Tag Archives: Autumn

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?


Tooth Rock (Autumn)

Directions: Drive I-84 east to exit 40. Take a right at the stop sign and then an immediate left. Follow this road uphill where it ends at the Tooth Rock Trailhead.

The trail starts out paved as you pass by a Bonneville Power substation and soon come to a side trail to your right. This trail has a small brown marker that says Tanner Butte, take this narrow dirt trail and follow it uphill. There are a lot of downed trees on the first part of this trail, they are all easy to go under or around. You will also pass by an old refrigerator that has been dumped on the trail.

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Continue up the trail until you reach a sort of summit where there is a trail junction. Keep on the same trail as you start to head downhill somewhat steeply. This trail will end in two switchbacks that drop you off at the paved trail you started on just farther down.

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Go left on the paved trail where you will hear a lot of traffic from I-84 just below you. The path heads uphill a bit for a short distance before leveling out. You will pass a couple good spots that have a nice view of the Gorge and Bonneville Dam. From here you are just following the paved path back to your car.

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Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 240

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages- there are some steep parts but it’s not very long.

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: Not the most exciting hike but it’s nice if you don’t want to do a long hike.


Elowah Falls & Upper McCord Creek Falls (Autumn)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 35. Take a left at the stop sign and then a right onto Frontage Road. Follow Frontage Road for about 2 miles to the John B Yeon parking area.

From the trailhead follow the trail as it passes an old water tower and heads back east where you start hiking uphill. The trail here is fairly wide and well groomed, you are going uphill steadily but it’s nothing too hard. Soon you will reach the junction with Upper McCord Creek Falls. Continue straight here and the trail levels out a bit but becomes much more rocky. Next up are the long switchbacks that take you down to Elowah Falls. We’ve had quite a bit of rain recently so this part of the trail was pretty muddy. The trail drops you right at the base of Elowah Falls and a bridge crossing the creek. This is the end point for the Elowah Falls part of this hike.

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When you are ready to head up to Upper McCord Creek Falls follow the switchbacks back up and head for the trail junction you passed earlier. Go left and start gradually heading uphill, you will switchback and cross over old metal pipe that’s running over the trail in two spots. Continue following the trail and you will hike up more switchbacks where you will start getting views of the Gorge. After the switchbacks the trail skirts along the cliffs with a metal railing to prevent falling. The views up here are beautiful and there is even a rock bench to sit and enjoy it all. This cliff area can be really drippy with runoff during the rainy months. Continue around the cliff and short distance and you will be able to see Elowah Falls from the top and a short distance later will reach Upper McCord Creek Falls.

When you are ready head back out the way you came in.

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Distance: 3.6 miles

Elevation: 500 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Overall: Two waterfalls in less than 4 miles is hard to beat! These waterfalls are best during the rainy seasons.

Wahclella Falls (Autumn)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 40 (Bonneville Dam). Take a right at the stop sign and go right at the fork where you will see the parking area.

We have also hiked Wahclella Falls in the Winter and Spring seasons.

From the parking area follow the wide flat path past a gate as it follows along Tanner Creek. Soon you will come to a Dam where the trail takes a sharp left and immediately comes to a bridge that takes you right next to Munra Falls.

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From here the trail gradually starts to head uphill as you get great views of the creek below. The trail is pretty rocky the whole way and has some pretty muddy spots with some fencing in it to prevent erosion. There is a small staircase with wooden steps and a short distance later you will come to a split in the trail.

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Head right at the split and go down a couple switchbacks that take you to a bridge. After crossing the bridge you will be in a large rock slide area. There is a nice little seasonal runoff to the right coming from way up on the cliffs. You will soon start seeing the waterfall as you continue around and through a small almost cave or grotto like area. Cross yet another bridge and you will be at the main viewing area for Wahclella Falls.

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When you’re ready, continue the loop as you climb up between a few large rocks to the upper trail. As you go along the upper trail you will see the lower trail and rock slide area below. Soon you will be back at the split in the trail, go straight and get back on the main trail where you will follow it back to your car.

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Autumn at Wahclella Falls is great, the upper tier is much more visible and Munra Falls water level is nice and full. Tanner Creek is moving swiftly and the colors are great.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 300 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Porta-potties at the trailhead.

Parking Fee: Yes a $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This is a great easy hike for all seasons. Can’t beat two waterfalls in two miles either!

Falls Creek Falls (Autumn)

Directions: 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)

We did this hike during the summer- click here to check out the post.

From the parking area follow the trail which starts out fairly wide and runs along the creek. You gradually start heading uphill as the trail narrows a bit and you come to a suspension bridge. You get great views down into the gorge below. Continuing on the creek will now be on your right and there are a few spots that you can get right down next to the creek.

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Autumn is of course a rainy season for Washington so the trail was pretty muddy in spots. There were also a lot more seasonal streams that ran across the trail.

You soon start to gain elevation, some parts are pretty steep but it’s not that long. You do have to cross a fairly decent runoff area, but there were plenty of rocks to hop, and no wet feet. Soon you will cross another bridge that takes you over another seasonal stream. This one is very pretty as it flows through moss covered rocks.

