Category Archives: Summer

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.

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

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

Timothy Lake- West Side (Summer)

Directions: Take Highway 26 about 40 miles past the town of Sandy to Skyline Road. Turn right onto Skyline Road and follow it for a little over 8 miles to a junction with FR 57. Turn right and drive for about 3.5 miles where you will cross over the dam. Turn right and a short distance later come to an intersection. Go right into the parking area.

We did this hike on a day with VERY thick wildfire smoke. We couldn’t see Mt. Hood at all which was a bummer but this was still a nice hike.

Head off on Timothy Lake Trail #528 that’s lined with trees, beargrass, and rhododendron bushes. You’re hiking right next to campsites nearly the whole time. We were here very early so most people were still sleeping so it was quiet. I’d imagine it could get pretty noisy and busy during peak camping season.

      

The trail is flat almost the whole time, it switches from being wide to a bit narrow. It’s mostly dirt and rock, it’s been dry so we kicked up a lot of dust while we were here. Our legs were pretty filthy 😆. You’ll be near the lake the whole time and there are many side trails that take you right to the edge of the lake. You’ll cross a couple footbridges and mostly just wind through a very pretty lakeside trail.

      

About 3 miles in you’ll come to where the lake narrows. The water color was a pretty green here and there are some places to stop and rest if needed. We decided this was a nice place to stop to make an out and back trip of 6 miles. If you go to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail you will have a roughly 7 mile hike. So head back out the way you came in.

      

This isn’t the most exciting hike and you don’t get a super quiet nature feel with walking by about 12+ different campsites. Still, the lake and trail are very pretty. We’re definitely coming back but probably in fall when people aren’t camping much. Make sure to walk by the dam, it’s pretty interesting!

Distance: 6 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 60 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Spring through fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Cape Falcon (Summer)

Directions: Take Highway 26 west to Highway 101. Go south on Highway 101 for a little over 13 miles. There is a parking area on the right side of the highway for Oswald West State Park and Cape Falcon.

Take the trail for Cape Falcon (it’s toward the right side of the parking area), this trail is a mix of dirt, rocks, and a ton of roots. It can get VERY slippery with even just a little bit of rain, it started to sprinkle on our way out and one of us slipped on a rock and took a good fall. We saw a few other people sliding around as well. If you’re here during the rainy seasons plan for a trail with thick mud and pools of water.

The trail starts out gradually uphill as you quickly leave the highway noise behind. You’re walking through large spruce trees and it’s very pretty. In about a half mile you’ll come to a signed trail junction where you head right. You’ll start noticing the salal here and get ready because it gets much taller and thicker later in the hike. There are glimpses of the ocean as you wind through the trees and come to a boggy area with skunk cabbage and a short boardwalk section.

      

From here the trail rollercoasters but it’s nothing too steep. A few times you’ll drop down into some boggy areas and then back up and out to some views of the ocean. While we were here we saw a ton of surfers below. The trail is pretty eroded in areas so watch where you walk.

      

      

Keep following the trail as it winds its way along the edge of the cape and you start seeing Neahkahnie Mountain through the trees. After passing an especially eroded section that’s covered in roots from the salal you’ll keep going a bit farther to a very obvious but unsigned split in the trail. Go left as the trail cuts through the 6+ foot tall salal and heads uphill gradually. The trail opens up briefly at a viewpoint but keep going off to the right on a very narrow trail through shorter salal. This trail takes you to the tip of Cape Falcon and an open area with nice views of the ocean and Neahkahnie Mountain. The salal can be sharp where it’s been cut, it’s a good idea to hold your arms up above it or keep them very close to your sides.

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

      

We loved this hike! It was very pretty and kinda had that storybook type look. The views are great as well.

Distance: 5 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: May not be best for older folks and young kids. The trail is pretty eroded and covered in roots that are easy to trip on.

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warning: Falling

Ponytail Falls (Summer)

This hike was done less than a week before the Eagle Creek fire. We don’t know how bad this trail has been damaged. Hopefully the damage was minimal and we’ll be able to see all three of the waterfalls on this hike again soon!

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Ainsworth State Park (exit 35) and follow the Old Highway left towards Horsetail Falls.

We decided to do this hike in the opposite direction that we went the last time we visited, which was a couple years ago. To see that post click here.

Park in the Horsetail Falls parking lot and take the trail just to the left of the waterfall. You’ll be heading up long switchbacks that take you up above Horsetail Falls. The trail levels out a bit as you round a corner and start hearing Ponytail Falls. The waterfall itself pours out of a crack in the basalt shelf and dumps into a small pool below. The trail takes you behind the waterfall and continues on the other side.

      

      

Not far after the waterfall you’ll pass a slide area and come to a side trail that takes you to a great view of the Columbia River and nice views of the Gorge to the east. Back on the main trail it continues to stay pretty level for a bit and then you hit a few more switchbacks as you head down into the Oneonta Gorge area. You’ll cross a bridge and get a nice view of Middle Oneonta Falls and the Gorge itself. If you’re here on a warm day you’ll probably hear the crowds of people at Lower Oneonta falls below.

      

After crossing the bridge the trail heads uphill to a trail junction. Go right here and the trail switches from being level to heading uphill, but nothing too steep. There is another small slide area and you’ll pass another side trail that takes you to a viewpoint. Soon the trail starts heading downhill as you make your way down to the old highway.

      

Go right on the should of the highway (be cautious, there isn’t a lot of room here) and pass Oneonta Gorge and go through the Oneonta tunnel, about a quarter of a mile later you’ll be back at Horsetail Falls.

 

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: This depends on how comfortable you are with hiking. There are a decent amount of switchbacks on this trail and places you could fall (there was a death on this trail last year). You’ll also be walking along the old highway for a short distance. Be cautious and make sure you’re surefooted and you should be fine.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: Falling and walking along a narrow road.