Category Archives: Switchbacks

Three Corner Rock (Spring 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to Cascade Locks and cross the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Take a right onto Hwy 14 and drive for a little over a half mile and take a right where it’s signed for Skamania Lodge. In .3 miles take a left onto Foster Creek Road. In about another mile take a left onto Red Bluff Road. Drive for about .6 miles (the road will turn to gravel) and keep right onto CG 2000. In just less than 2 miles take a left on CG 2000 at a junction. Follow the road for a little over 5.5 miles and go left at a junction with CG 2070. Drive another 2 miles and there is a 3 way junction, stay to the far left. The trailhead is about .3 miles on your right.

From the trailhead (make sure you start at the trailhead on the right side of the road) follow the trail as you steadily gain elevation. You will switchback three times as you climb the ridge. Avalanche lilies and vanilla leaf were in full bloom and there were even some lingering bleeding hearts left too. You will pass a short side trail that is somewhat overgrown and hard to pick out but it takes you to a great viewpoint of Mt. Adams.

      

      

At about the 1.5 mile mark you will come to a signed trail junction. Go right and follow the trail that is more evenly graded and will take you to an ATV road. Go right on the road (it’s not in great shape with large potholes and washouts, but it is still easy to walk on.) and follow it a short distance until you reach the top and see Three Corner Rock to your right.

      

      

Once at the top you will have amazing views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Rainier! You will also be seeing Table Mountain, Dog Mountain, Wind Mountain and so much more! The beargrass was just starting to bloom but the paintbrush was in full bloom- it was beautiful. You can go all the way up Three Corner Rock (be cautious because the last little bit is kind of sketchy). Make sure you do this hike on a clear day, the 360 degree view is really what make this hike special. Head back out the way you came in.

      

      

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 950 feet (moderate/hard)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most (may be too hard for young kids and older folks)

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: Washington Discover Pass

Seasons: Mid spring- Fall

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Pheasant & Niagara Falls (Spring 2018)

Directions: Directions: From Highway 101 at the town of Beaver go east on Blaine Road and follow it for about 6 miles. At Blaine Junction go east on Upper Nestucca River Road for about another 6 miles where you will reach FS Road 8533. Go south for a little over 4 miles to FS Road 8533-131, turn right and drive for just less than a mile to the Niagara Falls Trailhead.

From the parking area get on the trail and it will start to head downhill gradually. The trail switches back and you will cross a few footbridges. Soon the trail starts to go downhill more steeply and you will pass a couple benches on the trail. The trail is lined with mossy trees and flowers in the spring.

      

The first waterfall you come to is Pheasant Falls. When we were here in the winter the water was running so high that it washed out the trail and we had to stop here. This time it was *barely* trickling. Cross the bridge at the base of the waterfall and follow the trail a short distance where it ends at a picnic table and Niagara Falls. This waterfall was running really low too. The basalt cliffs and nice green trees around it make it more appealing to look at.

      

The trail is nice and well maintained. There was plenty of greenery and flowers which was nice as well.  There were a lot of bugs while we were here and it became quite annoying. This place really needs to be timed right. I’d say early April, we’re not giving up- we’re determined to see what this place looks like with a nice flow!

Head back out the way you came in. Remember all the downhill on the way in means all uphill coming out!

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 270 (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- The trail may be steep for some people coming out.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All but the water level changes drastically from season to season

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Mosier Plateau (Spring 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to exit 69 (Mosier). Follow the old highway into Mosier and parking in the gravel parking lot just past the totem pole on the left side of the road.

From the parking area cross the bridge and find the trail on the right side of the road near a bench. The trail starts uphill and takes you to an old pioneer cemetery. Continue on the trail where it stays mostly evenly graded and you will come to Mosier Creek Falls down in the canyon off to the right.

      

      

Continuing on the trail you’ll start up the 16 switchbacks. There are four separate sets of stairs mixed into the switchbacks as well. The switchbacks are fairly long and make the hike less steep than it could be without them.

