Tag Archives: Willamette Valley

Ankeny Wildlife Refuge (Rail Trail) (Summer 2016)

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) (easy)

Elevation: 0 (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

Warnings: None

McDowell Creek Falls County Park (Summer 2016)

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 (easy)

Elevation Gain: 220 feet (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

Warnings: None

Jawbone Flats (Spring 2016)

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: 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. Just be aware and decide how much you’re willing to put your car through. The road has changed a lot since the first time we were here three years ago.

To see our first post on Jawbone Flats click here.

This whole trail is a rarely used access road for the small town of Jawbone Flats, which is now an environmental center. For more information on Jawbone Flats click here. The trail roller coasters over easy hills most of the way into Jawbone Flats. There is a lot to see along the way as well. You will first cross a bridge over Gold Creek and then come to an old mining shaft. It’s dark and pretty wet during the rainy season. Next you will start to see old mining equipment off to your right. There is a short side trail that takes you through all the equipment and to an old shed that’s barely standing. Behind this old shed is a hard to see trail that leads to Sawmill Falls. It’s well worth the short trip.

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Back on the main trail you will continue to see the Little North Santiam River and mining equipment occasionally. You will pass a trail junction with a bridge over the river, make sure you stay straight on the main trail though. Next there is another side trail that takes you to a natural rock waterslide that gets heavy use in the summer. Soon you will enter Jawbone Flats as you walk right down the middle of the tiny town. There are cabins on both sides of the trail and you will pass an information cabin. Cross Battle Ax Creek and follow the sign pointing you (right) towards Opal Pool.

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You will pass by an old fire truck (complete with chains on the tires!) and a bunch of old cars, wood stoves, and appliances. Continue past the picnic table area and meadow as you get back into the woods and come to another sign pointing you right again, Opal Pool is just a short distance later. There is a bridge that crosses Opal Creek and plenty of places to sit and relax. The water level was really high this time around so we didn’t see the pools it was just a fast moving creek! However, it was a nice weekend (high 60’s) and we did see people cliff jumping, which was shocking since it was only the second of April :). This is the turn around point so head back out the way you came in.



Distance: 7 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 380 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All Ages

Bathrooms: Yes. Vault toilet at trailhead and compost toilet in Jawbone Flats

Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass

Seasons: All but may close during snowy times.

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Henline Falls (Spring 2016)

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. Just be aware and decide how much you’re willing to put your car through. We drove this road in the summer of 2013 and it has changed a lot since then.

The first part of this trail is an old access road and it’s fairly wide and pretty rocky. It’s heavily treelined as you gradually head uphill to a split in the trail. At the split stay left as the trail gets closer to Henline Creek. Soon you will enter the burn area, the trail just recently opened after a wildfire above the trail caused the hillside to become unstable. There are some burned out trees and the trail is eroding a bit so it’s kinda skinny in this area.

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A short distance later you will start seeing the waterfall as the trail takes you past some old mining remnants. The trail ends at the base of Henline Falls where there are plenty of rocks to hangout on and eat lunch or relax. There is an old mining shaft on the right side of the waterfall, you can’t go in very far but it’s interesting to look at. This is an out and back hike so head back the way you came.

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Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 200 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All but check before going during winter months.

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival (2016)

This is our second year going to the Tulip Festival, it’s a fun tradition we’ve started to celebrate spring!

The farm is located in Woodburn, Oregon and the festival is running until May 1st. For more information checkout their website here.

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The fields are great and FULL of so many different types of tulips. There is a big kid-friendly area, as well as craft and food vendors. The gift shop has lots of stuff for your yard and you can order bulbs. We took home a pot of Prinses Irene Tulips and have been really enjoying them!

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Distance: 0-1 mile

Elevation: 0

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes throughout the farm

Parking Fee: $5 per person (they also have other prices such as per car)

Seasons: Spring

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

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


Hikes that open in spring or that should be done before it gets too hot:

Larch Mountain

Painted Hills

Smith Rock



Tunnel Falls

Fairy Falls

Dry Creek Falls

Pool Of The Winds

Falls Creek Falls

Mist Falls



Spring kayaking:

Columbia River Slough

Sturgeon Lake




Shellburg Falls (Winter 2016)

Directions: Take I-5 South to exit 253 and get on Highway 22. Drive Highway 22 for about 22 miles where you will take a left onto Fern Ridge Road. After a little over a mile on Fern Ridge Road you’ll see the trailhead on the right with a small parking area.

From the trailhead head up the gravel road and go around the gate. For about the first mile you’ll be hiking on a wide gravel access road. You will be hiking with private property on both sides of you during the first mile. It’s pastures on both sides and you’ll be crossing quite a few cattle guards. There are cows out in the pasture and they cross the road pretty regularly. All the cows we encountered weren’t aggressive. But, please make sure to give the cows space and respect the animals and the people who own them, by not touching or scaring them in any way. After you pass the main pasture you will come to a small tree farm on the right and enter into a more wooded area, you are now in the Santiam State Forest.

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After about a half mile in the forest you will come to a small bridge that’s right at the top of Lower Shellburg Falls. Some people scramble down the side to get a full view of the falls. This area can be dangerous so make sure you have experience scrambling before attempting it. From here take the steps that are signed for Shellburg Falls and get on a more narrow trail. It’s just a short distance later to Shellburg Falls where the trail leads all the way behind the waterfall! This is the end point for this hike so turn around and head back out the way you came in.

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Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

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!


Columbia River Gorge (Washington side): *Strawberry Island* This was a nice secluded hike that had amazing views of the Gorge and lots of birds.


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!


Oregon Coast: *Bayocean Spit* Who doesn’t love a hike that’s right on the beach?


