Tag Archives: Kayaking Adventures

Wallowa Lake- Kayak (Summer)

Directions: From the town of Joseph take Main St. south where the road curves and turns into Wallowa Lake Hwy. About 6 miles later you’ll enter the Wallowa Lake area follow the road off to the right and enter the parking area for the lake.

There is a dock on the south end of the lake where the marina is and that’s where we put our kayak in. You get the best views of the Wallowa Mountains on this end as well.

Wallowa Lake is pretty huge and you can see just how big it is while you’re driving on the Wallowa Lake Highway, you follow right along it for miles. We saw every type of boat and recreational water sport while we were there. Speed boats, pontoons, jet skis, kayaks, canoes stand up paddle boards, inflatable donuts…you name it, we probably saw it! It doesn’t necessarily feel crowded because the lake is so big, but you will always be within earshot of someone and the speed boats tend to rip around the lake so you’ll be bouncing around quite a bit.

      

While we were on the lake we saw a few bald eagles, osprey, and quite a few common mergansers. There were a few deer out in the grass as well. 

If you paddle about to the center of the lake there are some small square floating docks, some with benches, that you can get out and relax on.

The whole lake and surrounding area is quite scenic, we had a great time while we were out on the water.

Distance: Depends on how far/where you’re going. It’s an easy paddle.

Elevation: —

Pet Friendly: Sure if you’re dogs like being out on the water.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Disappearing Lake (Kayak)

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.

We did this kayak last year and we liked it so much we have decided to do it every memorial day weekend. To learn more about this interesting lake (that’s only around for short time each year) see our first post here.

This year the water level was much higher from all the rain and snow we got. We even ran into snow on the forest road that the lake is next to. With the water level being higher we were able to explore more of the lake this time. There are a few side areas that you can squeeze your kayak through to get farther back into the trees.

      

The lake is almost split in two by a row of trees. The first part is pretty open and has a few small areas that you can easily get into with your kayak. We saw a snake hanging on to a tree out in the water which was quite interesting.

      

The back part of the lake is full of trees that you can kayak in between. In our opinion this is the best part of the lake. It’s really interesting and almost looks like a bayou. The trees are very tall and covered in vines and moss. There are dead trees that have fallen all throughout the lake as well. Back in this part is where we got to explore more of the side branches of the lake. In some places the water level was extremely low and we had to really squeeze our kayak through debris and low hanging branches. But once you got back into the side parts the pools deepened.

      

This lake is really calm which makes for an easy paddle. Make sure you plan enough time to really explore this area, there is a lot to see here. Just a few steps across the road from Disappearing Lake is South Prairie Lake. It would be a nice lake to paddle around in as well if you have the time.

It’s hard to predict when to visit this lake. It depends so much on what type of weather we had throughout winter. Plus how hot or mild spring starts out. We’ve found that memorial day weekend has been nice both years but we did prefer the higher water level so we may have to go earlier in May if we have a drier winter. Also, make sure you come back and visit this place after it drains, the meadow is beautiful! Check it out here.

Distance: —

Elevation:—

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes if your animal enjoys hanging out on the kayak with you 🙂

Good For: All ages. This lake would be great for beginners!

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: There is a very small season for this lake usually mid May through early June.

Popular: No

Overall: Very unique area, we’ll be back for years to come.

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?

 

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!

 

Disappearing Lake (By Kayak)

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 located in South Prairie in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and it’s only around for about 4 weeks out of the year. Each spring (usually early-mid May) it fills with snow melt and gets to about 8-10 feet deep. Usually by the second weekend of June it has drained out to where you can’t kayak or canoe anymore. By July it’s a beautiful grassy meadow that you can hike around. There isn’t much information on Disappearing Lake, Oregon Field Guide on OPB had an episode about it back in 2013. Click on the link for the 7 minute video that gives you a bit more information about this interesting lake.

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There are two good areas right off the road that are easy spots to put your kayak in the lake. We chose the spot near the Northeast corner of the lake. When you first get in the lake it seems just like any other lake. When you head off towards the trees that are just sprouting up in the middle of the lake you enter this almost bayou type area. The trees are pretty big and are all over the lake, it’s kind of crazy to see but also really neat. In the shallow areas you can see the grass starting to come in. The lake is over the top of the Big Lava Flow area in the Gifford Pinchot NF, so you can see the lava rock in the water and all along the edges of the lake.

