Category Archives: Less Than 5 Miles

Bald Mountain (Summer 2019)

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 very busy trailhead and people park along the narrow dirt road which can make for some interesting driving. We got here very early and were done with the hike by 10 am and it was a complete mess trying to get out of the parking area and down the dirt road.

The trail starts out heading uphill fairly steeply, there are a lot of tree roots and rocks in the trail and its almost like steps in areas. In about a half mile you will come to a trail junction, go right on the Pacific Crest Trail. Just a short distance later you will come to another junction that’s bigger and has a wilderness registration box. Fill out the paper and then go right/uphill slightly, there is a sign saying Timberline Trail no. 600 Muddy Fork (there are two trails to the right that start out running pretty close to each other, take the top one).

     

Continuing on the trail you’ll enter a wooded area with skinny trees. A short distance later you’ll start to see a clearing and round a corner to an absolutely amazing view of Mt. Hood, the reveal is one of the best we’ve seen. You’ll follow the narrow trail along bald mountain, there are wildflowers growing all over the side of it and you will continue to get amazing views of the mountain.

     

Next you’ll reenter the woods and soon come to a trail junction- go left and uphill a short distance and immediately head back down and come to a sign marking the way to the Top Spur Trailhead. Follow the trail back to the big junction with the wilderness box and then follow the trail back the way you came in.

     

Distance: 2.3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 560 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes a porta-potty at the trailhead

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Early summer through early fall (depends on the snow)

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Watch small children and dogs on the narrow trail around bald mountain.

Swan Island Dahlia Festival (2019)

We love the Swan Island Dahlia’s and try to visit each year. This year we made it out on a cloudy morning which was lovely and the fields were full of color.

     

There are so many different types and colors of dahlias and they have the name of each posted on each row. Make sure to take the short walk around the test garden too, to see future dahlias. The field is open 7 days a week from 8am-6pm and the gift shop opens at 10am. If you are going on a festival day there will be live music, vendors and food.

     

     

Admission is free and we would recommend getting there as close to opening as possible to avoid some of the crowd.

     

For directions and more information click here.

     

Benham Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions:  These directions are from Bend- travel south on Highway 97 for approximately 8 miles and take the Lava Lands Visitor Center exit to the right. Go past the Visitor Center on Forest Road 9702 for approximately 4 miles. There are signs along the way.

There are two trailheads and we went to both, the hike is best from the Benham Falls East trailhead (the directions above are to this trailhead).

     

     

From the parking area get on the dirt trail that follows along the Deschutes River. You will pass a zipline and come to a large bridge. Cross the bridge and the trail still follows along closely to the river for a bit. The trail winds back to the other Benham Falls trailhead where you will switchback a few times to a viewpoint of the waterfalls. It mostly just looks like a more rapid part of the river but it’s still pretty. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: .75 miles (easy)

Elevation: 50 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Late spring through Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Paulina Falls (Summer 2019)

Paulina Falls is located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument which is just outside of La Pine, Oregon.

Paulina Falls is a double falls and is best viewed from the lower viewpoint. It’s a short hike but definitely worth it.

     

From the parking area get on the paved path that soon splits, go right first and quickly get to the upper viewpoint. It’s not the best view since it’s only of the top of the waterfalls. Head back the other way on the trail and it turns to dirt where you will take a long switchback down to a short bridge and the lower viewpoint. There are lots of downed trees and large rocks in the creek and the base of the waterfalls which are very interesting. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 125 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass or Newberry entrance pass

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Big Obsidian Flow (Summer 2019)

The Big Obsidian Flow trail is located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument which is just outside of La Pine, Oregon.

The Big Obsidian Flow is a 1 mile interpretive trail that takes you through a field of obsidian and pumice. There are informational signs along the way and a nice view of Paulina Lake.

     

From the parking area take the paved trail to a metal staircase where you will enter the flow. From here the trail is rocky and can be pretty dusty during the dry months. The trail loops through the flow and you will see chunks of obsidian and pumice of all size. There are a few small shrubs, trees and flowers that have managed to grow out in the field. There are a few viewpoints on the trail as well.

     

Please follow the posted rules- this place is very fragile and unique.

     

Distance: 1 mile (easy)

Elevation: 125 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No- there are many signs warning against taking your dog on this trail. The obsidian is very sharp and can easily cut your dogs paws.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes in the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass or Newberry entrance pass

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Wahkeena Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Take a left onto the Old Highway and drive for about 2.5 miles to the trailhead on your right.

This is a nice quick hike that would be good for kids or if you want to quickly show off the Gorge to out of town visitors.

From the parking area head up the few steps to a small viewpoint area of Wahkeena Creek/Lower Wahkeena Falls. After you have seen the creek get on the paved trail that takes you up one really long switchback and then flattens out for a short distance. That last part of this trail has a little damage but nothing that’s considered unsafe to hike on. The trail ends at a bridge that’s right in front of Wahkeena Falls. Head back out the way you came in.

     

The trail does continue on up 12 paved switchbacks to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. You gain a lot of elevation quickly, and add a little less than a mile to your hike. About a half mile or so past the viewpoint is Fairy Falls, both of these are great additions if you are feeling up to the challenge.

