Tag Archives: Parking Pass Required

Frog Lake- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 east past Government Camp, keep left at the junction with Hwy 35, staying on 26. Follow Hwy 26 for about another 5 miles where the Frog Lake Sno-Park will be on your left.

From the large parking area get onto the trail which is actually the road you would drive down to the lake on in the summer. Follow this wide path for .3 miles until you come to a signed junction (if it’s not covered in snow), go right here where it heads downhill.

   

The trail quickly levels out and you will follow this trail a short distance to a split, go left here and follow it around to the edge of the lake. It was frozen again with feet of snow on top of the ice. We walked out onto the lake and made a loop around it. When you are done exploring head back out the way you came in.

   

This area is very popular with snowmobiles so keep that in mind, they come up on you quick and are quite noisy and stinky. Even getting here early we still saw a few at the lake and quite a few heading in on our way out. This isn’t a snowshoe that offers much peace and quiet but it is still pretty. Always be cautious when walking on a frozen lake as well.

   

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno*Park Pass required

Seasons: Winter

Popular: Very

Warnings: Watch for snowmobiles and be careful when walking on the lake if it’s frozen.

Mirror Lake- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to Skibowl West where you will take an immediate right into the parking area once off the highway.

We hadn’t been to Mirror Lake in almost 5 years, mostly due to how crowded and crazy this hike gets, and we had definitely never snowshoed it. This hike recently got a much needed new trailhead with a larger parking area. It’s off to the right of Skibowl and has parking for roughly 50 vehicles. A couple weeks ago we decided to wake up early to beat the crowds to experience Mirror Lake in the snow!

From the parking area head past the bathroom and get on the trail. You will head down a few switchbacks and then come to the first of ten new bridges. After crossing all of the bridges you will start to gain more elevation. We’ve heard that there are new poles in place in certain areas to keep people from trail cutting. Everything was covered in feet of snow so we don’t know where this is but we hope it’s true- this poor trail was quite abused.

      

You will continue snowshoeing uphill and cross a small rock slide area, past this you will reach the long switchbacks that take you up to a trail junction. Go right on a narrow trail that heads down the the edge of the lake. You can go all the way around the lake and it will take you back to the junction where you head back out the way you came in. Obviously you don’t get the mirror effect with a frozen and snow covered lake but it was still pretty. Clouds had moved in and it was snowing for most of the trip, making views of the mountain pretty nonexistent.

      

Even getting here early didn’t really make much of a difference crowd wise. Just know that this place is very popular year round no matter what day of the week it is- pack your patience!

      

Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- some may find the elevation to be a bit much.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: SnoPark Pass required

Seasons: Depends on how the snow season is going. Check with the nearest ranger station for snow pack levels.

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Old Salmon River Trail (Winter 2018)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to Old Salmon River Road (just past the Welches shopping center). Follow this road for a few miles until you see the marked trailhead on the right. There are multiple parking areas for this trail- we parked in the first one.

This hike got cut short due to runoff crossing the trail in multiple areas. But it was still a nice hike and it has to be one of the best places to see moss.

Once you get on the trail you will immediately head downhill to river level. From here you follow along closely to the river for a while, crossing a few footbridges along the way. There are a few areas where you can get right next to the water and get good views of the river. Continuing on you will come to a wooden stair case taking you up and away from the river.

      

You’ll follow along above the river for a while but will still be able to see it. Up here is where we came across the first stream crossing the trail. We were able to go off trail and find a place to cross it without getting wet. Continuing on a short distance later we came across another stream that was much more wide and quite muddy so we decided to stop here. We weren’t far from our turnaround point anyways. If there hasn’t been much rain recently you should be able to cross these areas find but we did this hike after heavy rain and it wasn’t worth the wet feet for us.

      

If you can keep going you’ll soon head uphill and come to the road. You need to walk along the road a short distance and pick up the trail that takes you back into the woods. Then, you will come to a large camping area. We usually walk through this area to a place next to the river with large rocks and make that our turnaround. Going this far will be a five mile hike. Head back out the way you came in.

      

This trail is absolutely beautiful- it’s full of old growth trees and a crazy amount of moss. The river is very scenic and it’s usually not very busy which makes for a nice quiet hike.

Distance: We did 2 miles this day but our normal route is 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: There *may* be a seasonal portable toilet. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes there is nothing.

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Not really. It gets a bit busy on summer weekends.