      

You’ll wind your way up to the top of Mosier Plateau where you will see a lot of wildflowers (mainly balsamroot and lupine) and amazing views of the Gorge. There are trails that wind around all over the plateau.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 600 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: There is an outhouse by the totem pole

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes during spring wildflower season

Warnings: Ticks and poison oak

Drift Creek Falls (Spring)

Directions: From Portland take I-5 South to exit 294 for 99W. Take 99W through Newberg and Dundee for 22.9 miles, then take a left for Highway 18 (Dayton/Oregon Coast). Take Highway 18 for 48 miles and pass through Grand Ronde and reach Rose Lodge where you will take a left onto Bear Creek Road (there is a sign for Drift Creek Falls). Drive 3 miles (the last part of this road is gravel but in good condition) where you will come to a junction and stay straight (the pavement begins again here). Quickly you will come to another junction, go left onto Forest Road 17 which is a one lane paved road. Drive another 1.5 miles and stay right at a junction for Drift Creek Camp. In another 3.5 miles you will come to a junction, stay right on the paved road.  About a mile later you will come to the trailhead on the left.

We love this coast range hike and finally had the chance to visit again. The large suspension bridge and waterfall are the draw but the hike itself is beautiful and moss covered- it never disappoints!

      

The trail starts out heading downhill gradually on a long switchback. The trail switches from downhill to flat off and on as you cross a couple footbridges.

      

Soon you’ll come to a split in the trail. They both take you to the same place but going left (uphill) is a little harder and adds a bit of distance to the hike, but it’s not as busy! On the way in we went on the main trail and the way back we took the upper trail.

      

Continuing on you’ll round a ridge and go over another footbridge when you get to creek level. You’ll also pass through a lovely area that’s covered in moss, it really gives you that storybook feel! Soon after you will reach the large suspension bridge (it’s 240 feet long and 100 feet above the creek) that takes you over drift creek. About halfway across the bridge you get a really nice view of Drift Creek Falls below.

      

      

Once across continue following the trail as it switches back down to the base of the waterfall.

Upper Trail

Upper Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Bridal Veil Falls (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Bridal Veil exit #28. Take a right onto the Historic Columbia River Highway and in less than a half mile the Bridal Veil Falls parking area will be on your right.

This is our first time back to Bridal Veil falls since the Old Columbia River Highway reopened after the devastating Eagle Creek Fire.

Much like Latourell Falls, the Bridal Veil area wasn’t damaged by the fire. Although you can see how close it came to being burned by looking at Angel’s Rest and Sheppards Dell Falls.

From the parking area get on the trail and pass by the restrooms. The trail starts out paved and quickly turns to gravel a short distance later.

      

You’ll go down a long switchback that takes you to a set of stairs that ends at a bridge over the creek. Keep following the path to the right and up more stairs to a viewing platform above the waterfall.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: .6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 100 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

 

Wilson River Trail- Jones Creek Trailhead to Wilson Falls (Winter)

Directions: Take 26 west and get on Highway 6 towards Tillamook. Drive on Highway 6 for about 29 miles where you will turn right onto Jones Creek Rd. Cross over the bridge and take a left into the parking area.

Get on the trail near the trailhead marker and head down towards the Wilson River. Go right here and follow the many signs letting you know you are on the Wilson River Trail. You’ll soon pop up to a gravel road, keep following the signs and head back into the woods. About a half mile from the trailhead you’ll reach a bridge and can see the Tillamook Forest Center (open March-November). The bridge itself is interesting looking and gives you a great view of the river.

      

Back on the trail keep going as you wind through alder, maple, spruce and ferns. We actually saw a few early flowers lining the trail as well (and this was early February!). The trail comes out of the trees again to a road and a bridge over a creek that leads into the river. Cross this bridge and pick up the trail that again takes you back into the woods.

      

Next, the trail gains some elevation and switches back once as you head up to Wilson Falls. This is where we ended up turning around because we didn’t feel like getting our feet wet and having a soggy hike out. If you are here during a low water time you can keep going and will reach the Footbridge Trailhead in about a mile and a half. Head back out the way you came in.

      

The whole trail is well maintained and is mostly level until you reach the couple switchback that take you up to the waterfall.

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 350 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Pheasant & Niagara Falls (Autumn)

Directions: From Highway 101 at the town of Beaver go east on Blaine Road and follow it for about 6 miles. At Blaine Junction go east on Upper Nestucca River Road for about another 6 miles where you will reach FS Road 8533. Go south for a little over 4 miles to FS Road 8533-131, turn right and drive for just less than a mile to the Niagara Falls Trailhead.

From the parking area get on the trail where it starts out heading downhill gradually. We did this hike after about a week of heavy rains which made the trail quite muddy with a few areas of standing water that we had to go around. It was easily passable but did make for a bit of a mess. The trail soon switches back and crosses a few footbridges. The trail continues downhill more steeply and you will switchback again and pass a few benches. There are a lot of different mushrooms lining this trail as well as some pretty spectacular moss hanging from a lot of the trees. You’ll also see a lot of salal growing on downed trees. Pretty much everything you would expect from a coast range hike!

