Category Archives: Rivers

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

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

Tamanawas Falls (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 past Government Camp to the junction with Highway 35. Follow 35 for about 15 miles. The trailhead is just past Sherwood Campground on the left shoulder of the highway.

From the parking area get on the trail and immediately come to a bridge crossing the Hood River. After crossing the bridge go right and follow the trail as it heads uphill for a while. You will come to a point where you can see the highway below, from here the trail heads downhill to another bridge.

     

     

The trail now follows along the creek- there are a few side trails along the way that take you to small waterfalls. Continuing on you will come to a large rock slide area. Please make sure you are following the actual trail and not cutting through, cutting the trail only makes things unstable and unsafe. After you are through the rock slide area it’s just a short distance to the waterfall. Head back out the way you came in.

     

     

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 600 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: May-November

Popular: Very

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

Deschutes River Trail (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 97 and take a right, and then a left to get on Highway 206E. From here you will see signs for Deschutes River Park, it’s less than a mile away. Go all the way through the park to the very end where you will see the trailhead.

Walk through the grassy field where you will have two options, going left will take you to the top and middle trail (the top trail is for hikers and bikers, middle just hikers) and going right will take you to the lower trail. We chose to go right and take the lower trail that follows along the river.

   

The trail is maintained, easy to follow, and follows right next to the Deschutes River. There are many geese in this area so there is poop everywhere and you will be hearing geese the whole time. This area was burned in the Substation Fire July of 2018, there is a lot of burned ground, trees and shrubs. We could already see new growth which was encouraging!

   

Follow along the river and pass a pump house and a cable that crosses the river. There will be a split in the trail go left uphill to get on the middle trail. Staying on the lower trail will eventually take you to a rock slide area and you have to scramble around to keep up with the trail, we did this and don’t recommend it. Back on the middle trail you will be above the river now and get nice views of the surrounding hills. You will soon come to a big bend in the river as it hooks left and you can see the rock slide below and a natural arch formation. We hiked about another half mile down the trail from the arch where you get past the bend and the river straightens out again. We made this our turn around area, head back out the way you came in. The Deschutes River Trail is a little over 11 miles one way so you could definitely extend your hike if you have the time. Stopping where we did would give you a 5 mile hike.

   

Distance: 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 300 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead and about 1-1.5 miles in on the trail

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: On nice weekends

Warnings: Ticks and snakes

Old Salmon River Trail (Winter 2018)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to Old Salmon River Road (just past the Welches shopping center). Follow this road for a few miles until you see the marked trailhead on the right. There are multiple parking areas for this trail- we parked in the first one.

This hike got cut short due to runoff crossing the trail in multiple areas. But it was still a nice hike and it has to be one of the best places to see moss.

Once you get on the trail you will immediately head downhill to river level. From here you follow along closely to the river for a while, crossing a few footbridges along the way. There are a few areas where you can get right next to the water and get good views of the river. Continuing on you will come to a wooden stair case taking you up and away from the river.

      

You’ll follow along above the river for a while but will still be able to see it. Up here is where we came across the first stream crossing the trail. We were able to go off trail and find a place to cross it without getting wet. Continuing on a short distance later we came across another stream that was much more wide and quite muddy so we decided to stop here. We weren’t far from our turnaround point anyways. If there hasn’t been much rain recently you should be able to cross these areas find but we did this hike after heavy rain and it wasn’t worth the wet feet for us.

      

If you can keep going you’ll soon head uphill and come to the road. You need to walk along the road a short distance and pick up the trail that takes you back into the woods. Then, you will come to a large camping area. We usually walk through this area to a place next to the river with large rocks and make that our turnaround. Going this far will be a five mile hike. Head back out the way you came in.

      

This trail is absolutely beautiful- it’s full of old growth trees and a crazy amount of moss. The river is very scenic and it’s usually not very busy which makes for a nice quiet hike.

Distance: We did 2 miles this day but our normal route is 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: There *may* be a seasonal portable toilet. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes there is nothing.

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Not really. It gets a bit busy on summer weekends.

Warnings: Be aware of seasonal runoff crossing the trail after heavy rains. This trail can also get very muddy.

 

 

White River West- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 past Government Camp and get onto Highway 35. Follow 35 for about 4 mile or so until you reach the White River West Sno-Park on your left.

From the parking area get up on the “trail” and go past the gate, a short distance later take the side trail off to the left. If there has been recent snow and the trail isn’t broken yet it’s not too hard to find, just head off to the left and look for the diamonds on the trees. Going this way will allow you to avoid the crazy sledding area. You’ll wind through some trees and get on an access road. The diamonds are mostly easy to spot but do become less frequent the farther you go.

