Category Archives: Spring

Drift Creek Falls (Spring 2018)

Directions: From Portland take I-5 South to exit 294 for 99W. Take 99W through Newberg and Dundee for 22.9 miles, then take a left for Highway 18 (Dayton/Oregon Coast). Take Highway 18 for 48 miles and pass through Grand Ronde and reach Rose Lodge where you will take a left onto Bear Creek Road (there is a sign for Drift Creek Falls). Drive 3 miles (the last part of this road is gravel but in good condition) where you will come to a junction and stay straight (the pavement begins again here). Quickly you will come to another junction, go left onto Forest Road 17 which is a one lane paved road. Drive another 1.5 miles and stay right at a junction for Drift Creek Camp. In another 3.5 miles you will come to a junction, stay right on the paved road.  About a mile later you will come to the trailhead on the left.

We love this coast range hike and finally had the chance to visit again. The large suspension bridge and waterfall are the draw but the hike itself is beautiful and moss covered- it never disappoints!

      

The trail starts out heading downhill gradually on a long switchback. The trail switches from downhill to flat off and on as you cross a couple footbridges.

      

Soon you’ll come to a split in the trail. They both take you to the same place but going left (uphill) is a little harder and adds a bit of distance to the hike, but it’s not as busy! On the way in we went on the main trail and the way back we took the upper trail.

      

Continuing on you’ll round a ridge and go over another footbridge when you get to creek level. You’ll also pass through a lovely area that’s covered in moss, it really gives you that storybook feel! Soon after you will reach the large suspension bridge (it’s 240 feet long and 100 feet above the creek) that takes you over drift creek. About halfway across the bridge you get a really nice view of Drift Creek Falls below.

      

      

Once across continue following the trail as it switches back down to the base of the waterfall.

Upper Trail

Upper Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Hoyt Arboretum (Spring 2018)

Directions: The Hoyt Arboretum is located in Washington Park near the zoo. The main parking lot and visitor center is on Fairview Blvd.

We did this hike for the purpose of seeing blooming trees (plum, cherry, magnolia, etc.) so we stayed on the east side of the visitor center where there are mostly deciduous trees. You can pick up a map of all the trails at the visitor center.

We started on the Oak Trail and connected to the Wildwood Trail. In here most of the trees just had buds so we continued on the Wildwood Trail and crossed Cascade Dr. to get to the Winter Garden.

      

There were some tulips, daffodils, blooming ground cover and shrubs in this area. We also saw a good amount of trillium which was great.

      

      

Next, we crossed Cascade Drive again and got on the Magnolia Trail. There were a few cherry and plum trees just starting to bloom in this area.

      

We continued on and hooked up with the Hawthorn Trail. Everything was bare here so we decided to head back up to the visitor center. We were here the last week of March and that was probably a week or two early.

      

Distance: 2.5 miles- you can do more or less. (easy)

Elevation: 250 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Yes

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival (2018)

The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival is located in Woodburn, Oregon and is running through May 6th this year.

Another year visiting the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival! We’ve had some wacky spring weather so far and we weren’t sure if we’d make it out to the fields with all the rain and wind. We lucked out and got a somewhat dry, but still windy day.

      

The tulips were great and we really liked the setup of the field this year. About 75% of the flowers were in bloom during our visit. They have extended the dates into May due to the weather which is great.

      

Make sure you get here early as it gets busy quickly and don’t forget to bring your boots- it’s very muddy! There are lots of activities for kids and craft/food booths. Don’t forget to stop by the tent where they make wooden shoes!

      

Both of the gift shop areas are great and we took home a pot of tulips that we are still enjoying on our front porch.

Check the website (tagged above) for hours and prices.

Bridal Veil Falls (Spring 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Bridal Veil exit #28. Take a right onto the Historic Columbia River Highway and in less than a half mile the Bridal Veil Falls parking area will be on your right.

This is our first time back to Bridal Veil falls since the Old Columbia River Highway reopened after the devastating Eagle Creek Fire.

Much like Latourell Falls, the Bridal Veil area wasn’t damaged by the fire. Although you can see how close it came to being burned by looking at Angel’s Rest and Sheppards Dell Falls.

From the parking area get on the trail and pass by the restrooms. The trail starts out paved and quickly turns to gravel a short distance later.

      

You’ll go down a long switchback that takes you to a set of stairs that ends at a bridge over the creek. Keep following the path to the right and up more stairs to a viewing platform above the waterfall.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: .6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 100 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

 

Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Spring 2017)

Directions: From downtown Portland take Highway 26 to exit 57 (Glencoe Road). Turn left and follow this road that  eventually turns into Hillsboro Highway for about 6 miles. You will see signs for Jackson Bottom. Take a left into the wetland, there is a building for the wetland and clean water services building with a parking area.

