Tag Archives: Hiking

Adventure #6 – Hiking The Gorge – Oregon Side

Columbia Gorge

Gorge View-View From the Top-

                                                                                                                                                                          Gorge- Flower 2A year-long Portland area adventure series can’t be complete without at least one Columbia Gorge entry. My partner and I hiked Angel’s Rest a few weeks ago (before the heatwave) with the dogs, and it was the perfect time of year – the wildflowers were in abundance!

This hike is a popular one, located just 25 miles east of Portland off I-84. Take exit 28 to the historic Columbia River Highway 30. The trail (No.415) parking area is on the right just up the road a quarter mile.

Gorge TreeDogs & River- Gorge

Unlike a lot of the waterfall hikes in the Gorge area, there isn’t much water along this one, so bring some extra for the pooches, they will be thirsty when you get to the top! The only water you will encounter along the way (shown above) is Coopey Creek, 0.7 miles from the trailhead. You will see a glimpse of Coopey Falls (hidden behind the tree above) just before you hit the creek.

Gorge Trees

Traveling along switchbacks (you climb 1,500 feet), you will see remnants of a 1991 fire that swept through the area.Gorge Hut

 

You will also get to see a little stone hut (not sure how or why it’s there, but it’s cool) that is sure to bring smiles to the youngsters in your group and the adults that get excited about things like me. 

Gorge view 2

The views we were awarded with after making the 2.2 mile trek up the hill were breathtaking. Every direction you turn is an amazing landscape with the Columbia river below, Washington State across the river and the Gorge in both directions. Pack a lunch and a camera, as you will want to enjoy the scenery for awhile!

Gorge

With a high point of 1,640 feet – this was a rewarding hike both in beauty, and exercise. The book I use for the Columbia Gorge area hikes: “Day Hike Columbia Gorge, the best trails you can hike in a day”  by Seabury Blair Jr. (2011 edition) – mentions a campground another .5 miles up a trail from the “top” for hikers that want to avoid the “vertigo cliff” feel. We didn’t go on to see this camp, but it’s an option and apparently a little creek runs through it, a bonus for thirsty dogs and tired hot feet!

Gorge cliff

If you are interested in my adventure series posts – visit the CATEGORY, also, here are a few of my favorites so far:  Sauvie Island, Cross-Country Skiing, and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

Gorge- Flower & DogGorge-flower

Adventure #5 – Exploring Powell Butte (Waaaaay East Portland)

P.B. Inca-3

As dog owners, we are always trying to find new pockets of nature to explore that are dog friendly. (i.e.- We won’t bother others if we let them off leash, and we aren’t in danger of getting in trouble.)

As an eco-concious person however, I also want to ensure the area isn’t sensitive to disturbance, or undergone recent restorations. (We want those little seedling to survive.)                                                      

                   – Inca Pearl- our “climber” dog-

Powell Butte is a fantastic oasis for both human and canine. We visited on a Sunday, and surprisingly had the area to ourselves, (my favorite). A fair warning however, the few people we did encounter were all friendly, but their dogs were not. It was the strangest thing, of all 4-5 groups we met along the way, everyone had at least one dog, and every person told us their dogs were mean.  Hmmm…(not really a big deal, just interesting).

P.B-woods 1

The area is a forested wonderland, complete with wild Trillium flowers, and those tasty cute Fiddlehead ferns. We saw a good variety of birds, slugs, and mushrooms as well. It’s so fun  hiking with my daughter, she always notice things that I pass right over.    

P.B. Shrooms 5

I think the best way to explore Powell Butte is to go without much of a destination in mind. There are several places to access the butte (parking lots in many directions) and trails seem to wind all over. At 611 acres, it’s a small enough area, I can’t imagine ever getting really lost. There is the butte of course, where the summit offers nice views of the mountains if you go on a clear day (we did not). Johnson Creek meanders on the hill, and the area is a beautiful combination of wetland, forested slopes of Western Red-Cedar, and open meadows.

P.B. Valley 2

                                       – Meadow on top of Powell Butte-

“As an extinct cinder cone volcano, Powell Butte rises near the headwaters of Johnson Creek- an urban creek with remnant populations of native salmon and steelhead.”    Source

If you aren’t one to enjoy the “wandering” exploration- here is a link to an actual hike. 

And if you aren’t into the “dog” thing, this area is equipped for hiking, horseback riding, and biking as well!

Want to learn more about the area, get involved, maybe even volunteer? Friends of Powell Butte Nature Park provides all the above. 

Where It’s At:   SE 162nd & Powell Blvd, Portland, OR 97230 

I’m still looking for Portland metro area suggestions I should go explore.      Please comment below!

P.B. Trail 7P.B. Trailheads 6

Need a reminder on why I’m doing this Adventure series? Visit my first post that explains my year-long quest for finding hidden treasures in my own backyard. 

