Posts Tagged ‘Columbia River Gorge’

Tanner Butte – Columbia River Gorge 2/1/11

Garmin Interactive Map

20.7 mi

Elevation Gain:
5,806 ft

Min / Max Elevation:
78 ft / 4,111 ft

Matt, Dexter, Sadie & I

Tanner Butte had been a hike on my ‘ to hike list’ for along time. Its one of the many higher mileage day hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. I had finally dedicated myself to getting an early enough start to have the opportunity to finish before dark.

The trailhead starts in an awkward spot right off of exit 40 (Bonneville Dam). You can either park at the Wahclella Falls trailhead (just to the right/South as you come off i84) or the Tooth Rock parking lot (just left/East at the fork). Tooth Rock parking is free and is known for access to the Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway that has been converted into a walking / biking path in different sections. Tooth Rock is just West of Eagle Creek (Punch Bowl Falls & Tunnel Falls) and serves as the trailhead for Wauna Viewpoint. We parked at the Wahclella Falls trailhead (requires a NW Forest Pass) .

From the parking lot you walk back (North) towards i84 where the road forks – the hike begins here. The trailhead is halfway decently marked, but beyond this good luck…

Matt and I brought information about the hike; however, it did not completely help as there were many unmarked and obscure roads. We explored a few roads and one finally led us to the top of some ridge dead-ending. Discouraged as we were hiking down we started to plot our itinerary for the rest of the day – possibly hitting up a couple other hikes in the area. We ended up giving it one last shot and found the correct road, which led us to the Tanner Butte Trailhead … finally!

Apparently back in the day you were able to drive to the real Tanner Butte Trailhead. From the get-go the trail is beautiful! It starts with a series of small cascading waterfalls. We had to hike across a small icy creek that required some rock-hoping preplanning to prevent getting wet. My dog Dexter loved walking through the creek hydrating while my brothers dog Sadie is still deathly afraid of water. Sadie would not budge – I had to grab her scruff and pull her across the creek. This didn’t wade well for my feet as they got slightly damp with many more miles to go.

There was a strong East wind that kept the air brisk – chilly brisk that is! Needless to say, I wasn’t willing to bust out my camera much and sacrifice my hands freezing. Much of the hike we stayed in the dense forest somewhat protected from the wicked East wind of the Columbia River Gorge.


[The Snowy Tanner Butte Trail – Dexter loves to run ahead]

Luckily once we got onto the Tanner Butte trail it was mostly easy to follow. As you can see above the trail clearly cuts through the forest. Sections of the trail we hiked were actually an old road. There was a few areas where it almost got away from us (due to the deceiving snow) that we took loose tree limps and logs to clearly mark  the trail to see on the way back.

The snow level had been at a high elevation for awhile leading up to this trip, but since much of the trail hikes through dense forest the snow is protected from the sun leaving us to hike though it. Most of the way the snow was firm and icy. As the snow melted off the tops of the trees the moisture created divots in the snow – this was definitely wearing on your feet and ankles causing your foot strike changed constantly. Hiking a few miles through this type of terrain slowed us down tremendously. As we reach a vista we felt like we were near the summit, but it was a false summit – a beautiful vantage point though!


[Mt Hood with Tanner Butte in the near distance]

It was starting to get late in the day so we had to make some difficult decisions. From the ‘false summit’ we decided to give the summit a shot. After a half mile or so the trail disappeared as did our summit fever. The snow had gotten thicker and icier and the forest had grown a few too many trees leaving us to poor visibility. Just a few hundred vertical feet from the summit we decided it was best to not show up in the news and turn around.


[Mt Adams in the distance]

When hiking you see so many different things – when you are leading vs following or when you are going ‘out’ or coming ‘back.’ As we were hiking ‘back’ we got a glimpse of Mt Adams in the distance.


[Matt in good spirits]

The decision to turn around or keep trekking is a difficult one to make. Like many, I want to reach my final destination – the summit! However, there are many factors that are considered prior to turning around – time/day light, trail conditions, supplies packed, individual’s fatigue. We probably would have been okay, but didn’t want to risk coming back to the wrath of our significant others for arriving way late 😉

IMG_2624[Munra Point just West of us]

On the way back we took full advantage of the downhill keeping a solid pace. With just a couple miles left the sun started to set behind the might ridges of the Columbia River Gorge. It made for a cool shot of Munra Point and reminded me of how steep of a climb it was!  We arrived back to the car just as it was nearing complete darkness. The dogs fell asleep instantly as they probably put in double the mileage we did!


