Category Archives: All Ages

Cape Kiwanda (Summer)

Directions: Head to Pacific City on the Oregon Coast and get onto Cape Kiwanda Drive. Follow it down to the public parking areas near the beach.

From the parking area head down towards the beach. Take a right and head for the large dune right in front of you. Go left on the dune where it’s less steep and hike up to the top. Once up at the top you will have great views of the beach below, Pacific City, and the Haystack out in the ocean. There is an interesting cave that makes quite the noise when large waves come crashing in. You can go farther up the dune to get even better views as well. There is a lot to explore up here so make sure you give yourself enough time to see everything!

      

      

There is a cable fence that runs along the top and while we were here there was a Ranger walking along the fence letting people know that it is allowed to cross the fence, but he was warning that it’s very dangerous near the edges. He flat out didn’t recommend going down towards the cave. Many people have fallen at Cape Kiwanda and there are a lot of clothespins clipped to the fence with memorials written on them for those who have died. The day before an 8 foot chunk had fallen into the ocean, the edges are very unstable. 

      

We did cross the fence at the large flat area, but didn’t go anywhere near the sides. We saw a lot of people standing right on the sides and down by the cave. We do NOT recommend doing this. Please listen to the Ranger and stay where it’s safe.

We saw plenty of seabirds, and a deer munching on some bushes on a ledge. Whales have been spotted during the summer months but we didn’t see any on our trip. We were surprised to see paintbrush, clover, and salal blooming, it was a nice treat!

      

Cape Kiwanda is a VERY popular place and definitely shows some signs of over loving. Please respect the area and pack out anything you brought with you.

 

Distance: .5 – 2 miles, depends how much exploring you do (easy)

Elevation: 240 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes year round

Warnings: Falling

University Falls (Summer)

Directions: Take Highway 26 West and then get on Highway 6 (for Banks and Tillamook). After about 19 miles on Highway 6 take a left at the road for Rogers Camp. Go right at the split so you’re on Saddle Mountain Road. Follow the road (staying right at all the splits) for about 3 miles, the road is always signed for University Falls. The trailhead is on the right side of the road and well marked. It’s a gravel road with a few potholes but it’s pretty well maintained. Watch for logging trucks and ATV’s

Last time we were here we happened to pick a day with a huge trail run going through the area. This time was much better since we didn’t have to dodge people running up on us out of nowhere 😆

From the small parking area get on the trail that starts out heading uphill gradually. You will soon come to a ATV crossing, after this crossing the trail starts heading downhill. There were a lot more flowers this time, the salal was blooming all along the trail as well as some wild daisies and tiny lupine.

      

After passing the large clearcut area off to your right the trail levels out again and curves left. The sign for the waterfall was knocked down this time but the trail off to the left is overgrown but still obvious. Along this side trail was some muddy areas that were a haven for mosquitoes but quick to pass through. You’ll quickly see the creek and then University Falls off in the distance.

      Head back out the way you came in.

The trail was a little better this time around with the flowers but the clearcut is still ugly. It takes away from what could be a very pretty coast range hike.

 

Distance: .8 mile (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Season: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Spring)

Directions: From downtown Portland take Highway 26 to exit 57 (Glencoe Road). Turn left and follow this road that  eventually turns into Hillsboro Highway for about 6 miles. You will see signs for Jackson Bottom. Take a left into the wetland, there is a building for the wetland and clean water services building with a parking area.

Before you head out grab a map at the information kiosk.

From the parking area head to the wooden staircase that takes you down to the Tualatin River. We followed along this trail for a while stopping at the viewpoints and ending at Vic’s Grove, there was a lot of wild rose and a few birds in this area. Head back from Vic’s Grove and go right at the fork where you walk along Kingfisher Marsh. You can’t see much of the marsh from this side, it’s got a lot of plant growth surrounding it. Soon you’ll reach a bridge over a small stream that takes you to Pintail Pond.

      

      

You can go all the way around Pintail Pond. We saw a good amount of birds here, there are a lot of swallow houses on poles so they are all over. Down along the edges of the pond we saw a family of spotted sandpipers and a few killdeer. As we continued on we came to a group of quail and a few mourning dove. They also have a huge osprey nest and we were able to see them flying around.

