Category Archives: Less Than 5 Miles

Mt. Tabor- Blue Trail (Summer 2018)

Directions: The main parking area is located on about 60th and Salmon in Southeast Portland.

Find the blue arrow just past the parking area that goes down into a wooded area briefly before you come out and cross the road and head down by the tennis court. Next you will walk around the lower reservoir and head up a gravel path that takes you to the base of a staircase. Head up the steep stairs where you will reach the middle reservoir, take the upper trail around the reservoir and cross the road and find the blue arrow that points you back into a wooded area.

      

The wooded area is short and dumps you out at the small empty reservoir. Walk all the way around it and get on the paved path that takes you up to the road. Follow the road to the path on the right, take this path to the light pole where there is an intersection of trails. Take the trail on the left that heads uphill and is pretty steep. This trail takes you to the top where you walk around the loop and get on the trail by the bathrooms. Heading downhill, crossing the road, and going down the few wooden steps takes you past the playground and back to the parking area.

There are blue arrows marking this whole hike which makes it very easy to follow.

      

We did this hike on the last weekend of summer and we were already noticing the trees starting to change. This would be a great place to go in the coming weeks to see great fall color.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 350 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Old Salmon River (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to Old Salmon River Road (not far past the Welches shopping center). Follow this road for a few miles until you see the marked trailhead on the right.

This is a favorite quick hike of ours. The trail is surrounded by beautiful old-growth forest and stays close to the very pretty Salmon River.

      

From the trailhead the trail heads downhill to the river and you will soon come to a bridge. As you continue on you will follow the river and there are a few side trails that take you right to the edge and give you great views of the river. We did this hike during the last weeks of summer so the water level was low and there were a lot of exposed rocks to sit on and relax by the water for a bit.

      

Continuing on you will come to stairs that take you up away from the river and you will pass by a large log jam area in the river. Continue on a bit farther and the trail comes to Old Salmon River Road. Stopping here gives you a nice 3 mile roundtrip hike, or you can follow along the road for a short distance and pick up the trail again. It takes you past a few campsites and offers more opportunities to hangout by the river. The trail eventually comes to the Salmon River Trailhead which is the turnaround point for a 5 mile roundtrip hike. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 3 or 5 miles- depends where you stop (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Three Rocks Beach- Kayak (Summer 2018)

Directions: The boat ramp is at Knights Park near Lincoln City.

This is a nice paddle to a secluded beach only accessible by kayak or boat.

Once you’re in the water head right on the Salmon River and head for the ocean. The water is brackish (mix of salt and fresh water) and changes depth with the tide. We were here during both tides and as long as you are mindful of where you are paddling you will be just fine.

      

You will be paddling with a beach to your left and some houses and Cascade Head off to your right. The water is fairly clear and we saw quite a few crabs as well as sand dollars and lots of shells at the bottom. There are a ton of seagulls floating in the water and flying all around you, as well as cormorants. Just less than a mile from the boat ramp you’ll start to notice it gets a little harder to paddle as you round a corner and come to the ocean. This is where you will want to get off on the beach and pull your kayak out. Make sure to drag your kayak quite a ways out of the water, the tide can change quickly and you don’t want to lose your kayak.

      

The beach is one of the quietest and cleanest we’ve ever been to. You get fantastic views of Three Rocks right in front of you, The Thumb to your left, and Cascade Head to your right. We were the only people on the beach, the only people we saw were in fishing boats out in the ocean. It was amazing to see no footprints or a single piece of garbage. The beach stretches on and connect to Roads End beach miles off to your left. There was great beach combing as well.

      

On our paddle back to the car we were treated with over a dozen seals swimming all around our kayak- it was amazing!

If you want to extend your paddle continue on past the boat ramp and you will enter the Salmon River Estuary. We spent so much time on the beach that we didn’t have much time for the estuary- next time!

We did this kayak against the tide on the way in and on the way out and it wasn’t very hard. It does get a bit harder when you are really close to the ocean but it’s still very manageable.

*Please keep this lovely beach just as clean, if not more clean, than how you found it.*

 

Distance: 1.5-1.75 miles (round trip just to the beach) can be extended if you do the estuary

Paddle: Easy

Pet Friendly: Sure if your pet likes to be in a kayak

Good For: Most

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: Being so close to the ocean and dealing with tides please be extra cautious.

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Summer 2018)

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.

This is one of our favorite places to go to watch birds and get some quick exercise. We try to get out here multiple times a year and it never disappoints.

      

Get on the gravel trail next to the bathroom and follow it past an open grassy marsh area. You may see a few ducks or geese in the water, we saw a young vole along the grass here on this visit which was a first for us!

      

Next enter a small wooded area and follow the path as you pass along another marsh area to your right and come to a split in the trail. We went through the gate to the left (closed Oct-Apr) and followed the trail as it wound back around to the end of refuge and onto the bike trail. Go right here and pass the Purple Martin houses, following the bike trail for a while until you see a trail off to the right that takes you back into the refuge.

      

Next you’ll come to a bridge over Redtail lake. We saw blue-winged teals, mallards, great blue herons, and bullfrogs. After crossing the bridge follow the trail to another bridge and you’ll be back to the seasonal junction. From here you can head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: Minimal (easy)

Pet Friendly: No- dogs are not allowed in the refuge

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All- some parts of the refuge are closed Oct-Apr.

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Zigzag Canyon Overlook (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take Highway 26 just past Government Camp and take a left signed for Timberline Lodge. Follow this road all the way up to the lodge and park in the overflow area.

