Category Archives: All Seasons

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 🙂

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Spring)

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.

From the parking area get on the trail as it follows along a large open field with branches of Steigerwald Lake running through it. There were many different birds out in the grass and shrubs and some water birds in the stream. You will soon enter an area with more trees and a stream off to your right. When you get to the split, go left through the seasonal door (open May through September) and follow the trail as it goes along the field and enters a wooded area. There are lots of birds in this area as well.

      

      

You will round a corner and leave the refuge and get on the Columbia River Dike Trail. There are a lot of Purple Martin houses here and they are all flying around which is great. Go right on the trail and follow it a short distance where you will take a side trail and get back into the refuge. You’ll pass a tall interpretive sign and cross a bridge over Redtail Lake, here we saw a Cinnamon Teal, Mallards, and Canada Geese in the water. In the trees and grass lining the water we saw Red-Wing Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, and a Common Yellowthroat. After crossing the bridge you’ll enter and wooded area, we saw many birds here including an Osprey and Wilson’s Warblers.

      

      

      

There is another bridge that you cross and you’re back at the seasonal door. Go left and follow the trail back out the way you came in.

We were previously here in mid summer and it was nice but very hot. Spring is a great time, birds are nesting and very active, and the weather is great.

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: None

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No, dogs are not allowed in the refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Can be on nice weekends

Overall: Spring is a great time to visit this wildlife refuge

Dog Creek Falls (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 east and cross the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Go right on SR-14 to about mile post 55. There is a wooden sign on the left that says Dog Creek and a gravel pullout just past it.

This is a very short walk that takes you to a nice little waterfall.

From the gravel parking area follow the trail a short distance where it ends at dog creek with the waterfall tucked back in a bit but easily visible. The waterfall is only about 30 feet tall so it’s not the most spectacular, but it’s definitely worth the stop if you are in the area. This waterfall becomes a popular swimming area during the summer months.

We did notice a lot of trash here, we hope everyone who visits this waterfall follows the pack it in, pack it out rule. The Gorge is a special place, we gotta treat her right 🙂

Distance: Less than a quarter mile total

Elevation: None

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on hot days

Overall: Quick stop to see a pretty little waterfall.

Starvation Creek State Park Waterfall Hike (Spring)

Directions: This hike is located right off I-84 at the Starvation Creek State Park exit (#55)

We did this quick hike on a busy weekend and it was nice to see all of the improvements they have made to the area.

From the parking area go left past the bathrooms and round the corner to see Starvation Creek Falls. Once you are done here head back to the parking area and get on the trail that follows along I-84. They have done a lot of improvements in this area and it’s all paved now.

      

The first waterfall you’ll see on this section of the trail is Cabin Creek Falls. It’s hidden back behind giant basalt boulders, you can walk back in to get a good look at it. Continue on and they have put in a new elevated walkway/bridge type thing as you start to pull away from the freeway a bit. You’ll come to a split, go left and you’ll reach Hole In The Wall Falls. Its name is very literal, as it comes straight out of a manmade hole way up at the top of the cliffside.

      

We stopped here for the day but you can continue on steeply uphill and reach a junction, stay right and you’ll soon come to Lancaster Falls. We posted about Lancaster Falls here.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 1.5 miles (to Hole In The Wall Falls, 2.5 miles (to Lancaster Falls)

Elevation: 300 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: On nice weekends

Overall: Easy trail where you get to see a lot of waterfalls but the noise from I-84 is very loud.

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.

Memaloose Hills (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 to exit 69. Follow Highway 30 east and in 3 miles you will see the Memaloose Overlook sign with a gravel parking lot on the left.

This is a great hike in the spring during the Gorge wildflower season.

      

From the parking area cross the road and take the unmarked trail. The trail starts out fairly flat, there are oak trees all around and a couple houses out in the distance. If you are doing this hike in peak wildflower season you will be surrounded by many different types of flowers. Lower on the trail we saw balsamroot, blue-eyed mary, shooting stars, and harsh paintbrush.

      

      

The trail heads uphill gradually and levels out again. Here we saw blooming miners lettuce, western buttercup, upland larkspur, naked broomrape, and chocolate lily. There were also lots of birds, bees, and butterflies. Soon, the trail heads downhill to a small seasonal stream that you will cross and stay straight on the trail. The trail opens up where you will see a farm and start winding uphill. The balsamroot is profuse here all over the side of the hill and the lupine was just starting to bloom.

      

      

Once at the top of the hill you will have views of the Gorge and Highway 30 down below. There is also ballhead waterleaf and big-head clover blooming at the top. This is the end of the hike, head back out the way you came in.

      

      

This quickly turned into our new favorite wildflower hike, there are just so many different flowers blooming here. Other wildflower hikes nearby are Rowena Plateau and Tom McCall Nature Preserve, they are just another 3 miles up the highway.

We do want to warn everyone that poison oak grows all along this trail and we are heading into tick season. For more on ticks click here.

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: 400 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All but spring is best

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Overall: We highly recommend this hike for anyone wanting to experience the wildflowers in the Gorge.

Mt. Tabor (Spring)

Directions: The main parking area is located on about 60th and Salmon in Southeast Portland

Mt. Tabor is one of Portland’s best parks. It offers a variety of well maintained trails, has a basketball and tennis court, you can see three unique reservoirs, and has a lot of opportunities for nature viewing.