Warnings: Be aware of seasonal runoff crossing the trail after heavy rains. This trail can also get very muddy.

 

 

White River West- Snowshoe (Winter 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 past Government Camp and get onto Highway 35. Follow 35 for about 4 mile or so until you reach the White River West Sno-Park on your left.

From the parking area get up on the “trail” and go past the gate, a short distance later take the side trail off to the left. If there has been recent snow and the trail isn’t broken yet it’s not too hard to find, just head off to the left and look for the diamonds on the trees. Going this way will allow you to avoid the crazy sledding area. You’ll wind through some trees and get on an access road. The diamonds are mostly easy to spot but do become less frequent the farther you go.

      

      

The access road heads uphill and it’s pretty steep for a short distance. Once at the top the trail levels out and you’ll have great views of the mountain, as well as the river and sledders below. Soon you’ll start to see large power lines, we continued on about a half mile past the lines where the trail started heading downhill. From here we found a good place to get down to the river and decided to snowshoe along the river the whole way back. We did have to cross the river a couple times which wasn’t horrible but if you don’t like doing that I would suggest going back the way you came in.

      

We highly recommend doing this snowshoe on a clear day. You will have views of the mountain for the majority of your snowshoe and it’s amazing.

      

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathroom: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno Park Pass required

Seasons: Winter

Popular: VERY

Warnings: None

Gillette Lake (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to Exit 44. Cross Bridge of the Gods ($2 toll). Take a left onto Highway 14 and follow it for a little over a mile. The trailhead is near Bonneville Dam on your right.

This hike starts out by climbing briefly and then it flattens out as you hike along a ridge before heading downhill again to an intersection. Go left here and continue on as the trail rollercoasters through a partially clearcut area and comes to an access road.

      

Cross the road and pick up the trail as you head down into a more wooded area for a while. Next, you’ll pop out into a large clearcut area and can see large powerlines ahead. As you hike through the clearcut you will head to the top of a hill and come to another access road. Cross this road and you will see Gillette Lake below. Depending on how the weather is (sunny, cloudy, etc) the lake will either be bright green or a darker green/blue. It was pretty cloudy and very windy so we were seeing the dark colors.

      

Follow the trail downhill and reenter the woods, take the side trail to the left where you can get right down to the lake.

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 5.8 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 650 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: There are seasonal vault toilets at the trailhead.

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

 

Little Zigzag Falls (Autumn 2018)

Directions: Head east on Highway 26 until you reach Road 39/Kiwanis Camp Road (about 6 miles past the town of Zigzag). Head north on Road 39, the trailhead is at the very end of the road (about 2.5 miles from Highway 26).

We love this little hike and try to do it a few times a year. It’s a great place for kids, anyone wanting to get out and stretch their legs while traveling, or as an addition to nearby hikes.

      

From the parking area get on the trail and you’ll immediately be right next to the Little Zigzag River and following it the entire hike. There are many trees down across the river along the way as well as numerous scenic areas to stop and take pictures. You will cross one footbridge as you wind your way back to the beautiful waterfall.

      

We have noticed it’s always significantly cooler and windier on this trail. Which makes it quite cold in the off months but very refreshing during summer months.

This is an out and back trail.

 

Distance: 0.6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 40 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass Required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Jawbone Flats (Autumn 2018)

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 over 5.5 miles (keep left at a split in the road) where the road ends at the trailhead. Warning: We have been to this trailhead many times and the gravel section is always hit or miss. Some years it was in good condition, some it was horrible with huge potholes. You can call the nearest ranger district for more up to date info on road conditions.

The trail you hike in on is actually a rarely used access road for the small town of Jawbone Flats. We did encounter one car on our hike in, as well as some large construction equipment that was doing trail updates. The trail is wide, well maintained, and rollercoasters the whole way into Jawbone flats.

      

There is a lot to stop and look at along the way which is great. You’ll see an old mining shaft fairly early on and old mining equipment scattered about along the whole trail. When you come to a section with large mining equipment and a picnic table take the side trail right next to the table and it quickly drops you down to Sawmill Falls. It’s a very pretty waterfall and the blue/green waters of the North Fork Santiam River is worth the stop as well. We were sad to see the old shed had collapsed but not surprised as it was leaning heavily the last time we were here.

