Category Archives: Less Than 5 Miles

Fairy Falls (Summer)

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

Whenever we do this hike we’re always reminded just how pretty it is and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

From the trailhead cross the small bridge over the creek and head up a long paved switchback that takes you to Wahkeena Falls. Even during the summer months this waterfall puts off a decent amount of spray so you may get a bit wet as you cross in front of it. The trail stays paved as you pass a bench and head for the cardio kicker section of this hike- 12 switchbacks. The switchbacks are fairly short and are paved for the most part.

      

      

Once you make it to the end of the switchbacks you will come to a trail junction. It’s worth the short trip to Lemmon’s Viewpoint off to the right. Once you’ve seen enough at the viewpoint head back to the junction and go left where you will start seeing the creek and the trail levels out briefly. The pavement also ends here and switches to dirt and rock. You will be following the creek just about the rest of the hike as you cross the first of two footbridges and the trail again starts heading uphill. All through this area is very beautiful with all the moss covered trees and the creek being so close to the trail. It’s one of our favorite sections of Gorge trails. After crossing the second footbridge you have a few more switchbacks and then you are at Fairy Falls. The waterfall is right on the trail and there is a bench to rest or enjoy lunch.

      

When you’re ready, head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: There’s a good amount of elevation for the short distance so this hike may not be best for younger kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes but they are seasonal

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes especially nice weekends

Warnings: None

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

Beacon Rock (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Take a left onto Highway 14 and drive for about 5 miles until you come to the parking area on the left shoulder of the highway.

Beacon Rock is one of our favorite hikes, it’s short but packed full of great Gorge views.

From the parking area get on the trail that takes you into the wooded area at the base of the rock. Follow the dirt trail until you get to the first of many switchbacks that takes you to the entrance gate for Beacon Rock.

      

Immediately you get a view of the Columbia River below and since it’s spring we saw some wildflowers growing out the side of the rock. The trail is rock, cement, and boardwalk as you head up the west side. You will pass many viewpoints along the way, once you start to get around the south side of the rock you will start seeing the train tracks below.

      

      

We saw many red-tailed hawks, osprey, and vultures soaring around throughout the hike. We also saw some other small birds in the bushes and trees growing along the trails. Once on the east side of the rock the trail turns to dirt and thats a good sign you are close to the top.

      

There is a small set of steps that takes you to the very top. At the top there are a few big rocks that make for a nice place to rest or eat lunch. It’s a pretty small area and can get packed pretty quickly.

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 700 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: With all the switchbacks and elevation this may not be the best hike for small kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: $10 Discovery Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes especially on nice weekends

Overall: We really like this hike. It’s been great each time we’ve visited.

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.

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

Dog Creek Falls (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 east and cross the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Go right on SR-14 to about mile post 55. There is a wooden sign on the left that says Dog Creek and a gravel pullout just past it.

This is a very short walk that takes you to a nice little waterfall.

From the gravel parking area follow the trail a short distance where it ends at dog creek with the waterfall tucked back in a bit but easily visible. The waterfall is only about 30 feet tall so it’s not the most spectacular, but it’s definitely worth the stop if you are in the area. This waterfall becomes a popular swimming area during the summer months.

We did notice a lot of trash here, we hope everyone who visits this waterfall follows the pack it in, pack it out rule. The Gorge is a special place, we gotta treat her right 🙂

Distance: Less than a quarter mile total

Elevation: None

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on hot days

Overall: Quick stop to see a pretty little waterfall.

Starvation Creek State Park Waterfall Hike (Spring)

Directions: This hike is located right off I-84 at the Starvation Creek State Park exit (#55)

We did this quick hike on a busy weekend and it was nice to see all of the improvements they have made to the area.

From the parking area go left past the bathrooms and round the corner to see Starvation Creek Falls. Once you are done here head back to the parking area and get on the trail that follows along I-84. They have done a lot of improvements in this area and it’s all paved now.

      

The first waterfall you’ll see on this section of the trail is Cabin Creek Falls. It’s hidden back behind giant basalt boulders, you can walk back in to get a good look at it. Continue on and they have put in a new elevated walkway/bridge type thing as you start to pull away from the freeway a bit. You’ll come to a split, go left and you’ll reach Hole In The Wall Falls. Its name is very literal, as it comes straight out of a manmade hole way up at the top of the cliffside.

      

We stopped here for the day but you can continue on steeply uphill and reach a junction, stay right and you’ll soon come to Lancaster Falls. We posted about Lancaster Falls here.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 1.5 miles (to Hole In The Wall Falls, 2.5 miles (to Lancaster Falls)

Elevation: 300 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: On nice weekends

Overall: Easy trail where you get to see a lot of waterfalls but the noise from I-84 is very loud.