Washington Coast: *North Head Lighthouse* You can actually go up in this lighthouse. The views are great!


Portland Metro/Outer Portland: *Oak Island* This is one of our favorite hikes on Sauvie Island, the place is covered with cows!


Washington: *Lacamas Creek (Camas Lily Fields)* Go here in the spring when the lilies are blooming, it’s very pretty!


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.


Central Oregon: *Smith Rock* We absolutely love this place. There is so much to see you almost need more than one day.


Kayaking: *Scappoose Bay* This was the first place we took our new kayak. There’s lots of places to explore here.


*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!

Winter Hikes


Winter can be a great time to get out and hike. The trails aren’t very busy, water levels are nice and full, and the crisp air is refreshing. 

Here are a few of our favorite hikes that are great for the winter season. Clicking on the links will take you to a more detailed post with directions.

Mt. Tabor: This well maintained city park is a great choice on those chilly days where you want to get out for a quick hike.

Wahclella Falls: This waterfall is at it’s best when it’s nice and full. Just be careful, the trail can get a little icy if we’ve had low temps.

Bayocean Spit: Located in the Tillamook area, this hike is a nice option on those cold but clear winter days. It would also be a great beachcombing hike after a winter storm.

Silver Falls State Park: This trail of 10 waterfalls is a State Park so the trails are always well maintained. You won’t have to worry about running into trail damage after a winter storm.

Little Zigzag Falls: This short hike is a nice addition to any snowshoeing or skiing activities you have planned this winter.

Powell Butte: Great year-round hike that’s in SE Portland.

Hug Point Falls: Good option for those rainy days. It’s a quick walk to a small beach waterfall.

**Frozen Gorge Waterfalls: If we end up having an extended period of freezing weather, you should definitely check out some of the waterfalls that are just off the Old Highway. Here are some frozen waterfalls we saw in 2013 and 2014.

We hope everyone has a great time enjoying winter in Oregon!


Silver Falls State Park (Trail Of Ten Falls) (Autumn 2015)

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.

To see our first post click here.

We got here right when the park opened this time (8:00am) which was a really good idea. There was only a few other cars and we didn’t have to fight through crowds at all of the waterfalls. We started the loop at South Falls this time which is near the lodge and bathrooms.

To start this hike take the paved path past the bathroom and around the lodge. You will soon come to an intersection. Go left and downhill switching back once and you will reach South Falls. This is probably the most popular waterfall in the park and with good reason. The trail continues on as you walk behind the waterfall and downhill to a bridge. Crossing the bridge will take you back up to the parking area, so instead stay straight on the trail as you hike along the South Fork of Silver Creek. Soon you will come to a long staircase that switches back down to Lower South Falls. This is the second of four waterfalls that you’ll be walking behind. Continue on the trail and you will soon switch to following along the North Fork of Silver Creek, this is probably the prettiest section of the creek. The fall colors were beautiful in this area.

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Soon you’ll reach a few stairs that take you down to a bridge over the creek. Just a short distance later you’ll come to Lower North Falls. It’s a shorter waterfall but still very pretty. The next waterfall, Double Falls, comes quickly and you need to take a short side trail off to your left. Unfortunately with the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had lately this waterfall was barely trickling. Head back out to the main trail and cross a small bridge, a short distance later you’ll come to a viewing platform for Drake Falls. It’s not the most spectacular compared to all the others and you can’t get a very good look at it from the platform.

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Continuing on another quarter mile will bring you to Middle North Falls. This waterfall looked so different from our last trip, it’s usually a wide curtain waterfall, this time it was maybe a quarter of it’s normal width. There is a side trail that will take you behind this waterfall but dead ends. It’s definitely worth the minimal effort. Soon after this waterfall you’ll come to a trail intersection. Stay straight towards Twin Falls which you’ll reach in a little less than a half mile. Twin Falls is the other waterfall that isn’t much to look at, if you can even get a good look. It does mark the roughly halfway point in the loop though.

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From Twin Falls continue on, making sure you stay on the lower trail (canyon trail) towards North Falls. You’ll be hiking for a little over a mile, the first half isn’t very spectacular but the trail does get better and before you know it you’ll be at North Falls. This is another tall waterfall that has a great walk-behind trail. We actually decided to sit at one of the benches behind the waterfall and eat lunch, we definitely recommend this- you can’t beat the view! Continue on past North Falls and you’ll come to your last set of stairs as you climb up to a great view of North Falls below!

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A short distance later you’ll come to the North Falls parking area, go straight and under the bridge you’ll see a sign for Upper North Falls. This is the waterfall we missed last time, we’re SO glad we saw it this time. It’s our favorite out of all ten waterfalls! The side trail is a little over a quarter mile and ends at two stairs that take you down to the wide open creek area with a beautiful view of Upper North Falls. Make sure you look downstream too it’s very pretty! When you’re finished head back out to the main trail and go uphill towards Winter Falls.


In about a mile you will reach a parking area and the side trail down to Winter Falls. We were a little bummed that the last waterfall on our loop was also barely flowing, more like dripping. This weather hasn’t been good on the waterfalls! Head back up to the main trail and in about a mile you’ll be back to the Lodge and parking area.

The most noticeable change was the water levels. Even though it’s mid-October the waterfalls were almost lower than summer level. We definitely recommend late fall through spring as a good time to visit.

All of the fall colors were amazing though and make sure you get there as early as possible. It’s a much nicer experience without a million people around.

Click here to see the Silver Falls State Park website for more information.

Distance: 7.5 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 1,200 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Dogs are NOT allowed on most trails.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 entrance fee

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes, especially summer weekends.

Warnings: None