Category Archives: Winter

Warrior Rock Lighthouse (Winter)

Directions: Take Highway 30 West to Sauvie Island. After crossing the bridge onto the island you should make a quick stop into the convenience store to buy a parking pass. It’s required, and you don’t want to make the 13 mile trip to the trailhead only to turn around for a permit. Continue West on Sauvie Island Road for about two miles and then take a right onto Reeder Road. Follow Reeder Road for 12 miles until you reach the trailhead.

Head through the gate and follow the treelined trail. The trail forks quite a few times, stay right every time. Going left at any fork will take you on ATV tracks and they don’t always meet up with the main trail and you will have to backtrack. You get views of the Columbia the whole way and there is access to the beach for the first half mile or so. On a clear day you will get really nice views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood.

      

The trail is really wide, evenly graded, and easy to follow. It’s mostly dirt and gravel and can get pretty muddy during the rainy months. You’ll switch from wooded areas to open fields a few times as you make your way down to the lighthouse. Everything pretty much looks the same the whole way and it can get a little boring but it’s still a nice hike.

      

Once you get close to the lighthouse you’ll see a side trail off to the right that takes you down to the beach. Head this way and take a right on the beach for the lighthouse. There are a few logs to sit on right at the lighthouse which makes for a great place to have lunch or watch the boats on the Columbia River. Head back out the way you came in.

      

On your way out stop at Collin’s Beach (park at the third entrance) and check out the old UFO boat. Collin’s Beach is clothing optional so be prepared for that. Head down to the beach and go right for about 200 feet. It’s covered in graffiti so you wont miss it!

      

Distance: 7 miles (moderate)

Elevation: Minimal (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead

Parking Fee: $10 Sauvie Island pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Ticks and nettles on the Warrior Rock trail and nudity on Collin’s Beach

Mt. Tabor (Winter)

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

This is a place that every Portlander should know about.  There are three different marked loop options, and countless more if you mix and match.  Each is marked with a different colored arrow (blue, red, and green), and they all intersect.

Because it’s a city park, all the trails are very well maintained, and transition between bark dust, gravel, packed dirt, and pavement.

  

The blue trail is the longest, and most difficult individual loop (3 miles total).  It winds up and downhill, past all 3 reservoirs, and up a flight of 95 steps.  There’s a nice variety of scenery on this trail, from wooded areas, to views of Downtown and the West Hills.

      

The green trail is 1.7 miles long and has great views of Mt. Hood on a clear day.

The red trail is the shortest option at 1 mile long and is a good option if you’re looking for a quick hike after work.

You can see all kinds of birds on Mt. Tabor, including ducks, woodpeckers, owls, and eagles.  There are a number of different playgrounds for kids and a lot of picnic areas.  There’s also an off-leash area for dogs.  There are bathrooms at the main parking area and an outhouse up at the top.

Distance: 5.7 miles- total if you do all three trails (moderate)

Elevation: 350 feet (easy)

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Bridge Creek Falls (Winter)

Directions: Take Hwy 26 west and get onto Hwy 6 for Tillamook. Drive for about 32 miles where you will see the Footbridge Trailhead on your right.

This isn’t much of a hike but it’s a nice stop if you’re in the area or if you are hiking the Wilson River Trail. You’ll see Upper Bridge Creek Falls and head over a bridge that takes you across the Wilson River Narrows. You’ll end down at the river on a small beach with a view of the less spectacular Lower Bridge Creek Falls.

      

To see upper Bridge Creek Falls take the stairs at the parking area that lead you up to Highway 6 and head right towards a crash barrier. Carefully cross the highway and up the stone steps. From here you’ll go up a steep hill next to Bridge Creek and end at the base of the waterfall. This waterfall is fairly scenic for a little roadside guy. The very short trail is pretty steep and it can get kinda slick in the rain.

      

Head back and cross the highway again and walk between the crash barrier and a chain link fence that takes you to some steps down to a bridge that goes over the Wilson River Narrows. Cross the bridge and carefully head down the large rocks (no trail) that dumps you out at a small rocky beach area with a view of Lower Bridge Creek Falls across the river. The lower falls isn’t anything spectacular as it come shooting out of a large pipe that diverts the creek under the highway. You do get a nice view of the river and bridge up above. This spot becomes very popular during the summer months and you can see evidence of that in the beer cans and cigarette butts.

      

Overall these are nice stops if you need to get out and stretch on your way to the coast or if you are on the Wilson River Trail. We definitely wouldn’t make these our primary stop though!

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 100 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes in the summer

Warnings: Highway 6 can be very busy so please be extra cautious crossing it.

Wilson River Trail- Jones Creek Trailhead to Wilson Falls (Winter)

Directions: Take 26 west and get on Highway 6 towards Tillamook. Drive on Highway 6 for about 29 miles where you will turn right onto Jones Creek Rd. Cross over the bridge and take a left into the parking area.

Get on the trail near the trailhead marker and head down towards the Wilson River. Go right here and follow the many signs letting you know you are on the Wilson River Trail. You’ll soon pop up to a gravel road, keep following the signs and head back into the woods. About a half mile from the trailhead you’ll reach a bridge and can see the Tillamook Forest Center (open March-November). The bridge itself is interesting looking and gives you a great view of the river.

