Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

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!


Cooper Spur / Tilley Jane Area 1/22/2011

Garmin Interactive Map

3.91 miles

Elevation Gain:
1,401 ft

Min / Max Elevation:
3,803 ft / 5,213 ft

Kristin, Dexter, Myself

Cooper Spur is located on the Eastside of Mt Hood. Cooper Spur is a smaller resort (hotel/cabins) with one ski lift. The last few winters the resort itself hasn’t had the greatest snow winter with having to be closed much of the season. This side of the Mountain is a nice escape as it is much less busy compared to Highway 26 side with Timberline Lodge, Ski Bowl, Summit and Mt Hood Meadows traffic coming from Portland.


The trailhead is just above Cooper Spur Resort off of the Cloud Cap Road. This trail is popular for snowshoers, cross-country skiers, snowboarders, and climbers. Typically most people hike to the Tilley Jane Cabin area, which is about a 5 mile RT hike. During the winters the conditions beyond Tilley Jane toward Cooper Spur (Top of Spur – 9,000 ft) can be wicked windy. During the summer time the trail is heavily used by hikers as it accesses the Timberline Trail#600 (Loop around Mt Hood).



[Trail is well marked]

This area has changed dramatically over the last few years due to major wildfires. The Gnarl Ridge Fire burnt many acres leaving behind limbless trees. Prior to the fire the forest was dense and cozy feeling – now the terrain is much more open with just burnt trees standing behind. With the help of mother nature the forest’s openness provides much clearer views of the Cascade Mountain Range.


[Looking into the Valley through the burnt trees]


[Mt Hood]


[Mt St Helens]


[Mt Adams]

Sadly, there wasn’t any fresh powder or really any snow. I had packed our snowshoes thinking we may use them on a few steep parts, but it wasn’t necessary as other hikers had imprinted the trail with their large snowshoe prints creating a stairway to Tilley Jane.


[Snow Hiking]

I was surprised how little snow there was and how many bare spots lay at 5,000 ft in the dead of winter! It definitely made hiking less tiring minusing out the extra weight of snowshoes on the feet.



[Dex & I]


[Kristin & Dex]

This is a popular trail for dogs. Most of the dogs (huskies) we saw were more winter-fit compared to our short-haired friend Dexter. Dexter definitely got a workout in sprinting up and down hills investigating the trail ahead. We discovered afterwards that Dexter’s paws were a little raw due to the ‘ice’ so it might be wise to get some booties for these types of conditions in the future…




[Cloud Cap Cabin]

We decided to turn back before making it to Tilley Jane due to the sun setting. I tried reassuring Kristin that I had headlamps and it would be doable – needless to say we turned around and headed for Hood River. We hit up Big Horse Brew Pub in Hood River for a quick burger and brew before making the trek back to the city..

Saddle Mountain, Seaside OREGON

5 miles

Elevation Gain:
2,338 ft

Min/Max Elevation:
1,649 ft / 3,289 ft

Grant, Kristin, Myself

Garmin Stats / Map

Saddle Mountain has always been on my list to hike. Curiosity has built up more and more over the years of driving back and forth to the Coast seeing the pull off signs to the trail head. With the Oregon Coast being a simple 1 hour 15 minutes away from Portland, Oregon a day trip is more than doable.

Kristin and I woke up to some delightful sun one morning and finally decided it was go time for Saddle Mountain. But First – we had to make a necessary stop at Camp 18.

Camp 18 is definitely a tourist place, but I still enjoy going there for the gigantic cinnamon roll that they serve up fresh for just $5. I highly recommend either sharing or expecting to take part of it to go as it is not only huge, but rich with flavor. Against my better judgment I agreed to Kristin’s request of ordering this Cinnamon Roll as an appetizer to our breakfast. Just minutes after devouring this Cinnamon Roll our ‘real breakfast’ came out in similar fashion – giant sized portions. Needless to say between the biscuits and gravy and my tri-tip-bacon-mushroom omelet  we weren’t leaving hungry!



[First views of Saddle Mountain]

Full-stomached in all we got in the car and headed just 5 miles further West on highway 26 to the Saddle Mountain pull off. In my guide book it said it was located 7 miles off highway 26. These 7 miles were some of the longest miles and I truly felt like we were just driving to the top of Saddle Mountain. Watch out because the road is not the greatest with all of the moisture this area receives – the road is highly prone to dips, pot holes, and washouts. Even though there are sections of the road that seem drivable at 40mph you’ll come around a corner with a dip or pot hole…



[From the trail head / parking lot]

From the trailhead I was super pumped because we couldn’t see a cloud in sight. However, it can be a bit daunting to have a clear view of your final destination especially when it looks like Saddle Mountain – steep!



