Category Archives: All Ages

Summit Trail to Ski Bowl East- Snowshoe

Directions: Take highway 26 to Ski Bowl. Park as far east as you can in the parking lot.

Head down to the east end of the Ski Bowl parking lot where you will come to a road. You should see the Trailhead sign across the road. Get on the trail and depending on the snowpack you’ll have to cross a few small streams. The trail winds around back in the trees and you’ll cross 4 or 5 small footbridges in the beginning.

The trail rollercoasters pretty much the whole time but the elevation is nothing hard at all. This isn’t a super popular trail and we broke trail the whole way in, there was some old ski trails but they were days old. The trail is well marked and very easy to follow if you have to break trail.

We lucked out and there were a few storms that had rolled through in the days before so we got about 8 inches of new fluffy snow. The trail is pretty much the same the whole way, just a pretty, windy, treelined trail. You’ll soon start to see openings ahead and start hearing voices. That’s when you know you’re really close to Ski Bowl East. The trail dumps you out right at the ski lift.

From here head left on an access road making sure you stay very close to the edge. Snowmobiles use this road often and they come at you fast. The road takes you up to the tubing area with music blasting out of speakers. It’s pretty funny. The Summit Trail picks up just past this area. We only went a little farther due to time constraints. Head back out the way you came in.

95% of this hike is very quiet and we didn’t see a single person on the Summit Trail, but the very small section that goes through Ski Bowl is very loud and very crowded. Just be prepared for that.

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass required

Seasons: Nov-Apr

Popular: Only a small section

Warnings: None

White River West- Snowshoe

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.

We blogged about snowshoeing White River West last year and were bothered that you had to snowshoe in the beginning where all the sledders are. With TONS of people flying down the side of the hill it made for an annoying and dangerous snowshoe until you got far enough down the trail.

We recently went back to White River West and did some looking around and found a nice side trail that dumps you onto a service road. It makes for a much more pleasant experience! We only saw maybe two other people on this road so we thought we’d pass it along.

From the parking area get up on the main trail where all the sledders are and keep your eyes peeled for a side trail to your left that you come to quickly. Take this trail and follow it for a bit to where you get on the service road and will start to see the blue diamond markers. The road heads uphill and is somewhat steep at times. It does eventually level out a bit  as you get closer to the power line. We decided to cross over near the power line and get onto the other more popular snowshoe trails that give you a nice view of the river below.

      

We snowshoed about 1.5 miles in, making for a nice and quick 3 mile snowshoe. There was definitely a lot less snow this year and we both agree that this area is best when it has a good snowpack. If you are wanting a quieter snowshoe stay on the service road, if you’re fine with loud sledders and seeing a lot more snowshoers/skiers then crossing over to the main trail is a good option.

      

If it’s a clear day you’ll have great views of the mountain no matter what trail you decide to use.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno- Park Pass required

Seasons: Late November through Early April (check snow levels before going)

Popular: Very

Warnings: If you’re on the main trail watch out for sledders.

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

Henline Falls (Autumn)

Directions: Drive I-5 South to exit 253. Take a left and get onto Highway 22 and drive for a little over 22 miles until you come to a blinking light intersection, go left onto North Fork Road. Drive about 15.5 miles and the road will turn from pavement to gravel (note: there is a short gravel section earlier but it quickly returns to pavement). The gravel road now become FR 2209 and you enter the Opal Creek Wilderness. Continue for about a mile and a half (keep left at a split in the road) and you will see the Henline Falls trailhead on the left. Warning: The gravel road has MANY potholes, some of them pretty large. We saw all different types of cars at the trailhead and only one (a Fiat) seemed to have a problem.

The trailhead is not marked but there is a small wooden kiosk (someone has written ‘Henline Falls’ in sharpie but it’s small) and a pullout with enough room for about 3 or 4 cars.