Triple Falls – Columbia River Gorge 1/17/11

Garmin Interactive Map

5 miles RT

Min / Max Elevation:
45 ft / 683 ft

Elevation Gain:
2,849 ft

Kristin, Dexter & I

We had ventured up Horsetail / Ponytail Falls way a few weeks earlier experiencing some extremely cold temperatures and icy landscapes. The combination of the Columbia River Gorge’s strong winds and cold temps are a recipe for beautiful frozen waterfalls. This time around the temps were much warmer and the water levels much higher. The jump in warmer temps, snow melt and massive amounts of rain put many areas in flood danger.


[Horsetail Falls]

I had never seen the waterfalls flowing with this amount of water ever. They were extra powerful with an intense plummet creating a massive mist soaking everyone around. There were many people hanging out in awe – we were lucky enough to sag a parking spot before the crowds started to flock. I snapped a few pics and let Dexter pull me up the trail..


[Ponytail Falls]


[Kristin & Dex gearing up to get soaked]


[Beneath Ponytail falls]


Hiking along the stretch of trail beneath Ponytail Falls it was nearly impossible to hear anything but the sound of falling water. Underneath the waterfall is an eerie feeling as you see and feel water leaking through the rock above and hear the intense vibrations from the water flowing off the rock from which you are standing beneath.

As you continue hiking around to the other side of Ponytail Falls prepare yourself for a water-soaker. As we pop out the other side I always put it into high gear hiking quickly through the 100 ft of trail you are most vulnerable to the cold misting waterfall.


[Oneonta Gorge]

Oneonta Gorge in the summer time is a fun hike wadding through waste deep water at times. I was interested in seeing the gorge with this amount of water – I’d never seen it so high and with so much ‘white water.’


[On bridge just above Oneonta Gorge Falls]

With all of the water the area had received and the quick change in temps this had created some good landslides.


[We noticed a few new creeks and waterfalls along the trail]


[Dex lovin the water]


[Much more water than usual making creek crossing interesting at times]


[Kristin & Dex atop Triple Falls]


[Triple Falls – hmm more like double falls..]


IMG_2512 [Checkin things out from the other side of the falls…]

I always enjoy hiking trails during all seasons as they are dramatically different from season to season. Just be sure to stay safe and be alert during this time of year with huge potential for trees falling and landslides.

Horsetail / Ponytail Falls Icy!

1.5 mile RT

Garmin Interactive Map (.5 mi to Ponytail Falls, .25 mi to Top of falls)

I always enjoy heading out to the Columbia River Gorge when them East winds blow the arctic breeze through. The ice-glazed or even sometimes just iced over waterfalls are a beautiful site that is pretty incredible to see!

On this particular day the temperature was high 20’s with a killer wind chill from the East.


Horsetail Icy - 01

[Horsetail Falls]

Horsetail falls is always a powerful flowing waterfall year-round. The combination of its powerfulness and the chilly East wind created its own little ice climate. The wind blew the water willy-nilly causing it to freeze wherever landing (ODOT was quick to lay sand/gravel on large icy patches of road).


Horsetail Icy - 05

[Ponytail Falls]

Our original plan was to make a short trek up to Triple Falls; however, the ice was way intense and impassable with the gear we had or didn’t have. Ponytail Falls consistently sprays water West – with the icy temps this has caused a 30 + foot section of the trail to be a thick layer of ice. Hiking up to this point we saw other hikers ‘snowshoeing up’ simply to cross this treacherous section – we laughed until we approached the same section….

Horsetail Icy - 07

The extremely thick layer of slippery ice and a slight uphill grade were enough to turn around without snowshoes or crampons – after of course at a poor attempt. Dexter and I slowly hobbled with one trekking pole up a few feet until Kristin made the executive decision of turning around. It was even more scary to go back the 10 feet. Dexter started pulling me being the catalyst for my not-needed-speed as I ice skated downhill. Luckily the combination of my trekking pole and Kristin at the bottom I was able to regain control and not die.

Horsetail Icy - 15

[Above Ponytail Falls]

After just a mere .5 mile of hiking I knew this wouldn’t suffice Dexter’s need for high mile exercise. We turned back and hiked up above Ponytail Falls. The trail is unmaintained and steep. This trail actually continues onto Rock of Ages and Bell Creek area allowing you to do a loop depending on your ambition.

