Category Archives: Switchbacks

Fairy Falls (Winter 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Go left on the Historic Highway to the Wahkeena Falls Trailhead.

We were really anxious to get back up to this waterfall after the Eagle Creek Fire. It’s one of our favorite hikes in the Gorge and we really missed it.

Obviously there is fire damage visible throughout this whole hike but it’s really apparent after you get up above all the switchbacks.

First, you’ll start out on the paved path and cross over Wahkeena Creek as you switchback once to get up to Wahkeena Falls. From here the trail is still paved as you head straight up 12 switchbacks, they are fairly short but you’re definitely still feeling all the quick elevation gain. Through this section you are mainly seeing partially burned trees and more open views.

      

      

The switchbacks end at an signed intersection. It’s worth the short trip off to the right to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. When finished head back the other direction where the paved path turns into a typical dirt and rock Gorge trail. You’ll head over a footbridge and start heading uphill somewhat steeply on a very loose rocky trail, staying right next to the creek for a short distance. Normally there are a few fallen trees in this section, but since the wildfire there are a TON of downed trees and they are mostly hanging over the creek. A lot of the moss is burned in this section as well.

      

      

Cross over a second bridge and head up some more switchbacks that take you right to Fairy Falls. As you head up these last switchbacks you really get a good view back down into the creek where you can see a lot of the damage. We are happy to report that the waterfall still looks great and the bench survived the fire. Head back out the way you came in.

      

      

*Please read all the posted warning signs carefully before heading out on any of the recently reopened hikes. Trails impacted by wildfires are at higher risk for falling rocks and trees, as well as slides.*

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- there is quite a bit of elevation gain for such a short hike.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: This trail was hit by a wildfire so please read all posted warning signs.

Wahkeena Falls (Winter 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Take a left onto the Old Highway and drive for about 2.5 miles to the trailhead on your right.

Here’s another hike that has recently reopened since the Eagle Creek Fire.

There is definite noticeable fire damage on trees and it looks a lot more open in many areas. You can see a lot more of the upper tiers of the waterfall from the parking lot.

      

The trail itself is in good shape and is paved from the parking lot all the way to the upper tier. You will switchback once and there is a small area right before the waterfall that has been washed out but is still easily passable.

This is a great short hike for families with young kids, or older folks.

      

If you want to extend your hike we strongly recommend Fairy Falls. It’s a pretty little waterfall and beautiful trail.

*This trail has recently reopened after a significant wildfire. There will be posted warning and closure signs at the trailhead and along the trail itself. Please read them and follow them. Entering a closed area is not only a danger to yourself but to the people who would be coming to your aid if something went wrong.*

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes but they are seasonal

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: Please follow all posted warning signs.

Ponytail Falls (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Ainsworth State Park (exit 35) and follow the Old Highway left towards Horsetail Falls.

This hike is partially open, you can hike from Horsetail Falls up to Ponytail Falls. There is a large fence blocking the trail just past Ponytail Falls.

      

As you start out on the trail just to the left of Horsetail Falls you will immediately notice fire damage. There are large rocks that have fallen, a lot of trees have been removed and limbs are across the trail. It’s definitely passable but use caution for falling debris especially if it’s been rainy and windy recently.

      

      

The trail switchbacks taking you above Horsetail Falls. There are definitely “new” views with all the tree removal but for the most part it’s pretty straight forward. Once you’re at the top you’ll round a corner and see Ponytail Falls. The trail heads downhill slightly and continues on behind the waterfall. This is where the trail ends for now at a fence. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Please respect the trail closures they are put in place for everyones safety. We saw a couple people go up and around the fence and you risk your safety, the peoples safety that would have to help you if something happens, and being ticketed.

      

Distance: .8 miles (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: This hike goes through a burn area, read all the posted warning signs before heading out.

 

Angels Rest (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take the Bridal Veil exit on I-84 East, the parking area is right when you get on the Old Highway.

By now hopefully everyone has heard that more trails have opened in the Gorge! We did this hike the day after it reopened and it was so great seeing this place again!

We got here early thinking that it would be a very popular destination and we weren’t wrong, there was one spot left in the lower parking lot at 7:30am!

Cross the highway and get on the trail, you will immediately start seeing some burned trees. We quickly noticed how much moss and vines had already grown on the trail, nature really does quickly take over! You will see lots of healthy ferns and undergrowth but there have been a lot of trees removed as well so it’s got more of an open feel in areas.