      

After finishing the Pintail Pond loop head back out and go north towards a bird blind that looks out over an unnamed marsh area. We saw a large group of american white pelicans as well as cormorants here. Keep following the main trail and go left where you walk in between two marsh areas. Here we saw a black-headed grosbeak and a sora. Keep following this trail uphill where it takes you to the education center and the parking area.

      

This is a great place for kids and bird watchers. There’s a lot of different areas that attract a good amount of birds.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 130 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No, dogs are not allowed anywhere in Jackson Bottom.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area and in the education center.

Parking Fee: A $2 donation is recommended

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Cottonwood Canyon State Park (Pinnacles Trail) (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 104, turn right for Wasco/Bend. Follow Highway 97 for a little over 7 miles and take a left for Wasco. Drive for about 2 miles and take a right on Clark St., a short distance later take a left for Highway 206E and Cottonwood Canyon State Park. Go another 15 miles and take a right into the park. Take a left and follow the road all the way to the end back by the campsite area and a couple vault toilets. This is the Pinnacles Trailhead.

The drive out was great to, you get to drive through a wind farm which was very interesting. Stop at the viewpoint to get a good look at the wind turbines and a nice view of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.

Cottonwood Canyon is one of Oregon’s newest state parks and is the second largest. There are a few different hikes you can do here and we decided to try out the longer trail on our first visit. This area can get very hot even in spring and there are very few shady areas along the trail. We did this hike early on a sunny cloudless day and it was quite hot by the time we finished. Make sure to plan accordingly with water, sunscreen, etc. There are also lots of signs warning about ticks and snakes, so be prepared for that as well. For more information about ticks click here.

This hike is also shared with mountain bikers.

The hike immediately starts out along the John Day River and you will be hiking closely to it the whole way. After passing a trailhead station the trail curves and come to a basalt overhang with many cliff swallow nests above. You will see them flying in and out of the nest and catching bugs near the river. Continuing on you will be walking along sagebrush and other small bushes, hills and basalt cliffs line the canyon the whole way. We saw many deer and bighorn sheep tracks but never saw the animals themselves. We did see many butterflies and lots of different birds, as well as bones from small animals.

      

You will come to a junction in the trail we decided to go left here and gain a bit of elevation to get a better view of the canyon and river. It connects back with the main trail a short distance later. There is a bench at the top which offers a great view. You will notice benches along the trail with mile markers on them.

 

 

      

The trail continues on with much of the same views which isn’t bad, it’s very pretty. You’ll get away from the river briefly and the trail enters an area that is lined with large thistle and has a small boggy area. After this area you start seeing the river again and come to the end of the hike.

      

You’ll see the bench with the mile 4 marker and you can see the small pinnacles off in the distance to your left. You can go a bit farther to get a better look at them where you will see a gate, past the gate is considered off trail.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

This trail is different than a lot of the hikes we go on and that was nice. The whole area is beautiful with all the rolling hills and cliffs. It was our first hike along the John Day as well and it’s a very pretty river. We will definitely be back to check out the other trails.

Distance: 8 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 70 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: Yes $5 per person, not car.

Seasons: All

Popular: The area is popular for camping but we saw only four other people the whole time on the trail.

Warnings: Ticks

Clackamas County Lavender Festival

Directions: The Oregon Lavender Farm is located at 20949 S. Harris Rd. Oregon City, OR 97045

We have wanted to check out a lavender festival for a while now and decided on the Clackamas County one. It only goes for one weekend but it’s well worth the visit.

The fields were full and very pretty, you even get an amazing view of Mt. Hood from one field. There is a u-cut section for people wanting to take some lavender home and a tent where you can make a lavender wreath.

      

There is a good sized area with craft vendors and they had a wide variety of stuff for sale. Multiple food and alcohol vendors as well, make sure to try the lavender lemonade! They have a good amount of seating to enjoy your food and drinks while listening to one of the live musicians they have playing. There is also a water feature that a lot of kids were having fun in.

      

We’ll definitely be back next year!

