Category Archives: All Ages

Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge- Morgan Lake (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-5 south to exit 260A. Take Salem Parkway for about 5 miles and take a right onto Marion Street. Cross over the Willamette River and drive for a little over 9 miles on Highway 22, take exit 16 and soon stay left for McMinnville. Take a left at the junction for 99W and drive for 3 miles to Smithfield Road. Continue on this gravel road for about 2.5 miles to a parking area on the left.

Head out on the gravel path that quickly takes a left and goes up a small hill. At the top of this hill you will get a good view of Morgan Lake and the two hills that make up Baskett Butte. Keep going on the gravel trail that dips down and back up to a grassy field. The trail is pretty much nonexistent here so just follow along near the lake.

   

   

Eventually you will see the trail again when you get towards the end of the lake. Continue on a bit farther until you reach a trail junction, this is the end of this hike so head back out the way you came in. This junction has tie trails that lead to other parts of the refuge if you want to extend your hike.

   

The lake was pretty empty, we did see a few mallards and shovelers but that was it. The fields had a ton of geese and there were plenty of birds in the trees and bushes. Definitely bring your binoculars!

   

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 45 feet (easy)

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

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Morgan Lake is open April 1-September 30

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Government Cove Peninsula- Kayak (Spring 2019)

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.

We’ve always just hiked around this area but decided to kayak around the coves this time.

We put the kayak in just to the left of the gate off the large rocks that line the edge of the water. We paddled out and around and passed the sailboat that is anchored near the grass. There is a large eagles nest up in the trees here which was great to see.

   

The two coves don’t connect so you will have to go out into the Columbia briefly. So continue out towards the river and go left where you can get into the second cove. It was windy and the river was pretty choppy while we were here, it was a little rough getting into the second cove but definitely doable.

   

After exploring the second cove paddle back out the way you came in. If you hike to the top of the rock on Government Cove you can see the coves where you’ll be kayaking.

There were a lot of birds (so bring binoculars!) and good views of the Gorge. It was a unique kayak and we’ll definitely be back.

Distance: 1-2 miles (easy)

Paddle: Easy (the river may be a bit choppy)

Pet Friendly: Sure if they are good in a kayak 🙂

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Government Cove Peninsula (Spring 2019)

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.

This is a nice quick hike with good views of the Gorge.

You can pretty much explore this area however you want. There is a paved path that takes you up to the top of the rock. You get nice views at the top and it would make a good place to eat lunch if you brought it.

   

There is also a trail that goes all the way around the base of the rock and takes you out to a point right along the Columbia.

   

We were here a bit too early for wildflowers but if you come late April through early June there will be a bunch of different types of flowers.

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 100 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Tulip Festival (2019)

The Tulip Festival is located in Woodburn, Oregon and runs through April 29th this year.

We visited the fields just last Sunday and they were definitely in full bloom so now is a great time to go. We would recommend getting there right when it opens because it gets very busy very quickly. It’s also very muddy right now so rubber boots are a good idea.

   

   

The color was amazing and all of the flowers were beautiful as usual!

   

Check out their website for info on ticket prices, food/craft booths and everything else happening at the farm.

Deschutes River Trail (Spring 2019)

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.

Walk through the grassy field where you will have two options, going left will take you to the top and middle trail (the top trail is for hikers and bikers, middle just hikers) and going right will take you to the lower trail. We chose to go right and take the lower trail that follows along the river.

   

The trail is maintained, easy to follow, and follows right next to the Deschutes River. There are many geese in this area so there is poop everywhere and you will be hearing geese the whole time. This area was burned in the Substation Fire July of 2018, there is a lot of burned ground, trees and shrubs. We could already see new growth which was encouraging!

   

Follow along the river and pass a pump house and a cable that crosses the river. There will be a split in the trail go left uphill to get on the middle trail. Staying on the lower trail will eventually take you to a rock slide area and you have to scramble around to keep up with the trail, we did this and don’t recommend it. Back on the middle trail you will be above the river now and get nice views of the surrounding hills. You will soon come to a big bend in the river as it hooks left and you can see the rock slide below and a natural arch formation. We hiked about another half mile down the trail from the arch where you get past the bend and the river straightens out again. We made this our turn around area, head back out the way you came in. The Deschutes River Trail is a little over 11 miles one way so you could definitely extend your hike if you have the time. Stopping where we did would give you a 5 mile hike.

   

Distance: 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 300 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead and about 1-1.5 miles in on the trail

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: On nice weekends

Warnings: Ticks and snakes

Moulton Falls & Bridge (Winter 2019)

Directions: Drive I-5 North to Exit 11 (Battleground and 502E), merge right with 502E to Battleground. Drive 6 miles into Battleground and take a left at a traffic light signed for 503N, Amboy, Yacolt. Stay on 503N (Lewisville Highway) for 5.5 miles and take a right onto NE Rock Creek Road which eventually turns into Lucia Falls Road. Drive about 3 miles until you reach a stop sign (junction with 172nd), continue straight and follow the road until you see the Moulton Falls trailhead on the right.

From the parking area head off to your left along the road and cross over the creek. From here you will get on a wide trail and soon start to see the river off to your right. Look for a side trail that takes you out on some large rocks and gives you a good view of the bridge.

Back on the main trail head uphill to the bridge. After crossing the bridge the trail follows along the river. You can hike for about 4 miles before coming to another trailhead, we stopped after about a mile. We have hiked this whole trail and it’s not the most exciting, it’s wide and fairly evenly graded. You can see some houses across the river but that’s about it.

