The Hikes of 2015 – A Look Back

Another year of wandering the trails of the Pacific Northwest has come to an end. Since 2010 we have been on over 200 hikes covering over 2200 miles and we continually find ourselves in awe of God’s creation.

We managed to hit the trails at least once every month ending with 56 hikes for myself and 55 for Heather. I was able to sneak an extra one in by meeting my parents at Columbia Hills State Park in April while Heather was still running. These were the most hikes we’d done in a single year which also led to our highest mileage totals – 660.4 for myself and 652.6 for Heather. The hikes ranged from 2.9 miles (Butte Creek & Abiqua Falls) to 19.1 miles (Green Lakes Loop). Below is a link to a Google map showing the various trailheads and campsites (denoted by picnic tables).
2015

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zIiZZDXeDJAs.kn3sBy2gxhI8&usp=sharing

In addition to my Columbia State park hike we met my parents for hikes at McNeil Point and Jefferson Park. We also met a couple of regular contributors to Oregonhikers.org out on the trails, miah66 on Silver Star Mountain and justpeachy in Jefferson Park. In December we attended the Trail Keepers of Oregon/Oregon Hikers annual Winter Meet-n-Deet in Portland where we were able to put a few more faces to the names we’ve gotten to know on the hiking forums.  It was a blast and we’re hoping to continue attending the event in future years.

As in previous years our primary focus was to visit new places and spend time on trails we had not previously hiked.  We continued to expand the area in which we’ve hiked by spending 4 days hiking the Northern Loop Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park and spending some time hiking in California around Crescent City and in the Red Buttes Wilderness.  Other areas which were brand new to us included the area around Ashland, OR, Indian Heaven Wilderness, and The Oregon caves National Monument.  In all 43 of our 56 days of hiking were spent on sections of trails we had never been on before. The remaining 13 days were spent on trails that we had visited in prior years, but we managed to do something different this time around on each trip allowing us to see something new every time out.

This year just reinforced what has become one of our favorite aspects of hiking, the variety.  In visiting so many new trails we were able to see flowers, trees, animals, and even mountains that we had not previously encountered on our hikes.  Even in the familiar areas there always seems to be something new to experience.  It’s not just the sights that provide the variety though, the smells, sounds, and even the feeling of the air and the forest can change multiple times on any given hike.

Although the camera cannot adequately capture the beauty of nature a look back at some of this year’s pictures will hopefully give some indication of the many different sights we were blessed with.

Views:
Oregon Dunes Overlook
View from Oregon Dunes day use area

Rowena Crest
Rowena Crest from the Tom McCall Point trail.

Mt. Hebo Trail
Sunlight penetrating the clouds in the Siuslaw National Forest

View from Boccard Point
Looking west from Boccard Point

French Pete Creek
French Pete Creek

Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park from the summit above Burma Road

Mt. Hood from the McNeil Point Trail
McNeil Point Trail

Middle & South Sister from Eileen Lake
Middle and South Sister from Eileen Lake

Middle & South Sister from Linton Meadows
Middle and South Sister from Linton Meadows

Pacific Ocean from Salishan Spit
Low tide heading toward Salishan Spit

Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake
Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake

Sluiskin Mountain
Sluiskin Mountain in the morning

Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier

Olallie Lake Scenic Area
View from Double Peaks

Indian Heaven Wilderness
Lemi Rock

Mt. Washington Wilderness
Mt. Washington and Three Fingered Jack from Belknap Crater

Belknap Crater
Belknap Crater

South Sister from the Green Lakes
South Sister from the first Green Lake

South Sister from Denude Lake
South Sister from Denude Lake

Wind and Dog Mountain from Indian Point
Wind and Dog Mountains from Indian Point

Bull of the Woods Wilderness
Lake Lenore and Mt. Hood from Big Slide Mountain

Pacific Ocean near Damnation Creek
Sunsetting over the Pacific Ocean from the mouth of Damnation Creek

Redwoods in Jedediah Redwoods State Park
Redwoods along the Boy Scout Tree Trail

Red Buttes Wilderness
Red Buttes and Kangaroo Mountain

Kangaroo Mountain
Marble outcrop below Kangaroo Mountain

Paradise Lost, Oregon Caves National Monument
Looking up in the Paradise Lost room of the Oregon Cave

