Category Archives: More Than 5 Miles

Deschutes River Trail- Middle Trail (Winter 2020)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 97 and take a right, and then a left to get on Highway 206E. From here you will see signs for Deschutes River Park, it’s less than a mile away. Go all the way through the park to the very end where you will see the trailhead.

During the winter months the last part of the parking area is closed so just park as far back as you can, walk past the gate and past the bathroom to the trailhead. From here you walk through the grassy field (that’s full of goose poop) and come to a trail junction. We decided to do the middle trail this time, so go left and and then take a right at the signed middle trail.

     

The middle trail rollercoasters through grassy hills and gives you great views of the river below and the surrounding hills. We had our small dog with us and there was a lot of brush on the trail, she plowed through it but some dogs might be bothered by this. We followed the middle trail to where the grass thins out and you come to a rocky corner below, we continued on about another half mile to the natural rock arch. This was our turn around point.

     

We went back on the middle trail a ways to where a side trail takes you down a switchback to the lower trail. It’s an obvious trail that’s well worn. From here we took the lower trail (which is mostly dirt with some sand and boardwalk) bak to the car. There were lots of birds down on the lower trail which was great.

     

Distance: 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 300 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Gillette Lake (Winter 2020)

Directions: Take I-84 to Exit 44. Cross Bridge of the Gods ($2 toll). Take a left onto Highway 14 and follow it for a little over a mile. The trailhead is near Bonneville Dam on your right.

We didn’t get our first hike of 2020 in until 3 weeks into January so we were really itching to get out on the trail! We’re really glad we chose Gillette Lake it’s a great winter hike.

From the parking area get on the trail and head uphill somewhat steeply in the beginning and then round a corner and level off a bit before heading downhill and coming to an intersection. Go left here and follow the trail as it rollercoasters through an old clearcut and comes to a gravel road.

     

     

Cross the road and pickup the trail that takes you into thicker woods. You will wind through this area for a while and then pop out at a clearcut. Continue following the trail through the clearcut and uphill to another road. Cross the road and you will get your first look at Gillette Lake. Take the wide gravel trail downhill and go left where a side trail will take you right to the edge of the lake. We saw plenty of elk tracks and droppings near the lake as well as beaver activity. Head back out the way you came in.

     

The trail was pretty muddy but that’s to be expected for a winter hike. Overall it was a great hike that wasn’t very busy.

     

Distance: 5.8 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes during summer months

Warnings: None

Mt. Tabor- Blue Trail (Winter 2019)

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

The blue trail starts off to the right of the parking lot just past the basketball court. You’ll wind your way down to a bark chip and dirt trail that eventually drops you back at the road. Cross the road and head downhill past the tennis courts and go right heading around the reservoir. There is a long staircase up the side of a grassy hill, head up it and go left. Take the upper dirt trail around the second reservoir.

     

Cross the road and pick up the trail that will take you to a third reservoir, go around it and head up the paved hill and go right onto the road. Take the trail to the right and head uphill to an intersection. Go left on the lower trail as you head uphill somewhat steeply and come to the top circle. Head around it and go down the trail by the bathrooms that ends at the playground by the parking lot.

     

This time around was very foggy, surprisingly not very many people and quite peaceful. This is always a good go-to hike when you don’t have a lot of time or need something close to home.

There are other trails on this hike so you can add distance if you want.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 350 miles (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

August Mountain (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Take I-5 South to exit 253 and get on Highway 22. Drive Highway 22 for about 22 miles where you will take a left onto Fern Ridge Road. After a little over a mile on Fern Ridge Road you’ll see the trailhead on the right with a small parking area.

The first part of this trail is on an access road that runs between farmland. You will cross multiple cattle guards and more than likely see a few cows on the road. Please be respectful of the animals and the private property. Next you will enter the Santiam State Forest and soon come to a marked intersection. Keep going straight on the wide gravel trail until you come to another marked intersection for August Mountain. Go left uphill and come to a T-junction, go right and continue up the hill. There’s no real top viewpoint but the treelined trail is pretty. Once the trail levels off you will head towards the campground (even during the closed season hikers can still enter). You will cross a few small bridges and continue to follow the wide campground road, passing by some picnic tables and a bathroom. Next you will reach the end of the road and come to a trailhead and campground sign where you will pick up the trail again.

     

     

Continue on through the wooded trail and cross a bridge, soon you will head downhill and come to a long steep staircase. Follow the stairs down to Shellburg Falls. Go behind the waterfall and continue on to another shorter set of stairs. After this you will have looped back to the wide gravel path that you came in on. Go right and head back out to the fields, cows, cattle guards and your car.

     

Overall this was a pleasant hike. It’s a little busy by the waterfall but nice and quiet the rest of the time.

Distance: 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 560 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes- they must be leashed while hiking through the private property

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Only near the waterfall

Warnings: None

Old Salmon River Trail (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to Old Salmon River Road (just past the Welches shopping center). Follow this road for a few miles until you see the marked trailhead on the right. There are multiple parking areas for this trail- we parked in the first one.

