Tag Archives: Hot Weather Hike

Plaikni Falls (Autumn)

Directions: This hike is located in Crater Lake National Park, 1.2 miles Southeast of the Phantom Ship Overlook on Pinnacles Road.

From the parking area the trail starts off to your left. The trail is wide and stone lined as you wind through tall trees covered in bright green lichen, and you will notice lots of chipmunks scurrying about all around you. Soon you will pass an open area to your left with a view of the cliff face, and you will start seeing and hearing the creek off to your right. The last quarter mile is where most of the elevation gain is but it’s nothing too hard.

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The trail drops you off right at the waterfall, there are stone steps that get you right up close to the waterfall and creek. There are signs marking the end of the trail, and warnings to protect sensitive plants nearby.

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Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 100 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: Can be busy on weekends and during summer.

Overall: This was a pretty and easy hike with a beautiful waterfall.

Ape Caves (Summer)

Directions: Take I-5 North to exit 21 (Woodland/Highway 503) and follow Highway 503 East through the town of Cougar. Highway 503 turns into FR-90, continue on FR-90 and take a left onto Road 83 (signed for Ape Caves and Lava Canyon). Follow the signs to Ape Caves.

The Ape Cave is a large lava tube that was formed about 2,000 years ago from a lava flow on Mt. St. Helens. It is the third longest in North America. The lava tube temperature is 42 degrees year round (bring those jackets, even in the summer heat). It’s recommended that each person has two light sources. You can rent lanterns for $5 at the Ape Headquarters but it is not open year round, call ahead.

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From the parking area follow the short trail that takes you to the opening of the tube. There are lots of interpretive signs and usually a forest service employee in this area. Head down the steps and immediately feel the temperature drop, most people stop here and layer up! Head into the tube and come to two sets of stairs, follow signs for the lower cave.

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From here you are just walking through the tube, you may get dripped on a few times as well. You will pass the “meatball” which is a blob that hardened in a narrow space. The tube is .75 miles one way and narrows the farther you go. The ground is very uneven so watch your step! The very end of the tube is only accessible if you are comfortable crawling. Once you reach where you feel like stopping turn around and head back out the way you came.

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Distance: 1.5 miles

Elevation: 150 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Dogs are not allowed in the Ape Caves.

Good For: All ages- just make sure you are sure footed and ok with low light situations. We did see some young children crying, most likely because it’s so dark.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Open all year but call ahead late fall through spring.

Popular: Very

Overall: Fun experience, can get extremely busy during summer weekends.

The Thumb (Summer)

Directions: Depending on where you’re coming from head to Lincoln City. Once in Lincoln City go to the very North end of town and turn onto Logan Road. Pass the Safeway and follow the road to the very end. The road ends at two gates, turn around and park in the small gravel turnout.

From the gravel turnout head up the road until you come to the two gates. Head towards the left gate, you can get past the gate on its right side. Follow the trail uphill and you will soon come to a split in the trail. There is a small hiking sign pointing you to the right. From here the trail heads uphill pretty steeply.

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Once at the top of this first steep section the trail splits again. To your left is a washed out trail so stay right and keep heading uphill. Stay on the main trail as you keep going uphill, there will be a couple side trails but don’t take them. Eventually the trail starts to level out as you head into an area that’s thick with salal. It’s pretty overgrown in places and the trail gets really narrow because of it. You will pass a good viewpoint of the ocean as you continue on.

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The trail then starts heading downhill as you come out to the grassy field and get your first good look at The Thumb! Follow the trail through the grass as you reach the base of The Thumb. From here it gets a little hard, the trail heads up very steeply. It’s a short distance but it’s so steep it’s hard to stand up straight. Once at the top you have amazing views of the ocean and Lincoln City below. There isn’t much room at the top so if there are people up there you may want to wait until they come down before you start up. This is an out and back trail so when you are done head back out the way you came in.

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During the wet months this whole trail is very muddy and slick. We have had a stretch of really hot weather and there was still muddy parts in the wooded areas. There are a lot of runoff and washed out areas in the trail as well. So the weather may be something to consider before hiking this trail.

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View of The Thumb from down on Roads End beach.

Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation: Not 100% sure on the elevation but it’s pretty steep in multiple places.

Difficulty: Moderate to The Thumb, hard going up The Thumb.

Pet Friendly: Yes but there are drop offs that could be dangerous for dogs.

Good For: Sure footed hikers. May not be best for younger kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All but best in summer.

Popular: No

Overall: This was a great hike, definitely something different which was nice!

Scott Lake to Benson Lake (Summer)

Directions: From Sisters, Oregon get onto OR-242 W and drive for a little over 20 miles. Take a right onto NF-260 (signed for Scott Lake) and follow it for just less than a mile (you’ll pass by Scott Lake on your right). The road ends at the Benson Lake Trailhead.

From the trailhead take the trail to the left and start heading uphill on a beargrass and flower lined trail. The trail is dusty and full of the usual trees and bushes you would see on a mountain hike in central Oregon. It’s a pretty straight forward hike, just follow the trail that heads steadily uphill the whole time.

