Category Archives: Winter

Moulton Falls & Bridge (Winter 2019)

Directions: Drive I-5 North to Exit 11 (Battleground and 502E), merge right with 502E to Battleground. Drive 6 miles into Battleground and take a left at a traffic light signed for 503N, Amboy, Yacolt. Stay on 503N (Lewisville Highway) for 5.5 miles and take a right onto NE Rock Creek Road which eventually turns into Lucia Falls Road. Drive about 3 miles until you reach a stop sign (junction with 172nd), continue straight and follow the road until you see the Moulton Falls trailhead on the right.

From the parking area head off to your left along the road and cross over the creek. From here you will get on a wide trail and soon start to see the river off to your right. Look for a side trail that takes you out on some large rocks and gives you a good view of the bridge.

Back on the main trail head uphill to the bridge. After crossing the bridge the trail follows along the river. You can hike for about 4 miles before coming to another trailhead, we stopped after about a mile. We have hiked this whole trail and it’s not the most exciting, it’s wide and fairly evenly graded. You can see some houses across the river but that’s about it.

   

Before you leave go off to the right of the parking lot and get down to river level. This is the Moulton Falls area, it’s hard to see it in the winter with high water levels but this place gets packed with swimmers in the summer.

Distance: 2 miles (can do up to 7.5) (easy)

Elevation: 225 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes very popular in the summer

Warnings: None

Yacolt Falls (Winter 2019)

Directions: Drive I-5 North to Exit 11 (Battleground and 502E), merge right with 502E to Battleground. Drive 6 miles into Battleground and take a left at a traffic light signed for 503N, Amboy, Yacolt. Stay on 503N (Lewisville Highway) for 5.5 miles and take a right onto NE Rock Creek Road which eventually turns into Lucia Falls Road. Drive about 3 miles until you reach a stop sign (junction with 172nd), continue straight and follow the road until you see the Moulton Falls trailhead on the right.

Warning: Please pay attention to the entrance and exits at the trailhead. There are road spikes at the exits, it’s not very clearly marked and you could easily enter through the exit and shred your tires.

From the trailhead walk down the side of the road and cross it at the designated crosswalk. Pick up a trail here that heads next to a creek. Keep following this trail as you wind your way past some old picnic tables and up to a fenced area with views of Yacolt Falls. You can take the steps down to a rocky viewing area and a seasonal bridge.

The trail does continue on a short distance up to some train tracks. There is a tunnel off to the left a short distance but not much else. Head back out the way you came in.

   

Distance: .6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 50 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes during the summer

Warnings: This trail can get pretty soggy during the winter months. We had to rock hop a few sections to avoid wet feet.

Frog Lake- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 east past Government Camp, keep left at the junction with Hwy 35, staying on 26. Follow Hwy 26 for about another 5 miles where the Frog Lake Sno-Park will be on your left.

From the large parking area get onto the trail which is actually the road you would drive down to the lake on in the summer. Follow this wide path for .3 miles until you come to a signed junction (if it’s not covered in snow), go right here where it heads downhill.

   

The trail quickly levels out and you will follow this trail a short distance to a split, go left here and follow it around to the edge of the lake. It was frozen again with feet of snow on top of the ice. We walked out onto the lake and made a loop around it. When you are done exploring head back out the way you came in.

   

This area is very popular with snowmobiles so keep that in mind, they come up on you quick and are quite noisy and stinky. Even getting here early we still saw a few at the lake and quite a few heading in on our way out. This isn’t a snowshoe that offers much peace and quiet but it is still pretty. Always be cautious when walking on a frozen lake as well.

   

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno*Park Pass required

Seasons: Winter

Popular: Very

Warnings: Watch for snowmobiles and be careful when walking on the lake if it’s frozen.

Larch Mountain Road- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: 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 until you run into snow.

We decided with all the snow the Gorge had been getting to take a break from Hood and visit the Larch Mountain area for a snowshoe. The snow gate on Larch Mountain Road is at MP 10.2 but the road was only plowed until MP 7. So we decided to snowshoe to the gate. There was about 3 feet of snow where we parked and it was up to about 4 feet at the gate.

This wont be a very long post because not much detail needs to go into a snowshoe up a road 😜. That being said this was a very pretty snowshoe with snow covered trees and lots of peace and quiet- we only came across a few people the whole time we were out there.

