Posts Tagged ‘oregon 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.

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[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!

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[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.

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[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.

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[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!

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…

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

 

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[Quick shot of Wahkeena Falls before hiking up… ]

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

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[Looking East – Can you spot Beacon Rock?]

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[Lemon’s Point looking North at Washington]

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

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[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.

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[Dexter – a blur]

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[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.

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[Fairy Falls]

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[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.

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[Snow covered trees]

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[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]

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[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]

 

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[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!

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!

 

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[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…

 

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[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!

 

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[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….

 

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[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.

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

 

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[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.

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[Kristin and I at the top area]

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[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…. 🙂

 

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[Pour in the Vortex IPA – delicious!]

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[Belinda & Kristin]

 

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

Paradise Park, Mt Hood

August 14/15
Elevation – Min: 4700ft Max: 6200ft
12.5 mile Round Trip
Myself & Kristin
Paradise Park Hiking Photos
Garmin Connect –  Day 1 stats,      Day 2 stats

Video Action

Paradise Park is located just West of Timberline Lodge Ski Resort. There are a few different approaches to Paradise Park – via Ramona Falls, Burnt Lake, and Timberline trails. We chose the Timberline Lodge approach because of peace of mind parking the car at the Lodge and the mileage/elevation is the less strenuous of these approaches.

It was a perfect weekend to escape the Portland, Oregon heat and run to the Mountain for some cooler temperatures. We had just recently moved into a new place that unfortunately does not have central air or any kind of air conditioning for that matter; however, it does have plenty of storage room to my plethora of outdoor gear that definitely makes up for it (except when its 90+ two weeks out of the year). So to eliminate the problem of sleeping in the house, which definitely felt like was on top of the equator we headed up – 6,000 ft to be exact.

Timberline Lodge is located at 6,000 ft and is one of the select few areas in the world that have year around skiing/snowboarding. We left the house relatively early in anticipation of others thinking the same way we were. We hit the trail just after 8am.

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[Looking South towards Timberline Lodge w/ the Flag blowing in the furious winds]

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[Kristin amped for backpacking]

From the Timberline Lodge parking lot up to the trailhead we encountered frustrated skiers/snowboarders. The lifts were being delayed (not sure if they actually ever ran that day) due to heavy winds. The distance from the parking lot to the trailhead always seems like it is an eternity away because you are just starting to acclimate to the heavy pack, the elements (tornado like winds), the elevation (6,000 ft is a big change from living at 200 ft!), and warming up em’ cold muscles. For the first .25 miles from the parking lot to the trailhead it wakes you right up – the steep trail, beautiful views of Mt Hood & a few other Cascades, and fresh mountain air get you going.

I have hiked the entire Timberline Loop (41-ish mile hike around base of Mt Hood) the past few summers and have always noticed the trail juncture for Paradise Park, but had never made it up as it is early on in the trip (trail juncture is about 5ish miles from Timberline). I have always enjoyed the first section of the Timberline Loop and decided it was time for Kristin to enjoy it as well.

To Paradise Park you hike along the Timberline Loop trail #600, which is also shared with the almighty Pacific Crest Trail (trail that spans from Mexico to Canada).

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The trail is continuously winding in and out of the forest giving you great glimpses of the Cascade Peaks and beautiful treed valley. From time to time you’ll come across snow patches that have been so lucky to survive most the summer. Just under a mile into the hike you will come across a Wilderness Permit Box. When entering the Mt Hood National Forest (and many other forests for that matter) you are required to sign in by filling out some basic information. This info basically is used to track the usage of the area and does influence the amount of funding it granted as well – so fill it out!

From Timberline Lodge to the top of Zig Zag Canyon it is mostly down hill (which makes for a good warm up to the hiking experience). Despite it being downhill we were still bundled up because of the heavy winds. The winds were causing mini dust storms blowing the fine-grained sand everywhere coating everything in it.