We love this trail and try to get here multiple times a year. The abundance of moss and all the green is just beyond beautiful.

Once you get on the trail you will immediately head downhill to river level. From here you follow along closely to the river for a while, crossing a few footbridges along the way. There are a few areas where you can get right next to the water and get good views of the river. Continuing on you will come to a wooden stair case taking you up and away from the river.

     

From here you’ll be above the river for a bit but can still see it and soon 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.

     

We’ve had a really dry November so the water level was still fairly low. We also didn’t run into any water running across the trail but that is common during the rainy months so be prepared for it.

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 required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Larch Mountain- Sherrard Point to Multnomah Falls (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Corbett exit and take a left on the Old Highway. Take a right onto Larch Mountain Road (there is a big sign) and follow it for 14 miles to the trailhead. If you are doing this as a shuttle first drop a car off at the Multnomah Falls parking area (see explanation below)

This hike can be done as an out and back (14+ miles) or shuttle (just over 7 miles), leaving one car at Multnomah Falls and one at the Larch Mountain Trailhead. If you do decide to do this hike as an out and back please be prepared for over  4,000 feet of elevation gain and over 14 miles, it’s a hefty hike. We chose to start at the Larch Mountain Trailhead and hike downhill to Multnomah Falls.

From the Larch Mountain Trailhead the first part of this hike is going up to Sherrard Point. If it’s a clear day make sure not to skip this section, it’s one of the best viewpoints in the Gorge. It’s a short hike on a paved path with some stairs that take you to a fenced viewpoint. You will have views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson. It’s seriously great.

     

Once you’re done at the viewpoint head back down to the trailhead and get on the Larch Mountain trail (behind the bathrom). From here it’s all downhill, you’ll be losing about 4,000 feet total so it’s hard on the legs and easy on the lungs 😆. The first part of the trail is in a forest of skinny trees and ferns. You will enter a more heavily forested area and come to some junctions- all of the trail junctions are marked so make sure you stay on the Larch Mountain trail.

     

Next, you will enter the burn area from the Eagle Creek fire. There are lots of burned trees and downed trees (all off trail) but the trail is still very visible and easy to follow. After getting through the burn you will enter the open shale rockslide area. From here switchback downhill once and cross a footbridge. Beyond this point you will pass some seasonal waterfalls across the creek and come to a large bridge- this was recently replaced after the fire and it looks great.

     

Beyond this point you will pass by Ecola and Wisendanger Falls. This is the point where the trail will probably become more busy and get even worse as you head down to the Multnomah Falls switchbacks. Follow the marked switchbacks (there’s 11) down to Benson Bridge and then down to the parking lot.

     

This trail is well maintained and every junction is marked which is great. It’s a mix of dirt/pine needles, typical rocky Gorge and shale. There are a few log foot bridges and one large wood and metal bridge. We love doing this hike and are so glad it’s back open and looking good after the fire!

Distance: 7.5 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 4,000 feet *loss*

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- it’s longer and can be hard on your legs

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Free at Multnomah Falls & NW Forest Pass required at Larch Mountain

Seasons: Late Spring through Fall- check for gate closures

Popular: Yes when you are around Multnomah Falls

Warnings: Part of this hike is in a burn area please read and respect all posted signage.

Lewis River Falls (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Drive I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Take a right onto Highway 14 and drive for almost 6 miles where you will take a left onto Wind River Road. Follow Wind River Road up and over Old Man Pass, a couple miles after the pass take a left onto Curly Creek Road. Follow this road until you come to the junction with FR 90. Take a right onto FR 90 and drive for about 10 miles where you will take a right into the Lower Lewis River Falls parking area.

A small section of trail between the lower and middle waterfalls is close. There is a detour that adds about a mile to your total hiking distance. You wont miss any of the waterfalls.

This was our last hike of summer 2019 and we made it a good one! We never do this hike during peak busy times because it’s absolutely insane and beyond overcrowded. We made a good choice visiting on the last weekend of September and only saw a handful of people the whole time.

From the parking area head down the trail by the bathroom until it dumps you out at the main trail and Lower Lewis River Falls. There are multiple viewing areas for the lower falls. Go right and you will pass two of them, there are small wooden benches at them as well. Continue this hike by heading upstream on the main trail. You will pass multiple staircases that allow river access and a small boardwalk turnout. As you pass these side areas the trail heads uphill gradually on a fairly wide and well maintained dirt path. There are campsites off to your left in the beginning and you will always see the river off to your right.

     

When you are almost to the middle waterfall the trail is closed due to damage. Take the detour trail that heads uphill somewhat steeply and through a slide area. It ends up at road level and the parking area for the middle falls. Briefly pass through the parking area and get back on the trail heading back into the forest. You’ll cross a bridge over Copper Falls and head downhill to the junction for Middle Lewis River Falls. Head down a few long switchbacks to get a view of the waterfall.

     

Back on the main trail continue on for about another mile and you will come to Upper Lewis River Falls. There is a place to get off trail and down to river level that offers a great view of the waterfall. There are a few big logs here that make it a great place to have lunch or sit and relax for a bit.