Horsetail Icy - 14

[Ponytail Falls flowing downward as waterfalls do.. ]

Horsetail Icy - 10 [Creek above the falls fast-flowing and icy]

We ended up hanging out above Ponytail falls for awhile taking in the winter-wonderland. There is a solid area to chill and potentially camp if you wanted – although there are many better places to camp. Just being .5 mi from the road you can hear the traffic, trains and people. I personally enjoy the feeling of remoteness and crowd-less-ness. At any rate this 1 mile round trip is always a fun little jot and well worth it.

Multnomah Falls – Wahkeena Falls Loop 12/18/10

Garmin Interactive Map

5.45 mi

Min / Max Elevation:
51 ft / 1,578 ft

Dexter & I

Waterfalls Along hike: Wahkeena Falls, Fairy Falls, Dutchman Falls, Wiesendanger Falls, Multnomah Falls and a few others even!

The Multnomah Falls – Wahkeena Falls Loop is one of my favorites in the Columbia River Gorge. It is just a quick 35 minutes from Portland, Oregon and you see many waterfalls over the course of just 5 miles. (Check out the last time I hiked it in FEB 2010)

Multnomah Falls area is a high populated area so whenever hiking in this area I try to get an early start to beat the crowds. Dexter and I started hiking in the dark…


[Dex sporting his Ruff Wear Rain Jacket – Sweet reflectivity! ]



[Quick shot of Wahkeena Falls before hiking up… ]

Once we hiked above Wahkeena Falls to Lemon’s Point daylight was finally amongst us.


[Looking East – Can you spot Beacon Rock?]


[Lemon’s Point looking North at Washington]


[First tracks – I love being the first on the trail!]


[Dex loving the snow]

This hike is straight up and straight down bringing a nice burning sensation to the legs. However, with multiple waterfalls and creeks along the way it makes it worth it.


[Dexter – a blur]


[Love the snow and raging creek]

Fairy Falls reminds me of a miniature version of Ramona Falls (near Mt Hood along Timberline Loop Trail). I think it looks cool with water flowing down a rock face – It bounces off each ‘rock stair’ creating an unique waterfall.


[Fairy Falls]


[Fairy Falls]

Not far after Fairy Falls you approach a trailhead – both ways will lead and join up again. I usually choose the Vista option (left) as you get some great views of the gorge. The other way (to the right) leads you through a dense forest (has the feeling of an old growth forest) joining up later at the bottom of Devils Rest. Hiking through the dense forest is the better option if there’s been heavy rain as the Vista Trail becomes extremely muddy.


[Snow covered trees]


[Bottom of Devils Rest – also where the Vista Trail / Forest Trail rejoin]

IMG_2415 [Looking up at the climb up to Devils Rest – its brutal especially since the reward isn’t the greatest]


[Looking up at Devils Rest…. not today!]

Once you hit this section of trail it plateaus for awhile then begins to descend to the Multnomah Falls / Larch Mountain trail while paralleling the Columbia River.  Along the Multnomah Falls / Larch Mountain Trail you parallel Multnomah Creek (fed by Larch Mountain Snow Melt) there are multiple waterfalls.

IMG_2443[A Beaver Dam strategically placed in the calm of the creek]



[Multnomah Falls]

The highest point along the trail was about 1600ft – here there was 2-3 inches of snow. Descending from the top of Multnomah Falls there was little snow on the trail and then none as I hiked below 500 ft. A solid early morning hike and no better way to complete it, but with a warm cup of hot chocolate at the Multnomah Falls Visitors Center!

Table Mountain 10/26/10

Garmin Interactive Map (Garmin 405 died during this hike)

16 Miles

3350 Elevation gain

Matt, Myself

Table Mountain is a great hike with great rewards – the great rewards / views are why people hike it on a clear day. Those of us who choose to hike it on a day such as this are idiotic and just looking for a good challenge or workout.

Many people choose the shorter approach to Table Mountain – the Aldrich Butte Trail, which is 8 miles. This trailhead is located just West of the Bonneville Hot Springs Resort. Matt and I decided to mix it up with starting from the Bonneville Dam Trailhead, which is double the miles – 16miles in all.

From the Bonneville Dam Trailhead you begin hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail. I am always a fan of hiking on the PCT as it is usually well maintained, offers some of the best views, and plus of its notoriety.

About 3 miles into the hike we hit Gillette Lake. At this point the rain was a heavy constant mist making it feel like we had took a dip in the Lake.

IMG_2259[ Gillette Lake w/ the PCT Trail Marker]

Despite our current wet state we hiked on hoping to get above the freezing level soon in hopes of some dry snow verses the wet rain.

We hiked…. hiked… and hiked….