      

From here get on the trail as you gradually head uphill. The trail is actually an old access road so it’s fairly wide in areas and pretty rocky. The trail is lined with large ferns and there is a lot of moss everywhere. You can hear Henline Creek below as you follow the trail to a split. Go left here and the trail narrows a bit and levels out. Soon you will enter a small burned area where there is a few eroded spots but they are easily passable. After the burn area you’ll start to see the waterfall off in the distance. You will pass by some old mining remnants and reach the end of the trail at Henline Falls. You can easily scramble down to the base of the waterfall where there are large boulders, and the small but colorful pool at the base of the falls.

      

      

Henline Falls is very pretty and quite tall. There was a good amount of spray coming off it as well which didn’t allow us to hangout at the base very long. Getting back up on the trail you still get a great view and will be less soggy. 

      

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

For For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All. Check snow levels during winter.

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

The parking area at Oaks Bottom is notorious for break-in’s and we had a problem with a man basically telling us he was going to break into our car as soon as we left, we even saw the slim jim in his backpack 🙄. We wont be parking in this main parking lot ever again, it’s too bad because this behavior may make it to where people don’t visit Oaks Bottom. We hope you still visit and we would recommend parking at Oaks Bottom Park.

Directions: From the intersection of SE 17th and Powell, head south on 17th. Cross Holgate and McLoughlin, and head into Sellwood. Turn right on SE Bybee. Bybee turns into SE 13th, follow 13th. Turn right onto Sellwood which veers into SE 7th. You’ll see the parking area for Oaks Bottom Park.

From the parking area get on the trail that heads downhill. Once at the end of this hill go right and go to a split in the trail. This hike can be done as a loop, going left here will get you on the Springwater Trail first, going right has you entering the refuge first. Either way you choose loops around and ends back at this junction. Fair warning…on the weekend there is a large train that runs right along the Springwater Trail and it is VERY loud. Because we were here during the time the train runs we decided to make this an out-and-back hike. We went right at the junction and entered into the refuge. You’ll immediately be following along a marshy area where there are a lot of water birds. We saw mallards, pintails, coots, and geese.

      

The trail switches from packed dirt and rocks to boardwalk as you follow along. There is a viewing platform out to the marsh and Oaks Park, we saw a few great blue herons and an eagle here. As we continued hiking we saw a brown creeper, bushtits, crows, scrub jays, a hummingbird, and golden-crowned sparrows.

      

The trail is very easy to follow and you will pass by the Portland Memorial Mausoleum, it has large paintings on it. Eventually you’ll come to a junction, you can turn around here or continue left and visit the tadpole pond.

      

This is a great hike for wildlife viewing and would be great for kids as well. The trail is very easy and there is a lot to look at along the way.

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 150 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Break-ins at the main parking area.

Pheasant & Niagara Falls (Autumn)

Directions: From Highway 101 at the town of Beaver go east on Blaine Road and follow it for about 6 miles. At Blaine Junction go east on Upper Nestucca River Road for about another 6 miles where you will reach FS Road 8533. Go south for a little over 4 miles to FS Road 8533-131, turn right and drive for just less than a mile to the Niagara Falls Trailhead.

From the parking area get on the trail where it starts out heading downhill gradually. We did this hike after about a week of heavy rains which made the trail quite muddy with a few areas of standing water that we had to go around. It was easily passable but did make for a bit of a mess. The trail soon switches back and crosses a few footbridges. The trail continues downhill more steeply and you will switchback again and pass a few benches. There are a lot of different mushrooms lining this trail as well as some pretty spectacular moss hanging from a lot of the trees. You’ll also see a lot of salal growing on downed trees. Pretty much everything you would expect from a coast range hike!

      

      

You’ll first start to see Niagara Falls across the creek but soon you’ll round a corner and come head on to Pheasant Falls. There is a bridge at the base of the falls you walk over to continue on to Niagara Falls. With all the rain Pheasant Falls was coming down HARD, we got soaked before we even reached the bridge, where we quickly found that the water had washed out the trail just past the bridge. So, it wasn’t passable and we couldn’t get to the base of Niagara Falls. You can see it from back up the trail but it’s kinda far away and left us really wishing we could’ve seen it up close.

