Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

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!


Crater Lake Trip

This is a recap of our trip to Crater Lake. Click on the links for more information about a particular area… Enjoy! 🙂

Day 1

McKenzie Scenic Highway

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Proxy Falls



Dee Wright Observatory

Bend, Oregon

bend brewery

Bend Brewing Company


Soda Creek Camping

(A couple great hikes in the area – South Sister& Black Butte)


Day 2


Diamond Lake


Crater Lake


Day 3


Prospect, Oregon


Historic Prospect Hotel


Pearsoney Falls


Mill Creek Falls


Barr Creek Falls

Highway 138 Waterfalls


Clear Water Falls


Whitehorse Falls


Watson Falls


Toketee Falls


Colliding in Glide

Prospect, Oregon – Crater Lake Trip

After visiting the Winter Wonderland up at Crater Lake we finally arrived to Prospect, Oregon. I had been given a free nights’ stay at the Historic Prospect Bed and Breakfast from Travel Portland and was very eager to use it.

We were a tab bit early for checkin so we did a little exploring. Prospect is a small town – school, post office, gas station, tavern and of course the Historic Bed and Breakfast. We quickly found ourselves at the Tavern with a microbrew in hand. We enjoy visiting different pubs as they all have an unique feel.




Kristin and I had never experience the Bed and Breakfast deal before and did not know what to expect. The Prospect Bed and Breakfast is a beautiful Historic house that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as it was built in the 1880’s. The house is quaint with history lining the walls.


We we given the John Muir Room at the Historic Bed & Breakfast Hotel.  It was located on the 3rd floor – no elevators… Kristin didn’t like hauling her stuff up 3 flights of stairs much. The room was small and had all the necessities. We quickly enjoyed climbing up and down the 3 flights of stairs as we learned more about the place with the plethora of historic pictures and articles displayed. Being placed in the John Muir Room was cool too as he was a great wilderness explorer back in the day.

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[3 Flights of Stairs up… ]

Just a short 10 minute stroll from the Hotel are a few cool waterfalls. With the abundant amount of the rain one positive thing about it was the waterfalls looked much more powerful.  Before breakfast we walked to Pearsoney Falls - 

 Garmin Interactive Map

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[Pearsoney Falls – 10 minute walk from Hotel]


[Close Call!]

There was a huge storm that rolled through that entire area with some intense precipitation and wind. The SUV parked next to us wasn’t as fortunate as our car – he got hit and dented up pretty bad.

After breakfast we ventured back to the waterfall scenic area. The avenue of boulders and mill creek falls are an amazing geological site.


Garmin Interactive Map





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[Mill Creek Falls & Barr Creek Falls]

The Historical Prospect Bed & Breakfast was an excellent place close to Crater Lake. It was awesome to have the ability to walk from the Hotel to the Mill Creek Scenic Area. Also, the food at the Hotel’s Dinner House was phenomenal! For dinner I went with the grilled rib eye and a fine bottle of local wine. We lucked out for breakfast as we were served the specialty breakfast ‘left overs’ from a large group. It was essentially French toast, but way better. The bread is soaked over night is some sort of caramel concoction. Even with my legendary eating habits I was only able to put away a couple pieces because it was so rich – but soooo good! 

Crater Lake! – Crater Lake Trip


Crater Lake is just shy of 2,000 feet deep making it the deepest lake in the United States of America and the seventh deepest globally. Crater Lake is kinda a big deal. This area of Oregon receives some of the highest snow levels in the Continental United States (average of 44 feet!), which definitely helps with keeping water levels up!

With the lake itself being at 6,000 plus feet we were definitely expecting to run into a bit of snow in October; however, not 6 inches….




We approached Crater Lake National Park from Northern end and started to climb in elevation quickly hitting gobs of snow. There were many pull outs, but they were not plowed and I did not want to deal with getting stuck. Unfortunately, Wizard Island and Crater Lake were mostly socked in as new storm systems were moving in. We did get a short glimpse of see Wizard Island before the clouds ate it up.




[And Wizard Island disappears.. ]

Despite there being 6 inches of snow on the ground and it being October – Fall had not completely came and gone…




[Life must be tough for this little guy]

We briefly visited the visitors center as it was the only thing open. The Crater Lake Lodge had been boarded up and Winterized just a few days prior. Even though we weren’t blessed with the ‘perfect’ conditions it was nice to not have to pay a park entrance fee, not have to deal with the insane traffic, and it was very cool to see the lake with snow / fall colors!

Dee Wright Observatory – Crater Lake Trip

Elevation: 5,364 ft

Distance: .33 mi RT Paved Trail

Garmin Interactive Map

Scenic Pull Off directly off of Highway 242

Incredible views of Lava Fields & Cascade Mountains

Continuing  our journey to Crater Lake heading East from Proxy Falls the Dee Wright Observatory is the next stop. Dee Wright Observatory is located in the midst of the incredible lava fields at the summit of the Highway 242/McKenzie Pass Highway Scenic Highway (5364ft). When you get out of your car you immediately feel like you are on another planet. The lava rock fields span as far as the eye can see.


