Category Archives: State Park

Lewis River Falls (Spring)

Directions: Drive I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Take a right onto Highway 14 and drive for almost 6 miles where you will take a left onto Wind River Road. Follow Wind River Road up and over Old Man Pass, a couple miles after the pass take a left onto Curly Creek Road. Follow this road until you come to the junction with FR 90. Take a right onto FR 90 and drive for about 10 miles where you will take a right into the Lower Lewis River Falls parking area.

A small section of this trail between the lower and middle waterfalls is close. There is a detour that adds about a mile to your total hiking distance. You wont miss any of the waterfalls.

From the parking area head down the trail by the bathroom until it dumps you out at the main trail and Lower Lewis River Falls. There are multiple viewing areas for the lower falls. Go right and you will pass two of them, there are small wooden benches at them as well. Heading back up the main trail you’ll pass a staircase that takes you down to a viewing platform at the top of the lower waterfall.

      

From here get back on the main trail and head upriver. You will pass multiple staircases that allow river access and a small boardwalk turnout. As you pass these side areas the trail heads uphill gradually on a fairly wide and well maintained dirt path. There are campsites off to your left in the beginning and you will always see the river off to your right. When you are almost to the middle waterfall the trail is closed due to damage. It was like this the last time we were here (July 2016) and doesn’t seem to have had any work done on it. Take the detour trail that heads uphill somewhat steeply and through a slide area. It ends up at road level and the parking area for the middle falls. Briefly pass through the parking area and get back on the trail heading back into the forest. You’ll cross a bridge over Copper Falls and head downhill to Middle Lewis River Falls. The water level was so high this year that you couldn’t get out onto the rocks and get a good look at the waterfall.

      

Continuing on the main trail there are few spots on the way to the upper falls that have eroded quite a bit and you should be careful hiking through it. You will soon reach Upper Lewis River Falls, there is a place to get off trail and down to river level that offers a great view of the waterfall. There are a few big logs here that make it a great place to have lunch or sit and relax for a bit.

      

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

This hike is very pretty with all the lovely trees and always having a view of the river as you go. All three waterfalls looks different and are each worth checking out. Visiting in spring this year was nice because the waterfalls were a lot fuller. In the summer this place gets very busy and becomes and popular swimming hole.

Distance: 6 miles

Elevation: 320 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Yes, a $5 NW Forest Pass is required

Seasons: All but check for road closures due to snow in the winter

Popular: Yes

Overall: We love this hike, theres a lot to see which is never a bad thing 🙂

Starvation Creek State Park Waterfall Hike (Spring)

Directions: This hike is located right off I-84 at the Starvation Creek State Park exit (#55)

We did this quick hike on a busy weekend and it was nice to see all of the improvements they have made to the area.

From the parking area go left past the bathrooms and round the corner to see Starvation Creek Falls. Once you are done here head back to the parking area and get on the trail that follows along I-84. They have done a lot of improvements in this area and it’s all paved now.

      

The first waterfall you’ll see on this section of the trail is Cabin Creek Falls. It’s hidden back behind giant basalt boulders, you can walk back in to get a good look at it. Continue on and they have put in a new elevated walkway/bridge type thing as you start to pull away from the freeway a bit. You’ll come to a split, go left and you’ll reach Hole In The Wall Falls. Its name is very literal, as it comes straight out of a manmade hole way up at the top of the cliffside.

      

We stopped here for the day but you can continue on steeply uphill and reach a junction, stay right and you’ll soon come to Lancaster Falls. We posted about Lancaster Falls here.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 1.5 miles (to Hole In The Wall Falls, 2.5 miles (to Lancaster Falls)

Elevation: 300 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: On nice weekends

Overall: Easy trail where you get to see a lot of waterfalls but the noise from I-84 is very loud.

Silver Falls State Park- Trail Of Ten Falls (Winter)

Directions: Take I-205 to exit 10 and drive South on Highway 213. Follow signs to Silverton, once in Silverton get on Highway 214. Take Highway 214 for about 14 miles to the South Falls Lodge parking area.

