Category Archives: All Ages

Ponytail Falls (Winter 2020)

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

This hike is still only partially open- you can get up to the waterfall but can’t go past it.

There is still a lot of noticeable fire damage on this trail. Burned out trees and a lot of loose rocks and debris.

     

From the parking lot cross the road and get on the trail to the left of Horsetail Falls. You will switchback up above Horsetail Falls where the trail levels out for a bit before heading downhill slightly and ending at the waterfall.

     

You can walk behind the waterfall but the trail ends at a large fence just past it. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: .8 miles (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Areas impacted by wildfires have a higher chance of rockslides, please use caution on the trail.

Hobbit Trail (Winter 2020)

Directions: The trailhead is located right on the side of Highway 101 a little over 13 miles north of Florence, Oregon. There are signs for the Hobbit Trailhead and China Beach Trailhead.

You will need to carefully cross the highway to get on the Hobbit Trail. Follow the signs to the right as you wind your way through a rhododendron and sitka lined trail. Some sections the bushes have grown to where you need to duck down a bit to get through. You will wind your way downhill and switchback once as you head toward the beach.

     

     

Right at the end of the trail it becomes a tunnel of bushes and it’s what gives the trail its hobbit name. The trail is sandy here and covered in broken shells, it ends right at the beach. We walked off towards the right where there are rocks and saw washed up jellyfish and plenty of shells. When you are finished walking the beach head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: The hobbit trail section is 1 mile total. But you can add a lot of distance depending how much beach exploring you do.

Elevation: 200 feet

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: Crossing highway 101 in the beginning can be dangerous.

Heceta Head Lighthouse (Winter 2020)

Directions: The lighthouse is located 13 miles north of Florence, Oregon. There are many signs on Highway 101 marking the area.

From the parking area get on the trail that winds up to the lighthouse. You will first pass Heceta House and then the trail takes you to the lighthouse. Continue on a narrow dirt path as it switches back up to a really nice viewpoint. You can walk around the base of the lighthouse as well.

     

     

Once back down at the parking area head off to the beach and go to the right. There are nice tide pools where we saw quite a few starfish.

     

     

Distance: 1.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 150 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 state park fee

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Deschutes River Trail- Middle Trail (Winter 2020)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 97 and take a right, and then a left to get on Highway 206E. From here you will see signs for Deschutes River Park, it’s less than a mile away. Go all the way through the park to the very end where you will see the trailhead.

During the winter months the last part of the parking area is closed so just park as far back as you can, walk past the gate and past the bathroom to the trailhead. From here you walk through the grassy field (that’s full of goose poop) and come to a trail junction. We decided to do the middle trail this time, so go left and and then take a right at the signed middle trail.

     

The middle trail rollercoasters through grassy hills and gives you great views of the river below and the surrounding hills. We had our small dog with us and there was a lot of brush on the trail, she plowed through it but some dogs might be bothered by this. We followed the middle trail to where the grass thins out and you come to a rocky corner below, we continued on about another half mile to the natural rock arch. This was our turn around point.

     

We went back on the middle trail a ways to where a side trail takes you down a switchback to the lower trail. It’s an obvious trail that’s well worn. From here we took the lower trail (which is mostly dirt with some sand and boardwalk) bak to the car. There were lots of birds down on the lower trail which was great.

     

Distance: 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 300 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Gillette Lake (Winter 2020)

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.

We didn’t get our first hike of 2020 in until 3 weeks into January so we were really itching to get out on the trail! We’re really glad we chose Gillette Lake it’s a great winter hike.

From the parking area get on the trail and head uphill somewhat steeply in the beginning and then round a corner and level off a bit before heading downhill and coming to an intersection. Go left here and follow the trail as it rollercoasters through an old clearcut and comes to a gravel road.

     

     

Cross the road and pickup the trail that takes you into thicker woods. You will wind through this area for a while and then pop out at a clearcut. Continue following the trail through the clearcut and uphill to another road. Cross the road and you will get your first look at Gillette Lake. Take the wide gravel trail downhill and go left where a side trail will take you right to the edge of the lake. We saw plenty of elk tracks and droppings near the lake as well as beaver activity. Head back out the way you came in.

     

The trail was pretty muddy but that’s to be expected for a winter hike. Overall it was a great hike that wasn’t very busy.

