Category Archives: Berries

Sturgeon Lake- By Kayak (Summer 2015)

Directions: This hike is located on Sauvie Island. Drive over the Sauvie Island Bridge (stop at the Cracker Barrel Grocery for a day use pass). Continue down the road and stay right onto Reeder Road. Drive for a little over a mile and then take a left onto Oak Island Road. After about 3.5 miles on Oak Island Road the road turns to gravel. Continue on the gravel road and take a right onto an unmarked road that’s just past a pond. If you’ve crossed a cattle guard you’ve gone too far. Follow this road until it ends at the parking area for the lake.

There is a boat launch area but no dock. When the water is low there are rocks to stand on to get into your kayak so you wont have to get wet. Otherwise you might have to get a little wet to push off.


Sturgeon Lake is pretty big and it has almost no current so it makes paddling really easy. When we first started out there was almost no wind and the lake was super flat and pretty. The lake is surrounded by farms and attached to other areas on the island. A lot of it is private property so be aware of the signs if you want to get out and wander around. A good place to get out would be around the Oak Island hiking area. You also get great views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens.



The bottom of the lake is very muddy and you sink down pretty quickly, making it not the best place to get out and swim. There is a tide here as well so make sure you’re aware of the depth from time to time so you don’t get stranded. We saw some pretty good size fish jumping a few times and there are lots of birds as well.

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We were dealing with a time crunch so we didn’t get to explore as much of the lake as we would have liked. Overall it’s a nice area with not too many people. Great for anyone interested in birds. There is a small beach near the launch area that offers the only real shade around.

Distance: Varies but easy

Elevation: Flat water

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: $7 Sauvie Island fee. Make sure to purchase this at the little store that’s right on the main road after crossing the bridge onto the island.

Seasons: April-September

Popular: Can be on weekends and nice days.

Warnings: None

Lower Twin Lake (Summer 2015)

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.

From the parking area take the trail that’s to the left of the bathroom, passing by a picnic table and garbage cans. Take a right past the garbage cans and you’ll be on the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail is wide and well maintained as you gradually hike uphill most of the way. There are a lot of downed trees for the first half of the hike and soon the trail switches back and uphill towards the junction for Twin Lakes.

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When you reach the junction take a right on Trail 495 marked for Twin Lakes. It starts out relatively flat as you pass a sign marking the Twin Lake summit elevation. After you pass this sign the trail begins gradually heading downhill as you make you’re way to Lower Twin Lake. You’ll even start to see the lake through the trees. The trail drops you off at the lake and you have the option to head left or right around the lake. There are a lot of campsites around the lake and it can become pretty busy in the summer months. Also, there are a lot of very friendly Gray Jays hanging around the campsites that will land on your hand and/or steal your food!

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As you make your way around the lake be sure to stop and pick a few huckleberries, over half of the lake is lined with huckleberry bushes! This is an out-and-back hike, so when you’re ready head back out the way you came in.


Distance: 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 700 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages- this may be a harder hike for younger and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Late spring to early fall.

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Junction Lake (Summer 2015)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 44 (Cascade Locks) and cross the Bridge of the Gods ($2 toll). Take a right onto Highway 14 for about 6 miles until you see signs for Carson and Wind River Road. Take a left here and head through the town of Carson on Highway 30 for about 6 miles. Take a right onto Old State road and an immediate left onto Panther Creek Road (turns into Road 65). Follow this road for 11 miles until you reach an intersection called “Four Corners.” Take a right onto Road 60 (it’s a maintained gravel road) and follow it for about 8.5 miles. Take a left onto Road 6030 which is marked for East Crater Trail. Follow this road for a little over 4 miles (it will turn into Road 6035) to the trailhead on the left.

Right past the trailhead sign there is a wilderness permit station. Make sure you stop and fill out the paper and attach it to your backpack, so you don’t get fined.

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From the trailhead you start out in a very pretty wooded area with bear grass heavily lining the trail. The trail gradually starts heading uphill at first and then more steeply as you make you’re way through the woods. After about a mile and a half the trail will start to level out a bit and you’ll come to the first of three ponds. The mosquitoes are pretty terrible this time of year and from about the first pond you’ll start to really notice them. It only gets worse as you hike further in.

