Category Archives: Pacific Crest Trail

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

 

Zigzag Canyon Overlook (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take Highway 26 just past Government Camp and take a left signed for Timberline Lodge. Follow this road all the way up to the lodge and park in the overflow area.

This hike starts behind the lodge. Head up some steps and get onto a cement path that takes you uphill pretty steeply to a sign for the Timberline Trail and Pacific Crest Trail on the left. Get on this trail, now fine dirt and very dusty. You’ll follow the trail under the ski lift with a view of Mt. Jefferson on your left and incredible views of Hood (obviously 😄) to your right.

      

You will come to a wilderness sign in station. Make sure to fill out the paper and then continue on the trail as you head to Little Zigzag Canyon. Follow the trail as it switches back down into the canyon. Depending on what month and how the weather is there may or may not be water you need to cross, this time it was dry as a bone. The trail here is very fine gravel/sand and it’s pretty thick.

      

      

Once you head out of the canyon continue on the trail as you start to head downhill and enter an area with more trees. You will continue to get great views of both mountains the whole hike.  Next you will start to see a few meadows and the trail will return to the thick sand consistency as you make your way right to the edge of Zigzag Canyon. The views here are nothing short of amazing! This is the end point for this hike, head back out the way you came in.

      

Most of this hike is very exposed so make sure you come prepared for full sun! This hike should be done on a clear day as well so you can take full advantage of all the beautiful views.

      

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most. There isn’t a ton of elevation on this hike but you are already up in elevation to begin with (Timberline Lodge is at 6,000 feet). So if you are not use to that it can add some difficulty.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Late June through early October. Check conditions before hiking.

Popular: Yes. You are on the Timberline and Pacific Crest Trails and they are always busy.

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.

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.

Barlow Road- Snowshoe

Directions: Take Highway 26 past the town of Government Camp to the junction with Highway 35. Take the exit for Highway 35 and follow it for about 2.5 miles to the Barlow Pass Sno-Park.

There are a lot of different trails at the Barlow Pass Sno-Park and we decided to just pick a trail to start and explore the area. We started off this snowshoe on Barlow Road which is at the very end of the parking area. It’s a wide trail and very popular so it had a lot of tracks on it. You head downhill gradually with not much going on, it’s just treelined but pretty. About a half mile in you’ll come to an opening in the trees on your right with a great view of Mt. Hood (on a clear day).

      

From here we decided to head back the way we came about a quarter mile and then head off-trail to our right. We went up the side of the hill where it then leveled off and eventually connected us with the Pacific Crest Trail. We went off to our right on the PCT for a bit which is mostly level before deciding to turn around and head back to the parking area on the PCT. It dumps you out at the first part of the parking area, in all we ended up making a weird loop or balloon type hike.

      

It was a nice first time in this area just exploring. We’ll definitely be back to see what the other trails have to offer.

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes, especially on weekends

Warnings: None

Lower Twin Lake- Snowshoe

Directions: Take Highway 26 to the junction with Highway 35 stay left and continue on 26 for another 5 miles until you reach the Frog Lake Sno-Park on the left. The trailhead is to your left near the bathroom.

Get on the trail that goes past a picnic table and immediately comes to a junction. Go right and follow the trail as it starts out mostly level. We haven’t had the best snowpack this year and the first part of the trail had maybe 6 inches of snow. It was pretty crunchy and icy in parts and the snowshoes helped with traction but weren’t 100% necessary in the beginning. Hiking boots with some sort of traction on them (micro spikes, Yak Tracks, etc) and hiking poles would’ve been fine while carrying your snowshoes.

      

Soon the trail switches back and you start gaining elevation. The higher we went the deeper the snow got and soon snowshoes were required. It snowed off and on for most of our hike which was great, it allowed snow to stack up on the trees which is always pretty. The trail is easy to follow and it’s a popular area so there wasn’t any need to break trail.

      

At the junction for Twin Lakes go right and you’ll soon reach the summit marker (4,320 feet) and then start to head downhill towards the lake. The snow was pretty deep and was nice and fluffy which made for a nice snowshoe down to the lake. Once the trail starts to level out again it’s pretty much pick a path that doesn’t get you wet. There is a creek that runs through this area and it wasn’t quite frozen over yet. We easily picked our way around it and did eventually have to cross it, but it was easy to jump over in our snowshoes.

      

You’ll come to another junction, head right and downhill again where you will end at Lower Twin Lake. It was covered in snow and very beautiful. We were immediately greeted by Gray Jays and if you’ve ever encountered these birds you know they are quite friendly. Be prepared to be pestered even more if you decide to eat your lunch anywhere near the lake.

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 5 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 700 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- the trail is easy to follow and the distance and elevation are fairly easy.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes especially the 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!

Best Of 2016

We did a lot of great hikes in 2016, here are some of our favorites and our overall top hike of the year.

  • Willamette Valley:

Henline Falls– This is a short hike but it takes you to an amazing waterfall. Catch it at the right time of day and you might just see a rainbow at the base as well!

  • Columbia River Gorge:

Columbia Hills State Park– Great area to see wildflowers with amazing views of the Gorge.

  • Washington:

Lewis River Falls– So many pretty waterfalls in such a short distance. Definitely a must see.

