Category Archives: Trip report

Dry Creek and Pacific Crest Falls

Despite what the weather thinks we are approaching our hiking season which means we will be hitting the trails much more often over the next 6 months. As we work our way into hiking shape we jumped on a chance at a rain free morning and headed to the Columbia River Gorge to check out a pair of waterfalls. Several trails in the gorge remain closed due to fire damage from the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire and others that had been reopened are again closed due to rock fall and slides caused by our recent weather combined with the fire damage. Please remember to check on the current status and conditions of trails before heading out.

Our sights were set on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail from Cascade Locks to Pacific Crest Falls. We had visited Pacific Crest Falls coming from the other side in October of 2015 (post) but at that time of year there wasn’t much water flowing so we thought a return visit was in order, especially after our recent rains.

We began our hike at the Bridge of the Gods Trailhead in Cascade Locks.
Bridge of the Gods Trailhead

From the trailhead we took the Pacific Crest Trail south.
Pacific Crest Trail sign in Cascade Locks

Pacific Crest Trail at Cascade Locks

The PCT briefly follows Harvey Road as it passes under I84 to a second possible trailhead.
Short road stretch on the PCT

Pacific Crest/Gorge Trail

From the Harvey Road Trailhead the PCT climbed gradually through the fire scarred forest. It was encouraging to see that many if not most of the trees along this section had survived. There was also quite a few early Spring flowers blooming.
Pacific Crest Trail in the Eagle Creek Fire scar

Eagle Creek Fire scar along the Pacific Crest Trail

Violets and snow queenSnow queen and violets

TrilliumTrillium

Just under a mile from Harvey Road the PCT once again briefly shared a gravel roadbed as it passed under a set of power lines.
Another short stretch of road along the Pacific Crest Trail

The trail leveled out shortly after passing the power lines and traversed along a sometimes steep hillside for three quarters of a mile to a signed junction near Dry Creek.
Pacific Crest Trail

Forest along the Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

Dry Creek Falls Trail

Here we detoured away from the PCT and followed the pointer for Dry Creek Falls. This trail followed an old roadbed along Dry Creek just over a quarter of mile to Dry Creek Falls.
Approaching Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek with Dry Creek Falls in the distance

Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek Falls

After a nice little break at the base of the falls we headed back to the PCT where we turned right and crossed Dry Creek on a footbridge.
Footbridge over Dry Creek

Dry Creek

We had been discussing the fact that hikers were starting to post picture of fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) one of our favorites. We weren’t sure if any would be blooming yet in this area but we managed to spot a few as we continued south on the PCT.
Fairy slipper

Approximately 1.25 miles from Dry Creek the PCT crossed a talus slope.
Pacific Crest Trail

At the beginning of this section we spotted group of yellow flowers which turned out to be glacier lilies.
Glacier lilies

Glacier lilies

Glacier lilies

This section also provided the best, albeit limited, view across the Columbia River during this hike.
Columbia River

A half mile beyond the talus we passed the Herman Creek Pinnacles. We detoured briefly to get a closer look at the basalt formation and the cute little monkeyflowers blooming amid the rocks.
Herman Creek Pinnacles

Herman Creek Pinnacles

Chickeweed monkeyflower

Chickweed monkeyflower

After exploring the pinnacles we continued on and in less than a quarter mile arrived at Pacific Crest Falls.
Approaching Pacific Crest Falls

Pacific Crest Falls

The amount of water flowing over the falls was noticeably more this time around.
Pacific Crest FallsOctober 2015

Pacific Crest FallsApril 2019

We turned around here and headed back along the PCT to the junction near Dry Creek. Instead of returning to Cascade Locks via the PCT we turned downhill on the old road and followed the creek downhill.
Old roadbed back to Cascade Locks

Dry Creek

Dry Creek

After approximately 1.25 miles we passed some sort of a structure followed by a gate.
Dry Creek Road

Beyond the gate Dry Creek Road was open and well graveled.
Dry Creek Road

After passing a few logging roads and swinging quite a ways east we passed under I84 by turning left on SW Ruckle St which we followed to its end at SW Adams Ave. We turned left on Adams which brought us to a school.
Cascade Locks

We passed behind the school (and library) and made our way to Highway 30 where we turned left again towards the Bridge of the Gods.
Heading through Cascade Locks

Cascade Locks

Bridge of the Gods

We arrived back at our car as the rain was arriving. The hike was approximately 9.5 miles (I had some battery issues with the GPS) with a little under 1000′ of elevation gain. Hiking through Cascade Locks at the end was definitely not the most exciting end to a hike and unless you’re like us and specifically seek out alternate return routes I’d recommend just returning as you came. That being said the upper portion of the road walk along Dry Creek was nice.

