Tag Archives: Butterflies

University Falls (Summer)

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 all the splits) for about 3 miles, the road is always signed for University Falls. The trailhead is on the right side of the road and well marked. It’s a gravel road with a few potholes but it’s pretty well maintained. Watch for logging trucks and ATV’s

Last time we were here we happened to pick a day with a huge trail run going through the area. This time was much better since we didn’t have to dodge people running up on us out of nowhere 😆

From the small parking area get on the trail that starts out heading uphill gradually. You will soon come to a ATV crossing, after this crossing the trail starts heading downhill. There were a lot more flowers this time, the salal was blooming all along the trail as well as some wild daisies and tiny lupine.

      

After passing the large clearcut area off to your right the trail levels out again and curves left. The sign for the waterfall was knocked down this time but the trail off to the left is overgrown but still obvious. Along this side trail was some muddy areas that were a haven for mosquitoes but quick to pass through. You’ll quickly see the creek and then University Falls off in the distance.

      Head back out the way you came in.

The trail was a little better this time around with the flowers but the clearcut is still ugly. It takes away from what could be a very pretty coast range hike.

 

Distance: .8 mile (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Season: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Spring)

Directions: From downtown Portland take Highway 26 to exit 57 (Glencoe Road). Turn left and follow this road that  eventually turns into Hillsboro Highway for about 6 miles. You will see signs for Jackson Bottom. Take a left into the wetland, there is a building for the wetland and clean water services building with a parking area.

Before you head out grab a map at the information kiosk.

From the parking area head to the wooden staircase that takes you down to the Tualatin River. We followed along this trail for a while stopping at the viewpoints and ending at Vic’s Grove, there was a lot of wild rose and a few birds in this area. Head back from Vic’s Grove and go right at the fork where you walk along Kingfisher Marsh. You can’t see much of the marsh from this side, it’s got a lot of plant growth surrounding it. Soon you’ll reach a bridge over a small stream that takes you to Pintail Pond.

      

      

You can go all the way around Pintail Pond. We saw a good amount of birds here, there are a lot of swallow houses on poles so they are all over. Down along the edges of the pond we saw a family of spotted sandpipers and a few killdeer. As we continued on we came to a group of quail and a few mourning dove. They also have a huge osprey nest and we were able to see them flying around.

      

After finishing the Pintail Pond loop head back out and go north towards a bird blind that looks out over an unnamed marsh area. We saw a large group of american white pelicans as well as cormorants here. Keep following the main trail and go left where you walk in between two marsh areas. Here we saw a black-headed grosbeak and a sora. Keep following this trail uphill where it takes you to the education center and the parking area.

      

This is a great place for kids and bird watchers. There’s a lot of different areas that attract a good amount of birds.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 130 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No, dogs are not allowed anywhere in Jackson Bottom.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area and in the education center.

Parking Fee: A $2 donation is recommended

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Cottonwood Canyon State Park (Pinnacles Trail) (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 104, turn right for Wasco/Bend. Follow Highway 97 for a little over 7 miles and take a left for Wasco. Drive for about 2 miles and take a right on Clark St., a short distance later take a left for Highway 206E and Cottonwood Canyon State Park. Go another 15 miles and take a right into the park. Take a left and follow the road all the way to the end back by the campsite area and a couple vault toilets. This is the Pinnacles Trailhead.

The drive out was great to, you get to drive through a wind farm which was very interesting. Stop at the viewpoint to get a good look at the wind turbines and a nice view of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.

Cottonwood Canyon is one of Oregon’s newest state parks and is the second largest. There are a few different hikes you can do here and we decided to try out the longer trail on our first visit. This area can get very hot even in spring and there are very few shady areas along the trail. We did this hike early on a sunny cloudless day and it was quite hot by the time we finished. Make sure to plan accordingly with water, sunscreen, etc. There are also lots of signs warning about ticks and snakes, so be prepared for that as well. For more information about ticks click here.

This hike is also shared with mountain bikers.

The hike immediately starts out along the John Day River and you will be hiking closely to it the whole way. After passing a trailhead station the trail curves and come to a basalt overhang with many cliff swallow nests above. You will see them flying in and out of the nest and catching bugs near the river. Continuing on you will be walking along sagebrush and other small bushes, hills and basalt cliffs line the canyon the whole way. We saw many deer and bighorn sheep tracks but never saw the animals themselves. We did see many butterflies and lots of different birds, as well as bones from small animals.