   

You’ll pass a Mt. Hood National Forest sign, a few gates off to your left and right, and some road signs. It was crazy seeing the seasonal gate covered by the snow and people snowshoeing right over the top of it!

   

You can go all the way up to the top if you have the time and energy, but most people were turning around at the gate. Head back out the way you came in.

   

Distance: 6.5 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 550 feet (easy/moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Winter

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Mirror Lake- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to Skibowl West where you will take an immediate right into the parking area once off the highway.

We hadn’t been to Mirror Lake in almost 5 years, mostly due to how crowded and crazy this hike gets, and we had definitely never snowshoed it. This hike recently got a much needed new trailhead with a larger parking area. It’s off to the right of Skibowl and has parking for roughly 50 vehicles. A couple weeks ago we decided to wake up early to beat the crowds to experience Mirror Lake in the snow!

From the parking area head past the bathroom and get on the trail. You will head down a few switchbacks and then come to the first of ten new bridges. After crossing all of the bridges you will start to gain more elevation. We’ve heard that there are new poles in place in certain areas to keep people from trail cutting. Everything was covered in feet of snow so we don’t know where this is but we hope it’s true- this poor trail was quite abused.

      

You will continue snowshoeing uphill and cross a small rock slide area, past this you will reach the long switchbacks that take you up to a trail junction. Go right on a narrow trail that heads down the the edge of the lake. You can go all the way around the lake and it will take you back to the junction where you head back out the way you came in. Obviously you don’t get the mirror effect with a frozen and snow covered lake but it was still pretty. Clouds had moved in and it was snowing for most of the trip, making views of the mountain pretty nonexistent.

      

Even getting here early didn’t really make much of a difference crowd wise. Just know that this place is very popular year round no matter what day of the week it is- pack your patience!

      

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- some may find the elevation to be a bit much.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: SnoPark Pass required

Seasons: Depends on how the snow season is going. Check with the nearest ranger station for snow pack levels.

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Swale Canyon- Harms Road Trailhead (Winter 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 64, cross the Hood River Bridge ($2 toll) and take a right onto Highway 14. Drive to the town of Lyle (little over 11 miles from the bridge) where you will take a left onto the Centerville Highway. Follow the highway for about 15 miles where you will take a left onto Harms Road, follow the road a short distance to the trailhead and a small pullout for parking.

This hike is part of the Klickitat Trail- we have done a few sections already (find those posts here and here.). This time we decided to check out the Swale Canyon section.

The Harms Road section is fairly long so we just did half of it for this visit.

The hike starts out heading west as you quickly cross a bridge and get on the gravel trail. You’ll pass a small marshy area and then quickly start to see the creek off to your right. We saw a great blue heron in this area as well as many juncos.

      

Off to your left will be a large grassy area, we saw western meadowlarks and a couple northern shrikes in the trees. The trail gradually heads downhill as the basalt cliffs start to rise up around you. We noticed quite a few bones along the way as well.

      

You will cross a few bridges and the creek switches sides as you cross over another trestle bridge. In this area we saw a couple rock wrens and a red-tailed hawk. Keep going for a bit past the trestle, the trail will curve a few times- this area is about the halfway point (roughly 3 miles from the trailhead). We decided to make this our turn around for the day.

      

This trail is very quiet and it’s a great place to bird watch if you’re into that sort of thing. The Klickitat Trail is well known for ticks (in fact one of us picked up a tick on a different section of this trail) so be extra cautious and do a good tick check before you get in your car and when you get home (for more info about ticks click here).

      

Distance: 6 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 300 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: This section of the Klickitat trail closes in the summer due to high fire danger. We would recommend calling the nearest ranger station in the summer to check for specific closure dates.

Popular: No

Warnings: Ticks

Frozen Gorge (2019)

The Columbia River Gorge recently got quite a dose of winter with most places seeing at least a half foot of snow and below freezing temperatures. That means all the waterfalls get frosty and look extra beautiful. We took a drive and stopped at a few of our favorite places!

Multnomah Falls…

      

      

Latourell Falls and the Vista House…

      

We hope everyone got a chance to get out and enjoy the brief snowstorm! Winter has finally arrived ❄️

Old Salmon River Trail (Winter 2018)

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.