I want to take a moment to thank the volunteers that have worked so hard to restore the trails affected by the fire. In particular the PCTA and Trail Keepers of Oregon (TKO) have been hard at work and doing an excellent job. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Dry Creek and Pacific Crest Falls

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Tualatin HIlls Nature Park, Tualatin River NWR, and Willamette Mission State Park

For our March outing we decided to stick relatively close to home and visit three nearby hikeable areas. Our first stop, and furthest from Salem at just under an hour away, was at the Tualatin Hills Nature Park in Beaverton.

We started from the large parking lot at the Tualatin Hills Nature Center on SW Millikan Way.
Tualatin Hills Nature Center

The Nature Center is currently open from 8:30am-5pm M-F and 9am-5pm Sat. & Sun. while the park itself is open everyday from dawn to dusk. We arrived at dawn and set off on the paved Vine Maple Trail between the Nature Center and restrooms.
Vine Maple Trail

We quickly turned right onto the signed Oak Trail which was also paved.
Oak Trail

In a third of a mile we detoured briefly at a sign for the Tadpole Ponds.
Tadpole Pond

Although we didn’t see any tadpoles, or other wildlife here, the sounds of birds had not stopped all morning so we knew there were plenty of animals around. We returned to the Oak Trail which passed by Cattail Marsh on the second of three boardwalks.
Oak Trail

Cattail Marsh

Beyond the marsh we soon came to the third boardwalk which crossed over Cedar Mill Creek.
Boardwalk and viewing platforms along the Oak Trail

Cedar Mill Creek

One of the many birds that we’d been listening to was kind enough to pose for a moment as we stood on the boardwalk.
Sparrow

On the far side of the boardwalk was a trail junction where the Oak Trail veered right to the Merlo Rd/158th Ave Max light rail station. To the left was the Old Wagon Trail, a dirt path closed to bikes.
Old Wagon Trail

We followed this trail through a forest that was starting to show signs of Spring for a third of a mile to a junction with the Mink Path.
Old Wagon Trail

Blossoms along the Old Wagon Trail

Old Wagon Trail

Old Wagon Trail junction with the Mink PathTrail pointer at the Mink Path junction. We appreciated the fact that all of the junctions were signed and those signs were easy to read but placed in such a way that they were unobtrusive.

The Mink Path is a .1 mile connector between the Old Wagon Trail and Vine Maple Trail allowing for a shorter loop back to the Nature Center. We opted to stay on the Old Wagon Trail though and continued to the start of another boardwalk where we stopped so I could try and take a photo of a robin that was hopping around on the trail. As I was working on getting a picture Heather spotted a deer just a bit off the trail.
Deer along the Old Wagon Trail (there really is one out ther)Can you see the deer?

I thought she was seeing things but then I noticed it move.
Doe along the Old Wagon Trail (again it is there)How about now?

She turned and watched us as I attempted to get the camera to focus on her and not the branches in the foreground.
Doe in the Tualatin Hills Nature Park

Not far from the deer we spotted a squirrel trying to become one with a limb.
Squirrel

At a “Y” in the boardwalk we veered left keeping on the Old Wagon Trail until we reached a junction with the Vine Maple Trail a total of .4 miles beyond the Mink Path junction. We turned left onto the Vine Maple Trail and then took a right at a pointer for the Lily Pond.

A short path led down to the pond but before we had reached it a pair of wood ducks took flight and landed in a nearby tree.
Wood Ducks

As we were admiring the wood ducks a pileated woodpecker was busy with its breakfast.
Pileated woodpecker

We eventually made it down to the pond where a few ducks remained in the water including what appeared to be a pair of gadwalls.
Interpretive sign at the Lily Pond

Lily Pond

Gadwalls

There were also signs of beaver activity but we’ve yet to actually see one in the wild.
Beaver work

After visiting the pond we returned to the Vine Maple Trail which was now paved and followed it past its junction with the Mink Path and across Cedar Mill Creek.
Vine Maple Trail

Vine Maple Trail crossing Cedar Mill Creek

Shortly after crossing the creek we faced another choice. The Nature Center lay a third of a mile away via the Vine Maple Trail but more loop options were available by taking the Elliot Path.
Trail sign in the Tualatin Hills Nature Park

We took the .1 mile Elliot Path to a “T” shaped junction with the Big Fir Trail. Here again was a choice. Left headed back toward the Nature Center while right would take us to the Chickadee and Ash Loops and a short spur to Big Pond. We headed right and then turned left onto the spur to Big Pond.
Big Pond

Big Pond

There were plenty of ducks here as well. It appeared that most were mallards and green-winged teals.
Mallard and Green-winged teals

We returned to the Big Fir Trail and continued on crossing Beaverton Creek before arriving at a four way junction.
Beaverton CreekBeaverton Creek

More choices! The Big Fir Trail kept straight while the Chickadee Loop was to the right and the Ash Loop to the left. We began by heading right on the quarter mile Chickadee Loop which had a nice long section of boardwalk.
Chickadee Loop