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After just less than a mile and a half you will come to a Mt. Washington Wilderness sign. It’s just a short distance from the sign that you will start seeing Benson Lake. Continue following the trail as you skirt around the lake. When you get to another sign go left on an unmarked trail that takes you down to a good viewpoint of the lake. There are multiple viewpoints along the lake, and they all offer great views of the clear and very blue water. When you are ready to head back just follow the trail out the way you came in.

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Back at the trailhead make sure you stop by Scott Lake before you head out. It’s a bit more swampy but it’s still very pretty. If you hike around the lake you will get good a view of the Three Sisters Mountains.

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We did this hike during peak mosquito season. If you kept moving constantly on the hike it wasn’t so bad, but it was pretty awful at the lake. They were out in full force and swarmed us like crazy. We were hiking with a group this day and some of them chose to only stay at the lake for a minute because of the bugs. The mosquitos were better at Scott Lake due to the massive amount of frogs! It was crazy to see hundreds of tiny frogs jumping around in the grass 🙂

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Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: 400 Feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Almost all ages. It might be a bit difficult for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass Required

Seasons: OR-242 closes during the winter at the snow gate. The road and trail are open from late spring to early fall. It’s best to call ahead in spring and fall to make sure the road is open.

Popular: There is a campground at Scott Lake that can become busy during the summer months. The hike to Benson Lake can be a bit busy on weekends.

Overall: Benson Lake is very pretty, just be prepared for mosquitoes in July!

 

Smith and Bybee Wetlands (Summer)

Directions: Smith and Bybee Lakes is located at 5300 North Marine Drive. You can take I-5 to exit 307 for Marine Drive. Turn right onto Marine Drive and follow it until you see the sign for the wetlands.

From the parking area head to your right on the paved path. You will pass by a small turnout that goes by a small marshy area. If you look through the cattails you can see turtles and maybe even a Great Blue Heron. Continue on until you come to the entrance of the wetland area.

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Follow the path into the heavily treed area and come to your first junction. Going right takes you to a viewpoint of a really boggy marshy area where you can see lots of birds. Next, go left at the junction and follow the trail a short distance to some boardwalk and a small sheltered area. This is another great spot for birdwatching. During the rainy months this boardwalk will have water under it from the marsh off in the distance. We heard you could see Pelicans in this area but we didn’t see them on this visit.

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Keep following the path and it will take you in a loop back onto the main paved trail. Go left and continue on for a bit before the trail opens up into a field area with tall grasses. We saw a deer out in this area eating. The trail eventually ends at another covered viewing area that is also great for watching birds and maybe even catching a glimpse of a beaver. From here you just follow the path back out the way you came in.

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Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation: 0

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in the wetland area.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Vault toilet at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Sometimes. It can get a bit busy on the weekends.

Overall: It’s a great area for kids and bird lovers. Nice place to get a quick walk in after work as well.

McDowell Creek Falls County Park (Summer)

Directions: Take I-5 South to exit 233. Go left at the light for Highway 20 and drive for a little over 18 miles. Take a left onto Fairview Road, there is a small sign that’s easy to miss marked for McDowell Park. In about a mile go left onto McDowell Creek Drive, follow this road for a little over 7.5 miles to the first parking area on the right.

From the parking area take the trail over a footbridge and continue on the trail until you come to a junction. Go right up the stone steps as you follow next to Royal Terrace falls (you will see this waterfall towards the end of the hike), the steps end at a small viewing platform at the top of the waterfall. Cross the creek over a bridge and head uphill, sometimes steeply, you will soon come to another split in the trail (it’s unsigned) go right and follow the trail where you will cross a road.

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After crossing the road the trail heads downhill as you come to a large wooden viewing platform at the top of Majestic Falls. After the viewing platform head down the wooden steps to another smaller viewing area at the base of the falls. Continue on even more wooden steps and boardwalk as you get back on the trail. Keep going on the trail, you’ll switchback once and come to Crystal Falls. It’s a small waterfall in the creek.

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Continuing on the trail you will cross back over the road and continue downhill. You’ll cross over another bridge and continue on for a short distance before you come to the last waterfall, Royal Terrace Falls. From here after you cross the bridge go right and head back to your car.

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Back at the parking lot you can take a side trail down to the creek to see Lower McDowell Creek Falls. It has three small drops, it’s not tall but still pretty.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 220 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area (when we were here they were very dirty)

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Year round

Popular: Yes during the summer, it’s a popular swimming area. Not as crowded during colder months

Overall: Great easy hike to see a couple pretty waterfalls.

Summer Hikes

Looking for a nice summer hike? Here’s a list of some of our favorites 🙂

If you’re looking to stay in Portland and the surrounding cities check out Oak Island, Mt. Talbert, or Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. They are all easy hikes that have decent shade and lots of birds.

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We love hitting up all the great trails that the Mt. Hood area has to offer during the summer months. Tamanawas Falls and Umbrella Falls are great options if you are looking for a waterfall hike. For a lake hike check out Mirror Lake (and Tom, Dick, and Harry Ridge!), and Lower Twin Lake. Zigzag Canyon is also a really fun hike, go in mid to late June while the lupine is blooming!

