Category Archives: Central Oregon

Salt Creek Falls & Diamond Creek Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: From the town of Oakridge go East on OR-58 for a little over 21 miles. You will come to a large sign for Salt Creek Falls, turn right here and head to the parking area.

     

Walk behind the bathrooms and follow the paved path a short distance to Salt Creek Falls. There are a couple viewpoints here but the railing is pretty high. Once you are done taking in Salt Creek Falls follow the paved path past the top of the waterfall as it heads into a picnic area and you cross a bridge. Next you will come to a trail junction. Go left here and follow the trail as it gradually climbs uphill.

     

You’ll cross an old service road as you continue your way back to the waterfall. Eventually you will come to an unmarked junction where you can only go left or right. Go right and switchback downhill to a partially obscured viewpoint of Diamond Creek Falls. Continue down the trail a short distance until you come to a trail on your left. Take this trail downhill and you will come to a log with steps carved into it, go down this and cross the large log bridge. Continue past the bridge a short distance and you will reach Diamond Creek Falls.

     

You are right at the base of the waterfall and you get a very up close and personal view of it. The waterfall is absolutely beautiful, and it quickly became one of our all-time favorites! When you are ready head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 465 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Summer and Fall

Popular: Yes for Salt Creek Falls, not as popular for Diamond Creek Falls

Warnings: They had signs posted for a recent cougar sighting while we were here.

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.

Benham Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions:  These directions are from Bend- travel south on Highway 97 for approximately 8 miles and take the Lava Lands Visitor Center exit to the right. Go past the Visitor Center on Forest Road 9702 for approximately 4 miles. There are signs along the way.

There are two trailheads and we went to both, the hike is best from the Benham Falls East trailhead (the directions above are to this trailhead).

     

     

From the parking area get on the dirt trail that follows along the Deschutes River. You will pass a zipline and come to a large bridge. Cross the bridge and the trail still follows along closely to the river for a bit. The trail winds back to the other Benham Falls trailhead where you will switchback a few times to a viewpoint of the waterfalls. It mostly just looks like a more rapid part of the river but it’s still pretty. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: .75 miles (easy)

Elevation: 50 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Late spring through Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Paulina Falls (Summer 2019)

Paulina Falls is located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument which is just outside of La Pine, Oregon.

Paulina Falls is a double falls and is best viewed from the lower viewpoint. It’s a short hike but definitely worth it.

     

From the parking area get on the paved path that soon splits, go right first and quickly get to the upper viewpoint. It’s not the best view since it’s only of the top of the waterfalls. Head back the other way on the trail and it turns to dirt where you will take a long switchback down to a short bridge and the lower viewpoint. There are lots of downed trees and large rocks in the creek and the base of the waterfalls which are very interesting. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 125 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass or Newberry entrance pass

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

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

Oregon’s 7 Wonders

Travel Oregon came up with Oregon’s 7 Wonders and we’ve slowly been checking them out over the past few years. They’re spread out all over Oregon which is great because it really gives you a chance to see a lot of the state.

This August we finally checked off the last wonder and here’s what we thought of them…

The Columbia River Gorge:

We’ve visited this wonder so many times we’ve lost count, starting when we were both kids, and have very fond memories of this area. It’s a little bitter sweet due to the recent wildfire that ravaged the area but this area is so large that there is still places to visit, and we can’t wait until the trails reopen and we get to see this beautiful place again. We know it will take a lot of time, but the Gorge will come back stronger than ever.

Waterfalls, views, and wildflowers…a Gorge trail will take you somewhere amazing!

      

      

Some of our favorite Gorge hikes are Fairy Falls, Larch Mountain, and Wahclella Falls. If you’re Looking for a good lunch spot check out The Ranch for a good burger in Hood River.

The Oregon Coast:

This is another wonder that we’ve visited countless times. Some of our favorite cities are Newport, Pacific City, and Lincoln City. Oregonians know that the coast really is an all season place. A perfect summer day is amazing but a nice winter storm is fun too! Tide pools and lighthouses are some of our favorite things to check out at the coast along with all the great hiking.

      

      

Some great hikes in the area University Falls, Cape Falcon, and Drift Creek Falls. If you’re looking for some good food check out Pacific Oyster in Bay City.