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There are lots of narrow areas that you can squeeze your kayak into and check out. It’s one of the most peaceful and unique lakes we’ve ever been to and quickly became our favorite kayak trip. Make sure to check out the pollen lines on the trees, the lake had already dropped a good foot and it was still May! We drifted around the calm waters for about two hours and were able to check out every part of the lake. We got to the lake pretty early and were the only ones out there, by the time we got back to the car there were probably about 5 or 6 other people with more driving in.

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Across from Disappearing Lake is South Prairie Lake. We didn’t go out in our kayak but we did walk around it a bit. It’s a pretty lake with lily pads all around it. We definitely want to come back and explore it more another time.

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We plan to come back in July when Disappearing Lake turns into a meadow. We’ve heard about some rare lily that grows out there in the summer. It’ll be fun to see how much everything has changed as well!

Distance: —

Elevation: —

Difficulty: Flat/calm water

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Depends each year because of snow melt but usually late May to Early June.

Popular: No

Overall: We loved this fun lake and can’t wait to come back next year!

Estacada Lake (By Kayak)

Directions: The put-in for this kayak trip is Timber Park in Estacada. It’s right off Highway 224 just before you get into the main town area of Estacada. It’s located next to the ranger station.

This kayak is from the River Mill Dam to the Faraday Dam.

Once you are in Timber Park pass by the disc golf course and follow the signs to the non-motorized boat launch site. It’s down by the River Mill Dam.

Once you put in head left out on the lake. Estacada Lake is a dammed portion of the Clackamas River so it’s very calm with no rapids. The lake is pretty narrow with tall cliffs on both sides. There are a few waterfalls along the way. The first one you will see has a small beach area where you can get out of your kayak and get a better look if you want. The second one is much taller but you can’t get out.

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Around the halfway point you will go under a bridge and come to some very scenic cliffs covered in lime green lichen. The lake is a popular fishing area and you will see plenty of people fishing off the tall rocks along the way.

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As you get closer to the Faraday Dam you will notice the current picking up a little bit. When you see the rocky island in the middle of the lake you are almost there. This area is a bit more swift and takes quite a bit of paddling to get through. We saw a few people struggle and give up but we made it through fine, just paddle hard going into it. You will now see the pump house for the Faraday Dam. This is the end point for this kayak trip. We got out and had lunch on the rocks before turning around and heading back the way we came in.

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Estacada Lake can be very busy. We got here early and it was nice and quiet. But, about the last mile on the way back we started notice a lot more motorized boats and just people in general. It’s a popular swimming area in the summer as well. If crowds or motorized boats aren’t your thing get here right when the park opens (8 am).

Distance: 5 miles

Elevation: —

Difficulty: Mostly flat/calm water until you get to the dam.

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes near the disc golf course

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: We’ll definitely be back. This would be a great fall kayak!

Spring Hikes

Hope everyone is enjoying the new season! Here are some of our favorite spring-time hikes 🙂

 

If you’re looking for flowers:

Pittock Mansion

Rowena Crest & Tom McCall Nature Preserve

Lacamas Creek (Camas Lily Field)

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

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Hikes that open in spring or that should be done before it gets too hot:

Larch Mountain

Painted Hills

Smith Rock

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Waterfalls!:

Tunnel Falls

Fairy Falls

Dry Creek Falls

Pool Of The Winds

Falls Creek Falls

Mist Falls

 

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Spring kayaking:

Columbia River Slough

Sturgeon Lake

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Best Of 2015!

Here is our list of the top hikes we did in 2015!

Columbia River Gorge (Oregon side): *Tunnel Falls* We love the Eagle Creek Trail and this year we finally made it all the way out to Tunnel Falls. We definitely weren’t disappointed!

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Columbia River Gorge (Washington side): *Strawberry Island* This was a nice secluded hike that had amazing views of the Gorge and lots of birds.

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Mt. Hood: *Zigzag Canyon* This hike is absolutely beautiful. You get amazing views of Mt. Hood all throughout the hike. We did this hike in late June and the Lupine were in full bloom!

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Oregon Coast: *Bayocean Spit* Who doesn’t love a hike that’s right on the beach?

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Washington Coast: *North Head Lighthouse* You can actually go up in this lighthouse. The views are great!