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Keep following the trail and just a short distance later you will start to hear the roar of Falls Creek Falls. The trail drops down right in front of the waterfall. There are a lot of big rocks here that would be a good place for lunch if you bring a tarp, otherwise they are too wet to sit on. Falls Creek Falls is massive year round but it’s just something else during the rainy seasons. It’s very loud, very full, and VERY impressive!

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There is a scramble that we did back in the summer that takes you to the middle tier. We decided to skip it this time because the ground was quite soggy and the rocks and logs were slippery.

The fall colors that were on display was great, just icing on the cake for this great hike.

Distance: 4 miles

Elevation: 700 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages. There are some steep sections that may be difficult for some.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: The snow gate closes late fall and opens in early spring.

Popular: Yes

Overall: We definitely recommend this hike, the waterfall is amazing.

Dry Creek Falls (Autumn)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Cascade Locks. Take a right on Wasco St. and then another right onto Moody St., park along the road.

We have previously visited Dry Creek Falls during the summer and winter seasons, this is a great hike and we were excited to check it out during autumn with all the great colors!

From the trailhead follow the trail as you gradually start heading uphill through a nice forest. Previously there were downed trees but they have since been cleared out which is great. The trail stays steadily uphill for about a mile where you will come to a clearing with power lines running through it. On a clear day you will get views of the Gorge off to the left.

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Continue on and the trail switches to more of a roller coaster. It’s pretty equal between gaining and losing elevation. The forest through here is very pretty and had foggy patches. We were getting a nice show of autumn color which was great! The trail comes to a junction at Dry Creek, go right and head uphill with the creek to your left as you soon reach Dry Creek Falls.

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You will cross over old damn pieces and finally get to the base of the waterfall which is surrounded by columnar basalt. There are lots of places all around the waterfall to take pictures, as well as lots of places to take pictures of the creek. See if you can spot the tree full of shoes while you’re there!

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Autumn is a great time to do this hike. The colors are great and the water level is flowing pretty high, while the weather is still pretty mild!

Distance: 4.5 miles

Elevation: 680 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: We love this hike and can’t wait to check this out in spring which will finish all the seasons!

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.


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.

Watson Falls (Autumn)

Directions: From the entrance to Crater Lake National Park on Highway 138 continue West on the highway for about 24 miles. There are signs for Watson Falls.

Watson falls is the third highest waterfall in Oregon!

From the parking area get on the trail that heads up some wooden steps and takes you across the highway. The trail heads uphill sometimes steeply but nothing that’s too hard. About a third mile up the trail you will come to a great area in the creek that’s covered in moss and ferns with water coming out all over, and you can actually see Watson Falls from here too.

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Continue up some stone steps that lead you to a wooden bridge that crosses the creek. From here the trail passes a bench and starts switchbacking up to the waterfall where the trail ends at another bench and great views of the waterfall and surrounding area.

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Since you are in the area we highly recommend that you stop by Clearwater Falls, it’s just a few miles from Watson Falls. The waterfall is just a few steps from the parking area. Make sure to hike up the left side of the waterfall to see the creek above!

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Distance: 1 mile

Elevation: 300 feet

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages- just be aware that there are some steps and switchbacks

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Check for road closures during snowy months.

Popular: No

Overall: Very pretty hike, lots of places you’ll want to stop and take pictures along the trail!

Toketee Falls (Autumn)

Directions: From the entrance to Crater Lake National Park on Highway 138 follow the highway West for about another 25 miles or so. You will see signs for Toketee Falls.

From the parking area pass the wooden pipeline that is diverting water from the North Umpqua River to a powerhouse downstream and get onto the trail. Crossing over a small bridge the trail heads downhill slightly as you pass through a wooded area and come to your first set of stairs. As you continue you will be going through three more sets of stairs. Some are stone and some are wooden with chainlink fence.

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You will follow along the North Umpqua River the whole time and there are many points along the way to stop and get a good look at it. The trail ends at a wooden viewing platform with a tree coming up the middle of it and a bench. You get a great view of the waterfall and the amazing columnar basalt.

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Since you are in the area we would recommend stopping at Whitehorse Falls, it’s just a few miles from Toketee Falls. The waterfall is just steps from the parking area!


Distance: 1 mile

Elevation: 150 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: This trail is good for most, but there are a lot of steps, so it may not be good for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Vault toilet at trailhead.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Check for road closures during the snowy months.

Popular: Yes

Overall: Lovely riverside hike that leads to a beautiful waterfall surrounded by amazing columnar basalt!

The Pinnacles (Autumn)

Directions: This Hike is located in Crater Lake National Park. It’s 6 miles Southeast of the Phantom Ship Overlook at the very end of Pinnacles Road.

The Pinnacles are chimneys that formed when hot ash cooled after the eruption. From the parking area follow the dirt and gravel path along the rim of Pinnacle Valley. Sand Creek is down in the valley and you will start to see small pinnacles immediately.

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The views get better the farther you go and there are a couple turnouts in the trail that give you the best views of the pinnacle lined valley. There is practically no elevation gain as the trail ends at the outer boundary of Crater Lake National Park.

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Distance: 1 mile

Elevation: 10 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: $15 Crater Lake NP entrance fee.

Seasons: Summer and fall

Popular: Less popular than most attractions at Crater Lake but can still draw a crowd.

Overall: This was a very interesting hike and definitely something we haven’t seen before. The valley was very pretty too!