Category Archives: Creek

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.

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

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.

Wahkeena Falls (Winter 2018)

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.

Here’s another hike that has recently reopened since the Eagle Creek Fire.

There is definite noticeable fire damage on trees and it looks a lot more open in many areas. You can see a lot more of the upper tiers of the waterfall from the parking lot.

      

The trail itself is in good shape and is paved from the parking lot all the way to the upper tier. You will switchback once and there is a small area right before the waterfall that has been washed out but is still easily passable.

This is a great short hike for families with young kids, or older folks.

      

If you want to extend your hike we strongly recommend Fairy Falls. It’s a pretty little waterfall and beautiful trail.

*This trail has recently reopened after a significant wildfire. There will be posted warning and closure signs at the trailhead and along the trail itself. Please read them and follow them. Entering a closed area is not only a danger to yourself but to the people who would be coming to your aid if something went wrong.*

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: Please follow all posted warning signs.

Ponytail Falls (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Ainsworth State Park (exit 35) and follow the Old Highway left towards Horsetail Falls.

This hike is partially open, you can hike from Horsetail Falls up to Ponytail Falls. There is a large fence blocking the trail just past Ponytail Falls.

      

As you start out on the trail just to the left of Horsetail Falls you will immediately notice fire damage. There are large rocks that have fallen, a lot of trees have been removed and limbs are across the trail. It’s definitely passable but use caution for falling debris especially if it’s been rainy and windy recently.

      

      

The trail switchbacks taking you above Horsetail Falls. There are definitely “new” views with all the tree removal but for the most part it’s pretty straight forward. Once you’re at the top you’ll round a corner and see Ponytail Falls. The trail heads downhill slightly and continues on behind the waterfall. This is where the trail ends for now at a fence. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Please respect the trail closures they are put in place for everyones safety. We saw a couple people go up and around the fence and you risk your safety, the peoples safety that would have to help you if something happens, and being ticketed.

      

Distance: .8 miles (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: This hike goes through a burn area, read all the posted warning signs before heading out.

 

Angels Rest (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take the Bridal Veil exit on I-84 East, the parking area is right when you get on the Old Highway.

By now hopefully everyone has heard that more trails have opened in the Gorge! We did this hike the day after it reopened and it was so great seeing this place again!

We got here early thinking that it would be a very popular destination and we weren’t wrong, there was one spot left in the lower parking lot at 7:30am!

Cross the highway and get on the trail, you will immediately start seeing some burned trees. We quickly noticed how much moss and vines had already grown on the trail, nature really does quickly take over! You will see lots of healthy ferns and undergrowth but there have been a lot of trees removed as well so it’s got more of an open feel in areas.

      

As you head uphill you will pass a small slide area with views of the river and come Coopey Falls off to the left. Continuing on, the trail briefly follows a creek and you cross a bridge over it. The trail steadily climbs the whole way and soon you will round a corner and see Angels Rest off in the distance. About here is where you will notice more severe burn. There are a lot of black trees, some standing and some that have fallen. It’s a lot more open and is just noticeably different.

      

Continue up the switchbacks and cross the large shale slide area. There are numerous views of the Gorge along the way. Once you are almost at the very top you will have to climb up a short narrow rocky area and it dumps you out at the top. You can really see all the burned trees from the top and you still have the absolute amazing views up and down the Gorge.

      

Yes, this trail has been badly burned, but that in no way means that there is no greenery or new growth. It looks different but is still a great hike with simply amazing views.

      

*Please read and follow all the posted warning signs.* This trail gets a lot of visitors and we always strongly urge everyone to follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles.

      

Distance: 4.6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 1,460 feet (hard)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: There is a good amount of elevation gain so this may not be best for younger kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: VERY

Warnings: This area will be prone to rock fall, slides, and falling trees for some time.

Pittock Mansion Hike (Autumn 2018)

Directions: This hike is located in Downtown Portland on NW 31st and Upshur, just under the Thurman Street Bridge at Lower Macleay Park.

