- 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
Mary and I had planned on hiking Dog Mountain for months as it was the only weekend in May that we were both free. Unfortunately, on the Saturday we planned to hike, the weather didn't cooperate. We didn't want to work our butts off to not have the great view of the gorge, so we did plan B: Falls Creek Falls. Shane was visiting from Wisconsin, and I wanted him to see something other than the standard waterfall drive on the Oregon side of the gorge. Shane, Mary, Jordan, and I left Saturday morning after breakfast at our house. We followed directions to this hike out of the Curious Gorge book. They were pretty easy: turn North on Wind River Road and go through Carson's four way stop sign. Go past the old fish hatchery and take a right. Carson now has a stop-light. Good for them. You want the Upper Falls trailhead. The hike is a very low grade the whole way. We passed a few groups of hikers; not really too many people despite the trailhead looking full.
The trail rolls through lush forest with several bridges. The elevation is really mild until the scramble at the end up to the top tier of the falls (if you decide to do so). We took in the sight at the view point in front of the falls. Then, we opted to go up the left side of the falls all the way to the top. There were some sketchy parts that, if you miss-step, you would fall to certain death. After snapping a few pictures on top, we headed back down the way we came.
After the hike, we headed to Skamania Lodge for beers by the fire place and more views of the Columbia River. We drove home listening to La Bouche Pandora.
Amanda had planned a trip to Coos Bay on the the southern coast to celebrate her birthday and was kind enough to include Aaron and me. I asked her if I could plan a hike for one of the days and I picked out this state recreation area. The park is about 45 minutes from Coos Bay, the drive is beautiful and totally worth it to see these two magnificent waterfalls. As of May 2015, the road leading to the park is closed about a mile from the trailhead. Have no worry, as you can park and continue walking up where the road closes for cars. It's actually a nice stroll along a creek and is really no bother at all (especially since the two hikes within the park are very short). I would recommend doing the trails in the order that we did. First, go left to see Silver Falls. You will see the cascading water in less than 10 minutes.
After you're done taking in Silver Falls, go back the way you came to the trailhead. Now, go towards Golden Falls. The trail forks, stay right, and walk about 10 minutes until you see the next roaring falls. The view is a little more obscured than Silver Falls, but if you put in the effort of climbing over rocks (which I did not), you can get a closer view.
When you're done viewing the falls from ground level, hike back the way you came and take the last trail you haven't explored (the left hand option from the fork, returning from Golden Falls it will be on your right). This trail quickly leads to the top of Golden Falls. It's so easy and has amazing views at the top. The first switchback takes you to a different view of Silver Falls, and the second switchback takes you to the very top of Golden Falls with a view over a canyon. Don't miss this part of the park. Even if you're not in good shape, make it happen.
Friday was a beautiful day and the weekend forecast called for rain. Mary met me after work and we made the 30 minute drive to Multnomah Falls. We parked there and walked to the Wahkeena Falls trailhead. After a few quick switchbacks, the falls is reached in .2 miles. Continue up more switchbacks and you begin to trace the river that feeds Wahkeena falls. The trail climbs steadily with breaks where it flattens to give you a short break. The next falls you reach is Fairy Falls (pictured above).
There is a viewpoint that branches off to the left at the first intersection, keep right to stay on the loop hike. Continue the ascent into Wahkeena Canyon, climbing another few hundred feet until you reach the next intersection is with a trail to Angel's Rest. Stay left and continue until you hit the 4 way junction. Go straight to stay on the trail (to the right is Devil's Rest trail). Now you can relax as the elevation is done and all that is left is a walk through the woods and then a stroll past several waterfalls.
After passing Ecola Falls and Weisendanger Falls, you can take the short option for the viewpoint over Multnomah Falls. From there, it's about 15 minutes to the lodge. It took Mary and me 3 hours to complete the 5 mile loop.
With the Portland temps hovering around the 90's all week, I was looking for a place to cool off this weekend. I knew of Dougan Falls on the Washougal River from when Sarah took Shannon Glynn and me here in August 2011. It proved to be just as refreshing, and busy, as the last trip I made here. Aaron and I went to our friends Jon and Marissa's wedding the day before, so we were looking for a relaxing day without the effort of hiking into a waterfall. This was the perfect spot. There is no hiking required to get to the falls, which is why it is busy.
We arrived to the spot around 12:15 pm only to realize we needed a WA Discovery Pass for parking here. We had to back track into a town to purchase one. We bit the bullet and bought a full year pass. It's the 3rd time we have driven quite a ways where one was required and there are never any signs until you are at the destination, which at that point, you're far from anywhere that sells them. So we arrived for the second time, with pass in hand, around 1:00 pm. Surprisingly, at this time, there were only about 25 other people there. By the time we left at 3:30 pm, it was the sight you see above.
There are places to the side where you can jump into the pools from rocks. Above the falls, there are small pools that you can swim through. We picked a quieter spot above the falls (by 3:30 we had been surrounded).
The drive takes a little over an hour from Portland. It's only a few turns so it is rather easy to find. I suggest wearing some sort of water shoe for exploring around the river's pools and falls. There are a lot of slippery rocks, but it still makes for a popular place for families with small kids.