For more information check out thee farms website here.

Government Cove Peninsula (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the exit just past Cascade Locks that’s marked for a weigh station. Get on Frontage Rd and continue on and cross the tracks. Park near the gate.

From the gate follow the trail off to the left as it climbs up to the top of the main rock area. At the top you get great views of the Gorge, this is also a nice place to eat lunch or hangout for a while.

      

Head back down but not all the way, go off to the right and climb up another section of the rock where you will find a lot of wildflowers in the spring. We saw lupine, wild iris, wild rose, and much more. The grass is a bit overgrown around here but the trail is still visible and passable.

      

Next head back down and explore around the base. There are a lot of trails that take you all around the island. You can see the south part where the cove is and usually a few cormorants and nutria. You can also get out where the island comes to a point and see the Columbia River really well.

      

After you’ve finished exploring you can take the lower trail back to the gate where your car is parked.

We definitely enjoyed ourselves a bit more this time around. All of the flowers were a surprise which was a nice treat. This is a great area for kids to get out and do some exploring 🙂

Distance: 2.25 miles

Elevation: 100 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: This is a popular area for fishing and duck hunting but the trails aren’t busy.

Overall: Spring is a great time of year for this hike.

 

Lower Ruckel Creek Falls (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 41 (Eagle Creek). Go left at the stop sign and park across from the fish hatchery.

This hike starts on the paved path that’s in between I-84 and the fish hatchery. It runs along I-84 for a bit and is quite noisy. Soon it turns off to the right and enters a wooded area. You’ll pass a trailhead on your right and soon come to an open grassy area on your left with a faint worn path.

      

Follow this path through the tall grass and daisies (in the spring), as in reenters into a wooded area. Continue following the trail downhill until it ends at Ruckel Creek with the waterfall just to your right.

      

There is a fallen tree that makes a nice “bridge” over the creek to get a better view of the waterfall.

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 1 mile

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the Eagle Creek Trailhead

Parking Fee: Yes a $5 NW Forest Pass is required

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: We’re excited to see what this waterfall looks like in other seasons.

Disappearing Lake (Kayak)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Go right onto Highway 14 and after a little over 14.5 miles take a left onto Cook Underwood Rd. Follow this road for about 5 miles and take a left onto Willard Road. Willard Road turns into Oklahoma Road, follow it a short distance until you see a sign for Forest Road 66. Take a left onto FR 66 and follow it for over 12.5 miles (the last couple miles of this road is gravel) until you come to two lakes. Disappearing Lake is on the left, South Prairie Lake is on the right.

We did this kayak last year and we liked it so much we have decided to do it every memorial day weekend. To learn more about this interesting lake (that’s only around for short time each year) see our first post here.

This year the water level was much higher from all the rain and snow we got. We even ran into snow on the forest road that the lake is next to. With the water level being higher we were able to explore more of the lake this time. There are a few side areas that you can squeeze your kayak through to get farther back into the trees.

      

The lake is almost split in two by a row of trees. The first part is pretty open and has a few small areas that you can easily get into with your kayak. We saw a snake hanging on to a tree out in the water which was quite interesting.

      

The back part of the lake is full of trees that you can kayak in between. In our opinion this is the best part of the lake. It’s really interesting and almost looks like a bayou. The trees are very tall and covered in vines and moss. There are dead trees that have fallen all throughout the lake as well. Back in this part is where we got to explore more of the side branches of the lake. In some places the water level was extremely low and we had to really squeeze our kayak through debris and low hanging branches. But once you got back into the side parts the pools deepened.

      

This lake is really calm which makes for an easy paddle. Make sure you plan enough time to really explore this area, there is a lot to see here. Just a few steps across the road from Disappearing Lake is South Prairie Lake. It would be a nice lake to paddle around in as well if you have the time.

It’s hard to predict when to visit this lake. It depends so much on what type of weather we had throughout winter. Plus how hot or mild spring starts out. We’ve found that memorial day weekend has been nice both years but we did prefer the higher water level so we may have to go earlier in May if we have a drier winter. Also, make sure you come back and visit this place after it drains, the meadow is beautiful! Check it out here.