      

      

The access road heads uphill and it’s pretty steep for a short distance. Once at the top the trail levels out and you’ll have great views of the mountain, as well as the river and sledders below. Soon you’ll start to see large power lines, we continued on about a half mile past the lines where the trail started heading downhill. From here we found a good place to get down to the river and decided to snowshoe along the river the whole way back. We did have to cross the river a couple times which wasn’t horrible but if you don’t like doing that I would suggest going back the way you came in.

      

We highly recommend doing this snowshoe on a clear day. You will have views of the mountain for the majority of your snowshoe and it’s amazing.

      

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathroom: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno Park Pass required

Seasons: Winter

Popular: VERY

Warnings: None

Little Zigzag Falls (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Head east on Highway 26 until you reach Road 39/Kiwanis Camp Road (about 6 miles past the town of Zigzag). Head north on Road 39, the trailhead is at the very end of the road (about 2.5 miles from Highway 26).

We love this little hike and try to do it a few times a year. It’s a great place for kids, anyone wanting to get out and stretch their legs while traveling, or as an addition to nearby hikes.

      

From the parking area get on the trail and you’ll immediately be right next to the Little Zigzag River and following it the entire hike. There are many trees down across the river along the way as well as numerous scenic areas to stop and take pictures. You will cross one footbridge as you wind your way back to the beautiful waterfall.

      

We have noticed it’s always significantly cooler and windier on this trail. Which makes it quite cold in the off months but very refreshing during summer months.

This is an out and back trail.

 

Distance: 0.6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 40 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass Required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Jawbone Flats (Autumn 2018)

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 over 5.5 miles (keep left at a split in the road) where the road ends at the trailhead. Warning: We have been to this trailhead many times and the gravel section is always hit or miss. Some years it was in good condition, some it was horrible with huge potholes. You can call the nearest ranger district for more up to date info on road conditions.

The trail you hike in on is actually a rarely used access road for the small town of Jawbone Flats. We did encounter one car on our hike in, as well as some large construction equipment that was doing trail updates. The trail is wide, well maintained, and rollercoasters the whole way into Jawbone flats.

      

There is a lot to stop and look at along the way which is great. You’ll see an old mining shaft fairly early on and old mining equipment scattered about along the whole trail. When you come to a section with large mining equipment and a picnic table take the side trail right next to the table and it quickly drops you down to Sawmill Falls. It’s a very pretty waterfall and the blue/green waters of the North Fork Santiam River is worth the stop as well. We were sad to see the old shed had collapsed but not surprised as it was leaning heavily the last time we were here.

      

Continuing on the trail you will continue to get great views of the river and continue to see mining equipment as well. This was our first time here during autumn and it was quite a treat to see all the color! You will soon come to Jawbone Flats, there are year-round workers here and some cabin rentals. Please make sure you respect peoples privacy and leave the cabins alone.

      

As you walk through Jawbone Flats you will cross Battle Axe Creek and see where the town gets its electricity. Continuing on you will come to an open grassy area with a few picnic tables and a composting toilet. This makes a great place to stop for lunch or to take a short break and check out all the old cars that are along the trail.

      

About a 1/4 mile past the picnic tables you will see the marked turnoff for Opal Pool, this short trail takes you to a bridge with a view down into a narrow gorge and Opal Pool itself. This is the end of the hike, head back out the way you came in.

      

This hike has seen a major uptick in visitors over the last several years. Please be respectful of this beautiful area and follow the 7 principles of Leave No Trace.

Distance: 7 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 380 (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: At the trailhead and the composting toilet in Jawbone Flats.

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All but check for winter closures

Popular: Very popular during the summer months and somewhat popular on weekends during the off months.

Warnings: The road in can have a lot of potholes.

Old Salmon River (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to Old Salmon River Road (not far past the Welches shopping center). Follow this road for a few miles until you see the marked trailhead on the right.

This is a favorite quick hike of ours. The trail is surrounded by beautiful old-growth forest and stays close to the very pretty Salmon River.

      

From the trailhead the trail heads downhill to the river and you will soon come to a bridge. As you continue on you will follow the river and there are a few side trails that take you right to the edge and give you great views of the river. We did this hike during the last weeks of summer so the water level was low and there were a lot of exposed rocks to sit on and relax by the water for a bit.

      

Continuing on you will come to stairs that take you up away from the river and you will pass by a large log jam area in the river. Continue on a bit farther and the trail comes to Old Salmon River Road. Stopping here gives you a nice 3 mile roundtrip hike, or you can follow along the road for a short distance and pick up the trail again. It takes you past a few campsites and offers more opportunities to hangout by the river. The trail eventually comes to the Salmon River Trailhead which is the turnaround point for a 5 mile roundtrip hike. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 3 or 5 miles- depends where you stop (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None