There are maps at a kiosk area in the main parking lot. Mt. Tabor offers three marked trails (blue, green, and red) but has plenty of unmarked trails as well. For this post we are going to focus on the blue trail, which is the longest of the marked paths.

Starting at the parking area find the blue arrow that’s just a few steps past the basketball court. Follow the path through a wooded area downhill where it pops back up and you cross the road, heading down to the tennis courts. From here you walk around the first reservoir and follow the arrows to a steep staircase. Head up the stairs and you will reach the second reservoir, take the upper trail that’s lined with cherry blossom trees around the reservoir. Continue following the blue arrows downhill in a more wooded area that takes you to the third reservoir that you will go around and head up a short paved path.

      

      

The path ends at the road which you will get on and go right a short distance to the next arrow taking you uphill on a dirt trail. Follow this trail somewhat steeply uphill to the very top and take the paved loop to it’s west side and follow the trail back down past a play structure to the parking area.

      

      

You will get great views of downtown Portland quite a few times on the blue trail. You get to see all of the open air reservoirs and some very pretty blooming trees as well.

Mt. Tabor is pretty much always busy unless you are here really early on a weekday. Even then you will still see people walking dogs or on a morning run. So if you are looking for peace and quiet, this may not be the best place.

 

Distance: You can do a total of 5.7 miles on all of the marked trails (blue- 3 miles, green- 1.7, red-1)

Elevation: 350 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Pet Friendly: Very

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great urban hike with lots to see!

Upper and Lower Latourell Falls (Spring)

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 area go left up the paved path that takes you to a view point of Lower Latourell Falls. Continue left on the dirt trail that heads somewhat steeply uphill, you will come to a bench and another view of the waterfall. The trail continues uphill as you switchback a few times and reach the top of the waterfall.

      

From here the trail levels out a bit and you cross over a couple foot bridges before reaching Upper Latourell Falls. Spring is a great time to hike this trail, it was lined with trillium, bleeding heart, and salmon berry was flowering. Water levels are also great in spring with snow melt, which makes for some very full and pretty waterfalls.

      

From the upper falls continue on the trail where it is mostly level for the first bit and then switches back downhill a couple times and heads gradually downhill. Soon you will fork left and head uphill steeply to a viewpoint of the Gorge. From here you head downhill on one long switchback that takes you down to the old highway.

      

After crossing the highway you can either head back to your car or take the steps down into the park if you want to see the base of the lower falls. If you choose to continue on, follow the paved path through the park and under the highway bridge. A short distance later you will reach the base of the waterfall, from here you just follow the path uphill where it drops you back at the parking area.

      

Distance: 2.25 miles

Elevation: 520 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Overall: We highly recommend this time of year for this trail- it’s beautiful!

William L. Finley Wildlife Refuge (Winter)

Directions: Drive I-5 to exit 228, turn right onto OR-34 W and follow it for about 9.5 miles. Turn left onto OR-45 Bypass and just less than a mile later merge onto OR-99W. Follow this road until you see signs for the refuge, where you will turn onto Finley Road. Follow this gravel road a short distance where you will enter the refuge on the left.

This is a large wildlife refuge with lots of different hiking trails. Some are open year-round and some are only open from April to October. In this post we’ll be talking about three of the trails.

Homer Campbell Memorial Trail- 1 mile

This is an out and back trail on boardwalk that takes you to an observation blind. The boardwalk takes you through the Muddy Creek riparian area that is full of ash trees. We saw quite a few Wood Ducks in the wooded area. When we reached the blind we saw Tundra Swans and Canada Geese out in Cabell Marsh. We also saw many Song Sparrows in the trees right around the blind.

      

      

Just past this trailhead is the Fletcher House and an old red barn, they are both worth a short stop.

      

Woodpecker Loop Trail- 1.1 miles

This is a lollipop trail, the trail heads into the woods at an even grade, soon you will start the loop by heading right and crossing over a small footbridge. From here the trail starts to head uphill, it’s nothing too steep. You will come to an observation deck that’s built around a large oak tree that gives you a nice view of the refuge. Continue following the loop through and open field area to a small seasonal pond. From here you head back into a more heavily wooded area, the trail starts to drop down and takes you to the end of the loop where you follow the trail back to your car.

      

      

This trailhead is very close to the refuge headquarters, they have a small gift shop and bathrooms here. There is also a few feeders and plants that attract many birds. We saw Rufous Hummingbirds, Mourning Doves, an Acorn Woodpecker, and many Tree Swallows.

      

McFadden’s Marsh Trail- .30 mile

This short trail is located on the far side of the refuge, there are a few ponds that are worth stopping at along the road on the way.

This short gravel and boardwalk trail takes you along McFaddens Marsh to a observation blind. We saw an Egret, Canada Geese, and Red-Winged Blackbirds in this area.

      

 

We will definitely be back this spring or summer to check out the seasonal trails.

 

Distance: 1-8+ miles, depends on the season and which trails you decide to take.

Elevation: Depends but there seems to not be too much elevation in any one trail.

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Dogs are NOT allowed in the refuge

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great birdwatching, excited to see what birds we can see in other seasons.