Tag Archives: Less Than 5 Miles

Owl Point (Summer 2019)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 to the town of Zigzag and take a left onto Lolo Pass Road. Follow this road for about 10.5 miles, take the second right onto FS 18. Follow this road for about 10 miles, half of which is a gravel road, and take a very sharp righthand turn onto FS 16. Drive for 5.5 miles and turn right at the large intersection onto FS 1650. This road becomes gravel and ends at the Vista Ridge Trailhead.

This is a busy trailhead and it doesn’t have a huge parking area so things may get tight. Multiple hikes start from this location but Owl Point seems to be the least popular. We didn’t see any other people the whole time which was shocking since it was a nice summer weekend.

From the trailhead follow the rocky trail for about a third of a mile to a junction in the trail. Sign in at the wilderness registration station and then head left. The trail starts out fairly evenly graded but that quickly changes- once you start heading uphill there will be sections that are quite steep. The trail itself is nice but there are a few downed trees (they are all easy to get over). You will pass two side trails off to the right, the first offers a great view of the valley below and the second gives you a really good view of Mt. Hood.

     

Back on the main trail the grade levels out soon and gets a little overgrown with brush and small bushes. You’ll drop down into a small meadow and start heading uphill again, it’s not as steep or long. We planned this hike during the Avalanche Lily bloom. It’s pretty amazing- they line the trail and were all over the meadow.

     

     

When you come to a junction go left/uphill (there is a sign but it was quite faded). You will come to another junction, go right here and the trail ends at Owl Point. It offers up one of the best views of Mt. Hood. The lupine was blooming which just added to the spectacular view.  Wander around a little bit and you can see Laurance Lake off to the right over the large rocks and the town of Parkdale. There’s a small Owl Point Register attached to the rocks, it has pictures of the volunteers from Portland Hikers who cleaned up this trail and a guestbook you can sign. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: May not be best for young kids or older folks

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass Required

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Umbrella Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 East past Government Camp to the junction with Highway 35. Follow Highway 35 for about 8 miles until you see a sign for Hood River Meadows. Take a left here and follow the road a short distance to the Elk Meadow Trailhead on the right shoulder of the road.

From the trailhead you will be starting out on the Elk Meadow Trail for a little over a quarter mile until you reach a signed junction. Go left here on the Umbrella Falls Trail, the trail starts out by passing through a small meadow (if you start your hike early there is a good chance you will see deer in this area) and then heads uphill- and gets fairly steep in sections. You will start to get views down into Mt. Hood Meadows off to your left and soon pass under a ski lift. The trail switches back and you head up a short steep section that drops you into a wildflower filled meadow. We saw lots of lupine and paintbrush in this section.

     

     

The trail starts to level out a bit as you pass through more meadows with streams and get some views of the top of Mt. Hood off to your right. There was Beargrass in this area but it wasn’t quite in full bloom yet. We saw a few deer off in the distance and a few butterflies as well.

     

     

As you continue hiking you will come to a junction for Sahalie Falls. Stay straight here and a short distance later you will reach Umbrella Falls. On your way back you can take the side trail to Sahalie Falls and then head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most. This trail does have some steep sections so it may not be best for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes a portable toilet at the trailhead

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Latourell Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 east to Exit 28 (Bridal Veil). Get onto the Old Highway heading right for about 2.5 miles until you reach the Latourell Falls parking area.

We decided to try this hike starting in the opposite direction doing a counterclockwise loop. Head down the paved path that quickly takes you to the lower (main) section of Latourell Falls. After taking in the waterfall continue over the footbridge and down the still paved trail that takes you into a park. Go through the park and up some stone steps where you will reach the Old Highway, carefully cross the road and pickup the trail on the other side. From here you will be heading uphill and it gets pretty steep in sections. Once at the top you will come to a small lookout with a partially obstructed view of the Columbia River. Continuing on you will briefly head downhill and then level out for a bit before coming to a switchback that takes you up to a more level section of trail. A short distance later you will reach Upper Latourell Falls.