[Up, up, up and away…. ]

This trail is seasonal and can definitely be dangerous if even slightly wet. On many portions of the trail it is reinforced with fencing to prevent furthered erosion. With this Saddle Mountain being so exposed it is at the mercy of extreme wind, rain, and snow.

Walking on these sections that are reinforced with the fencing is pretty annoying – your footing seems unstable and I kept getting my toes stuck in the holes….



[Hiking to the West-est point 🙂 ]

Along the trail you are constantly blessed with awesome views of the valley (weather dependent of course!). The down side to hiking more demanding of terrain is you have to focus mostly on your feet and aren’t able to look out / up to enjoy the views ; however, there are many benches along the way to stop and rest or picnic at to take in the views.


[Close to the top – You can just barely see the Pacific Ocean in the distance!]



[View looking Northwest towards Astoria – You can see where the might Columbia River and Pacific Ocean collide]

The views at the summit were spectacular! I was impressed with the viewable distance at this location. I was even able to point out the general area of I rode my bike when I cycled from Portland to Seaside.

There was a good sized group at the summit area so we headed slightly South climbing over the fence to a less crowded area.


[Kristin and I at the top area]


[Grant and Sadie atop]

This hike had great rewards with amazing views. It is definitely a hike that is only worth doing in perfect conditions. Not only did we have beautiful weather – we hiked mid week avoiding what I’m sure of large crowds.

Overall I would not recommend this hike to families. It is fairly steep with trail fencing that may easily cause you to loose your footing. As it being my first time hiking this one I probably won’t revisit it again for awhile – or at least when the stars align to create such conditions again.

After burning off our morning breakfast at Camp 18 it was yet again time to refuel. We headed North to Astoria for Fort George Brewery. It has become our MO to incorporate beer or brew pubs into whatever we are doing in some fashion, which only seems like the right thing to do…. 🙂



[Pour in the Vortex IPA – delicious!]


[Belinda & Kristin]


Definitely a full packed day!! I love Portland and how centralized it is making day trips like this easily doable!

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]

4 T's Trail Portland, OREGON

Train – Trail – Tram – Trolley
Distance: RT 5.5 miles (total distance when using all available transportation about – 4mi walking)
Duration: 3.5 hours
Party: Kristin and Myself
4 T’s Trail Photos
Trail Map & Info

4 T’s Trail

We started the adventure with a short walk to the Union Station MAX stop. We caught the green line (runs on 5th & 6th downtown) then exited at the Pioneer Courthouse stop to transfer onto a Westbound train (red/blue line).

The beautiful thing about Portland is the efficiency of the public transportation – especially the MAX, which stands for Metro Area Express. In the downtown area Portland created a “Free Rail Zone” where folks can ride the MAX and Street Car for free within this zone. The free zone is for the MAX is from Lloyd Center to one stop west of Pioneer Square. The Street Car is free within the I405 corridor (NW Glisan to South Waterfront). For this we just purchased one 2 hour pass each.

Taking the Red/Blue MAX line out to the zoo, we exited into the tunnel and proceeded up the elevator. Just outside the elevator the 4 T’s signage is noticeable. The signs directs you to walk along the sidewalk towards the entrance of the zoo. On a busy day like this one was, we crossed the street and headed towards the Children’s Museum to avoid the crowds around the zoo entrance. We continued on by crossing over highway 26 and walking a few hundred feet down along the side of the East onramp to connect with the trail.

The trail shoots up Portland’s Southwest hills into an urban forested canopy. You climb quickly up the hillside getting away from the sounds of heavy city traffic. After a short stint on this urban trail it leads to a road where you’ll meet a four way stop at the intersection of SW Patton Road and SW Talbot Road. A left turn on SW Talbot Road will take you to the base of Council Crest – claimed to be one of Portland’s highest point, which you can vouch for after you walk up the steeply paved trail to the crest.

Council Crest is one of my favorite places to ride my bicycle and run to. It provides remarkable views of the city of Portland, the Willamette valley, and the Cascade Mountain Range. From the top on a clear day Mt Hood, Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, Mt Jefferson, Mt Rainier, and the Columbia River is viewable. Council Crest earned this name because it was here where Native Americans held meetings and built signal fires.

