Posts Tagged ‘pdx’

Beacon Rock

1.6 miles RT; 800 ft gain
Andrew and Myself
Beacon Rock Hiking Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info

Beacon Rock is a large 800 some odd foot basaltic landmark that sits in the western edge of the Columbia River Gorge. Back in the day Beacon Rock was used as a landmark for river travelers and explorers when navigating the area. Not only was it an easy way for people to find their barrings, but it marked the end of the intense rapids just East on the Columbia River. Even today I still use Beacon Rock and other noticeable landmarks to navigate the area.

Beacon Rock is both hike-able and climb-able. It is hike-able most of the year until of course the Columbia River Gorge gets hit by the “Artic Blast” with snow and ice. It is climb – able for a large portion of the year, but it reserves February 1 to about mid July for just the beautiful Falcon birds to safely nest alone without the annoyances of rock climbers getting in their way. The Southeast face is the most popular and fun places to climb. There is many different routes you can take, which ultimately lead to the hiking summit. I always enjoy it when we climbed up and over the gated hiking summit to a bunch of astonished and confused hikers – “where’d they come from!” Here are a few rock climbing pictures – Beacon Rock Southeast Face Climbing.

[Beacon Rock looking East from top of Rock of Ages]

[Beacon Rock in the distance. Picture taken from Wauna Viewpoint on the Oregon side]

Beacon Rock is a great little ‘walk in the park’ hike. It is not the hike you would want to be doing on a summer day unless you don’t mind the crowds. It can definitely get crowded along the trail that is literally built onto the side of the rock. It is located directly off of Highway 14 – easily accessible to all. For me, every time I’ve hiked up its been spur of the moment sort of deal – I’d be in the area and notice that the parking lot is near empty and the weather is decent and decide to head up the trail for a quick sweet view of the Columbia River Gorge. If you plan on doing some rock climbing here you’d better get an early start. It is a popular area for climbing due to the ease of climbing, accessibility, and close to the city.

Atop Beacon Rock it is pretty exposed to the elements and can be extremely windy. I enjoy the views of the Bonneville Damn, Oregon Waterfalls, and the Columbia River. Check out below a little video of what its like atop Beacon Rock…

Beacon Rock Hiking Pictures

Beacon Rock Climbing Pictures

Beacon Rock Trail Information


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.

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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.

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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

Angles Rest

Angels Rest
1600 Feet  (Stephen was at about 1613 by climbing the tree ha)
4.8 mi
Myself, Kristin, David, Stephen, James, Drew
Angels Rest Hike + Mt Hood Meadows Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info
Portland, OREGON Hiker Info

Angels Rest is a quick n’ dirty hike to the top of one of the most exposed points in the Columbia River Gorge. Angels Rest is an extremely recognizable point in the Gorge viewable from the freeway. It sticks out like a sore pinky after a hard day of climbing at Smith Rock. When traveling eastbound look off to your right and up about 1600 feet and it’s the most exposed bare point with a few distinct trees atop.

Our party started the hike mid-morning. I am always weary of parking in that area due to the risk of a break in. It seems like I always see glass on the ground. I will give credit to the law enforcement for stepping up patrols all along the old highway – this has helped tremendously!

The hike starts with a gradual climb and immediately opens up to some great views of the Columbia River Gorge. Just beyond this clearing you come to Coopey Falls. This waterfall is about 35 feet in height – Stephen chose to use his own measuring methods to determine the “true height.”

From Coopey Falls the trail just gets steeper – switchbacks, switchbacks, switchbacks! The trail was recently rerouted, which ultimately made more switchbacks but definitely improved the trail. Prior to the improvements the trail climbed straight up the ridge – going up and over rocks and exposed tree roots. Rainfall caused the trail to become a muddy mess. A big shout out to the trail crew! Volunteer Opportunities –  http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/columbia/recreation/trails/volunteeropportunities.htm

When you reach the top of where the old trail meets the new one make sure you are all bundled up because the trees start to thin exposing you to the elements – getting blasted by wind! At this point the trail climbs steep switchbacks on the northface getting blasted by the great winds of the mighty Columbia River Gorge. Here’s some video footage from 2009 when I hiked it with my brother -

After hiking the steep north facing switchbacks the trail curves around to the west of the summit into a plethora of basalt rocks. This area is well protected from the wind. This area becomes a popular spot for lunch and sun bathing on a nice summer afternoon.

