Category Archives: Parking Pass Required

Little Zigzag Falls (Autumn)

Directions: Head east on Highway 26 until you reach Road 39 (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).

From the trailhead get on the nicely graded trail and quickly pass a few picnic tables and under a few trees that have fallen from above. The trail follows along Zigzag Creek the whole time and you’ll notice the trees all over the creek from past storms. There are many beautiful sections that are great for photos.

      

You’ll cross a bridge and soon come to a small slide area before arriving at the 40-foot waterfall. There is a trail off to the left that takes you up to the top of the waterfall as well.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

Before you leave, back at the parking area, cross the stone bridge over the creek and get on the old Mt. Hood Hwy. Follow it for a short distance and you’ll come to a stone tunnel that goes under the old highway. It now seems to have graffiti on the inside but it’s still an interesting little side trip.

To see our other posts about Little Zigzag Falls click here and here.

 

Distance: 0.6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 40 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

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!

Crater Lake (Autumn)

Crater Lake sits in a caldera that was formed over 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama collapsed following a major eruption. It is the deepest lake in the United States and is only fed by rain and snow, it’s considered to be the cleanest large body of water in the world. The water itself is an amazing shade of blue, 1,943 feet deep, and 6 miles wide.

      

Crater Lake National Park was established in 1902 and is 183,000 acres. You can drive all the way around the rim (33 miles) and there are over 30 scenic pullouts along the way. Some of the best viewpoints are Watchman Overlook and Cloudcap Overlook. Be sure to stop by Videa Falls, it can be seen from a pullout on the main road.

      

We did two hikes while we were here, The Pinnacles and Plaikni Falls. Both are very nice hikes and between them you get to experience the old growth forest, a pinnacle valley, and see some interesting formations left behind from the volcano. Click the links to see a more in depth post about each hike.

      

It actually snowed part of the time we were here. It was interesting because it was only snowing in certain areas and partly sunny in others. It really made us want to come back in the winter and snowshoe!

Make sure you check out the visitor centers and drive by the historic lodge.

      

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Crater Lake, there’s so much to do here that you really need to plan a whole day or more if you want to do a decent amount of exploring all the trails.

There is a $15 entrance fee, dogs are allowed in certain areas, and it’s very family friendly.

If you have more time, check out Toketee Falls about 25 miles past the North entrance.

Timothy Lake- West Side (Summer)

Directions: Take Highway 26 about 40 miles past the town of Sandy to Skyline Road. Turn right onto Skyline Road and follow it for a little over 8 miles to a junction with FR 57. Turn right and drive for about 3.5 miles where you will cross over the dam. Turn right and a short distance later come to an intersection. Go right into the parking area.

We did this hike on a day with VERY thick wildfire smoke. We couldn’t see Mt. Hood at all which was a bummer but this was still a nice hike.

Head off on Timothy Lake Trail #528 that’s lined with trees, beargrass, and rhododendron bushes. You’re hiking right next to campsites nearly the whole time. We were here very early so most people were still sleeping so it was quiet. I’d imagine it could get pretty noisy and busy during peak camping season.

      

The trail is flat almost the whole time, it switches from being wide to a bit narrow. It’s mostly dirt and rock, it’s been dry so we kicked up a lot of dust while we were here. Our legs were pretty filthy 😆. You’ll be near the lake the whole time and there are many side trails that take you right to the edge of the lake. You’ll cross a couple footbridges and mostly just wind through a very pretty lakeside trail.

      

About 3 miles in you’ll come to where the lake narrows. The water color was a pretty green here and there are some places to stop and rest if needed. We decided this was a nice place to stop to make an out and back trip of 6 miles. If you go to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail you will have a roughly 7 mile hike. So head back out the way you came in.

      

This isn’t the most exciting hike and you don’t get a super quiet nature feel with walking by about 12+ different campsites. Still, the lake and trail are very pretty. We’re definitely coming back but probably in fall when people aren’t camping much. Make sure to walk by the dam, it’s pretty interesting!

Distance: 6 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 60 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Spring through fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Owl Point (Summer)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 to the town of Zigzag and take a left onto Lolo Pass Road. Follow this road for about 10.5 miles, take the second right onto FS 18. Follow this road for about 10 miles, half of which is a gravel road, and take a very sharp righthand turn onto FS 16. Drive for 5.5 miles and turn right at the large intersection onto FS 1650. This road becomes gravel and ends at the Vista Ridge Trailhead.

This is a busy trailhead and it doesn’t have a huge parking area, so things may get tight. Many hikes start from the Vista Ridge Trailhead but the trail to Owl Point is not the most popular which is very nice. We only saw two other people the whole time we were here, and it was a very sunny weekend.

From the trailhead follow the rocky trail for about a third of a mile to a junction in the trail. Sign in at the wilderness registration station and then head left. The trail starts out fairly evenly graded but that quickly changes. The trail starts heading uphill and it gets pretty steep in some sections. The trail itself is nice but there are a few downed trees, they are all easy to get over. After about a mile of hiking you’ll come to two side trails off to the right. The first offers a great view of the valley below and the second gives you a really good view of Mt. Hood.