It rained…. rained … and rained…


[Matt being a good sport despite being wet, tired & hungry 🙂 ]

IMG_2225 [Me – wondering where the top of table mt is! ]

IMG_2222 [Table Mt? Please! ]

[Table Mountain – Snow at the top]

2010 - 736

[My poor Garmin 405 – hmmm not so waterproof!]

My garmin apparently was exposed to an extreme about of rain causing it to loose its waterproof-ness. No one or thing should ever have to endure that much rain… ever! Needless to say I called up Garmin and they happily credited me and I happily upgraded to the garmin 310 (20 hr battery life vs the 405’s 8 hours).

[Garmin 310xt]

The Garmin 310 is an amazing gps watch for the avid cyclist, hiker, runner, snowshoer, etc… It gives you quick and mostly accurate stats like elevation, distance, speed, and heart rate. In addition, the watch even features a map tracking your waypoints. With the map function and easy to read data fields the computer-sized watch is justified – Although if you wear it out on the town you may look like a home school kid and be hackled until performing the quadratic formula as it is similar to the size of the infamous calculator watch.

Munra Point

July 17 2010

2643 Feet
5.7 mile Round Trip (plus Wahclella Falls 2 mi RT)
Myself, Kristin, Brian & Nina
Munra Point Hiking Photos

Munra Point Garmin Connect – Details

Brian and I were set on summiting Munra Point on a clear sunny day as our last hike up Munra Point was foggy/cloudy/windy/rainy. We recruited the girls to join us with great promises of amazing pay offs at the summit. We purposely kept the elevation gain on the dl. Only until we were approaching the trailhead did we discuss the steepness. A few miles before the exit Munra Point is visible from Interstate 84 –

munra point i 84 I always like to park at the Wahclella Falls trailhead as there are many great hikes in the area. I usually hike Wahclella Falls as a pre/post hike to my hiking day as it is just 2 miles round trip. This time around we hiked it pre Munra Point.

Wahclella Falls is located just a mile in a small gorge. The high basalt walls, beautiful flowing creek and powerful waterfall make this place a photography hot spot. While we were there 3 vans full of photographers pulled up and started setting up at multiple points near the falls.

The water was definitely cold – much colder than Oneonta Gorge! I walked into the water to snap a few shots of the falls and could only withstand the frigid water temperature for less than a minute.


[Wahclella Falls]

After our quick Wahclella Falls outing we started our “real hike.” The trail was extremely overgrown and looked like it hasn’t seen much trail traffic (i imagine most approach Munra Point from the West). Brian and I cleared the way for the girls chopping down overgrown weeds/brushes utilizing our multipurpose trekking poles.

The approach from the East entails hiking on Gorge Trail #400 for nearly 1.4 miles until the “up” begins. The cut off trail up to Munra Point can become overgrown and difficult to locate sometimes, however, people are good about placing markers along the trail. These markers are great to locate the trail and to keep people on the actual trail to prevent further erosion. Munra Point is an unmaintained trail – Please keep to the trail to prevent more erosion!

From miles 1.5 to 3 things are pretty steep. You start at about 250ft and end atop at mile 3 at 1,870ft. The key is to take your time and find good rest spots. There are a few great rest spots that allow you to sit down and relax for a couple of minutes to rejuvenate.

IMG_9223 [Picture taken in May – the first time we hiked it – Great rest spot that shelters you from wind/rain. Located in the midst of the steep climbing in the forested area next to the exposed basalt rock wall.]


[Rest stop 2 just above 2nd rock scramble area… great views]


[views… Looking West towards Multnomah Falls area]

. IMG_0628 IMG_0661IMG_0637

[Towards the top the trail turns vertical – Brian reaching the top of Munra Point]

IMG_9815 IMG_9822

[LEFT: Nina, Kristin & Daisy atop Munra Point RIGHT: Mt Adams, Bonneville Dam, Columbia River]

We hung out at the top of Munra Point for about 30 minutes or so. Looking out on the Columbia River we could see white caps on the river and could definitely feel a strong breeze atop Munra Point from time to time. It was comfortable on the top with a decently flat area to rest as we ate lunch and soaked in some sun. The views are spectacular – Beacon Rock, Mt Adams, Mt Rainer, Bonneville Dam, Bridge of the Gods, St Peters Dome, & Columbia River.

The trek down always seems to be much more difficult. Not only are you fatigued mentally and physically, but with the rocky unstable trail you are more prone to slipping requiring much more concentration and slower movements (equaling muscle burning!). I enjoy taking it slow to have a chance to divert my eyes from my feet and gaze off to enjoy the scenery.


