- Elevation: 1,500-1,700;
- Distance: 5-7 miles
- No pass required at trailhead
I hiked Coyote Wall after a busy week and decided to do it on my own. It was nice to fly solo because I was able to leave the house by 8am and be on the trail by 9am. I was the first car at the trailhead and had the trail to myself. The hike begins by walking up a road where boulders from the wall have blocked the way. The trail starts off on the left and immediately becomes confusing. Coyote Wall is also a trail system for mountain bikers. So the trails twist and intersect all over the place. As long as you keep heading up, you're going the right way. The trail climbs and you begin to see views of Mt. Hood. The trail cuts west for awhile and then you come up to the wall. Follow the path along the trial. This was the first hike I did that shared the trail with mountain bikers. They always yielded to the hikers and were friendly. There are plenty of spots to sit and eat lunch along the wall. I didn't see a good turning around point, so I just turned back when I felt like it. I ran into some women that had tried to hike Dog Mountain but said the trailhead was already filled at 9am. Coyote Wall is a little further east than Dog Mountain, but much less crowded, offers great views and wildflowers in the spring. It didn't take long so I went to Hood River and had pizza at Double Mountain. Then, hiked Wachlella Falls in the Oregon side of the Gorge.
This hike was done on a Sunday after hiking at Golden and Silver Falls. This hike is best done with 2 cars in order to utilize the shuttle system. Luckily, we could do just that! We parked Kate's car at Cape Arago State Park and then the 4 of us drove back to Sunset Bay to begin hiking. There's a beach right there to admire before starting the trek. The trail climbs slightly and it's not long before you have your first look at the rugged coastline.
Follow the small spur trail down to the Norton Gulch. Spend a few minutes here looking at the rocks with shallow water and bright green moss.
After the gulch, continue south on the trail and you'll reach Shore Acres State Park in about 2 miles. Some of my best pictures from the day came from this park. There are great spots to watch the waves crash into the rocky shoreline. There is also a really great botanical garden that is definitely worth checking out while you're there. There is supposed to be a Mansion there, but we didn't see it, which led me to question: how big of a mansion could it really be?
After spending some time in the botanical gardens, continue south and spend some time on a sandy beach! I collected sand here for my mom (she has me do this when I travel places) and we selectively found pretty purple pieces of shell to add to the collection. After enjoying the beach, continue on the trail as it climbs up and, then, hugs the coastline once again. Explore, where you can, on the rock formations. It's great to get close to the crashing waves. The next stop is Shell Island Overlook, where you can watch seals and sea lions.
After viewing the marine life (bring binoculars for this), cross the road and get back on the trail. This is the only semi-difficult part of the trail. It climbs up for about 10 minutes of straight hiking. It emerges at an odd spot- an unmarked gravel road. Go right on the road and you'll happen upon a small clearing (there was a picnic table and port-o-potty there when we were there). Go across this spot and walk down through some trees towards the road and you're back at Cape Arago State Park.
Elevation: about 200 feet
Distance: 4 miles if you have 2 cars to shuttle
Free to park at Sunset Bay
I realized later that we missed another sea lion viewing point at Cape Arago. Make sure to check that out. Follow a short trail to the waters edge.
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.
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.
This hike was picked out by my friend, Amanda. We left Portland around noon on a Saturday. Sarah and Dade also joined us. The sky loomed ahead of us as we continued west toward our destination. It was raining when we got to the trailhead so we went into the educational center. The center is well done. There's a large fire place, several craft stations fro kids and a movie playing in a little theater that talks about the 6 year curse of the Tillamook Forest. We spent some time there and then headed up the trail. The whole Wilson River trail goes for about 20 miles. We did a 6 mile portion and chose a bridge as the turnaround point. Probably won't do this part of the Wilson River again, but I'd be interested in seeing what other parts look like.
