Category Archives: Summer

Big Obsidian Flow (Summer 2019)

The Big Obsidian Flow trail is located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument which is just outside of La Pine, Oregon.

The Big Obsidian Flow is a 1 mile interpretive trail that takes you through a field of obsidian and pumice. There are informational signs along the way and a nice view of Paulina Lake.

     

From the parking area take the paved trail to a metal staircase where you will enter the flow. From here the trail is rocky and can be pretty dusty during the dry months. The trail loops through the flow and you will see chunks of obsidian and pumice of all size. There are a few small shrubs, trees and flowers that have managed to grow out in the field. There are a few viewpoints on the trail as well.

     

Please follow the posted rules- this place is very fragile and unique.

     

Distance: 1 mile (easy)

Elevation: 125 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No- there are many signs warning against taking your dog on this trail. The obsidian is very sharp and can easily cut your dogs paws.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes in the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass or Newberry entrance pass

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Wahkeena Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Take a left onto the Old Highway and drive for about 2.5 miles to the trailhead on your right.

This is a nice quick hike that would be good for kids or if you want to quickly show off the Gorge to out of town visitors.

From the parking area head up the few steps to a small viewpoint area of Wahkeena Creek/Lower Wahkeena Falls. After you have seen the creek get on the paved trail that takes you up one really long switchback and then flattens out for a short distance. That last part of this trail has a little damage but nothing that’s considered unsafe to hike on. The trail ends at a bridge that’s right in front of Wahkeena Falls. Head back out the way you came in.

     

The trail does continue on up 12 paved switchbacks to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. You gain a lot of elevation quickly, and add a little less than a mile to your hike. About a half mile or so past the viewpoint is Fairy Falls, both of these are great additions if you are feeling up to the challenge.

     

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes but they are seasonal

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Owl Point (Summer 2019)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 to the town of Zigzag and take a left onto Lolo Pass Road. Follow this road for about 10.5 miles, take the second right onto FS 18. Follow this road for about 10 miles, half of which is a gravel road, and take a very sharp righthand turn onto FS 16. Drive for 5.5 miles and turn right at the large intersection onto FS 1650. This road becomes gravel and ends at the Vista Ridge Trailhead.

This is a busy trailhead and it doesn’t have a huge parking area so things may get tight. Multiple hikes start from this location but Owl Point seems to be the least popular. We didn’t see any other people the whole time which was shocking since it was a nice summer weekend.

From the trailhead follow the rocky trail for about a third of a mile to a junction in the trail. Sign in at the wilderness registration station and then head left. The trail starts out fairly evenly graded but that quickly changes- once you start heading uphill there will be sections that are quite steep. The trail itself is nice but there are a few downed trees (they are all easy to get over). You will pass two side trails off to the right, the first offers a great view of the valley below and the second gives you a really good view of Mt. Hood.

     

Back on the main trail the grade levels out soon and gets a little overgrown with brush and small bushes. You’ll drop down into a small meadow and start heading uphill again, it’s not as steep or long. We planned this hike during the Avalanche Lily bloom. It’s pretty amazing- they line the trail and were all over the meadow.

     

     

When you come to a junction go left/uphill (there is a sign but it was quite faded). You will come to another junction, go right here and the trail ends at Owl Point. It offers up one of the best views of Mt. Hood. The lupine was blooming which just added to the spectacular view.  Wander around a little bit and you can see Laurance Lake off to the right over the large rocks and the town of Parkdale. There’s a small Owl Point Register attached to the rocks, it has pictures of the volunteers from Portland Hikers who cleaned up this trail and a guestbook you can sign. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: May not be best for young kids or older folks

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass Required

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Umbrella Falls (Summer 2019)

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 by passing through a small meadow (if you start your hike early there is a good chance you will see deer in this area) and then heads uphill- and gets fairly steep in sections. You will start to get views down into Mt. Hood Meadows off to your left and soon 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. There was Beargrass in this area but it wasn’t quite in full bloom yet. We saw a few deer off in the distance and a few butterflies as well.

     

     

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. On your way back you can take the side trail to Sahalie Falls and then head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most. This trail does have some steep sections so it may not be best for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes a portable toilet at the trailhead

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Latourell Falls (Summer 2019)

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.

We decided to try this hike starting in the opposite direction doing a counterclockwise loop. Head down the paved path that quickly takes you to the lower (main) section of Latourell Falls. After taking in the waterfall continue over the footbridge and down the still paved trail that takes you into a park. Go through the park and up some stone steps where you will reach the Old Highway, carefully cross the road and pickup the trail on the other side. From here you will be heading uphill and it gets pretty steep in sections. Once at the top you will come to a small lookout with a partially obstructed view of the Columbia River. Continuing on you will briefly head downhill and then level out for a bit before coming to a switchback that takes you up to a more level section of trail. A short distance later you will reach Upper Latourell Falls.

     

To finish the loop cross the footbridge and follow the trail that is now on the other side of the creek. It’s mostly downhill,  you will cross two bridges and pass a bench with a nice view of the main waterfall. The trail ends at a viewing platform where you head down a short paved path to the parking area.

     

After doing this hike both ways we decided we definitely prefer to do it clockwise. We like saving the best waterfall for last and it’s a little easier on the legs 😉

     

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 520 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes in the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

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