After the quarter mile we were back at the Big Fir Trail where we turned right briefly before making a left onto the Ash Loop. The Ash Loop passed some wetlands where a pair of Canada Geese were enjoying the morning.
Wetlands along the Ash Loop

Canada geese

After .3 miles on the Ash Loop we found ourselves back at the four way junction where we turned right and recrossed Beaverton Creek and returned to the junction with the Elliot Path. Staying straight on the Big Fir Trail for just .05 miles we then turned right onto the .2 mile Trillium Loop. Oddly we didn’t see many of signs of trilliums along this short loop but we had seen several beginning to bloom along other trails. After completing the Trillium Loop we turned right again onto the Big Fir Trail for another .1 miles to the start of the half mile Ponderosa Loop.

We took the Ponderosa Loop where we spotted more trillium and our first wood violets of the year.
Trillium

Wood violet

At the end of the Ponderosa Loop we were once again turning right onto the Big Fir Trail. This time it was for less than a tenth of mile and then we were back at the Vine Maple Trail. Several spotted towhees and a couple of chickadees were foraging near this junction. The chickadees wouldn’t sit still but the towhees were a little more cooperative.
Spotted towhee

Spotted towhee

A right turn onto the Vine Maple Trail followed by another .2 miles of hiking brought us back to the parking lot at the Nature Center. The total distance for our hike with all the extra loops was still just 4.2 miles. When we had arrived we were only the second car but the lot was now full as it was just a bit after 9am. We had passed the first volunteer led tour as we were finishing up the along the Ponderosa Trail and another group was preparing to set off shortly.

One of the reasons we had chosen to start our day with this hike was that we knew the park would get busy as the morning progressed which isn’t a bad thing but we always prefer to avoid the crowds when possible. It really was a first rate park though so the popularity is warranted.

We left the nature park and headed for our next stop, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. I’d found this hike in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide and decided to give it a try.

We parked at the Visitor Center along Highway 99W. The majority of hikeable paths in the refuge are closed from October 1st trough April 30th but the one mile River Trail and the very short Ridge Trail are open year round so we made those the target of this visit.
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge Trailhead

We set off on the River Trail and immediately spotted a hummingbird perched atop a tree.
River Trail

Hummingbird

The trail led downhill between a pair of small ponds.
Tualatin River Natioal Wildlife Refuge

The trail passes through a restored oak savannah before arriving at an observation deck above the Tualatin River a half mile from the parking lot.
River Trail

Viewing Deck along the River Trail

Tualatin River

Beyond the deck the trail continues briefly though the restored savannah before entering a forest.
River Trail

The trail splits in the trees with the Ridge Trail leading left to a viewpoint and the River Trail continuing right to the Wetlands Observation Deck.
River Trail junction with the Ridgetop Trail

We stayed right visiting the observation deck first.
Wetlands observation deck

View from the Wetlands Observation Deck

There were a few geese and ducks visible in the distance and a few robins closer by.
Canada geese in the wetlands

Robin

We returned to the junction with the Ridge Trail and turned right onto it to climb to the viewpoint. The Visitor Center was visible across the refuge and a number of ducks and other birds could be seen in the water below. At least some of the ducks looked to be northern shovelers.
RIdgetop Trail

View from the Ridgetop Overlook

Northern Shovelers

We returned to the parking lot after an easy 2.1 mile hike. We plan on returning in the future when the other trails are open to explore more of the refuge and check out the Visitor Center.

We left the refuge and headed south toward our last stop of the day at Willamette Mission State Park.

The site of the former Willamette Mission the 1600 acre park offers a number of activities besides hiking. The mission was established in 1834 by Rev. Jason Lee and marked the first organized religious enterprise in Oregon.

We had originally intended on a 2.7 mile hike here as described by William L. Sullivan in his “100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” 3rd edition guidebook. Heather had put the book in her pack for the Tualatin Hills Nature Park hike as it was also featured in the guidebook. We hadn’t taken it back out of her pack so we weren’t exactly sure where we were supposed to park for the described hike so after paying the $5 day use fee at the entrance booth we immediately turned right into a parking area with a hiker symbol.

The lot serves as a trailhead for the Willamette Vision Education Trail, which was not where our book called for us to start but we were already parked so we decided to improvise.
Willamette Mission State Park Trailhead

We followed a bark path .1 miles to the start of a loop where we turned right.
Willamette Vision Educational Trail

Interpretive sign along the Willamette Vision Educational Trail

The trail followed a road bed for half a mile around a field before arriving at Mission Lake. Along the way we spotted a coyote that quickly disappeared back into the vegetation.
Mission Lake

A little over a mile from the trailhead we arrived at the nations largest black cottonwood.
Willamette Mission Cottonwood

Interpretive sign for the Willamette Mission Cottonwood

While we were admiring the tree an osprey landed in it and while we were watching the osprey we noticed a squirrel in the upper branches as well.
Osprey in the Willamette Mission Cottonwood

Squirrel in the Willamette Mission Cottonwood

Osprey and a squirrel sharing the Willamette Mission CottonwoodThe osprey and the squirrel (upper right hand corner).

