Tag Archives: All Ages

Swan Island Dahlia’s (Summer 2018)

For directions click here.

This year we skipped the actual festival days and opted for a more low-key viewing of the fields. The fields are open 8am-6pm daily all through August and September. The Dahlia Festival is August 25th, 26th, 27th and September 1st, 2nd, and 3rd from 10am-6pm.

      

We really enjoyed the quieter and less busy viewing and the flowers were all basically in full bloom. All the other flowers being displayed were wonderful as well.

      

      

We always love checking out the Swan Island Dahlia’s and it’s definitely our favorite flower festival in Oregon!

      

While you’re there make sure to check out the koi pond and gift shop.

      

Dry Creek Falls (Summer 2018)

Directions: From I-84, take the first exit for Cascade Locks.  To avoid the parking fee at the Bridge of Gods Trailhead, go past that turnoff, and turn right onto Wasco St.  From here, go up to Moody St., and take another right.  Moody St. goes under an overpass, and you can park anywhere along here.  The trailhead is the first one on the left, as you walk up the gravel road.

This is another hike that recently reopened after the Eagle Creek Fire. It by far has the most visible damage that we’ve seen so far.

From the trailhead you’ll immediately start to see burned trees all around the trail. It’s a bit overgrown with brush in the first section but that changes pretty quickly. As you hike uphill you will come across numerous burned trees, and some that had fallen on the trail but have been cleared away. The trail itself is fairly wide and packed dirt. We noticed that it’s definitely not as thick of a wooded area as it use to be and you can see why with all the downed trees off the trail. You will come to the power line clearing and it’s still very green with very little burned area.

      

Once you head back into the woods the trail changes to being much more rocky, more of a typical Gorge trail. It’s more of the same  with burned trees all around you and there has been some erosion on the trail in sections but it’s nothing that isn’t passable. Next you will come to Dry Creek and a signed split in the trail. Go right here up the old rocky service road where you will end at Dry Creek Falls. The waterfall itself looks really good but up on the cliffs above you can see burned areas.

      

As sad as it was to see all of the burned trees we did see a lot of green and new growth! It was an overall positive feeling being able to get back out onto a trail that we really enjoy and to see that it’s still there and still beautiful!

      

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Umbrella Falls (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take Highway 26 East past Government Camp to the junction with Highway 35. Follow Highway 35 for about 8 miles until you see a sign for Hood River Meadows. Take a left here and follow the road a short distance to the Elk Meadow Trailhead on the right shoulder of the road.

From the trailhead you will be starting out on the Elk Meadow Trail for a little over a quarter mile until you reach a signed junction. Go left here on the Umbrella Falls Trail, the trail starts out through a small meadow and then you start to hike uphill, the trail does get steep in areas. You will start to get views down into Mt. Hood Meadows off to your left and then pass under a ski lift. The trail switches back and you head up a short steep section that drops you into a wildflower filled meadow. We saw lots of lupine and paintbrush in this section.

      

      

The trail starts to level out a bit as you pass through more meadows with streams and get some views of the top of Mt. Hood off to your right. In these meadows the Beargrass was dominant and in full bloom. We were also lucky enough to be here during a California Tortoiseshell Butterfly migration- it was absolutely amazing how many butterflies we saw!

      

      

As you continue hiking you will come to a junction for Sahalie Falls. Stay straight here and a short distance later you will reach Umbrella Falls. We had bad lighting for any decent waterfall pictures but it was nice to sit and have lunch by the beautiful waterfall, and the mosquitoes weren’t too bad! Head back out the way you came.

      

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- the trail does get steep in areas

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Late June through mid fall (check for snow before coming)

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Falls Creek Falls (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 44 (Cascade Locks). Cross the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll) and take a right towards Stevenson. Drive for about 6 miles on Highway 14 and take a left on a road signed for Carson (Wind River Road). Take Wind River Road for a little over 14 miles and stay right at the fork in the road. About a half mile later take a right onto FR 3062 for Falls Creek Falls. Follow the dirt road for a little over 2 miles to the trailhead (there are signs for Falls Creek Trails). Be aware that the dirt road is full of potholes and makes for a pretty bumpy couple of miles.

