Category Archives: Autumn

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

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 pass the bathroom (there is a whiteboard on the side that has a list of wildlife people have seen recently, it’s worth a look) and get on the trail. You’ll pass a few interpretive signs and soon be following along next to a large open grassy/marshy area.


After passing by a couple branches of Steigerwald Lake you will enter a small wooded area. Here we saw a Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, and Brown Creeper.



Keep following the trail and you’ll come to a split in the trail, part of the refuge is closed October through April to protect winter birds. Go right and cross the bridge, in here we saw a Bald Eagle. Follow the trail to another bridge over Redtail Lake. We saw Northern Shovelers and Coots in the lake as well as a sleeping Nutria in the grass. You can continue on from here where the trail ends at the dike trail.


Head back the way you came in.

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: None

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in the refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All. Part of the trail is closed Oct-Apr

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Little Zigzag Falls (Autumn)

Directions: Head east on Highway 26 until you reach Road 39 (about 6 miles past the town of Zigzag). Head north on Road 39, the trailhead is at the very end of the road (about 2.5 miles from Highway 26).

From the trailhead get on the nicely graded trail and quickly pass a few picnic tables and under a few trees that have fallen from above. The trail follows along Zigzag Creek the whole time and you’ll notice the trees all over the creek from past storms. There are many beautiful sections that are great for photos.


You’ll cross a bridge and soon come to a small slide area before arriving at the 40-foot waterfall. There is a trail off to the left that takes you up to the top of the waterfall as well.


Head back out the way you came in.

Before you leave, back at the parking area, cross the stone bridge over the creek and get on the old Mt. Hood Hwy. Follow it for a short distance and you’ll come to a stone tunnel that goes under the old highway. It now seems to have graffiti on the inside but it’s still an interesting little side trip.

To see our other posts about Little Zigzag Falls click here and here.


Distance: 0.6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 40 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Laurel Hill (Autumn)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 and continue past the town of Sandy for approximately 26 miles to a pullout between mileposts 50 and 51. There is a large brown “Laurel Hill” sign.

Take the stone steps uphill where it dumps you out on the Old Mt. Hood Highway. On a clear day it’s worth going left on the old highway a very short distance where the highway ends and you get a nice view of Mt. Hood.


Back at the stone steps go right on the old highway and pass the chute trail and soon come to another trail off to the left marked with a simple “hikers” sign. Take this trail and head up a few switchbacks. You’ll see a post with an old Oregon Trail marker on it and a sign stating that you’re on an original wagon route.


Continue on uphill where the trail is lined heavily with Rhododendron, which was mistaken for Laurel, thus the name Laurel Hill. This whole area is packed full of history and it’s worth stopping at the few informational signs at the beginning of the hike.


Soon the trail meets back up with the old highway, go left here and follow it a short distance to where the old highway ends. You’ll get a view of the top of Mt. Hood, the busy highway below and Tom Dick and Harry ridge off to your right.


Head back out the way you came in.


Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 225 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Spring- Fall

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Memaloose Hills (Autumn)

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 take the unmarked but obvious trail. The trail is lined with oak trees and is kinda rocky, but typical of Gorge trails. There are a couple houses off to the right but they are pretty far away.


The trail heads uphill gradually for a bit and eventually levels off for a while before heading back downhill to a small stream. It was dry when we visited (mid-October) but i’m sure it gets pretty full during the rainy season. There is no bridge over the small creek but should be easily crossed over some of the well placed large rocks.


After crossing the creek you will see a unmarked trail off to the right. Take this trail that’s flat and winds through fairly tall grass. You’ll pass by a small pond with cattails and head off towards a fence. At the fence area the trail starts heading uphill somewhat steeply as you go up Chatfield Hill. After you pass the tree line you will start to see Mt. Hood off to your left. The last half of the hill is just grass with nice unobstructed views of the mountain and valley below.


Once at the top of the hill you get amazing views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, The Gorge, and Marsh Hill. The top is pretty flat and makes a nice place to sit, have lunch, and take in the views!


We’ve been here twice and both times it has been really quiet, only crossing paths with 3 or 4 other people the whole time. We would definitely recommend doing this hike on a clear day, the views are what really make this hike worth it!


Distance: 3.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 450 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages- there is some elevation gain towards the end when going up Chatfield Hill.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: Poison Oak

To see our previous visit in spring click here.

