Category Archives: Scramble

Frozen Gorge (2017)

Oregon has been experiencing one of its coldest winters in quite some time. We’ve had multiple ice and snow events making for some very pretty scenes across the state. Every time we have an extended period of freezing weather we like to get out and see what the Columbia River Gorge is looking like. To see our previous Frozen Gorge post click here and here.

Our first stop was Multnomah Falls. There were more people than we thought would be here since the roads were still a mess. It was probably the most frozen we’ve personally ever seen this waterfall.

      

Next up was Oneonta Gorge. The stairs that take you down into the gorge were a solid sheet of ice, we would definitely recommend wearing some sort of traction for your shoes.  The icicles lining the gorge were huge! The water was mostly frozen over but we stopped at the log jam, falling in the water would have been a very dangerous situation!

      

Our last stop was Horsetail Falls. There was so much ice that it was blue in places, the ice formations were so interesting! Again, everything was slick but it was well worth the effort!

      

The drive out was beautiful as well!

Hope everyone has been enjoying all this gorgeous winter weather! We’d love to hear about what you’ve been seeing/doing 🙂

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.

Ape Caves (Summer)

Directions: Take I-5 North to exit 21 (Woodland/Highway 503) and follow Highway 503 East through the town of Cougar. Highway 503 turns into FR-90, continue on FR-90 and take a left onto Road 83 (signed for Ape Caves and Lava Canyon). Follow the signs to Ape Caves.

The Ape Cave is a large lava tube that was formed about 2,000 years ago from a lava flow on Mt. St. Helens. It is the third longest in North America. The lava tube temperature is 42 degrees year round (bring those jackets, even in the summer heat). It’s recommended that each person has two light sources. You can rent lanterns for $5 at the Ape Headquarters but it is not open year round, call ahead.

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From the parking area follow the short trail that takes you to the opening of the tube. There are lots of interpretive signs and usually a forest service employee in this area. Head down the steps and immediately feel the temperature drop, most people stop here and layer up! Head into the tube and come to two sets of stairs, follow signs for the lower cave.

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From here you are just walking through the tube, you may get dripped on a few times as well. You will pass the “meatball” which is a blob that hardened in a narrow space. The tube is .75 miles one way and narrows the farther you go. The ground is very uneven so watch your step! The very end of the tube is only accessible if you are comfortable crawling. Once you reach where you feel like stopping turn around and head back out the way you came.

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Distance: 1.5 miles

Elevation: 150 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Dogs are not allowed in the Ape Caves.

Good For: All ages- just make sure you are sure footed and ok with low light situations. We did see some young children crying, most likely because it’s so dark.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Open all year but call ahead late fall through spring.

Popular: Very

Overall: Fun experience, can get extremely busy during summer weekends.

The Thumb (Summer)

Directions: Depending on where you’re coming from head to Lincoln City. Once in Lincoln City go to the very North end of town and turn onto Logan Road. Pass the Safeway and follow the road to the very end. The road ends at two gates, turn around and park in the small gravel turnout.

From the gravel turnout head up the road until you come to the two gates. Head towards the left gate, you can get past the gate on its right side. Follow the trail uphill and you will soon come to a split in the trail. There is a small hiking sign pointing you to the right. From here the trail heads uphill pretty steeply.

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Once at the top of this first steep section the trail splits again. To your left is a washed out trail so stay right and keep heading uphill. Stay on the main trail as you keep going uphill, there will be a couple side trails but don’t take them. Eventually the trail starts to level out as you head into an area that’s thick with salal. It’s pretty overgrown in places and the trail gets really narrow because of it. You will pass a good viewpoint of the ocean as you continue on.

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The trail then starts heading downhill as you come out to the grassy field and get your first good look at The Thumb! Follow the trail through the grass as you reach the base of The Thumb. From here it gets a little hard, the trail heads up very steeply. It’s a short distance but it’s so steep it’s hard to stand up straight. Once at the top you have amazing views of the ocean and Lincoln City below. There isn’t much room at the top so if there are people up there you may want to wait until they come down before you start up. This is an out and back trail so when you are done head back out the way you came in.

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During the wet months this whole trail is very muddy and slick. We have had a stretch of really hot weather and there was still muddy parts in the wooded areas. There are a lot of runoff and washed out areas in the trail as well. So the weather may be something to consider before hiking this trail.

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View of The Thumb from down on Roads End beach.

Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation: Not 100% sure on the elevation but it’s pretty steep in multiple places.

Difficulty: Moderate to The Thumb, hard going up The Thumb.

Pet Friendly: Yes but there are drop offs that could be dangerous for dogs.

Good For: Sure footed hikers. May not be best for younger kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All but best in summer.

Popular: No

Overall: This was a great hike, definitely something different which was nice!