Before you head out grab a map at the information kiosk.

From the parking area head to the wooden staircase that takes you down to the Tualatin River. We followed along this trail for a while stopping at the viewpoints and ending at Vic’s Grove, there was a lot of wild rose and a few birds in this area. Head back from Vic’s Grove and go right at the fork where you walk along Kingfisher Marsh. You can’t see much of the marsh from this side, it’s got a lot of plant growth surrounding it. Soon you’ll reach a bridge over a small stream that takes you to Pintail Pond.

      

      

You can go all the way around Pintail Pond. We saw a good amount of birds here, there are a lot of swallow houses on poles so they are all over. Down along the edges of the pond we saw a family of spotted sandpipers and a few killdeer. As we continued on we came to a group of quail and a few mourning dove. They also have a huge osprey nest and we were able to see them flying around.

      

After finishing the Pintail Pond loop head back out and go north towards a bird blind that looks out over an unnamed marsh area. We saw a large group of american white pelicans as well as cormorants here. Keep following the main trail and go left where you walk in between two marsh areas. Here we saw a black-headed grosbeak and a sora. Keep following this trail uphill where it takes you to the education center and the parking area.

      

This is a great place for kids and bird watchers. There’s a lot of different areas that attract a good amount of birds.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 130 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No, dogs are not allowed anywhere in Jackson Bottom.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area and in the education center.

Parking Fee: A $2 donation is recommended

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Cottonwood Canyon State Park (Pinnacles Trail) (Spring 2017)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 104, turn right for Wasco/Bend. Follow Highway 97 for a little over 7 miles and take a left for Wasco. Drive for about 2 miles and take a right on Clark St., a short distance later take a left for Highway 206E and Cottonwood Canyon State Park. Go another 15 miles and take a right into the park. Take a left and follow the road all the way to the end back by the campsite area and a couple vault toilets. This is the Pinnacles Trailhead.

The drive out was great to, you get to drive through a wind farm which was very interesting. Stop at the viewpoint to get a good look at the wind turbines and a nice view of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.

Cottonwood Canyon is one of Oregon’s newest state parks and is the second largest. There are a few different hikes you can do here and we decided to try out the longer trail on our first visit. This area can get very hot even in spring and there are very few shady areas along the trail. We did this hike early on a sunny cloudless day and it was quite hot by the time we finished. Make sure to plan accordingly with water, sunscreen, etc. There are also lots of signs warning about ticks and snakes, so be prepared for that as well. For more information about ticks click here.

This hike is also shared with mountain bikers.

The hike immediately starts out along the John Day River and you will be hiking closely to it the whole way. After passing a trailhead station the trail curves and come to a basalt overhang with many cliff swallow nests above. You will see them flying in and out of the nest and catching bugs near the river. Continuing on you will be walking along sagebrush and other small bushes, hills and basalt cliffs line the canyon the whole way. We saw many deer and bighorn sheep tracks but never saw the animals themselves. We did see many butterflies and lots of different birds, as well as bones from small animals.

      

You will come to a junction in the trail we decided to go left here and gain a bit of elevation to get a better view of the canyon and river. It connects back with the main trail a short distance later. There is a bench at the top which offers a great view. You will notice benches along the trail with mile markers on them.

 

 

      

The trail continues on with much of the same views which isn’t bad, it’s very pretty. You’ll get away from the river briefly and the trail enters an area that is lined with large thistle and has a small boggy area. After this area you start seeing the river again and come to the end of the hike.

      

You’ll see the bench with the mile 4 marker and you can see the small pinnacles off in the distance to your left. You can go a bit farther to get a better look at them where you will see a gate, past the gate is considered off trail.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

This trail is different than a lot of the hikes we go on and that was nice. The whole area is beautiful with all the rolling hills and cliffs. It was our first hike along the John Day as well and it’s a very pretty river. We will definitely be back to check out the other trails.

Distance: 8 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 70 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: Yes $5 per person, not car.

Seasons: All

Popular: The area is popular for camping but we saw only four other people the whole time on the trail.

Warnings: Ticks

Beacon Rock (Spring 2017)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Take a left onto Highway 14 and drive for about 5 miles until you come to the parking area on the left shoulder of the highway.

Beacon Rock is one of our favorite hikes, it’s short but packed full of great Gorge views.

From the parking area get on the trail that takes you into the wooded area at the base of the rock. Follow the dirt trail until you get to the first of many switchbacks that takes you to the entrance gate for Beacon Rock.

      

Immediately you get a view of the Columbia River below and since it’s spring we saw some wildflowers growing out the side of the rock. The trail is rock, cement, and boardwalk as you head up the west side. You will pass many viewpoints along the way, once you start to get around the south side of the rock you will start seeing the train tracks below.