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Some great summer Gorge hikes are Upper and Lower Latourell Falls, Gillette Lake, and Strawberry Island.

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Summer time is full of Kayaking as well, be sure to check out Scappoose Bay and Lost Lake!

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–Happy Hiking!

 

Punchbowl Falls (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 41. Go right at the stop sign and there are a number of parking areas.

From the trailhead follow the trail over a footbridge and along Eagle Creek. The trail starts to rise above the creek, but nothing too steep. The trail is rocky and well maintained. Soon you will come to the first of two cable areas. The trail here is narrow and there is a cable bolted along the cliffside to use. You will round a few corners and it will be done. But, just a short time later you will come to the second cable area. It’s the same as the first and doesn’t last long.

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Keep following the trail and pass the Metlako Falls viewpoint side trail. Keep going and pass a few spots in the trail where you need to rock-hop over some runoff areas. The last runoff area is the largest but it’s still easily passable. The trail heads uphill and flattens out where the trail is wide and more open. Here is the side trail that takes you down to Punchbowl Falls. The trail heads downhill steeply to a rocky flat area where you pass lower Punchbowl Falls. Keep walking to the end of the rocks and out into the creek a little bit to view Punchbowl Falls.

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We continued up on the main trail a bit farther to check out the storm damage that took out a bridge. It’s only about a quarter mile past Punchbowl Falls. The bridge is very damaged and technically the trail is closed here. There are signs that say it is not recommended to cross the creek around the bridge. We did see a few people cross and there is a definite trail that people have made. We would feel comfortable crossing here with low water levels but we are in no way saying people should. It’s best to check out the trail for yourself, or wait for a new bridge to be installed.  This is an out and back trail so head back the way you came in.

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We would encourage people to please pack out anything they bring in. This poor trail is covered in water bottles, straws, wrappers, dog poo bags, etc.

For more hikes on the Eagle Creek Trail click here and here.

Distance: 4 Miles

Elevation: 500 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No. We know people take dogs here all the time but the amount of news stories we’ve seen about dogs falling are insane. It’s not worth it, in our opinion.

Good For: Adults. We do not recommend taking kids here because of the cable sections in the trail.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: A $5 NW Forest Pass is required.

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes. Busy all year but can get extremely busy during the summer months.

Overall: We love the Eagle Creek trail, it’s gorgeous!

Mary S. Young State Park (Spring)

Directions: Take I-205 South to exit 8 (West Linn) and follow Willamette Drive until you see the entrance for Mary S. Young Park on your right. Follow the road all the way through the park to the main parking area in the back.

At this parking area there is a map of the park (take a picture with your phone so you don’t forget!), you can also view the map here. We decided to just take a few of the trails and explore the park. We ended up seeing parts of the Trillium, Turkey Creek, Riverside and Heron trails. We were trying to get out to Cedar Island but the bridge wasn’t open yet (even though it was supposed to open in spring).

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All of the trails are well maintained and can become busy on nice days. They are a mix of pavement, packed dirt, and wood chips. There are lots of great birding areas and multiple creeks that run through the park. You also have good views of the Willamette River. There are a few off-leash dog areas as well.

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Distance: 1-5+ miles

Elevation: 300 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All Ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the picnic areas

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Mary S. Young Park is a great option if you don’t want to drive very far. Like Mt. Tabor or Powell Butte it’s nice to just get out and explore all the different trails.

Henline Falls (Spring)

Directions: Drive I-5 South to exit 253. Take a left and get onto Highway 22 and drive for a little over 22 miles until you come to a blinking light intersection, go left onto North Fork Road. Drive about 15.5 miles and the road will turn from pavement to gravel (note: there is a short gravel section earlier but it quickly returns to pavement). The gravel road now become FR 2209 and you enter the Opal Creek Wilderness. Continue for about a mile and a half (keep left at a split in the road) and you will see the Henline Falls trailhead on the left. Warning: The gravel road has MANY potholes, some of them pretty large. We saw all different types of cars at the trailhead and only one (a Fiat) seemed to have a problem. Just be aware and decide how much you’re willing to put your car through. We drove this road in the summer of 2013 and it has changed a lot since then.

The first part of this trail is an old access road and it’s fairly wide and pretty rocky. It’s heavily treelined as you gradually head uphill to a split in the trail. At the split stay left as the trail gets closer to Henline Creek. Soon you will enter the burn area, the trail just recently opened after a wildfire above the trail caused the hillside to become unstable. There are some burned out trees and the trail is eroding a bit so it’s kinda skinny in this area.

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A short distance later you will start seeing the waterfall as the trail takes you past some old mining remnants. The trail ends at the base of Henline Falls where there are plenty of rocks to hangout on and eat lunch or relax. There is an old mining shaft on the right side of the waterfall, you can’t go in very far but it’s interesting to look at. This is an out and back hike so head back the way you came.

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Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 200 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All but check before going during winter months.

Popular: No

Overall: This is a beautiful waterfall and a nice addition to other hikes in the area.