     

This is an out and back trail so head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 6 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 320 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: At the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Spring through Fall

Popular: Extremely popular during the summer months

Warnings: None

Coldwater Lake (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-5 North to exit 49. Go right and drive for about 43 miles on 504E. You will come to a junction go right for Coldwater Lake and drive for about 2 miles until you come to two parking areas, park in the one on the right, not the boat ramp area.

Take the trail behind the informational sign that goes down to the lake and a boardwalk path. You’ll get a good view of the lake and Mt. St. Helens. Head back up this trail to the parking lot and go to the parking area with the boat ramp. There is a trail here just left of the boat ramp that you need to get on.

     

From here you will stay on this trail as it follows along the lake. You will get up above it for a while and get nice views. Eventually you head downhill again and come to a beach access area. The junction for the beach is by a shed that is actually a composting toilet. If you make this the stopping point your round trip total will be around 2.5 miles.

     

Continuing on the trail rollercoasters and it’s more of the same, views of the lake and surrounding area. We went about a mile past the beach and turned around due to the high heat. Head back out the way you came in.

The trail is very overgrown and dusty and the mosquitoes were thick. I think we’ll come back and kayak the lake, it will probably be more enjoyable.

     

Distance: Depends on how far down the lake you go. We did 3.5 miles (easy).

Elevation: This also depends on how far you go. We had about 350 feet of elevation gain (easy).

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at both parking areas

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Spring through late fall

Popular: No

Warnings: There were posted warnings of recent cougar sightings.

Headwaters Trail (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take highway 26 to Skyline Road. Drive for about 8.5 miles on Skyline until you come to a gravel parking area (on the left) for the Pacific Crest Trailhead.

This hike is full of junctions so this will be kind of a lengthy post. We saw a bobcat run across the road right by the parking area so be aware of that as well.

The hike starts to the left of the large wooden Pacific Crest Trailhead entrance, on the Headwaters trail. Following the mostly level trail with the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River off to your right. Come to a gravel road and go right for a short distance where you will pick up the trail again on your left. In this section you’ll pass by small meadows and marshy areas off to your left and pass through thin wooded areas. Soon you will come to a junction- go straight here on the Miller Trail (#534). Not too far past the junction there’s an unmarked side trail that takes you down to a nice view of Cold Spring. Across the wetland you’ll be able to see some of the campground you’ll soon be passing through.

     

Back on the main trail continue on until you come to a fork in the trail- go right and head in to the campground. Follow the main road through the campground and pass the entrance kiosk where you will soon cross a cattle guard and quickly pick up the Miller Trail again on the right. Next you will come to Skyline Road, cross it and pick up the Miller Trail, continue on here through mostly wooded areas and eventually come to FR 57. Cross the road and go left down the road a short distance where you will pickup the trail again. Continue on until you again come to FR 57, walk a few steps along a pullout and then reenter the woods and quickly come to another trail junction. Go right here on Timothy Lake Trail (#528). The trail soon drops down and you reach another junction- go right and cross a bridge. You then head up a large rocky area that leads up to another junction and a view of Timothy Lake.

     

Go right at this junction on the Pacific Crest Trail and follow it for a while. You will see the river again on your right, the trail gains a bit of elevation in areas and soon you will reach Skyline Road and your car.

     

This isn’t the most exciting hike and it’s definitely not one we’ll want to visit often- but parts are pretty and it’s not crowded at all.

Distance: 6.5 miles (moderate)

Elevation 360 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the campground

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Late spring through early fall

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Deschutes River Trail (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 97 and take a right, and then a left to get on Highway 206E. From here you will see signs for Deschutes River Park, it’s less than a mile away. Go all the way through the park to the very end where you will see the trailhead.

Walk through the grassy field where you will have two options, going left will take you to the top and middle trail (the top trail is for hikers and bikers, middle just hikers) and going right will take you to the lower trail. We chose to go right and take the lower trail that follows along the river.

   

The trail is maintained, easy to follow, and follows right next to the Deschutes River. There are many geese in this area so there is poop everywhere and you will be hearing geese the whole time. This area was burned in the Substation Fire July of 2018, there is a lot of burned ground, trees and shrubs. We could already see new growth which was encouraging!

   

Follow along the river and pass a pump house and a cable that crosses the river. There will be a split in the trail go left uphill to get on the middle trail. Staying on the lower trail will eventually take you to a rock slide area and you have to scramble around to keep up with the trail, we did this and don’t recommend it. Back on the middle trail you will be above the river now and get nice views of the surrounding hills. You will soon come to a big bend in the river as it hooks left and you can see the rock slide below and a natural arch formation. We hiked about another half mile down the trail from the arch where you get past the bend and the river straightens out again. We made this our turn around area, head back out the way you came in. The Deschutes River Trail is a little over 11 miles one way so you could definitely extend your hike if you have the time. Stopping where we did would give you a 5 mile hike.

   

Distance: 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 300 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead and about 1-1.5 miles in on the trail

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: On nice weekends

Warnings: Ticks and snakes