      

Back on the trail keep going as you wind through alder, maple, spruce and ferns. We actually saw a few early flowers lining the trail as well (and this was early February!). The trail comes out of the trees again to a road and a bridge over a creek that leads into the river. Cross this bridge and pick up the trail that again takes you back into the woods.

      

Next, the trail gains some elevation and switches back once as you head up to Wilson Falls. This is where we ended up turning around because we didn’t feel like getting our feet wet and having a soggy hike out. If you are here during a low water time you can keep going and will reach the Footbridge Trailhead in about a mile and a half. Head back out the way you came in.

      

The whole trail is well maintained and is mostly level until you reach the couple switchback that take you up to the waterfall.

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 350 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Salish Ponds (Winter)

Directions: Directions: Drive I-84 to the Fairview exit. Take a right at the signal and follow Fairview Parkway to Halsey Street. Take a left on Halsey and take a right onto Market Drive. Follow Market Drive to Village Street and take a right. Then take a left onto Park Lane where you will see Fairview City Park.

This trail is very easy to follow, is well maintained, and great for all ages. The whole trail is gravel and there are two ponds. You can go all the way around the main pond and part way around the smaller one.

      

This area has a decent amount of wildlife- you will see a lot of different birds (kingfishers, geese, mallards, coots, scrub jays, kinglets, etc.), nutria, and frogs.

      

There were a few people riding their bikes but it’s mainly other people walking and dogs.

      

The trail wraps around a Target store on a quiet trail and under an overpass. It continues on through a slightly marshy open area with large power poles before you reach the ponds. There isn’t anything too exciting with this trail, it’s best if you want a quick walk, have kids, or enjoy bird watching.

      

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: Minimal (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Summit Trail to Ski Bowl East- Snowshoe

Directions: Take highway 26 to Ski Bowl. Park as far east as you can in the parking lot.

Head down to the east end of the Ski Bowl parking lot where you will come to a road. You should see the Trailhead sign across the road. Get on the trail and depending on the snowpack you’ll have to cross a few small streams. The trail winds around back in the trees and you’ll cross 4 or 5 small footbridges in the beginning.

The trail rollercoasters pretty much the whole time but the elevation is nothing hard at all. This isn’t a super popular trail and we broke trail the whole way in, there was some old ski trails but they were days old. The trail is well marked and very easy to follow if you have to break trail.

We lucked out and there were a few storms that had rolled through in the days before so we got about 8 inches of new fluffy snow. The trail is pretty much the same the whole way, just a pretty, windy, treelined trail. You’ll soon start to see openings ahead and start hearing voices. That’s when you know you’re really close to Ski Bowl East. The trail dumps you out right at the ski lift.

From here head left on an access road making sure you stay very close to the edge. Snowmobiles use this road often and they come at you fast. The road takes you up to the tubing area with music blasting out of speakers. It’s pretty funny. The Summit Trail picks up just past this area. We only went a little farther due to time constraints. Head back out the way you came in.

95% of this hike is very quiet and we didn’t see a single person on the Summit Trail, but the very small section that goes through Ski Bowl is very loud and very crowded. Just be prepared for that.

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass required

Seasons: Nov-Apr

Popular: Only a small section

Warnings: None

White River West- Snowshoe

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.

We blogged about snowshoeing White River West last year and were bothered that you had to snowshoe in the beginning where all the sledders are. With TONS of people flying down the side of the hill it made for an annoying and dangerous snowshoe until you got far enough down the trail.

We recently went back to White River West and did some looking around and found a nice side trail that dumps you onto a service road. It makes for a much more pleasant experience! We only saw maybe two other people on this road so we thought we’d pass it along.

From the parking area get up on the main trail where all the sledders are and keep your eyes peeled for a side trail to your left that you come to quickly. Take this trail and follow it for a bit to where you get on the service road and will start to see the blue diamond markers. The road heads uphill and is somewhat steep at times. It does eventually level out a bit  as you get closer to the power line. We decided to cross over near the power line and get onto the other more popular snowshoe trails that give you a nice view of the river below.

      

We snowshoed about 1.5 miles in, making for a nice and quick 3 mile snowshoe. There was definitely a lot less snow this year and we both agree that this area is best when it has a good snowpack. If you are wanting a quieter snowshoe stay on the service road, if you’re fine with loud sledders and seeing a lot more snowshoers/skiers then crossing over to the main trail is a good option.

      

If it’s a clear day you’ll have great views of the mountain no matter what trail you decide to use.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno- Park Pass required

Seasons: Late November through Early April (check snow levels before going)

Popular: Very

Warnings: If you’re on the main trail watch out for sledders.

Barlow Road- Snowshoe

Directions: Take Highway 26 past the town of Government Camp to the junction with Highway 35. Take the exit for Highway 35 and follow it for about 2.5 miles to the Barlow Pass Sno-Park.

