Category Archives: All Seasons

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take I-205 North to exit 27. Merge onto Highway 14 east and follow it for about 12 miles. Take a right at the sign for Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge.

This is one of our favorite places to go to watch birds and get some quick exercise. We try to get out here multiple times a year and it never disappoints.

      

Get on the gravel trail next to the bathroom and follow it past an open grassy marsh area. You may see a few ducks or geese in the water, we saw a young vole along the grass here on this visit which was a first for us!

      

Next enter a small wooded area and follow the path as you pass along another marsh area to your right and come to a split in the trail. We went through the gate to the left (closed Oct-Apr) and followed the trail as it wound back around to the end of refuge and onto the bike trail. Go right here and pass the Purple Martin houses, following the bike trail for a while until you see a trail off to the right that takes you back into the refuge.

      

Next you’ll come to a bridge over Redtail lake. We saw blue-winged teals, mallards, great blue herons, and bullfrogs. After crossing the bridge follow the trail to another bridge and you’ll be back to the seasonal junction. From here you can head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: Minimal (easy)

Pet Friendly: No- dogs are not allowed in the refuge

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All- some parts of the refuge are closed Oct-Apr.

Popular: Yes

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

Powell Butte (Summer 2018)

Directions: This hike starts at the Visitor Center, just off of 162nd and Powell in Southeast Portland.

From the parking area get on the paved Mountain View Trail, it’s wide and well maintained. In about a quarter mile you’ll come to a junction, go left on the Wildhorse Trail. This trail is packed dirt and can become very dusty in late summer. The Wildhorse Trail winds through tall grass and shrubs to the top of the butte.

      

Go left here on the Summit Lane Trail which is a wide thick gravel trail that’s lined with wooden fencing. The trail winds around the top of the butte and lots of seasonal birds can be seen up here as well as deer. The gravel path will head uphill and meet back up with the paved Mountainview Trail. Go left and follow it downhill and back to the parking area.

      

You get really great views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens on a clear day and there is usually some type of flower blooming. There are numerous trails around the butte so you can add a lot of variation to your hikes. This is our favorite route for a quick evening hike.

      

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 225 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All Ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Latourell Falls (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Exit 28 (Bridal Veil). Get onto the Old Highway heading right for about 2.5 miles until you reach the Latourell Falls parking area.

From the parking lot head uphill on the steep paved path that takes you to a viewpoint of lower Latourell Falls. From here head left on the now dirt trail that heads uphill fairly steeply, you’ll soon come to a bench and another view of the waterfall off to your right. Continuing on you will switchback to the top of the waterfall and the trail levels out a bit for a bit.

      

As you continue hiking, the trail stays mostly uphill and you will cross four footbridges before coming to Upper Latourell Falls.

      

After crossing the bridge at the base of the waterfall you will now be heading back and the trail is more evenly graded. You can actually see the trail you came in on across the creek. The trail soon switches back downhill a few times and you continue on following the creek. Next you will come to a junction where you will go left uphill and come to another bench and a viewpoint out to the Gorge.

From here the trail heads steadily downhill until you reach the Old Highway. Carefully cross the road and enter into the park. Follow the paved path under the highway bridge and a short distance later you will reach Lower Latourell Falls. Continue up the paved path to the parking area.

      

 

Distance: 2.25 (easy)

Elevation: 525 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

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

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

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

University Falls (Spring 2018)

Directions: Take Highway 26 West and then get on Highway 6 (for Banks and Tillamook). After about 19 miles on Highway 6 take a left at the road for Rogers Camp. Go right at the split so you’re on Saddle Mountain Road. Follow the road staying right at the first few splits (they are signed for University Falls). When you come to a split in the middle of the road with a large stump stay left and quickly reach the trailhead on the right side of the road. It’s a gravel road with a few potholes but it’s pretty well maintained. Watch for logging trucks and ATV’s.

We always like to stop and check out this waterfall anytime we’re on the way to the coast. It’s a quick hike but it makes for a nice place to get out and stretch your legs a bit. Doesn’t hurt that the trail takes you to a pretty waterfall either!

      

From the trailhead get on the trail to the left and follow it as it heads uphill gradually. You will cross two ATV roads (keep a good eye out because they come flying around the corners) and the trail starts to go head downhill with a large clearcut off to the right.

      

Once the trail flattens out and starts to go away from the clearcut you will see a trail junction on the right and a colorful sign for University Falls to the left. Take the side trail just next to the sign and follow it a short distance to the waterfall. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: .8 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All- it runs very low in the summer though.

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Strawberry Island (Spring 2018)

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 2.5 miles. Take a left onto N Bonneville Drive and then a right onto W Cascade Drive. Take another left onto Portage Drive, Portage ends at a baseball field and parking area.

From the parking area get on the trail and go straight. You will head up a hill and get a nice view of the Columbia River and the Bonneville Dam. You will also get to see some of the wildfire damage across the river in the Moffett Creek area. Lots of brown and burned up trees, but there are still areas of green!

     

Continue following the trail down the other side of the hill and head right as you wind your way around the island. You will see Beacon Rock and Table Mountain as you make your way to a marshy area. We saw a few birds in this area but it was pretty hot so there wasn’t much wildlife out and about.

      

Continue on the Strawberry Loop trail as you hike next to an inlet of the Columbia and back to the parking area.

      

 

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 100 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Tom McCall Nature Preserve & Rowena Plateau (Spring 2018)

Directions: Drive east on I-84 and take exit 69 for Mosier. Turn right and follow the Old Highway into Mosier. Continue on the Old Highway for about 7 miles. There will be a big sign marking Rowena Crest and gravel parking areas.

We started over at the Rowena Crest Viewpoint to get a view of the road “loop” below. We then went a short distance into Tom McCall Nature Preserve. We walked until the poison oak got thick and decided to turn back.

      

Next we crossed the road and went to Rowena Plateau. It’s a very easy to follow short trail that ends at the point of the plateau. You get great views of the Gorge along with the wildflowers.

      

      

The most common wildflowers you’ll see are balsamroot and lupine. But depending on the month you’ll see other wildflowers like bachelor button, wild cucumber, buttercups and many others.

      

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 110 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed on this trail.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes especially during wildflower season

Warnings: Tick and poison oak