Category Archives: Pacific Crest Trail

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!

Best Of 2015!

Here is our list of the top hikes we did in 2015!

Columbia River Gorge (Oregon side): *Tunnel Falls* We love the Eagle Creek Trail and this year we finally made it all the way out to Tunnel Falls. We definitely weren’t disappointed!

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Columbia River Gorge (Washington side): *Strawberry Island* This was a nice secluded hike that had amazing views of the Gorge and lots of birds.

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Mt. Hood: *Zigzag Canyon* This hike is absolutely beautiful. You get amazing views of Mt. Hood all throughout the hike. We did this hike in late June and the Lupine were in full bloom!

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Oregon Coast: *Bayocean Spit* Who doesn’t love a hike that’s right on the beach?

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Washington Coast: *North Head Lighthouse* You can actually go up in this lighthouse. The views are great!

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Portland Metro/Outer Portland: *Oak Island* This is one of our favorite hikes on Sauvie Island, the place is covered with cows!

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Washington: *Lacamas Creek (Camas Lily Fields)* Go here in the spring when the lilies are blooming, it’s very pretty!

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Willamette Valley: *Abiqua Falls* This waterfall is becoming more and more popular and we definitely understand why. It’s not the easiest waterfall to reach, but it’s definitely worth the scramble.

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Central Oregon: *Smith Rock* We absolutely love this place. There is so much to see you almost need more than one day.

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Kayaking: *Scappoose Bay* This was the first place we took our new kayak. There’s lots of places to explore here.

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*Overall best hike of 2015*

Painted Hills!

Hands-down the most interesting place we’ve ever been to. The colors are beautiful and the views up at Carroll Rim are amazing! We HIGHLY recommend this hike!

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Honorable Mentions: *Lower Twin Lake, Youngs River Falls, Lost Lake (hike and kayak), Tom McCall Nature Preserve (go in the spring!), and The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.*

We’d love to hear what some of your favorite hikes of 2015 were!

Wishing everyone happy hiking in 2106!

Gillette Lake (Winter)

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 Bonneville Trailhead is on the right.

The trail starts out uphill as you wind up through the woods. Within a quarter mile we already started to encounter downed trees. We came across three in a row but they were easy to climb over. As you keep climbing and round the edge of the cliff we came to a much larger tree that was completely blocking the trail. We were still able to make our way around this one and continue on. The trail was still in good shape. Just muddy from heavy rains. It was covered in small branches that had been blown off but nothing too serious.

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A little over a mile into the hike you will reach the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Continue on the trail as you enter a clearcut area. The trail was a lot better in this section. As you continue on through the clearcut the trail doesn’t gain or lose much elevation. You get good views of Table Mountain off in the distance as well. Soon the trail crosses an access road and enters back into a more heavily wooded area.

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As we were hiking into this area we started noticing the trail was getting more and more covered in fallen branches. After about a half mile into the wooded area we came up on some major trail damage. There were at least 20 downed trees and lots of loose dirt and rocks. There wasn’t a way to pass so we had to stop here. It was a bummer because we were only about a half mile from the lake!

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If the trail was clear you would continue on crossing through one more clearcut area that takes you up to another access road. Just beyond the road is the lake. It’s a small lake that’s a beautiful blue-green color.

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This is still an enjoyable hike even if you don’t make it all the way to the lake. It was actually kind of interesting to see all of the damage. Just a reminder that if you see a lot of weather damage it’s best not to try and climb through it. Uprooted trees make hills unstable which can lead to slides and falling rocks. The fallen trees themselves are unstable as well.

We don’t know how long it will be until the trail is cleared out but sometimes it doesn’t get done until spring. It would be best to call the forest service before heading out on this hike anytime soon.

Distance: 5.8 miles

Elevation: 625 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This is a nice Gorge hike that is increasingly becoming more and more popular.

Fall Hikes

Happy Fall!

Fall is our favorite season to hike. The weather is great (rain included), the colors are beautiful, and there are no mosquitoes!

We made a list of some of our favorite fall hikes. If you click on the links they will take you to the post and give you more detail and directions.

Hoyt Arboretum: This hike is all about the fall colors! With all the different trees you definitely get quite the show. 

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Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden: This is a great option for families. Lots of ducks that will entertain kids and nice well maintained trails. It’s also free during the off season which is Labor Day through February!

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Milo McIver State Park: All the different trail options on this hike are nice because you can get back to your car relatively quickly if it starts raining too hard.

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Angels Rest: We love hiking up to Angels Rest in the Fall. It’s a fairly steep hike so the cooler weather makes in a little easier. It’s also much less crowded!

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Rooster Rock Loop: Another great option for fall colors. Plus with gloomier weather we were able to see a Pygmy Owl!

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Beacon Rock: We have been to Beacon Rock many times but last year we decided to try it out on a foggy day. It was actually pretty fun! The fog gave the trail a slightly spooky vibe and there were barely any people.

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Silver Falls State Park: Fall colors are the only thing that can make a trail with 10 waterfalls even better!

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Pup Creek Falls: This hike should be done in mild weather.

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Kiyokawa Family Orchards: Fall apple picking!

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 Have fun hiking in the wonderful fall weather!

