Tag Archives: Rivers

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

Three Rocks Beach- Kayak (Summer 2018)

Directions: The boat ramp is at Knights Park near Lincoln City.

This is a nice paddle to a secluded beach only accessible by kayak or boat.

Once you’re in the water head right on the Salmon River and head for the ocean. The water is brackish (mix of salt and fresh water) and changes depth with the tide. We were here during both tides and as long as you are mindful of where you are paddling you will be just fine.

      

You will be paddling with a beach to your left and some houses and Cascade Head off to your right. The water is fairly clear and we saw quite a few crabs as well as sand dollars and lots of shells at the bottom. There are a ton of seagulls floating in the water and flying all around you, as well as cormorants. Just less than a mile from the boat ramp you’ll start to notice it gets a little harder to paddle as you round a corner and come to the ocean. This is where you will want to get off on the beach and pull your kayak out. Make sure to drag your kayak quite a ways out of the water, the tide can change quickly and you don’t want to lose your kayak.

      

The beach is one of the quietest and cleanest we’ve ever been to. You get fantastic views of Three Rocks right in front of you, The Thumb to your left, and Cascade Head to your right. We were the only people on the beach, the only people we saw were in fishing boats out in the ocean. It was amazing to see no footprints or a single piece of garbage. The beach stretches on and connect to Roads End beach miles off to your left. There was great beach combing as well.

      

On our paddle back to the car we were treated with over a dozen seals swimming all around our kayak- it was amazing!

If you want to extend your paddle continue on past the boat ramp and you will enter the Salmon River Estuary. We spent so much time on the beach that we didn’t have much time for the estuary- next time!

We did this kayak against the tide on the way in and on the way out and it wasn’t very hard. It does get a bit harder when you are really close to the ocean but it’s still very manageable.

*Please keep this lovely beach just as clean, if not more clean, than how you found it.*

 

Distance: 1.5-1.75 miles (round trip just to the beach) can be extended if you do the estuary

Paddle: Easy

Pet Friendly: Sure if your pet likes to be in a kayak

Good For: Most

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: Being so close to the ocean and dealing with tides please be extra cautious.

Warrior Rock Lighthouse (Winter)

Directions: Take Highway 30 West to Sauvie Island. After crossing the bridge onto the island you should make a quick stop into the convenience store to buy a parking pass. It’s required, and you don’t want to make the 13 mile trip to the trailhead only to turn around for a permit. Continue West on Sauvie Island Road for about two miles and then take a right onto Reeder Road. Follow Reeder Road for 12 miles until you reach the trailhead.

Head through the gate and follow the treelined trail. The trail forks quite a few times, stay right every time. Going left at any fork will take you on ATV tracks and they don’t always meet up with the main trail and you will have to backtrack. You get views of the Columbia the whole way and there is access to the beach for the first half mile or so. On a clear day you will get really nice views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood.

      

The trail is really wide, evenly graded, and easy to follow. It’s mostly dirt and gravel and can get pretty muddy during the rainy months. You’ll switch from wooded areas to open fields a few times as you make your way down to the lighthouse. Everything pretty much looks the same the whole way and it can get a little boring but it’s still a nice hike.

      

Once you get close to the lighthouse you’ll see a side trail off to the right that takes you down to the beach. Head this way and take a right on the beach for the lighthouse. There are a few logs to sit on right at the lighthouse which makes for a great place to have lunch or watch the boats on the Columbia River. Head back out the way you came in.

      

On your way out stop at Collin’s Beach (park at the third entrance) and check out the old UFO boat. Collin’s Beach is clothing optional so be prepared for that. Head down to the beach and go right for about 200 feet. It’s covered in graffiti so you wont miss it!

      

Distance: 7 miles (moderate)

Elevation: Minimal (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead

Parking Fee: $10 Sauvie Island pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Ticks and nettles on the Warrior Rock trail and nudity on Collin’s Beach

Bridge Creek Falls (Winter)

Directions: Take Hwy 26 west and get onto Hwy 6 for Tillamook. Drive for about 32 miles where you will see the Footbridge Trailhead on your right.

This isn’t much of a hike but it’s a nice stop if you’re in the area or if you are hiking the Wilson River Trail. You’ll see Upper Bridge Creek Falls and head over a bridge that takes you across the Wilson River Narrows. You’ll end down at the river on a small beach with a view of the less spectacular Lower Bridge Creek Falls.

      

To see upper Bridge Creek Falls take the stairs at the parking area that lead you up to Highway 6 and head right towards a crash barrier. Carefully cross the highway and up the stone steps. From here you’ll go up a steep hill next to Bridge Creek and end at the base of the waterfall. This waterfall is fairly scenic for a little roadside guy. The very short trail is pretty steep and it can get kinda slick in the rain.

      

Head back and cross the highway again and walk between the crash barrier and a chain link fence that takes you to some steps down to a bridge that goes over the Wilson River Narrows. Cross the bridge and carefully head down the large rocks (no trail) that dumps you out at a small rocky beach area with a view of Lower Bridge Creek Falls across the river. The lower falls isn’t anything spectacular as it come shooting out of a large pipe that diverts the creek under the highway. You do get a nice view of the river and bridge up above. This spot becomes very popular during the summer months and you can see evidence of that in the beer cans and cigarette butts.

      

Overall these are nice stops if you need to get out and stretch on your way to the coast or if you are on the Wilson River Trail. We definitely wouldn’t make these our primary stop though!