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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Shellburg Falls (Winter)

Directions: Take I-5 South to exit 253 and get on Highway 22. Drive Highway 22 for about 22 miles where you will take a left onto Fern Ridge Road. After a little over a mile on Fern Ridge Road you’ll see the trailhead on the right with a small parking area.

From the trailhead head up the gravel road and go around the gate. For about the first mile you’ll be hiking on a wide gravel access road. You will be hiking with private property on both sides of you during the first mile. It’s pastures on both sides and you’ll be crossing quite a few cattle guards. There are cows out in the pasture and they cross the road pretty regularly. All the cows we encountered weren’t aggressive. But, please make sure to give the cows space and respect the animals and the people who own them, by not touching or scaring them in any way. After you pass the main pasture you will come to a small tree farm on the right and enter into a more wooded area, you are now in the Santiam State Forest.

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After about a half mile in the forest you will come to a small bridge that’s right at the top of Lower Shellburg Falls. Some people scramble down the side to get a full view of the falls. This area can be dangerous so make sure you have experience scrambling before attempting it. From here take the steps that are signed for Shellburg Falls and get on a more narrow trail. It’s just a short distance later to Shellburg Falls where the trail leads all the way behind the waterfall! This is the end point for this hike so turn around and head back out the way you came in.

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Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: 400 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: The first mile is pretty boring but the waterfall more than makes up for it!

Best Of 2015!

Here is our list of the top hikes we did in 2015!

Columbia River Gorge (Oregon side): *Tunnel Falls* We love the Eagle Creek Trail and this year we finally made it all the way out to Tunnel Falls. We definitely weren’t disappointed!

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Columbia River Gorge (Washington side): *Strawberry Island* This was a nice secluded hike that had amazing views of the Gorge and lots of birds.

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Mt. Hood: *Zigzag Canyon* This hike is absolutely beautiful. You get amazing views of Mt. Hood all throughout the hike. We did this hike in late June and the Lupine were in full bloom!

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Oregon Coast: *Bayocean Spit* Who doesn’t love a hike that’s right on the beach?

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Washington Coast: *North Head Lighthouse* You can actually go up in this lighthouse. The views are great!

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Portland Metro/Outer Portland: *Oak Island* This is one of our favorite hikes on Sauvie Island, the place is covered with cows!

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Washington: *Lacamas Creek (Camas Lily Fields)* Go here in the spring when the lilies are blooming, it’s very pretty!

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Willamette Valley: *Abiqua Falls* This waterfall is becoming more and more popular and we definitely understand why. It’s not the easiest waterfall to reach, but it’s definitely worth the scramble.

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Central Oregon: *Smith Rock* We absolutely love this place. There is so much to see you almost need more than one day.

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Kayaking: *Scappoose Bay* This was the first place we took our new kayak. There’s lots of places to explore here.

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*Overall best hike of 2015*

Painted Hills!

Hands-down the most interesting place we’ve ever been to. The colors are beautiful and the views up at Carroll Rim are amazing! We HIGHLY recommend this hike!

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Honorable Mentions: *Lower Twin Lake, Youngs River Falls, Lost Lake (hike and kayak), Tom McCall Nature Preserve (go in the spring!), and The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.*

We’d love to hear what some of your favorite hikes of 2015 were!

Wishing everyone happy hiking in 2106!

Abiqua Falls (Spring)

The length of this hike will depend on what type of vehicle you have and/or what you are willing to do with your vehicle. Explanation below in the directions.

Directions: From 205 South get on Highway 213 South and drive to the town of Marquam where you will take an immediate left toward Scotts Mills (there is a sign but you need to be paying attention or you’ll blow past the sign and turn). Follow this road until you reach the town of Scotts Mills. Right when you enter Scotts Mills take a left onto Crooked Finger Road and drive for 9.5 miles where the pavement ends. Continue on the gravel road another 1.4 miles until you reach road CF300 on the right. There is a long skinny sign on a tree that marks the road. You will be driving 2.5 miles on Road CF300 to the trailhead which is a locked gate and has a gravel area for parking. WARNING: CF300 starts out ok but gradually gets worse and worse. It is strongly advised to have a high profile vehicle to make it all the way to the trailhead. If you don’t have a high profile vehicle (like us) you can drive one mile on CF300 to an ATV staging area on the right (it’s up a small hill) that has plenty of room to park your car. From there you will have to walk the mile and a half to the trailhead. The road is downhill almost the whole way to the trailhead, so you’ll have an uphill climb back to your car when you’re finished. It’s not a terrible hike to the trailhead but something to keep in mind.

As a point of reference we saw a large Ford truck, older Bronco and Suburban, as well as a few Subarus make it all the way to the trailhead slowly but just fine. We saw a Dodge Dart, Toyota Camry and Ford Focus all parked near our car, where they walked to the trailhead. We did see two high profile vehicles parked back as well but we figured it was because the owners didn’t want to risk anything happening to their shiny new cars. Please be aware that this road is very popular for ATV’s, so be cautious while hiking to the trailhead!