We did this hike on a very rainy weekend. All of the waterfalls were very full which was great to see! There are park maps at the pay station area, they are nice to have so you know which waterfalls are coming up. You can do the large loop that takes you to all 10 waterfalls, or you can do just a few. There are three trailhead areas, each have multiple waterfalls within just a few miles.

All of the trails are very well marked with easy to read signs. The trails are all fairly wide, with packed dirt and rocky in areas. There are a few bridges and two areas with long and pretty steep staircases. You can walk behind multiple waterfalls as well, so there’s a good chance you will get a little wet in the warmer months, or soaked in the wet months.

      

Since this is such a straightforward hike we’ll just post some pictures of the highlights. We have done this hike in other season, winter is definitely our favorite so far. The waterfalls and creek were so full and it was a lot less crowded.

      

      

      

Distance: 7.5 miles (if you want to see all of the waterfalls)

Elevation: 1,200 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Dogs are not allowed on MOST of the trails.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 entrance fee

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This is one of Oregon’s best State Parks!

Best Of 2016

We did a lot of great hikes in 2016, here are some of our favorites and our overall top hike of the year.

  • Willamette Valley:

Henline Falls– This is a short hike but it takes you to an amazing waterfall. Catch it at the right time of day and you might just see a rainbow at the base as well!

  • Columbia River Gorge:

Columbia Hills State Park– Great area to see wildflowers with amazing views of the Gorge.

  • Washington:

Lewis River Falls– So many pretty waterfalls in such a short distance. Definitely a must see.

  • Coast:

The Thumb– This was probably the most unique hike we did this year.

  • Central Oregon:

Smith Rock (Misery Ridge)– The views are amazing at the top and you get a very up close view of Monkey Face!

  • Mt. Hood:

Wind Lake– You get to ride a chairlift up to the top of Ski Bowl and then hike to a somewhat hidden lake. And the whole time you have great views of Mt. Hood and Government Camp. 

  • Portland:

Powell Butte- This is a great hike in the city. On a clear day you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Hood.

  • Southern Oregon:

Plaikni Falls– This hike was inside Crater Lake National Park, it’s very pretty, especially in autumn with all the beautiful colors.

  • Kayak:

Disappearing Lake– This was such a treat! It’s a lake that’s only around for about a month out of the whole year.

Overall Best of 2016:

Bald Mountain– The hike up bald mountain is beautiful and lined with beargrass. Once at the top you round a corner and come to one of the best views of Mt. Hood we’ve ever seen. Do this hike!

What were some of your favorite hikes in 2016? Any you’re looking forward to doing in 2017?

 

Crack In The Ground (Autumn)

Directions: From La Pine, Oregon go South on Highway 97 and turn left onto Highway 31 towards Reno. After about 30 miles turn left onto Fort Rock Road. Follow Fort Rock Road for 22 miles and turn left onto Christmas Valley Highway. Continue on the highway through the town of Christmas Valley where you will turn left onto Crack In The Ground Road. After 7 miles on this washboard dirt road you will reach the trailhead.

From the trailhead follow the dirt trail that’s lined with sagebrush and juniper trees. You get a nice view of Oregon’s high desert in this area. Soon the trail reaches a metal box on a pole that has some sign in sheets. The entrance into “the crack” (which is a volcanic fissure) is just a few steps from the sign-in area.

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The crack itself is 70 feet deep and can sometimes be as much as 20 degrees cooler than the surface temperature. Some spots you can walk two people deep, mostly though it’s single file. There are even a few sections where you will need to turn sideways and squeeze through. Be aware that if you want to do the whole length of the crack you will need to be willing to scramble over fallen rocks in a few sections. It’s nothing hard but does require you to be sure footed. There are little birds that fly around in the crack and some have nests up in the rocks. We did run into a snake, we don’t know what type but just be aware.

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You can also walk along the top of the crack and get good views looking down in. This is an out and back trail, so head back out the same way you came in.