There are a lot of different trails at the Barlow Pass Sno-Park and we decided to just pick a trail to start and explore the area. We started off this snowshoe on Barlow Road which is at the very end of the parking area. It’s a wide trail and very popular so it had a lot of tracks on it. You head downhill gradually with not much going on, it’s just treelined but pretty. About a half mile in you’ll come to an opening in the trees on your right with a great view of Mt. Hood (on a clear day).

      

From here we decided to head back the way we came about a quarter mile and then head off-trail to our right. We went up the side of the hill where it then leveled off and eventually connected us with the Pacific Crest Trail. We went off to our right on the PCT for a bit which is mostly level before deciding to turn around and head back to the parking area on the PCT. It dumps you out at the first part of the parking area, in all we ended up making a weird loop or balloon type hike.

      

It was a nice first time in this area just exploring. We’ll definitely be back to see what the other trails have to offer.

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes, especially on weekends

Warnings: None

Lower Twin Lake- Snowshoe

Directions: Take Highway 26 to the junction with Highway 35 stay left and continue on 26 for another 5 miles until you reach the Frog Lake Sno-Park on the left. The trailhead is to your left near the bathroom.

Get on the trail that goes past a picnic table and immediately comes to a junction. Go right and follow the trail as it starts out mostly level. We haven’t had the best snowpack this year and the first part of the trail had maybe 6 inches of snow. It was pretty crunchy and icy in parts and the snowshoes helped with traction but weren’t 100% necessary in the beginning. Hiking boots with some sort of traction on them (micro spikes, Yak Tracks, etc) and hiking poles would’ve been fine while carrying your snowshoes.

      

Soon the trail switches back and you start gaining elevation. The higher we went the deeper the snow got and soon snowshoes were required. It snowed off and on for most of our hike which was great, it allowed snow to stack up on the trees which is always pretty. The trail is easy to follow and it’s a popular area so there wasn’t any need to break trail.

      

At the junction for Twin Lakes go right and you’ll soon reach the summit marker (4,320 feet) and then start to head downhill towards the lake. The snow was pretty deep and was nice and fluffy which made for a nice snowshoe down to the lake. Once the trail starts to level out again it’s pretty much pick a path that doesn’t get you wet. There is a creek that runs through this area and it wasn’t quite frozen over yet. We easily picked our way around it and did eventually have to cross it, but it was easy to jump over in our snowshoes.

      

You’ll come to another junction, head right and downhill again where you will end at Lower Twin Lake. It was covered in snow and very beautiful. We were immediately greeted by Gray Jays and if you’ve ever encountered these birds you know they are quite friendly. Be prepared to be pestered even more if you decide to eat your lunch anywhere near the lake.

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 5 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 700 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- the trail is easy to follow and the distance and elevation are fairly easy.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes especially the weekends

Warnings: None

William L. Finley Wildlife Refuge (Winter)

Directions: Drive I-5 to exit 228, turn right onto OR-34 W and follow it for about 9.5 miles. Turn left onto OR-45 Bypass and just less than a mile later merge onto OR-99W. Follow this road until you see signs for the refuge, where you will turn onto Finley Road. Follow this gravel road a short distance where you will enter the refuge on the left.

This is a large wildlife refuge with lots of different hiking trails. Some are open year-round and some are only open from April to October. In this post we’ll be talking about three of the trails.

Homer Campbell Memorial Trail- 1 mile

This is an out and back trail on boardwalk that takes you to an observation blind. The boardwalk takes you through the Muddy Creek riparian area that is full of ash trees. We saw quite a few Wood Ducks in the wooded area. When we reached the blind we saw Tundra Swans and Canada Geese out in Cabell Marsh. We also saw many Song Sparrows in the trees right around the blind.

      

      

Just past this trailhead is the Fletcher House and an old red barn, they are both worth a short stop.

      

Woodpecker Loop Trail- 1.1 miles

This is a lollipop trail, the trail heads into the woods at an even grade, soon you will start the loop by heading right and crossing over a small footbridge. From here the trail starts to head uphill, it’s nothing too steep. You will come to an observation deck that’s built around a large oak tree that gives you a nice view of the refuge. Continue following the loop through and open field area to a small seasonal pond. From here you head back into a more heavily wooded area, the trail starts to drop down and takes you to the end of the loop where you follow the trail back to your car.

      

      

This trailhead is very close to the refuge headquarters, they have a small gift shop and bathrooms here. There is also a few feeders and plants that attract many birds. We saw Rufous Hummingbirds, Mourning Doves, an Acorn Woodpecker, and many Tree Swallows.

      

McFadden’s Marsh Trail- .30 mile

This short trail is located on the far side of the refuge, there are a few ponds that are worth stopping at along the road on the way.

This short gravel and boardwalk trail takes you along McFaddens Marsh to a observation blind. We saw an Egret, Canada Geese, and Red-Winged Blackbirds in this area.

      

 

We will definitely be back this spring or summer to check out the seasonal trails.

 

Distance: 1-8+ miles, depends on the season and which trails you decide to take.

Elevation: Depends but there seems to not be too much elevation in any one trail.

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Dogs are NOT allowed in the refuge

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great birdwatching, excited to see what birds we can see in other seasons.