      

As you head uphill you will pass a small slide area with views of the river and come Coopey Falls off to the left. Continuing on, the trail briefly follows a creek and you cross a bridge over it. The trail steadily climbs the whole way and soon you will round a corner and see Angels Rest off in the distance. About here is where you will notice more severe burn. There are a lot of black trees, some standing and some that have fallen. It’s a lot more open and is just noticeably different.

      

Continue up the switchbacks and cross the large shale slide area. There are numerous views of the Gorge along the way. Once you are almost at the very top you will have to climb up a short narrow rocky area and it dumps you out at the top. You can really see all the burned trees from the top and you still have the absolute amazing views up and down the Gorge.

      

Yes, this trail has been badly burned, but that in no way means that there is no greenery or new growth. It looks different but is still a great hike with simply amazing views.

      

*Please read and follow all the posted warning signs.* This trail gets a lot of visitors and we always strongly urge everyone to follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles.

      

Distance: 4.6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 1,460 feet (hard)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: There is a good amount of elevation gain so this may not be best for younger kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: VERY

Warnings: This area will be prone to rock fall, slides, and falling trees for some time.

Pittock Mansion Hike (Autumn 2018)

Directions: This hike is located in Downtown Portland on NW 31st and Upshur, just under the Thurman Street Bridge at Lower Macleay Park.

The trail starts under the Thurman Street Bridge and follows along Balch Creek. You’ll cross a bridge and head to a junction at the old Stone House. Continue straight here and cross another bridge before the trail starts to switchback as you make your way up to Cornell Road.

      

Cross Cornell Road and from here you gain elevation more steadily and get a few glimpses of Portland’s industrial area. The rest of the trail is mostly uphill, there are a few small sections with stairs and a good amount of switchbacks. You will finally reach the top where the trail dumps you out into the parking lot for the Pittock Mansion. Go left and follow the path around the mansion to get great views of downtown Portland and Mt. Hood.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 900 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: There is a very small parking area for this busy trail so be prepared to have to find street parking.

Zigzag Canyon Overlook (Summer 2018)

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.

This hike starts behind the lodge. Head up some steps and get onto a cement path that takes you uphill pretty steeply to a sign for the Timberline Trail and Pacific Crest Trail on the left. Get on this trail, now fine dirt and very dusty. You’ll follow the trail under the ski lift with a view of Mt. Jefferson on your left and incredible views of Hood (obviously 😄) to your right.

      

You will come to a wilderness sign in station. Make sure to fill out the paper and then continue on the trail as you head to Little Zigzag Canyon. Follow the trail as it switches back down into the canyon. Depending on what month and how the weather is there may or may not be water you need to cross, this time it was dry as a bone. The trail here is very fine gravel/sand and it’s pretty thick.

      

      

Once you head out of the canyon continue on the trail as you start to head downhill and enter an area with more trees. You will continue to get great views of both mountains the whole hike.  Next you will start to see a few meadows and the trail will return to the thick sand consistency as you make your way right to the edge of Zigzag Canyon. The views here are nothing short of amazing! This is the end point for this hike, head back out the way you came in.

      

Most of this hike is very exposed so make sure you come prepared for full sun! This hike should be done on a clear day as well so you can take full advantage of all the beautiful views.

      

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most. There isn’t a ton of elevation on this hike but you are already up in elevation to begin with (Timberline Lodge is at 6,000 feet). So if you are not use to that it can add some difficulty.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Late June through early October. Check conditions before hiking.

Popular: Yes. You are on the Timberline and Pacific Crest Trails and they are always busy.

Warnings: None

Beacon Rock (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to Cascade Locks and take the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll) . Take a left on to Highway 14 and drive about 5 miles to the trailhead on the left side of the road.

From the parking area get on the dirt trail that winds through the woods for a short distance, until you hit a cement path that switches back once and takes you to the entrance gate for Beacon Rock.

      

From here the trail is mostly cement and boardwalk footbridges. There are 51 switchbacks that take you up to the top, they vary in length but most are short. There are numerous viewpoints that give you great views out to the Gorge and Columbia River. You also get good views of the burn area from last years Eagle Creek Fire.

      

Once the trail switches to a dirt/gravel mixture you know you are almost to the top. It’s quite a small area at the top with room for only about a hand full of people. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Don’t let the weather stop you from doing this hike. Yes a clear day is great for the views but we’ve been here on a very foggy and drizzly day and it was very pretty!

