Tag Archives: Smith Rock

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!

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?

 

Smith Rock (Misery Ridge) (Spring)

Directions: Take Highway 26 East to the town of Madras. Then get on 97 South and drive to the town of Terrebonne. Once in Terrebonne take a left onto Smith Rock Way. Take another left on 1st Street (1st becomes Wilcox). Take a left on Crooked River Drive and end at Smith Rock State Park.

We did the River Trail in Smith Rock a while back, to see that post click here.

From the parking area get on the main paved path that immediately starts heading downhill, soon there is a junction where you can get on the Chute Trail. It gets you down faster but it’s not as gradual as the main trail. Cross the bridge over the Crooked River and you’re at the starting point for Misery Ridge.

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The trail starts out with short switchbacks as you begin the steep climb to the top. The trail climbs continuously and you will get a mix of dirt/rock trail, steps and switchbacks. The views as you round the side of the ridge and head to the top are stunning. After about 3/4 of a mile and over 700 feet of elevation gain you will reach the top of Misery Ridge. The trail continues around the top and there are MANY viewing areas. You will soon come to an absolutely amazing view of Monkey Face, there is even a side trail that takes you even closer for great picture taking opportunities.

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Continue on the main trail when you are ready to head down and finish the loop. The trail down is only dirt and it’s basically long switchbacks. Some spots in the trail have loose rocks, which can lead to falling. When you get closer to river level the trail evens out quite a bit. Soon you will come to the junction with the Mesa Verde Trail, go left towards a climbing first aid area that has crutches and a rescue basket. Continue on the Mesa Verde Trail until you get to the Riverside Trail. Go left on the Riverside Trail as you pass rock climbers and follow along the Crooked River. You will end up back at the bridge where you can get back on the Chute Trail that takes you back up to the parking area.

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There are lots of snakes at Smith Rock and the risk of falling if you’re going up Misery Ridge. We did see one small rattle snake and there had been a bad fall a few days prior. Take extra precautions with children, older folks, and pets.

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Distance: 4.5 miles

Elevation: 1,100 feet

Difficulty: Hard

Pet Friendly: Yes but be aware that there are drop offs and lots of places that dogs could potentially hurt themselves.

Good For: Sure footed hikers and older kids.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: $5 day use fee

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This was a great hike and the views at the top are amazing!

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!

Smith Rock (River Trail) (Spring)

Directions: Take Highway 26 East to the town of Madras. Then get on 97 South and drive to the town of Terrebonne. Once in Terrebonne take a left onto Smith Rock Way. Take another left on 1st Street (1st becomes Wilcox). Take a left on Crooked River Drive and end at Smith Rock State Park.

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We did this hike on Memorial Day weekend and it was BUSY. There are many different trail options here and we decided to do a scenic river hike on the recommendation of one of the Park Managers.

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From the main parking area near the bathrooms take the Chute Trail down into the Crooked River Canyon. It’s quite steep heading down into the canyon and be sure to keep an eye out for snakes on the way down. Even though there were a lot of people on the trail we still saw a Rattlesnake sunning itself on a rock. The Chute Trail takes you down to a bridge that crosses the Crooked river and to a three-way trail option. Going straight is one way to get up Misery Ridge, and going left or right is the River Trail.

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We went left on the River Trail and started heading down the East side of the ridge. You get great views of the Crooked River and flat out amazing views of the cliffs all around you. You follow the river the whole way on a nicely graded dirt and rock trail. One of the most interesting parts of this hike is seeing all of the rock climbers. Some of them are easy to spot and some are so high up you can barely see them. As you continue on towards the Southern tip you’ll pass many popular climbing areas such as Morning Glory and Phoenix Buttress.

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Once You’ve reached the Southern tip there is a waterfall across the river. Rounding the southern tip you’ll pass more rock climbers and soon start seeing Monkey Face. Monkey Face is 350 feet tall and the top looks exactly like the face of a monkey. Soon you’ll come to a junction with the Mesa Verde Trail. This is the end of the hike. Turn around and head back the way you came.

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We would caution that Smith Rock is a very exposed area and became really hot, we saw quite a few people struggling with the heat. Make sure to bring enough water and sunscreen on hot days.

There are many other trail options that we didn’t have time for, we’ll definitely be back in the future!

We highly recommend going to Juniper Junction (AKA Rockhard) on the way out for some huckleberry ice cream. It was delicious! It’s about a quarter mile from Smith Rock.

Distance: 5 miles

Elevation: 280 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Yes a $5 state park fee.

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Overall: We absolutely love Smith Rock and can’t wait to come back!