Category Archives: Less Than 5 Miles

Strawberry Island (Spring 2018)

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 2.5 miles. Take a left onto N Bonneville Drive and then a right onto W Cascade Drive. Take another left onto Portage Drive, Portage ends at a baseball field and parking area.

From the parking area get on the trail and go straight. You will head up a hill and get a nice view of the Columbia River and the Bonneville Dam. You will also get to see some of the wildfire damage across the river in the Moffett Creek area. Lots of brown and burned up trees, but there are still areas of green!

     

Continue following the trail down the other side of the hill and head right as you wind your way around the island. You will see Beacon Rock and Table Mountain as you make your way to a marshy area. We saw a few birds in this area but it was pretty hot so there wasn’t much wildlife out and about.

      

Continue on the Strawberry Loop trail as you hike next to an inlet of the Columbia and back to the parking area.

      

 

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 100 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge- Carty Lake Hike (Spring 2018)

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.

From the parking area cross the bridge over the railroad tracks and follow the ramp down to the gravel trail. Follow the trail past the plankhouse and take a left at the trail junction.

      

      

The trail goes past duck lake and winds around as you go over a small footbridge. You’ll enter a treelined area and in the spring you can see a lot of birds in this area. We lucked out and briefly saw a Virginia Rail. Keep following the trail and you’ll see Carty Lake off to your left.

      

      

The trail continues and heads left, with the lake off to your left as well. The trail goes all the way to the end of the lake. Head back out the way you came in.

      

      

Since you already paid the entrance fee make sure you head to the ‘S’ Unit of the refuge a few miles away. You can take the driving tour where there is a LOT of wildlife to see.

      

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 60 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No dogs are not allowed in the preserve

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: $3 per car

Seasons: Carty Lake is open May-Sept

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Tom McCall Nature Preserve & Rowena Plateau (Spring 2018)

Directions: Drive east on I-84 and take exit 69 for Mosier. Turn right and follow the Old Highway into Mosier. Continue on the Old Highway for about 7 miles. There will be a big sign marking Rowena Crest and gravel parking areas.

We started over at the Rowena Crest Viewpoint to get a view of the road “loop” below. We then went a short distance into Tom McCall Nature Preserve. We walked until the poison oak got thick and decided to turn back.

      

Next we crossed the road and went to Rowena Plateau. It’s a very easy to follow short trail that ends at the point of the plateau. You get great views of the Gorge along with the wildflowers.

      

      

The most common wildflowers you’ll see are balsamroot and lupine. But depending on the month you’ll see other wildflowers like bachelor button, wild cucumber, buttercups and many others.

      

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 110 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed on this trail.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes especially during wildflower season

Warnings: Tick and poison oak

Mosier Plateau (Spring 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to exit 69 (Mosier). Follow the old highway into Mosier and parking in the gravel parking lot just past the totem pole on the left side of the road.

From the parking area cross the bridge and find the trail on the right side of the road near a bench. The trail starts uphill and takes you to an old pioneer cemetery. Continue on the trail where it stays mostly evenly graded and you will come to Mosier Creek Falls down in the canyon off to the right.

      

      

Continuing on the trail you’ll start up the 16 switchbacks. There are four separate sets of stairs mixed into the switchbacks as well. The switchbacks are fairly long and make the hike less steep than it could be without them.

      

You’ll wind your way up to the top of Mosier Plateau where you will see a lot of wildflowers (mainly balsamroot and lupine) and amazing views of the Gorge. There are trails that wind around all over the plateau.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 600 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: There is an outhouse by the totem pole

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes during spring wildflower season

Warnings: Ticks and poison oak

Memaloose Hills (Spring 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to exit 69. Follow Highway 30 east and in 3 miles you will see the Memaloose Overlook sign with a gravel parking lot on the left.

From the parking area carefully cross the road and pick up the trail. The trail heads uphill gradually and you’ll instantly start seeing wildflowers. There is a home off to your right and eventually the trail levels off a bit.

      

Next, the trail heads downhill to a very small stream that you can step over. Down in this area we saw a lot of chocolate lilies. After crossing the stream the trail splits off, each trail taking you to a different hill. We went straight/left first- towards Marsh Hill. This is the less steep of the two hills. There was a lot of balsamroot blooming and the lupine was just starting. You’ll get a nice view of Mt. Hood off to your right. Head back down to the trail junction when you’re done.

      

      

Take the other trail through a grassy field, it was filled with buttercup while we were here which was great. You’ll pass a farm to your left as you enter a more oak tree filled area. The trail starts heading uphill in this area and you’ll start seeing a lot of balsamroot. The trail will open up again to Chatfield Hill that is covered in balsamroot, lupine, paintbrush and other wildflowers. The trail heads uphill and is pretty steep in sections. Once at the top on a clear day you will have a view of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and the Gorge. It’s definitely the better of the two hills.

      

      

Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 550 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- there are some steep sections heading up each hill

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: During spring wildflower bloom

Warnings: Ticks and poison oak

Drift Creek Falls (Spring)

Directions: From Portland take I-5 South to exit 294 for 99W. Take 99W through Newberg and Dundee for 22.9 miles, then take a left for Highway 18 (Dayton/Oregon Coast). Take Highway 18 for 48 miles and pass through Grand Ronde and reach Rose Lodge where you will take a left onto Bear Creek Road (there is a sign for Drift Creek Falls). Drive 3 miles (the last part of this road is gravel but in good condition) where you will come to a junction and stay straight (the pavement begins again here). Quickly you will come to another junction, go left onto Forest Road 17 which is a one lane paved road. Drive another 1.5 miles and stay right at a junction for Drift Creek Camp. In another 3.5 miles you will come to a junction, stay right on the paved road.  About a mile later you will come to the trailhead on the left.