The trail starts under the Thurman Street Bridge and follows along Balch Creek. You’ll cross a bridge and head to a junction at the old Stone House. Continue straight here and cross another bridge before the trail starts to switchback as you make your way up to Cornell Road.

      

Cross Cornell Road and from here you gain elevation more steadily and get a few glimpses of Portland’s industrial area. The rest of the trail is mostly uphill, there are a few small sections with stairs and a good amount of switchbacks. You will finally reach the top where the trail dumps you out into the parking lot for the Pittock Mansion. Go left and follow the path around the mansion to get great views of downtown Portland and Mt. Hood.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 900 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: There is a very small parking area for this busy trail so be prepared to have to find street parking.

Little Zigzag Falls (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Head east on Highway 26 until you reach Road 39/Kiwanis Camp Road (about 6 miles past the town of Zigzag). Head north on Road 39, the trailhead is at the very end of the road (about 2.5 miles from Highway 26).

We love this little hike and try to do it a few times a year. It’s a great place for kids, anyone wanting to get out and stretch their legs while traveling, or as an addition to nearby hikes.

      

From the parking area get on the trail and you’ll immediately be right next to the Little Zigzag River and following it the entire hike. There are many trees down across the river along the way as well as numerous scenic areas to stop and take pictures. You will cross one footbridge as you wind your way back to the beautiful waterfall.

      

We have noticed it’s always significantly cooler and windier on this trail. Which makes it quite cold in the off months but very refreshing during summer months.

This is an out and back trail.

 

Distance: 0.6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 40 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass Required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Jawbone Flats (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Drive I-5 South to exit 253. Take a left and get onto Highway 22 and drive for a little over 22 miles until you come to a blinking light intersection, go left onto North Fork Road. Drive about 15.5 miles and the road will turn from pavement to gravel (note: there is a short gravel section earlier but it quickly returns to pavement). The gravel road now become FR 2209 and you enter the Opal Creek Wilderness. Continue for over 5.5 miles (keep left at a split in the road) where the road ends at the trailhead. Warning: We have been to this trailhead many times and the gravel section is always hit or miss. Some years it was in good condition, some it was horrible with huge potholes. You can call the nearest ranger district for more up to date info on road conditions.

The trail you hike in on is actually a rarely used access road for the small town of Jawbone Flats. We did encounter one car on our hike in, as well as some large construction equipment that was doing trail updates. The trail is wide, well maintained, and rollercoasters the whole way into Jawbone flats.

      

There is a lot to stop and look at along the way which is great. You’ll see an old mining shaft fairly early on and old mining equipment scattered about along the whole trail. When you come to a section with large mining equipment and a picnic table take the side trail right next to the table and it quickly drops you down to Sawmill Falls. It’s a very pretty waterfall and the blue/green waters of the North Fork Santiam River is worth the stop as well. We were sad to see the old shed had collapsed but not surprised as it was leaning heavily the last time we were here.

      

Continuing on the trail you will continue to get great views of the river and continue to see mining equipment as well. This was our first time here during autumn and it was quite a treat to see all the color! You will soon come to Jawbone Flats, there are year-round workers here and some cabin rentals. Please make sure you respect peoples privacy and leave the cabins alone.

      

As you walk through Jawbone Flats you will cross Battle Axe Creek and see where the town gets its electricity. Continuing on you will come to an open grassy area with a few picnic tables and a composting toilet. This makes a great place to stop for lunch or to take a short break and check out all the old cars that are along the trail.

      

About a 1/4 mile past the picnic tables you will see the marked turnoff for Opal Pool, this short trail takes you to a bridge with a view down into a narrow gorge and Opal Pool itself. This is the end of the hike, head back out the way you came in.

      

This hike has seen a major uptick in visitors over the last several years. Please be respectful of this beautiful area and follow the 7 principles of Leave No Trace.

Distance: 7 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 380 (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: At the trailhead and the composting toilet in Jawbone Flats.

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All but check for winter closures

Popular: Very popular during the summer months and somewhat popular on weekends during the off months.

Warnings: The road in can have a lot of potholes.

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