The trail continues South beyond the rocky area and then switches back to the summits ridge. To reach the true summit it entails hopping up and over a couple large rocks and then braving the usually extreme wind gusts. Atop of Angel’s Rest is arguably the best panorama view of the Columbia River Gorge. There stationed is a wind proof bench to sit, relax, and just look.

This day did not end after the steep downhill hike/run down to the parking lot…. We all piled into the car and drove on over to Mt Hood Meadows to do some “Meadows After Dark” riding. This action packed day was truly epic…

Angels Rest Hike + Mt Hood Meadows Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info
Portland, OREGON Hiker Info

-Garrett Hampton

Wahkeena Falls – Multnomah Falls Loop

Distance: RT 5 miles
Duration: 3 hours
Party: Mom, Dad, Myself
Wahkeena Falls – Multnomah Falls Loop Photos
NW Hiker info
Portland hiker info

It was one of those rare February winter days where the sun was out and the air was brisk. We started the hike from the Multnomah Falls parking lot.

I enjoy doing this loop counter clockwise because of the unique perspective you gain from this direction. Also, it’s nice to start the hike with a bit more solitude rather than the crowds hiking to the top of Multnomah Falls.

Like most hikes in the Columbia River Gorge there was an initial steep elevation gain. From the bottom of Wahkeena Falls to Lemons Point is a paved trail that climbs about 700 ft. Lemons Point offers beautiful views of the Western Columbia River Gorge. The trail continues to climb along Wahkeena Creek, which is fed from the snow run off of Larch Mountain.

Continue hiking up trail #420 and it will come to a fork with trail #419. Trail #420 meanders through the forested area and then merges with the #419 detour trail. Trail #419 offers great vista views, but can be difficult when wet because of the combination of steepness and mud. I usually take the #419 detour because the vista views are incredibly rewarding.

Less than a mile the trails merge at the juncture. Devils Rest trail head is at this juncture as well. Devils Rest is a painful steep climb to nothing. The one highlight about Devil’s Rest is there is little foot traffic creating a solitude experience. When I have hiked it in the past I was actually able to see some deer on the trail. This is pretty rare because of all of the foot traffic.

All in all this is a great hike especially if you are into waterfalls. There are a number of em’ along the trail –

Wahkeena Falls, Fairy Falls, Dutchman Falls, Wiesendanger Falls, Multnomah Falls and a few others even!

Wahkeena Falls – Multnomah Falls Loop Photos
NW Hiker info
Portland hiker info

- Garrett Hampton

Out of Commission…

I was skiing up on Mt Hood with my little brother and was unfortunately hit by an out-of-control snowboarder.

Casually skiing downhill about 300 yards from the end of the run, I was being cautious as ever because of the many skiers/boarders on the hill. My lil bro and I would switch off who would lead and who would follow. On this run I was leading.

Skiing down shredding back and forth I would stop occasionally for my bro to catch up. As I was skiing back and forth on the last bit of the run I see this snowboarder hauling straight towards me last minute. It was too late for me to do anything – I tried to cut up to prevent him from hitting me but needless to say it didn’t help.

My skies came off and I somehow ended up landing 10 feet down the hill. When I stood up I felt a slight pain in my shin area – it felt bruised. My bro said that as I walked up to get my skies I looked like I was going to kill the kid. I had a few choice words to say then I explained that people above must yield to those below.

I skied down and hung out as my bro did another run. As he was on the run I decided to check out the damage. I noticed my pants had a hole and I realized it probably wasn’t good. I pulled up my pant leg and I noticed there was a multitude of blood then decided to get it checked out or at least cleaned up. I went into the Providence Hospital onsite and they immediately told me I needed stitches. I ended up with about 17 or so…

The damage done -

  • Large hole in snow pants and under armor leggings
  • Even larger hole in leg
  • About 17 stitches
  • Not Priceless…. Price: To Be Determined

Please KNOW THE CODE!