[Walking up to “the observatory”]



[On the top of Dee Wright Observatory – a compass displaying points of interest]


Despite the rain and thick clouds we were still able to get ‘a view’ – a cool rainbow off in the distance. We only spent a few minutes here before retrieving to the car as it was very brisk and felt like it was going to snow at any moment. My last visit to Dee Wright Observatory was much more clear and I was able to get some stellar pictures…

Proxy Falls – Crater Lake Trip

1.9 miles Loop

Garmin Interactive Map

Elevation Gain:
187 ft

Min/Max Elevation:
3,067 ft / 3,245 ft

Proxy Fall is a family friendly hike located right off of Highway 242/McKenzie Pass Highway. Keep in mind that this highway is closed for a large portion of the year due to extreme snow conditions. To find out road conditions or road closures check out Trip Check.

I had recently hiked Proxy Falls in September when we were in Sisters, Oregon. If you are driving through the area it is definitely worth the stop. The trailhead is located just off the highway and offers cool views of the lava fields and 2 unique waterfalls.



[Trail map]

On our way to Crater Lake we took the scenic byway and Proxy Falls was our first of many stops. It was cool to see how the area had changed from hiking it just a few months prior. Despite it being a tad bit wet the fall colors were impressive.


[Beautifully Marked Trailhead]


[A little green, rain and even sun]



[Lower cascading falls]


[Fresh Flowing water]




[Upper Falls – Also the ‘big one’]


[Lava Fields]

Black Butte

September 4, 2010

4.17 mile Round Trip

Elevation Gain:
1,554 ft

Min/Max Elevation:
4,889 ft/6,419 ft

KK, Bob, Myself
Black Butte Hiking Photos

Garmin Hiking Stats

Our adventure actually first started with heading to the Head Waters of the Metolius River. Metolius River is a tributary of Lake Billy Chinook near of Sisters. The river flows north from springs near Black Butte. There are many resorts, parks, and camping areas around the Metolius River – a great area to “recreate” (hike, cycle, relax, etc).

The actual head waters were not all exciting to view; however, it is pretty mind blowing to think of how much water flows from the spring! There is a nicely paved path (about .5 round trip) to the Spring Viewing Area. The trail overlooks the spring and on a clear day you can see Mt Jefferson…


[Bob & KK]

After our “strenuous” .5 mile jaunt we craved for more adventure. Searching through our Pacific Northwest Hiking book we came across a few hikes in the area and narrowed her down to Black Butte.

Black Butte

[Black Butte]

From the map above it seems relatively easy to access – especially considering its close proximity to the Highway. Well, relatively easy are terms that can be defined by which type of vehicle you are driving. It is about a 7 mile drive on washboard gravel – the last mile is hardly maintained with crater sized holes (says my little ford focus) and ruts that can cause some serious damage. Fortunately I only bottomed out twice with minor damage – just a few bumps and bruises. A Northwest Forest Pass is required here, but I felt like after driving up that road you deserved to hike for free!


For the first mile or so the trail is gradual and climbs through a very dry forest! Just beyond the forest you are blessed with some awesome views of the Central Cascades (cloud permitting). Here is also when the actual terrain of the trail changes from dirt to fine grained sand. The trail is traveled on regularly making it “harder-packed” than it could potentially be – so slipping is not of much a concern versus dust/dirt/sand all over you. What’s not to love – taking a little outdoors home with you??


[Bob & KK approaching the Fire Watch Tower]

The second mile is where you do most of your climbing (5700ft to 6400ft). For the most part it is pretty easy climbing, but there are a few good pull offs along this narrow trail to let others pass and to take in the views. The Fire Watch Tower is visible the last .5 mile or so and looks pretty far away – a little daunting for some.


[KK sizing up the Tower]

Unfortunately they do not want people “disturbing the fire watchers” so the bottom portion of the stairs was gaited off. Standing next to the tower looking up it was very disorienting with the clouds moving over so quickly – it looked like the Tower was swaying hardcore!


[Bob looking East]

We found a solid lunch spot tucked away on the Eastside of the Butte protected from the chilly winds. We looked out at the valley and could see new growth, old growth and recovering areas. The area is so extremely dry that fires are almost inevitable – it just becomes a matter of maintaining control.


[Bob, KK, G – sweet house atop – used by the firewatchers]


[Kristin & Pops taking in the sights atop – Sisters in background]


[On the way down – sort of see Mt Washington in background.. dang clouds!]


[Taken from the Dee Wright Observatory – Black Butte about 13 miles away… Also, ironically has a similar shape of the State of Oregon – ha]

This was a fun hike with great views of the Cascade Mountains and the Central Oregon High Desert. Due to the length and elevation I would highly recommend this hike to families (we saw many kids on the trail).