Category Archives: Parking Pass Required

Gillette Lake (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to Exit 44. Cross Bridge of the Gods ($2 toll). Take a left onto Highway 14 and follow it for a little over a mile. The trailhead is near Bonneville Dam on your right.

This hike starts out by climbing briefly and then it flattens out as you hike along a ridge before heading downhill again to an intersection. Go left here and continue on as the trail rollercoasters through a partially clearcut area and comes to an access road.

      

Cross the road and pick up the trail as you head down into a more wooded area for a while. Next, you’ll pop out into a large clearcut area and can see large powerlines ahead. As you hike through the clearcut you will head to the top of a hill and come to another access road. Cross this road and you will see Gillette Lake below. Depending on how the weather is (sunny, cloudy, etc) the lake will either be bright green or a darker green/blue. It was pretty cloudy and very windy so we were seeing the dark colors.

      

Follow the trail downhill and reenter the woods, take the side trail to the left where you can get right down to the lake.

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 5.8 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: There are seasonal vault toilets at the trailhead.

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

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

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

Bald Mountain (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to the town of Zigzag. Go left onto Lolo Pass Road and follow it for about 4 miles where you will fork right onto road 1825. In a little less than 1 mile go straight onto road 1828 (it’s unsigned but it’s right before a bridge), this road is paved but has some pretty big potholes you’ll need to watch out for. Drive another 5.5 miles and go to the right onto road 118 (it’s gravel and quite narrow). Follow the road for about 1.5 miles until you reach the Top Spur Trailhead. This is a busy trailhead so parking can get interesting.

The trail starts out heading uphill fairly steeply. The trail is covered in tree roots and rocks and its almost like steps in areas. In about a half mile you will come to a trail junction, go right on the Pacific Crest Trail. Just a short distance later you will come to another junction that’s bigger and has a wilderness registration box. Fill out the paper and then go right/uphill slightly, there is a sign saying Timberline Trail no. 600 Muddy Fork. From the trailhead to this point the mosquitoes and black flies were really bad and we had numerous bites. From the Timberline junction on it got better because the wind picked up.

      

Continuing on the trail you’ll enter a wooded are with skinny trees. A short distance later you’ll start to see a clearing and round a corner to an absolutely amazing view of Mt. Hood, the reveal is one of the best we’ve seen. You’ll follow the narrow trail along bald mountain, there are wildflowers growing all over the side of it and you will continue to get amazing views of the mountain.

      

      

Next you’ll reenter the woods and soon come to a trail junction. Go left towards a sign marking the way to the Top Spur Trailhead. Follow the trail back to the big junction with the wilderness box and then follow the trail back the way you came in.

      

Distance: 2.3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes a porta-potty at the trailhead

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Early summer through early fall (depends on the snow)

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Watch small children and dogs on the narrow trail around bald mountain.

Dry Creek Falls (Summer 2018)

Directions: From I-84, take the first exit for Cascade Locks.  To avoid the parking fee at the Bridge of Gods Trailhead, go past that turnoff, and turn right onto Wasco St.  From here, go up to Moody St., and take another right.  Moody St. goes under an overpass, and you can park anywhere along here.  The trailhead is the first one on the left, as you walk up the gravel road.

This is another hike that recently reopened after the Eagle Creek Fire. It by far has the most visible damage that we’ve seen so far.

From the trailhead you’ll immediately start to see burned trees all around the trail. It’s a bit overgrown with brush in the first section but that changes pretty quickly. As you hike uphill you will come across numerous burned trees, and some that had fallen on the trail but have been cleared away. The trail itself is fairly wide and packed dirt. We noticed that it’s definitely not as thick of a wooded area as it use to be and you can see why with all the downed trees off the trail. You will come to the power line clearing and it’s still very green with very little burned area.

      

Once you head back into the woods the trail changes to being much more rocky, more of a typical Gorge trail. It’s more of the same  with burned trees all around you and there has been some erosion on the trail in sections but it’s nothing that isn’t passable. Next you will come to Dry Creek and a signed split in the trail. Go right here up the old rocky service road where you will end at Dry Creek Falls. The waterfall itself looks really good but up on the cliffs above you can see burned areas.

      

As sad as it was to see all of the burned trees we did see a lot of green and new growth! It was an overall positive feeling being able to get back out onto a trail that we really enjoy and to see that it’s still there and still beautiful!

      

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

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.

Trillium Lake (Summer 2018)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 past Government Camp, a few miles later you will see signs for Trillium Lake. Take the marked exit and follow the road for about two miles to the parking area.

Previous visits to Trillium Lake had been late October and a snowshoe in January. We didn’t see many people both times….this visit was so different. The parking lot was jammed fully by 9:30 and there was a ton of people on the trail and in the lake itself. Sadly I don’t think we will ever visit this lake again during the nicer weather months.

From the boat ramp we went left or clockwise around the lake. This side of the lake offers the best views of Mt. Hood but it’s also the most crowded area. People literally had blankets laid out on the actual trail and there was garbage everywhere. It was so disappointing to see. This is a beautiful lake and it was being treated like a garbage can. We strongly urge people to follow the Leave No Trace principles!

      

As you continue on around the lake some of the crowds start to thin. The trail switches between dirt and boardwalk and is lined with skunk cabbage. We saw an old beaver lodge and some blooming lily pads as well.

      

Once you’ve made it around to the other side of the lake you’ll pass an amphitheater and start getting views of Mt. Hood again. There are campsites on this side of the lake so it does become more crowded again. Not much farther past the campsites you’ll reach the boat ramp again completing the loop. For the most part the trail stays right next to the lake except in a few short areas. The trail is flat, well maintained, and easy to follow.

      

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 15 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 day use fee.

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None