Kelly's Marina is the greatest place on Earth. And I've been to the Vatican, Eiffel Tower and Eagle River, Wisconsin. Kelly's is a bright green building right off of the 101. We ended up here on a rainy Sunday. Mary was visiting and we had hiked Cape Falcon earlier that day. Within 10 minutes of showing up, we already had our nets in the water. It was a really laid back day with a bunch of people hanging out around the fire pits. There was a Dave and Jimmy reunion (see pic below). Kelly didn't grace us with his presence until the tail-end of our stay. He loved Mary and deemed her, "the fire-keeper." At a later date, Mary would be offered a job at the Marina. We didn't catch any keepers, but there were some epic battles of man/woman versus crab. At one point, one of the little guys picked up a stick to use as a weapon! We purchased crab to feast on while we listened to Dave and Jimmy perform songs which I can only compare to the likes of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
Aaron and I came back with his parents a few weeks later, then I brought my parents and Erin here. We recently brought mini-van of people: Kara, Mary, Rachel, Phil and Sarah to meet with our friends Amanda and Joe. The verdict: everyone loves this place. If you're going to be on the coast, break up the drive with a quick stop here. The crabbing process yourself is very simple: you throw a net in the water, go drink a beer for 20 minutes (this place is BYOB) and then go check the net. It's a really laid back environment and it's a good time rain or shine!
This place is located north of Tillamook on the 101. If you catch a keeper, they will cook it for you and show you what parts to eat etc. The owners are always around and are really nice people. Camping is available on the property.
Dog Mountain was my first Gorge hike on the Washington side. Also, the first hike I did on my own. I had a late start (around 11am) and the parking lot was near full already. This hike is very popular in May and June because of the fields of yellow wildflowers up there. Even though the trail isn't too long, you gain elevation fast. The switchbacks start from the get go. When you come to a fork, GO RIGHT. Some people on the trail told me to go up the "more difficult" route to the left and I'm unsure why. The "less difficult" route is more pleasant and offers more views. It's 3.5 miles to the summit and it gets stepper as you go. You'll know you're close to the summit when you begin to see the fields of balsamroot. There will be a few viewpoints, but make sure you go all the way to the top. It is a flattened area where you have plenty of room to have a snack and take in the views of Mt Hood and Mt St Helens (just a peak of it).
The Ape Caves are lava tubes near Mt St Helens. Aaron and I first ventured here in the spring of 2013. There are 2 different portions of the tube. Simply, there is one longer and difficult route and a short, easy route. The easier route (lower section) is about 1 miles and has large-open walkways. The upper- difficult route is 1.5 miles and takes over 2 hours to complete. You need to dress for cool, damp temperatures (40 degrees) and have a light source. We were satisfied with the light from our head-lamps. You can rent lanterns there if you don't have them.
Make sure to look on all sides of you while walking through the passageway. There are interesting things to see on the ground, walls and the ceiling. The Ape Caves are formed from flowing lava from Mt St Helens. The passageway progressively narrows until it comes to an end. It's amazing how large the passage is at some points. The ceiling can be 30 feet high! I recommend combining this hike with Lava Canyon, as they are both short.
I haven't done the upper route because, quite frankly, it doesn't seem worth it. I spoke with a couple whom were emerging from it and they immediately asked what time it was (it had felt like they had been in the cave for endless hours-- the darkness will do that to you). It also requires of you climbing over and through narrow portions.
NWFP required at trailhead
I moved to the Pacific Northwest in August of 2012. I quickly identified myself as a hiker. I want to document my experiences so that I can refer to them for myself and others to provide the best hiking experience. I also hope to learn more about hiking from others comments and recommendations.