From the trailhead you start heading uphill gradually on a wide well maintained path with the creek off to your left. You will soon reach a suspension bridge that takes you across the creek and gives you a nice view of the narrow gorge. After crossing the bridge the creek will now be on your right as the trail stays fairly evenly graded for a bit. There are a few side trails that take you right to the creek.

      

The trail will start to gain elevation and gets fairly steep in areas. Cross another footbridge and not much farther you will start to hear the waterfall and see the upper tiers through the trees. You quickly head downhill and the trail ends right at the waterfall.

      

      

The waterfall is very large and leaves quite the impression! There are large rocks that make a nice place for lunch or to just sit and relax for a bit. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 700 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most. The trail does get kind of steep in areas but we saw people of all ages on the trail.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Spring through Fall. Check for snow gate closures.

Popular: VERY. We would recommend going early on a week day.

Warnings: None

Trillium Lake (Summer 2018)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 past Government Camp, a few miles later you will see signs for Trillium Lake. Take the marked exit and follow the road for about two miles to the parking area.

Previous visits to Trillium Lake had been late October and a snowshoe in January. We didn’t see many people both times….this visit was so different. The parking lot was jammed fully by 9:30 and there was a ton of people on the trail and in the lake itself. Sadly I don’t think we will ever visit this lake again during the nicer weather months.

From the boat ramp we went left or clockwise around the lake. This side of the lake offers the best views of Mt. Hood but it’s also the most crowded area. People literally had blankets laid out on the actual trail and there was garbage everywhere. It was so disappointing to see. This is a beautiful lake and it was being treated like a garbage can. We strongly urge people to follow the Leave No Trace principles!

      

As you continue on around the lake some of the crowds start to thin. The trail switches between dirt and boardwalk and is lined with skunk cabbage. We saw an old beaver lodge and some blooming lily pads as well.

      

Once you’ve made it around to the other side of the lake you’ll pass an amphitheater and start getting views of Mt. Hood again. There are campsites on this side of the lake so it does become more crowded again. Not much farther past the campsites you’ll reach the boat ramp again completing the loop. For the most part the trail stays right next to the lake except in a few short areas. The trail is flat, well maintained, and easy to follow.

      

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 15 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 day use fee.

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Little Crater Lake To Timothy Lake (Spring 2018)

Directions: Take Highway 26 past Government Camp and Frog Lake to Skyline Road. Follow Skyline Road to Abbott Road (there are signs for Little Crater Lake). Take Abbott Road to the Little Crater Lake Campground. Drive through the campground to the end where there is a small parking area at the trailhead.

From the parking area get onto the narrow paved path that cuts through a meadow. Follow this a short distance and you’ll briefly enter and wooded area and come to Little Crater Lake. The lake is more the size of a pond but it’s color is amazing, it’s best viewed with the sun shining on it so you can really see the color.

      

      

Continue on the boardwalk trail through a marshy area full of skunk cabbage before going back into a wooded area. Pass through a horse fence and come the a trail junction. Go left here and follow the wide flat trail for a while until you come to a second intersection. Go left again and follow the boardwalk to a bridge over Little Crater Creek.

      

      

This bridge takes you to a trail that follows along the creek for a while until you come to the arm of Timothy Lake. It’s a pretty green color and fairly narrow compared to the actual lake. The trail continues to follow the arm of the lake and gradually rollercoasters but nothing too steep. You will pass a few campsites as you come to Timothy Lake. Keep following the trail and you will see a few side trails that take you down to the edge of the lake, any one of these make a good place to hangout and have lunch before heading back. Head back out the way you came in.