      

      

You’ll first start to see Niagara Falls across the creek but soon you’ll round a corner and come head on to Pheasant Falls. There is a bridge at the base of the falls you walk over to continue on to Niagara Falls. With all the rain Pheasant Falls was coming down HARD, we got soaked before we even reached the bridge, where we quickly found that the water had washed out the trail just past the bridge. So, it wasn’t passable and we couldn’t get to the base of Niagara Falls. You can see it from back up the trail but it’s kinda far away and left us really wishing we could’ve seen it up close.

      

Head back out the way you came in. You’ll be hiking uphill and somewhat steeply in places the whole way out.

      

We were bummed that we didn’t get all the way to Niagara Falls but we’re definitely coming back when water levels are a bit lower and the whole trail is open. The trail is beautiful and the two waterfalls are large and scenic themselves. It’s a nice little hike.

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 370 (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All but we hear the water runs real low during the late summer months.

Popular: No

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

Ponytail Falls (Summer)

This hike was done less than a week before the Eagle Creek fire. We don’t know how bad this trail has been damaged. Hopefully the damage was minimal and we’ll be able to see all three of the waterfalls on this hike again soon!

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

We decided to do this hike in the opposite direction that we went the last time we visited, which was a couple years ago. To see that post click here.

Park in the Horsetail Falls parking lot and take the trail just to the left of the waterfall. You’ll be heading up long switchbacks that take you up above Horsetail Falls. The trail levels out a bit as you round a corner and start hearing Ponytail Falls. The waterfall itself pours out of a crack in the basalt shelf and dumps into a small pool below. The trail takes you behind the waterfall and continues on the other side.

      

      

Not far after the waterfall you’ll pass a slide area and come to a side trail that takes you to a great view of the Columbia River and nice views of the Gorge to the east. Back on the main trail it continues to stay pretty level for a bit and then you hit a few more switchbacks as you head down into the Oneonta Gorge area. You’ll cross a bridge and get a nice view of Middle Oneonta Falls and the Gorge itself. If you’re here on a warm day you’ll probably hear the crowds of people at Lower Oneonta falls below.

      

After crossing the bridge the trail heads uphill to a trail junction. Go right here and the trail switches from being level to heading uphill, but nothing too steep. There is another small slide area and you’ll pass another side trail that takes you to a viewpoint. Soon the trail starts heading downhill as you make your way down to the old highway.

      

Go right on the should of the highway (be cautious, there isn’t a lot of room here) and pass Oneonta Gorge and go through the Oneonta tunnel, about a quarter of a mile later you’ll be back at Horsetail Falls.

 

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: This depends on how comfortable you are with hiking. There are a decent amount of switchbacks on this trail and places you could fall (there was a death on this trail last year). You’ll also be walking along the old highway for a short distance. Be cautious and make sure you’re surefooted and you should be fine.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: Falling and walking along a narrow road.

Fairy Falls (Summer)

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

Whenever we do this hike we’re always reminded just how pretty it is and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

From the trailhead cross the small bridge over the creek and head up a long paved switchback that takes you to Wahkeena Falls. Even during the summer months this waterfall puts off a decent amount of spray so you may get a bit wet as you cross in front of it. The trail stays paved as you pass a bench and head for the cardio kicker section of this hike- 12 switchbacks. The switchbacks are fairly short and are paved for the most part.

      

      

Once you make it to the end of the switchbacks you will come to a trail junction. It’s worth the short trip to Lemmon’s Viewpoint off to the right. Once you’ve seen enough at the viewpoint head back to the junction and go left where you will start seeing the creek and the trail levels out briefly. The pavement also ends here and switches to dirt and rock. You will be following the creek just about the rest of the hike as you cross the first of two footbridges and the trail again starts heading uphill. All through this area is very beautiful with all the moss covered trees and the creek being so close to the trail. It’s one of our favorite sections of Gorge trails. After crossing the second footbridge you have a few more switchbacks and then you are at Fairy Falls. The waterfall is right on the trail and there is a bench to rest or enjoy lunch.

      

When you’re ready, head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: There’s a good amount of elevation for the short distance so this hike may not be best for younger kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes but they are seasonal

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes especially nice weekends

Warnings: None