Category Archives: Less Than 5 Miles

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.

      

Dry Creek Falls (Summer 2018)

Directions: From I-84, take the first exit for Cascade Locks.  To avoid the parking fee at the Bridge of Gods Trailhead, go past that turnoff, and turn right onto Wasco St.  From here, go up to Moody St., and take another right.  Moody St. goes under an overpass, and you can park anywhere along here.  The trailhead is the first one on the left, as you walk up the gravel road.

This is another hike that recently reopened after the Eagle Creek Fire. It by far has the most visible damage that we’ve seen so far.

From the trailhead you’ll immediately start to see burned trees all around the trail. It’s a bit overgrown with brush in the first section but that changes pretty quickly. As you hike uphill you will come across numerous burned trees, and some that had fallen on the trail but have been cleared away. The trail itself is fairly wide and packed dirt. We noticed that it’s definitely not as thick of a wooded area as it use to be and you can see why with all the downed trees off the trail. You will come to the power line clearing and it’s still very green with very little burned area.

      

Once you head back into the woods the trail changes to being much more rocky, more of a typical Gorge trail. It’s more of the same  with burned trees all around you and there has been some erosion on the trail in sections but it’s nothing that isn’t passable. Next you will come to Dry Creek and a signed split in the trail. Go right here up the old rocky service road where you will end at Dry Creek Falls. The waterfall itself looks really good but up on the cliffs above you can see burned areas.

      

As sad as it was to see all of the burned trees we did see a lot of green and new growth! It was an overall positive feeling being able to get back out onto a trail that we really enjoy and to see that it’s still there and still beautiful!

      

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Umbrella Falls (Summer 2018)

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 through a small meadow and then you start to hike uphill, the trail does get steep in areas. You will start to get views down into Mt. Hood Meadows off to your left and then 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. In these meadows the Beargrass was dominant and in full bloom. We were also lucky enough to be here during a California Tortoiseshell Butterfly migration- it was absolutely amazing how many butterflies we saw!

      

      

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. We had bad lighting for any decent waterfall pictures but it was nice to sit and have lunch by the beautiful waterfall, and the mosquitoes weren’t too bad! Head back out the way you came.

      

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- the trail does get steep in areas

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Late June through mid fall (check for snow before coming)

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Falls Creek Falls (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 44 (Cascade Locks). Cross the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll) and take a right towards Stevenson. Drive for about 6 miles on Highway 14 and take a left on a road signed for Carson (Wind River Road). Take Wind River Road for a little over 14 miles and stay right at the fork in the road. About a half mile later take a right onto FR 3062 for Falls Creek Falls. Follow the dirt road for a little over 2 miles to the trailhead (there are signs for Falls Creek Trails). Be aware that the dirt road is full of potholes and makes for a pretty bumpy couple of miles.

From the trailhead you start heading uphill gradually on a wide well maintained path with the creek off to your left. You will soon reach a suspension bridge that takes you across the creek and gives you a nice view of the narrow gorge. After crossing the bridge the creek will now be on your right as the trail stays fairly evenly graded for a bit. There are a few side trails that take you right to the creek.

      

The trail will start to gain elevation and gets fairly steep in areas. Cross another footbridge and not much farther you will start to hear the waterfall and see the upper tiers through the trees. You quickly head downhill and the trail ends right at the waterfall.

      

      

The waterfall is very large and leaves quite the impression! There are large rocks that make a nice place for lunch or to just sit and relax for a bit. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 700 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most. The trail does get kind of steep in areas but we saw people of all ages on the trail.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Spring through Fall. Check for snow gate closures.

Popular: VERY. We would recommend going early on a week day.

Warnings: None

Wahtum Lake & Chinidere Mountain (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to Hood River and get onto Highway 35. Continue on Highway 35 and follow signs for Dee, you will cross the Hood River and turn left. Follow the signs for Wahtum Lake. Take road 13 for 4 miles and then a right onto Road 1310 for about 6 miles to the trailhead and parking area.

This is yet another trail that has recently reopened after the Eagle Creek Fire. We were very excited to get back here as it’s one of our favorite hikes.

From the trailhead go down the 258 wood steps that are uneven and falling apart and head right on the Pacific Crest Trail (you can get right to the edge of the lake at the base of the stairs). The trail heads around the lake but you lose sight of it fairly quickly. As you follow the trail you will gradually gain elevation but it’s nothing too hard. It starts out in a fairly thick wooded area and you will cross over small streams (no bridges just literally stepping over them).

      

About halfway in you will enter a more thinned out wooded area and the trail will widen. Continue following the PCT until you reach the marked Chinidere Mountain Trail on your right. This trail heads uphill steeply on uneven switchbacks for a half mile, watch for the side trail that takes you out to a nice viewpoint (it’s a few switchbacks in). When the trail opens up and you start walking on shale rock you are almost there. There were a good amount of downed trees right before the shale area, we went over a few and had to go out and around some.

      

You end at the top of Chinidere Mountain with Mt. Hood straight in front of you! The top has a 360 degree view of five mountains: Hood, St. Helens, Adams, Rainier, and Jefferson! We also got a good view of the burn area from the Eagle Creek Fire which was interesting to see. Walking down to the far end you will see Wahtum Lake below and get a feel of how far you’ve hiked!

      

There were lots of wildflowers and butterflies at the top and blooming beargrass on the switchbacks. With all the rocks there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the amazing views. It was great to be back enjoying one of our favorite hikes and one of the best views in Oregon. It was sad to see all of the fire damage but there’s still plenty of green to be seen which was encouraging.

      

Head back down the Chinidere trail and hike back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 4.4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 1,150 (you lose elevation getting down to the lake so it’s not as rough as it seems. The trail around the lake is easy, the Chinidere trail is hard but short)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most. The Chinidere trail may be a bit rough for younger kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Vault toilet at the parking area.

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Late spring through fall

Popular: Yes on weekends

Warnings: The top of Chinidere is very exposed so keep an eye on small children and dogs.

Trillium Lake (Summer 2018)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 past Government Camp, a few miles later you will see signs for Trillium Lake. Take the marked exit and follow the road for about two miles to the parking area.

Previous visits to Trillium Lake had been late October and a snowshoe in January. We didn’t see many people both times….this visit was so different. The parking lot was jammed fully by 9:30 and there was a ton of people on the trail and in the lake itself. Sadly I don’t think we will ever visit this lake again during the nicer weather months.

From the boat ramp we went left or clockwise around the lake. This side of the lake offers the best views of Mt. Hood but it’s also the most crowded area. People literally had blankets laid out on the actual trail and there was garbage everywhere. It was so disappointing to see. This is a beautiful lake and it was being treated like a garbage can. We strongly urge people to follow the Leave No Trace principles!

      

As you continue on around the lake some of the crowds start to thin. The trail switches between dirt and boardwalk and is lined with skunk cabbage. We saw an old beaver lodge and some blooming lily pads as well.

      

Once you’ve made it around to the other side of the lake you’ll pass an amphitheater and start getting views of Mt. Hood again. There are campsites on this side of the lake so it does become more crowded again. Not much farther past the campsites you’ll reach the boat ramp again completing the loop. For the most part the trail stays right next to the lake except in a few short areas. The trail is flat, well maintained, and easy to follow.

      

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 15 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 day use fee.

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None