Little Crater Lake to Timothy Lake (Summer)

Directions: Take Highway 26 past Government Camp and Frog Lake to Skyline Road. Follow Skyline Road to Abbott Road (there are signs for Little Crater Lake). Take Abbott Road to the Little Crater Lake Campground. Drive through the campground to the end where there is a small parking area at the trailhead.

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From the trailhead take the paved path through a grassy field for a short distance, then you will enter a wooded area that quickly drops you at Little Crater Lake. There is a viewing platform and the trail turns into a boardwalk. Little Crater Lake is pretty small, it’s more the size of a pond. But it’s very deep, cold, and bright blue. When we first got to the lake it was still very early in the morning and it didn’t look very bright and the reflection off the surrounding trees obscured our view. It’s best viewing times are when the sun is up and shining on the lake, we got a much better view on our way back out.

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Continue on the boardwalk trail past the lake and cross a few springs. The trail soon reenters the woods and you pass through a fenced horse area. This is where you meet up with the Pacific Crest Trail. Take a left here and soon you will reach a bridge that crosses over Little Crater Creek. The trail continues on at a very even grade as you hike through a more wooded area. There are side trails that take you to the edge of the creek. Some are worth the side trip, we were able to see a large Beaver Lodge.

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Continuing on the trail you’ll pass more views of the creek as you gradually start to head uphill a bit. Soon, you’ll start to get some looks at Timothy Lake through the trees and you’ll pass an open area by the waters edge that’s a campsite. Keep going past the campsite uphill through the woods. You’ll be following above a narrow part of the lake at this point. When the trail starts to level out a bit you’ll come to a few areas that you can take a side trail down to the Lake. These couple of areas are the stopping point for this hike and they offer nice logs to sit on and have lunch, relax and take in the lake view. To get back to your car head back the way you came in.

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If you want to extend your hike there is a 12 mile loop around Timothy Lake.

Distance: 4.5 miles

Elevation: 200 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: Late spring through fall.

Popular: Can be during summer weekends.

Overall: Both lakes are beautiful and it’s an overall easy nice hike.

Lower Twin Lake (Summer)

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.

From the parking area take the trail that’s to the left of the bathroom, passing by a picnic table and garbage cans. Take a right past the garbage cans and you’ll be on the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail is wide and well maintained as you gradually hike uphill most of the way. There are a lot of downed trees for the first half of the hike and soon the trail switches back and uphill towards the junction for Twin Lakes.

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When you reach the junction take a right on Trail 495 marked for Twin Lakes. It starts out relatively flat as you pass a sign marking the Twin Lake summit elevation. After you pass this sign the trail begins gradually heading downhill as you make you’re way to Lower Twin Lake. You’ll even start to see the lake through the trees. The trail drops you off at the lake and you have the option to head left or right around the lake. There are a lot of campsites around the lake and it can become pretty busy in the summer months. Also, there are a lot of very friendly Gray Jays hanging around the campsites that will land on your hand and/or steal your food!

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As you make your way around the lake be sure to stop and pick a few huckleberries, over half of the lake is lined with huckleberry bushes! This is an out-and-back hike, so when you’re ready head back out the way you came in.

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Distance: 5 miles

Elevation: 700 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages- this may be a harder hike for younger and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Late spring to early fall.

Popular: No

Overall: Pretty lake and great huckleberry picking!

Zigzag Canyon (Summer)

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.

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This hike starts behind Timberline Lodge, you will need to walk up towards the lodge and take a paved path the winds up the side of the lodge. Soon you will see a sign to your left marked for Timberline Trail no. 600 and Pacific Crest Trail no. 2000. Take this trail and follow behind the lodge and under ski lifts. For the first mile the trail gradually heads downhill on a maintained dirt path that’s lined with lupine. It’s very exposed with little shade and the trail can be quite dusty. You will have great close-up views of Mt. Hood to your right and views of Mt. Jefferson and The Three Sisters to your left.

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You will soon come to a wilderness permit station that you need to stop at to fill out a tag that you carry on your backpack. Not doing so could result in a fine. Continue on past the permit station and you will soon come to Little Zigzag Canyon, this is your halfway point. The trail here starts to become a loose almost sandy gravel that can cause you to lose your footing in some areas. The trail heads more steeply downhill as you hike down into the canyon. You will need to cross some water here but it’s shallow and there are plenty of rocks to hop across without getting wet.

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After making your way across and out of the canyon, you will head back downhill again as you wind through a more heavily forested area. The trail will start opening up as you get closer and start passing a few meadows. You will also get back into the loose sandy gravel as you start heading into a more exposed area that takes you up to the canyon. The trail drops you off right at the lip of Zigzag Canyon with an amazing view of Mt. Hood. You will also be able to see Mississippi Head (large rock formation in the canyon) and the Zigzag River.

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This is an out and back trail, so head back the way you came.

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Distance: 4.5 miles

Elevation: 500 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: We’re going to say all ages but be aware that the elevation loss and gain is steady and there are steep cliffs at the canyon overlook.

Bathrooms: Yes in the lodge.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Early summer to late fall.

Popular: Yes

Overall: This is a great hike! The views are amazing and the wildflowers are gorgeous.