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On your way make sure to stop by Fort Rock State Park. It’s a tuff ring that you can hike in and around. The area is really interesting and well worth the stop.

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Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 50 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: May not be a great trail for young kids and older folks, due to the few scramble areas.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Spring, summer and fall.

Popular: No

Overall: Very interesting place, we easily could’ve spent a few more hours exploring the area.

Mary S. Young State Park (Spring)

Directions: Take I-205 South to exit 8 (West Linn) and follow Willamette Drive until you see the entrance for Mary S. Young Park on your right. Follow the road all the way through the park to the main parking area in the back.

At this parking area there is a map of the park (take a picture with your phone so you don’t forget!), you can also view the map here. We decided to just take a few of the trails and explore the park. We ended up seeing parts of the Trillium, Turkey Creek, Riverside and Heron trails. We were trying to get out to Cedar Island but the bridge wasn’t open yet (even though it was supposed to open in spring).

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All of the trails are well maintained and can become busy on nice days. They are a mix of pavement, packed dirt, and wood chips. There are lots of great birding areas and multiple creeks that run through the park. You also have good views of the Willamette River. There are a few off-leash dog areas as well.

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Distance: 1-5+ miles

Elevation: 300 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All Ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the picnic areas

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Mary S. Young Park is a great option if you don’t want to drive very far. Like Mt. Tabor or Powell Butte it’s nice to just get out and explore all the different trails.

Columbia Hills State Park (Spring)

Directions: Drive I-84 East and take The Dalles exit #87. Cross the Columbia River Bridge and follow the road for about 2.5 miles. Take a right onto Highway 14 and a short distance later take a left onto Dalles Mountain Road. This road is gravel and you will follow it for almost 3.5 miles where you will round a corner and quickly come to a fork in the road. It’s marked with an old wagon and other old farm equipment. Stay left at the fork and continue on the road until you come to a gate and the parking area. The road is gravel but it’s in pretty good condition, there are some potholes but we saw all types of cars making it just fine.

It’s officially wildflower season!

Your trail on this hike is a gravel service road. The road climbs up Stacker Butte through fields of balsamroot, lupine, and other wildflowers. You have excellent views of Mt. Hood, the Columbia River and The Dalles on the way up. As the trail climbs the views just get better and better.

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After about a mile and a half you will start to see some of the FAA equipment in the distance. At about the two and a half mile mark the hike ends at the top of Stacker Butte. You have a great view of Mt. Adams and rows of wind turbines off in the distance.

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This hike is moderately steep on a well maintained gravel road. We got here fairly early and avoided most of the crowds. It’s not as popular as Rowena Crest but it still gets fairly busy during wildflower season, especially on the weekends. Make sure to watch for ticks and rattle snakes! This is an out and back hike.

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Distance: 5 miles

Elevation: 1,450 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Dogs are NOT allowed.

Good For: This hike gets pretty steep, it may not be best for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: $10 Washington Discover Pass, you must purchase this before you get to the trailhead (at Fred Meyer, etc.).

Seasons: All but best in spring.

Popular: Yes during wildflower season

Overall: Great views and tons of wildflowers!

Smith Rock (Misery Ridge) (Spring)

Directions: Take Highway 26 East to the town of Madras. Then get on 97 South and drive to the town of Terrebonne. Once in Terrebonne take a left onto Smith Rock Way. Take another left on 1st Street (1st becomes Wilcox). Take a left on Crooked River Drive and end at Smith Rock State Park.

We did the River Trail in Smith Rock a while back, to see that post click here.

From the parking area get on the main paved path that immediately starts heading downhill, soon there is a junction where you can get on the Chute Trail. It gets you down faster but it’s not as gradual as the main trail. Cross the bridge over the Crooked River and you’re at the starting point for Misery Ridge.