Smith Rock:

We’ve been to Smith Rock three times and it’s amazing. The hikes are great and you can’t really go wrong with any trail you pick. Our personal favorite is Misery Ridge, it may be a bit difficult but it’s well worth the extra energy spent. With the Snake River Gorge winding through the large tuff and basalt rock formations it’s easy to see why this area made the list.

      

      

Make sure to stop by Juniper Junction (Rockhard) for some tasty huckleberry ice cream.

The Painted Hills:

Probably the most unique place on the list with all of the bright colored hills. There’s so much to see here you’ll need to plan for most of the day to really explore this place. There are trails that take you up hills to allow you views of the whole area. Off to one side you’ll see large hills with yellow, red and purple paintbrush type strokes on them, and then if you look another direction you’ll see smaller hills that are deep red or bright yellow-gold. Make sure to check out the trails that go around the smaller hills, it’s really amazing to see the texture and colors up close.

      

      

For more info on the trails click here.

Crater Lake:

Crater Lake is a Caldera Lake that’s very large and very blue. You can drive around the whole crater rim and there are many trails around the caldera. After spending time at some of the many viewpoints and getting a good look at the lake and wizard island make sure to make some time to explore the trails. A few of our favorites are Plaikni Falls and The Pinnacles.

      

      

While you’re in the area make sure to check out Toketee Falls.

The Wallowas:

Way out in eastern Oregon are the Wallowa Mountains, near the town of Joseph. They call it the Swiss Alps of Oregon and we can definitely see why. The best and easiest way to see the Wallowa Mountains are to take the tramway up to the top of Mt. Howard. Wallowa Lake is also a big attraction in this area, the lake is huge and it offers great views of the mountains as well. There are a ton of beautiful barns in the area, stop at the visitor center in Joseph for a map of where you can find them all.

      

      

We recommend the famous mountain berry shake at the Eagle Cap Chalet and a burger from the Glacier Grill.

Mt. Hood:

Of course the Mt. Hood area would make this list- it’s amazing! The mountain itself is beautiful as are the lakes and waterfalls that surround it. This area can’t be beat when it comes to winter activities too- ski, snowboard, snowshoe…you can seriously do it all.

      

      

Some of our favorite hikes in this area Bald Mountain, Umbrella Falls, Zigzag Canyon, and snowshoeing at White River West.

 

Oregon’s 7 Wonders are truly amazing and they really show off how great this state is, we’ll be back to visit them all again and again!

How many of the wonders have you seen? We’d love to hear what your favorite wonder is!

Swampy Lakes Sno-Park (Snowshoe)

Directions: Take the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway to the signed Sno-Park, it will be on the right.

The Swampy Lakes area has multiple snowshoe and x-country skiing trails. We were snowshoeing so we’ll be talking about the snowshoe trails. For a map of the whole area with all of the trails click here.

Trail options: A short loop (1.75 miles) and long loop (3.25 miles). Tie trail that takes you to a nearby Sno-Park.  Lastly, the porcupine trail that takes you past the lakes and to a shelter with a wood stove, this can be done as a 4.6 mile loop or an out and back that is 4 miles.

The weather we encountered was less than ideal, strong winds and steady snow made for low visibility. We decided to explore a small section of the porcupine trail and the short loop.

      

All of the trails are very well marked with blue diamonds that have a yellow snowshoer inside. The trails all go through a very pretty lodgepole pine forest that switches from heavily treed to sparse. The loops seem to have little elevation and the porcupine trail rollercoasters the whole way. This is a great place to spend time just exploring around.

      

There are designated trails for what activity you are doing, please make sure you are paying attention to the diamonds and not getting on a x-country trail with your snowshoes.

      

We can’t wait to come back on a day where the weather allows us more time to see more of the area.

 

Distance: Depends on which trail you choose

Elevation: Depends- some loops are flat, some take you up buttes with quite a bit of elevation.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed on any of the trails in the Sampy Lakes area.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass

Seasons: Snowy months for snowshoeing and x-country skiing

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great area, looking forward to going back and seeing the snow shelter.

Tumalo Falls (Winter)

Directions: From the city of Bend go west on Skyliners Road and follow it to Bearwallow Road where you will take a right. Less than a mile later take a left onto NF-4601 and follow this road for about 3 miles. Turn left and follow the road for about a mile and a half.

In the winter there is a small parking area at the snow gate that is just past a one lane bridge. With all the heavy snow the area got the parking lot had very deep snow. During the snowy months we would not recommend parking in the small lot if your car is not all wheel drive AND high clearance. We saw a few cars that were stuck and one that even had to be towed out of the area. Park along the road that forks left, right before the bridge.