     

To finish the loop cross the footbridge and follow the trail that is now on the other side of the creek. It’s mostly downhill,  you will cross two bridges and pass a bench with a nice view of the main waterfall. The trail ends at a viewing platform where you head down a short paved path to the parking area.

     

After doing this hike both ways we decided we definitely prefer to do it clockwise. We like saving the best waterfall for last and it’s a little easier on the legs 😉

     

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 520 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes in the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Fairy Falls (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Go left on the Historic Highway to the Wahkeena Falls Trailhead.

From the trailhead take in the lower portion of Wahkeen Falls and then head off to your right crossing a small bridge over the water and getting on a paved path that does one long switchback up to the main section of Wahkeen Falls. Continuing on you will still be on a paved trail that soon come to a series of 12 switchbacks (most are pretty short).

     

     

The switchbacks take you up to a junction, go right a short distance to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. Back at the junction go left to continue on to the waterfall, this is where the paved section of trail ends and you are on a typical dirt/rock Gorge trail. You will pass over a low footbridge and then head uphill somewhat steeply following along closely to the creek. Cross a second bridge and the trail again switchesback a few more times before you arrive at Fairy Falls. There’s a bench right at the waterfall that makes a nice place to sit and have a little rest or lunch. Head back out the way you came in.

     

This is the second time we’ve done this hike since the Eagle Creek Fire and it’s so much more green this time. We love this trail and it’s so great to see it rebounding nicely!

     

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Dry Creek Falls (Spring 2019)

Directions: From I-84, take the first exit for Cascade Locks.  To avoid the parking fee at the Bridge of Gods Trailhead, go past that turnoff, and turn right onto Wasco St.  From here, go up to Moody St., and take another right.  Moody St. goes under an overpass, and you can park anywhere along here.  The trailhead is the first one on the left, as you walk up the gravel road.

The trail starts out flat for a bit and then transitions into mostly uphill, it gets somewhat steep in sections but there are flat areas along the way. Spring is a great time to hike this trail because there are a lot of flowers blooming all along the trail. This trail is easy to follow and after a little over a mile you will come to a power line clearing with a small view out to the Columbia.

     

     

Continue on and the trail becomes a lot more rocky (typical Gorge trail) as you wind your way back towards the waterfall. You will eventually come to a trail junction, go right and follow the old service road uphill as it follows along a creek. It’s just a short distance until you reach the waterfall. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Our last visit here was right after it opened back up following the Eagle Creek Fire. We’re happy to report that it’s looking a lot better- there’s a lot of new growth, flowers and things are looking green again!

     

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Tamanawas Falls (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 past Government Camp to the junction with Highway 35. Follow 35 for about 15 miles. The trailhead is just past Sherwood Campground on the left shoulder of the highway.

From the parking area get on the trail and immediately come to a bridge crossing the Hood River. After crossing the bridge go right and follow the trail as it heads uphill for a while. You will come to a point where you can see the highway below, from here the trail heads downhill to another bridge.

     

     

The trail now follows along the creek- there are a few side trails along the way that take you to small waterfalls. Continuing on you will come to a large rock slide area. Please make sure you are following the actual trail and not cutting through, cutting the trail only makes things unstable and unsafe. After you are through the rock slide area it’s just a short distance to the waterfall. Head back out the way you came in.

     

     

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 600 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: May-November

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Mosier Plateau (Spring 2019)

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 you will go up a number of fairly long switchbacks and a few sets of steps. Along the switchbacks we saw bachelors button, poppy’s, balsamroot, and wild cucumber.