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This hike is a steep scramble and creek side hike. So please make sure you are sure footed and willing to get a little muddy before you decide to come. From the trailhead parking area walk back down the road a very short distance to a side trail that takes you downhill to a large white sign that says Abbey Foundation Of Oregon. This is NOT a maintained trail but it’s had enough use that it is very obvious where you should be heading.  Just past the Abbey sign you will start off relatively flat but that all quickly changes. You will wind steeply downhill passing two areas that have rope attached to trees (some nice random person added this and it does help, especially if the trail is muddy and slippery) until you reach the creek.

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Once you reach the creek the hard part is over. Follow the trail up the left side of the creek, you will have to climb over a few fallen logs but it’s nothing hard. You will start to curve left where you end at the 92-foot tall Abiqua Falls and the awesome basalt wall behind it. This is an out-and-back hike so head back the way you came. We found the scramble back up to be much easier than coming down!

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Even though the trailhead is not the easiest to reach, and the scramble is steep and can be a muddy mess, it’s worth it! Abiqua Falls is one of the pretties waterfalls in Oregon.

 

Be sure to check out Butte Creek Falls before heading home, it’s just a short drive away!

Distance: .8 or 3.8 miles

Elevation: 180 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes if your dog is ok with scrambling.

Good For: This hike should only be done if you are sure footed and comfortable doing scrambles.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: This hike has become more well known recently. I would expect it to be fairly busy on nice weekends.

Overall: This is one of the better waterfalls we’ve been to that doesn’t have a maintained trail.

Best Of 2014!

Now that 2014 has come to an end we have decided to take a look back at some of our favorite hikes. We did so many great hikes that we decided to break everything down into areas and then an overall best hike of 2014. We hope everyone had as much fun outdoors as we did this past year!

Columbia River Gorge (Oregon Side): *Angels Rest* We have done this hike many times but when we hiked it in early January it was really foggy and made the views at the top even better!

Columbia River Gorge (Washington Side): *Falls Creek Falls* This waterfall is perfection! We can’t wait to go back!

Central Oregon: *Big Obsidian Flow* The amount of obsidian here is unreal and the views of Paulina Lake at the top are great.

Mt. Hood Area: *Tom Dick & Harry Mountain* Hands down one of THE BEST views in Oregon.

Portland Metro: *Hoyt Arboretum* Great place to see all the falls colors. We’ll be back this spring!

Washington: *Lacamas Lake* We love lake hikes where you stay close to the lake the whole time. And so many frogs!

Overall Best Of 2014: *Drift Creek Falls* We don’t know how this couldn’t be our best hike of 2014, and we don’t know what’s better the waterfall or the suspension bridge. Together they are absolutely perfect. We loved everything about this hike.

 

Honorable Mentions: *Gorton Creek Falls, Panther Creek Falls, Tamanawas Falls, and Powell Butte* Three great waterfalls and a butte with lots of trails right in the middle of SE Portland!

 

We would love to hear your best hikes of 2014! Any hikes you think we should do in 2015?

Gorton Creek Falls & Emerald Falls (Autumn)

This is a hike AND scramble if you want to see both falls.

To get to this hike take I-84 to Wyeth (exit 51). Take a right at the stop sign and then another right onto Herman Creek Road. Take a left into the Wyeth campground and follow the signs to the trailhead parking. We did this hike in early November when the campground is closed so you have to park outside the gates, along the street.

From the trailhead follow the trail a short distance until you reach a three way junction. Take the trail straight ahead and follow the creek for a little over a quarter mile until you reach Emerald Falls. It’s a pretty small waterfall but still very pretty!

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From here you are scrambling up the side of the creek to reach Gorton Creek Falls. Keep going a few feet past Emerald Falls and the trail disappears and you have to drop down to the creek.

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It is best to follow up the left side of the creek. You will be gaining roughly 150 feet of elevation while you scramble. You will need to hop rocks in the creek, climb over and under fallen trees, scramble the sides of rocks and shimmy along the rock edge of the creek. We’ve done a decent amount of scrambles and this definitely wasn’t the hardest. That being said you will need to be sure footed and not afraid to get dirty. We did slip a few times which caused us to have wet and very cold feet. The scramble ends at two tiered, 115 foot Gorton Creek Falls. The secluded falls makes that messy scramble worth it, it’s very beautiful! This is an out and back trail so head back (carefully!) the way you came in.

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Distance: 1.5 miles

Elevation: 165 feet

Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

Pet Friendly: No

Good For: People who are comfortable with scrambles.

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: Two great waterfalls and a fun scramble!