Crater Lake (Autumn)

Crater Lake sits in a caldera that was formed over 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama collapsed following a major eruption. It is the deepest lake in the United States and is only fed by rain and snow, it’s considered to be the cleanest large body of water in the world. The water itself is an amazing shade of blue, 1,943 feet deep, and 6 miles wide.


Crater Lake National Park was established in 1902 and is 183,000 acres. You can drive all the way around the rim (33 miles) and there are over 30 scenic pullouts along the way. Some of the best viewpoints are Watchman Overlook and Cloudcap Overlook. Be sure to stop by Videa Falls, it can be seen from a pullout on the main road.


We did two hikes while we were here, The Pinnacles and Plaikni Falls. Both are very nice hikes and between them you get to experience the old growth forest, a pinnacle valley, and see some interesting formations left behind from the volcano. Click the links to see a more in depth post about each hike.


It actually snowed part of the time we were here. It was interesting because it was only snowing in certain areas and partly sunny in others. It really made us want to come back in the winter and snowshoe!

Make sure you check out the visitor centers and drive by the historic lodge.


We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Crater Lake, there’s so much to do here that you really need to plan a whole day or more if you want to do a decent amount of exploring all the trails.

There is a $15 entrance fee, dogs are allowed in certain areas, and it’s very family friendly.

If you have more time, check out Toketee Falls about 25 miles past the North entrance.

Best Of 2016

We did a lot of great hikes in 2016, here are some of our favorites and our overall top hike of the year.

  • Willamette Valley:

Henline Falls– This is a short hike but it takes you to an amazing waterfall. Catch it at the right time of day and you might just see a rainbow at the base as well!

  • Columbia River Gorge:

Columbia Hills State Park– Great area to see wildflowers with amazing views of the Gorge.

  • Washington:

Lewis River Falls– So many pretty waterfalls in such a short distance. Definitely a must see.

  • Coast:

The Thumb– This was probably the most unique hike we did this year.

  • Central Oregon:

Smith Rock (Misery Ridge)– The views are amazing at the top and you get a very up close view of Monkey Face!

  • Mt. Hood:

Wind Lake– You get to ride a chairlift up to the top of Ski Bowl and then hike to a somewhat hidden lake. And the whole time you have great views of Mt. Hood and Government Camp. 

  • Portland:

Powell Butte- This is a great hike in the city. On a clear day you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Hood.

  • Southern Oregon:

Plaikni Falls– This hike was inside Crater Lake National Park, it’s very pretty, especially in autumn with all the beautiful colors.

  • Kayak:

Disappearing Lake– This was such a treat! It’s a lake that’s only around for about a month out of the whole year.

Overall Best of 2016:

Bald Mountain– The hike up bald mountain is beautiful and lined with beargrass. Once at the top you round a corner and come to one of the best views of Mt. Hood we’ve ever seen. Do this hike!

What were some of your favorite hikes in 2016? Any you’re looking forward to doing in 2017?


Tooth Rock (Autumn)

Directions: Drive I-84 east to exit 40. Take a right at the stop sign and then an immediate left. Follow this road uphill where it ends at the Tooth Rock Trailhead.

The trail starts out paved as you pass by a Bonneville Power substation and soon come to a side trail to your right. This trail has a small brown marker that says Tanner Butte, take this narrow dirt trail and follow it uphill. There are a lot of downed trees on the first part of this trail, they are all easy to go under or around. You will also pass by an old refrigerator that has been dumped on the trail.

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Continue up the trail until you reach a sort of summit where there is a trail junction. Keep on the same trail as you start to head downhill somewhat steeply. This trail will end in two switchbacks that drop you off at the paved trail you started on just farther down.

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Go left on the paved trail where you will hear a lot of traffic from I-84 just below you. The path heads uphill a bit for a short distance before leveling out. You will pass a couple good spots that have a nice view of the Gorge and Bonneville Dam. From here you are just following the paved path back to your car.

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Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 240

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages- there are some steep parts but it’s not very long.

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: Not the most exciting hike but it’s nice if you don’t want to do a long hike.


Elowah Falls & Upper McCord Creek Falls (Autumn)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 35. Take a left at the stop sign and then a right onto Frontage Road. Follow Frontage Road for about 2 miles to the John B Yeon parking area.