      

      

Distance: 4.5 Miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Late spring through fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

University Falls (Spring 2018)

Directions: Take Highway 26 West and then get on Highway 6 (for Banks and Tillamook). After about 19 miles on Highway 6 take a left at the road for Rogers Camp. Go right at the split so you’re on Saddle Mountain Road. Follow the road staying right at the first few splits (they are signed for University Falls). When you come to a split in the middle of the road with a large stump stay left and quickly reach the trailhead on the right side of the road. It’s a gravel road with a few potholes but it’s pretty well maintained. Watch for logging trucks and ATV’s.

We always like to stop and check out this waterfall anytime we’re on the way to the coast. It’s a quick hike but it makes for a nice place to get out and stretch your legs a bit. Doesn’t hurt that the trail takes you to a pretty waterfall either!

      

From the trailhead get on the trail to the left and follow it as it heads uphill gradually. You will cross two ATV roads (keep a good eye out because they come flying around the corners) and the trail starts to go head downhill with a large clearcut off to the right.

      

Once the trail flattens out and starts to go away from the clearcut you will see a trail junction on the right and a colorful sign for University Falls to the left. Take the side trail just next to the sign and follow it a short distance to the waterfall. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: .8 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All- it runs very low in the summer though.

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Strawberry Island (Spring 2018)

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 2.5 miles. Take a left onto N Bonneville Drive and then a right onto W Cascade Drive. Take another left onto Portage Drive, Portage ends at a baseball field and parking area.

From the parking area get on the trail and go straight. You will head up a hill and get a nice view of the Columbia River and the Bonneville Dam. You will also get to see some of the wildfire damage across the river in the Moffett Creek area. Lots of brown and burned up trees, but there are still areas of green!

     

Continue following the trail down the other side of the hill and head right as you wind your way around the island. You will see Beacon Rock and Table Mountain as you make your way to a marshy area. We saw a few birds in this area but it was pretty hot so there wasn’t much wildlife out and about.

      

Continue on the Strawberry Loop trail as you hike next to an inlet of the Columbia and back to the parking area.

      

 

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 100 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge- Carty Lake Hike (Spring 2018)

Directions: Take I-5 north to exit 14. Go left at the intersection after getting off the freeway. Follow the road for about 3 miles through downtown Ridgefield. Go right at an intersection with Main St and drive for about a mile until you see a sign for the Carty Unit of the Refuge. Follow the gravel road to the parking area.

From the parking area cross the bridge over the railroad tracks and follow the ramp down to the gravel trail. Follow the trail past the plankhouse and take a left at the trail junction.

      

      

The trail goes past duck lake and winds around as you go over a small footbridge. You’ll enter a treelined area and in the spring you can see a lot of birds in this area. We lucked out and briefly saw a Virginia Rail. Keep following the trail and you’ll see Carty Lake off to your left.

      

      

The trail continues and heads left, with the lake off to your left as well. The trail goes all the way to the end of the lake. Head back out the way you came in.

      

      

Since you already paid the entrance fee make sure you head to the ‘S’ Unit of the refuge a few miles away. You can take the driving tour where there is a LOT of wildlife to see.

      

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 60 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No dogs are not allowed in the preserve

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: $3 per car

Seasons: Carty Lake is open May-Sept

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Tom McCall Nature Preserve & Rowena Plateau (Spring 2018)

Directions: Drive east on I-84 and take exit 69 for Mosier. Turn right and follow the Old Highway into Mosier. Continue on the Old Highway for about 7 miles. There will be a big sign marking Rowena Crest and gravel parking areas.

We started over at the Rowena Crest Viewpoint to get a view of the road “loop” below. We then went a short distance into Tom McCall Nature Preserve. We walked until the poison oak got thick and decided to turn back.

      

Next we crossed the road and went to Rowena Plateau. It’s a very easy to follow short trail that ends at the point of the plateau. You get great views of the Gorge along with the wildflowers.

      

      

The most common wildflowers you’ll see are balsamroot and lupine. But depending on the month you’ll see other wildflowers like bachelor button, wild cucumber, buttercups and many others.

      

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 110 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed on this trail.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes especially during wildflower season

Warnings: Tick and poison oak