8 Must Do Day Hikes in Oregon

Silver Falls, Oregon

Silver Falls by orvalrochefort

Spring is here, which means its time to start planning your warm weather hikes, day trips and summer vacations. So dust off your hiking shoes and head out to explore more of Oregon with these eight must-hit trails!

Silver Falls Park

Wander through a temperate rain forest, lush with wildlife and trickling water at this beautiful state park. Follow the Canyon Trail along Silver Creek to take in 10 majestic waterfalls. Ranging from 27 to 177 feet, the waterfalls on this trail and the stunning beauty of the natural surroundings keeps you in awe of the Cascade foothills around each turn. Also with over 25 miles of trails, it’s an easy park to explore over and over.

Multnomah Falls

Tumbling an impressive 620 feet combined, Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s largest waterfall. With its white cascading waters against the evergreen forest, the falls shine as one of the iconic destinations along the Historic Columbia River Highway. Even though a frequently busy location during high season, the falls is worth the stop. Get out of the car and explore along the 1.2 mile hike to the top for great views of the waterfall and Columbia Gorge. If you’d like to extend your hike, continue another 6 miles to Larch Mountain.

Smith Rock State Park

There are several different trails of varing difficulty at this iconic central Oregon park. Enjoy bird watching and hiking along the river and don’t forget to take the short .5 mile hike along the Rim Rock Trail to take in the beautiful views from the park’s main lookout.

Tillamook Head, Oregon

View from Tillamook Head by OCVA

Tillamook Head

Rising 1000 feet from the ocean, this jagged cape offers three beautiful trails to explore its coast-swept sands. Not only a stunning sight today, this headland was also a part of the original route of Lewis and Clark.  Stare out to the vast Pacific Ocean and take in the fantastic coastal wildlife that hugs this rugged stretch of the Oregon Coast.

Sweet Creek Falls

Follow this twinkling stream near Mapleton through a canopy of lush trees as it flows toward the Siuslaw River and out to the Ocean. An easy 1.1 mile hike along a dirt and grated platform trail leads you past a series of tiered falls to the main waterfall. This is great hike for kids! If you want to get a second view of the creek, continue from the Homestead Trailhead up the road to the Wagon Road Trailhead and take the .8 mile hike back down toward the falls on the other side of the bank.

Note: Lane County Public Works will start construction on Sweet Creek Road in July 2012 that will cause significant delays. Construction is expected to continue through August 2013. So get out there this spring!

Anthony Lake

Anthony Lake

Anthony Lake by Baker County Tourism

Explore pristine alpine lakes surrounded by wildflowers and take in stunning views of the granite peaks of the Elkhorn Range with a day hike near Anthony Lake. Several trails make this mountainside paradise accessible for a wide range of hikers. Follow an easy 1-mile path looping the lake or tackle the 8.2 mile loop around Gunsight Mountain. Located in Eastern Oregon, Anthony Lake is about 20 miles north of Baker City.

Oregon Table Rocks

Jutting 800 feet above the Rogue River Valley, the Oregon Table Rocks are an iconic landmark in Southern Oregon. Created by lava flows filling ancient canyons, these vast mesas now are home to hundreds of acres of meadows and rock flats protected as a nature conservancy. Explore the spectacular diversity along the easy/moderate 2.8-mile hike to the Upper Table Rock; for a longer hike follow the 5.4-mile trail up Lower Table Rock. From the top enjoy beautiful views of the Rogue River Valley.

Steens Mountain

For amazing views of the arid eastern Oregon desert landscape, hike atop Steens Mountain. Drive the highest road in Oregon that follows the ridge of this mountain range and its mile-high cliffs. To stretch the legs, take the three short paths to various viewing stations of the canyon. If you are up for a challenge, take the 2.4 mile hike descending 1100 feet to Wildhorse Lake to take in the beautiful bowls of wildflowers lining the valley. TIP: Before heading to this remote area, fill up your gas tank in Burns, Oregon.

What is your favorite Oregon hike?

5 iPhone Apps for Outdoor Photography

As much as I love taking photos with my real camera, my daily photo snapping buddy is my iPhone. With its ease of use and extreme portability, my smart phone is the hidden weapon in my pocket and with today’s advance app technology it is possible to get awesome outdoor photography from this simple little camera.