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[Atop Zig Zag Canyon enduring the crazy winds/sand storm]

 

The descent into Zig Zag Canyon is long, gradual with just a couple steep grade switchbacks. Trekking poles are nice to have on much of this trail especially when you are carrying a decent amount of weight. The 4×4 traction gives you more balance and provides you with a little peace of mind through sketchy sections of washed out trail and river crossings. Hiking down into Zig Zag Canyon there are a couple of narrow spots along the trail with a decent cliff like drop. Unforntuately for “Daisy the dog” a few years ago she took the tumble. While hiking the full Timberline Loop we had “Daisy the dog” & “Max the dog.” Along this particular narrow section of trail the dogs were vowing for the lead. Needless to say Max won as Daisy slipped and tumbled down the hillside after being launched off a log. A 1 hour rescue operation took place. It was extremely difficult to get to her as the ground was wet and steep. She was luckily just a little dazed and sore – we were able to continue along the trail.

Along the river in Zig Zag Canyon is always a great spot to rest for a few minutes. If you hike a few hundred yards up river there is a sweet waterfall.

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Crossing the river can be somewhat tricky depending on the time of year / time of day you cross. We usually cross in the morning when water levels are not as high – but even then it can be a little tricky to keep the feet dry. Usually if you hike up river a ways it narrows just enough to make a leap across with minimal danger of your feet getting wet.

After crossing the River the elevation climb begins. From the River (4700 ft) to the top of Paradise Park (6200ft) it is up up and up for about 3 miles. Not far after hiking above the river you come to a trail juncture. To the left you continue around the Mountain on the Pacific Crest Trail/ Timberline Loop #600 and to the right is the Paradise Park trail.

From Trail #600 / Paradise Park trail cut off the steepness increases a bit. Portions of the trail are made up of fine grained sand, which make it difficult to hike it – every step you slip back a few inches. Again, the ole trekking poles come in handy! Along the Paradise Park Loop trail you come to the Paradise Park Summit Trail cut off. This area is truly Paradise – a high Alpine Meadow with amazing views of the Cascade Mountains and the valley.

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Hiking up to the Paradise Park summit is fairly steep so we decided to pull over in a shady spot and hang out for awhile as we were way ahead of schedule. We watched other hikers head up the hill to the summit – by the looks of the hill it looks pretty steep! 

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At the Paradise Park Summit the wind was blowing hard so we had to layer up. We hung out up there for awhile – long enough for Kristin to get a nap in. While she was napping I jotted up towards the Mountain a ways. We were a few weeks late on seeing the wildflowers in few bloom, but there was a few left.

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Its pretty cool to see the headwaters of some of the major rivers in the area. Here’s a sweet “fresh” (a few hundred yards from the glacier) waterfall.

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It was starting to get late in the day and we were seeing some crowds roll in so we decided to hike down and claim our camping spot. We scored a sweet spot near a creek with a perfect view of the Mountain.

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We hiked up on this bluff to watch the sunset. Truly beautiful!

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[cool wildflowers up there]

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[Enjoying the sunset]

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[if you look close enough you can see the I205 bridge!]

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[cool moon]

 

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[my best attempt at getting a night shot – I had the shutter open for 15 seconds (max my camera goes) pic doesn’t do it justice.. as always]

And of course in the morning we watched the sunrise… It rose at 6:10am, but from our camping spot we didn’t see it until 7:30am-ish.

IMG_1318We didn’t stick around for long as it was heating up fast! I didn’t want to wait for it to get hot while I was climbing up Zig Zag Canyon!

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[I let Kristin wear my “positive energy” bracelet to increase her balance :)]

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[Timberline Ski lifts in the distance – we are close!]

This was a perfect backpacking trip for Kristin’s first backpacking experience. The weather mostly cooperated and we were able to enjoy the clear skies with both sweet sunset/sunrise’s. I highly recommend checking this one out as either a day hike or short weekend backpacking trip. 

Eagle Creek – Punch Bowl Falls – Tunnel Falls – Wahtum Lake

MAY 7 2010

5,310 Feet
30.02 miles Round Trip
Myself, David, Drew
Eagle Creek Hiking Photos

Route Replay
Hiker Trail Info

Eagle Creek is an extremely popular trail due to the multiple waterfalls, swim areas, and its relatively flat. The trail starts about a half mile or so from the Camp Host area (right of Interstate 84). If you plan on doing a multi-day trip it is wise to park here and tack on the extra mileage because it will give you some peace of mind that your car is relatively safe in this more highly trafficked area.

