Tag Archives: Rivers

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

Government Cove Peninsula (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the exit just past Cascade Locks that’s marked for a weigh station. Get on Frontage Rd and continue on and cross the tracks. Park near the gate.

From the gate follow the trail off to the left as it climbs up to the top of the main rock area. At the top you get great views of the Gorge, this is also a nice place to eat lunch or hangout for a while.

      

Head back down but not all the way, go off to the right and climb up another section of the rock where you will find a lot of wildflowers in the spring. We saw lupine, wild iris, wild rose, and much more. The grass is a bit overgrown around here but the trail is still visible and passable.

      

Next head back down and explore around the base. There are a lot of trails that take you all around the island. You can see the south part where the cove is and usually a few cormorants and nutria. You can also get out where the island comes to a point and see the Columbia River really well.

      

After you’ve finished exploring you can take the lower trail back to the gate where your car is parked.

We definitely enjoyed ourselves a bit more this time around. All of the flowers were a surprise which was a nice treat. This is a great area for kids to get out and do some exploring 🙂

Distance: 2.25 miles

Elevation: 100 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: This is a popular area for fishing and duck hunting but the trails aren’t busy.

Overall: Spring is a great time of year for this hike.

 

Lewis River Falls (Spring)

Directions: Drive I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Take a right onto Highway 14 and drive for almost 6 miles where you will take a left onto Wind River Road. Follow Wind River Road up and over Old Man Pass, a couple miles after the pass take a left onto Curly Creek Road. Follow this road until you come to the junction with FR 90. Take a right onto FR 90 and drive for about 10 miles where you will take a right into the Lower Lewis River Falls parking area.

A small section of this trail between the lower and middle waterfalls is close. There is a detour that adds about a mile to your total hiking distance. You wont miss any of the waterfalls.

From the parking area head down the trail by the bathroom until it dumps you out at the main trail and Lower Lewis River Falls. There are multiple viewing areas for the lower falls. Go right and you will pass two of them, there are small wooden benches at them as well. Heading back up the main trail you’ll pass a staircase that takes you down to a viewing platform at the top of the lower waterfall.

      

From here get back on the main trail and head upriver. You will pass multiple staircases that allow river access and a small boardwalk turnout. As you pass these side areas the trail heads uphill gradually on a fairly wide and well maintained dirt path. There are campsites off to your left in the beginning and you will always see the river off to your right. When you are almost to the middle waterfall the trail is closed due to damage. It was like this the last time we were here (July 2016) and doesn’t seem to have had any work done on it. Take the detour trail that heads uphill somewhat steeply and through a slide area. It ends up at road level and the parking area for the middle falls. Briefly pass through the parking area and get back on the trail heading back into the forest. You’ll cross a bridge over Copper Falls and head downhill to Middle Lewis River Falls. The water level was so high this year that you couldn’t get out onto the rocks and get a good look at the waterfall.

      

Continuing on the main trail there are few spots on the way to the upper falls that have eroded quite a bit and you should be careful hiking through it. You will soon reach Upper Lewis River Falls, there is a place to get off trail and down to river level that offers a great view of the waterfall. There are a few big logs here that make it a great place to have lunch or sit and relax for a bit.

      

This is an out and back trail so head back out the way you came in.

This hike is very pretty with all the lovely trees and always having a view of the river as you go. All three waterfalls looks different and are each worth checking out. Visiting in spring this year was nice because the waterfalls were a lot fuller. In the summer this place gets very busy and becomes and popular swimming hole.

Distance: 6 miles

Elevation: 320 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Yes, a $5 NW Forest Pass is required

Seasons: All but check for road closures due to snow in the winter

Popular: Yes

Overall: We love this hike, theres a lot to see which is never a bad thing 🙂

Old Salmon River Trail (Spring)

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.

From the parking area follow the trail somewhat steeply downhill until you reach river level. The trail follows along closely to the Salmon River for most of this hike. The trail is fairly wide and well maintained. There are a lot of little side trails that take you down close to the river along the way. With all the snow melt and rain there were a good amount of seasonal streams we had to cross and the trail was very muddy.

      

The best part of this trail are all of the massive trees, it’s amazing and you get to see them the whole way. The trail heads up some steps and gains a small amount of elevation before leveling out again. As you start to head farther away from the river you will pop up out on Old Salmon River Road. Briefly walk along the road before reentering the forest on a trail. This is a good place to stop if you want a 3 mile total trip.

      

Continuing on is more of the same as you follow along the river and come to a camp site area. The trails ends at the Salmon River Trailhead. Just turn around and head back out the way you came in.

      

This is a nice, quiet spring hike. There isn’t anything overly special about it but it’s a very beautiful area.

      

Distance: 5 miles

Elevation: 200 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes a portable toilet

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Overall: Very peaceful hike and the trees are great.