      

You will come to a junction in the trail we decided to go left here and gain a bit of elevation to get a better view of the canyon and river. It connects back with the main trail a short distance later. There is a bench at the top which offers a great view. You will notice benches along the trail with mile markers on them.

 

 

      

The trail continues on with much of the same views which isn’t bad, it’s very pretty. You’ll get away from the river briefly and the trail enters an area that is lined with large thistle and has a small boggy area. After this area you start seeing the river again and come to the end of the hike.

      

You’ll see the bench with the mile 4 marker and you can see the small pinnacles off in the distance to your left. You can go a bit farther to get a better look at them where you will see a gate, past the gate is considered off trail.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

This trail is different than a lot of the hikes we go on and that was nice. The whole area is beautiful with all the rolling hills and cliffs. It was our first hike along the John Day as well and it’s a very pretty river. We will definitely be back to check out the other trails.

Distance: 8 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 70 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: Yes $5 per person, not car.

Seasons: All

Popular: The area is popular for camping but we saw only four other people the whole time on the trail.

Warnings: Ticks

Beacon Rock (Spring)

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 5 miles until you come to the parking area on the left shoulder of the highway.

Beacon Rock is one of our favorite hikes, it’s short but packed full of great Gorge views.

From the parking area get on the trail that takes you into the wooded area at the base of the rock. Follow the dirt trail until you get to the first of many switchbacks that takes you to the entrance gate for Beacon Rock.

      

Immediately you get a view of the Columbia River below and since it’s spring we saw some wildflowers growing out the side of the rock. The trail is rock, cement, and boardwalk as you head up the west side. You will pass many viewpoints along the way, once you start to get around the south side of the rock you will start seeing the train tracks below.

      

      

We saw many red-tailed hawks, osprey, and vultures soaring around throughout the hike. We also saw some other small birds in the bushes and trees growing along the trails. Once on the east side of the rock the trail turns to dirt and thats a good sign you are close to the top.

      

There is a small set of steps that takes you to the very top. At the top there are a few big rocks that make for a nice place to rest or eat lunch. It’s a pretty small area and can get packed pretty quickly.

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 700 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: With all the switchbacks and elevation this may not be the best hike for small kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: $10 Discovery Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes especially on nice weekends

Overall: We really like this hike. It’s been great each time we’ve visited.

Government Cove Peninsula (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the exit just past Cascade Locks that’s marked for a weigh station. Get on Frontage Rd and continue on and cross the tracks. Park near the gate.

From the gate follow the trail off to the left as it climbs up to the top of the main rock area. At the top you get great views of the Gorge, this is also a nice place to eat lunch or hangout for a while.

      

Head back down but not all the way, go off to the right and climb up another section of the rock where you will find a lot of wildflowers in the spring. We saw lupine, wild iris, wild rose, and much more. The grass is a bit overgrown around here but the trail is still visible and passable.

      

Next head back down and explore around the base. There are a lot of trails that take you all around the island. You can see the south part where the cove is and usually a few cormorants and nutria. You can also get out where the island comes to a point and see the Columbia River really well.

      

After you’ve finished exploring you can take the lower trail back to the gate where your car is parked.

We definitely enjoyed ourselves a bit more this time around. All of the flowers were a surprise which was a nice treat. This is a great area for kids to get out and do some exploring 🙂

Distance: 2.25 miles

Elevation: 100 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: This is a popular area for fishing and duck hunting but the trails aren’t busy.

Overall: Spring is a great time of year for this hike.

 

Lower Ruckel Creek Falls (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 41 (Eagle Creek). Go left at the stop sign and park across from the fish hatchery.

This hike starts on the paved path that’s in between I-84 and the fish hatchery. It runs along I-84 for a bit and is quite noisy. Soon it turns off to the right and enters a wooded area. You’ll pass a trailhead on your right and soon come to an open grassy area on your left with a faint worn path.

      

Follow this path through the tall grass and daisies (in the spring), as in reenters into a wooded area. Continue following the trail downhill until it ends at Ruckel Creek with the waterfall just to your right.

      

There is a fallen tree that makes a nice “bridge” over the creek to get a better view of the waterfall.

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 1 mile

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the Eagle Creek Trailhead

Parking Fee: Yes a $5 NW Forest Pass is required

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: We’re excited to see what this waterfall looks like in other seasons.