Do you use your phone as your camera too? What is your favorite photo app?

Here is my top 5 iPhone Apps to use to take and edit my outdoor adventure photos:

Dynamic Light photo of Spencer's ButteDynamic Light

Do you hate it when you take a photo on your phone and the colors seem duller than reality? With this powerful photo tool, turn your dark and colorless photos into vibrant images. Using the same properties of HDR technology yet with only one image, Dynamic Light brightens shadowed sections of the image and increase the color contrast to bring out the complexity of the image.

To use the app you can either take a photo directly in the tool or upload an image. With the sliding scroll adjust the intensity and use special filters to optimize the scene.

Dynamic light is my favorite app to use for landscape photos on cloudy days. The way the app adjusts the light and shadows of the clouds is always breathtaking.

This app cost 99 cents on the App Store.

Luminance iPhone AppLuminance

Enhance, dramatize, and color correct your iPhone photos with this all-in-one photo editing application. Luminance with its simple interface, makes editing your photos effortless yet without skimping on editing capabilities. Offering built-in filter presets like Twilight, X-Process and Cold Tone, Luminance makes it easy to change the look of your photo. But the best part of this app is the detailed sliders its offers to edit with precision. From split toning to adding Vignette and editing contrast, let Luminance be the professional photographer in your pocket.

This app costs 99 cents.

Sweet Creek Falls with Slow Shutter SpeedSlow Shutter Cam

This app works just like the title describes. Use Slow Shutter to take long exposure images right on your iphone. From low light settings to beautiful cascading waterfall photos, the app allows you to choose the shutter length to augment your photos further. The one difficultly with taking slow shutter images though is that you have to hold completely still or your photos will appear blurry from the movement.

To capture this photo of Sweet Creek Falls in Oregon with my Slow Shutter app I had to kneel on the ground and prop my hands and phone on my knees to hold still enough to get the shot. A challenge, but well worth it for the photo affect!

This app costs 99 cents.

Snap Seed

Fine tune your photos with this easy iPhone tool to create natural looking photos with the clarity and definition of an expensive camera and editing software. From image sharpening to grid straightening and ambiance to white balance, Snap Seed sets you up for photo success. However it doesn’t come cheap. I scored this app on a special when they were giving it away for free, yet it regularly costs $4.99.

Instagram

Offering a growing number of unique filters that add texture, ambiance and feeling to your photos, Instagram is the granddaddy of iphone photography apps for me – plus its FREE! With a built in social platform, the app allows you to share, comment and create with your fellow iphonegraphers.

So now that you have all these beautiful outdoor photos that are edited with creativity share them on Instagram and add to the growing community of iPhone togs!

Find me on Instagram @KelseyIvey!

Other iPhone photo apps to check out:

  • Photoshop Express
  • SnapBucket
  • Color Effects
  • Photosynth

Wetlands at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

With over 3,000 acres of salt and freshwater grasslands, marshes and wetlands, the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge located just north of Olympia, Washington is bird-lover’s and nature photographer’s haven. Established in 1974, the reserve offers natural protection for thousands of migratory birds along the southern bays of the Puget Sound. Continue reading

Snowshoe Hike at Salt Creek Falls

With each step a high-decibel crunch erupted against the crusted white snow, drowning out the winter silence in the central Oregon Cascades like a rolling freight train – but our laughter sounded louder.

This past weekend I headed east along highway 58 into the Cascades from Eugene to spend the day playing in the snow. Stopping at the Mercantile in Oakridge, which carries snowshoes and cross-country skis during the winter season, we picked up some winter gear and continued to Salt Creek SnoPark. Continue reading

10 Hikes in 10 Years

From some of the world’s best trails to other local conquests, I am setting out to get my hiking shoes dusty and dirty over the next ten years – or hopefully sooner!

With rocks, mud and trail underfoot, hiking to me is one of the best ways to explore. From the trail, landscapes unfold and you not only discover the beauty of nature around you but you also discover yourself. You have to pay close attention to the grade and ground, you calves and heart, the weather and your weather, in a combination that just takes you away from it all.

