Tag Archives: Columbia River Gorge

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

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

Mosier Plateau (Spring 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to exit 69 (Mosier). Follow the old highway into Mosier and parking in the gravel parking lot just past the totem pole on the left side of the road.

From the parking area cross the bridge and find the trail on the right side of the road near a bench. The trail starts uphill and takes you to an old pioneer cemetery. Continue on the trail where it stays mostly evenly graded and you will come to Mosier Creek Falls down in the canyon off to the right.

      

      

Continuing on the trail you’ll start up the 16 switchbacks. There are four separate sets of stairs mixed into the switchbacks as well. The switchbacks are fairly long and make the hike less steep than it could be without them.

      

You’ll wind your way up to the top of Mosier Plateau where you will see a lot of wildflowers (mainly balsamroot and lupine) and amazing views of the Gorge. There are trails that wind around all over the plateau.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 600 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: There is an outhouse by the totem pole

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes during spring wildflower season

Warnings: Ticks and poison oak

Memaloose Hills (Spring 2018)

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.

From the parking area carefully cross the road and pick up the trail. The trail heads uphill gradually and you’ll instantly start seeing wildflowers. There is a home off to your right and eventually the trail levels off a bit.

      

Next, the trail heads downhill to a very small stream that you can step over. Down in this area we saw a lot of chocolate lilies. After crossing the stream the trail splits off, each trail taking you to a different hill. We went straight/left first- towards Marsh Hill. This is the less steep of the two hills. There was a lot of balsamroot blooming and the lupine was just starting. You’ll get a nice view of Mt. Hood off to your right. Head back down to the trail junction when you’re done.

      

      

Take the other trail through a grassy field, it was filled with buttercup while we were here which was great. You’ll pass a farm to your left as you enter a more oak tree filled area. The trail starts heading uphill in this area and you’ll start seeing a lot of balsamroot. The trail will open up again to Chatfield Hill that is covered in balsamroot, lupine, paintbrush and other wildflowers. The trail heads uphill and is pretty steep in sections. Once at the top on a clear day you will have a view of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and the Gorge. It’s definitely the better of the two hills.

      

      

Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 550 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- there are some steep sections heading up each hill

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: During spring wildflower bloom

Warnings: Ticks and poison oak

Multnomah Falls- Post Fire

A few weeks ago the lower viewing platform of Multnomah Falls was reopened after the devastating Eagle Creek Fire. Most of the Historic Columbia River Highway is still closed so the only parking area that’s open is the one on I-84.

You can definitely see the fire damage up on the top of the ridge and down the sides. They have put up a lot of fencing to help with rock fall as well. The waterfall itself looks the same and the Benson Bridge *seems* to be undamaged. The trails are all still closed and probably will be for some time.

      

Everyone is excited to check out the Gorge as it slowly starts to reopen- it was very crowded when we were here early on a Saturday. We’d recommend maybe heading this way on a weekday if you don’t want to fight through a sea of people.

      

We’ll keep updating the blog as more trails open.

Bridal Veil Falls (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Bridal Veil exit #28. Take a right onto the Historic Columbia River Highway and in less than a half mile the Bridal Veil Falls parking area will be on your right.

This is our first time back to Bridal Veil falls since the Old Columbia River Highway reopened after the devastating Eagle Creek Fire.

Much like Latourell Falls, the Bridal Veil area wasn’t damaged by the fire. Although you can see how close it came to being burned by looking at Angel’s Rest and Sheppards Dell Falls.

From the parking area get on the trail and pass by the restrooms. The trail starts out paved and quickly turns to gravel a short distance later.

      

You’ll go down a long switchback that takes you to a set of stairs that ends at a bridge over the creek. Keep following the path to the right and up more stairs to a viewing platform above the waterfall.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: .6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 100 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

 

Post Fire Update

A section of the Old Highway was opened not long ago and two trails as well, Latourell Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. We decided to go check the area out a few weeks ago.

We started by doing the full Latourell Falls Loop and we were pleasantly surprise. There wasn’t any fire damage to the trail and the waterfall itself was looking great. They have done some improvements to the trail down at the lower section of the waterfall. The paved section is much better and more evenly graded making for easy universal access.

      

Next we kept driving and stopped at Sheppard’s Dell Falls. The trail is closed and with good reason. This area got burned pretty good and there are definite changes you can see. There are a lot of burned trees and rocks that have fallen. Trees have also been removed in this area making it to where you can see a lot more of the top tiers of this waterfall.

Continuing down the Gorge towards Bridal Veil you will notice a lot of burned trees along the road and scorched basalt, many trees have been removed and rocks have definitely fallen. We didn’t have time to check out the Bridal Veil trail but we plan to do so soon.

      

The Old Highway continues to have patches of burned areas as you reach the Angels Rest Trailhead and this is where you have to stop, as the rest of the Old Highway is closed. We’ve seen pictures of the Angels Rest trail and it was burned pretty bad.

You can visit the Multnomah Falls lodge but can only get there by parking in the lot on I-84 and walking up to it. There is fencing blocking off Multnomah Falls at the lodge so views are minimal.

As more sections of the Gorge open we will check them out and continue to update the site on what trails are open. Stay tuned.

 

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

Directions: Take I-205 North to exit 27. Merge onto Highway 14 east and follow it for about 12 miles. Take a right at the sign for Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge.

From the parking area pass the bathroom (there is a whiteboard on the side that has a list of wildlife people have seen recently, it’s worth a look) and get on the trail. You’ll pass a few interpretive signs and soon be following along next to a large open grassy/marshy area.

      

After passing by a couple branches of Steigerwald Lake you will enter a small wooded area. Here we saw a Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, and Brown Creeper.