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The trail starts out with short switchbacks as you begin the steep climb to the top. The trail climbs continuously and you will get a mix of dirt/rock trail, steps and switchbacks. The views as you round the side of the ridge and head to the top are stunning. After about 3/4 of a mile and over 700 feet of elevation gain you will reach the top of Misery Ridge. The trail continues around the top and there are MANY viewing areas. You will soon come to an absolutely amazing view of Monkey Face, there is even a side trail that takes you even closer for great picture taking opportunities.

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Continue on the main trail when you are ready to head down and finish the loop. The trail down is only dirt and it’s basically long switchbacks. Some spots in the trail have loose rocks, which can lead to falling. When you get closer to river level the trail evens out quite a bit. Soon you will come to the junction with the Mesa Verde Trail, go left towards a climbing first aid area that has crutches and a rescue basket. Continue on the Mesa Verde Trail until you get to the Riverside Trail. Go left on the Riverside Trail as you pass rock climbers and follow along the Crooked River. You will end up back at the bridge where you can get back on the Chute Trail that takes you back up to the parking area.

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There are lots of snakes at Smith Rock and the risk of falling if you’re going up Misery Ridge. We did see one small rattle snake and there had been a bad fall a few days prior. Take extra precautions with children, older folks, and pets.

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Distance: 4.5 miles

Elevation: 1,100 feet

Difficulty: Hard

Pet Friendly: Yes but be aware that there are drop offs and lots of places that dogs could potentially hurt themselves.

Good For: Sure footed hikers and older kids.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: $5 day use fee

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This was a great hike and the views at the top are amazing!

Spring Hikes

Hope everyone is enjoying the new season! Here are some of our favorite spring-time hikes 🙂

 

If you’re looking for flowers:

Pittock Mansion

Rowena Crest & Tom McCall Nature Preserve

Lacamas Creek (Camas Lily Field)

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

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Hikes that open in spring or that should be done before it gets too hot:

Larch Mountain

Painted Hills

Smith Rock

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Waterfalls!:

Tunnel Falls

Fairy Falls

Dry Creek Falls

Pool Of The Winds

Falls Creek Falls

Mist Falls

 

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Spring kayaking:

Columbia River Slough

Sturgeon Lake

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Yaquina Head (Winter)

The distance for this hike depends on what you end up doing.

Directions: Take I-5 South to exit 228. Get on Highway 34 West and then get on Highway 20 West. Take Highway 20 into Newport and take a right onto Highway 101. Drive for about 4.5 miles and take a left onto Lighthouse Drive. There are signs once you are in Newport.

There are multiple things to do at Yaquina Head. For this trip we decided to check out the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Cobble Beach. There are multiple trails and coves as well but we didn’t have time for it all! Click here to see a brochure of the area.

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You can walk or drive to the lighthouse and beach area from the interpretive center. If you choose to walk you’ll pick up the trail at the interpretive center parking lot and follow it along the bluffs where it drops you at the lighthouse parking lot. You have a chance of seeing gray whales and harbor seals on the trail. If you drive just follow the road that takes you to the parking area.

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The Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the tallest (93 feet) lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. You can sign up at the interpretive center for a tour of the lighthouse. We did the tour and it was definitely worth it. BLM workers dress up and show you around the bottom rooms, share lots of history, and take you up to the top where you get to see the actual light.

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There are viewing decks behind the lighthouse to whale watch and get great views of the ocean. Don’t forget your binoculars!

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For Cobble Beach take the wooden steps down to the rocky beach. It’s one of the more interesting beaches as there is no sand, it’s all cobble and rocky tide pool areas. For the full experience you want to be aware of the tide. You need to visit at low tide, we arrived about 45 minutes before low tide was at it’s peak which worked well. The tide pools are great! We saw starfish, purple sea urchins, anemones, barnacles, snails, mussels, and crabs. It was probably our best tide pool experience. We also saw Harbor Seals and Harlequin Ducks!

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Yaquina Head is a great area for nature lovers and kids. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here!

Distance: 0-1 mile

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $7 (good for 3 days)

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This place was really fun, we can’t wait to come back and check out all the stuff we didn’t have time for!