- To Siouxon Falls:
- Elevation: 700 feet
- Distance: 4 miles RT
- To Chinook Falls:
- Elevation: 1,600 feet
- Distance: 7.7 miles
We fit this hike in quickly on a Sunday morning (had to get back home to watch the Packers beat the Seahawks). We headed into Washington towards the trailhead. The hike is in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The road is paved the entire way, but the last 10 miles takes close to an hour to travel- narrow, windy and some pot holes. We expected to see an empty parking lot when we got there since it was a pretty obscure location. There were about 12 other cars there. I think most people utilize this trail for backpacking. There are several spots immediately on the trail and we passed a ton of people with overnight gear.
First, the trail descends to the creek. Then, it gently rolls through old growth, never straying far from the creek. Our destination was to Siouxon Falls. However, you can continue to Chinook Falls or Bobcat Falls.
We turned back after Siouxon Falls and went back the way we came. We got home in time to watch the Packers beat the Seahawks in Lambeau 27-17. It was a pretty good day.
While hiking South Sister, Kate told me about the magic that is Opal Creek. We made plans to go the next week, 4th of July weekend, and so did one third of Oregon's population. Salem is the closest city to Opal Creek, which means the majority of the people there are of a different breed than the typical Portland-type people I'm used to seeing on hikes. More on that later. Kate and Amanda lead the way on this hike as Mary and I were first timers. The road leading up to the trailhead was already lined with cars for near a mile. We tested our luck and continued to go towards the trailhead. As we pulled up, a car left and we literally had the first spot next to the trailhead. As Kate remembered it, the hike was easy, so we all donned Chaco sandals and began to walk...and walk... and walk some more. We came across the "butt slide" and played here for awhile.
After the slide, we continued on the path. When we came to an old town, Kate and Amanda realized we were on a different trail than what they had done before, but we were almost to Opal Pool, so we persisted (side note- at this time both of my Chaco Sandals had broken).
The tiny town we arrived upon is Jawbone Flats. It was a mining town in the 1800's but now is an inhabited area for, I'm assuming, the park rangers and people who work at the forest center. It's pretty weird. A quarter mile past Jawbone Flats is Opal Pool.
After watching several people jump into the pool, we headed back to the car. We turned down a different road to a paved parking lot that was still about half full and Kate realized that was where she wanted to go initially. It was probably about 5pm at this time and we took the short walk to the river and waterfalls. The scene was disgusting to me. There was still over a hundred people there with coolers and even grills out on the rocks next to the water. There were piles of wet clothes and beer cans everywhere. These are Salem people. Groups of drunken young males were filing out of there carrying coolers and stopping only to take pulls from liquor bottles. I can only imagine what the place was like 4 hours earlier. We spent a little bit of time here and left, collecting as much garbage as we could on the way out. This place is absolutely gorgeous, but I will never go there again on a holiday weekend, or, for that matter past noon. I do plan on returning, but I'm going to camp nearby and be there before 10 am to beat the crowds so I can have some sort of serene experience there. So anyways, this place is beautiful, definitely a must-see in Oregon. Make sure to get there very early on the weekend or, preferably, go during the week.
A nice little video about the area, includes people jumping into the
I hiked this the morning after the PCT from Lolo Pass to Bald Mountain. Six of us from the women's retreat went. It was vastly different from the hike we did the day before- which was through snow and along ridges with sprawling views of Mt Hood. The Salmon River hike, hugs the river and wanders through large, mossy trees, thousands of ferns and a soft forest floor (no snow to speak of). A large part of my love for Oregon is that you can do two completely different hikes in 2 consecutive days. The hike starts out by climbing just a bit and then levels off and the views of the river are great from the get go.
The trail continues to gently climb with many places to stop, sit and take in the scenery. This is trail where you need to stop and look at the smaller things that are near you. We came across a rock wall that had beautiful succulents growing from it and also a wall covered in moss that was attracting all sorts of butterflies.
At one point during the hike (probably about 2-3 miles in), you cross a bridge over a river and then there is a small trail off to the left. Take this small path for some exploring. You see where two rivers meet back there. The next pictures below are from that.
When you're done at this spot, head back to the main trail and continue left. There are several campsites sprinkled along this trail. Take note so that you can plan a trip to stay here in the future, that's my plan. The hike then enters the wilderness and begins to climb up and away from the river until reaching the final destination: a viewpoint overlooking Salmon River Canyon. I recommend saving your lunch until you reach this point. Kick off your hiking boots and enjoy your reward. This hike is awesome!
Distance: 7-7.8 miles depending on if you continue past the viewpoint
NWFP required at the trailhead
My recommendation: if you're going to be on Mount Hood for a weekend, go on this hike one day and the second day do the PCT from Lolo Pass to Bald Mountain. The trailheads are about 30 minutes away from each other.
The trail exits to forest and continues up the old road that is now inaccessible secondary to the landslide. This portion of the trail is about a mile long. The trail re-enters the forest and remains amazing all the way to the summit. The trees are big and tall; there is a lovely creek and fantastic views of rock formations. Most of the trail is through quiet forest with soft ground made up of soft, freshly fallen needles.
The trailhead for this hike is 2 hours from Portland near Molalla. Surprisingly, the mountain road up here is in very good condition, making it quite accessible. You drive down the road until you can go no further. The road stops at a mini parking lot, and from there, the trail starts over a landslide. You walk up this a bit and then the trail takes a turn into an old growth forest. This portion of the trail is short, but magical no less.
