Tag Archives: Switchbacks

Salt Creek Falls & Diamond Creek Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: From the town of Oakridge go East on OR-58 for a little over 21 miles. You will come to a large sign for Salt Creek Falls, turn right here and head to the parking area.

     

Walk behind the bathrooms and follow the paved path a short distance to Salt Creek Falls. There are a couple viewpoints here but the railing is pretty high. Once you are done taking in Salt Creek Falls follow the paved path past the top of the waterfall as it heads into a picnic area and you cross a bridge. Next you will come to a trail junction. Go left here and follow the trail as it gradually climbs uphill.

     

You’ll cross an old service road as you continue your way back to the waterfall. Eventually you will come to an unmarked junction where you can only go left or right. Go right and switchback downhill to a partially obscured viewpoint of Diamond Creek Falls. Continue down the trail a short distance until you come to a trail on your left. Take this trail downhill and you will come to a log with steps carved into it, go down this and cross the large log bridge. Continue past the bridge a short distance and you will reach Diamond Creek Falls.

     

You are right at the base of the waterfall and you get a very up close and personal view of it. The waterfall is absolutely beautiful, and it quickly became one of our all-time favorites! When you are ready head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 465 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Summer and Fall

Popular: Yes for Salt Creek Falls, not as popular for Diamond Creek Falls

Warnings: They had signs posted for a recent cougar sighting while we were here.

Paulina Falls (Summer 2019)

Paulina Falls is located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument which is just outside of La Pine, Oregon.

Paulina Falls is a double falls and is best viewed from the lower viewpoint. It’s a short hike but definitely worth it.

     

From the parking area get on the paved path that soon splits, go right first and quickly get to the upper viewpoint. It’s not the best view since it’s only of the top of the waterfalls. Head back the other way on the trail and it turns to dirt where you will take a long switchback down to a short bridge and the lower viewpoint. There are lots of downed trees and large rocks in the creek and the base of the waterfalls which are very interesting. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 125 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass or Newberry entrance pass

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Wahkeena Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Take a left onto the Old Highway and drive for about 2.5 miles to the trailhead on your right.

This is a nice quick hike that would be good for kids or if you want to quickly show off the Gorge to out of town visitors.

From the parking area head up the few steps to a small viewpoint area of Wahkeena Creek/Lower Wahkeena Falls. After you have seen the creek get on the paved trail that takes you up one really long switchback and then flattens out for a short distance. That last part of this trail has a little damage but nothing that’s considered unsafe to hike on. The trail ends at a bridge that’s right in front of Wahkeena Falls. Head back out the way you came in.

     

The trail does continue on up 12 paved switchbacks to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. You gain a lot of elevation quickly, and add a little less than a mile to your hike. About a half mile or so past the viewpoint is Fairy Falls, both of these are great additions if you are feeling up to the challenge.

     

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes but they are seasonal

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

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

Headwaters Trail (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take highway 26 to Skyline Road. Drive for about 8.5 miles on Skyline until you come to a gravel parking area (on the left) for the Pacific Crest Trailhead.

This hike is full of junctions so this will be kind of a lengthy post. We saw a bobcat run across the road right by the parking area so be aware of that as well.

The hike starts to the left of the large wooden Pacific Crest Trailhead entrance, on the Headwaters trail. Following the mostly level trail with the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River off to your right. Come to a gravel road and go right for a short distance where you will pick up the trail again on your left. In this section you’ll pass by small meadows and marshy areas off to your left and pass through thin wooded areas. Soon you will come to a junction- go straight here on the Miller Trail (#534). Not too far past the junction there’s an unmarked side trail that takes you down to a nice view of Cold Spring. Across the wetland you’ll be able to see some of the campground you’ll soon be passing through.

     

Back on the main trail continue on until you come to a fork in the trail- go right and head in to the campground. Follow the main road through the campground and pass the entrance kiosk where you will soon cross a cattle guard and quickly pick up the Miller Trail again on the right. Next you will come to Skyline Road, cross it and pick up the Miller Trail, continue on here through mostly wooded areas and eventually come to FR 57. Cross the road and go left down the road a short distance where you will pickup the trail again. Continue on until you again come to FR 57, walk a few steps along a pullout and then reenter the woods and quickly come to another trail junction. Go right here on Timothy Lake Trail (#528). The trail soon drops down and you reach another junction- go right and cross a bridge. You then head up a large rocky area that leads up to another junction and a view of Timothy Lake.

     

Go right at this junction on the Pacific Crest Trail and follow it for a while. You will see the river again on your right, the trail gains a bit of elevation in areas and soon you will reach Skyline Road and your car.

     

This isn’t the most exciting hike and it’s definitely not one we’ll want to visit often- but parts are pretty and it’s not crowded at all.

Distance: 6.5 miles (moderate)

Elevation 360 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the campground

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Late spring through early fall

Popular: No

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

Fairy Falls (Winter 2018)

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

We were really anxious to get back up to this waterfall after the Eagle Creek Fire. It’s one of our favorite hikes in the Gorge and we really missed it.

Obviously there is fire damage visible throughout this whole hike but it’s really apparent after you get up above all the switchbacks.

First, you’ll start out on the paved path and cross over Wahkeena Creek as you switchback once to get up to Wahkeena Falls. From here the trail is still paved as you head straight up 12 switchbacks, they are fairly short but you’re definitely still feeling all the quick elevation gain. Through this section you are mainly seeing partially burned trees and more open views.

      

      

The switchbacks end at an signed intersection. It’s worth the short trip off to the right to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. When finished head back the other direction where the paved path turns into a typical dirt and rock Gorge trail. You’ll head over a footbridge and start heading uphill somewhat steeply on a very loose rocky trail, staying right next to the creek for a short distance. Normally there are a few fallen trees in this section, but since the wildfire there are a TON of downed trees and they are mostly hanging over the creek. A lot of the moss is burned in this section as well.

      

      

Cross over a second bridge and head up some more switchbacks that take you right to Fairy Falls. As you head up these last switchbacks you really get a good view back down into the creek where you can see a lot of the damage. We are happy to report that the waterfall still looks great and the bench survived the fire. Head back out the way you came in.

      

      

*Please read all the posted warning signs carefully before heading out on any of the recently reopened hikes. Trails impacted by wildfires are at higher risk for falling rocks and trees, as well as slides.*

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- there is quite a bit of elevation gain for such a short hike.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: This trail was hit by a wildfire so please read all posted warning signs.

Wahkeena Falls (Winter 2018)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Take a left onto the Old Highway and drive for about 2.5 miles to the trailhead on your right.

Here’s another hike that has recently reopened since the Eagle Creek Fire.

There is definite noticeable fire damage on trees and it looks a lot more open in many areas. You can see a lot more of the upper tiers of the waterfall from the parking lot.

      

The trail itself is in good shape and is paved from the parking lot all the way to the upper tier. You will switchback once and there is a small area right before the waterfall that has been washed out but is still easily passable.

This is a great short hike for families with young kids, or older folks.

      

If you want to extend your hike we strongly recommend Fairy Falls. It’s a pretty little waterfall and beautiful trail.

*This trail has recently reopened after a significant wildfire. There will be posted warning and closure signs at the trailhead and along the trail itself. Please read them and follow them. Entering a closed area is not only a danger to yourself but to the people who would be coming to your aid if something went wrong.*

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes but they are seasonal

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: Please follow all posted warning signs.