The trail parallels Eagle Creek most of the way providing you with some great views of the creek, waterfalls, and high cliffs. Eagle Creek flows through a small gorge with high cliffs on either side. Much of the trail was cut into the hillside – hence its unstableness during the winter months.

On hot summer days the general public usually hikes up just 2 miles to Punch Bowl Falls. This is a beautiful waterfall that has become a hot spot for adrenaline seekers. For others it is simply a popular swimming hole. However, in May it seemed as though nobody was willing to test out the mountain cold water.

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[Thrill Seekers jumping off of Punch Bowl Falls]

The High Bridge that crosses over Eagle Creek is at about mile 3 and is another popular out and back day hike. Just another 3 miles down the trail is Tunnel Falls (6miles in). Tunnel Falls is a man made tunnel that moles through the cliff side behind a waterfall. The tunnel was blasted and built back in the 1910s as another attraction along the Historic Columbia River Highway. This is an awesome waterfall that is extremely powerful! This video walk-through does not do it justice, but gives you a glimpse –

[Dave filming Drew and I walking through Tunnel Falls]

For day hikers the journey typical ends here at Tunnel Falls. I always recommend to family and friends to walk another .2 miles up trail to enjoy yet again more waterfalls. Twisty Falls is a cool falls and just above it there is a great lunch spot along the creek.

IMG_9408 [Twisty Falls]

Twisty Falls was the furthest I had hiked up until this trip. I have 2 beefs with the Eagle Creek Trail – How crowded it gets and how rocky the trail is. When it is really crowded on this trail it can definitely ruin your hiking experience. Many sections of this trail are along cliffs with not-so-wide trail, which makes it difficult pass by others. The other small annoyance is how rocky the trail is. It may sound petty, but when you log some decent mileage on this trail your feet will definitely let you know!

We left on a Friday afternoon and avoided most of the crowds. Beyond Tunnel Falls we saw just 5 people (over the course of 6 miles). The section after Tunnel Falls is absolutely amazing with many more waterfalls. As you start to gain elevation the trail improves from sharp rock to soft undergrowth – making things much easier on the feet and knees.

Our start time was 1:16pm. Our plan was to make it up to Wahtum Lake and camp there. Then the following day based on weather conditions we would hopefully do a loop up to Chinidere Point – Benson Plateau – and down Ruckel Creek. I was well aware that snow levels were low and that our trip could be altered, but I was excited to just get out on the trail and was cool with playing things by ear.

Passing people early on we were asked about our trip. This older guy told us a few stories about “when he was younger” and how him and his buddies hiked all over the area. Then he proceeded to tell us that it would be a long shot for us to make it up to Wahtum Lake that night. This nonetheless motivate the hell out of us. I knew it might be close, but was definitely optimistic with how we were holding up so far pace wise.

From Twisty Falls the trail continues to follow the creek for just another mile or so then shoots up into the dense forest gaining some decent elevation. At about 2100ft (Inspiration Point) you get a decent glimpse of how vast the Columbia River Gorge Forest is. Beyond Inspiration Point we were welcomed with small sections of snow. At first it was kind of fun – then it became annoying – then we were completely done with it and never wanted to see it again.

IMG_9452 [Dave and Drew at Inspiration Point looking onward]

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[Dave struggling in the soft deep snow – Drew plotting a much smarter route to avoid being eaten up by the deep cold snow]

Despite the deep snow and us probably being somewhat ill-equipped for such conditions we pushed on and finally made it to Wahtum Lake. However, this was the scene when we arrived…

DSCN0505[Me taking a break from the snow in a mud puddle – also contemplating this as a camping spot]

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[Wahtum Lake snow covered in all]

Once we arrived to Wahtum Lake we achieved are goal, but definitely needed a place to eat, get warm, and sleep and Wahtum Lake was definitely not it! After strategizing about possible alternative routes – we finally came to our senses after starring off into the obis and seeing snow everywhere. It was decided to turn around and head back down below the snow level. We plowed through the snow in a quarter of the time it took us to hike up. We quickly hiked down and could feel the temperature increase as we dropped in elevation. It got dark fast in the trees so we had to bust out our headlamps to find camp.