On a beautiful sunny Portland day, Council Crest is an excellent place to hang out for a few hours. We ate lunch here and people watched. There were many cyclists riding up the exhausting hill climb, which tops out at just over 1,000 feet. People and dogs were enjoying one another’s company in one of the many designated dog park areas in Portland. Others were soaking in the sun laid down on their blanket reading. Tourist swarmed the area taking pictures at every Godforsaken thing you could see for miles. Before continuing on we both got a kick out of a fellow who appeared to just gotten done Mt Everest – After reaching the top of Council Crest he collapsed onto the cement on his chest and laid there for quiet some time. Staring on we enjoyed watching his friends reactions. Kristin and I were making bets to see how long he would lay there. Once he rose up from the ground we headed onward to conquer the next section of our adventure.

[These twin towers mark the top of Council Crest and can be seen from long distances away]

To connect back with the 4 T’s trail from the Council Crest summit just head East down towards the dog park. Near the trees is some more signage. The trail pleasantly switchbacks down a much less steep route than coming up. Once down from the summit of Council Crest you start to descend through the beautiful Marquam Hills that are known for the big houses and unsteady ground. Walking on this section of the trail you feel like your in people’s backyards at times because your so close to their gigantic houses. Many of the houses are on stilts with multiple decks and levels. For being so close to the city this area is heavily forested mostly to stabilize the ground and to prevent erosion. The tree canopy provides great shade, but makes it take much longer to dry out the trail that tends to stay muddy for awhile after rainfall.

The trail will descend all the way down to the Marquam Shelter, which is a glorified picnic area. The Marquam Shelter is a nice spot to rest for a few moments before beginning the .6 mile ascend to OHSU Hospital. The climb is steady and can be steep in some areas especially the last few switchbacks near the top (of course). Hiking up and around the base of OHSU provides excellent views of the city and a sense of appreciation that Portland has such an abundant amount of hiking trails and parks that are so easily accessible.

Towering up and over the last switchback to the trail juncture you feel like the TRAM should be right there. However, its a bit of a jaunt down through campus. The TRAM is FREE! to ride down only. They run frequently between the two campuses (500 vertical feet, 3,000 linear feet) at the rate of 22mph in about 3 minutes a ride. Be advised and check the TRAM schedule before scheduling your trip. The TRAM is a glorified ferris wheel that offers great views of Portland from the South waterfront perspective.

The Street Car (Trolley) stops at the South waterfront OHSU campus. However, this stop is just outside of the free rail zone. You can walk North just a .5 mile or so to catch the Trolley in the “free zone.” We opted out on the Trolley due to the excellent weather and chose to walk along the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. McCormick & Schmick’s Harborside located in South Waterfront on the espionage offers an excellent Happy Hour Menu with Portland’s best $2.95 Burger and Fries. Full Sail Brewery also has an offsite brewery connected to the bar that brews small quantities (compared to its mother brewery in Hood River, OR), which is served on tap at McCormick & Schmick’s Harborside. Under the Burnside Bridge lies an ultra classic weekend Portland event – the Saturday Market, which showcases Portland’s diversity all in one spot. Great food, great beer, great art, and cool people. If your’e going to go urban hiking you might as well mix a little bit of food and beer in…

*Map breakdown of trail – Keep in mind that the actual hiking portion starts at mile 4 (Oregon Zoo) to about mile 8 (OHSU)*

Horsetail Falls – Rock of Ages – Bell Creek – Franklin Ridge – Triple Falls

Distance: RT 17 miles
Duration: 6 hours 15 minutes
Party: Casey and Myself
Horsetail Falls – Rock of Ages – Bell Creek – Franklin Ridge – Triple Falls Photos

Casey was home from Graduate School on spring break so we had decided to mark up another adventure with a hike in the Columbia River Gorge. It has become tradition to do an ‘extreme adventure’ in hopes of only topping our last one. Just a few of our hiking adventures have included Dog Mountain, Larch Mountain, Mount Defiance, Cooper Spur, and the Timberline Trail among others. Most of these hikes turn into extreme epic-ness just because we end up hiking up then trail running down at an ungodly pace that can only be good for a few things – screwed up knees and a time to brag about later.

We started the hike from the Horsetail Falls trailhead. From there I decided to take him up the strenuous climb to Rock of Ages. This climb begins at the corner before you reach Ponytail Falls/Upper Horsetail Falls and shoots up the hillside above the falls. I always enjoy taking the quick offshoot trail to a spot atop Horsetail Falls. Here you can stretch a bit to prepare yourself for the real burn ahead and take in the beauty of the falls with the Columbia River Gorge in the background.