So the tips: get there before noon and you'll essentially have the place to yourself. The people coming to party won't drag their asses out of bed in time to get there before 3:00 pm. Have a Discovery Pass so you don't have to back track like we did. The pass is $35 and is good for one year from the date of purchase. Clean up after yourself and others so this place doesn't become a garbage dump. People had snorkel gear, we didn't know to bring ours. Bring a floaty for the water. Bring a folding chair to sit on since there are no sandy spots, it is all rocks. It's a great spot on a hot day!
I decided to do this hike on a whim. Earlier in the week, a patient of mine had done this hike. She couldn't remember the name, but told me it started with a "Wa" and was in the gorge. I told her she must mean Wahkeena. She told me that wasn't it but I was fairly certain that it was what she meant. Then, this hike/waterfall popped up when I was searching "Oregon pictures," online. I've never done this hike, nor heard of it for that matter, until this week.
I hadn't plan to hike on this day, but I was up early, had already gone to the PSU Farmer's Market and back and had time to kill until picking Aaron up at the airport. I decided this would be perfect, being that it was only 2 miles and was in close proximity to Portland. I arrived around 1pm. The parking lot is really small. I was lucky to find a spot. Within minutes of the hike, you're next to a creek with lush vegetation. On the way to the waterfall, the trail climbs with a decent grade. At the fork, I took the trail left (the upper trail). I think the lower trail (to the right) will provide a more dramatic viewing of the waterfall as you come upon it. I will do it that way from now on.
The hike was very busy with families. It's understandable considering how easy it is. There were lots of kids playing around the bottom of the waterfall and near the small river that forms after the fall. It's very rocky, but I think that a few blankets would make it a comfortable spot to lounge and picnic. When I was there around 2pm, it wasn't ideal timing for sun. I predict it would be better earlier in the morning (around 11am) for the best sun-hitting-the-waterfall experience.
This hike could easily be combined with another quick gorge hike: Oneonta Gorge or Eagle Creek. If you live in Portland and haven't seen this waterfall, get out there!
Ramona Falls is still and probably will always be arguably my favorite waterfall. That is saying a lot as I have seen TONS of waterfalls in this area. I have done this hike two times with two very different experiences. The first time I did this was with Aaron only. We had been exploring the Mt. Hood area and decided last minute to do this hike. We were not prepared and had hiked it on a 90 degree day with not enough water. That being said it was kind of stressful. The trail is a partial loop. That day, we stuck to the right and did it counterclockwise. This way, you are looking at Mt. Hood on your ascent (~1,000 feet total). We made it to our destination and what a sight it was. It looks as if fairies should live there: it is very magical indeed. Now, the second time we did this hike, it was in a group of 6: Aaron, Phil, Mary, Kara, Rachel and myself. We decided to take the trail to the left this time. This way, we immediately get to walk through a magical forest along a creek where there are spots to stop and ponder things. When you go this way, the waterfall really sneaks up on you and all of a sudden you're standing right next to it. Even able to feel the mist from it. Everyone was very impressed by both the size and the beauty of this waterfall. We spent about 30 minutes here but you could easily bring a book, lunch and make an afternoon out of it. We hiked back to the van where we enjoyed micro-brews and home-made hummus ala me.
Hamilton Mountain is on the Washington side of the Gorge. You need to purchase either a Discover Pass ($30 annually) or purchase a daily pass for $10. If you purchase the Discover Pass, it's good for Washington State parks. We opted to buy the day pass as this is the only time in 2 years where we wanted to hike somewhere that required it. It's a moderate climb in the beginning and you come across waterfalls about a mile in. Head down to the right for views of Hardy Falls. Back the way you came and continue on the trail. Take the quick side-trail to the Pool of Winds. Get a quick picture (and a quick spray shower) of the falls and head back down to the bridge. You can climb a little bit on the rocks here. Continue on the trail until you hit an intersection. I recommend staying right and climbing the steep switch backs to the top of the mountain. Before you reach the top there will be several spots that offer great views looking east and west down the Columbia River. The summit is somewhat anti-climactic. We ate our snacks here but I think it'd be better to continue down the other (north) side of the mountain until you hit a large patch of land that flattens out. There is a great view of Table Mountain and the OG/natural Bridge of the Gods. Aaron explained to me that it was formed by a massive landslide. On a clear day, there are also views of Mt. Adams, Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Hood. I prefer the views from Dog Mountain personally. Continue down the gravel road and follow signs back to the main trail. You'll pass the waterfalls one more time and be back at your car before you know it.
This is a popular hike in the gorge. It is accessible from The Columbia Historic Highway. I've hiked this two times, both of which were a mediocre experience. The first time, we reached the top and found ourselves in a cloud (pretty disappointing since it's a hike you do for the view at the end). The second time, we were hiking it to get that desired view and because Aaron was to write a small paper for a geology class. I'll admit, the top is cool. You can play around on the rocks and really test your fear of heights (if you have one like me). Both times we have been up there it has been insanely windy. To the point where it took the enjoyment out of it and we couldn't spend a lot of time exploring. I am curious if anyone has had a non-windy experience at the top. If it weren't windy or cold, there is a nice flat spot that would fit several groups of hikers to enjoy lunch with substantial views of the Columbia River, Mt Adams and Mt St. Helens. You pass a few waterfalls on the way. I may now have achieved "waterfall snob status" because I don't remember much of the falls (so don't do this hike if you're looking for something awesome like Ramona or Tamanawas). I also think this is a good hike to do if you're just getting your feet wet with hiking.
It's worth noting that there are a lot of cool rocks and formations: a geologists dream land. Aaron seemed pretty excited about a few parts.
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.