Hiking up we saw many great camping spots. This trail is highly used by boy scout groups and is well-maintained with good signage and plentiful campsites near the trail.  We pulled off at the first decent looking camp spot. Time was of the essence as the little day light we did have was fading fast. We quickly unpacked and started setting up the tent, cooking dinner, and gathering firewood.

Lucky for us it was rather warm once we hiked down below the snow level. We had a few solid attempts at building a fire with water-logged wood, but in the end it was a failure. However, it was definitely entertaining to see who could get the fire to sustain itself the longest.

DSCN0513 [Dave’s 2 man tent ended up having to fit 3 men – it all worked out okay in the end..]

We awoke to a cold morning. With our subpar fire starting skills and the wet wood we decided to get on the trail right away. We hiked a few miles down to another great camping spot and cooked up some piping hot oatmeal – delicious!

DSCN0523 [Love oatmeal in the morning!]

IMG_9519 [Nearby creek – used it to clean our dishes]

After breakfast the sun started to come out a bit warming up the densely cool forest. With doing an out and back hike instead of our planned loop things were a bit more relaxing. We didn’t have to worry about time and were able to take in the sights a bit more as our pace was much less rigorous going down. We came across a few early risers who had similar plans as ours. We shared our experience and talked out some possible alternative routes due to snow levels.

We reenergized at one of my favorite spots on the way back – Twisty Falls. Took the boots off, ate some food, and took in some vitamin d.

The sun and blue skies brought out the crowds. Once we turned the corner to Tunnel Falls we started to see more and more people. It was nice as all of the traffic was headed up trail.

We took a couple more short breaks just off the trail to give the feet a break from the sharp rocky trail. I finally learned how to use the ‘macro’ feature on my camera.

IMG_9539 [testing out my camera features]

This was a solid backpacking trip. I would recommend it most especially to the beginner backpacker (in ideal conditions) as it is relatively flat, just 30 miles and has amazing views (waterfalls, riverside hiking, valley views, etc). If you wanted to cut down on the mileage you also could drive up to Wahtum Lake and hike down through Eagle Creek.

Munra Point

1,700 Feet
6.25 miles Round Trip
Myself, Brian and Daisy the dog
Munra Point Hiking Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info

Munra Point is located in an area of the Columbia River Gorge (Eastern Part) where I haven’t completely explored as much. Prior to hiking this one I did a bunch of research and reading about. I came across Dennis Stilwell’s website http://www.nwhiker.com about his Heart Attack story on this very hike. It is pretty intense to actually have done this hike now and to imagine how it may have felt to be in such a dangerous health situation stranded atop Munra Point. You can read about Dennis’s Heart Attack story here – NWhiker – and even listen to a podcast (highly recommend) of Dennis giving the full story – PodCast_HikeYeah (34-35).

Munra Point isn’t a hike of any amateurs. It climbs intensely 1700 ft in about 2.5 miles. It involves a little rock climbing, which stimulates the common adrenaline junky alike. Atop Munra Point offers one of the best vantage points in the entire Columbia River Gorge. Elevated high above the Columbia River you are dazzled with amazing 360 degree views – mountains, waterfalls, geological landscapes, and beautiful panorama of the Gorge. To say this under the conditions we hiked it is very impressive….

It was the weekend and I had my eyes set on hiking Munra Point. We are in the Pacific Northwest so of course it was raining in May. Despite the subpar weather conditions Brian, Daisy the dog, and I went for it. We started from the Wahclella Falls trailhead with rain. The trail was wet and muddy – we were prepared wearing our heavy duty hiking boots.

The first mile is deceiving as it is relatively flat with a short steep stint hiking up a muddy trail then back to a access road. The real climbing starts when you veer off the access road onto the hiking trail (sometimes hard to find – can become overgrown). There are a few different trails up in this area – just remember to head UP and you’ll make it to Munra Point.

You climb pretty steeply through a heavily forested area for about .25 miles when you are first greeted with views. Despite the rain, fog, and low cloud cover it was still pretty amazing.