Upon reaching Rock of Ages we snapped a few Christmas card worthy pictures before the strong Eastern Gorge winds blew us off the cliff. Just beyond Rock of Ages there is one other great vista view before topping out at between 3,700 -4,000 feet. I like to call this vantage point spot ridge rock – I feel like Lewis, Clark and even Sacagawea would appreciate the name. From “Ridge Rock” we enjoyed the views after the long strenuous climb, but didn’t stick around long fearing the sweat on our backs would turn cold and our muscles would tighten up. From the “Ridge Rock” the steepness of the trail mellowed out and we were well over half way before reaching the Horsetail Creek trail Juncture.

The Horsetail Creek Trail heads both East and West. If you go East on the trail you’ll hike to Nesmith Point (3,872 ft). We hiked West to come upon another trail juncture – Bell Creek/Oneonota Creek Trail Juncture. Notice both trail signs show both trails eventually leading to the Oneonta trail.

The shorter Oneonta trail route (2.3 mi) traverses down a series of steep switchbacks to the Oneonta Creek. The longer route to the Oneonta trail is scenic as it wines through what felt like an old growth forest with small creeks flowing freely and meadows seemingly untouched – a beautiful area that I will definitely have to come back to explore. Below is a picture of moss being divided by a trail occupied by avid hikes and wildlife alike. 

The trail continued to meander through the highly dense forest crossing streams. Portions of the trail were snow-covered, which definitely made it difficult to keep the feet completely dry. We saw the occasional paw/hoof print – we were fortunate enough to not come accross anything too big! The terrain was great with rolling trails on a soft pine coated – mossy surface. During our 3.3 mile detour to Oneonta we came across another couple of trail junctures – both accessing the Larch Mt trail. The first trail juncture was just a mere 2 miles from the summit of Larch Mountain, which was tempting to veer off track for some views atop on the clear sunny day. The second juncture splits connecting to either Larch Mountain trail (much further away from summit) or to Franklin Ridge. We split towards Franklin Ridge.


I have hiked on the Franklin Ridge a few times, but I have one vivid memory that sticks out…. Franklin Ridge is a steep ascent and descent. On this particular day Brian and myself were ascending the ridge on one of Portland’s hot summer days with a heat blast aroud 90+ with strong humidity. I regularly carry plenty of liquids – usually my 3 liter reservoir and an extra water bottle (for extra water and to use when purifying water). In most parts of the Columbia River Gorge there is plenty of water to be found; however, Franklin Ridge is one of the areas of little to no water.

We were well over half way from the top of the ridge when came upon 2 women who started their trek from Multnomah Falls. They were in their early twenties, carrying just one empty water bottle each in their hand (less than 24 ounces, which was probably sweated out of them during the hike up to Multnomah Falls). They explained the direction they were heading and how they planed on hiking the loop (Multnomah falls – Franklin Ridge – Triple Falls – Horsetail Falls – then back on the Columbia River Gorge trail, which parallels the old highway). Their ghostly white faces displayed signs of fatigue, exhaustion and dehydration. We immediately filled up their empty water bottles and let them drink most of our liquids. Once refreshed and rejuvenated they admitted they were feeling much better. We explained that not far after descending the ridge there were some great spots to jump into the water to cool off. And off they went…. Hydrated and all.


Starting from the top of Franklin Ridge descending to the bottom to the Oneonta trail definitely requires some trekking poles as the knees were starting to ache. The trail is literally cut into the hillside with steady but steep switchbacks zigzagging down, down, down. The winter snow covers the hillside, which makes it nearly impassable leaving no trace of the trail. With all of the snow this area can recieve throughout a strong winter the ground can be extremely unstable with all of the melt off. We came across many down trees, rock slides, and washed out portions of the trail.

The evidence of the pure strength of Mother Nature is absolutely amazing. A huge reminder of Mother Nature’s power in the Portland area is the year of 1996. The Portland area (mountains included) received high quantities of snow. Spring came fast and was the catalyst for the great floods of 96. In addition to the flooding there were multiple landslides including one that completely picked up a house and slid it down the hillside intact. The house still stands as a structure today and can be seen just East of the Ainsworth State Park exit off of Interstate 84.