A short distance from the cottonwood the loop crossed the park entrance road. In order to do the hike that we had originally intended to do we turned right and walked along the shoulder of the road for a quarter of a mile to a boat launch and pet exercise area where we picked up the Mission Trail.
Mission Trail

The Mission Trail followed the bank of Mission Lake for .6 miles to the Mission View Site, an observation deck looking across the lake to the site of the former mission.
Mission Trail

Mission Site viewing platform

Marker for the Willamette Mission

The former Mission Site across Mission Lake

We continued on past the Mission Site for another quarter mile before arriving at a the end of the Mission Trail at a paved bike path. We turned right detouring a quarter mile off the loop to visit the Wheatland Ferry crossing on the Willamette River.
Wheatland Ferry

After watching the ferry cross once we headed back along the bike path and followed it along the Willamette River for almost a mile and a half before veering right onto an equestrian trail. Although the bike path paralleled the river there were no real views to speak of due to a strip of trees and vegetation between the path and the water.
Bike path in Willamette Mission State Park

Bike path in Willamette Mission State Park

We opted to follow the multi-use dirt path instead of the paved bike path since pavement seems to be a lot harder on the feet. Despite being a bit muddy in spots the equestrian trail did finally provide a nice view up and down the Willamette.
Equestrian trail in Willamette Mission State Park

Willamette River

Willamette River

Just prior to reaching the high water channel the equestrian trail came near to the bike path. Staying on the equestrian trail would have taken us to the start of a three mile loop with no opportunity to get back to our car so we hopped back onto the bike path here.
Equestrian trail and the bike path in Willamette Mission State Park

We then followed the bike path back to the park entrance road.
Willamette Mission State Park

On our way back to the car we did complete the Willamette Vision Education Trail loop but that final 1.4 mile segment was fairly uneventful. The trail loops around a field with views back toward the center of the park. By that time we were passing the 13 mile mark for the day (we had planned on doing 9.2) and I was more focused on my feet than taking pictures. Not only had we started at the wrong spot but the guidebook would have had us cut out some of the bike path and all of the equestrian trail. Instead of 2.7 miles for this stop we had flipped the numbers and done 7.2.

We enjoyed all three stops but the Tualatin Hills Nature Park was definitely our favorite. With that being said they all would be suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities and each offers something unique. We’re lucky to have so many options within an hour of Salem and there are many more that we have yet to visit. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Tualatin Hills NP, Tualatin River NWR, Willamette Mission SP

South Willamette Trail

A dry forecast and a day off for Presidents Day seemed like a perfect excuse to get our February hike in.  For this outing we’d picked the South Willamette Trail. This was yet another trail we had yet to hike and this seemed like a good time of the year to do so because the trail lacks any highlights or views that would be impacted by inclement weather.

The South Willamette Trail is basically a five mile long connector trail between the Hardesty Trailhead and the Eula Ridge Trailhead. We began our hike at the Hardesty Trailhead which had also been the starting point for our Goodman Creek hike (post).

A single trail leaves the trailhead to the left of a large signboard.
Hardesty Trailhead

The trail is actually the Hardesty Trail which gains over 3000′ in five miles to the old lookout site atop Hardesty Mountain. Unless you’re looking for a training hike the old lookout site is now view less. For a slightly shorter and more scenic hike to that location start at the Mount June Trailhead instead as we did in 2013 (post).

Back to our current hike now. We followed the Hardesty Trail for .2 miles to the Goodman Creek Trail junction.
Hardesty Trail

Junction with the Goodman Creek Trail

We stayed left continuing on the Hardesty Trail for another four tenths of a mile to the start of the South Willamette Trail.
Hardesty Trail

Hardesty Trail junction with the South Willamette Trail

We stayed left again leaving the wider tread of the Hardesty Trail behind for the narrower but not overgrown South Willamette Trail.
South Willamette Trail

This trail runs parallel to Highway 58 but due to the presence of some private land holdings it bends back away from the highway which kept the noise down for much of the hike. There are not any views to speak of along the trail and although it crossed several creeks there are no waterfalls either. The trail simply passes through some different types of forest on its way from one end to the other. A half mile from the Hardesty Trail a nice footbridge brought us over an unnamed seasonal creek.
South Willamette Trail

A half mile later we were crossing another unnamed creek.
South Willamette Trail

This was followed by a footbridge over Crale Creek just a tenth of a mile later and a log crossing of another stream just beyond that.
South Willamette Trail