Browns Ferry Park (Winter)

Directions: Take I-5 to exit 289. Turn left onto Nyberg, follow the road a short distance and the park will be on your left.

This is a nice park for a quick walk, or a great place if you’re a birder.

      

From the parking area go over the bridge, follow the trail around to the left and you can quickly check out the big barn that’s in the park. Head back and down towards the pond, this is a great area to see birds. During our visit we were able to see a golden crowned sparrow, spotted towhee, gadwalls, northern shovelers, buffleheads, green winged teals, and pied-billed grebes. Continuing on, follow the path past the pond and across another bridge.

      

      

From here stick to the dirt path that follows along the river. We saw a woodpecker in here and you will pass by a few small marshy pond areas. The trail connects back out to a paved path briefly but you can get on the dirt trail again. Follow this for as long as you want. You get brief views of the Tualatin River and the houses that line it, but it’s mostly fairly wooded.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Can be on nice weekends.

Overall: This is a nice park, the pond attracts some great birds. Nice place for kids or an afterwork walk as well.

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge (Winter)

Directions: Take I-5 South to exit 294. Get onto 99W/Barbur Boulevard and drive about 6.5 miles. Take a right into the Refuge.

From the parking area follow the trail down into a wide gravel path with trees. There are many side trails and benches with informational signs. The path goes down a small hill and over a bridge where you will start to follow along the Tualatin River. We’ve been getting a lot of rain lately and the river was definitely over it’s bank. There were large areas of the trail along the river that were flooded out and you needed to go way out into the grass to get around it.

      

There is a platform area that gives you a view of the river and has an informational sign. Continuing on you head toward a thicker wooded area. The trail was flooded out here and we couldn’t go any farther. If you are able to continue, the trail takes you out to a wetland observation deck. It gives you great views and there are usually lots of birds out this way.

      

Head back out the way you came in and make sure you check out the visitor center. There are a few telescopes that let you get a nice closeup view of the wetlands. As well as lots of interpretive stuff.

      

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 60 feet

Difficulty: Easy

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

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great place to do some birding.

Sandy River Delta (Winter)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 18 and take a right at the stop sign. Follow the road under the freeway to the parking area.

We started this hike on an unmarked trail that is near the entrance gate to the parking area. We followed this dirt and gravel trail straight and through an open area where there is an intersecting trail that you can take either left or right. We went right and followed this trail that’s up above the open meadow area you just walked through. The trail continues for a while before coming to an open area where you can see power lines and off to your right you can see the big open grass area that has a main trail running through it.

      

Head down to the main trail, where you get a nice view of Mt. Hood, and go left following it along a section of the Sandy River and to a bird blind. You can go past the blind a bit and get a view of the Columbia River. From here head back out and follow the main trail back through the open grassy area as it winds back around to the parking area.

      

The Sandy River Delta is the areas largest off-leash dog park, so you will see tons of dogs roaming around freely. You will also see mountain bikers and horseback riders, as well as hear duck hunters off in the distance. This area is great for birdwatching, we’ve seen many different birds here throughout the year.

There are many different intersecting trails and they aren’t really marked. Most of them lead back to main trails, it’s a great place to get out and just explore.

To see our previous post about the Sandy River Delta click here.

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Very

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Very easy hike, more of a walk actually. Nice place to nature watch and just explore.

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?

 

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 would recommend not parking along the edge of the parking area near the trail going up the snowbank. Many people were choosing to sled down the hill here and were not very careful around the cars at all.

From the parking lot there is a well worn path that leads up the snowbank and onto the main path. The first half mile of this snowshoe is on a very hard packed snow path, this is from all the people who sled in this area. We got up here pretty early and there was already about 10 cars in the parking area and they were all sledding. Once you get past this area it gets a lot better, it turns into snowshoe and cross-country ski trails. You follow along the river the whole time. it’s mostly snow covered but you will see parts of it at all times. You also get an amazing view of Mt. Hood right in front of you the whole way.

      

Basically you follow along the river out in the open with trees lining your path. After about a mile you will go under some power lines and head uphill into the trees. It’s not heavily wooded so you will still see the mountain peeking through. Once we got almost to the top of this hill we decided to go down the side of it to get back down to river level. We followed the river a bit longer and decided to call it a day. We went a little over a mile and a half in making for a nice 3+ mile snowshoe. You can definitely go farther and I know we will be back soon to explore this area more.

      

      

On your way back to the parking area we would recommend that you stay down near the river once you get back to where all the sledders are. They come flying down the hills and don’t pay much attention to who’s around. Plus it’s much easier to walk in the nice snow instead of the hard packed stuff from the sleds.

Distance: 3 miles (you can go farther if you want)

Elevation: 500 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: A Sno-Park pass is required.

Seasons: Anytime there is enough snow.

Popular: Very

Overall: The areas with all the sledding are a bit frustrating but it’s worth it once you get past all the crowds. The views of the mountain are amazing.