      

Back on the main trail it will soon level out and open up a bit. There are a lot of huckleberry bushes through here and we even ran into some snow piles (we did this hike in late July). You’ll drop down into a small meadow and start heading uphill again, it’s not quite as steep and isn’t as long. In mid to late July the Avalanche Lilies are blooming and it’s pretty amazing. They lined the trail and were all over the meadow.

      

When you come to a junction go left/uphill (there is a sign but it was quite faded). You will come to another junction, go right here and the trail ends at Owl Point. It offers up one of the best views of Mt. Hood. The lupine was blooming which just added to the spectacular view.  Wander around a little bit and you can see Laurance Lake off to the right over the large rocks and the town of Parkdale. There’s a small Owl Point Register attached to the rocks, it has pictures of the volunteers from Portland Hikers who cleaned up this trail and a guestbook you can sign.

 

      

There are plenty of places to sit and relax, have lunch and take in the view.

      

When you’re done at Owl Point there are couple more places to check out before you head back to your car. At the first junction after Owl Point go right and hike for about 200 yards to Alki Point. It’s a rockslide area with views of Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier.

      

Head back from Alki point and go through the junction that splits to Owl Point and head back down to the first junction. Go left here and towards the Rockpile. You’ll hike through a pretty meadow with blooming heather that attracts a lot of butterflies. There’s a small fork in the trail, go right and the trail ends at the Rockpile with even more views of Mt. Hood.

Head back to the main trail a follow it out the way you came in, to get back to your car.

We really loved this hike and can’t believe it’s not more popular. The views are amazing all through the hike and the wildflowers were a real treat as well.

 

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: There’s a decent amount of elevation, with some steep sections so this may not be the best for older folks and younger kids.

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Summer and fall (unless we’re having unusually dry or wet weather, call before going.)

Popular: No, but the trailhead/parking area is popular.

Warnings: None

Cottonwood Canyon State Park (Pinnacles Trail) (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 104, turn right for Wasco/Bend. Follow Highway 97 for a little over 7 miles and take a left for Wasco. Drive for about 2 miles and take a right on Clark St., a short distance later take a left for Highway 206E and Cottonwood Canyon State Park. Go another 15 miles and take a right into the park. Take a left and follow the road all the way to the end back by the campsite area and a couple vault toilets. This is the Pinnacles Trailhead.

The drive out was great to, you get to drive through a wind farm which was very interesting. Stop at the viewpoint to get a good look at the wind turbines and a nice view of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.

Cottonwood Canyon is one of Oregon’s newest state parks and is the second largest. There are a few different hikes you can do here and we decided to try out the longer trail on our first visit. This area can get very hot even in spring and there are very few shady areas along the trail. We did this hike early on a sunny cloudless day and it was quite hot by the time we finished. Make sure to plan accordingly with water, sunscreen, etc. There are also lots of signs warning about ticks and snakes, so be prepared for that as well. For more information about ticks click here.

This hike is also shared with mountain bikers.

The hike immediately starts out along the John Day River and you will be hiking closely to it the whole way. After passing a trailhead station the trail curves and come to a basalt overhang with many cliff swallow nests above. You will see them flying in and out of the nest and catching bugs near the river. Continuing on you will be walking along sagebrush and other small bushes, hills and basalt cliffs line the canyon the whole way. We saw many deer and bighorn sheep tracks but never saw the animals themselves. We did see many butterflies and lots of different birds, as well as bones from small animals.

      

You will come to a junction in the trail we decided to go left here and gain a bit of elevation to get a better view of the canyon and river. It connects back with the main trail a short distance later. There is a bench at the top which offers a great view. You will notice benches along the trail with mile markers on them.

 

 

      

The trail continues on with much of the same views which isn’t bad, it’s very pretty. You’ll get away from the river briefly and the trail enters an area that is lined with large thistle and has a small boggy area. After this area you start seeing the river again and come to the end of the hike.

      

You’ll see the bench with the mile 4 marker and you can see the small pinnacles off in the distance to your left. You can go a bit farther to get a better look at them where you will see a gate, past the gate is considered off trail.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

This trail is different than a lot of the hikes we go on and that was nice. The whole area is beautiful with all the rolling hills and cliffs. It was our first hike along the John Day as well and it’s a very pretty river. We will definitely be back to check out the other trails.

Distance: 8 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 70 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: Yes $5 per person, not car.

Seasons: All

Popular: The area is popular for camping but we saw only four other people the whole time on the trail.

Warnings: Ticks

Beacon Rock (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Take a left onto Highway 14 and drive for about 5 miles until you come to the parking area on the left shoulder of the highway.

Beacon Rock is one of our favorite hikes, it’s short but packed full of great Gorge views.

From the parking area get on the trail that takes you into the wooded area at the base of the rock. Follow the dirt trail until you get to the first of many switchbacks that takes you to the entrance gate for Beacon Rock.

      

Immediately you get a view of the Columbia River below and since it’s spring we saw some wildflowers growing out the side of the rock. The trail is rock, cement, and boardwalk as you head up the west side. You will pass many viewpoints along the way, once you start to get around the south side of the rock you will start seeing the train tracks below.

