Tag Archives: Willamette Valley

Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge- Morgan Lake (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-5 south to exit 260A. Take Salem Parkway for about 5 miles and take a right onto Marion Street. Cross over the Willamette River and drive for a little over 9 miles on Highway 22, take exit 16 and soon stay left for McMinnville. Take a left at the junction for 99W and drive for 3 miles to Smithfield Road. Continue on this gravel road for about 2.5 miles to a parking area on the left.

Head out on the gravel path that quickly takes a left and goes up a small hill. At the top of this hill you will get a good view of Morgan Lake and the two hills that make up Baskett Butte. Keep going on the gravel trail that dips down and back up to a grassy field. The trail is pretty much nonexistent here so just follow along near the lake.



Eventually you will see the trail again when you get towards the end of the lake. Continue on a bit farther until you reach a trail junction, this is the end of this hike so head back out the way you came in. This junction has tie trails that lead to other parts of the refuge if you want to extend your hike.


The lake was pretty empty, we did see a few mallards and shovelers but that was it. The fields had a ton of geese and there were plenty of birds in the trees and bushes. Definitely bring your binoculars!


Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 45 feet (easy)

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

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Morgan Lake is open April 1-September 30

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Tulip Festival (2019)

The Tulip Festival is located in Woodburn, Oregon and runs through April 29th this year.

We visited the fields just last Sunday and they were definitely in full bloom so now is a great time to go. We would recommend getting there right when it opens because it gets very busy very quickly. It’s also very muddy right now so rubber boots are a good idea.



The color was amazing and all of the flowers were beautiful as usual!


Check out their website for info on ticket prices, food/craft booths and everything else happening at the farm.

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.

Henline Falls (Autumn)

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 about a mile and a half (keep left at a split in the road) and you will see the Henline Falls trailhead on the left. Warning: The gravel road has MANY potholes, some of them pretty large. We saw all different types of cars at the trailhead and only one (a Fiat) seemed to have a problem.

The trailhead is not marked but there is a small wooden kiosk (someone has written ‘Henline Falls’ in sharpie but it’s small) and a pullout with enough room for about 3 or 4 cars.


From here get on the trail as you gradually head uphill. The trail is actually an old access road so it’s fairly wide in areas and pretty rocky. The trail is lined with large ferns and there is a lot of moss everywhere. You can hear Henline Creek below as you follow the trail to a split. Go left here and the trail narrows a bit and levels out. Soon you will enter a small burned area where there is a few eroded spots but they are easily passable. After the burn area you’ll start to see the waterfall off in the distance. You will pass by some old mining remnants and reach the end of the trail at Henline Falls. You can easily scramble down to the base of the waterfall where there are large boulders, and the small but colorful pool at the base of the falls.



Henline Falls is very pretty and quite tall. There was a good amount of spray coming off it as well which didn’t allow us to hangout at the base very long. Getting back up on the trail you still get a great view and will be less soggy. 


Head back out the way you came in.


Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

For For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All. Check snow levels during winter.

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Downing Creek Falls (Autumn)

**This waterfalls does not have an established or maintained trail. It has been written up a few times but is not frequently visited. In order to help keep this place as pristine as possible we are not openly posting driving or hiking directions. Send us an email and we’d be happy to give you tips on finding this beautiful area.


The hike for this waterfall is short, on old roads with downed trees and through overgrown boot paths. It features a very pretty creek, a stunning waterfall, and an overabundance of moss. The moss is seriously great though, it really gives you that storybook feel.


The elevation at the waterfall is over 3,000 feet and we did run into some light snow on the old road but not much around the waterfall itself. We’d imagine that this place can get some decent snow during winter.


We really urge that anyone who visits here hikes responsibly and helps keep this place looking as untouched as possible 🙂

Distance: 0.7 miles (easy)

Elevation: 60 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Anyone who is comfortable with unestablished trails.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All- winter may have snow, check snow levels before leaving.

Popular: No

Warnings: No established or maintained trails.

Silver Falls State Park- Trail Of Ten Falls (Winter)

Directions: Take I-205 to exit 10 and drive South on Highway 213. Follow signs to Silverton, once in Silverton get on Highway 214. Take Highway 214 for about 14 miles to the South Falls Lodge parking area.

We did this hike on a very rainy weekend. All of the waterfalls were very full which was great to see! There are park maps at the pay station area, they are nice to have so you know which waterfalls are coming up. You can do the large loop that takes you to all 10 waterfalls, or you can do just a few. There are three trailhead areas, each have multiple waterfalls within just a few miles.

All of the trails are very well marked with easy to read signs. The trails are all fairly wide, with packed dirt and rocky in areas. There are a few bridges and two areas with long and pretty steep staircases. You can walk behind multiple waterfalls as well, so there’s a good chance you will get a little wet in the warmer months, or soaked in the wet months.


Since this is such a straightforward hike we’ll just post some pictures of the highlights. We have done this hike in other season, winter is definitely our favorite so far. The waterfalls and creek were so full and it was a lot less crowded.




Distance: 7.5 miles (if you want to see all of the waterfalls)

Elevation: 1,200 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Dogs are not allowed on MOST of the trails.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 entrance fee

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This is one of Oregon’s best State Parks!