   

   

Once you get to the top you will have a great view of the Gorge and it’s covered in balsamroot and lupine. 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, poison oak, and snakes

Camassia Natural Area (Spring 2019)

Directions: Drive south from Portland on I-205 to the West Linn Exit # 8 and turn left at the end of the exit ramp. After going under the highway, turn uphill onto Willamette Falls Drive just before the gas station.  (This is the last right turn before coming to the bridge over the Willamette River, so if you find yourself on the bridge, you went too far).  After one block, Willamette Falls Road turns 90 degrees to the left; continue on Willamette Falls Road for .25 mile. Veer right onto Sunset Avenue, which continues uphill, passing over I-205. Take the first right onto Walnut Street, which ends at the preserve entrance and parking area.

It was hard to believe that we hadn’t visited this beautiful area before- it’s amazing!

From the small parking area get on the trail and quickly come to a board with brochures, in it is a map with a self-guided loop. It’s an easy loop that’s very well marked so we will just hit the highlights in this post.

   

The trail is a mix of boardwalk and wood chips which makes for a nice quiet walk. The boardwalk sections take you through marshy/boggy areas that are very green in the spring. There are a few rocky meadow sections that are covered in camas and rosy plectritis, it’s so pretty but very delicate so please stay on the trail and don’t pick any of the flowers.

   

It’s a great place to bird watch as well. We saw a number of birds and there is a large Osprey nest on a cell tower.

   

Later April through early May is the best time to visit if you are hoping to see the flowers but this would be a great place to visit year round.

   

Distance: 1.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 150 feet (easy

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in this area.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes during peak bloom time

Warnings: None

Memaloose Hills (Spring 2019)

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 spring has been amazing for Gorge wildflowers the blooms are the best we’ve probably ever seen!

From the parking area carefully cross the road and pick up the trail. It heads gradually uphill passing by a few homes off to the right. You will start seeing wildflowers immediately but it gets better as you go. The trail eventually levels out for a while as you wind your way back towards the hills.

   

Soon you will head down a short hill and come to a small stream that’s easy to cross. Just a short distance later the trail forks, going left/straight takes you to Marsh Hill. This hill is the less steep of the two, you get a nice view of Mt. Hood and it’s covered in wildflowers. When you are done head back down to the split in the trail. Heading off the other way takes you to Chatfield Hill. You will walk through a grassy area filled with buttercups and a bunch of cows off to the left. Soon you will start to head uphill through oak trees and just a short distance later you will come out of the trees and see Chatfild Hill. It was COVERED in balsamroot and lupine when we were here- it was amazing.

   

   

Continue following the trail as it heads up Chatfiled Hill- it does get pretty steep in areas. Once at the top of the hill you will have great views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and the Columbia River. It’s the best out of the two hills but they are both beautiful. Head back out the way you came in.

   

Some of the many flowers you will see are balsamroot, lupine, paintbrush, buttercups, wild cucumber, and chocolate lilies.

   

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, poison oak and snakes

Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge- Morgan Lake (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-5 south to exit 260A. Take Salem Parkway for about 5 miles and take a right onto Marion Street. Cross over the Willamette River and drive for a little over 9 miles on Highway 22, take exit 16 and soon stay left for McMinnville. Take a left at the junction for 99W and drive for 3 miles to Smithfield Road. Continue on this gravel road for about 2.5 miles to a parking area on the left.

Head out on the gravel path that quickly takes a left and goes up a small hill. At the top of this hill you will get a good view of Morgan Lake and the two hills that make up Baskett Butte. Keep going on the gravel trail that dips down and back up to a grassy field. The trail is pretty much nonexistent here so just follow along near the lake.

   

   

Eventually you will see the trail again when you get towards the end of the lake. Continue on a bit farther until you reach a trail junction, this is the end of this hike so head back out the way you came in. This junction has tie trails that lead to other parts of the refuge if you want to extend your hike.

   

The lake was pretty empty, we did see a few mallards and shovelers but that was it. The fields had a ton of geese and there were plenty of birds in the trees and bushes. Definitely bring your binoculars!

   

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 45 feet (easy)

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

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Morgan Lake is open April 1-September 30

Popular: No

Warnings: None