From the trailhead follow the trail as it passes an old water tower and heads back east where you start hiking uphill. The trail here is fairly wide and well groomed, you are going uphill steadily but it’s nothing too hard. Soon you will reach the junction with Upper McCord Creek Falls. Continue straight here and the trail levels out a bit but becomes much more rocky. Next up are the long switchbacks that take you down to Elowah Falls. We’ve had quite a bit of rain recently so this part of the trail was pretty muddy. The trail drops you right at the base of Elowah Falls and a bridge crossing the creek. This is the end point for the Elowah Falls part of this hike.

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When you are ready to head up to Upper McCord Creek Falls follow the switchbacks back up and head for the trail junction you passed earlier. Go left and start gradually heading uphill, you will switchback and cross over old metal pipe that’s running over the trail in two spots. Continue following the trail and you will hike up more switchbacks where you will start getting views of the Gorge. After the switchbacks the trail skirts along the cliffs with a metal railing to prevent falling. The views up here are beautiful and there is even a rock bench to sit and enjoy it all. This cliff area can be really drippy with runoff during the rainy months. Continue around the cliff and short distance and you will be able to see Elowah Falls from the top and a short distance later will reach Upper McCord Creek Falls.

When you are ready head back out the way you came in.

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Distance: 3.6 miles

Elevation: 500 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Overall: Two waterfalls in less than 4 miles is hard to beat! These waterfalls are best during the rainy seasons.

Wahclella Falls (Autumn)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 40 (Bonneville Dam). Take a right at the stop sign and go right at the fork where you will see the parking area.

We have also hiked Wahclella Falls in the Winter and Spring seasons.

From the parking area follow the wide flat path past a gate as it follows along Tanner Creek. Soon you will come to a Dam where the trail takes a sharp left and immediately comes to a bridge that takes you right next to Munra Falls.

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From here the trail gradually starts to head uphill as you get great views of the creek below. The trail is pretty rocky the whole way and has some pretty muddy spots with some fencing in it to prevent erosion. There is a small staircase with wooden steps and a short distance later you will come to a split in the trail.

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Head right at the split and go down a couple switchbacks that take you to a bridge. After crossing the bridge you will be in a large rock slide area. There is a nice little seasonal runoff to the right coming from way up on the cliffs. You will soon start seeing the waterfall as you continue around and through a small almost cave or grotto like area. Cross yet another bridge and you will be at the main viewing area for Wahclella Falls.

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When you’re ready, continue the loop as you climb up between a few large rocks to the upper trail. As you go along the upper trail you will see the lower trail and rock slide area below. Soon you will be back at the split in the trail, go straight and get back on the main trail where you will follow it back to your car.

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Autumn at Wahclella Falls is great, the upper tier is much more visible and Munra Falls water level is nice and full. Tanner Creek is moving swiftly and the colors are great.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 300 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Porta-potties at the trailhead.

Parking Fee: Yes a $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This is a great easy hike for all seasons. Can’t beat two waterfalls in two miles either!

Falls Creek Falls (Autumn)

Directions: 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)

We did this hike during the summer- click here to check out the post.

From the parking area follow the trail which starts out fairly wide and runs along the creek. You gradually start heading uphill as the trail narrows a bit and you come to a suspension bridge. You get great views down into the gorge below. Continuing on the creek will now be on your right and there are a few spots that you can get right down next to the creek.

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Autumn is of course a rainy season for Washington so the trail was pretty muddy in spots. There were also a lot more seasonal streams that ran across the trail.

You soon start to gain elevation, some parts are pretty steep but it’s not that long. You do have to cross a fairly decent runoff area, but there were plenty of rocks to hop, and no wet feet. Soon you will cross another bridge that takes you over another seasonal stream. This one is very pretty as it flows through moss covered rocks.

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Keep following the trail and just a short distance later you will start to hear the roar of Falls Creek Falls. The trail drops down right in front of the waterfall. There are a lot of big rocks here that would be a good place for lunch if you bring a tarp, otherwise they are too wet to sit on. Falls Creek Falls is massive year round but it’s just something else during the rainy seasons. It’s very loud, very full, and VERY impressive!

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There is a scramble that we did back in the summer that takes you to the middle tier. We decided to skip it this time because the ground was quite soggy and the rocks and logs were slippery.

The fall colors that were on display was great, just icing on the cake for this great hike.

Distance: 4 miles

Elevation: 700 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages. There are some steep sections that may be difficult for some.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: The snow gate closes late fall and opens in early spring.

Popular: Yes

Overall: We definitely recommend this hike, the waterfall is amazing.