You emerge from the forest and get a great view of the volcanic rock field you're about to traverse. From here, you get your first distance views to the north. There was snow on this trail in the end of February. It was helpful to have our poles. Mary did this hike several weeks after us and said that this portion of the trial had become packed down and icy, requiring her to get by via butt sliding at several portions. In the summer, there won't be snow present.
We did this hike after a recent snow fall, but the day we did it, it was really warm out. This resulted in a lot of heavy snow falling from the tree branches, creating a beautiful/magical thing to see and hear. Everything was sparkling in the sun. It was great. We only saw 3 or 4 other groups of people on this trail, another plus.
This hike was fantastic. It head it all: old forest, large trees, a water feature, rock formations, great views. I highly recommend this. It's a new favorite, and I may even be back this summer to do it again sans snow!
Elevation: 1570 feet
Distance: 7.2 miles RT
To celebrate the 4 year anniversary of the Packers winning Superbowl XLV (which happens to coincide with our dating anniversary), we decided we wanted to take a bit of a road trip. It had been over a year since our last visit to the redwoods, and we were overdue to return. Portland had been having an amazing winter of warm weather with many appearances from the sun. We hoped that the great weather would continue for our camping trip. About 10 days before our mini-vacation, my boss brought to my attention that an "atmospheric river" was heading straight towards northern California and the PNW. We reluctantly decided to keep our plans (as the heavy rainfall was expected to hit all areas of Oregon within a 6 hour drive from Portland). We decided to get a hotel room in Crescent City instead of camping. The drive down was pretty dry until about an hour out from Crescent City. Aaron did a great job navigating the windy road along the Smith River. With sign after sign warning us of landslide potential and falling rocks, he kept cool (I did not) and got us to our hotel by 10:30 pm on Friday. That night, the howling wind was so loud (measured at 50mph) that it woke me up from a deep sleep. As I lie there awake listening to the powers of mother nature, the hotel lost power. I started thinking of other things we could potentially do with our weekend, as it seemed improbable that we would actually be able to go out hiking with this storm upon us. When we woke up the next morning, the winds had died down and the rain had stopped. I called the ranger station, and the guy I spoke with basically advised me not to go out hiking that day. He said nearby towns were still without power, and the high winds would put us at risk for giant branches falling 100+ feet from the sky. What a way to go that would be: crushed to death by a giant redwood branch that is the size of a full tree in other forests. I decided not to heed the warnings of the knowledgeable ranger, and instead, take my chance on the redwoods. We fueled up with hard boiled eggs and bananas (thanks America's Best Value Inn for the "continental breakfast") and hit the road.
The first hike of the day was the 1-mile loop Simpson-Reed Trail. Easily accessible from the road, and a short hike, it was a great choice while we still waited to see what happened with the weather.
Although there is nothing really remarkable about the Simpson-Reed Trail, it is a nice loop trail with negligible elevation gain, big trees, and interpretive signs. It's right off of Hwy 199, so it is easily accessible off the road. A great hike for the older folk.
Since the weather was still cooperating, we decided to go to a favorite old-growth grove: Stout Grove. During the summer you can access Stout Grove through the Jedediah Smith campground. There is a seasonal footbridge that allows you to cross the Smith River. We had to try the entrance from Howland Hill Road. We took the road until it turned to gravel and followed it for several miles more until the road was blocked by cones. Fortunately, there was another trail we could access from this road: Boy Scout Tree Trail.
BOY SCOUT TREE TRAIL
This was the hike we did. It's an out and back hike totaling 5.6 miles. The Boy Scout Tree is a 2,000 year old enormous tree. It's 27 feet in diameter and 300 feet tall. I had hiked this trail in the summer of 2011, with Sarah Voruz, on a bright, sunny day. With summer and sun, comes people. On this trip with Aaron, we didn't see one other human on the trail; or any of the trails we hiked that weekend for that matter! Boy Scout Tree trail is pretty awesome right away. I would recommend it even if you don't have the stamina to make it to the tree. If you hiked in 30 minutes and then back out, you would still be in for a treat of hiking through massive trees.
After this hike, we headed south to visit a few other state parks. Unfortunately, we were not able to access a few places we had hoped. It may have been because it was the winter, or it may have been because of the crazy storm from the night before, but several roads were closed. We went to Elk Meadow in hopes to see the Elk heard we had seen the last time we were there. We didn't see any wildlife this trip. The road to Fern Canyon was also closed.
We feasted on Chinese food for dinner that night and thought it best to fork over the extra cash on a nicer hotel that night. One that promised a hot breakfast.
On Sunday, we were surprised with yet another day without rain. We went on our third hike: Hiouchi Trail. This trail winds along the Smith River and can also connect to the Stout Grove in the summer (the seasonal bridge was not in at this location either). We completed the 4 mile out and back hike in less than 2 hours. On our return back to the car, we finally were greeted with some rain. I would definitely recommend this trail, especially in the summer. If you camp at Jedediah Smith, you can take the bridge to Stout Grove, then take the 2nd bridge to this trail (crossing the Smith River for a 2nd time) and make a day out of it!
Fern Canyon is a magnificent hike through 50 foot walls of five finger ferns. It is located in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. I'm not sure that it is accessible in the winter, as the road there was closed when we were there in February. I have accessed it in July and in late October. Both times, I hiked through the canyon and then met up with a trail that takes you through tall trees. This is a very busy hike in the summer.
Boy Scout Tree Trail
I highly recommend camping at Jedediah Smith State Park. There are trails accessible from the campground. It is the closest park if you're heading south from Portland. And it's near the town of Crescent City. Very busy in the summer.
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.