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Portland Metro/Outer Portland: *Oak Island* This is one of our favorite hikes on Sauvie Island, the place is covered with cows!

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Washington: *Lacamas Creek (Camas Lily Fields)* Go here in the spring when the lilies are blooming, it’s very pretty!

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Willamette Valley: *Abiqua Falls* This waterfall is becoming more and more popular and we definitely understand why. It’s not the easiest waterfall to reach, but it’s definitely worth the scramble.

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Central Oregon: *Smith Rock* We absolutely love this place. There is so much to see you almost need more than one day.

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Kayaking: *Scappoose Bay* This was the first place we took our new kayak. There’s lots of places to explore here.

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*Overall best hike of 2015*

Painted Hills!

Hands-down the most interesting place we’ve ever been to. The colors are beautiful and the views up at Carroll Rim are amazing! We HIGHLY recommend this hike!

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Honorable Mentions: *Lower Twin Lake, Youngs River Falls, Lost Lake (hike and kayak), Tom McCall Nature Preserve (go in the spring!), and The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.*

We’d love to hear what some of your favorite hikes of 2015 were!

Wishing everyone happy hiking in 2106!

Sturgeon Lake (By Kayak) (Summer)

Directions: This hike is located on Sauvie Island. Drive over the Sauvie Island Bridge (stop at the Cracker Barrel Grocery for a day use pass). Continue down the road and stay right onto Reeder Road. Drive for a little over a mile and then take a left onto Oak Island Road. After about 3.5 miles on Oak Island Road the road turns to gravel. Continue on the gravel road and take a right onto an unmarked road that’s just past a pond. If you’ve crossed a cattle guard you’ve gone too far. Follow this road until it ends at the parking area for the lake.

There is a boat launch area but no dock. When the water is low there are rocks to stand on to get into your kayak so you wont have to get wet. Otherwise you might have to get a little wet to push off.

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Sturgeon Lake is pretty big and it has almost no current so it makes paddling really easy. When we first started out there was almost no wind and the lake was super flat and pretty. The lake is surrounded by farms and attached to other areas on the island. A lot of it is private property so be aware of the signs if you want to get out and wander around. A good place to get out would be around the Oak Island hiking area. You also get great views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens.

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The bottom of the lake is very muddy and you sink down pretty quickly, making it not the best place to get out and swim. There is a tide here as well so make sure you’re aware of the depth from time to time so you don’t get stranded. We saw some pretty good size fish jumping a few times and there are lots of birds as well.

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We were dealing with a time crunch so we didn’t get to explore as much of the lake as we would have liked. Overall it’s a nice area with not too many people. Great for anyone interested in birds. There is a small beach near the launch area that offers the only real shade around.

Distance: —

Elevation: —

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: $7 Sauvie Island fee. Make sure to purchase this at the little store that’s right on the main road after crossing the bridge onto the island.

Seasons: April-September

Popular: Can be on weekends and nice days.

Overall: Nice easy place to kayak. Great for wildlife viewing.

Lost Lake (By Kayak) (Summer)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Hood River (exit 62) and take a right. Take another right at 13th and follow signs to Odell and Dee. Then follow signs to Lost Lake.

Lost Lake has quickly become one of our favorite places in Oregon. You can’t beat the view of Mt. Hood, the trail around the lake is great and there are lots of spots to relax near the water.

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When we first got our kayak we immediately wanted to take it to Lost Lake and we finally got the chance. There are signs marking where the public boat launch and parking areas are. We ended up not using the boat launch and just got in along the bank nearby. It was a lot faster and less crowded.

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We paddled around most of the lake and then stuck around the areas with the best view of the mountain so we could fish with a view. Motorized boats aren’t allowed on the water which is nice,  you don’t have to worry about a speed boat flying by and potentially soaking you. It’s also a lot quieter without all the motor noise. You can rent paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, and boats at the lodge so there was a good amount of people on the water but it never felt overly crowded or annoying. We didn’t catch any fish, but we did get a lot of relaxing and mountain viewing in!

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If you have extra time take a hike around the lake, the trail is great.

Be sure to stop at the Apple Valley Country Store on your way home, the huckleberry milkshakes are delicious!

Distance: —

Elevation: —

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $8 entrance fee.

Seasons: Late spring to fall.

Popular: Very

Overall: Lost Lake is a great kayak option if you’re looking to have a nice relaxing time with easy paddling.