As someone who is regularly glued to a computer for work, any time I spend in nature is my ultimate unplug moments. In an ever increasing world of technology, taking these brief yet much need treks away from the zip of online life is rejuvenating and exhilarating.

So over the next ten years, I am committing to tackle ten of my wish list hikes, from single-day hikes near home to week long treks across the globe.  With one foot in front of the other, I will slowly yet surely take to these trails.

(Listed in no particular order)

1.       Mount Shasta, California

Raising more than 10,000 feet above sea level in northern California, Mount Shasta is a recreational and hiking haven – though no sissy. Only 249 feet shorter than Mount Rainer to its north in the Washington Cascades, Mount Shasta offers numerous trails to explore and for all skill levels, from lush meadows full of wildflowers in the late spring to glacier crossing summits.

For more information on Mount Shasta visit the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Website.

Half-Dome, Yosemite by Kyle Knapp

2.       Half-Dome, Yosemite, California

Just a few hours south of Mount Shasta in the heart of bear country, Half-Dome is an iconic, climber’s delight. A 14 to 16 mile round trip gaining a total of 4,800 feet, the trail takes most hikers 10 to 12 hours to complete, but well worth the long day for views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap and panoramic skylines of the Yosemite Valley from the top.

3.       Inca Trail to Macchu Piccu, Peru

Since I was ten years old and pulled a book off an elementary school library self about archaeology, the subject and its many wonders have fascinated me – and Machu Picchu is just one of the many, many sites that I have dreamed of visiting since. With majestic and mysterious ruins nearly reaching the heavens and an even more breath taking (literally) journey to their home, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu will be a trek though diverse landscapes that I will never forget.

For more information on the Inca Trail & Machu Picchu.

4.       Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Located in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak at 19,336 feet. Considered to be the tallest walkable mountain, this trek is all about the stamina and battling altitude sickness. With a variety of routes up the barren mountain side, hikes typically range from 6-7 days but can be completed quicker by experienced hikers.

5.       Wonderland Trail, Mt. Rainer, Washington

I have hiked extensively with my family along many of the wondrous trails around Mt. Rainer but never all the way around. This 93-mile trail that encircles Mount Rainier weaves through lowland forests and valleys along with some stretches of alpine and sub-alpine trails creating the ultimate mountain loop trek.

For more information of Mt. Rainer and the Wonderland Trail.

6.       Rim-to-Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona,

Showing off beautiful oranges, browns and red in a cascading layered display, the Grand Canyon is an amazing vista from all angels; but to take in all the sites, I’ll complete a multi-day rim-to-rim hike covering the wide expanse’s 27-mile mouth.

Though possible with a lot of advance planning or a second friendly hiking group, this hike may end up as a rim-to-rim-to rim hike so to get back to the car!

For more information of hiking in the Grand Canyon.

7.       Everest Base Camp, Nepal

While I don’t think I’ll ever have the ability to summit Mount Everest, I am game to tackle the second best option – hiking through the breathtaking Himalayas to Everest Base Camp. With dozens of tour trek groups now leading multi-day hikes through the mountains for a challenging adventure full of beautiful views, cultural exchanges and unforgettable experiences, Everest is growing closer for regular-avid hikers like myself.

Check out the trips with G Adventures & Intrepid for more information on this epic trek.

8.       Kalalau Trial, Kauai, Hawaii

This 11-mile rugged trail weaves along one of the most beautiful and remote areas of Kaua’i in the Hawaiian Islands. From white tipped waves crashing against the island’s high shoreline cliffs to lush forest, the Kalalau Trail is the only land access to the legendary Kalalau Valley and provides outstanding views of the island’s pristine nature.

The Sisters from McKenzie Pass, Oregon

9.       Summit the South Sister, Three Sisters, Oregon

The third-tallest peak in the Oregon Cascades, the South Sister is one of three stunning points along the mountains in central Oregon. Though no technical climbing experience is required, the trail is steep and should not be attempted in anything but perfect weather, according to Oregon Hiking expert, Bill Sullivan. Climbing nearly 5,000 feet of elevation over only 5.5 miles, the trail up the Sisters is one that will challenge the lungs but deliver with beauty.