   

Before you leave go off to the right of the parking lot and get down to river level. This is the Moulton Falls area, it’s hard to see it in the winter with high water levels but this place gets packed with swimmers in the summer.

Distance: 2 miles (can do up to 7.5) (easy)

Elevation: 225 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes very popular in the summer

Warnings: None

Yacolt Falls (Winter 2019)

Directions: Drive I-5 North to Exit 11 (Battleground and 502E), merge right with 502E to Battleground. Drive 6 miles into Battleground and take a left at a traffic light signed for 503N, Amboy, Yacolt. Stay on 503N (Lewisville Highway) for 5.5 miles and take a right onto NE Rock Creek Road which eventually turns into Lucia Falls Road. Drive about 3 miles until you reach a stop sign (junction with 172nd), continue straight and follow the road until you see the Moulton Falls trailhead on the right.

Warning: Please pay attention to the entrance and exits at the trailhead. There are road spikes at the exits, it’s not very clearly marked and you could easily enter through the exit and shred your tires.

From the trailhead walk down the side of the road and cross it at the designated crosswalk. Pick up a trail here that heads next to a creek. Keep following this trail as you wind your way past some old picnic tables and up to a fenced area with views of Yacolt Falls. You can take the steps down to a rocky viewing area and a seasonal bridge.

The trail does continue on a short distance up to some train tracks. There is a tunnel off to the left a short distance but not much else. Head back out the way you came in.

   

Distance: .6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 50 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes during the summer

Warnings: This trail can get pretty soggy during the winter months. We had to rock hop a few sections to avoid wet feet.

Frog Lake- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 east past Government Camp, keep left at the junction with Hwy 35, staying on 26. Follow Hwy 26 for about another 5 miles where the Frog Lake Sno-Park will be on your left.

From the large parking area get onto the trail which is actually the road you would drive down to the lake on in the summer. Follow this wide path for .3 miles until you come to a signed junction (if it’s not covered in snow), go right here where it heads downhill.

   

The trail quickly levels out and you will follow this trail a short distance to a split, go left here and follow it around to the edge of the lake. It was frozen again with feet of snow on top of the ice. We walked out onto the lake and made a loop around it. When you are done exploring head back out the way you came in.

   

This area is very popular with snowmobiles so keep that in mind, they come up on you quick and are quite noisy and stinky. Even getting here early we still saw a few at the lake and quite a few heading in on our way out. This isn’t a snowshoe that offers much peace and quiet but it is still pretty. Always be cautious when walking on a frozen lake as well.

   

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno*Park Pass required

Seasons: Winter

Popular: Very

Warnings: Watch for snowmobiles and be careful when walking on the lake if it’s frozen.

Larch Mountain Road- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: Directions: Take I-84 East to the Corbett exit and take a left on the Old Highway. Take a right onto Larch Mountain Road (there is a big sign) and follow it until you run into snow.

We decided with all the snow the Gorge had been getting to take a break from Hood and visit the Larch Mountain area for a snowshoe. The snow gate on Larch Mountain Road is at MP 10.2 but the road was only plowed until MP 7. So we decided to snowshoe to the gate. There was about 3 feet of snow where we parked and it was up to about 4 feet at the gate.

This wont be a very long post because not much detail needs to go into a snowshoe up a road 😜. That being said this was a very pretty snowshoe with snow covered trees and lots of peace and quiet- we only came across a few people the whole time we were out there.

   

You’ll pass a Mt. Hood National Forest sign, a few gates off to your left and right, and some road signs. It was crazy seeing the seasonal gate covered by the snow and people snowshoeing right over the top of it!

   

You can go all the way up to the top if you have the time and energy, but most people were turning around at the gate. Head back out the way you came in.

   

Distance: 6.5 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 550 feet (easy/moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Winter

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Swale Canyon- Harms Road Trailhead (Winter 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 64, cross the Hood River Bridge ($2 toll) and take a right onto Highway 14. Drive to the town of Lyle (little over 11 miles from the bridge) where you will take a left onto the Centerville Highway. Follow the highway for about 15 miles where you will take a left onto Harms Road, follow the road a short distance to the trailhead and a small pullout for parking.

This hike is part of the Klickitat Trail- we have done a few sections already (find those posts here and here.). This time we decided to check out the Swale Canyon section.

The Harms Road section is fairly long so we just did half of it for this visit.

The hike starts out heading west as you quickly cross a bridge and get on the gravel trail. You’ll pass a small marshy area and then quickly start to see the creek off to your right. We saw a great blue heron in this area as well as many juncos.

      

Off to your left will be a large grassy area, we saw western meadowlarks and a couple northern shrikes in the trees. The trail gradually heads downhill as the basalt cliffs start to rise up around you. We noticed quite a few bones along the way as well.

      

You will cross a few bridges and the creek switches sides as you cross over another trestle bridge. In this area we saw a couple rock wrens and a red-tailed hawk. Keep going for a bit past the trestle, the trail will curve a few times- this area is about the halfway point (roughly 3 miles from the trailhead). We decided to make this our turn around for the day.

      

This trail is very quiet and it’s a great place to bird watch if you’re into that sort of thing. The Klickitat Trail is well known for ticks (in fact one of us picked up a tick on a different section of this trail) so be extra cautious and do a good tick check before you get in your car and when you get home (for more info about ticks click here).

      

Distance: 6 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 300 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: This section of the Klickitat trail closes in the summer due to high fire danger. We would recommend calling the nearest ranger station in the summer to check for specific closure dates.

Popular: No

Warnings: Ticks