Memaloose Hills (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 to exit 69. Follow Highway 30 east and in 3 miles you will see the Memaloose Overlook sign with a gravel parking lot on the left.

This is a great hike in the spring during the Gorge wildflower season.

      

From the parking area cross the road and take the unmarked trail. The trail starts out fairly flat, there are oak trees all around and a couple houses out in the distance. If you are doing this hike in peak wildflower season you will be surrounded by many different types of flowers. Lower on the trail we saw balsamroot, blue-eyed mary, shooting stars, and harsh paintbrush.

      

      

The trail heads uphill gradually and levels out again. Here we saw blooming miners lettuce, western buttercup, upland larkspur, naked broomrape, and chocolate lily. There were also lots of birds, bees, and butterflies. Soon, the trail heads downhill to a small seasonal stream that you will cross and stay straight on the trail. The trail opens up where you will see a farm and start winding uphill. The balsamroot is profuse here all over the side of the hill and the lupine was just starting to bloom.

      

      

Once at the top of the hill you will have views of the Gorge and Highway 30 down below. There is also ballhead waterleaf and big-head clover blooming at the top. This is the end of the hike, head back out the way you came in.

      

      

This quickly turned into our new favorite wildflower hike, there are just so many different flowers blooming here. Other wildflower hikes nearby are Rowena Plateau and Tom McCall Nature Preserve, they are just another 3 miles up the highway.

We do want to warn everyone that poison oak grows all along this trail and we are heading into tick season. For more on ticks click here.

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: 400 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All but spring is best

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Overall: We highly recommend this hike for anyone wanting to experience the wildflowers in the Gorge.

Wind Lake (Summer)

Directions: Take Highway 26 East to Skibowl.

We decided to do this hike with the Sky Chair. If you don’t want to ride the lift you can definitely hike up to the lake. It would be an out and back hike, just follow what we did in reverse 🙂

If you decide to take the lift head into the guest services/ticket sales store and get your tickets for the UPPER bowl. You will be going to the very top of Skibowl. Tickets are $18 per person. Make sure to also get a free trail map while you are there, it’s helpful.

After you get your tickets and get on the lift you will first be heading over the Alpine Slide. Stay on the lift and pass the slide, as you continue up you will be going over some of the trails that  you will be using to hike out. When you get to the top of the lower bowl get off and follow the trail to your right, there is a sign marked for Upper Bowl. This trail is short and heads downhill crossing a bike trail and ends at the upper bowl lift.

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Get on the second lift and take it to the very top of Ski Bowl. Once you get off first head to your right and up a short hill to take in the awesome view of Mt. Hood, Ski Bowl, and Government Camp. It was a clear day so we could also see Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens! It got even better when we looked South and saw Mt. Jefferson! Head back down the hill and take Skyline Road downhill a short distance where you will see a small sign on your right marking the Wind Lake Trail. Follow this trail somewhat steeply downhill for one mile where it ends right at the lake. We did this hike on a nice summer weekend and we didn’t see a single person at the lake. The lake is pretty small but still very pretty. There are plenty of places to hangout and have lunch or just relax for a bit.

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Head back out the Wind Lake trail and back onto Skyline Road. Go right and continue following Skyline Road for about a mile, you will pass tons of views of Mt. Hood along the way. Skyline Road turns into High Road (it’s signed) which you will follow for about a quarter mile. This takes you under the lower bowl lift and to the historic warming hut. After you pass the warming hut follow the trail downhill and around a corner where you will get onto the Gnar Gnar trail. It’s a switchback heavy trail but hikers can go straight through the switchbacks. It’s steep and has a lot of loose rocks but isn’t too bad. You will be hiking right next to the Alpine Slide and there are lots of wildflowers in the grass around here. The trail ends at the base of Skibowl.

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*Warning* Almost all of the trails you will be hiking on are shared trails so you will see lots of mountain bikers and maybe a few horses. The mountain bikers are riding very fast so please keep your eyes and ears open. They come up behind you quickly and the trail intersections can be a bit sketchy.

Distance: 4.8 miles if you are taking the Sky Chair, 9.8 miles if you are hiking out and back.

Elevation: With the lift: You will lose 1,400 feet of elevation hiking from Skyline Road back to your car, but you will also have to hike out from the lake which is 507 feet. If you are hiking out and back: 1,400 feet plus the lake loss and gain.