  • Coast:

The Thumb– This was probably the most unique hike we did this year.

  • Central Oregon:

Smith Rock (Misery Ridge)– The views are amazing at the top and you get a very up close view of Monkey Face!

  • Mt. Hood:

Wind Lake– You get to ride a chairlift up to the top of Ski Bowl and then hike to a somewhat hidden lake. And the whole time you have great views of Mt. Hood and Government Camp. 

  • Portland:

Powell Butte- This is a great hike in the city. On a clear day you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Hood.

  • Southern Oregon:

Plaikni Falls– This hike was inside Crater Lake National Park, it’s very pretty, especially in autumn with all the beautiful colors.

  • Kayak:

Disappearing Lake– This was such a treat! It’s a lake that’s only around for about a month out of the whole year.

Overall Best of 2016:

Bald Mountain– The hike up bald mountain is beautiful and lined with beargrass. Once at the top you round a corner and come to one of the best views of Mt. Hood we’ve ever seen. Do this hike!

What were some of your favorite hikes in 2016? Any you’re looking forward to doing in 2017?

 

Bald Mountain (Summer)

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.

From the trailhead you’ll be going uphill on a trail thats covered in tree roots and rocks. In most places it’s almost like steps with all the roots. It’s moderately steep but nothing too terrible. After a half mile go right on the Pacific Crest Trail and just a short distance later come to a big trail intersection with a wilderness registration box. After filling out the paper head to your right and uphill slightly, make sure you see the sign on a tree that says Timberline Trail no. 600 Muddy Fork. Follow the trail through woods of skinny trees for about a third of a mile.

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You will leave the woods and come out to a clearing. This trail has one of the best reveals we’ve seen. Round the first corner of the clearing and come to absolutely spectacular views of Mt. Hood. You’re head on with Hood and to your left are wildflowers growing on the side of Bald Mountain, to your right is a valley of trees. It’s hands down one of our favorite views of Mt. Hood. Continue on the trail as you skirt along the edge and pass quite a few awesome viewpoints. You’ll briefly reenter a wooded area and then pop back out to a second clearing with more views of the mountain.

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When you finally reenter the forest follow the trail to a signed junction. Go left as the trail heads uphill for a bit before leveling out and coming to another junction. Go left again towards signed Top Spur Trailhead. This trail takes you back to the big intersection with the wilderness booth, go right and head back down the way you came in.

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Distance: 2.3 miles

Elevation: 400 Feet

Difficulty: Moderate. You gain all the elevation quickly in the beginning so it’s only steep for a little bit.

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Almost everyone. May not be the best for young kids, the area with the views has steep drop offs.

Bathrooms: Portable toilet at the trailhead.

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Spring through Fall.

Popular: Very popular trailhead and most of the trail is busy as well.

Overall: Great hike. We’ll be coming back to do other hikes in the area.

 

 

Ramona Falls (Spring)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to the town of Zigzag and take the turnoff to Lolo Pass Road on the left. Drive Lolo Pass for about 4 miles and take a right onto Road 1825 and cross a bridge over the Sandy River. Continue on the road passing a campground and horse camp, the road is paved but narrow and has some potholes. There will be signs directing you to Ramona Falls.

To see our first post on Ramona Falls click here.

The trail starts out along the Sandy River and there are a couple of good viewpoints as you go. Be cautious of where you’re standing along the edge of the trail because the sides have been undercut by the river. You will soon pass by a wilderness checkin station, make sure you fill out the tag (it’s free but required) and attach it to your backpack. As you keep hiking the trail gradually heads uphill as you make your way to the crossing of the Sandy River.

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The trail has changed a lot near the crossing since the bridge was washed out in a flash flood in the summer of 2014. The trail heads down to the river where there is a pretty large log jam area, you will be using these downed trees to cross the river. We saw about three good options for crossing. It wasn’t too terrible crossing on the trees, just make sure you are sure footed and take your time.  We hear they are NOT planning on putting in a new bridge so that means finding your own way from now on. These trees may not be in the same area or around at all depending on if they get washed away with storms. So please keep that in mind before heading out on this hike, it’s just really hard to tell year to year what the crossing will look like. After you get across follow the footpath up the side of the bank and onto the trail.

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From here the trail heads uphill, not terribly steep but it’s consistently gaining elevation. You switch back and forth from heavily wooded to sparse with lots of sun coming in. May is definitely Rhododendron season and they were blooming all along the trail! You will come to two junctions in the trail at the first one stay right (straight) and continue on up the trail to the second junction. At this second junction go straight for signed Ramona Falls. A short distance later you will come to a horse staging area that you pass through and go right down to Ramona Falls.

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On the way out head across the bridge at the base of the waterfall and follow the trail downhill along a creek. You will also pass along a large cliffside to your right as you hike down to a junction. Take a left and continue on to a second junction which gets you back on the main trail you came in on (take a right and head downhill at this junction). From here you head downhill to the river crossing and back to your car.

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Distance: 7.1 Miles

Elevation: 1,100 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: This is not a good hike for young kids or older folks due to the river crossing.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: A $5 NW Forest Pass is required

Seasons: Spring to early fall

Popular: Yes

Overall: We love this hike, it’s too bad about the bridge!