      

      

We saw many red-tailed hawks, osprey, and vultures soaring around throughout the hike. We also saw some other small birds in the bushes and trees growing along the trails. Once on the east side of the rock the trail turns to dirt and thats a good sign you are close to the top.

      

There is a small set of steps that takes you to the very top. At the top there are a few big rocks that make for a nice place to rest or eat lunch. It’s a pretty small area and can get packed pretty quickly.

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 700 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: With all the switchbacks and elevation this may not be the best hike for small kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: $10 Discovery Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes especially on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Government Cove Peninsula (Spring 2017)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the exit just past Cascade Locks that’s marked for a weigh station. Get on Frontage Rd and continue on and cross the tracks. Park near the gate.

From the gate follow the trail off to the left as it climbs up to the top of the main rock area. At the top you get great views of the Gorge, this is also a nice place to eat lunch or hangout for a while.

      

Head back down but not all the way, go off to the right and climb up another section of the rock where you will find a lot of wildflowers in the spring. We saw lupine, wild iris, wild rose, and much more. The grass is a bit overgrown around here but the trail is still visible and passable.

      

Next head back down and explore around the base. There are a lot of trails that take you all around the island. You can see the south part where the cove is and usually a few cormorants and nutria. You can also get out where the island comes to a point and see the Columbia River really well.

      

After you’ve finished exploring you can take the lower trail back to the gate where your car is parked.

We definitely enjoyed ourselves a bit more this time around. All of the flowers were a surprise which was a nice treat. This is a great area for kids to get out and do some exploring 🙂

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 100 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: This is a popular area for fishing and duck hunting but the trails aren’t busy.

Warnings: None

Lower Ruckel Creek Falls (Spring 2017)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 41 (Eagle Creek). Go left at the stop sign and park across from the fish hatchery.

This hike starts on the paved path that’s in between I-84 and the fish hatchery. It runs along I-84 for a bit and is quite noisy. Soon it turns off to the right and enters a wooded area. You’ll pass a trailhead on your right and soon come to an open grassy area on your left with a faint worn path.

      

Follow this path through the tall grass and daisies (in the spring), as in reenters into a wooded area. Continue following the trail downhill until it ends at Ruckel Creek with the waterfall just to your right.

      

There is a fallen tree that makes a nice “bridge” over the creek to get a better view of the waterfall.

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 1 mile (easy)

Elevation: Minimal (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the Eagle Creek Trailhead

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass is required

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Disappearing Lake (Kayak 2017)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Go right onto Highway 14 and after a little over 14.5 miles take a left onto Cook Underwood Rd. Follow this road for about 5 miles and take a left onto Willard Road. Willard Road turns into Oklahoma Road, follow it a short distance until you see a sign for Forest Road 66. Take a left onto FR 66 and follow it for over 12.5 miles (the last couple miles of this road is gravel) until you come to two lakes. Disappearing Lake is on the left, South Prairie Lake is on the right.

We did this kayak last year and we liked it so much we have decided to do it every memorial day weekend. To learn more about this interesting lake (that’s only around for short time each year) see our first post here.

This year the water level was much higher from all the rain and snow we got. We even ran into snow on the forest road that the lake is next to. With the water level being higher we were able to explore more of the lake this time. There are a few side areas that you can squeeze your kayak through to get farther back into the trees.

      

The lake is almost split in two by a row of trees. The first part is pretty open and has a few small areas that you can easily get into with your kayak. We saw a snake hanging on to a tree out in the water which was quite interesting.

      

The back part of the lake is full of trees that you can kayak in between. In our opinion this is the best part of the lake. It’s really interesting and almost looks like a bayou. The trees are very tall and covered in vines and moss. There are dead trees that have fallen all throughout the lake as well. Back in this part is where we got to explore more of the side branches of the lake. In some places the water level was extremely low and we had to really squeeze our kayak through debris and low hanging branches. But once you got back into the side parts the pools deepened.

      

This lake is really calm which makes for an easy paddle. Make sure you plan enough time to really explore this area, there is a lot to see here. Just a few steps across the road from Disappearing Lake is South Prairie Lake. It would be a nice lake to paddle around in as well if you have the time.

It’s hard to predict when to visit this lake. It depends so much on what type of weather we had throughout winter. Plus how hot or mild spring starts out. We’ve found that memorial day weekend has been nice both years but we did prefer the higher water level so we may have to go earlier in May if we have a drier winter. Also, make sure you come back and visit this place after it drains, the meadow is beautiful! Check it out here.

Distance: Couple miles if the water level allows you to paddle everywhere

Elevation:—

Pet Friendly: Yes if your animal enjoys hanging out on the kayak with you 🙂

Good For: All ages. This lake would be great for beginners!

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: There is a very small season for this lake usually mid May through early June.

Popular: No

Warnings: None