Crossing Crale Creek

The trail then made a slight climb to cross Crale Creek Road.
South Willamette Trail crossing Crale Creek Road

The trail climbed steadily for the next 1.75 miles gaining approximately 400′ to reach its high point at an elevation just over 1400′. There was just a little left over snow scattered about along the way.
A bit of snow along the South Willamette Trail

The Sun was shining overhead as we began to descend to a footbridge over Harper Creek.
Sun behind trees in the Willamette National Forest

Footbridge over Harper Creek

From there we climbed up and around a ridge gaining 280′ in half a mile before dropping again, this time to a bridge less crossing of North Creek.
North Creek

There was just enough water to prevent a dry rock hop across the creek and a pair of logs downstream were too slick and angled to be worth risking so we decided to make North Creek our impromptu turn around. We were only about a tenth of a mile from the Eula Ridge Trailhead so we had covered most of the trail and I had especially been struggling all morning.

We returned the way we’d come listening to the birds and watching for the small purple blossoms of snow queen.
WrenWren signing along the trail

Snow queen

I had had a sore throat when I’d woken up and by the time we made it back to the car I was chilled. I spent the rest of the day and the next in bed ill which actually made me feel a little better about having struggled so much on a 10.8 mile 1600′ elevation gain hike.

The South Willamette Trail is definitely not a big reward hike, there are no views to speak of and aside from the few small creeks no real attractions along the way other than a nice green forest. That being said it was a good moderate winter hike and it’s open all year save for the worst storms. Happy Trails!

Flickr: South Willamette Trail

Gales Creek Trail

A day off of work for New Years and a clear weather forecast = our first hike of 2019. Our trail of choice was the Gales Creek Trail in the Tillamook State Forest. We began our hike at the Gales Creek Trailhead, the same trailhead that we used in 2015 for a hike to nearby University Falls (post).

We began this hike as we had on our previous visit by following the Gales Creek Trail west from the parking area.
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The first .8 miles to the Storey Burn Trail was a repeat of 2015 as we crossed Low Divide Creek on a footbridge and arrived at the trail junction.
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Unlike last time when we turned left onto the Storey Burn Trail this time we turned right sticking to the Gales Creek Trail which paralleled Gales Creek.
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It was a chilly morning, about 28 degrees, and there was a fair amount of frost on the ground and plants. In addition to the typical frost we see on a chilly morning, we had been noticing white clumps here and there. The clumps looked like they could be garbage at first glance but it wasn’t. Other thoughts were fur but we couldn’t think of any animals in the area with white fur or something from a tree but it wasn’t the right time of year for things like cottonwood. Our next guess was a little closer with a fungus but upon closer inspection we determined it was some sort of fine ice/frost.
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It was very interesting. The scarcity of the clumps told us that there must be some set of conditions to create these frost clumps and spent much of the hike marveling at the designs. Thanks to the help of some fellow hikers over at Oregonhikers.org we later learned that this type of frost is the result of a fungus inside certain rotting wood that leaves water and carbon dioxide behind as the wood decays. The CO2 forces the water out of the wood through tiny holes and when the temperature is just a bit below freezing creates the frost “hairs” . Here is a post describing the phenomena in more detail and a article on BBC – Earth with a time lapse video of the frost forming.

The Gales Creek Trail stuck fairly close to the creek, sometimes rising a bit above it as it passed through the forest and crossed several streams that would likely have been dry in the summer months.
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A mile and a half from the Storey Burn Trail junction we did come to a dry creek bed, but a flash of water back in the trees looked like it might be a decent waterfall. The terrain looked like it might make for a reasonable off-trail jaunt and the fact that there was no water down at the trail but there was some further up made us curious so we decided to head uphill. After about a quarter mile climb over and around downed trees we found ourselves looking at a nice 20′ or so waterfall. The terrain narrowed enough that we couldn’t get right up to the falls but it was still a nice view (although not the best lighting for photos).
IMG_5437

IMG_5448

IMG_5450The route we came up.

After admiring the falls we returned to the trail and continued west toward the Bell Camp Trailhead.
IMG_5453A short section of railroad grade.

More creek crossings followed, some trickier than others, but we managed to keep our feet fairly dry using rocks or logs.
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A total of 2.25 miles from the junction we arrived at stand of alders as the site of good sized slide that occurred in 2007.
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Just over a mile from the alder stand we came to the trickiest crossing of the day. There appeared to be two options across, a lone rock barely sticking out of the water and a pile of slick looking logs. Due to the direction we were heading the rock was too far to reach so we opted for the logs. Some carefully placed steps got us across dry.
IMG_5471The logs we came across.

IMG_5472The rock after having crossed.

On the way back I opted to attempt a jump from the rock. It worked but after watching Heather recross fairly easily on the logs my 46 year old body thought that would have been a better choice.
IMG_5508Heather finishing her crossing on the way back.

