A Fiery Fall on the Eagle Creek Trail

As cool weather settles into Oregon and fog hangs on the banks for the Columbia River Gorge, the Eagle Creek Trail illuminates in the fiery tones of fall. Following its colorful path – especially against the evergreen backdrop and contrasting grey sky – I savored and soaked in the mists of the new hiking season.

Eagle Creek

This recreation area featuring several routes of various lengths is a popular hiking spot for locals all summer long. However, once the crowds hunker down inside for Oregon’s rainy season, the true beauty of this trail unwraps.

With springs of water showering down, the trail follows the rugged cliff banks of Eagle Creek past several beautiful waterfalls. Perfect for all ages and abilities (unless you’re afraid of heights), this trail remains relatively flat as it weaves along the cascading river.

Lower Punch Bowl Falls

The first few miles of the trail lead hikers past Metlako Falls, Punchbowl Falls and Loowit Falls to High Bridge. Crossing the deep cut Gorge, the bridge serves up views of the sheer, carving power of water.

Punch Bowl Falls

With leaves of crimson and yellow lining the path through the lush rainforest, six miles into the hike, the trail reaches Tunnel Falls. About midway up the span of the waterfall, a passageway is carved behind the tumbling water. Created in 1910, the tunnel transports hikers along the amphitheater of cliffs for more spectacular view of this amazing water.

Tunnel Falls

Tunnel Falls

To complete the hike to Tunnel Falls (with time for photography stops) give yourself at least 2.5-3 hours each way. If you do go in the fall or winter, be prepared with a good rain coat and backpack cover because even if it is not raining from the sky, the cliffs spray down plenty of water to get you equally as wet.

Driving directions:

Follow I-84 for 45 minutes east from Portland to exit #41. At the bottom of the ramp turn right on Eagle Creek Lane. Go about 1/2 mile to the end of the road to park at the trail head.

Cooling off Along the Waters of the Columbia River Gorge

Headin east from Portland along highway 84, we raced the rising summer sun. Warming from the tip-top cliffs of the river valley down to the curving road that hugs the waters’ shore, the sun kissed the Columbia River Gorge as we set off on a day-long adventure.

Following the Historic Columbia River Highway (highway 30), from just east of Troutdale, we dotted our way slowly along the winding road in search of the scenic byway’s many waterfalls – and boy did we discover our fair share of tumbling water!

The drive started with a quick stop at the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint to take in the dramatic landscape from the mouth of this scenic byway. From here we could see the jagged cliffs of the Gorge, the shimmering blue river and our second stop, Crown Point Vista House, an octagonal shaped observatory built in 1916.

Columbia River Gorge

Escaping deeper along the highway, we rounded the corner to our first waterfall, Latourell Falls. Located within Guy W. Talbot State Park, this thin stream of water left both our mouths hanging open in awe. Plunging 224-feet from a wall of basalt, the white water impressively contrasted with the dark rock and neon green lichen that highlighted its face.

Latourell Falls

From here we continued along highway 30 to Shepperd’s Dell Falls. A series of trickling plateau, this grouping of falls took you down below the highway to catch some cool spray before hopping back in the car to take off to Bridal Veil Falls. Elegantly streaming like a wedding veil in two separate falls, this waterfall gushes with glory before it descends into the Columbia River.

Bridal Veil Falls

Next up, cascading also in two folds, Wahkeena Falls steps down 242-feet through a crack in two rock outcroppings surrounded by the forest’s lush greenery – making it quite the sight. Originally known as Gordon Falls, this waterfall was re-birthed Wahkeena – meaning “most-beautiful” in Yakima Indian – in 1915 with the completion of the highway.

Wahkeena Falls
Following the dirt trail from Wahkeena Falls for a half-mile, we finally made it to the granddaddy of waterfalls along the Columbia River Scenic Highway, Multnomah Falls. Oregon’s tallest waterfall, Multnomah cascades 620-feet in total and is fed by natural underground springs that originate at Larch Mountain. Spanning over the second fall, Benson Bridge offers visitors a unique viewpoint of the upper falls in all its glory.

Multnomah Falls
But the fun didn’t end there! Before taking the westward journey back to Portland, we cruised down the end of the scenic highway past Horsetail Falls and finally ended the day exploring the mouth of Oneonta Gorge (can’t wait to return and do this whole hike – looks epic!) as the sun started to fall in the sky.

Have you ever driven this scenic highway? What is your favorite waterfall along the route?

Hiking along the Umpqua River

To celebrate National Trails Day and to enjoy the outdoors, I joined up with a bunch of women from my church in Eugene for a day of hiking along the Umpqua River in southern Oregon. Following a portion of the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, we stopped for three short hikes to beautiful cascading waterfalls on the north Umpqua. Each building in size and awe-power, the waterfalls filled the day with relaxing river sounds and a chance to get away and enjoy the fellowship of other women in the wild! Continue reading

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?