      

      

We saw many red-tailed hawks, osprey, and vultures soaring around throughout the hike. We also saw some other small birds in the bushes and trees growing along the trails. Once on the east side of the rock the trail turns to dirt and thats a good sign you are close to the top.

      

There is a small set of steps that takes you to the very top. At the top there are a few big rocks that make for a nice place to rest or eat lunch. It’s a pretty small area and can get packed pretty quickly.

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 700 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: With all the switchbacks and elevation this may not be the best hike for small kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: $10 Discovery Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes especially on nice weekends

Overall: We really like this hike. It’s been great each time we’ve visited.

Lower Ruckel Creek Falls (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 41 (Eagle Creek). Go left at the stop sign and park across from the fish hatchery.

This hike starts on the paved path that’s in between I-84 and the fish hatchery. It runs along I-84 for a bit and is quite noisy. Soon it turns off to the right and enters a wooded area. You’ll pass a trailhead on your right and soon come to an open grassy area on your left with a faint worn path.

      

Follow this path through the tall grass and daisies (in the spring), as in reenters into a wooded area. Continue following the trail downhill until it ends at Ruckel Creek with the waterfall just to your right.

      

There is a fallen tree that makes a nice “bridge” over the creek to get a better view of the waterfall.

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 1 mile

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the Eagle Creek Trailhead

Parking Fee: Yes a $5 NW Forest Pass is required

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: We’re excited to see what this waterfall looks like in other seasons.

Lewis River Falls (Spring)

Directions: Drive I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Take a right onto Highway 14 and drive for almost 6 miles where you will take a left onto Wind River Road. Follow Wind River Road up and over Old Man Pass, a couple miles after the pass take a left onto Curly Creek Road. Follow this road until you come to the junction with FR 90. Take a right onto FR 90 and drive for about 10 miles where you will take a right into the Lower Lewis River Falls parking area.

A small section of this trail between the lower and middle waterfalls is close. There is a detour that adds about a mile to your total hiking distance. You wont miss any of the waterfalls.

From the parking area head down the trail by the bathroom until it dumps you out at the main trail and Lower Lewis River Falls. There are multiple viewing areas for the lower falls. Go right and you will pass two of them, there are small wooden benches at them as well. Heading back up the main trail you’ll pass a staircase that takes you down to a viewing platform at the top of the lower waterfall.

      

From here get back on the main trail and head upriver. You will pass multiple staircases that allow river access and a small boardwalk turnout. As you pass these side areas the trail heads uphill gradually on a fairly wide and well maintained dirt path. There are campsites off to your left in the beginning and you will always see the river off to your right. When you are almost to the middle waterfall the trail is closed due to damage. It was like this the last time we were here (July 2016) and doesn’t seem to have had any work done on it. Take the detour trail that heads uphill somewhat steeply and through a slide area. It ends up at road level and the parking area for the middle falls. Briefly pass through the parking area and get back on the trail heading back into the forest. You’ll cross a bridge over Copper Falls and head downhill to Middle Lewis River Falls. The water level was so high this year that you couldn’t get out onto the rocks and get a good look at the waterfall.

      

Continuing on the main trail there are few spots on the way to the upper falls that have eroded quite a bit and you should be careful hiking through it. You will soon reach Upper Lewis River Falls, there is a place to get off trail and down to river level that offers a great view of the waterfall. There are a few big logs here that make it a great place to have lunch or sit and relax for a bit.

      

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

This hike is very pretty with all the lovely trees and always having a view of the river as you go. All three waterfalls looks different and are each worth checking out. Visiting in spring this year was nice because the waterfalls were a lot fuller. In the summer this place gets very busy and becomes and popular swimming hole.

Distance: 6 miles

Elevation: 320 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Yes, a $5 NW Forest Pass is required

Seasons: All but check for road closures due to snow in the winter

Popular: Yes

Overall: We love this hike, theres a lot to see which is never a bad thing 🙂

Old Salmon River Trail (Spring)

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.

From the parking area follow the trail somewhat steeply downhill until you reach river level. The trail follows along closely to the Salmon River for most of this hike. The trail is fairly wide and well maintained. There are a lot of little side trails that take you down close to the river along the way. With all the snow melt and rain there were a good amount of seasonal streams we had to cross and the trail was very muddy.

      

The best part of this trail are all of the massive trees, it’s amazing and you get to see them the whole way. The trail heads up some steps and gains a small amount of elevation before leveling out again. As you start to head farther away from the river you will pop up out on Old Salmon River Road. Briefly walk along the road before reentering the forest on a trail. This is a good place to stop if you want a 3 mile total trip.

      

Continuing on is more of the same as you follow along the river and come to a camp site area. The trails ends at the Salmon River Trailhead. Just turn around and head back out the way you came in.

      

This is a nice, quiet spring hike. There isn’t anything overly special about it but it’s a very beautiful area.

      

Distance: 5 miles

Elevation: 200 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes a portable toilet

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Overall: Very peaceful hike and the trees are great.