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: We saw dogs down at the base but none on the trail. Call before taking them.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes by the ticket store.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Varies. It depends when Skibowl opens for summer attractions.

Popular: Very busy down by the Alpine Slide. Lots of Mountain bikers but not many hikers.

Overall: This was a fun hike. The Sky Chair added something new and gave us great views. The lake was nice and quiet and the hike was fun.

Disappearing Lake (Summer)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Go right onto Highway 14 and after a little over 14.5 miles take a left onto Cook Underwood Rd. Follow this road for about 5 miles and take a left onto Willard Road. Willard Road turns into Oklahoma Road, follow it a short distance until you see a sign for Forest Road 66. Take a left onto FR 66 and follow it for over 12.5 miles (the last couple miles of this road is gravel) until you come to two lakes. Disappearing Lake is on the left, South Prairie Lake is on the right.

Disappearing Lake is a seasonal lake in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, it’s a VERY short lived seasonal lake, lasting for only about 4 weeks. Our first visit was at the end of this last May while the lake was still about 8 feet deep. To see our first post and to compare the difference click here.

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Obviously the most dramatic difference was the lack of water. We went from seeing this fairly good size lake with tall trees in the middle of it, to this huge meadow with bright green grass! It’s very pretty no matter if there is water or not. We were wondering if it would be wet and boggy but to our surprise it was very dry. We were able to walk all over the meadow and explore.

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We didn’t see the rare Iris, I think we were a little too late for that. We’ll just have to come back a little earlier next year 🙂

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It was great seeing all the huge trees, we could still see some faint water lines too! It was just really interesting seeing this place without water. There were dragonflies everywhere and lots of flowers throughout the meadow! We also saw lots of signs of elk that must hangout in the meadow in the morning and evenings.

This is definitely a place we will be coming back to every year. At least twice a year so we can kayak and hike!

Distance: Depends. You could walk around for a few minutes or get a couple miles in walking around the lake.

Elevation: 50 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Very short kayaking season (4 weeks, mid to late spring) and summer to fall for hiking

Popular: No

Overall: Love this place. So interesting and very quiet and peaceful!

Bald Mountain (Summer)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to the town of Zigzag. Go left onto Lolo Pass Road and follow it for about 4 miles where you will fork right onto road 1825. In a little less than 1 mile go straight onto road 1828 (it’s unsigned but it’s right before a bridge), this road is paved but has some pretty big potholes you’ll need to watch out for. Drive another 5.5 miles and go to the right onto road 118 (it’s gravel and quite narrow). Follow the road for about 1.5 miles until you reach the Top Spur Trailhead. This is a busy trailhead so parking can get interesting.

From the trailhead you’ll be going uphill on a trail thats covered in tree roots and rocks. In most places it’s almost like steps with all the roots. It’s moderately steep but nothing too terrible. After a half mile go right on the Pacific Crest Trail and just a short distance later come to a big trail intersection with a wilderness registration box. After filling out the paper head to your right and uphill slightly, make sure you see the sign on a tree that says Timberline Trail no. 600 Muddy Fork. Follow the trail through woods of skinny trees for about a third of a mile.

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You will leave the woods and come out to a clearing. This trail has one of the best reveals we’ve seen. Round the first corner of the clearing and come to absolutely spectacular views of Mt. Hood. You’re head on with Hood and to your left are wildflowers growing on the side of Bald Mountain, to your right is a valley of trees. It’s hands down one of our favorite views of Mt. Hood. Continue on the trail as you skirt along the edge and pass quite a few awesome viewpoints. You’ll briefly reenter a wooded area and then pop back out to a second clearing with more views of the mountain.

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When you finally reenter the forest follow the trail to a signed junction. Go left as the trail heads uphill for a bit before leveling out and coming to another junction. Go left again towards signed Top Spur Trailhead. This trail takes you back to the big intersection with the wilderness booth, go right and head back down the way you came in.

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Distance: 2.3 miles

Elevation: 400 Feet

Difficulty: Moderate. You gain all the elevation quickly in the beginning so it’s only steep for a little bit.

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Almost everyone. May not be the best for young kids, the area with the views has steep drop offs.

Bathrooms: Portable toilet at the trailhead.

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Spring through Fall.

Popular: Very popular trailhead and most of the trail is busy as well.

Overall: Great hike. We’ll be coming back to do other hikes in the area.