      

Continuing on the trail you will continue to get great views of the river and continue to see mining equipment as well. This was our first time here during autumn and it was quite a treat to see all the color! You will soon come to Jawbone Flats, there are year-round workers here and some cabin rentals. Please make sure you respect peoples privacy and leave the cabins alone.

      

As you walk through Jawbone Flats you will cross Battle Axe Creek and see where the town gets its electricity. Continuing on you will come to an open grassy area with a few picnic tables and a composting toilet. This makes a great place to stop for lunch or to take a short break and check out all the old cars that are along the trail.

      

About a 1/4 mile past the picnic tables you will see the marked turnoff for Opal Pool, this short trail takes you to a bridge with a view down into a narrow gorge and Opal Pool itself. This is the end of the hike, head back out the way you came in.

      

This hike has seen a major uptick in visitors over the last several years. Please be respectful of this beautiful area and follow the 7 principles of Leave No Trace.

Distance: 7 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 380 (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: At the trailhead and the composting toilet in Jawbone Flats.

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All but check for winter closures

Popular: Very popular during the summer months and somewhat popular on weekends during the off months.

Warnings: The road in can have a lot of potholes.

Old Salmon River (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to Old Salmon River Road (not far past the Welches shopping center). Follow this road for a few miles until you see the marked trailhead on the right.

This is a favorite quick hike of ours. The trail is surrounded by beautiful old-growth forest and stays close to the very pretty Salmon River.

      

From the trailhead the trail heads downhill to the river and you will soon come to a bridge. As you continue on you will follow the river and there are a few side trails that take you right to the edge and give you great views of the river. We did this hike during the last weeks of summer so the water level was low and there were a lot of exposed rocks to sit on and relax by the water for a bit.

      

Continuing on you will come to stairs that take you up away from the river and you will pass by a large log jam area in the river. Continue on a bit farther and the trail comes to Old Salmon River Road. Stopping here gives you a nice 3 mile roundtrip hike, or you can follow along the road for a short distance and pick up the trail again. It takes you past a few campsites and offers more opportunities to hangout by the river. The trail eventually comes to the Salmon River Trailhead which is the turnaround point for a 5 mile roundtrip hike. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 3 or 5 miles- depends where you stop (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Beacon Rock (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 to Cascade Locks and take the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll) . Take a left on to Highway 14 and drive about 5 miles to the trailhead on the left side of the road.

From the parking area get on the dirt trail that winds through the woods for a short distance, until you hit a cement path that switches back once and takes you to the entrance gate for Beacon Rock.

      

From here the trail is mostly cement and boardwalk footbridges. There are 51 switchbacks that take you up to the top, they vary in length but most are short. There are numerous viewpoints that give you great views out to the Gorge and Columbia River. You also get good views of the burn area from last years Eagle Creek Fire.

      

Once the trail switches to a dirt/gravel mixture you know you are almost to the top. It’s quite a small area at the top with room for only about a hand full of people. Head back out the way you came in.

      

Don’t let the weather stop you from doing this hike. Yes a clear day is great for the views but we’ve been here on a very foggy and drizzly day and it was very pretty!

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 700 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: Washington Discovery Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Bald Mountain (Summer 2018)

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.

The trail starts out heading uphill fairly steeply. The trail is covered in tree roots and rocks and its almost like steps in areas. In about a half mile you will come to a trail junction, go right on the Pacific Crest Trail. Just a short distance later you will come to another junction that’s bigger and has a wilderness registration box. Fill out the paper and then go right/uphill slightly, there is a sign saying Timberline Trail no. 600 Muddy Fork. From the trailhead to this point the mosquitoes and black flies were really bad and we had numerous bites. From the Timberline junction on it got better because the wind picked up.

      

Continuing on the trail you’ll enter a wooded are with skinny trees. A short distance later you’ll start to see a clearing and round a corner to an absolutely amazing view of Mt. Hood, the reveal is one of the best we’ve seen. You’ll follow the narrow trail along bald mountain, there are wildflowers growing all over the side of it and you will continue to get amazing views of the mountain.

      

      

Next you’ll reenter the woods and soon come to a trail junction. Go left towards a sign marking the way to the Top Spur Trailhead. Follow the trail back to the big junction with the wilderness box and then follow the trail back the way you came in.

      

Distance: 2.3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 560 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes a porta-potty at the trailhead

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Early summer through early fall (depends on the snow)

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Watch small children and dogs on the narrow trail around bald mountain.