     

Distance: 5.8 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes during summer months

Warnings: None

Rooster Rock (Winter 2019)

Directions: Drive I-84 East to exit 25 and follow the road into Rooster Rock State Park.

After you pass through the pay station go right and head all the way to the end of the parking lot. Pass by the bathrooms and go through the grassy field and take the trail that’s kind of in the middle and goes into the trees, you will quickly pass by a frisbee golf platform. The trail goes on at a fairly level pace through the trees and eventually heads down to the sandy shore.

     

Follow the sandy trail along the river and you’ll see a lot of beaver activity. You will have a good view of the Columbia and the Gorge. Head up the side of the sandy bank and you’ll come to a grassy hill and be close to I-84.  Hike up the hill and you’ll be back in the woods. Follow this trail as it rollercoasters through the trees until you get to an unmarked junction, go right and downhill a bit where you will get back on the trail you came in on. A short distance later you will come out of the woods and be at the grassy field you started on and see the parking lot.

     

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 250 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes seasonally

Parking Fee: $5 entrance fee

Seasons: Technically all but it’s a nude beach and may not be best during the warm months.

Popular: No

Warnings: Part of this hike goes through a nude beach so please be aware.

Powell Butte (Winter 2019)

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

Start off on the paved path that takes you to a junction with the Wild Horse Trail. This trail switches to packed dirt and heads uphill somewhat steeply. You will come to the Summit Lane trail which is gravel, go left and follow it around a bit to yellow post 17.

     

     

Follow this trail through the grass and into the wood, this is now the South Trail. It’s more heavily wooded and a lot less popular back here which is nice. It was a foggy day which was really pretty in the trees. Follow the South Trail down to a junction and get on the Hawthorne Trail. You’ll head back uphill and back out of the woods to Summit Lane. Go left and follow the trail around and to the paved Mountain View Trail. This will take you back down to the parking lot.

     

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 350 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: There have a been a few cougar sightings recently.

Latourell Falls (Winter 2019)

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.

Head up the hill with a railing to a viewpoint of the waterfall. Then keep following the dirt trail uphill with a few views of the waterfall off to the right. Switchback uphill a few times and the trail levels out a bit as you follow along the creek that’s down below.

     

The trail rollercoasters for a while and you cross a few footbridges before you come to Upper Latourell Falls. Cross the bridge at the base of the waterfall and you’ll be heading back on the trail on the other side of the creek. The trail is level for a while before switching back downhill and then eventually going uphill to a viewpoint. It seems that the bench at the viewpoint has been removed. From here you’ll head downhill switching back a few times until you reach the old highway.

     

Cross the highway and take the  stone steps down into the park, following the paved path under the highway bridge and eventually to Latourell Falls. Continue up the paved path back to the parking lot.

     

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 520 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Mt. Tabor- Blue Trail (Winter 2019)

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

The blue trail starts off to the right of the parking lot just past the basketball court. You’ll wind your way down to a bark chip and dirt trail that eventually drops you back at the road. Cross the road and head downhill past the tennis courts and go right heading around the reservoir. There is a long staircase up the side of a grassy hill, head up it and go left. Take the upper dirt trail around the second reservoir.

     

Cross the road and pick up the trail that will take you to a third reservoir, go around it and head up the paved hill and go right onto the road. Take the trail to the right and head uphill to an intersection. Go left on the lower trail as you head uphill somewhat steeply and come to the top circle. Head around it and go down the trail by the bathrooms that ends at the playground by the parking lot.

     

This time around was very foggy, surprisingly not very many people and quite peaceful. This is always a good go-to hike when you don’t have a lot of time or need something close to home.

There are other trails on this hike so you can add distance if you want.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 350 miles (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Shellburg Falls (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Take I-5 South to exit 253 and get on Highway 22. Drive Highway 22 for about 22 miles where you will take a left onto Fern Ridge Road. After a little over a mile on Fern Ridge Road you’ll see the trailhead on the right with a small parking area.

Get on the wide gravel trail that is an access road for the private property farms you will be walking through. You will cross multiple cattle guards and more than likely see cows on the trail- please be respectful of the animals and private property.

     

     

Soon you will enter the Santiam State Forest and gradually head uphill and reach a large marked intersection. Go left up the stairs and quickly reach Shellburg Falls. You can walk behind the waterfall and there’s a bench. There’s a short side trail that takes you down to the base of the waterfall. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes- dogs must be leashed when walking through the private property

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None