[Brian hiking up some steep terrain 4×4 style – West Facing]

[West facing pic of Columbia River Gorge]

Just beyond this viewpoint the rock climbing began. Keep in mind that we had a dog with us so we had to carry her or get her a nice running start. She was timid at first then became a rock climbing pro.

[Brian and Daisy approaching next climbing spot. Not up the rock face rather to the left up the gully – still climbing & steep]

[Brian and Daisy near top of Munra Point – West facing]

Once we reached the top the wind started to really pickup as did the rain so we didn’t stick around long. It was decided that we would definitely have to hike this one again when its dry and sunny out to truly appreciate it. The way back was much more difficult then going up. The slick rock made things a bit more tricky and slowed our progress. Most of the climbing spots we simply down-climbed as poor Daisy had to go head first down. I have never seen a dog’s paws so spread out – she needed all the traction she could get.

We saw just two other brave souls out there as we were heading down. We exchanged a bit of hiking beta to one another and continued on down. We were completely drenched and cold from the rain and wind so we decided to pull off for some lunch and change to some dry layers. This sweet rock cropping provided us with some great shelter and a break from the wind and rain.

[Brian and Daisy surveying the area for a good sitting spot]

On the way down the muddy spots were much more muddier. This gave us the opportunity to truly test the durability of our heavy duty hiking boots. My Danner Boots held up great keeping my feet dry and warm.

Towards the end of the hike we walked along the old highway and explored the area a bit (hence our extra mileage). Not completely exhausted from Munra Point we decided to hike up to Wahclella Falls (2 miles RT). A great day of hiking – the rain and wind just kept the trails empty, which was nice to have these beautiful places to ourselves for the day.

Wahclella Falls

300 Feet
2 miles Round Trip
Brian, Myself
Wahclella Falls Hiking Photos

NW Hiker Trail Info

Wahclella Falls is a great waterfall that sits back off about one mile in a small canyon. The hike starts with walking along a service road, which leads to an odd fish ladder structure that is constantly monitored.

Just beyond the fish ladder structure the access road turns into a wide trail following the Tanner Creek upstream. The trail crosses over a short bridge, which was built because of the great amount of run off from snow melt. There is a great waterfall that rushes down the rock face flowing into Tanner Creek. I always enjoy hiking many of the trails of the gorge during the rainy/ wet season because there are more seasonal waterfalls visible and the year around falls are much more powerful.

About a half mile into the hike you will come to a trail juncture, which allows you to do a looping hike. I always veer to the left hiking up the steeper trail – getting the more difficult part out of the way first and plus there are fewer people that choose this direction (the first 100 ft or so is kind of steep so it looks a little daunting, but then it levels out).

The canyon is wide and open with a good amount of trees and vegetation. Even with how open the canyon feels Wahclella Falls still seems extremely huge and powerful. Wahclella Falls is a two part falls also including a small side falls (winter run off) that flows into the mid section. The force of the water falling creates a mist that can carries a long ways giving you a taste of the chilliness of the frigid ice cold water.

[Wahclella Falls – with the mist getting to the lens of my camera]

After snapping a few quick shots before getting completely soaked we retreat to the other side of Tanner Creek – a much more protected area from the cold misting falls. The creek is much more calm and clear, but the current is still swift.  The canyon walls are formed by aged basalt columns that have eroded over time. In one area there is a small cave that goes a surprisingly long ways (further depending on how big you are/ how claustrophobic you are as well). I geared up with a headlamp and began my short-lived spelunking journey and was quickly distracted with a lizard crawling in the distance.

[A good ole cave lizard]

We continued our loop along the Westside of the canyon. Making the loop gives you great perspective of the size of the canyon. Along the Westside of the canyon you are at a better vantage point to view Tanner Creek. The white water makes it tempting to want to kayak.

Just as we were leaving the sun started to shine through the clouds and more people started to show up. This hike is a great family trail – its short, relatively easy and there is some great educational opportunities along the trail (wildflowers, wildlife, etc). Also, depending on how ambitious you are feeling this could be either a starting/ending hike – there are many other great hikes that can be accessed from the same parking area.