Tag Archives: nature

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!


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

Columbia Slough- What Is It?

IMG_0115(Columbia Slough on Bike Bridge Near the Wastewater Treatment Plant)

Whenever I move to a new area, I immediately seek out the nature spots nearby, and best places to walk my dogs. When I moved to Portland OR., and started exploring my neighborhood, I stumbled upon the nature reserve on Columbia Boulevard next to the water & sewage treatment facility. IMG_0094It seems a little odd to create an outdoor oasis next to a sewage treatment plant, but it really is a beautiful area close to my home that I can walk the dogs and feel like I’m in a pocket of nature, (despite the occasional unpleasant odor on certain days). A bike trail in this area travels  out to Marine Drive in one direction, or Smith and Bybee Lakes , and Kelley Point Park in the other.

IMG_0102During my first visit, I was stumped by the body of water that flowed through the area. It was too small to be the Columbia River, and larger than a runoff stream. Because of it’s close proximity to the water treatment facility, I honestly thought it was some sort of man-made  toxic runoff  from the plant, despite the fact that I could see evidence of life thriving in the area, (plenty of wildlife and foliage).  I later found out that this body of water is the Columbia Slough. I wasn’t familiar with the term “slough,” further cementing the idea that it had something to do with sewage waste water (“slough” just sounds so yucky).



However, my recent volunteer work with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC) has taught me that the Columbia Slough is not man-made, is not part of the sewage treatment facility, and is a very natural occurring body of water influenced by the Columbia River.  The term “slough” is simply a body of water that is low flow, or stagnant, not necessarily “dirty,” although I will share environmental concerns below. The Columbia Slough travels through lakes and wetlands, and is in an area that used to completely flood every year, prior to human intervention.

The Slough is approximately 18 miles long with the headwaters at Fairview Lake in East Multnomah County. Traveling through Northeast and North Portland, (paralleling the Columbia River), the slough eventually flows into the Willamette River in Kelley Point Park.

IMG_0211-Columbia Slough Entering Willamette River in Kelley Point Park-

According to the CSWC website, the entire Columbia Slough Watershed contains 32,700 acres, 6 lakes, 3 ponds and 50 miles of waterway. The area has 26 identified fish species, 175 bird species and contains several wildlife corridors.


(Natural area near Columbia Blvd. Wastewater Treatment Plant)

Despite these amazing characteristics, many challenges are present in maintaining a healthy waterway, especially in this area. The Columbia Slough watershed is heavily industrial and residential, with approximately 158,000 residents-(1/20 of Oregon’s population), 54 schools, 2 universities, 1 community college, and 3,900 businesses, including Portland International airport and port of Portland marine terminals.

The Columbia Slough Watershed is made up of 54% impervious surfaces – solid surfaces where water can’t sink into the ground, and join under-ground water systems. Therefore, water runs along these surfaces such as sidewalks, streets, parking lots etc., picking up sediments, toxins, litter, and oil along the way. This contaminated water makes its way to the slough, where it travels to the Willamette River, onward toward the Columbia, and eventually out to the Pacific Ocean.

Unfortunately, storm water is only one source of pollution in the Columbia Slough. Failing septic systems, illegal dumping, and industrial equipment cleaning, all pollute the water systems as well.  Although the Slough has a long history of contamination, according to the Columbia Slough Watershed website, its cleaner today than it has been in the last 100 years due to great efforts made by the CSWC, and the surrounding community.

To read more about the Columbia Slough Watershed, flood history, and flood control levees, read my blog post Columbia Slough II.

Do you have an interesting story about your local waterways? Please share below!

Special Thanks to the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for all the environmental education, stewardship awareness, restoration, and relationship building they perform in the community and watershed. Much of the statistics I provided above I found on their website. Please visit the site for additional information, volunteer opportunities, and announcements for events and workshops.

University of Oregon…The Natural Side

Last week I was asked to assemble a slideshow presentation for one of my journalism classes representing the University of Oregon.  The assignment asked us to market to incoming potential UO students and highlight what the school means to us.  I’m sure most students will highlight the football team (well, we are number one)!  Or talk about community, clubs, organizations and events, however, I decided to focus on what I truly love about this campus and the surrounding area:  The Natural Beauty- I had to stay true to my Environmental roots!

To view my slide show highlighting The Natural Side of the University of Oregon click the link below:  and enjoy! http://www.kizoa.com/slideshow/d1247742k7537798o1/university-of-oregon-the-natural-side