Know the Code / Live the Code

Your Responsibility Code

You Are Responsibile.

Skiing can be enjoyed in many ways. At ski areas, you may see people using alpine, snowboard, telemark, cross country and other specialized ski equipment, such as that used by disabled or other skiers. Regardless of how you decide to enjoy the slopes, always show courtesy to others and be aware that there are elements of risk in skiing that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce. Observe the code listed below and share the responsibility with other skiers for a great skiing experience.

  1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

KNOW THE CODE. IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.

Larch Mountain – Columbia River Gorge

Reminiscing…

View pictures here:
PDX Hiker Facebook Fan Page -

Now that we are in the Holiday season I find myself with even less time to get out and play. So to “get my blog on” this week I decided it would be best served by reminiscing about one of my favorite hikes in the Columbia River Gorge – the almighty Larch Mountain.

Larch Mt is one of my favorite hikes in the Columbia River Gorge due to its close proximity to the city and diversity of scenery along the trail. This hike can be done a few different ways –

Popular Starting Points: Larch Mountain

Multnomah Falls*

Horsetail Falls

Angel’s Rest

These are a couple of my favorite approaches. Multnomah Falls is definitely the shortest amongst all. However, Multnomah Falls (15 miles RT) is usually crowded and makes for a longer hike having to weave in and out of the numerous people making the “short” hike to the top of the falls. The “short hike” to the top is a far too common misconception amongst tourist as well as many Portland Metro Goers. Despite people even being able to visually see where the top viewpoint (noting the elevation gain) and seeing the mileage marker sign of 1 mile at the trailhead.

*A side note* – I have hiked up this trail passing women walking in high heals, pregnant women, people that were pulling up their 16 year old son in a wagon, morbidly obese people who look like they are going to collapse out of exhaustion, and many other misfits – but hey, at least they are out there right? Multnomah Falls recently has updated the one mile climb up with signage on each switchback to show what # of switchback you are on and the distance to go so people can decide if they still feel its worth it…

The trail follows up Multnomah creek most of the way up providing for beautiful views of multiple waterfalls and vistas. At the top – Sheppards Point 4,050 ft – views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, Mt Rainer… on a clear day.

The first and last 2 miles are the most strenuous. Generally speaking – in the Columbia River Gorge, the first mile of most trails are steep and strenuous climbing to the top of the ridge of the gorge.

Just beyond the top of Multnomah Falls the trail traffic slows. The trail parallels Multnomah Creek for most of the way as it continues a slow but steady incline up to Sheppards Point. There are many waterfalls ranging in size – each very unique in their own way.

Three bridges cross over Multnomah Creek as the trail winds through the rugged hills up to Larch Mountain. Shortly after the third bridge crossing there is an open rock clearing. At this point it begins to steadily become steeper.

The next big trail juncture is 2 miles from Sheppards Point. The last 2 miles of the trail climb through a highly dense forested area with little visibility of the surrounding area making it difficult to navigate in the dark or when snow is on the ground.

I have gotten out of some sticky situations by understanding the topography of the area. I have hiked this trail in June on an 80+ degree day and 2.5 miles from Sheppards Point we hit snow. By knowing the topography of the area I knew it would be more efficient to stay along the ridgeline rather than following up the trail through the dense snowy forest. Many people have gotten lost in this area by coming into similar situations – the dense forest turns people around and disables their sense of direction completely.

I will be the first to say I have been lost. I actually like to phrase it more like “I was temporarily misguided.” I believe that being lost in somewhat of a controlled environment (comfortable weather; within close proximity of civilization; readily prepared – food, first aid kit, emergency blanket, etc) only strengthens your abilities to navigate and survive in more extreme situations. In some of my experiences of being lost people have the tendency to make irrational decisions that can potentially be damaging. It is absolutely quintessential to think clearly through each decision and action taken.

For all day hikes I go prepared with –

  • Day pack
  • Water (water treatment – iodine tablets)
  • Food (energy bars, trail mix, candy, etc)
  • First Aid (athletic tape, alcohol pads, pain reliever)
  • Clothes (Layers, rain jacket, fleece, gloves, beanie hat)
  • Knife
  • Whistle
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Headlamp
  • Fire (matches/lighter)

View pictures here:
PDX Hiker Facebook Fan Page -


Happy Hiking!