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As you keep hiking you’ll pass through meadows and by two more ponds, as well as through clouds of mosquitoes. The trail gets more level as you go and soon you’ll come to Junction Lake. There are a few trails that take you down to the small but pretty lake. The lake is tree lined with a nice open meadow on one side. There is a nice trail that goes all the way around the lake and plenty of places to sit and relax or eat lunch. This is an out and back hike, so head back the way you came.

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We really loved this hike, the forest is beautiful with all the bear grass and heather blooming. The meadows and ponds are really pretty and a nice contrast to the wooded areas. BUT, we must warn everyone that this is NOT a great hike during mosquito season, we absolutely wouldn’t recommend going late May through mid July. We weren’t able to relax and enjoy the lake as much as we would’ve liked, due to the mosquitoes being so thick and horrible. One of us left with 25 bites, it was that bad. That being said, we can’t wait to go back in the fall, it really is a lovely place minus the bugs 🙂


Distance: 5.2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 730 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages- may be hard for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: Late spring to late fall

Popular: No

Warnings: The mosquitoes are very bad in the summer

Columbia River Slough Kayak- Airport Way Launch Site (Spring 2015)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the 181st Street exit. Head north and the road soon turns into Airport Way. Follow Airport Way until you reach the parking area on the left. It’s not a marked parking area and kinda sneaks up on you so be sure to keep an eye out (the cross street is roughly 166th)

From the parking area head down the gravel trail to the metal dock. You can go a couple ways here and we chose to head left toward the headwaters.

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Starting out you will head under an overpass and soon come to the Big 4 Corners (it’s signed). Stay right and continue paddling through the tree lined slough. The slough is relatively deep but full of grass and lily pads. In the beginning you’ll mostly be paddling through wooded areas with the chance to see a lot of Herons and small birds. About a mile in it’ll open up to more grassy areas where there are Osprey and Red-tailed Hawks. We also saw an Egret which was great. Keep your eyes peeled for small turtles as well.

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In the more open areas there are some pretty Wild Iris as well as some other flowers. We paddled out for a little over 2 miles. We turned around when it started to become more and more industrial. You will start to notice more businesses and start seeing the railroad tracks. Turning back here made for a nice 4-4.25 miles outing.

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This is a great option for people who are wanting to see wildlife. There were numerous birds along the slough. It may not be the most scenic but it’s still pretty. Another positive would be that it’s not very busy, we only came across maybe 3 or 4 people.


Distance: About 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: Flat water

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: The area around here is a bit sketchy

Oak Island (Spring 2015)

Directions: This hike is located on Sauvie Island. Drive over the Sauvie Island Bridge and take a left (stop at the Cracker Barrel Grocery for a day use pass). Continue down the road and stay right onto Reeder Road. Drive for a little over a mile and then take a left onto Oak Island Road. After about 3.5 miles on Oak Island Road the road turns to gravel. Continue on the gravel road until you end at a parking area for Oak Island. Please be aware that the last quarter mile of this drive has a lot of cows that are sometimes in the road.

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From the trailhead pass through a gate and head down a wide ATV road passing a large blue sign marking the Oak Island Nature Trail. There is a short trail off to the left that takes you to an open field but not much else. Continue down the trail until you come to a fork starting the loop. You can go either way, we chose to go straight (left) and do the loop clock-wise. From the fork you will start to notice all the cows. We saw easily 30 cows just roaming around the field and even on the trail. It was pretty funny and definitely different then most hikes! Just please remember to be respectful of their space and not bug them 🙂

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The loop starts along a wide flat grass trail with views of Sturgeon lake on your left and lots of oak trees to your right. After a while you’ll come to a metal gate that you cross through and continue on through trees with tall grasses to your left along the lake. There are some side trails here that take you to the edge of Sturgeon Lake. Soon the trail starts to curve and make the turn back towards the parking area. For about a mile the trail is just tall grass lined with trees on both sides. This part is a little boring but ends pretty quickly. Next, you will enter a more open area with huge oak trees and views of large fields. After passing through the oak trees you will be back at the fork that ends the loop. Head left back down the ATV road to get to the parking area.

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We were able to see lots of animals on this hike which was really fun! We saw two young coyotes, LOTS of cows, and many birds!


Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 10 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Portable toilet at the trailhead.

Parking Fee: $7 Sauvie Island day use fee. Purchase this at the Cracker Barrel Grocery after crossing the bridge onto the island.

