some of our favorite spring-time hikes 🙂

 

If you’re looking for flowers:

Pittock Mansion

Rowena Crest & Tom McCall Nature Preserve

Lacamas Creek (Camas Lily Field)

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

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Hikes that open in spring or that should be done before it gets too hot:

Larch Mountain

Painted Hills

Smith Rock

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Waterfalls!:

Tunnel Falls

Fairy Falls

Dry Creek Falls

Pool Of The Winds

Falls Creek Falls

Mist Falls

 

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Spring kayaking:

Columbia River Slough

Sturgeon Lake

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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!

Umbrella Falls (Summer 2015)

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.

We did this hike this weekend when the wildfire smoke was really bad. We couldn’t see Mt. Hood at all and and could barely see any of the views down into the meadows. It was still a very nice hike though.

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From the trailhead you’ll start hiking on the Elk Meadow trail for a little over a quarter mile until you reach the junction with the Umbrella Falls trail. You’ll be taking a left onto the Umbrella Falls trail, it’s well signed. Follow this trail through a small meadow (we saw a cute little deer having breakfast here) and then the trail starts to climb a bluff. As you climb you’ll start getting views down into the meadows below and you’ll pass under ski lifts. The trail has two switchbacks that take you up to a meadow with wildflowers. You keep climbing as the trail skirts around a meadow and you would normally have views of the tip of Mt. Hood (we didn’t have any due to the smoke). As you pass between meadows and forested areas you will pass a few small streams.

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After about a mile and a half you’ll come to a junction with Sahalie Falls. The trail levels out here as you stay right for Umbrella Falls, it’s a little over a quarter mile away. There are lots of nice areas for pictures and to sit and have lunch, or relax. This year the water level was a lot lower but the waterfall was still very pretty.

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When you are ready just head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Late spring through fall.

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Zigzag Canyon Overlook (Summer 2015)

Directions: Take Highway 26 just past Government Camp and take a left signed for Timberline Lodge. Follow this road all the way up to the lodge and park in the overflow area.

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This hike starts behind Timberline Lodge, you will need to walk up towards the lodge and take a paved path the winds up the side of the lodge. Soon you will see a sign to your left marked for Timberline Trail no. 600 and Pacific Crest Trail no. 2000. Take this trail and follow behind the lodge and under ski lifts. For the first mile the trail gradually heads downhill on a maintained dirt path that’s lined with lupine. It’s very exposed with little shade and the trail can be quite dusty. You will have great close-up views of Mt. Hood to your right and views of Mt. Jefferson and The Three Sisters to your left.

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You will soon come to a wilderness permit station that you need to stop at to fill out a tag that you carry on your backpack. Not doing so could result in a fine. Continue on past the permit station and you will soon come to Little Zigzag Canyon, this is your halfway point. The trail here starts to become a loose almost sandy gravel that can cause you to lose your footing in some areas. The trail heads more steeply downhill as you hike down into the canyon. You will need to cross some water here but it’s shallow and there are plenty of rocks to hop across without getting wet.

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After making your way across and out of the canyon, you will head back downhill again as you wind through a more heavily forested area. The trail will start opening up as you get closer and start passing a few meadows. You will also get back into the loose sandy gravel as you start heading into a more exposed area that takes you up to the canyon. The trail drops you off right at the lip of Zigzag Canyon with an amazing view of Mt. Hood. You will also be able to see Mississippi Head (large rock formation in the canyon) and the Zigzag River.

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This is an out and back trail, so head back the way you came.

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Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: We’re going to say all ages but be aware that the elevation loss and gain is steady and there are steep cliffs at the canyon overlook.

Bathrooms: Yes in the lodge.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Early summer to late fall.

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Junction Lake (Summer 2015)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 44 (Cascade Locks) and cross the Bridge of the Gods ($2 toll). Take a right onto Highway 14 for about 6 miles until you see signs for Carson and Wind River Road. Take a left here and head through the town of Carson on Highway 30 for about 6 miles. Take a right onto Old State road and an immediate left onto Panther Creek Road (turns into Road 65). Follow this road for 11 miles until you reach an intersection called “Four Corners.” Take a right onto Road 60 (it’s a maintained gravel road) and follow it for about 8.5 miles. Take a left onto Road 6030 which is marked for East Crater Trail. Follow this road for a little over 4 miles (it will turn into Road 6035) to the trailhead on the left.

Right past the trailhead sign there is a wilderness permit station. Make sure you stop and fill out the paper and attach it to your backpack, so you don’t get fined.

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From the trailhead you start out in a very pretty wooded area with bear grass heavily lining the trail. The trail gradually starts heading uphill at first and then more steeply as you make you’re way through the woods. After about a mile and a half the trail will start to level out a bit and you’ll come to the first of three ponds. The mosquitoes are pretty terrible this time of year and from about the first pond you’ll start to really notice them. It only gets worse as you hike further in.

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As you keep hiking you’ll pass through meadows and by two more ponds, as well as through clouds of mosquitoes. The trail gets more level as you go and soon you’ll come to Junction Lake. There are a few trails that take you down to the small but pretty lake. The lake is tree lined with a nice open meadow on one side. There is a nice trail that goes all the way around the lake and plenty of places to sit and relax or eat lunch. This is an out and back hike, so head back the way you came.

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We really loved this hike, the forest is beautiful with all the bear grass and heather blooming. The meadows and ponds are really pretty and a nice contrast to the wooded areas. BUT, we must warn everyone that this is NOT a great hike during mosquito season, we absolutely wouldn’t recommend going late May through mid July. We weren’t able to relax and enjoy the lake as much as we would’ve liked, due to the mosquitoes being so thick and horrible. One of us left with 25 bites, it was that bad. That being said, we can’t wait to go back in the fall, it really is a lovely place minus the bugs 🙂

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Distance: 5.2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 730 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages- may be hard for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: Late spring to late fall

Popular: No

Warnings: The mosquitoes are very bad in the summer