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
Mary and Lacy had a trip planned to Costa Rica for several months. After some persistence from Mary, and reluctance on my end, I asked my bosses for the time off from work. To my delight, I was awarded the time and started to look into the possibilities that Costa Rica had to offer. Lacy and Mary chose to travel to La Fortuna for the first part of the trip. We made arrangements for our hostel, Arenal Backpackers Resort, to pick us up from the airport in San Jose. The ride proved to be an adventure on its own! People are not lying when they say the roads in Costa Rica are narrow, windy, and not well maintained. Three out of the five of us were nauseated by the 2.5 hour course. We arrived in La Fortuna on a sunny Thursday afternoon. The place was busy with travelers coming and going. We shared a few plates of food (best mango I've ever had) and relaxed on the cushioned seating while we figured out what to do with our day. We spent the afternoon wandering around the town and checking in with a few tour guide companies.
We watched the sunset from our balcony, then got ready for dinner. We went to the Lava Lounge: A restaurant that was very touristy, but it served fun drinks and large plates of food and had good atmosphere.
On Friday morning, we woke up early and were greeted by our tour guide - and heavy rain - for the day trip we had signed up for. His name was Albert, and he was the best. We piled into a van and were joined by 4 others. Albert provided us with information about his country and culture. We stopped at a small town where Albert directed me to get "good coffee" at a little restaurant down the road. My Spanish was tested, and I ordered a coffee to go. The nice man picked up the coffee pot and poured what was left into a Pepsi paper cup for me.
Just before the park entrance, there is a small side path off the road that leads to a massive tree (see below). We arrived at Tenorio Volcano National Park. Albert led us into the forest and to the waterfall and river. Because of the cloudy sky and heavy rainfall from the night before, Albert explained to us that the water was not going to be bright blue and clear, as the tour boasts. If he hadn't said anything, we wouldn't have known any better. The river was beautiful, and the experience is what to be expected when you're in a rainforest (wet!).
The tour included stopping for lunch after the hike right outside of the park. The lunch was much better than I had anticipated. There were a lot of options and live music! I had garlic fish and a fresh berry drink. I have no idea if it's customary, but at the end of the meal we were served sour limes.
We got back to our hostel and went to happy hour (at our hostel). The beers were priced well. The only beer you can find in Costa Rica is Imperial. We drank a few and played cards. We ran into the girls we rode in the van from the airport with and went to dinner with them. Dinner was great. We had fruit smoothies and large plates of meat, rice and beans. We had an early night so that we could have a busy day on Saturday.
For our Saturday hike, we decided to do it sans guide. We arranged for a cab to pick us up. After some negotiating (the front desk guy was obviously in cahoots with the cabbie), we had made arrangements to get taken to Volcan Arenal Park and then picked up again when the park closed. We were at the observation deck at just the right time. We had a decent view of the volcano before we began our hike.
We began the hike for Cerro Chato. We knew that it would be a lot of elevation, but we had no idea the steepness of the hike we were about to embark on. The entire hike is at an incline of about 45 degrees. It was amazing. The humidity took its toll, and I felt like we were hiking into a cloud. We persisted on the hike in hopes that we would have the stunning view of of a caldera filled in with beautiful blue water. We reached the top and couldn't see a damn thing. I can't figure out what we hiked, but I'm guessing it was around 3,000 feet in a few miles.
After the grueling hike, Mary persuaded the cab driver to bring us to natural hot springs. Definitely do the free hot springs vs. paying $50 for a day-pass for a spa type establishment. We laid in the warm river for about an hour and got picked up on the side of the road. We were safely delivered to the hostel. We cleaned up and went to dinner. Mary decided to eat meat for the first time while we were on the trip. She ordered the fish. It came out slightly under cooked and with a tinge of blood. Lacy ate what Mary left.
The next morning, we had breakfast and coffee at the hostel and were picked up by a shuttle service to take us to the next town: Manuel Antonio.