Here are a couple favorite posts in the series:                                                     Adventure #2: Snow, Soul Healing Fun, with a Story of Planned Obsolescence              Adventure #4: Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Adventure #3- Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge & Historic Sellwood

IMG_0072-Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge – View from Trail Platform-

I didn’t travel too far from home with this month’s outdoor adventure. Living in Portland, we are so blessed with pockets of nature right in the city! I have good friends that live in the Sellwood neighborhood in SE Portland, not far from the entrances to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. This is an area I’ve recently grown quite fond of. We go running or hiking on the trails, and there is a great bike path that connects to the Willamette River bike route. It’s easy to make loops in the area, crossing any one of the many Portland bridges. On this particular day, I hiked a dirt path that hugs the Sellwood cliffside and wanders along the wetlands. This area provides a great opportunity to see many species of birds, and is a peaceful, quiet portion of the refuge (no bikes on this trail).

IMG_0056

“Oaks Bottom is a floodplain wetland located along the east bank of the Willamette River. Part of the park is built on a sanitation landfill consisting of 400,000 cubic feet of construction waste material layered with soil. The City of Portland acquired the landfill property from the Donald M. Drake Company at the beginning of 1969 to block its development as an industrial park. The area was believed, at the time, to be one of the few remaining marshland areas in Portland, and local residents were strongly opposed to its development as industrial property.”                                                                                                                          -Taken from the Portland Parks & Recreation Website

IMG_0063

I entered the trail via the parking lot on Milwaukie Ave. (right off of  99 East toward Milwaukie and Oregon City). Heading into the wildlife refuge from here, it’s easy to make a loop going back up through Sellwood Park, and part of the Sellwood neighborhood. This way, you can see part of historic Portland, such as the Sellwood neighborhood pool. 

IMG_0067-Sellwood Park-

IMG_0065-Historic Sellwood Pool-

Built in 1910, this pool was the first of it’s kind in Portland. It replaced a floating pool that was in the Willamette river when it became too polluted to use. When the pool was first built, girls used it one day, while the boys used it the next-ahhh, the good ol’ daysThe walk back through the park and neighborhood is beautiful with views of the city skyline, and the wildlife refuge below. If you are wanting to add some extra excitement to the day, Oaks Park Amusement park  is in this area, offering roller skating, amusement park rides, and miniature golf.

IMG_0070-View of Oaks Park Amusement Park, Portland City Skyline, and Wildlife Refuge-

Interested in making a day out of exploring the SE Portland area? I encourage you to visit Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden- only a mile or two from the refuge. Check out my post featuring this beautiful park!

Please share some of your favorite outdoor spots, I would love to check them out and feature them in my outdoor adventure series!

Adventure #1- Exploring Sauvie Island

My very favorite new sights and things to experience are natural areas. A visit to the woods, river, beach, anything that gets me outdoors! (I’m known to really love patios and rooftop bars/restaurants as well). So, it made perfect sense that my first outing on my year-long mission to explore something new every month, was a nearby trail that I’ve never hiked.

Warrior Rock Lighthouse Trail

Sauvi Island Beach

Mentioned in the Portland Monthly magazine, July 2012 issue, this hike is located on the northern tip of Sauvie Island. The trail travels along the Columbia river to a still-functioning lighthouse.  The trail begins at the end of Reeder Road, after the road turns to dirt and you drive for several miles. Don’t worry, it really is at the end, just keep driving!

Sauvie Island is made of part rural farmland. This is where the pumpkin patches are, corn mazes, and all those great “you-pick” farms for yummy fruits and veggies. The northern part of the island (where this hike is located), is a wildlife refuge. Interestingly, hunting is allowed in this area during certain months as well (seems counter-intuitive, but it’s how it is).

We went on a Friday, blessed with beautiful blue skies and sunshine (something to be savored these winter months in this area), and the whole hike nearly to ourselves. We had our two dogs, and although signs say to leash them, it was a great place to let them run (plenty of beach-like sandy shores along the river). And they never came close to any animals, or disturbed the area.

Sauvi Island 2The day was crisp, and the forrest smelled fabulous. We saw several bird species, my favorite probably being the white egret, they are so majestic.  The Columbia river is such a sight to behold, it’s massive size warrants awe no matter how many times you visit. The end of the hike is a wonderful rocky outlet where the lighthouse sits. Down another half mile we saw glimpses of a marina, and several buildings. We determined it must be the town of St. Helens, though I’m not certain.

I like seeing the large ships travel down the river, so I felt lucky that a ship traveled by as we sat taking in the scenery. I think the Columbia river is an interesting juxtaposition of industrialization and mother nature, I love it.

Sauvie Island 3

Total hike distance: Approximately 6 miles (3 miles one-way)