This hike starts behind the lodge. Head up some steps and get onto a cement path that takes you uphill pretty steeply to a sign for the Timberline Trail and Pacific Crest Trail on the left. Get on this trail, now fine dirt and very dusty. You’ll follow the trail under the ski lift with a view of Mt. Jefferson on your left and incredible views of Hood (obviously 😄) to your right.

      

You will come to a wilderness sign in station. Make sure to fill out the paper and then continue on the trail as you head to Little Zigzag Canyon. Follow the trail as it switches back down into the canyon. Depending on what month and how the weather is there may or may not be water you need to cross, this time it was dry as a bone. The trail here is very fine gravel/sand and it’s pretty thick.

      

      

Once you head out of the canyon continue on the trail as you start to head downhill and enter an area with more trees. You will continue to get great views of both mountains the whole hike.  Next you will start to see a few meadows and the trail will return to the thick sand consistency as you make your way right to the edge of Zigzag Canyon. The views here are nothing short of amazing! This is the end point for this hike, head back out the way you came in.

      

Most of this hike is very exposed so make sure you come prepared for full sun! This hike should be done on a clear day as well so you can take full advantage of all the beautiful views.

      

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most. There isn’t a ton of elevation on this hike but you are already up in elevation to begin with (Timberline Lodge is at 6,000 feet). So if you are not use to that it can add some difficulty.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Late June through early October. Check conditions before hiking.

Popular: Yes. You are on the Timberline and Pacific Crest Trails and they are always busy.

Warnings: None

Beacon Rock (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to Cascade Locks and take the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll) . Take a left on to Highway 14 and drive about 5 miles to the trailhead on the left side of the road.

From the parking area get on the dirt trail that winds through the woods for a short distance, until you hit a cement path that switches back once and takes you to the entrance gate for Beacon Rock.

      

From here the trail is mostly cement and boardwalk footbridges. There are 51 switchbacks that take you up to the top, they vary in length but most are short. There are numerous viewpoints that give you great views out to the Gorge and Columbia River. You also get good views of the burn area from last years Eagle Creek Fire.

      

Once the trail switches to a dirt/gravel mixture you know you are almost to the top. It’s quite a small area at the top with room for only about a hand full of people. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Don’t let the weather stop you from doing this hike. Yes a clear day is great for the views but we’ve been here on a very foggy and drizzly day and it was very pretty!

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 700 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: Washington Discovery Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Bald Mountain (Summer 2018)

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 busy trailhead so parking can get interesting.

The trail starts out heading uphill fairly steeply. The trail is covered in tree roots and rocks 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. From the trailhead to this point the mosquitoes and black flies were really bad and we had numerous bites. From the Timberline junction on it got better because the wind picked up.

      

Continuing on the trail you’ll enter a wooded are 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 towards 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: 400 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.

Powell Butte (Summer 2018)

Directions: This hike starts at the Visitor Center, just off of 162nd and Powell in Southeast Portland.

From the parking area get on the paved Mountain View Trail, it’s wide and well maintained. In about a quarter mile you’ll come to a junction, go left on the Wildhorse Trail. This trail is packed dirt and can become very dusty in late summer. The Wildhorse Trail winds through tall grass and shrubs to the top of the butte.

      

Go left here on the Summit Lane Trail which is a wide thick gravel trail that’s lined with wooden fencing. The trail winds around the top of the butte and lots of seasonal birds can be seen up here as well as deer. The gravel path will head uphill and meet back up with the paved Mountainview Trail. Go left and follow it downhill and back to the parking area.

      

You get really great views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens on a clear day and there is usually some type of flower blooming. There are numerous trails around the butte so you can add a lot of variation to your hikes. This is our favorite route for a quick evening hike.

      

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 225 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All Ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Latourell Falls (Summer 2018)

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.

From the parking lot head uphill on the steep paved path that takes you to a viewpoint of lower Latourell Falls. From here head left on the now dirt trail that heads uphill fairly steeply, you’ll soon come to a bench and another view of the waterfall off to your right. Continuing on you will switchback to the top of the waterfall and the trail levels out a bit for a bit.

      

As you continue hiking, the trail stays mostly uphill and you will cross four footbridges before coming to Upper Latourell Falls.

      

After crossing the bridge at the base of the waterfall you will now be heading back and the trail is more evenly graded. You can actually see the trail you came in on across the creek. The trail soon switches back downhill a few times and you continue on following the creek. Next you will come to a junction where you will go left uphill and come to another bench and a viewpoint out to the Gorge.

From here the trail heads steadily downhill until you reach the Old Highway. Carefully cross the road and enter into the park. Follow the paved path under the highway bridge and a short distance later you will reach Lower Latourell Falls. Continue up the paved path to the parking area.

      

 

Distance: 2.25 (easy)

Elevation: 525 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Swan Island Dahlia’s (Summer 2018)

For directions click here.

This year we skipped the actual festival days and opted for a more low-key viewing of the fields. The fields are open 8am-6pm daily all through August and September. The Dahlia Festival is August 25th, 26th, 27th and September 1st, 2nd, and 3rd from 10am-6pm.

      

We really enjoyed the quieter and less busy viewing and the flowers were all basically in full bloom. All the other flowers being displayed were wonderful as well.

      

      

We always love checking out the Swan Island Dahlia’s and it’s definitely our favorite flower festival in Oregon!

      

While you’re there make sure to check out the koi pond and gift shop.