      

      

Keep following the trail and you’ll come to a split in the trail, part of the refuge is closed October through April to protect winter birds. Go right and cross the bridge, in here we saw a Bald Eagle. Follow the trail to another bridge over Redtail Lake. We saw Northern Shovelers and Coots in the lake as well as a sleeping Nutria in the grass. You can continue on from here where the trail ends at the dike trail.

      

Head back the way you came in.

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: None

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in the refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All. Part of the trail is closed Oct-Apr

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Memaloose Hills (Autumn)

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.

From the parking area carefully cross the road and take the unmarked but obvious trail. The trail is lined with oak trees and is kinda rocky, but typical of Gorge trails. There are a couple houses off to the right but they are pretty far away.

      

The trail heads uphill gradually for a bit and eventually levels off for a while before heading back downhill to a small stream. It was dry when we visited (mid-October) but i’m sure it gets pretty full during the rainy season. There is no bridge over the small creek but should be easily crossed over some of the well placed large rocks.

      

After crossing the creek you will see a unmarked trail off to the right. Take this trail that’s flat and winds through fairly tall grass. You’ll pass by a small pond with cattails and head off towards a fence. At the fence area the trail starts heading uphill somewhat steeply as you go up Chatfield Hill. After you pass the tree line you will start to see Mt. Hood off to your left. The last half of the hill is just grass with nice unobstructed views of the mountain and valley below.

      

Once at the top of the hill you get amazing views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, The Gorge, and Marsh Hill. The top is pretty flat and makes a nice place to sit, have lunch, and take in the views!

      

We’ve been here twice and both times it has been really quiet, only crossing paths with 3 or 4 other people the whole time. We would definitely recommend doing this hike on a clear day, the views are what really make this hike worth it!

 

Distance: 3.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 450 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages- there is some elevation gain towards the end when going up Chatfield Hill.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: Poison Oak

To see our previous visit in spring click here.

Oregon’s 7 Wonders

Travel Oregon came up with Oregon’s 7 Wonders and we’ve slowly been checking them out over the past few years. They’re spread out all over Oregon which is great because it really gives you a chance to see a lot of the state.

This August we finally checked off the last wonder and here’s what we thought of them…

The Columbia River Gorge:

We’ve visited this wonder so many times we’ve lost count, starting when we were both kids, and have very fond memories of this area. It’s a little bitter sweet due to the recent wildfire that ravaged the area but this area is so large that there is still places to visit, and we can’t wait until the trails reopen and we get to see this beautiful place again. We know it will take a lot of time, but the Gorge will come back stronger than ever.

Waterfalls, views, and wildflowers…a Gorge trail will take you somewhere amazing!

      

      

Some of our favorite Gorge hikes are Fairy Falls, Larch Mountain, and Wahclella Falls. If you’re Looking for a good lunch spot check out The Ranch for a good burger in Hood River.

The Oregon Coast:

This is another wonder that we’ve visited countless times. Some of our favorite cities are Newport, Pacific City, and Lincoln City. Oregonians know that the coast really is an all season place. A perfect summer day is amazing but a nice winter storm is fun too! Tide pools and lighthouses are some of our favorite things to check out at the coast along with all the great hiking.

      

      

Some great hikes in the area University Falls, Cape Falcon, and Drift Creek Falls. If you’re looking for some good food check out Pacific Oyster in Bay City.

Smith Rock:

We’ve been to Smith Rock three times and it’s amazing. The hikes are great and you can’t really go wrong with any trail you pick. Our personal favorite is Misery Ridge, it may be a bit difficult but it’s well worth the extra energy spent. With the Snake River Gorge winding through the large tuff and basalt rock formations it’s easy to see why this area made the list.

      

      

Make sure to stop by Juniper Junction (Rockhard) for some tasty huckleberry ice cream.

The Painted Hills:

Probably the most unique place on the list with all of the bright colored hills. There’s so much to see here you’ll need to plan for most of the day to really explore this place. There are trails that take you up hills to allow you views of the whole area. Off to one side you’ll see large hills with yellow, red and purple paintbrush type strokes on them, and then if you look another direction you’ll see smaller hills that are deep red or bright yellow-gold. Make sure to check out the trails that go around the smaller hills, it’s really amazing to see the texture and colors up close.

      

      

For more info on the trails click here.

Crater Lake:

Crater Lake is a Caldera Lake that’s very large and very blue. You can drive around the whole crater rim and there are many trails around the caldera. After spending time at some of the many viewpoints and getting a good look at the lake and wizard island make sure to make some time to explore the trails. A few of our favorites are Plaikni Falls and The Pinnacles.

      

      

While you’re in the area make sure to check out Toketee Falls.

The Wallowas:

Way out in eastern Oregon are the Wallowa Mountains, near the town of Joseph. They call it the Swiss Alps of Oregon and we can definitely see why. The best and easiest way to see the Wallowa Mountains are to take the tramway up to the top of Mt. Howard. Wallowa Lake is also a big attraction in this area, the lake is huge and it offers great views of the mountains as well. There are a ton of beautiful barns in the area, stop at the visitor center in Joseph for a map of where you can find them all.

      

      

We recommend the famous mountain berry shake at the Eagle Cap Chalet and a burger from the Glacier Grill.

Mt. Hood:

Of course the Mt. Hood area would make this list- it’s amazing! The mountain itself is beautiful as are the lakes and waterfalls that surround it. This area can’t be beat when it comes to winter activities too- ski, snowboard, snowshoe…you can seriously do it all.

      

      

Some of our favorite hikes in this area Bald Mountain, Umbrella Falls, Zigzag Canyon, and snowshoeing at White River West.

 

Oregon’s 7 Wonders are truly amazing and they really show off how great this state is, we’ll be back to visit them all again and again!

How many of the wonders have you seen? We’d love to hear what your favorite wonder is!