Category Archives: Popular

Frog Lake- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 east past Government Camp, keep left at the junction with Hwy 35, staying on 26. Follow Hwy 26 for about another 5 miles where the Frog Lake Sno-Park will be on your left.

From the large parking area get onto the trail which is actually the road you would drive down to the lake on in the summer. Follow this wide path for .3 miles until you come to a signed junction (if it’s not covered in snow), go right here where it heads downhill.

   

The trail quickly levels out and you will follow this trail a short distance to a split, go left here and follow it around to the edge of the lake. It was frozen again with feet of snow on top of the ice. We walked out onto the lake and made a loop around it. When you are done exploring head back out the way you came in.

   

This area is very popular with snowmobiles so keep that in mind, they come up on you quick and are quite noisy and stinky. Even getting here early we still saw a few at the lake and quite a few heading in on our way out. This isn’t a snowshoe that offers much peace and quiet but it is still pretty. Always be cautious when walking on a frozen lake as well.

   

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno*Park Pass required

Seasons: Winter

Popular: Very

Warnings: Watch for snowmobiles and be careful when walking on the lake if it’s frozen.

Mirror Lake- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to Skibowl West where you will take an immediate right into the parking area once off the highway.

We hadn’t been to Mirror Lake in almost 5 years, mostly due to how crowded and crazy this hike gets, and we had definitely never snowshoed it. This hike recently got a much needed new trailhead with a larger parking area. It’s off to the right of Skibowl and has parking for roughly 50 vehicles. A couple weeks ago we decided to wake up early to beat the crowds to experience Mirror Lake in the snow!

From the parking area head past the bathroom and get on the trail. You will head down a few switchbacks and then come to the first of ten new bridges. After crossing all of the bridges you will start to gain more elevation. We’ve heard that there are new poles in place in certain areas to keep people from trail cutting. Everything was covered in feet of snow so we don’t know where this is but we hope it’s true- this poor trail was quite abused.

      

You will continue snowshoeing uphill and cross a small rock slide area, past this you will reach the long switchbacks that take you up to a trail junction. Go right on a narrow trail that heads down the the edge of the lake. You can go all the way around the lake and it will take you back to the junction where you head back out the way you came in. Obviously you don’t get the mirror effect with a frozen and snow covered lake but it was still pretty. Clouds had moved in and it was snowing for most of the trip, making views of the mountain pretty nonexistent.

      

Even getting here early didn’t really make much of a difference crowd wise. Just know that this place is very popular year round no matter what day of the week it is- pack your patience!

      

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- some may find the elevation to be a bit much.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: SnoPark Pass required

Seasons: Depends on how the snow season is going. Check with the nearest ranger station for snow pack levels.

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Frozen Gorge (2019)

The Columbia River Gorge recently got quite a dose of winter with most places seeing at least a half foot of snow and below freezing temperatures. That means all the waterfalls get frosty and look extra beautiful. We took a drive and stopped at a few of our favorite places!

Multnomah Falls…

      

      

Latourell Falls and the Vista House…

      

We hope everyone got a chance to get out and enjoy the brief snowstorm! Winter has finally arrived ❄️

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

Fairy Falls (Winter 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Go left on the Historic Highway to the Wahkeena Falls Trailhead.

We were really anxious to get back up to this waterfall after the Eagle Creek Fire. It’s one of our favorite hikes in the Gorge and we really missed it.

Obviously there is fire damage visible throughout this whole hike but it’s really apparent after you get up above all the switchbacks.

First, you’ll start out on the paved path and cross over Wahkeena Creek as you switchback once to get up to Wahkeena Falls. From here the trail is still paved as you head straight up 12 switchbacks, they are fairly short but you’re definitely still feeling all the quick elevation gain. Through this section you are mainly seeing partially burned trees and more open views.

      

      

The switchbacks end at an signed intersection. It’s worth the short trip off to the right to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. When finished head back the other direction where the paved path turns into a typical dirt and rock Gorge trail. You’ll head over a footbridge and start heading uphill somewhat steeply on a very loose rocky trail, staying right next to the creek for a short distance. Normally there are a few fallen trees in this section, but since the wildfire there are a TON of downed trees and they are mostly hanging over the creek. A lot of the moss is burned in this section as well.

      

      

Cross over a second bridge and head up some more switchbacks that take you right to Fairy Falls. As you head up these last switchbacks you really get a good view back down into the creek where you can see a lot of the damage. We are happy to report that the waterfall still looks great and the bench survived the fire. Head back out the way you came in.