Distance: —

Elevation:—

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes if your animal enjoys hanging out on the kayak with you 🙂

Good For: All ages. This lake would be great for beginners!

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: There is a very small season for this lake usually mid May through early June.

Popular: No

Overall: Very unique area, we’ll be back for years to come.

Lewis River Falls (Spring)

Directions: Drive I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Take a right onto Highway 14 and drive for almost 6 miles where you will take a left onto Wind River Road. Follow Wind River Road up and over Old Man Pass, a couple miles after the pass take a left onto Curly Creek Road. Follow this road until you come to the junction with FR 90. Take a right onto FR 90 and drive for about 10 miles where you will take a right into the Lower Lewis River Falls parking area.

A small section of this trail between the lower and middle waterfalls is close. There is a detour that adds about a mile to your total hiking distance. You wont miss any of the waterfalls.

From the parking area head down the trail by the bathroom until it dumps you out at the main trail and Lower Lewis River Falls. There are multiple viewing areas for the lower falls. Go right and you will pass two of them, there are small wooden benches at them as well. Heading back up the main trail you’ll pass a staircase that takes you down to a viewing platform at the top of the lower waterfall.

      

From here get back on the main trail and head upriver. You will pass multiple staircases that allow river access and a small boardwalk turnout. As you pass these side areas the trail heads uphill gradually on a fairly wide and well maintained dirt path. There are campsites off to your left in the beginning and you will always see the river off to your right. When you are almost to the middle waterfall the trail is closed due to damage. It was like this the last time we were here (July 2016) and doesn’t seem to have had any work done on it. Take the detour trail that heads uphill somewhat steeply and through a slide area. It ends up at road level and the parking area for the middle falls. Briefly pass through the parking area and get back on the trail heading back into the forest. You’ll cross a bridge over Copper Falls and head downhill to Middle Lewis River Falls. The water level was so high this year that you couldn’t get out onto the rocks and get a good look at the waterfall.

      

Continuing on the main trail there are few spots on the way to the upper falls that have eroded quite a bit and you should be careful hiking through it. You will soon reach Upper Lewis River Falls, there is a place to get off trail and down to river level that offers a great view of the waterfall. There are a few big logs here that make it a great place to have lunch or sit and relax for a bit.

      

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

This hike is very pretty with all the lovely trees and always having a view of the river as you go. All three waterfalls looks different and are each worth checking out. Visiting in spring this year was nice because the waterfalls were a lot fuller. In the summer this place gets very busy and becomes and popular swimming hole.

Distance: 6 miles

Elevation: 320 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Yes, a $5 NW Forest Pass is required

Seasons: All but check for road closures due to snow in the winter

Popular: Yes

Overall: We love this hike, theres a lot to see which is never a bad thing 🙂

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Spring)

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 get on the trail as it follows along a large open field with branches of Steigerwald Lake running through it. There were many different birds out in the grass and shrubs and some water birds in the stream. You will soon enter an area with more trees and a stream off to your right. When you get to the split, go left through the seasonal door (open May through September) and follow the trail as it goes along the field and enters a wooded area. There are lots of birds in this area as well.

      

      

You will round a corner and leave the refuge and get on the Columbia River Dike Trail. There are a lot of Purple Martin houses here and they are all flying around which is great. Go right on the trail and follow it a short distance where you will take a side trail and get back into the refuge. You’ll pass a tall interpretive sign and cross a bridge over Redtail Lake, here we saw a Cinnamon Teal, Mallards, and Canada Geese in the water. In the trees and grass lining the water we saw Red-Wing Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, and a Common Yellowthroat. After crossing the bridge you’ll enter and wooded area, we saw many birds here including an Osprey and Wilson’s Warblers.

      

      

      

There is another bridge that you cross and you’re back at the seasonal door. Go left and follow the trail back out the way you came in.

We were previously here in mid summer and it was nice but very hot. Spring is a great time, birds are nesting and very active, and the weather is great.

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: None

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No, dogs are not allowed in the refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Can be on nice weekends

Overall: Spring is a great time to visit this wildlife refuge