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?


Alsea Falls (Summer)

Directions: Take I-5 to exit 228. Go right and follow Highway 34 for a little over 9.5 miles where you will go left for Philomath and the Oregon Coast. In just less than a mile go right for Highway 99W South. Follow 99W South for a little over 15.5 miles and make a right onto Alpine Road. Follow this road for a little over 4 miles and go left at a junction (signed for Alsea Falls). From the junction it’s about 9 miles to Alsea Falls, make sure you go past the campground to the day use area.

Alsea Falls is right at the parking area. Take a small trail marked for Alsea Falls and pass the bridge where you will come to a staircase. Head down the stairs and you will be at the base of Alsea Falls. This waterfall is really full from late fall to spring. During the summer months it runs pretty low but allows you to see all the rocks it flows over.

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Head back up the stairs and follow the trail over the bridge, this is actually the top of Alsea Falls. After crossing the bridge you will come to a signed junction. We went left towards Green Peak Falls. The trail is fairly well maintained, some areas are a bit overgrown and there are a few spots in the trail that are eroding. You will go down some steps and the trail switches back a few times.

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There are many side trails that take you down to the river. The river is pretty and has lots of rocks so you can walk around in it. Back on the main trail you will pretty much roller coaster for a while with not too much elevation gain or loss. Soon the trail dumps you out at a campsite where you can follow a small road that takes you into the main McBee Campground. We were planning on seeing Green Peak Falls but our trail directions weren’t very good and we were meeting some people at the Scandinavian Festival nearby. So, we decided to turn around at the campground and find it next time!


Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation: 230 Feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages. May be harder for older folks and young kids.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: $3 day-use fee.

Seasons: All but gate is closed during winter months.

Popular: Very popular swimming place during the summer months.

Overall: The waterfall was pretty but nothing spectacular. We’ll be back to visit Greek Peak Falls.

Ankeny Wildlife Refuge (Rail Trail) (Summer)

Directions: Drive I-5 South to exit 243. Go right onto Ankeny Hill Road and at a stop sign go left onto Wintel Road. Follow this road until you come to a road on the left marked for the Rail Trail. Follow the gravel road down to the parking area.

From the parking area get on the trail and follow it by a field and into a more heavily wooded section. You will soon come to a split in the trail, go right onto the boardwalk. Following the boardwalk you will pass a bird blind that looks out over a marshy area. The boardwalk continues on over a swampy section as you come back out to an open area. At the end of the boardwalk you can go left and take a look at the ponds before back tracking back to the boardwalk and going right.

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Follow the grassy trail along the marsh area for a while as you start to round around and follow near the road. You will come to a side trail on the left that ends at a green gate. Go around the gate and cross the road where you will find another side trail that takes you to a boardwalk trail. Follow the boardwalk a short distance to another bird blind that looks out over another marsh area. Backtrack to the road and cross it back to the gate and get back on the grass trail. Keep going on this trail where there are lots of blackberry bushes that are full of berries in July.

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This trail takes you back to the gravel road you drove in on. Go right on the road and follow it back to your car.

While at the refuge we were able to see Great Blue Heron’s, Robins, American Goldfinch, Northern Flickers, Song Sparrows, Yellow Warblers, Cedar Waxwings, and more!

Distance 2- 3.5 miles (depends on if you look at all the ponds)

Elevation: 0

Difficulty: Easy

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

Good For: All ages.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All. Parts of the trail are closed from Oct-Apr

Popular: No

Overall: Nice quiet area that’s great for bird lovers, may be a little boring for others.

McDowell Creek Falls County Park (Summer)

Directions: Take I-5 South to exit 233. Go left at the light for Highway 20 and drive for a little over 18 miles. Take a left onto Fairview Road, there is a small sign that’s easy to miss marked for McDowell Park. In about a mile go left onto McDowell Creek Drive, follow this road for a little over 7.5 miles to the first parking area on the right.

From the parking area take the trail over a footbridge and continue on the trail until you come to a junction. Go right up the stone steps as you follow next to Royal Terrace falls (you will see this waterfall towards the end of the hike), the steps end at a small viewing platform at the top of the waterfall. Cross the creek over a bridge and head uphill, sometimes steeply, you will soon come to another split in the trail (it’s unsigned) go right and follow the trail where you will cross a road.

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After crossing the road the trail heads downhill as you come to a large wooden viewing platform at the top of Majestic Falls. After the viewing platform head down the wooden steps to another smaller viewing area at the base of the falls. Continue on even more wooden steps and boardwalk as you get back on the trail. Keep going on the trail, you’ll switchback once and come to Crystal Falls. It’s a small waterfall in the creek.

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Continuing on the trail you will cross back over the road and continue downhill. You’ll cross over another bridge and continue on for a short distance before you come to the last waterfall, Royal Terrace Falls. From here after you cross the bridge go right and head back to your car.

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Back at the parking lot you can take a side trail down to the creek to see Lower McDowell Creek Falls. It has three small drops, it’s not tall but still pretty.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 220 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area (when we were here they were very dirty)

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Year round

Popular: Yes during the summer, it’s a popular swimming area. Not as crowded during colder months

Overall: Great easy hike to see a couple pretty waterfalls.