Waterfalls:

University Falls
University Falls

Lower Butte Creek Falls
Lower Butte Creek Falls Upper Butte Creek Falls Upper Butte Creek Falls

Abiqua Falls
Abiqua Falls Upper McCord Falls Upper McCord Falls

Wahclella Falls
Wahclella Falls Elowah Falls Elowah Falls

The Potholes
The Potholes Woodburn Falls Trillium at Woodburn Falls

Rodney Falls
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Lower Kentucky Falls
Lower Kentucky Falls North Fork Falls North Fork Falls

Munson Falls
Munson Falls

Unnamed waterfalls along Linton Creek Waterfalls along Linton Creek

Waterfall on Linton Creek

Waterfall on Linton Creek

Waterfall along Linton Creek

Duncan Falls Duncan Falls

Upper Portion of Linton Falls
Upper portion of Upper Linton Falls

Some of Upper Linton Falls

Indian Holes Falls
Indian Holes Falls Unnamed waterfall – Mt. Rainier National Park IMG_7614

Garda Falls
Garda Falls Another unnamed fall in Mt. Rainier National Park IMG_7972

Van Horn Falls
Van Horn Falls

Waterfalls along Fall Creek IMG_9592

Fall Creek

Fall Creek

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Falls along Crater Creek
Falls along Crater Creek

Falls along Crater Creek

Waterfall on Crater Creek

Corner Falls Corner Falls

Fall River Falls
Fall River Falls

Waterfalls along Paulina Creek Small waterfall on Paulina Creek

Falls on Paulina Creek

Small waterfall on Paulina Creek

Small waterfall on Paulina Creek

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Waterfall on Paulina Creek

McKay Falls

Waterfall on Paulina Creek

Waterfall on Paulina Creek

Waterfall on Paulina Creek below Ten-mile snopark bridge

Wildlife
Mallard at Lacamas Lake

Bullfrogs in pond near Lacamas Lake

Turtles at Lacamas Lake

Greater Yellowlegs

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Douglas Squirrel

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Frog

Northern Pacific Treefrog

Western Bluebird

Wood duck

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Owl

Rabbit

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Green-tailed Towhee

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Hummingbird

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Butterfly along the Crooked River

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Butterfly along the Blair Lake Trail

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Butterfly along the Bluff Mountain Trail

Mountain Parnassian

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Deer visting a meadow behind our campsite

Small fish in a little stream near Linton Meadows

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Grasshopper invasion

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Harbor Seals

Seagull

Pika

Black Bear

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Mountain Goats on Burroughs Mountain

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Chipmunk enjoying a berry

Deer in the meadow below Yellowstone Cliffs

Lounging marmot

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Rough Skinned Newt

Sea Lions

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Cormorant

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Anenomes

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Ouzel

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Great Blue Heron

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Buck

Last butterfly of the year

Hawk

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Barred Owl

Americn Kestrel

Acorn Woodpecker

Wildflowers
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Bachelor Button

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California Poppy

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Columbine

Wild Iris

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Henderson's Stars

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Elegant Brodiaea

Popcorn Flower

Common Madia

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mariposa lily

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Scarlet gilia

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Monument Plant aka Elkweed

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Striped Coralroot

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smoothstem blazing-star Mentzelia laevicaulis

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Bog Orchid and Elephants Head

Tiger Lily

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Beargrass Meadow

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Orange Agoseris

Elegant Brodiaea

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Cat's ear lily

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Aster

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We are already looking forward to next year’s hikes. I freely admit that I already have a preliminary schedule laid out (I will not admit to how far out it extends though 😉 ).  As it currently stands we will be visiting 6 new wilderness areas, another national monument, and summiting three peaks over 9000′ tall.  If history is any guide the list of completed hikes at this time next year will look vastly different from this preliminary one, but then that’s just part of the adventure.  One thing is for sure though, we are sure to see some amazing sights along whatever trails we wander.  Happy Trails!