      

      

*Please read all the posted warning signs carefully before heading out on any of the recently reopened hikes. Trails impacted by wildfires are at higher risk for falling rocks and trees, as well as slides.*

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- there is quite a bit of elevation gain for such a short hike.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: This trail was hit by a wildfire so please read all posted warning signs.

Wahkeena Falls (Winter 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Take a left onto the Old Highway and drive for about 2.5 miles to the trailhead on your right.

Here’s another hike that has recently reopened since the Eagle Creek Fire.

There is definite noticeable fire damage on trees and it looks a lot more open in many areas. You can see a lot more of the upper tiers of the waterfall from the parking lot.

      

The trail itself is in good shape and is paved from the parking lot all the way to the upper tier. You will switchback once and there is a small area right before the waterfall that has been washed out but is still easily passable.

This is a great short hike for families with young kids, or older folks.

      

If you want to extend your hike we strongly recommend Fairy Falls. It’s a pretty little waterfall and beautiful trail.

*This trail has recently reopened after a significant wildfire. There will be posted warning and closure signs at the trailhead and along the trail itself. Please read them and follow them. Entering a closed area is not only a danger to yourself but to the people who would be coming to your aid if something went wrong.*

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes but they are seasonal

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: Please follow all posted warning signs.

Ponytail Falls (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Ainsworth State Park (exit 35) and follow the Old Highway left towards Horsetail Falls.

This hike is partially open, you can hike from Horsetail Falls up to Ponytail Falls. There is a large fence blocking the trail just past Ponytail Falls.

      

As you start out on the trail just to the left of Horsetail Falls you will immediately notice fire damage. There are large rocks that have fallen, a lot of trees have been removed and limbs are across the trail. It’s definitely passable but use caution for falling debris especially if it’s been rainy and windy recently.

      

      

The trail switchbacks taking you above Horsetail Falls. There are definitely “new” views with all the tree removal but for the most part it’s pretty straight forward. Once you’re at the top you’ll round a corner and see Ponytail Falls. The trail heads downhill slightly and continues on behind the waterfall. This is where the trail ends for now at a fence. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Please respect the trail closures they are put in place for everyones safety. We saw a couple people go up and around the fence and you risk your safety, the peoples safety that would have to help you if something happens, and being ticketed.

      

Distance: .8 miles (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: This hike goes through a burn area, read all the posted warning signs before heading out.

 

Horsetail Falls (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Ainsworth State Park (exit 35) and follow the Old Highway left towards Horsetail Falls.

Horsetail Falls is another area that recently opened up after the Eagle Creek closures.

This isn’t a hike but we thought people might be interested to see how the waterfall is doing.

There is definite visible fire damage to the trees and undergrowth around the waterfall and it’s a lot more open. Many trees have been removed and things look less green. Overall though it doesn’t look too terrible.

        

 

Angels Rest (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take the Bridal Veil exit on I-84 East, the parking area is right when you get on the Old Highway.

By now hopefully everyone has heard that more trails have opened in the Gorge! We did this hike the day after it reopened and it was so great seeing this place again!

We got here early thinking that it would be a very popular destination and we weren’t wrong, there was one spot left in the lower parking lot at 7:30am!

Cross the highway and get on the trail, you will immediately start seeing some burned trees. We quickly noticed how much moss and vines had already grown on the trail, nature really does quickly take over! You will see lots of healthy ferns and undergrowth but there have been a lot of trees removed as well so it’s got more of an open feel in areas.

      

As you head uphill you will pass a small slide area with views of the river and come Coopey Falls off to the left. Continuing on, the trail briefly follows a creek and you cross a bridge over it. The trail steadily climbs the whole way and soon you will round a corner and see Angels Rest off in the distance. About here is where you will notice more severe burn. There are a lot of black trees, some standing and some that have fallen. It’s a lot more open and is just noticeably different.

      

Continue up the switchbacks and cross the large shale slide area. There are numerous views of the Gorge along the way. Once you are almost at the very top you will have to climb up a short narrow rocky area and it dumps you out at the top. You can really see all the burned trees from the top and you still have the absolute amazing views up and down the Gorge.

      

Yes, this trail has been badly burned, but that in no way means that there is no greenery or new growth. It looks different but is still a great hike with simply amazing views.

      

*Please read and follow all the posted warning signs.* This trail gets a lot of visitors and we always strongly urge everyone to follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles.

      

Distance: 4.6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 1,460 feet (hard)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: There is a good amount of elevation gain so this may not be best for younger kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: VERY

Warnings: This area will be prone to rock fall, slides, and falling trees for some time.

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