Beyond this crossing the trail turned inland away from Gales Creek a bit. Slides apparently forced the trail to be rerouted at some point because a footbridge could still be seen through the trees closer to Gales Creek.
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We passed a very small cascade along this section and then approximately 1.75 miles from the tricky creek crossing arrived at our turn around point, a 25′ waterfall right along the trail.
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We took a break at the falls and as we studied the falls the light moved enough to create a small rainbow.
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We returned the way we’d come. The sun was shining but it was still chilly as we made our way back.
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We didn’t see much wildlife, just a handful of birds, and being the middle of winter no wildflowers but there were a few mushrooms to enjoy.
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With the half mile side trip the hike wound up being just under 12.5 miles with approximately 1500′ of elevation gain. It was a nice start to a new year of hiking. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Gales Creek Trail

Forest Park – Wildwood Trail & Leif Erikson Drive Loop

Heather and I recently celebrated our 23rd anniversary with a morning hike in Portland’s Forest Park followed by dinner at Sisters Irish Bistro in Salem.

We started our hike at the Germantown Road Trailhead where the Wildwood Trail crosses the road.
Wildwood Trail at Germantown Road Trailhead

We chose this loop due to the presence of some low clouds. This section of trail didn’t offer the mountain views that some others do so we thought it was a good day for it. From the parking area we headed south on the Wildwood Trail which briefly climbed before leveling out on a hillside.
Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail

We followed the Wildwood Trail for a little over four and a quarter miles through the foggy forest. Junctions were well marked along the way with maps located at several of them.
Forest Park from the Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail junction with the Waterline TrailWaterline Trail junction

Wildwood Trail

Wildwood TrailMap at the Springville Road junction.

Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail junction with the Ridge TrailRidge Trail junction

Wildwood Trail

We turned off of the Wildwood Trail at Fire Lane 7A which we followed downhill less than a quarter mile to a pointer for Leif Erikson Drive.
Wildwood Trail junction with Fire Lane 7A

Fire Lane 7A

Tie trail to Leif Erikson Dr.

A short path led fairly steeply down to the closed road where we turned left.
Leif Erikson Drive

Leif Erikson Drive

After one and a quarter mile on the road we came to the remains of an old building on the left.
Remains of an old building along Leif Erikson Drive

Remains of an old building along Leif Erikson Drive

A little over three miles after turning onto Leif Erikson Drive we arrived at another small parking lot along Germantown Road.
Leif Erikson Drive Trailhead along Germantown Road

Signboard for Leif Erikson Drive at Germantown Road

From this trailhead we followed the Cannon Trail uphill for a third of a mile back to the Germantown Road Trailhead and the Wildwood Trail.
Cannon Trail

Cannon Trail

Our loop was approximately 8.4 miles long with about 500′ of total elevation gain. It had been a good day for this particular hike and although we saw quite a few other people it never felt overly crowded. Shorter (or longer) loops could be done using the numerous other trails in the area.

Dinner at Sisters Irish Bistro was a perfect way to end our anniversary celebration, the food was excellent and so was the relaxing atmosphere. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Forest Park

Amanda’s Trail to Cape Perpetua

As we approached the final hike of our official “hiking season” (May through October) we were playing a game of cat and mouse with the weather forecast. Our original plan had been a visit to Wahtum Lake between the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood but on Wednesday the forecast for Saturday was rain there so we began to look elsewhere. Our November hike (we try and do one a hike month in our “off-season”) was going to be a visit to Cape Perpetua via Amanda’s Trail so we checked the forecast for that area and it simply called for mostly cloudy conditions. We checked again on Thursday and the forecast for these locations had basically swapped and now Wahtum Lake looked better. Another check Friday night called for rain in both areas (more at Wahtum Lake) so we decided to check again in the morning before deciding where we would end up. The forecast the next morning was still calling for rain at both locations but not starting until 11am. With less precipitation expected at Cape Perpetua and views being less of a concern there we headed to Yachats on the Oregon Coast.