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 700 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: Washington Discovery Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Latourell Falls (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Exit 28 (Bridal Veil). Get onto the Old Highway heading right for about 2.5 miles until you reach the Latourell Falls parking area.

From the parking lot head uphill on the steep paved path that takes you to a viewpoint of lower Latourell Falls. From here head left on the now dirt trail that heads uphill fairly steeply, you’ll soon come to a bench and another view of the waterfall off to your right. Continuing on you will switchback to the top of the waterfall and the trail levels out a bit for a bit.

      

As you continue hiking, the trail stays mostly uphill and you will cross four footbridges before coming to Upper Latourell Falls.

      

After crossing the bridge at the base of the waterfall you will now be heading back and the trail is more evenly graded. You can actually see the trail you came in on across the creek. The trail soon switches back downhill a few times and you continue on following the creek. Next you will come to a junction where you will go left uphill and come to another bench and a viewpoint out to the Gorge.

From here the trail heads steadily downhill until you reach the Old Highway. Carefully cross the road and enter into the park. Follow the paved path under the highway bridge and a short distance later you will reach Lower Latourell Falls. Continue up the paved path to the parking area.

      

 

Distance: 2.25 (easy)

Elevation: 525 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Umbrella Falls (Summer 2018)

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 through a small meadow and then you start to hike uphill, the trail does get steep in areas. You will start to get views down into Mt. Hood Meadows off to your left and then 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. In these meadows the Beargrass was dominant and in full bloom. We were also lucky enough to be here during a California Tortoiseshell Butterfly migration- it was absolutely amazing how many butterflies we saw!

      

      

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. We had bad lighting for any decent waterfall pictures but it was nice to sit and have lunch by the beautiful waterfall, and the mosquitoes weren’t too bad! Head back out the way you came.

      

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- the trail does get steep in areas

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Late June through mid fall (check for snow before coming)

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Wahtum Lake & Chinidere Mountain (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to Hood River and get onto Highway 35. Continue on Highway 35 and follow signs for Dee, you will cross the Hood River and turn left. Follow the signs for Wahtum Lake. Take road 13 for 4 miles and then a right onto Road 1310 for about 6 miles to the trailhead and parking area.

This is yet another trail that has recently reopened after the Eagle Creek Fire. We were very excited to get back here as it’s one of our favorite hikes.

From the trailhead go down the 258 wood steps that are uneven and falling apart and head right on the Pacific Crest Trail (you can get right to the edge of the lake at the base of the stairs). The trail heads around the lake but you lose sight of it fairly quickly. As you follow the trail you will gradually gain elevation but it’s nothing too hard. It starts out in a fairly thick wooded area and you will cross over small streams (no bridges just literally stepping over them).

      

About halfway in you will enter a more thinned out wooded area and the trail will widen. Continue following the PCT until you reach the marked Chinidere Mountain Trail on your right. This trail heads uphill steeply on uneven switchbacks for a half mile, watch for the side trail that takes you out to a nice viewpoint (it’s a few switchbacks in). When the trail opens up and you start walking on shale rock you are almost there. There were a good amount of downed trees right before the shale area, we went over a few and had to go out and around some.

      

You end at the top of Chinidere Mountain with Mt. Hood straight in front of you! The top has a 360 degree view of five mountains: Hood, St. Helens, Adams, Rainier, and Jefferson! We also got a good view of the burn area from the Eagle Creek Fire which was interesting to see. Walking down to the far end you will see Wahtum Lake below and get a feel of how far you’ve hiked!

      

There were lots of wildflowers and butterflies at the top and blooming beargrass on the switchbacks. With all the rocks there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the amazing views. It was great to be back enjoying one of our favorite hikes and one of the best views in Oregon. It was sad to see all of the fire damage but there’s still plenty of green to be seen which was encouraging.

      

Head back down the Chinidere trail and hike back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 4.4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 1,150 (you lose elevation getting down to the lake so it’s not as rough as it seems. The trail around the lake is easy, the Chinidere trail is hard but short)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most. The Chinidere trail may be a bit rough for younger kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Vault toilet at the parking area.

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Late spring through fall

Popular: Yes on weekends

Warnings: The top of Chinidere is very exposed so keep an eye on small children and dogs.