      

Head back out the way you came in. You’ll be hiking uphill and somewhat steeply in places the whole way out.

      

We were bummed that we didn’t get all the way to Niagara Falls but we’re definitely coming back when water levels are a bit lower and the whole trail is open. The trail is beautiful and the two waterfalls are large and scenic themselves. It’s a nice little hike.

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 370 (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All but we hear the water runs real low during the late summer months.

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

Directions: Take I-5 north to exit 14. Go left at the intersection after getting off the freeway. Follow the road for about 3 miles through downtown Ridgefield. Go right at an intersection with Main St and drive for about a mile until you see a sign for the Carty Unit of the Refuge. Follow the gravel road to the parking area.

      

Take the path that follows the bridge over the train tracks and curves down into the refuge. Following the path as it passes a plank house you can take a left a follow the trail that takes you by Duck Lake and winds back in to where you’ll come to a seasonal closure.

      

      

Back at the plank house stay straight/right and follow the trail until you see a side trail with a hiker marker on your right. Take this path through the trees and eventually come to Boot Lake. You can’t walk around the lake so keep following the main trail as you gain a bit of elevation and get a look down into the marshy wetland area. Loop back around and down where you will be back on the main trail that takes you back past the plank house to your car.

      

      

We saw many geese, trumpeter swans, robins, flickers, hawks, and scrub jays.

      

Since you’ve already paid the refuge entrance fee you should drive out of the Carty Unit and head for the ‘S’ Unit section of the Refuge. This is an auto tour from Oct- Apr and we really enjoyed it. We were able to see great blue herons, nutria, deer, hawks, a kestrel, and many small birds.

Make sure to pick up a brochure at the pay station/trailhead at the Carty Unit. It has maps of the whole refuge and lots of great information.

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 80 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in the refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $3 per car

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

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 pass the bathroom (there is a whiteboard on the side that has a list of wildlife people have seen recently, it’s worth a look) and get on the trail. You’ll pass a few interpretive signs and soon be following along next to a large open grassy/marshy area.

      

After passing by a couple branches of Steigerwald Lake you will enter a small wooded area. Here we saw a Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, and Brown Creeper.

      

      

Keep following the trail and you’ll come to a split in the trail, part of the refuge is closed October through April to protect winter birds. Go right and cross the bridge, in here we saw a Bald Eagle. Follow the trail to another bridge over Redtail Lake. We saw Northern Shovelers and Coots in the lake as well as a sleeping Nutria in the grass. You can continue on from here where the trail ends at the dike trail.

      

Head back the way you came in.

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: None

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in the refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All. Part of the trail is closed Oct-Apr

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Little Zigzag Falls (Autumn)

Directions: Head east on Highway 26 until you reach Road 39 (about 6 miles past the town of Zigzag). Head north on Road 39, the trailhead is at the very end of the road (about 2.5 miles from Highway 26).

From the trailhead get on the nicely graded trail and quickly pass a few picnic tables and under a few trees that have fallen from above. The trail follows along Zigzag Creek the whole time and you’ll notice the trees all over the creek from past storms. There are many beautiful sections that are great for photos.

      

You’ll cross a bridge and soon come to a small slide area before arriving at the 40-foot waterfall. There is a trail off to the left that takes you up to the top of the waterfall as well.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

Before you leave, back at the parking area, cross the stone bridge over the creek and get on the old Mt. Hood Hwy. Follow it for a short distance and you’ll come to a stone tunnel that goes under the old highway. It now seems to have graffiti on the inside but it’s still an interesting little side trip.

To see our other posts about Little Zigzag Falls click here and here.

 

Distance: 0.6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 40 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None