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 100 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes in the summer

Warnings: Highway 6 can be very busy so please be extra cautious crossing it.

Wilson River Trail- Jones Creek Trailhead to Wilson Falls (Winter)

Directions: Take 26 west and get on Highway 6 towards Tillamook. Drive on Highway 6 for about 29 miles where you will turn right onto Jones Creek Rd. Cross over the bridge and take a left into the parking area.

Get on the trail near the trailhead marker and head down towards the Wilson River. Go right here and follow the many signs letting you know you are on the Wilson River Trail. You’ll soon pop up to a gravel road, keep following the signs and head back into the woods. About a half mile from the trailhead you’ll reach a bridge and can see the Tillamook Forest Center (open March-November). The bridge itself is interesting looking and gives you a great view of the river.

      

Back on the trail keep going as you wind through alder, maple, spruce and ferns. We actually saw a few early flowers lining the trail as well (and this was early February!). The trail comes out of the trees again to a road and a bridge over a creek that leads into the river. Cross this bridge and pick up the trail that again takes you back into the woods.

      

Next, the trail gains some elevation and switches back once as you head up to Wilson Falls. This is where we ended up turning around because we didn’t feel like getting our feet wet and having a soggy hike out. If you are here during a low water time you can keep going and will reach the Footbridge Trailhead in about a mile and a half. Head back out the way you came in.

      

The whole trail is well maintained and is mostly level until you reach the couple switchback that take you up to the waterfall.

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 350 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

White River West- Snowshoe

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.

We blogged about snowshoeing White River West last year and were bothered that you had to snowshoe in the beginning where all the sledders are. With TONS of people flying down the side of the hill it made for an annoying and dangerous snowshoe until you got far enough down the trail.

We recently went back to White River West and did some looking around and found a nice side trail that dumps you onto a service road. It makes for a much more pleasant experience! We only saw maybe two other people on this road so we thought we’d pass it along.

From the parking area get up on the main trail where all the sledders are and keep your eyes peeled for a side trail to your left that you come to quickly. Take this trail and follow it for a bit to where you get on the service road and will start to see the blue diamond markers. The road heads uphill and is somewhat steep at times. It does eventually level out a bit  as you get closer to the power line. We decided to cross over near the power line and get onto the other more popular snowshoe trails that give you a nice view of the river below.

      

We snowshoed about 1.5 miles in, making for a nice and quick 3 mile snowshoe. There was definitely a lot less snow this year and we both agree that this area is best when it has a good snowpack. If you are wanting a quieter snowshoe stay on the service road, if you’re fine with loud sledders and seeing a lot more snowshoers/skiers then crossing over to the main trail is a good option.

      

If it’s a clear day you’ll have great views of the mountain no matter what trail you decide to use.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 500 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno- Park Pass required

Seasons: Late November through Early April (check snow levels before going)

Popular: Very

Warnings: If you’re on the main trail watch out for sledders.

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!

Cottonwood Canyon State Park (Pinnacles Trail) (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 104, turn right for Wasco/Bend. Follow Highway 97 for a little over 7 miles and take a left for Wasco. Drive for about 2 miles and take a right on Clark St., a short distance later take a left for Highway 206E and Cottonwood Canyon State Park. Go another 15 miles and take a right into the park. Take a left and follow the road all the way to the end back by the campsite area and a couple vault toilets. This is the Pinnacles Trailhead.

The drive out was great to, you get to drive through a wind farm which was very interesting. Stop at the viewpoint to get a good look at the wind turbines and a nice view of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.

Cottonwood Canyon is one of Oregon’s newest state parks and is the second largest. There are a few different hikes you can do here and we decided to try out the longer trail on our first visit. This area can get very hot even in spring and there are very few shady areas along the trail. We did this hike early on a sunny cloudless day and it was quite hot by the time we finished. Make sure to plan accordingly with water, sunscreen, etc. There are also lots of signs warning about ticks and snakes, so be prepared for that as well. For more information about ticks click here.

This hike is also shared with mountain bikers.

The hike immediately starts out along the John Day River and you will be hiking closely to it the whole way. After passing a trailhead station the trail curves and come to a basalt overhang with many cliff swallow nests above. You will see them flying in and out of the nest and catching bugs near the river. Continuing on you will be walking along sagebrush and other small bushes, hills and basalt cliffs line the canyon the whole way. We saw many deer and bighorn sheep tracks but never saw the animals themselves. We did see many butterflies and lots of different birds, as well as bones from small animals.

      

You will come to a junction in the trail we decided to go left here and gain a bit of elevation to get a better view of the canyon and river. It connects back with the main trail a short distance later. There is a bench at the top which offers a great view. You will notice benches along the trail with mile markers on them.

 

 

      

The trail continues on with much of the same views which isn’t bad, it’s very pretty. You’ll get away from the river briefly and the trail enters an area that is lined with large thistle and has a small boggy area. After this area you start seeing the river again and come to the end of the hike.

      

You’ll see the bench with the mile 4 marker and you can see the small pinnacles off in the distance to your left. You can go a bit farther to get a better look at them where you will see a gate, past the gate is considered off trail.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

This trail is different than a lot of the hikes we go on and that was nice. The whole area is beautiful with all the rolling hills and cliffs. It was our first hike along the John Day as well and it’s a very pretty river. We will definitely be back to check out the other trails.

Distance: 8 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 70 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: Yes $5 per person, not car.

Seasons: All

Popular: The area is popular for camping but we saw only four other people the whole time on the trail.

Warnings: Ticks