From the Oneonta trail juncture it was a long 1.5 miles or so until we hit the triple falls. Just above the falls is a brand spanking new bridge that was helicopter in replacing the old one that was washed out recently. The new bridge is place a tad up the river more and higher above the raging river then the last. At Triple Falls we secured a lunch spot and enjoyed the view and copious amounts of food. After a short break it was difficult to lace the shoes up, put on the pack and get back on the trail. We both dreaded the the section of rocky switchbacks down to the bridge overlooking Oneonta Gorge as the knees were a bit sore at this point. Crossing the bridge we begin the ascent up to Ponytail Falls / Upper Horsetail Falls – it was nice to switch up the muscles being used as the legs embraced the uphill as it had been so long since the climb to Rock of Ages and beyond.

No matter how many times I see Ponytail Falls / Upper Horsetail Falls I am always taken aback. Climbing up to Rock of Ages you gain an entirely different perspective and appreciation for the pure vertical feet to the top of the falls. As we hiked to, behind, and past the falls we reminisced about the start of the hike, at what point the burn began, and the incredible soreness we felt then. The last .5 mile down from the falls we sped down the trail in attempt to get through Portland before traffic hit.

I am looking forward to the next adventure in light of the homecoming of the college buds. I can only imagine something much longer, steeper, and dangerous….

Hamilton Mountain

2,480 Feet
9.4 miles Round Trip
Myself, Kristin, George, Katie, Baby Tanner, Brian, Nina, Kyle, Ester
Hamilton Mountain Hiking Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info

Our large party left Portland to journey out to the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead at a punctual 11am as George would say (really meaning 12:30pm). From Portland the quickest route is going Interstate 84 to Cascade Locks and crossing over the Bridge of the Gods (toll bridge $1 each way). The turn off is just Northwest of Beacon Rock.

The trailhead starts at about 400 feet elevation according to my handy Garmin 405 GPS watch. The trail climbs through the dense forests of the Columbia River Gorge with occasional clearings to allow you a short glimpse of the beautiful views off yonder. About a quarter of a mile into the hike you’re able to see the final destination between the trees – the almighty Hamilton Mountain just off to the Northeast. Unfortunately for the girls it dampened their spirits a tad bit – “We’re hiking way up there!” The boys had to quickly disengage this thought of fatigue and immediate soreness with the distraction of an awesome waterfall a few turns ahead.

Hardy Falls/Rodney Falls/Pool of Winds rejuvenated the spirits of all. For many, this is where their hike ends. I personally enjoy hiking Hamilton Mountain much more during the Fall/Winter months when there is much more water.

The trail crosses over a rustic bridge and climbs up a series of slick muddy steps. Not far after the falls is a trail junction- to the right is extremely difficult and to the left is much more gradual. We always choose to take the difficult route up and the more gradual sloping trail down just to be nice to our knees.

Just beyond this trail junction the “extremely difficultly” is evident in the continuous steep switchbacks you climb. Switchbacks are great in most situations making the trail much more gradual; however, it sucks when you can look straight up and see the amount left you have to hike up. In the words of my wife, this is “the trail that never seems to end.”

After climbing steep terrain for just over 3 miles we started to hike out above the dense forest and a large rocky cliff was viewable not far away. This is Little Hamilton Rock – a false summit! Many are fooled by the false summit. This area makes for a great rest stop for a snack and a chance to take in the panoramic view of the gorge at about 1,500 feet. After a short much needed rest we continued up the trail back into the forest. It is nice to be in the trees because it shades you somewhat from the beaming sun.

Atop of the true Hamilton Mountain at 2,480 you are blessed with awesome views in all directions and a nice breeze. We spent all of 2 minutes at the summit area and quickly hiked down the backside for shelter from the blustery winds. Along the backside we sat on a ridge that was covered with strong-holding vegetation, which protected us for the almighty winds of the Gorge. Here we spent a good 45 minutes eating lunch and soaking in some much need sun rays.

I love the diversity with hiking looping trails. Hiking off the ridge of Hamilton Mountain gives you an entirely different perspective with views of Mt Hood and Mt Adams in the distance. The trail comes to a juncture that meets up with a few mt biking/esquarian/hiking trails which can be accessed by service roads just North of Beacon Rock. We continued down the gradual sloping gravel trail to Hardy Creek where the dogs took full advantage of the water.

Just beyond the creek the trail meanders through the dense forest back down to the Hardy Falls area. When I see open trail ahead my johnny long legs can’t help but to stride out and run. Needless to say Kyle and I left the group behind and raced down to the bottom.

This is a solid hike that provides much diversity in scenery – forested trails, water falls and vista views. It is definitely no hike to soak at with a steep elevation gain of the course of 9.4 miles. I highly recommend during late fall – less crowded, beautiful red maple leafs and much more powerful waterfalls.

Hamilton Mountain Hiking Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info