     

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes but they are seasonal

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Owl Point (Summer 2019)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 to the town of Zigzag and take a left onto Lolo Pass Road. Follow this road for about 10.5 miles, take the second right onto FS 18. Follow this road for about 10 miles, half of which is a gravel road, and take a very sharp righthand turn onto FS 16. Drive for 5.5 miles and turn right at the large intersection onto FS 1650. This road becomes gravel and ends at the Vista Ridge Trailhead.

This is a busy trailhead and it doesn’t have a huge parking area so things may get tight. Multiple hikes start from this location but Owl Point seems to be the least popular. We didn’t see any other people the whole time which was shocking since it was a nice summer weekend.

From the trailhead follow the rocky trail for about a third of a mile to a junction in the trail. Sign in at the wilderness registration station and then head left. The trail starts out fairly evenly graded but that quickly changes- once you start heading uphill there will be sections that are quite steep. The trail itself is nice but there are a few downed trees (they are all easy to get over). You will pass two side trails off to the right, the first offers a great view of the valley below and the second gives you a really good view of Mt. Hood.

     

Back on the main trail the grade levels out soon and gets a little overgrown with brush and small bushes. You’ll drop down into a small meadow and start heading uphill again, it’s not as steep or long. We planned this hike during the Avalanche Lily bloom. It’s pretty amazing- they line the trail and were all over the meadow.

     

     

When you come to a junction go left/uphill (there is a sign but it was quite faded). You will come to another junction, go right here and the trail ends at Owl Point. It offers up one of the best views of Mt. Hood. The lupine was blooming which just added to the spectacular view.  Wander around a little bit and you can see Laurance Lake off to the right over the large rocks and the town of Parkdale. There’s a small Owl Point Register attached to the rocks, it has pictures of the volunteers from Portland Hikers who cleaned up this trail and a guestbook you can sign. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: May not be best for young kids or older folks

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass Required

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Umbrella Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 East past Government Camp to the junction with Highway 35. Follow Highway 35 for about 8 miles until you see a sign for Hood River Meadows. Take a left here and follow the road a short distance to the Elk Meadow Trailhead on the right shoulder of the road.

From the trailhead you will be starting out on the Elk Meadow Trail for a little over a quarter mile until you reach a signed junction. Go left here on the Umbrella Falls Trail, the trail starts out by passing through a small meadow (if you start your hike early there is a good chance you will see deer in this area) and then heads uphill- and gets fairly steep in sections. You will start to get views down into Mt. Hood Meadows off to your left and soon pass under a ski lift. The trail switches back and you head up a short steep section that drops you into a wildflower filled meadow. We saw lots of lupine and paintbrush in this section.

     

     

The trail starts to level out a bit as you pass through more meadows with streams and get some views of the top of Mt. Hood off to your right. There was Beargrass in this area but it wasn’t quite in full bloom yet. We saw a few deer off in the distance and a few butterflies as well.

     

     

As you continue hiking you will come to a junction for Sahalie Falls. Stay straight here and a short distance later you will reach Umbrella Falls. On your way back you can take the side trail to Sahalie Falls and then head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most. This trail does have some steep sections so it may not be best for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes a portable toilet at the trailhead

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Latourell Falls (Summer 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.

We decided to try this hike starting in the opposite direction doing a counterclockwise loop. Head down the paved path that quickly takes you to the lower (main) section of Latourell Falls. After taking in the waterfall continue over the footbridge and down the still paved trail that takes you into a park. Go through the park and up some stone steps where you will reach the Old Highway, carefully cross the road and pickup the trail on the other side. From here you will be heading uphill and it gets pretty steep in sections. Once at the top you will come to a small lookout with a partially obstructed view of the Columbia River. Continuing on you will briefly head downhill and then level out for a bit before coming to a switchback that takes you up to a more level section of trail. A short distance later you will reach Upper Latourell Falls.

     

To finish the loop cross the footbridge and follow the trail that is now on the other side of the creek. It’s mostly downhill,  you will cross two bridges and pass a bench with a nice view of the main waterfall. The trail ends at a viewing platform where you head down a short paved path to the parking area.

     

After doing this hike both ways we decided we definitely prefer to do it clockwise. We like saving the best waterfall for last and it’s a little easier on the legs 😉

     

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 520 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes in the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Fairy Falls (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Go left on the Historic Highway to the Wahkeena Falls Trailhead.

From the trailhead take in the lower portion of Wahkeen Falls and then head off to your right crossing a small bridge over the water and getting on a paved path that does one long switchback up to the main section of Wahkeen Falls. Continuing on you will still be on a paved trail that soon come to a series of 12 switchbacks (most are pretty short).

     

     

The switchbacks take you up to a junction, go right a short distance to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. Back at the junction go left to continue on to the waterfall, this is where the paved section of trail ends and you are on a typical dirt/rock Gorge trail. You will pass over a low footbridge and then head uphill somewhat steeply following along closely to the creek. Cross a second bridge and the trail again switchesback a few more times before you arrive at Fairy Falls. There’s a bench right at the waterfall that makes a nice place to sit and have a little rest or lunch. Head back out the way you came in.

     

This is the second time we’ve done this hike since the Eagle Creek Fire and it’s so much more green this time. We love this trail and it’s so great to see it rebounding nicely!

     

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None