We arrived in Manuel Antonio after another cross-country drive. The drive was really beautiful. It went through small towns, farm land, mountains, and along the coast. We walked to Beach Packers hostel and almost immediately turned around and walked out when we got there. We checked in and went up to our room. It was the most humidity I had ever been in, and the only cooling system in the room was basically a 5 rpm ceiling fan. Not to mention, we had a bunk buddy. Mary volunteered to take the bed by the man, whom all I can recall are his hairy legs and very dirty feet. I'm sure he was nice but there was no way in hell I was staying there. Lacy and I decided we would pay whatever the price in order to have AC, a private bathroom and no hairy-legged men to share a room with (those sorts of things are only acceptable and to be expected after Phish shows). We left our bags and walked on the beach into town. We only had to inquire at 2 hotels before finding the perfect spot. Mary was able to get money back for one of the two nights we had booked at the hostel. Then, we hit beach!
The beach was very busy with sunbathers, swimmers and surfers. There are many places where you can rent a chair and umbrella (shop around a bit because the prices vary quite a bit). We watched the sunset and ate ceviche. We walked back to our hotel room and had yet another early night with lots of rest. We woke up early and walked to Manuel Antonio National Park. I had two goals: see monkeys and see sloths. We covered most of this park. We did a waterfall hike, where the waterfall was more of a trickle. We walked down the sloth trail and saw monkeys swinging in the trees. Then, we swam and sunbathed on the playa. Here, we saw tons of monkeys. They were eating Cheetos and almost got into my backpack.
While swimming in the ocean, I overheard a man say that he comes to Costa Rica every time he needs a crown put in his teeth. He said that it only costs $500 to have the procedure done in Costa Rica vs. $2,000 in the states. So if he goes to Costa Rica for it, he gets a free trip out of the process. Something to think about... but could potentially be a motivator for poor dental hygiene. We saw beautiful butterflies and lizards. I got some crazy sun burn despite several applications of SPF 35 sunscreen. We ate more ceviche at a restaurant right outside the gates of the park. The next morning, we had time to walk around the beach one last time and have a few pina coladas before taking a shuttle to our hotel near the airport. We ate our last authentic Costa Rican meal: Papa Johns, and we watched The Mask in Spanish in our hotel.
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.
This hike was recommended to me by my boss, Nick. There are several ways to get to this spot, depending on the length of hike you're looking for and what you want to see. We began our hike from Barlow Pass Sno Park. But before we could begin our hike, we had to help 2 cars that were stuck in the snow off the sides of the road. They were lucky there were 4 Wisconsinites who are accustomed to this sort of thing help them out, because they had no idea what they were doing. We taught them about how flooring it does nothing and the importance of the rocking maneuver to gain momentum. The hike starts out on the PCT and gently climbs and then descends into a valley. We did this hike the end of January, so we were in snow for most of the hike. You meander through a forest and the trees get larger as you go into the valley. At the Twin Lakes/Barlow Pass Junction, follow the trail towards Twin Lakes. You'll go left again at the next junction and follow a spur trail up to the left to get to Palmateer Point. Because we wanted a shorter hike, we reached our destination and then went back the way we came. You can make this a longer hike by going back down the spur trail (off of the peak) and then continue down the Twin Lakes trail which will meet back up with the PCT. Take the PCT the 4 miles back to Barlow Pass Sno Park. You can also start this trail at Frog Lake Sno Park and hike past the lakes first.
This is a stunning canyon that is made from a 2,500 year old lava flow. It was recently hidden until a more recent (1980) eruption of Mt St Helens revealed this beautiful area. Mary and I headed here on a rainy Saturday after exploring the Ape Caves; it is a short drive to the lava canyon trailhead. The trail starts as a paved decent which has plenty of places to to sit. There are a few interpretive signs along the way and then you will walk across the river.
You soon cross over the river where it turns into a waterfall. The next bridge you come across is the suspension bridge. This bridge is not for those with a fear of heights. It's basically the bridge from Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom. It bounces with each step you take. After you cross the bridge, there should be a trail that descends to the floor of the gorge. For some reason, we missed this and continued left, meeting back with the paved interpretive trail.
Since this is such a short hike, I highly recommend combining it with a trip to the Ape Caves or another nearby hike. We passed several on the way to Lava Canyon. It's a long way to drive to hike for only a mile. A really nice MSH exploring weekend would be to drive near Cougar to camp for an evening. Hike Mount Margaret on the first day. Camp again near Cougar and then do Ape Caves and Lava Canyon the second day.
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.