At the southern end of Yachats, after crossing over the Yachats River, we turned right on Ocean View Road which leads to the Yachats Ocean Road State Natural Site. The road passes along the natural site where there are several pullouts before looping back to Highway 101. We parked at a small dirt pullout near the southern end of the natural site and took our time getting going because we’d arrived a little before sunrise.
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Luckily there was a decent amount of light being provided by the Moon so it didn’t take long before we headed further south along Ocean View Road to a post marking the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT).
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We followed the posts south which brought us to the shoulder of Highway 101.
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A little under a quarter mile beyond the first OCT post the trail crossed over the highway at Windy Way Street. We then climbed a bit away from the highway before dropping back down to a driveway for a bed and breakfast.
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The first sign that this section of the OCT is Amanda’s Trail came on the far side of the B&B when the trail reentered the forest.
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The trail once again climbed away from the highway as it rounded a hillside with a few ocean views.
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Approximately a half mile from the bed and breakfast we came to a statue of two bears representing an Alsea Indian myth that bears dance when the salmon come. Norman Kittle, whose name is on the statue, along with his wife Joanne were the first private landowners to donate a trail easement in the State of Oregon.
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Beyond the bear statue the trail began a slight decent, crossing a gravel road, before arriving at the small grotto with Amanda’s Statue ( a quarter mile from the bears).
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Interpretive signs here told of the blind woman’s forced march to the reservation.
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The present statue is not the original statue as it and a nearby footbridge were washed away in a 2016 flood. The current statue is one of two others completed by the same artist and was provided by its owners when the original statue was lost. This version was placed a bit higher to avoid any subsequent floods. Other precautions to protect the statue have been taken as well.
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After visiting the statue we continued on across the replaced footbridge.
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Beyond the creek the trail climbed nearly 750′ as it turned inland up a forested ridge.
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A mile from the bridge we had left the ridge and traversed around a marshy area near the head of North Cape Creek.
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After a little additional climbing on the other side of the creek the trail began to descend along this ridge toward the ocean. A mile and a quarter from North Cape Creek we arrived at a signed junction.
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Here we stayed right following pointers for the Stone Shelter on what was now the Whispering Spruce Trail.
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We had visited the shelter in 2013 (post) on what was part of the first outing featured in this blog.

A little less than a quarter mile from the junction we arrived at the shelter.
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It was a surprisingly nice morning considering the forecast and we were happy to have a good view from the shelter.
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After a brief rest we continued on passing another viewpoint before reaching a junction with the St. Perpetua Trail.
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I mentioned that we had visited the stone shelter in 2013 but that had not been our first visit to the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. In 2010 we had stopped here to visit the tide pools on the way home from a hike in the Drift Creek Wilderness (post). One thing we had not seen on either of our previous trips was the Giant Spruce, a nearly 600 year old State Heritage Tree.

With that goal in mind we took the St. Perpetua Trail downhill toward the Cape Perpetua Campground.
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Shortly after crossing Overlook Road, which leads to a trailhead along the Whispering Spruce Loop, we arrived at the campground entrance road.
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Behind the restrooms the trail continues across Cape Creek.
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On the far side of the creek we turned left on the Giant Spruce Trail.
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This trail followed the creek upstream for .8 miles to the 185′ high tree with a trunk circumference of 40′.
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We are always awestruck when we visit any of the giant old trees in person. It’s nearly impossible to capture just how huge they really are in photos. In addition to their size their age always forces us to pause and try and picture the timeline of their growth. This tree would have likely been a sapling at the same time Christopher Columbus was lost looking for a route to Asia.

After visiting the tree we returned to the junction near the footbridge at the campground. The weather was holding nicely so we decided to check out the Spouting Horn and Devil’s Churn areas. We followed the Giant Spruce Trail .2 miles to the visitors center where we picked up the Captain Cooks Trails.
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We followed this paved trail under Highway 101 to a viewpoint.
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From the viewpoint the Captain Cook Trail went left making a loop with views of the Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well while the Trail of Restless Waters was to the right leading to Devil’s Churn. We decided to visit them in the opposite order of our 2010 visit and went right first. This trail briefly followed the shoulder of the highway past a small parking area and vista before dropping toward the ocean.
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We crossed over Cape Creek and then followed the trail, keeping left at junctions, to a staircase down to Devil’s Churn.
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There was some decent wave action going on and we watched if for awhile.
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The crashing waves didn’t seem to bother a lone cormorant that was hunting for food in the churn.
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Speaking of food after we climbed back up the stairs we continued on a loop above Devil’s Churn to the Devil’s Churn Day Use Area where we wound up buying a lemon muffin from the concession stand there.
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After splitting the muffin we completed the loop and returned to the Captain Cook Trail.
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We stayed left at a fork in order to complete the loop clockwise.
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The tide had been out far enough on our previous visit that the Spouting Horn had not been spouting but today was different.
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We also hadn’t even noticed Thor’s Well that day but this time we knew what we were looking for and the Ocean was more cooperative.
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It was a bit of a zoo with people in the area though so we didn’t stay long and were soon heading back up the St. Perpetua Trail and past the shelter where the view had become much cloudier.
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The rain mostly held off as we made the two and a quarter mile horseshoe through the forest along the ridges above North Cape Creek between the shelter and Amanda’s Statue.
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By the time we reached the grotto, where we encountered a Boy Scout Troop, a steady light rain was falling. The rain continued to pick up as we made our way back to the Highway 101 crossing south of Yachats.
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Overall it had been an excellent day, the rain had held off long enough for us to get some nice views and stay relatively dry without having to put on our rain gear. We got to finish up the trails in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and had unintentionally timed it better for the Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well. Oh and we also had that delicious lemon muffin mid-hike so yeah it was a pretty good way to end our 2018 hiking season. We do plan on getting a couple more hikes in this year but from November through April we drop down to just one outing (or so) a month. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Amanda’s Trail to Cape Perpetua

Falls Creek Falls and Indian Racetrack

One week after spending a day hiking in California at the Lava Beds National Monument (post) we visited our neighbor to the north, Washington. On our itinerary for the day were a pair of hikes north of Carson, WA. We started with a visit to Falls Creek Falls.