From the snow gate get on the wide trail that in the peak seasons is the access road that takes you up to the waterfall. This is a heavily used trail so the snow was pretty packed down. We saw people snowshoeing, skiing, and just in boots. We started out snowshoeing and then decided to carry them since the snow was pretty hard.

      

      

You start out following pretty close next to Tumalo Creek. The trail rollercoasters for almost the whole 2.5 mile trip out to the waterfall and there are snowy ridges all around you. The trail mostly looks the same the whole way out but it’s quite pretty. At about the 2.25 mile mark you cross over a bridge and wind up a short hill where there are bathrooms and a viewing platform. There was so much snow that it was all the way up to the top of the railing around the viewing platform. You can take a steep but short side trail to get to a top viewing area but we were running out of daylight and didn’t have time. We will for sure head to the top on our next trip out here.

From here head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 5 miles

Elevation: 500 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass or a NW Forest Pass (depending on the season)

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great winter hike or snowshoe. We’re excited to go back and see what it looks like without snow 🙂

Best Of 2016

We did a lot of great hikes in 2016, here are some of our favorites and our overall top hike of the year.

  • Willamette Valley:

Henline Falls– This is a short hike but it takes you to an amazing waterfall. Catch it at the right time of day and you might just see a rainbow at the base as well!

  • Columbia River Gorge:

Columbia Hills State Park– Great area to see wildflowers with amazing views of the Gorge.

  • Washington:

Lewis River Falls– So many pretty waterfalls in such a short distance. Definitely a must see.

  • Coast:

The Thumb– This was probably the most unique hike we did this year.

  • Central Oregon:

Smith Rock (Misery Ridge)– The views are amazing at the top and you get a very up close view of Monkey Face!

  • Mt. Hood:

Wind Lake– You get to ride a chairlift up to the top of Ski Bowl and then hike to a somewhat hidden lake. And the whole time you have great views of Mt. Hood and Government Camp. 

  • Portland:

Powell Butte- This is a great hike in the city. On a clear day you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Hood.

  • Southern Oregon:

Plaikni Falls– This hike was inside Crater Lake National Park, it’s very pretty, especially in autumn with all the beautiful colors.

  • Kayak:

Disappearing Lake– This was such a treat! It’s a lake that’s only around for about a month out of the whole year.

Overall Best of 2016:

Bald Mountain– The hike up bald mountain is beautiful and lined with beargrass. Once at the top you round a corner and come to one of the best views of Mt. Hood we’ve ever seen. Do this hike!

What were some of your favorite hikes in 2016? Any you’re looking forward to doing in 2017?

 

Crack In The Ground (Autumn)

Directions: From La Pine, Oregon go South on Highway 97 and turn left onto Highway 31 towards Reno. After about 30 miles turn left onto Fort Rock Road. Follow Fort Rock Road for 22 miles and turn left onto Christmas Valley Highway. Continue on the highway through the town of Christmas Valley where you will turn left onto Crack In The Ground Road. After 7 miles on this washboard dirt road you will reach the trailhead.

From the trailhead follow the dirt trail that’s lined with sagebrush and juniper trees. You get a nice view of Oregon’s high desert in this area. Soon the trail reaches a metal box on a pole that has some sign in sheets. The entrance into “the crack” (which is a volcanic fissure) is just a few steps from the sign-in area.

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The crack itself is 70 feet deep and can sometimes be as much as 20 degrees cooler than the surface temperature. Some spots you can walk two people deep, mostly though it’s single file. There are even a few sections where you will need to turn sideways and squeeze through. Be aware that if you want to do the whole length of the crack you will need to be willing to scramble over fallen rocks in a few sections. It’s nothing hard but does require you to be sure footed. There are little birds that fly around in the crack and some have nests up in the rocks. We did run into a snake, we don’t know what type but just be aware.

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You can also walk along the top of the crack and get good views looking down in. This is an out and back trail, so head back out the same way you came in.

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On your way make sure to stop by Fort Rock State Park. It’s a tuff ring that you can hike in and around. The area is really interesting and well worth the stop.

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Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 50 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: May not be a great trail for young kids and older folks, due to the few scramble areas.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Spring, summer and fall.

Popular: No

Overall: Very interesting place, we easily could’ve spent a few more hours exploring the area.