This hike got cut short due to runoff crossing the trail in multiple areas. But it was still a nice hike and it has to be one of the best places to see moss.

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.

      

You’ll follow along above the river for a while but will still be able to see it. Up here is where we came across the first stream crossing the trail. We were able to go off trail and find a place to cross it without getting wet. Continuing on a short distance later we came across another stream that was much more wide and quite muddy so we decided to stop here. We weren’t far from our turnaround point anyways. If there hasn’t been much rain recently you should be able to cross these areas find but we did this hike after heavy rain and it wasn’t worth the wet feet for us.

      

If you can keep going you’ll soon head uphill and come to the road. You need to walk along the road a short distance and pick up the trail that takes you back into the woods. Then, you will come to a large camping area. We usually walk through this area to a place next to the river with large rocks and make that our turnaround. Going this far will be a five mile hike. Head back out the way you came in.

      

This trail is absolutely beautiful- it’s full of old growth trees and a crazy amount of moss. The river is very scenic and it’s usually not very busy which makes for a nice quiet hike.

Distance: We did 2 miles this day but our normal route is 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: There *may* be a seasonal portable toilet. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes there is nothing.

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Not really. It gets a bit busy on summer weekends.

Warnings: Be aware of seasonal runoff crossing the trail after heavy rains. This trail can also get very muddy.

 

 

White River West- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 past Government Camp and get onto Highway 35. Follow 35 for about 4 mile or so until you reach the White River West Sno-Park on your left.

From the parking area get up on the “trail” and go past the gate, a short distance later take the side trail off to the left. If there has been recent snow and the trail isn’t broken yet it’s not too hard to find, just head off to the left and look for the diamonds on the trees. Going this way will allow you to avoid the crazy sledding area. You’ll wind through some trees and get on an access road. The diamonds are mostly easy to spot but do become less frequent the farther you go.

      

      

The access road heads uphill and it’s pretty steep for a short distance. Once at the top the trail levels out and you’ll have great views of the mountain, as well as the river and sledders below. Soon you’ll start to see large power lines, we continued on about a half mile past the lines where the trail started heading downhill. From here we found a good place to get down to the river and decided to snowshoe along the river the whole way back. We did have to cross the river a couple times which wasn’t horrible but if you don’t like doing that I would suggest going back the way you came in.

      

We highly recommend doing this snowshoe on a clear day. You will have views of the mountain for the majority of your snowshoe and it’s amazing.

      

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathroom: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno Park Pass required

Seasons: Winter

Popular: VERY

Warnings: None

Fairy Falls (Winter 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Go left on the Historic Highway to the Wahkeena Falls Trailhead.

We were really anxious to get back up to this waterfall after the Eagle Creek Fire. It’s one of our favorite hikes in the Gorge and we really missed it.

Obviously there is fire damage visible throughout this whole hike but it’s really apparent after you get up above all the switchbacks.

First, you’ll start out on the paved path and cross over Wahkeena Creek as you switchback once to get up to Wahkeena Falls. From here the trail is still paved as you head straight up 12 switchbacks, they are fairly short but you’re definitely still feeling all the quick elevation gain. Through this section you are mainly seeing partially burned trees and more open views.

      

      

The switchbacks end at an signed intersection. It’s worth the short trip off to the right to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. When finished head back the other direction where the paved path turns into a typical dirt and rock Gorge trail. You’ll head over a footbridge and start heading uphill somewhat steeply on a very loose rocky trail, staying right next to the creek for a short distance. Normally there are a few fallen trees in this section, but since the wildfire there are a TON of downed trees and they are mostly hanging over the creek. A lot of the moss is burned in this section as well.

      

      

Cross over a second bridge and head up some more switchbacks that take you right to Fairy Falls. As you head up these last switchbacks you really get a good view back down into the creek where you can see a lot of the damage. We are happy to report that the waterfall still looks great and the bench survived the fire. Head back out the way you came in.

      

      

*Please read all the posted warning signs carefully before heading out on any of the recently reopened hikes. Trails impacted by wildfires are at higher risk for falling rocks and trees, as well as slides.*

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- there is quite a bit of elevation gain for such a short hike.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: This trail was hit by a wildfire so please read all posted warning signs.