Seasons: April- September

Popular: Can be on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Tom Dick and Harry Mountain (Summer 2014)

This hike is 4 miles (round trip) from Mirror Lake, 6 miles total from the trailhead.

You will be gaining a little over 1,700 feet. This is a pretty steep and sometimes difficult hike, but the view at the top is definitely worth it!

From Mirror Lake take the side trail at the South end of the lake. There is a sign nailed to a tree.

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The trail is lined with Rhododendrons and huckleberry bushes and climbs steeply. You will soon come to a rockslide area that has great views of Mt. Hood. Keep climbing until you come to a giant rock pile where the trail turns sharply (almost a switchback) and flattens out a bit. Continue hiking (and enjoying the easier grade) for about a half mile. From here you will notice the trail getting much steeper again but you will be able to see the summit so it makes it much easier. Climb the loose rock to the top and take in the amazing views! Mt. Hood and Mirror Lake dominate the view, but on a clear day you will also be able to see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Jefferson. You are also able to see Government Camp and Skibowl. It’s pretty breezy and narrow up top but there are plenty of places to sit and relax before heading back to the lake. This is an out and back hike, so head back the way you came.


Distance: 6 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 1,700 feet (hard)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: This is a pretty steep hike and may not be best for younger kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes a portable toilet

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Spring to mid fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Wahtum Lake & Chinidere Mountain (Summer 2013)

Directions: Take I-84 to Hood River and get onto Highway 35. Continue on Highway 35 and follow signs for Dee, you will cross the Hood River and turn left. Follow the signs for Wahtum Lake. Take road 13 for 4 miles and then a right onto Road 1310 for about 6 miles to the trailhead and parking area.

Anyone who hasn’t hiked Wahtum Lake to Chinidere Mountain should definitely put this on their list of hikes to do. This is our third time doing it and we’ll definitely be back.

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This hike starts out by going down 258 uneven wooden steps, to the lake shore. Follow the slightly rocky trail to the right and around the lake. Early in the trail the trees and bushes are a lot thicker, and as you climb steadily the undergrowth thins out into a mature forest. The trail is pretty well marked. There are two intersections, the first sign will tell you that you are on the Pacific Crest Trail, follow the arrow to the Columbia River. The second sign will point you up towards Chinidere Mountain.


Heading up to Chinidere Mountain is vastly different than hiking around the lake. You’ll gain a little more than 600 feet of elevation in about a half mile, which can be rough. The half mile is made up of steep, uneven switchbacks. On the way up there are a few side trails with good views. When you come out on the shale rock you are almost there. Keep an eye out for wildflowers and birds.

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At the top, the lack of space is totally made up for by the amazing 360 degree views. On a clear day you can see five mountains (Hood, St. Helens, Jefferson, Rainier, and Adams). It’s very exposed and windy, so all the sweat you built up on the way will definitely cool you off. To get back, go out the same way you came in. Make sure you stop and take in the lake (and maybe pick a few Huckleberries) before you slog back up all those stairs to your car.

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Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 1,150 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages around the lake, may not be best for everyone to go up the mountain.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Spring through fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Springwater Trail and Johnson Creek Floodplain (Spring 2013)

Directions: Take 205 to the Foster Road exit and go left onto Foster towards 122nd Avenue. Head downhill on 122nd until you reach the Springwater Trail. There is street parking near the trail. You can also do this in reverse and park at the Floodplain on 108th and Foster. It has a big parking area.

This little walk is good for those evenings when you have some free time after work. There is a decent sized parking lot at the Floodplain, at about 107th and Foster, but we chose to start at 122nd and Ramona on the Springwater Trail. All the paths are paved, with one exception, and very accessible to anyone who wants to use them.

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From 122nd there are some marshy areas where you can see ducks and Red Winged Blackbirds. When you cross 111th you’ll see an entrance to Beggars Tick Wildlife Refuge. This area is the one exception, as the paths are not paved. Not sure what it was, but the Mrs. brushed up against something in here that left her with a couple hives on her face. You should also be on the lookout for “camp sites”.

Beyond Beggars Tick the Springwater Trail continues straight towards the Floodplain, and crosses Foster at a signal. You’ll see the Floodplain to your left. You cross a footbridge and continue on a paved path for about .25 mile. There are lots of Killdeer, Geese and Morning Doves, with views of Johnson Creek.

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Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: Minimal (easy)

Pet Friendly: The trail is pet friendly but dogs are not allowed in the floodplain.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: None