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages Loop
About 10.5 mi
Arrived to trailhead by 12pm
About 5 hrs including rest time and side trail adventures
Our party included: myself, Kevin, Brian, and his dog Daisy

View pictures here:
PDX Hiker Facebook Fan Page -

I have done many hikes in the Horsetail/Oneota/ Franklin Ridge area, but never knew of this trail until after reading an online forum about it. The Rock of Ages trailhead is just prior to turning the corner to seeing the upper falls (some call it Ponytail Falls).

The trailhead is not marked clearly making it interesting for locating (the trail not maintained either).  After reading up on many blogs, forums, and hiking sites we were able to find it right away. Now knowing where it is – it’s crazy that I never even noticed it after the numerous times I have strolled pass.

Once you locate the trail enjoy the strenuous climb up the side of the ridge. The trail does have relatively flat portions to enjoy a quick rest to regain your breath and let the burn stop for a moment. Portions of the trail are literally vertical 5th class climbing. The 5th class scrambles are actually much easier than the steep hiking. I enjoyed showing off my famous mantle move to all the spectators. Some of the vertical climbing portions made things a tiny bit difficult with the dog; however, we prevailed and ‘got her done.’

Upon reaching a fork in the trail – left takes you down a steep trail heading North and right goes south up to the ridge for a spectacular view point. After all the steep climbing we had absolutely no desire to hike down just to come right back up; however, little did we know that one of the most amazing views would be overlooked due to this pain-stricten decision.

After reading on portlandhikers.org I come to realize that hiking down this side path would have offered one of the most beautiful views of the gorge including a rock arch with views of the spectacular views of St Peters Dome. (Brian and I ended up venturing back the following weekend to famous rock arch. Great views of the gorge! There were some awesome looking icicles along the Oregon Cliffs!)

The trail continues to climb – the upper section seemed more difficult because not only were the legs burning, but the ground was muddy from the week’s snow/rain. Despite the painful climb, there were always great views from being on the ridge.

The trail finally opens up out of the dense forest to a sweet basalt rock ridge. If there are white caps on the river I highly suggest not doing this hike! For most the trail you are on the ridge getting blasted by wind every direction. Also, there are a few exposed points that could be even sketchier with heavy winds.

From the rocky ridge it wasn’t too much further to the Horsetail Creek trail junction. We ended up going left (Southeastward) where we hit about 4 inches of snow. I was able to capture a cool picture of being at 3200 ft with snow surrounding us then beyond the snow the gorge showing its fall colors. After hiking for 20 minutes in the increasingly deep snow we decided to turn around and head West on the Horsetail Creek trail.

The Horsetail Creek Trail basically parallels the Columbia River and is a quintessential trail connecting the Colum

bia River Gorge trail network.

We hiked the trail looping around to Triple Falls, Onenota Gorge, and Ponytail Falls. I had never been on this section of trail before so it was all new to me. We had to ford three creeks – one was much larger than the others. It was somewhat difficult because of the snow and swift moving current. The key was to stay low to the ground, ensure footing was secure, and to map out your sequence before hand. The dog crossed above the white water – a little swift, but she made it ok.

Once we hit Triple Falls it was starting to get pretty dark out. Shortly thereafter we busted out the headlamps; however, Brian was weary of that because Daisy loves to follow and play with lights. Brian didn’t want us to look over the edge in fear that his dog- intoxicated by fatigued- would follow the light over the edge.

Just past Pony Tail Falls we passed a birdwatcher who was way stoked because he saw two bald eagles soaring through the skies nearby.

Back at the parking lot I changed out wet shoes/socks, quenched my hunger with a Winco sub sandwich, replenished my electrolytes with some Gatorade, and bumped out to some 80s classics.

All in a days work…

View pictures here:
PDX Hiker Facebook Fan Page -

For more info on the trail check out these sites –

http://nwhiker.com/CGNSAHike17.html – since “rock of ages” is not a maintained trail it is not officially listed here, but can be viewed on the map

http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org/wiki/Rock_of_Ages_Loop_Hike – Map, description, pictures

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