For hiking the South Sister, check out Bill Sullivan’s online guide.

10.   Torres del Paine Circuit, Patagonia, Chile

This unique, picturesque hike covers 52 miles over 10 days and features astonishing views of the jagged mountains of Chile. The route encircles the Torres del Paine, granite monoliths that spiral into the sky and also showcases the beautiful glacial lakes and frozen waves.

For more information of the various hiking opportunities around the Torres del Paine.

Money and health willing, these ten hikes will challenge me mind, body and soul and maybe kill just a few pairs of hiking boats.

What hikes are on your ultimate adventure wish list?

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Reversing the Reflecting

Last Friday I posted the photo “Reflecting the Sky,” which overlooked the Delta Ponds in Eugene from the view point of the Delta Bridge. In the far distance, spanning one of the ponds you can see a small wooden bridge. Today I decided while out for my run to go find that bridge and do a reverse shot looking back over the ponds. This is the beautiful view I found:

Delta Ponds and the Delta Footbridge.

Sometimes you have to turn around and take in the space you forgot to find bliss.

Cascades Raptor Center

Hidden on the southern slopes of Spencer’s Butte amidst knurly trees moist with draping gray-green moss, the Cascades Raptor Center looks like it’s located straight out of a set from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.  You know that scene where Luke, Leia & Han Solo roam through the dense forests of Endor to escape the dark side’s forces – like that. I almost expected a fuzzy like Ewok to jump out from the lurking brush. Yet alas only equally as creepy squawks emerged from the trees as we walked up the steep driveway from the over-flow parking lot below. If I wasn’t knowingly entering a bird sanctuary I think I would have been a little frightened by the wild sounds emerging from the trees.

Located just south of Eugene, Ore. on Fox Hollow Road, the Cascades Raptor Center is a nature center and wildlife hospital. Devoted to helping and healing wild, native birds and educating the public, the center hosts 60 non-releasable birds for viewing. From an energetic red-tailed hawk, who starred me down through its wooden cage to a shy, pure-white snow owl and stoic bald eagles, the Cascades Raptor Center creates an engaging and educational exhibit for all-ages.

Holding special permits for educational purposes, the raptors on display are kept in large outside lattice enclosures that camouflage into the natural surroundings. Initially entering the facility I didn’t even see half of structures, they blended so well into the winter hill side.

Using a cultural pass from the Eugene library, good for up-to $25 in admission cost, my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and I wandered through the center for free, gazing on the beautiful birds. I can’t say my nephew paid any real attention to the birds – he’s only 4.5 months old, many of the birds bigger than him – but the informational placards accompanying the animals brought the bird’s stories to life even for us.

Like Puck, an adorable American Kestrel who when still young enough to be begging for food landed on a boy’s head at a baseball game. The bird when taken to a rehabilitation center was deemed a human imprint – they have been physiology influenced by human behavior during phase-sensitive learning, likely from direct interaction. Puck due to this negative human contact could no longer function securely in the wild.

Walking along the dirt trails between structures, each of the birds had a story – unique as their own feathers but inevitably tied back to the damaging effects of humans on their habitat and learning.

But at the Cascades Raptor Center, they are trying to prevent this from happening further. Through their educational programs, rehabilitation center, community outreach and of course public tours of the sanctuary, the center is educating and exposing the public one very cute raptor at a time.

Cascades Raptor Center:

My sister & I

32275 Fox Hollow Road, Eugene, OR 97405 – (541) 485-1320

Hours:

Winter (November – March), Tuesday – Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.

Summer (April – October), Tuesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Admission:

Adults $7, Teens/Seniors $6, Children under 12 $4

*This was a Eugene Bucket List item!

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Me with my cute "birdy" nephew!

Water in the Web

I hate spiders, but love their webs. Look how the beads of water just hang from its shiny threads in the morning fog – a brilliant and intriguing design of nature.

This photo was taken on my saturday morning training run. I am up to 3 miles now toward my half-marathon goal. I used my iPhone 3GS to capture the photo and then edited the image with the Luminance and Dynamic Light Apps.