Champoeg Heritage Area

Since 2010 we have been closing out the year by taking our final hike along the coast or in the coastal mountain range, but this year that streak came to an end. Recent storms and heavy rains that damaged roads and left creeks and rivers swollen caused us to rethink our original plan to visit Fort Clatsop near Astoria Oregon. Instead we decided to put our fallback hike into play and visit Champoeg State Park.

Champoeg State Park is located along the Willamette River less than a ten minute drive from Interstate 5 at the Donald exit between Portland and Salem. The 622 acre park is at the site where Oregon’s first provisional government was formed by vote in 1843. On May 2nd of that year 100 men arrived at the Hudson’s Bay store to decide if they would form an American style government or stay aligned with Britain. The group consisted of Americans, Britons, and French-Canadians. The vote was initially tied 50/50, but two undecided French-Canadians eventually chose to vote with the Americans breaking the tie.

By 1860 Champoeg consisted of 200 buildings but in December of 1861 the river flooded when it rose by 55 feet and effectively wiped out the townsite. No lives were lost in the flood but it marked the end of the bustling town.

We parked in the Riverside Parking area located at the northeast end of the park planning on starting our hike on the .5 mile riverside loop.
Champoeg Heritage Area Trailhead The recent rains had left the park a bit waterlogged and we found portions of the trail underwater. IMG_2733

IMG_2734 We made our way around this first obstacle and climbed a small hill to the Pioneer Memorial Building. Champoeg Pioneer Memorial Building

A 1901 memorial commemorating the 1843 vote sits in front of the building.
IMG_2738 We set off on the Riverside Loop next to a muddy and swollen Willamette River. IMG_2745

IMG_2743 The loop wasn’t possible on this day due to several flood portions, but we walked the portions that were accessible. Flooded trail in Champoeg State Park

We returned to the memorial and headed west on the Townsite Trail, a 1.5 mile barkdust path that led to the Park’s campground.
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Townsite Trail We followed the path to a backed up Champoeg Creek and crossed on the road bridge leading to the campground. IMG_2763

IMG_2765 From the campground a paved bike path leads 2.4 miles to the Historic Butteville Store. Established in 1863 it the oldest operating store in the State although it closes in the winter. IMG_2766

Two short hiker only side trails split from the bike path near the far end of the campground.
IMG_2769 The first led to the grave site of Kitty Newell while the other was the short .4 mile Nature Trail Loop. IMG_2771

The bike path was clear of water and we followed it along the Willamette. Houses lined the far side of the river, but on our side was a mossy forest.
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The final .6 miles to the store require some road walking, first along narrow Schuler Rd then downhill on what was a busy Butteville Rd.
IMG_2782 On our way back we remained on the paved bike path after recrossing Champoeg Creek. This route would bring us back on a loop around open farmland and the park’s Frisbee golf course. IMG_2797

We spotted a number of birds along this portion including an Acorn Woodpecker.
IMG_2788 Acorn Woodpecker

IMG_2803 Near the end of the loop we spotted a tree with markers showing the water levels during the 1861 flood and the more recent 1996 flood. IMG_2804

Highwater makers for the 1861 & 1996 floods. We lived in Monmouth, OR in 1996 so we remembered the 1996 event. It was hard to fathom how much more water there would have needed to be to reach that 1861 mark. We finished up our hike and began to drive back out of the park, but as we were sitting at a stop sign I looked out the passenger window to see an American Kestrel sitting in a tree only 10 feet away. I reached back for the camera only to realize I had put it in the back of the car. As a rule I keep it in the back seat because of the amount of wildlife we seem to wind up seeing from the car instead of on the hikes, but I hadn’t this time. The kestrel flew off and landed in another tree a little further away, so I hopped out and got the camera out of the back in hopes of getting a picture. It changed trees one more time before I was able to jog over to the bike path (which just happened to pass near the road here) and get a semi decent photo. Americn Kestrel

This wasn’t one of our typical hikes, but knowing the history of the area made it an interesting hike. If you’re interested in more information on this area or for other historical Oregon hikes check out Hiking Oregon’s History by William L. Sullivan.

Happy Trails and Merry Christmas!
Little Christmas Tree in Champoeg State Park

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157660242747654