We parked at the trailhead at the end of Forest Road 57 where only one other car occupied the large parking area at 7:15am. The dim morning light coupled with some low clouds made it hard to capture the fall colors with the camera but our eyes had no problems appreciating them as we set off on the trail.
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We quickly passed a trail on the left which would be part of the loop we were planning on doing here and stayed straight toward the falls.
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At the .4 mile mark we arrived at a short suspension bridge over Falls Creek.
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Beyond the bridge the trail climbed gradually for a mile to a junction. Along the way there were several views of the creek.
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At the junction we stayed right and continued to gradually climb for another .3 miles to three tiered Falls Creek Falls. The first views are of the upper and middle tiers through some trees.
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The lower tier comes into view near the end of the trail at which point most of the upper tier is lost due to the angle.
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We spent a few chilly minutes admiring the falls before heading back to the junction.
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Here we veered uphill to the right climbing fairly steeply for about two tenths of a mile to the Falls Creek Trail.
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Before continuing on the loop we turned right on the Falls Creek Trail to visit a viewpoint or two above the falls. After .6 miles on this fairly level trail we spotted a side trail heading out to the first viewpoint. We started to head out this spur but then noticed a tent set up there (we found the owners of the other car) so we continued another quarter mile to the second viewpoint.
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The view from the top was just out over the valley, but a steep scramble trail led down to the top of the falls from here. We checked to see if the ground seemed muddy or slick, but it turned out to be in good shape so we made our way down to the creek just above the falls.
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From the viewpoint we returned to the loop and continued down the Falls Creek Trail 1.7 miles to another bridge over Falls Creek which we hadn’t seen since the viewpoint. Despite the creek not being visible from the trail the scenery was not lacking due to the surrounding forest and fall colors.
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At the far side of the bridge we turned left for a little over half a mile completing the loop and returning to our car, and a much fuller parking lot.
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After the 6.3 mile hike here we were ready for the second hike of the day to the Indian Heaven Wilderness and Red Mountain. We drove back toward Carson and eventually (after missing the turn the first time) turned east on Warren Gap Road (Road 405) at a pointer for the Panther Creek Campground. We followed this road for a little under two miles to Forest Road 65 where we turned left for 8 miles, passing the parking area for Panther Creek Falls (post) along the way, to a junction with FR 60. We turned right here and followed this road for two miles to the Pacific Crest Trail and a small campground.
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We followed the PCT north climbing gradually through the forest which looked quite different from the forest along Falls Creek just a few miles away.
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A little over 1.75 miles from the trailhead we passed one of the small Sheep Lakes.
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A quarter mile later we entered the Indian Heaven Wilderness.
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Although there wasn’t as much fall color along this trail as there had been along the trails at Fall Creek there was some and there were also some interesting mushrooms to be seen.
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IMG_4469This may named be Green Lake

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As we hiked through a meadow we spotted the lookout tower on Red Mountain to the SW which was to be one of our stops on the hike.
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We turned left off of the PCT 1.2 miles after entering the wilderness at a sign for Indian Racetrack.
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This trail led a half mile through the forest to the large meadows at Indian Racetrack where up until 1928 tribes indeed raced horses.
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We turned left in the middle of the meadows toward a trail sign for the Indian Racetrack Trail.
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This trail climbed for .8 miles, steeply at times, to a road on the shoulder of Red Mountain. An opening just above a saddle along the way provided a nice view of Mt. Adams to the NE.
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We followed the road uphill for .3 miles to the lookout gaining views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier along the way.
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Near the lookout Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson could be seen to the south in Oregon.
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We took a nice long break at the summit gazing at Washington’s trio of volcanoes and talking with a fellow hiker from Vancouver who had tried to reach the lookout earlier in the year but had been turned back by snow.
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From the lookout we headed back down the road and followed it all the way back down to FR 60 a total of 3.4 miles from the tower.
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We were a half mile from the Pacfic Crest Trail so we road walked, uphill, back to our car. In hindsight it might have been nicer to do the loop in reverse in order to start with the road walks and finish the hike with a gradual descent. Either way it was a great hike, but we had been expecting it to be a 7.5 mile loop based on our guidebook, but our GPS (and our legs) put it at 9.2 miles. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Falls Creek Falls and Indian Racetrack