[Taking it easy hiking off of Munra Point]

Oneonta Gorge

July 9 2010

0 Feet
1 mile Round Trip
Myself, Kristin
Oneonta Gorge Hiking Photos
Hiker Trail Info

Oneonta Gorge is by far one of my favorite spots to go to cool off on a hot summer day. It is also many other people’s favorite spot as well – get there early and expect to move slow especially on hot weekend days.

Oneonta Gorge is located just 45 minutes East of Portland, Oregon. It is most easily accessed by traveling East on Interstate 84 to exit 35. Exit 35 will put you on the Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway – Travel West for about 3.5 miles (just beyond Horsetail Falls) and there is parking on both sides of the gorge.

In 1996 the Portland Region experienced some of the most severe weather it has ever seen. It all started in January 96’ with a heavy rains. The rain completely saturated the ground causing river levels to rise and ground to loosen. Late in January the region received a heavy snow storm (areas at low elevations even saw lots of snow!) followed by an artic blast. This turned everything to ice for a little over one week. In early February temperatures rose quickly melting the ice layers and then it began to rain. The combination of rising temperatures and large amounts of rain was the catalyst for the flooding and many landslides.

[Video footage shot in downtown Portland during the 1996 flooding – it was pretty cool how the community all came together to sand-bag the flood-threatened areas!]

The Columbia River Gorge winters are serve enough, but with the added severity (wind, snow, ice, rain, quickly rising temps) it was a disaster zone. There were many landslides that occurred in the Western Columbia River Gorge Corridor. The two main slides that are still evident to this very day is the Dodson and Oneonta Gorge slides.

The Dodson Slide is visible just East of exit 35. The evidence is mind-blowing. I once took a geology field trip to this slide zone and was able to see and learn about the extreme force brought through this area. There is a white house located right off the Columbia River Historic Highway (East of exit 35), which sits close to the road. This older couple once lived much closer (South) to the great basalt cliffs prior to the slide. Their old house was picked up by all of the debris – foundation intact and all – and slid down the hillside. Over the years the area around the landslide house has been overgrown with vegetation making it difficult to spot from the road.


[white house – everyone in the area was evacuated well before the slide occurred]

The Oneonta Gorge slide occurred similar as the Dodson Slide; however, the slide used Oneonta Creek as the catalyst for moving debris down the hillside. Over the years most of the debris has been cleared from the gorge – that is except for the huge log jam. About 100 yards into Oneonta Gorge the gorge walls narrow.  Here sits large boulders and a stack of logs strategically placed like Lincoln Logs by the man upstairs himself.

IMG_0521 IMG_0522

[left – North/front side of log jam; right – South/back side of log jam]

This log/boulder jam is one of the things that make this hike so unique. I thoroughly enjoy climbing up and over the jam. However, it also can be extremely dangerous. The logs are weathered with most of the bark (traction) stripped away making it for a slick journey up and over. It scares the hell out of my when I see unattended children crossing this section alone as I’ve seen so many times. As a regular summer hiker through this gorge luckily I have only personally witnessed one person falling. A 7 year old boy was much ahead (or the mother was behind) climbing by himself. He stepped onto an extremely slick surface and lost his footing falling 5-6 feet in between a few logs hitting his head. I was able to get to him fairly quick helping him out of the log crevasse. He was definitely in shock and his mother still no where to be seen. Others who witnessed the boy falling relayed the message to the mother. Once the boy saw his mom he began to cry. Luckily in this case things were not much worse than a few bumps and bruises. As this log jam can be dangerous let it not deter you from enjoying this little gem. It can get crowded at the log jam and some may feel rushed – Just take your time (go at a speed that is comfortable for you) and use common sense – if it doesn’t feel right ITS NOT!

Beyond the log jam enjoy cooling off by walking through the creek for about another .25 mile. There is a series of two deeper sections. The second section is the deepest – about 4 ft (depending on time of year/water levels). For those who are a little more adventurous and have the climbing skills – climbing the basalt sidewalls is definitely doable and makes for good practice for deep sea soloing.


[Left – 2nd wading section (the deepest); Center – Me at towards end of deep section; Right – Oneonta Falls]

IMG_2373 IMG_2374

[Climbing/ jumping into the falls]

The absolute best time to hike Oneonta Gorge is on a hot summer day at 12 noon when the sun is shinning hot into the gorge. When the sun isn’t shinning into the gorge it tends to be a little cooler than most like. Either way its a great time and a great way to cool off.