We love this coast range hike and finally had the chance to visit again. The large suspension bridge and waterfall are the draw but the hike itself is beautiful and moss covered- it never disappoints!

      

The trail starts out heading downhill gradually on a long switchback. The trail switches from downhill to flat off and on as you cross a couple footbridges.

      

Soon you’ll come to a split in the trail. They both take you to the same place but going left (uphill) is a little harder and adds a bit of distance to the hike, but it’s not as busy! On the way in we went on the main trail and the way back we took the upper trail.

      

Continuing on you’ll round a ridge and go over another footbridge when you get to creek level. You’ll also pass through a lovely area that’s covered in moss, it really gives you that storybook feel! Soon after you will reach the large suspension bridge (it’s 240 feet long and 100 feet above the creek) that takes you over drift creek. About halfway across the bridge you get a really nice view of Drift Creek Falls below.

      

      

Once across continue following the trail as it switches back down to the base of the waterfall.

Upper Trail

Upper Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Hoyt Arboretum (Spring)

Directions: The Hoyt Arboretum is located in Washington Park near the zoo. The main parking lot and visitor center is on Fairview Blvd.

We did this hike for the purpose of seeing blooming trees (plum, cherry, magnolia, etc.) so we stayed on the east side of the visitor center where there are mostly deciduous trees. You can pick up a map of all the trails at the visitor center.

We started on the Oak Trail and connected to the Wildwood Trail. In here most of the trees just had buds so we continued on the Wildwood Trail and crossed Cascade Dr. to get to the Winter Garden.

      

There were some tulips, daffodils, blooming ground cover and shrubs in this area. We also saw a good amount of trillium which was great.

      

      

Next, we crossed Cascade Drive again and got on the Magnolia Trail. There were a few cherry and plum trees just starting to bloom in this area.

      

We continued on and hooked up with the Hawthorn Trail. Everything was bare here so we decided to head back up to the visitor center. We were here the last week of March and that was probably a week or two early.

      

Distance: 2.5 miles- you can do more or less. (easy)

Elevation: 250 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Yes

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Multnomah Falls- Post Fire

A few weeks ago the lower viewing platform of Multnomah Falls was reopened after the devastating Eagle Creek Fire. Most of the Historic Columbia River Highway is still closed so the only parking area that’s open is the one on I-84.

You can definitely see the fire damage up on the top of the ridge and down the sides. They have put up a lot of fencing to help with rock fall as well. The waterfall itself looks the same and the Benson Bridge *seems* to be undamaged. The trails are all still closed and probably will be for some time.

      

Everyone is excited to check out the Gorge as it slowly starts to reopen- it was very crowded when we were here early on a Saturday. We’d recommend maybe heading this way on a weekday if you don’t want to fight through a sea of people.

      

We’ll keep updating the blog as more trails open.

Bridal Veil Falls (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Bridal Veil exit #28. Take a right onto the Historic Columbia River Highway and in less than a half mile the Bridal Veil Falls parking area will be on your right.

This is our first time back to Bridal Veil falls since the Old Columbia River Highway reopened after the devastating Eagle Creek Fire.

Much like Latourell Falls, the Bridal Veil area wasn’t damaged by the fire. Although you can see how close it came to being burned by looking at Angel’s Rest and Sheppards Dell Falls.

From the parking area get on the trail and pass by the restrooms. The trail starts out paved and quickly turns to gravel a short distance later.

      

You’ll go down a long switchback that takes you to a set of stairs that ends at a bridge over the creek. Keep following the path to the right and up more stairs to a viewing platform above the waterfall.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: .6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 100 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

 

Fernhill Wetlands (Winter)

Directions: Take 26 west to exit 57. Go left and drive for about 1.5 miles, take a right onto Zion Church Road. Drive for a little over 3.5 miles (Zion will become Cornelius Schefflin Rd.) and get onto Verboort Rd at the roundabout. In about a half mile you will come to a second roundabout, get on Martin Road here. Drive for 2 miles where you will come to highway 47, go left. Drive for about a mile and take a left onto Fernhill Road. Follow the signs for the parking area.

Fernhill Wetlands is a great place to view wildlife. The trails are all really easy to follow and go around two ponds/wetland areas off to the right (towards the road) and by another wetland area and a more heavily landscaped area.

      

      

We did a couple loops around the marsh area closest to Fernhill Road. Here we saw countless great blue herons, egrets, coots, marsh wrens, red-winged blackbirds, mallards, and nutria. I think this is the most herons we’ve seen in once place- it was crazy! We also saw a cormorant eat and LARGE fish!

      

      

Over on the other side we saw geese, tree swallows, bald eagles (plus a giant nest!), yellow-rumped warblers, pintails, and green-winged teals.

      

All of the trails are wide and very flat. We were running out of daylight or we would of stayed here for easily another hour or two. The overly groomed area closest to the parking lot was a little odd. Almost looked a little fake but other than that this place is great.

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: None (easy)

Pet Friendly: Dogs are not allowed

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None